Recommendations: Hi-fi system for music (budget <$500)


Standard Member
My music is mainly mp3 ripped from my CDs. Have been using computer speakers all my life but want to take the plunge into hi-fi. Appreciate some recommendations particularly with speakers.

Do surround speakers work for music?

Which speakers should I consider for my budget? I was looking at the following:
q acoustics 2020i
boston acoustics A26
wharfedale diamond 121

Then I read about the good speakers systems like:

B&W MT-60
KEF 3005

And I got all confused.

Are speaker systems better?
What equipment do I need to get? Amps? DAC?
What should I be looking for to get best music appreciation? I listen to mainly pop, rock and jazz. Hope you guys can help me start this journey :)
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Distinguished Member
First, if this is primarily a music system then you want a STEREO system, not an AV Surround Sound system.

Next, Ripping to MP3 is fine for an ear-bud MP3/iPod player, especially for use away from home. But if you are serious about music for home listening on a decent Stereo, then you want to rip to FLAC. FLAC, or if you are using iTunes then rip to Apple Lossless. Lossless files are larger but when played back are bit-for-bit identical to the original CD. MP3, even at its best, is lossy compression. A certain amount of the sound simply get thrown away and can't be recovered. For iPod listening that is fine. When you are out in the world, there is a lot of background noise, so you aren't missing much, but in the quiet of your home, MP3, even at their best, are not going to sound great.

Next, you have a choice between speakers, like Studio Monitors, that have Built-In Amps, or you have a choice of separate Amps and Speakers (my preference). Active Studio Monitors have a limited number of inputs. So, if this is limited to your computer, this might be fine. However, if you plan to expand this beyond a simple computer system in the future, a multi-input Stereo Amp is more versatile. But, ultimately, it is your choice.

Next, specifically what equipment do you need? That is CD Player, Turntable, DAC, Amp, and Speakers or what? We need to know specifically what you intend your budget to buy you.

There are very nice amps in the roughly £150 to just a bit over £200. Speakers can run between £100/pr and about £200/pr. You can more than enough budget for that.

Now, if your needs and available space are limited, then certainly you can get some very nice Active Monitors for considerably less than £500/pr.

So, we need to know more about how you will use the system, the size of the room they will be in, and any space limitations you might have.

Here are a couple of suggestions just to give you some sense of what is possible.

£179 to £199 = Yamaha AS300, 60w/ch

[ame=]Yamaha AS300 - Google Search[/ame]

£279/pr = Wharfedale Diamond 122, 6.5" bass, 40hz

[ame=]Wharfedale Diamond 122 - Google Search[/ame]

In active speakers, consider KRK Rokit 5 or Rokit 6, which have a bit more bass, priced EACH unless otherwise noted -

[ame=]KRK Rokit - Google Search[/ame]

Mackie MR5 MKII Monitors, price EACH unless otherwise noted -

[ame=]Mackie mr5 - Google Search[/ame]

In a more versatile pair of ultra-high quality computer speakers, consider the Audioengine A5+ -

[ame=]audioengine a5+ - Google Search[/ame]

Audioengine 5+ -

There are many other choices, but this gives you some idea of what might be possible within your budget.

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Standard Member
Tks for taking the time with your reply.

Yes I did rip tunes into lossless once, but went for the highest bitrate of mp3 instead subsequently. Think its 192kbps. If necessary, I will re-rip my mp3 into lossless.

I think all my music will come from my computer. So i won't need multi-inputs.

As for equipment, actually that's what I'm asking about. I just want to play the music from my computer using the headphones output. I suppose that is insufficient power? Does that mean I should get a DAC connected to my computer's USB for an aux out. Then to an amp and finally to speakers?

In terms of sound quality, I suppose Studio monitors do not sound as good as separate amps & speakers? But considering my budget, what wld be a good 1st step? I plan to upgrade slowly.

Tks alot for the help.


Standard Member
how do powered speakers like the Audioengine A5+ compare?

and if I want to use the Boston Acoustics A26 instead, will it be sufficient to use the dragonfly DAC connected to the speaker? Or will I still need to an amp connected to the DAC?


Distinguished Member
Audioengine A5+ are powered speakers. Look at the link I provided. They have nice powerful amps, the are highly rated, they have a remote control, they have USB charging, and several other features.

You need to make a distinction between Active Speakers and Passive speaker. Active have amp built-in. Passive require external amps. One way or another you do need an amp somewhere.

If you want to keep you budget low, the Audioengine are worth checking into. They are very common and a Google-UK Shopping search will turn up a 100 more more places that have them.

Start with the DAC built into the sound card of your computer. See how it sounds. It should have no trouble driving Active speaker or an amp. Then when your re-rip you files, see how satisfied you are, and consider the new USB DAC then.


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