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What Hi Fi!

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by Gullanian, Oct 11, 2005.

  1. Gullanian

    Gullanian
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    Hey all,

    Hopefully will be coming into a bit of money soon, around £7,000. I thought to myself, to hell with it and want to get some sweet ass hi fi that will last the rest of my life.

    This is a system I thought of getting, (without cabling) comes to around £5,500.

    Speakers
    --------
    AE1 MkIII - £4,200

    AMP
    -------
    Marantz PM-7001 KI - £550

    CD Player
    --------
    Marantz SACD-Player - £430

    DAB
    --------
    Marantz ST7001 DAB tuner - £300


    Still got possibly £2,000 knocking around, don't know what to upgrade though. Also, will the speakers be powered by an amp good enough to put them on max volume? (Don't want an amp that can't make the most out of those speakers)

    Also, subwoofers, not really needed? Or can they be good with a hi fi?

    Thanks! Keenly waiting replies
     
  2. Squid Doctor

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    Maybe you should think about spending a bit more on your amp.
    It seems odd to invest over 4k in speakers and so little on amplification.
    With all those thousands to play with, I think you deserve a better amp! :)
     
  3. Gullanian

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    I was under the impression that an amp purely boosts the signal and has no part in improving sound quality, is it really worth spending more?
     
  4. GrahamC

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    If the Egyptians built pyramids that way what would happen? :) . My advice is to more evenly spread the money over all units of the system.
     
  5. Gullanian

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    How about scrapping the DAB (I'll save up another time) and getting the:

    Caspian Amp (M series)
    Caspian CD Player (M series)

    Bringing to total to £6,400
     
  6. shahedz

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    i would really recommened you demo these items, take a few of your favourite cds and play around with a few amps/cd players and speakers. you got a lot of money and the last thing you want to do it be left with a system you are not happy with
     
  7. nirmal

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    Hi Gullanian,
    I have set myself a budget similar to yours, but I am spreading it over 1 year. My setup when complete will be:

    PMC IB1 speakers
    Bryston 4B SST amplifier
    Benchmark DAC 1
    Marantz PMD340 CD player serving as transport
    Balanced connections throughout.
    Cambridge audio DAB 500

    Only the speakers are required to complete my system. I hope to buy them in a few months. These components are more pro than consumer oriented, so you dont get the eye candy. However, all the money is spent under the bonnet for better performance. IMHO this system beats consumer versions costing sometimes three times as much for sound quality. Keep your mind open regarding to pro equipment. There are some outstanding pieces of equipment to be had at bargain prices.
    Dont spend too much on a DAB tuner. The format is not very good, so you will not be gaining much for the money spent.
    Cheers,
    Nirmal :)
     
  8. Londondecca

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    A home demo is critical. The AE1's are great speakers which really need a decent amp and maybe the difficulty could be in the huge choice of products which are available to you. A 300B amp is going to sound very different to a Naim or Exposure. Electrostatics will not sound anything like a Kef or an AE1. Only your ears will tell you what works for you. It would be very easy to spend all your budget and end up with a poor sounding HiFi, so arrange as many demos as you can
     
  9. Mr Cat

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    I can't really recommend components atthat price range - but I recommend that you demo...

    I recently bought a musical fidelity x80 (rrp 600) which in theory would be much better than may nad (rrp 350) but in my ears it wasn't...I've just bought a nad c270 power amp - and that is stunning...
     
  10. Henry

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    Being a bit of a Naim fan, I'd be tempted to get something like this.

    CD5x - £1495
    NAC202 - £1455
    NAP200 - £1445

    These are all list prices and I'm sure they'll do you a deal whether it's cash off or free cables.

    You can then add an NAPSC, Flatcap, HiCap or Supercap to improve your system. The good thing about Naim gear is that it holds it's value very well indeed and the aftersales care is phenomenal. They'll maintain this gear for years and years to come. So if you're after something that'll outlast you, they'd be hard to beat. But I am biased!!!:)

    For speakers, it depends on what you listen to but I'd recommend a pair of Proac Response 1SCs £1199 (extra dependant upon your choice of finish). Lovely!

