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Question Stereo system Newbie

DCFC79

Active Member
Hi as the title I am a newbie and I'm wondering if you guys could give me some tips for what to buy for my first system. Any magazines I could read for example what HiFi ?

Thanks
 

Paul7777x

Distinguished Member
Yup... an idea of what you'd like to listen too and how much you'd like to spend would be useful..
 

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
Start with BUDGET?

Then what equipment do you expect that Budget to buy you? Just an Amp? Just an Amp and Speakers? Amp, Speakers, CD Player, Turntable, Network Streaming, and so on; the more you buy, the less each item is worth within a fixed budget.

Then, how will the system be used? What type of music do you listen to and how do you like to listen to that music (or whatever)? Will the system be used purely for music, or music and movies?

What features do you want?
For example, if you plan to use the system for TV and Movies, then your will probably want an amp with Digital Inputs? Are you interested in Network Streaming of Audio from local storage and from the Internet?

Which brings up the next point - Surround Sound or Stereo?

Lastly, what are the dimension of the Room the system will be in?

Will this be a desktop system, or will it be place more traditionally?

Whether asking us for advice, or simply working out the preliminaries on your own. These are the factors you will have to consider.

Steve/bluewizard
 

lindsayt

Active Member
Google, ebay (UK, US, German), hi-fi forums are the best places to read about hi-fi.

If you really want to find out what's what when it comes to hi-fi, attend a few bake-offs or host one or more of your own.
 

lindsayt

Active Member
Rod Elliott, the author of DIY Audio Articles is not someone whose advice I would follow in any way shape or form. Reading his articles is an exercise in how many incorrect / misleading statements you can spot.

The Magic in 2 Channel Sound article is a load of waffle.


As well as charlatans peddling snake oil you will come across a lot of people who write, more or less "Buy what I've bought." If you were to folow their advice you'd come to the conclusion that just about every audio component ever made is the best ever. This clearly cannot be true. That's where bake-offs / comparative demos come in.

So that, for example, DCFC79, you might find it interesting and informative to bake-off a system I'd nominate against kc5819w's, Paul7777x's and BlueWizards main systems.
 

Paul7777x

Distinguished Member
Tape loop much?
 

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DCFC79

Active Member
It depends on exactly what you want. e.g. some just want to stream from their phone but others want to play vinyl, CD's etc. And of course what you plan to spend.

Thanks for the replies.

Yes Ive missed some various bits of info

Well first off CD's would be played but I also have a TV and Xbox so is it possible to integrate the 2 ?

Re the budget well Im not sure, lets say at most £1000, is that an ok amount ?
 

DCFC79

Active Member
Start with BUDGET?

Then what equipment do you expect that Budget to buy you? Just an Amp? Just an Amp and Speakers? Amp, Speakers, CD Player, Turntable, Network Streaming, and so on; the more you buy, the less each item is worth within a fixed budget.

Then, how will the system be used? What type of music do you listen to and how do you like to listen to that music (or whatever)? Will the system be used purely for music, or music and movies?

What features do you want?
For example, if you plan to use the system for TV and Movies, then your will probably want an amp with Digital Inputs? Are you interested in Network Streaming of Audio from local storage and from the Internet?

Which brings up the next point - Surround Sound or Stereo?

Lastly, what are the dimension of the Room the system will be in?

Will this be a desktop system, or will it be place more traditionally?

Whether asking us for advice, or simply working out the preliminaries on your own. These are the factors you will have to consider.

Steve/bluewizard
That's the thing I have no idea what I expect to get for my budget. Have no idea what I would need for needs, needs are CD's, TV and Xbox so films and gaming.

Yes Im interested in Network streaming, I use music from Amazon and Google.

Have no idea of the difference, at a guess surround is all around.

ah now the dimensions, maybe I've been a bit premature with my question as I'm hoping to move into my own place at least before end of the year.

What do you mean by desktop system or will it be place more traditionally ?

I see I have a little research to do.

Thanks


Google, ebay (UK, US, German), hi-fi forums are the best places to read about hi-fi.

If you really want to find out what's what when it comes to hi-fi, attend a few bake-offs or host one or more of your own.

Thanks

Yes but you will also quickly come across the charlatans peddling snake oil.

What you really need to do is (in addition to forum reading etc) appreciate science and read up on acoustical engineering websites that will guide you on the best way of achieving optimal performance.

