Mini Hi Fi System or Separates (2nd hand, ~£100)

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by dean_brfc, Feb 20, 2014.

  1. dean_brfc

    dean_brfc
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    I'm looking for a new hifi to replace my Cambridge A1 mk3/DAB300 combo. It's a little bit too bulky but I could live with that if it came with a remote.

    I'm looking at the second hand market to try and get the most for my money. I had intended on getting a mini hi fi system for size reasons, something like Onkyo CR515DAB, Yamaha CRX-M170, or Teac/Denon equivalents. But I've read separates will give significantly better sound quality, so if that's true I could deal with the larger size (would just mean moving my PS3 somewhere else). Really don't want to spend more than £100, less if I can help it.

    Can anyone offer advise about what I could look at if separates would give me significantly better sound? Finding it really hard to search for anything relevant on eBay. If there wouldn't be a significant difference then recommendations on which mini hi fi to focus on would help too.

    Whatever I buy will be paired with Tannoy Mercury V1s if that makes any difference.
     
  2. MIFF INFIDELIUS

    MIFF INFIDELIUS
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    I can't comment on those micro hifi and how would they match with tannoy but if you decide to go the separate amp route I think Rotel RA-03 would be nice piece of kit and comes with remote. Connectivity wise you haven't mentioned any specifics, for instance if you don't have a CD player then probably only the micro systems would be an option, unless doubleing your current budget is viable
     
  3. dean_brfc

    dean_brfc
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    Thanks for the suggestion, I'll look into that.

    Connectivity wise I'll be hooking it up to my TV via the phono out and have a 3.5mm connection to plug into phone/laptop.

    I don't really need a CD player. I do have a Cambridge CD5 stacked with my current separates but I didn't mention it because I literally haven't used it once in the ~3 years I've had the system. Everything I do own is converted to FLAC and played through phone/laptop. So as far as separates go, an amp and DAB receiver should suffice.

    I guess any functionality to improve the use with phone/laptop would be great (bluetooth, network capabilities etc), but I assumed that was asking too much in my price range.

    Edit: The Rotel RA-03 with remote seems to be somewhere between £130-£200 on eBay so might be a bit on the pricey side unfortunately.
     
  4. MIFF INFIDELIUS

    MIFF INFIDELIUS
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    Yes the rotel would be on higher side of said budget but I've seen them for around the £100 which seems to be the average price on bay. However £200 is delusional price, the last RA03 went for some £112 quid on bay and considering used yam A-S500 can be had for just couple quid more than already mentioned budget.

    I should point out that stereo jack is less than ideal and toslink would be much better. Can you find out what laptop model is it precisely?
     
  5. dean_brfc

    dean_brfc
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    I'll keep an eye out, doesn't seem to be many around at the moment. Any others I should keep an eye out for as alternatives?

    The laptop is an old e-Machines e442. Considering upgrading it at some point but it has little use outside of a media player (either music via 3.5mm out or HDMI to TV).
     
  6. MIFF INFIDELIUS

    MIFF INFIDELIUS
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    The likes of rotel 930bx would be an alternative albeit bit older but I don't believe these come with remote control. I can't seem to be able to find the any connectivity options on the emachine laptop though but It doesn't look like these came with optical out.

    Providing you would be willing to upgrade later, I'd go separates but frankly, seeing the limited options of the laptop connectivity and the DAB requirement, I'm having second thoughts on one of the micro hifi options.

    I guess you'd need to decide if better sound quality is more important to you or if better connectivity / features are better suited.

    Ideally a DAC ( like the fiio 03 which can be had for around £30 ) should complement the rotel but that's £30 or so on top of the amp, not to mention some external DAB receiver.
     
  7. dean_brfc

    dean_brfc
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    The primary use of the system would be DAB I'd say, followed by phone, then laptop, then TV. But I'd certainly need DAB ability.

    Pardon my ignorance but I'm not entirely sure what a DAC is! I've read up on and think I get it - I would plug any optical output from the laptop into the DAC, then run that to the amp? Is that still necessary if the amp has a digital input? Seems like my S3 might possibly be capable of digital out through USB, so maybe I should look into this further.

    With regards to the sound quality...I'd accepted there would be a trade-off between quality and convenience/space when leaning towards a micro hi fi. I guess what would be nice is a rough guess of how much sound quality would be lost. Maybe I'm being naive to think it the difference would be small.