    But as everyone else has said, get down to a decent dealer, take your favourite CDs and have fun! :clap:
     
  11. Pezerinno

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    I'd demo for about a couple of months with that sort of budget! Theres so much choice available. Also I would personally buy second hand (except maybe the spinner). Hifi depreciates quickly so you could be looking at a 12k rrp system going second hand.
     
  12. Paul Williams

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    I would suggest you take your time, buy mags for a few months & book a few demos, so as to get a benchmark of whats around. If none of this is at all of interest and you just want to spend some money on a good system, then look to Linn, Naim, AVI, Rega, Arcam, Quad and some others for a single make solution, as these will be a far safer bet than a pick & mix approach without putting some work/effort into the selection.

    We all have our own ideas of what a great system would/could/should sound like, but only you will have to listen to it. I have a suspicion that the system you propose will sound distinctly below average. If you went into any dealer with your list of propose items, I think it will be a good test of whether or not you should deal with them - they should try and persuade you not to buy this set-up, in favour of one that will actually provide more music for your money. Also room size, speaker location, cables, equipment stands are all part of the equation and need to be considered, building a system takes time and effort. If you're just going to jump in the deep end then a good dealer, I feel is essential. £5,000 to £7,000 should provide a fabulous stereo system, but so would spending less, I hope you get a good one.

    Paul
     
  13. karkus30

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    Are you sure you want a hifi system ? Maybe you would be better of buying a set of PA speakers and amp if ultimate sound levels are your aim. Hi Fi isnt about sound levels and thumping bass, it reflects as close as possible the recorded sound (good or bad) at realistic home listening levels.

    A lot of people get a shock when they hear 100Ks worth of state of the art hifi, they assume its going to be hugely loud and capable of making your ears bleed. The reality might be a relaxed performance from a female vocalist with gentle double bass and cymbal work.

    Its worth warning you of this as I have seen disappointment on many peoples faces that were expecting fireworks. Its like wine, you drink a bottle or two of cheap plonk and you fall over, you buy a £50 bottle of wine and you dont fall over any faster. Infact some would argue that the cheaper bottles tasted better. Its horses for courses.
     
  14. Dankeech

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    By the way, even the Piano Black version of the AE1 MKIII speakers should only cost you £2000 plus £500 for the stands (Sevenoaks sell them for a start). They're very small, but the guy in sevenoaks did say they were his favourite speakers in the store and they keep sounding better every time you upgrade the amp and source etc. Get a demo, but from what I've hear, sound is bigger than speaker size.

    For under the £4000 you are saying, you could buy the AE3's which are the flagship floorstander Acoustic Energy make, same as the AE1, but just floorstanding version of it and have built-in subs I think.

    Guy in sevenoaks was clearly very impressed with the series and he had a lot of nice things in the shop he could have chosen as his favourite instead.

    Hope this helps.

    May have just saved you £2000 =]]

    Very happy with Sevenoaks Watford & Sevenoaks Staines service.

    Dan.
     
  15. Gullanian

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    Thanks for all your comments.

    Sevenoaks was the shop I was planning on visting and demoing. I definatly will try out a whole range of stuff, shopping around is half the fun!

    I'm not wanting a PA system, volume is not too much of an issue with me, more with the quality but at a level you can enjoy it at a party. In regards to my amp statement, I was just wondering what numbers I need to compare to ensure the amp isn't dragging the speakers down.

    Hey I'm not good with the technical side but I know what I like when I hear it!
     
  16. Dankeech

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    You MUST get a good amp to drive those speakers. It's processing quality too, not just how many watts.

    My advice, walk in to Sevenoaks (www.sevenoakssoundandvision.co.uk to find your local one), lay your predicament (have up to £7k to spend and want something that'll really make you happy).