The following may be of use.
DIY Audio Articles
The-Magic-in-2-Channel-Sound

Rod Elliott, the author of DIY Audio Articles is not someone whose advice I would follow in any way shape or form. Reading his articles is an exercise in how many incorrect / misleading statements you can spot.

The Magic in 2 Channel Sound article is a load of waffle.


As well as charlatans peddling snake oil you will come across a lot of people who write, more or less "Buy what I've bought." If you were to folow their advice you'd come to the conclusion that just about every audio component ever made is the best ever. This clearly cannot be true. That's where bake-offs / comparative demos come in.

So that, for example, DCFC79, you might find it interesting and informative to bake-off a system I'd nominate against kc5819w's, Paul7777x's and BlueWizards main systems.

Thanks all for your posts
 

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
That's the thing I have no idea what I expect to get for my budget. Have no idea what I would need for needs, needs are CD's, TV and Xbox so films and gaming.

We will help you get the best that you can from any budget. But we need to know the equipment the budget will buy. You say CD, but do you have a CD Player or do you need to buy a CD Player?

What we need is a list of equipment included in your budget. Something like this -

- CD Player
- Amp/Receiver
- Speakers

...or whatever combination you need.

Yes I'm interested in Network streaming, I use music from Amazon and Google.

OK, there are options here. There are Amps that have Streaming built in, and there are external devices that range from as little as £30 and continue up to about £1500 and above. Common quality external Streaming Devices are more typically in the range of £300 to £500. Though keep in mind, for roughly that you can get a reasonably power Amp with Streaming built in.

Have no idea of the difference, at a guess surround is all around. (stereo vs surround)

Surround Sound
is what you find in a multi-channel Home Theater system. Typically Front-Left/Right, Center, Surround speakers, and a Subwoofer (5.1).

In a mostly Music system, best to get a Stereo. And if you want a Surround Theater System, the best to have about £3000, while £1000 is difficult it is not impossible to get a Surround Sound System, however £1500 would probably be better.

Remember in a Stereo you are buying TWO Amp Channels and TWO Speakers. In the most basic Surround Sound system you are buying at least FIVE if not SEVEN Amp and SIX Speakers. That spreads your money pretty thin.

ah now the dimensions, maybe I've been a bit premature with my question as I'm hoping to move into my own place at least before end of the year.

What do you mean by desktop system or will it be place more traditionally?

Room size helps us determine what speakers are realistic in a given room. Though this is more guess than science. For example, you would probably not want large floorstanding speakers in a 10ft x 10ft bedroom. On the other hand, you probably would not want bookshelf in a large 30ft x 30ft lounge. Though 30ft x 30ft is a bit unrealistic unless you live in a mansion. But the Room Size taken with all the other factors can guide us in our recommendations.

We also need some sense of what you listen to and how you listen and by that I mean - Jazz at modest levels, Heavy Metal at window rattling levels, some sense of the type of content and how loud you listen, and whether you are a total Bass Head or whether Bass is something of a problem in the space you are in. For example, If you have your own detached home, then pretty much anything goes. If you have a Flat in a older build in with neighbors close by, the perhaps excessive bass is going to be a problem.

So, the space you are in carries a lot of weight in the recommendations we will make.

Desktop vs Conventional means -

Desktop - on a computer desk, or on a counter or similar with limited space

Conventional - means as you would typically find a Stereo system in a lounge. Typically place on a dedicate stand.

As to the TV, that's easy enough. Typically modern TVs do NOT have Analog outputs. I haven't seen that in year. Today they have most often Optical Digital Audio Outs, which means you need a DAC (digital to analog converter) to convert the digital signal to common voltages that any amp can use as a signal. These span quite a range, for very simply units costing about £25 on Amazon to £100 to £200 units, and up from there. However today, many amps come with DACs built into the amps at very little cost.

The Xbox, not being a gamer myself, I'm not sure what the output options are. For example, if it sends video and audio to the TV via HDMI Cable, they you will be able to get sound out using the TV Digital Optical Audio Out to a DAC and then to an amp. This same Optical connection will work for any content on the TV - TV, Cable, DVD/BluRay, Games. So, we would need to know the output options on the XBox, but overall, I don't see this as a problem. There will be some way to connect it.