    £100 really was my top end (up from £60 a few days ago so already pushing it!) so I think the RA03 + DAC is out of my range at the moment. A remote really would be necessary as well (I was hoping there would be separates system that would allow the DAB to be controlled by this as well).
     
  8. dean_brfc

    dean_brfc
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    Would I be barking up the wrong tree looking at a Yamaha RX-V100D that has built in DAB?

    I realise this is an AV receiver but it has everything I want within budget. I just struggle to find reviews for this.
     
  9. Matt Damon

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    I wouldn't rule out a micro-system for the one remote convenience that it offers. I have a Onyko CR-525UKD and used it as my main Hifi for a couple of years. Being able to set alarms, sleep mode etc is very useful. The sound quality is good and works well with reasonable quality bookshelf speakers. As a comparison I also have an Arcam separates system (A85, P85) which does give a different listening experience but I think of it as spending 10 times more to gain an extra 10% of enjoyment. It depends what you want but I am personally very happy with the sound quality of the Onkyo for everyday listening.
     
  10. Matt Damon

    Matt Damon
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    You will need to watch out for number of connections on a micro thou - They are likely to only have 1 or 2 sets of phono inputs. If you go down the AV Receiver route then look for a "proper" full size unit as it will likely give more connection options and better sound quality than the style of unit that you linked too.
     
  11. PIEP

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    I have this: Pioneer X-HM10-S > >


    X-HM21-K CD Receiver System Featuring iPod/iPhone/iPad Playback, FM/AM Tuner with RDS, and USB (nero) - Pioneer Sound system, dock ipod

    After 2 years I can say that is fine: it's solidly assembled metal and not plastic like some Philips and Samsung;
    Soft warm sound and not screams ever; looks like a normal amp but in miniature.
    I use it like radio, connected to the pc and mp3 player to usb and CD.x 100 € is great;
    Now maybe there is this: Pioneer X-HM21-
    I never thought about buying Pioneer...
     
  12. MIFF INFIDELIUS

    MIFF INFIDELIUS
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    The yamaha looks like it tick all the boxes, not sure why I haven't thought of it.
    I wouldn't expect it to sound amazing but I think it would still be better than the microsystem and the connectivity of the yam could prove useful in the future, plus adding an power amp later down the road, it could serve you well for movies just as music.

    As for the amp itself, afaik yamaha are well regarded and trouble free, at least more so than say, onkyo.
    I think for the budget you found yourself a winner :thumbsup:
     
  13. dean_brfc

    dean_brfc
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    Great. Not a bad idea considering I found it at midnight after returning from the pub!

    Thanks for all your input on this by the way. I've ended up reading quite a lot following what you wrote, specifically around DACs and digitial/analog conversion. I hadn't even considered the sound loss by connecting devices with a standard 3.5mm, although it makes perfect sense once you understand what's going on.

    So...just to throw a spanner in the works...would I possible be better served by just keeping my Cambridge A1 and DAB300 and spending the money on a couple of DACs and quality speaker wire instead? Looking at the FiiO D03K you mentioned earlier to connect the TV, and the FiiO E7 to connect laptop/S3 by USB. Would my A1 be better than the Yamaha for sound quality if I did this?

    After being round at a musician friends last night and listening to some records on his stereo system, I'm beginning to prioritise sound quality over size/remote control convenience.

    Thanks Matt and PIEP for your input. I very nearly bought the Onkyo system mentioned and that Pioneer looks good - not a brand I had considered for audio before so good to know it's a quality one if go this route.
     
  14. MIFF INFIDELIUS

    MIFF INFIDELIUS
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    While technically it may be possible to connect two DAC's, I am not convinced it would be necessary or if it yield better results the more DAC's are used. A single DAC should be all that's needed.

    As for speaker wire, you do not need to spend silly amounts of money. As long as it's quality, oxygen free
    copper wire ( such as maplin speaker wire should do and 12 or 14 gauge for runs of ~10m or less )

    Let me choose this quote and point out that bad room acoustics can make fairly significant difference and could make even very expensive gear sound dull and lifeless :)
     
  15. dean_brfc

    dean_brfc
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    Haha. I've already gone from intending to downgrade to a simple all-in-one system to looking at DACs and Raspberry Pi's with Squeezebox on. Don't get me reconfiguring my front room as well! :)

    Re: the speaker cable, I bought some QED XT Evolution offcuts for £6 delivered so hopefully a cheap upgrade done there.
     

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