With a £1000 budget, while Surround Sound is possible, that is a very lean budget. However, you should be able to do very well in a Stereo for £1000. Until you say otherwise, I'm going to assume the system breaks down like this -

- CD Player
- Amp/Receiver
- Speakers

Just as a starting points, systems usually break down like this -

1x = CD Player
1x = Amp/Receiver
2x = Speakers

Again, that is just a starting point. With your budget, that would mean -

£250 = CD Player
£250 = Amp/Receiver
£500 = Speakers

With a budget this low, likely a bit less on the CD and a bit more on the Amp/Receiver.

And before we go any farther, anticipating the question -

An Amp, meaning an Integrated amp, which is a combined Pre-Amp and power Amp in one unit is just that Pre-Amp and Amp.

A Receiver, means an Integrated Amp that has a Radio built in.

Just as a preliminary, here is a system I would suggest, though we could refine the speakers a bit more.

Yamaha RN602 Network Receiver, 80w/ch, AM/FM, DAC (2xOptical, 2xCoaxial, 1xUSB-Media), Bluetooth, Network Streaming, ... - £380 -


Yamaha RN602 Networked Stereo Receiver - Superfi

Yamaha CDS300 CD Player - £199 -

Yamaha CDS300 CD Player - Superfi

Bookshelf Speakers -


Wharfedale Diamond 225 (6.5", 45hz) - £199/pair -


Wharfedale Diamond 225 Speakers (Pair) - Superfi

Monitor Audio Bronze 2 (6.5", 42hz) - £280/pair -

Monitor Audio Bronze 2 Speakers (Pair) - Superfi

Tannoy Mercury 7.2 (6", 42hz) - £230/pair -


Tannoy Mercury 7.2 Speakers - Superfi

With the above Amp and CD Player, you have £421/pair for speakers. I can't quite hit the budget right on, but I can come close in some very impressive speakers

Floorstanding Speakers -

KEF Q500 (2x5.25", 40hz) - £349/pr (£699 retail) -

KEF Q500 Speakers (Pair) - Superfi

Kef Q700 (2x6.5", 36hz) - £479/pr (£799 retail) -

KEF Q700 Speakers (Pair) - Superfi

Wharfedale Diamond 240 (2x6.5", 40hz) - £499/pr (£699 retail) -

Wharfedale Diamond 240 Floor Standing Speakers (Pair) - Superfi

Stunningly low prices on the Kef Q-Series and the Wharfedale Diamond 240. A bit over budget, but those are sold at considerable discounts.

Tannoy Mercury 7.4 (2x7", 32hz) - £499/pr -


Tannoy Mercury 7.4 Speakers - Superfi

But having Floorstanding speakers this large hinges on having some place to put them.

As to Bookshelf speakers, they typically require a Stand, but these can be found for £100/pr or less, depending on how fancy you want them to look.

These are probably the most heavy duty stands you can get for the lowest possible money -

Studio Monitor Speaker Stands, Pair at Gear4music.com

Adjustable from 830mm to 1150mm in height.

In more conventional Speaker Stands -

MISSION STANCETTEBlack Per Pair

Soundstyle Z2ii Speaker Stands (Pair) - Superfi

CUSTOM DESIGN RS300Black Per Pair

PIXEL PLUS STAND Per Pair

You probably want speaker stands that are about 30" (~750mm). Typically the speakers (tweeter) need to be ear level when you are sitting in your prime listening location. That will depend on the size of the speaker, and how high your ear is when you are sitting down. But roughly 30" typically comes pretty close.

That should give you some perspective and a something to think about. I used mostly a single source which does have good prices, but you many be able to find better prices from other dealers, or you may be able to get an additional discount when buying a complete package from a single dealer.

Steve/bluewizard
 
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BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
Here are the full specs on the Yamaha RN602 Network Receiver -

Yamaha UK/IE - R-N602 - Overview

r-n602_index_1276x1276_6d203c3664c840444d57833f3a9690ed.jpg


RN602reGBLKs_1370x1027_6da7aa88ebd962a42dc62bfc15f1e01e.jpg


Click the images to see a full sized view. Click a second time to reduce them to the size they are now shown.


And here is a Forum Discussion specifically about the Yamaha RN602 Network Receiver -

NEW: Yamaha RN602 Network Receiver!!!

While there are some criticisms, most are overall very satisfied with their RN602. Keep in mind that to duplicate this with discrete components, would cost substantially more. If you can spend £800 or more, then you can certainly do better on an Amp and Network Player. But, for £380, little to nothing comes close to the Yamaha RN602.

Steve/bluewizard
 
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BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
Especially if you are interested in Google-Music and Amazon-Music, the most minimal and low cost way of getting streaming is with the Google-Chromecast-Audio, which is only £30. But the focus is primarily on Streaming services, and not so much Internet Radio or Streaming from local storage.

Google Chromecast Audio | Maplin

GOOGLE Chromecast Audio

With this device, typically our Smart Phone Apps will recognize Chromecast and give you the option of using it, rather than using your Cell Phone Data limits.

If you don't need a full range of Streaming, and you want to save a bit of money, the Chromecast with a more standard Integrated Amp is an option.

For example -

Yamaha AS501 Integrated amp with DAC, 85w/ch - £270 to £299 -

YAMAHA AS501Black Stereo Amplifier

http://www.superfi.co.uk/p-15856-yamaha-as501-amplifier-with-dac.aspx-

This only has ONE Optical and ONE Coaxial input, where are the RN602 has TWO of each.

That combined with the Chomecast would save you about £50 to £80, but would be more limited.

There is also a version of the Chromecast that included both Audio and Video Streaming from services like Netflix.

The Chromecast-Audio connects either by a standard Analog connection or by Optical.

The Chromecast-Video connect to the TV by HDMI, though you can connect the TV Optical out to the Amp/DAC and get both TV and Audio Streaming sound.

Chromecast Video -

GOOGLE Chromecast

Buy Google Chromecast at Argos.co.uk - Your Online Shop for Smart TV boxes, Set top boxes, recorders and satellite, Technology.

Here is a link to the USA Google Chromecast site for more information -

Chromecast - Chromecast - Google

Chromecast - Audio -


For Speakers - Chromecast for Speakers - Google

Chromecast - Video -


Chromecast - Chromecast for TV - Google

If your listening is limited to Google and Amazon, then this is an option.

Steve/bluewizard
 
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DCFC79

Active Member
Awesome BlueWizard, very interesting and informative post you have provided

I have zero equipment so basically I'm starting from scratch.

Well saying that I do have a TV I would use until I found a TV with a bigger size.

Id be looking at a conventional setup, depends if Im limited for space.

Cant stand music at window rattling levels so not quite that stage.

After looking at the photos of the floor standing speakers Id prefer those that would go on a stand.

Yes I've heard of the Chromecast audio over on hukd as people mention mention they have it connected to so and so.

You mention the Yamaha AS501 only has 1 coaxial and 1 digital, what would use the 2 type of ports ?

Other than Yamaha/Wharfedale what are the other brands to look out for or avoid for the various pieces of equipment ?
 
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BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
Awesome BlueWizard, very interesting and informative post you have provided

I have zero equipment so basically I'm starting from scratch.

You need to confirm the list of equipment you need.

Is this correct?

- CD Player
- Amp/Receiver
-Speakers



After looking at the photos of the floor standing speakers Id prefer those that would go on a stand.

Probably at the top of the range of bookshelf speakers would be the Monitor Audio Silver 2 which have 8" (200mm) bass drivers. Though with Monitor Audio just ready to release a New Monitor Audio Silver Series, the Silver 1 (6.5") and the Silver 2 (8") are getting harder to come by. These would push to the top of your budget.

Monitor Audio Silver 2 Black Oak Bookshelf Speakers (Pair) - Monitor Audio - AudioVisual Online - UK Home Cinema and Hifi Specialists

If you want reasonably deep bass, then probably no speakers smaller than 6.5" (165mm), or perhaps 6" (150mm).

Yes I've heard of the Chromecast audio over on hukd as people mention mention they have it connected to so and so.

Chromecast is perhaps not ideal, but for Streaming Services and for the very modest price, it is hard to beat.

You mention the Yamaha AS501 only has 1 coaxial and 1 digital, what would use the 2 type of ports?

Not quite sure what you are asking. The most common use of a Digital Input is to connect the TV to the Amp. Today virtually no TVs have analog outputs. Most will have Optical Digital Audio Out or in rarer cases, a Coaxial Output. If you want TV/Movie/Gaming Sound from the TV, this is how you would do it.

Other than Yamaha/Wharfedale what are the other brands to look out for or avoid for the various pieces of equipment ?

Yamaha gives you the highest value; the most amp while maintaining quality; the most power and the most features. There is really only one other Stereo Amp that has Network Streaming built in, and there are a couple version of that amp.

The Pioneer SX-N30 (£370) which as AM/FM, with other specs similar to the Yamaha -

Pioneer SXN30 Network Receiver - Superfi

And the Pioneer SX-N30DAB (£499) which has FM/DAB (DAB = Digital Audio Broadcast) -

Pioneer SXN30DAB Network Receiver - Superfi

With a more modest amount of power, but highly regarded for quality would be the -

Marantz PM6006 45w/ch Integrated Amp with DAC - £280 -

Marantz PM6006 Amplifier with DAC - Superfi

Marantz CD6006 CD Player - £280 -


Marantz CD6006 CD Player - Superfi

There is also the Yamaha AS301 with 60w/ch and DAC, though the AS501 is a better bargain -

Yamaha AS301 Integrated, 60w/ch, DAC - £225 to £260 -

YAMAHA AS301Black Stereo Amplifier

YAMAHA AS301Silver Stereo Amplifier

Pushing beyond your budget -

Marantz PM7005, 60w/ch DAC (optical, coaxial, USB-PC) - £449 -


Marantz PM7005 Amplifier - Superfi

Yamaha AS701 Integrated with DAC, 100w/ch - £499 -


Yamaha AS701 Amplifier with DAC - Superfi

You can consider Onkyo or Denon if you want, you should be able to find something in your price range.

Steve/bluewizard
 

DCFC79

Active Member
Apologies yes a CD player, Amp/receiver and speakers would be sufficient, be a good starting point I reckon.

What I meant by "You mention the Yamaha AS501 only has 1 coaxial and 1 digital, what would use the 2 type of ports ?" was would having just 1 port be enough If I had 2 speakers, CD player and an amp ?

Thanks for the links, much appreciated.
 

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
...What I meant by "You mention the Yamaha AS501 only has 1 coaxial and 1 digital, what would use the 2 type of ports ?" was would having just 1 port be enough If I had 2 speakers, CD player and an amp ?

Thanks for the links, much appreciated.

That I can think of, the TV would be the only thing you would NEED to plug into a digital input.

Likely you could plug the CD Player in via some Digital In, but there really is no need to do that.

Likely you could plug your streaming device in by a Digital in, but it is not necessary.

The only thing that need a digital input is the TV.

Steve/bluewizard
 

DCFC79

Active Member
That I can think of, the TV would be the only thing you would NEED to plug into a digital input.

Likely you could plug the CD Player in via some Digital In, but there really is no need to do that.

Likely you could plug your streaming device in by a Digital in, but it is not necessary.

The only thing that need a digital input is the TV.

Steve/bluewizard

Its been very informative

Thanks Steve.
 

Bobby Davros

Standard Member
Hey 'DCFC79'... I'll chip in but I'm not a surround guy .. :)

How comfortable are you buying used?? You can achieve a lot more for your money if you're down with that? There's a continual recycling of products as people upgrade! There are a few reputable dealers who supply used too, but not for nearly as good prices.

You want to dump as much of your budget as possible into the speakers. Why? Digital technology is getting to be a 'done deal'... Principles of electronics are well understood and manufactoring techniques advanced and .. with both electronics and digital diminishing returns kick in quick. Speakers however are very much more dependent on their design, material construction, and physics is at the heart of it. In audio realms this area of science is isn't nearly as complete, and it's also dictated heavily by the laws of physics. So whilst decent DACs are cheap as chips and almost indistinguishable - you can keep increasing your budget into literally into the tens of thousands of pounds and get into better and better speakers.

Half that £1000 budget will get you some *epic* speakers used, particularly near field standmount monitors. There are many excellent brands and models, (I will personally vouch for Focal JM Lab), and if you hold tight, you'll encounter some extraordinary speakers for 30-50% RRP. A reasonably transparent and sufficiently powerful amp may set you back £250 used. For example - I know you're not buying now - I notice someone is selling an Arcam A18 on here that will drive most speakers in this bracket. I'm sure you'll get plenty of personal recommendations should you narrow down on what bits you want.

Anyway that's what I'd do.. and I wouldn't bother with a hi-fi CD player either I'd recommend a decent DAC instead that you can connect all your bits to.. XBOX, TV etc... and a cheap as chips bluray player with media player for playing CDs, USB/HD and I'm sure may of them having streaming built in? Right here I've got a £1200 CD transport, and a battered £20 Bluray player I bought from CEX - when connected to the DAC there is no obvious sonic difference between them, so you could save your money on the CD player! Here's the DAC I use as a hub for all my digital stuff everything sounds brilliant through it : Arcam irDAC-II D/A processor

Dunno if this helps.. just some late night thoughts... :)
 

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