    Don't buy anything straight away or even that soon. Check what hifi etc reviews, see what's hot. Get plenty of stuff demo'd. Bring your fave DVD's and spend some time there.

    The AE1 MKIII's will sound incredible as will the AE3's (floorstanding versions)

    * Don't forget Cabling budget! (say £10% of your budget etc).

    Don't feel in any way like you have to buy something quickly. This is what these shops are about. No salesperson breathing down your neck for a sale etc.

    Take your time. Bring a friend and see what your ears tell you. Arrange multiple demos.
     
  17. Gullanian

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    Thanks for the advice.

    I'm quite an excitable person, and when I do hopefully receive the money will try and refrain from same day purchases!

    I can't wait to go in and try some out.

    As for cabling I got some off my old system I can use. The guy in Richersounds assured me that the speaker cable I bought was the premier league of speaker cable at over £5 per meter, so I think it will be good enough?

    Also the interconnectors I have are gold plated and cost £30 each.

    If your saying I need 10% on cabling, that's like £700! Too much for some cables? Seems to be a lot of controvesry as to if cables above a certain quality are money vacuums.
     
  18. Henry

    Henry
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    Just another thought. If you're spending that kind of money, it's important that the room that you're using it in is suitable for listening. Carpets, Curtains, other soft furnishings etc are all things to bear in mind when you're spending that kind of dosh on a hi-fi system.

    Good luck & have fun!
     
  19. Dankeech

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    Good point from Henry there. So often overlooked. Keep a small amount back for adjusting the room etc.

    There's some good guides to cheap soundproofing tips etc on the net. Have a look.

    Guess you're going to be pretty active on these forums :D
     
  20. karkus30

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    Thats what I mean, wack up the volume and you will soon find out you have fried your speaker drive units. Doesn't matter what rating is shown on your speakers, even if it says 5000watts and you put a 30 watt amp through them with the volume maxed out, you will have approximately £4000 of wooden sculptures and a trip to the repairers.


    and what have you heard that you like, what impresses you, forget about names and types.............just what have you listened to that really gets you going? Classical music at a special auditorium, house music on a high quality club system, a mates ICE system ? What music do you listen to, where do you listen to it?

    There are loads of people on here who will point you in different directions. But no one can tell you what will be right for you, forget magazine reviews and personal recommendations dude. Whats great for one person might be your nightmare.

    You mention the AE speakers ? but you dont know what they sound like. Is it the look that impresses you ? Is that part of the attraction ? You can go down your local Sevenoaks and find all the popular models that are heavily promoted by advertising, but you would miss out on the specialist small manufacturer who, quite often, takes a lot more care in his product.

    Im saying all this because you have a wad of money burning a hole in your pocket and theres loads of hungry dealers waiting to take it off you. Some are really great and will advise you according to your needs, others will heap a pile of 5 star What HIFI best buys in your direction and parcel it up with some expensive speaker cables and interconnects.

    My advice is to visit several dealers and walk away from any that dont ask you at least 30 questions before they start to show you stuff. 'Whats your budget? would make that 31 questions.
     
  21. alexs2

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    There's a lot of very good advice being given out here,and perhaps the best of all is to just take your time,and listen to as many different makes as possible,and using your own CD's.

    Make up a list of those you like,and then arrange as many home demos as possible,as any dealer willing to relieve you of several thousand pounds should be ready to at least you try them in your own home.

    You've mentioned AE1 Mk3 speakers,and as someone else has said,these will need a good powerful amp to get the best out of them,and alongside those,you could look at the B&W 804/805,plus the Wilson Benesch Arc.....those were just a few of my own favourites when I last went looking for speakers.

    There is however,no substitute for your own ears,as these are what will be doing the listening,and no 2 people seem to have exactly the same likings...you have quite a decent budget there....stay clear of the places that only want to sell you something,and have no interest in helping you.
     
  22. Gullanian

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    Thanks for all the advice guys.

    I'm looking forward to going shopping!

    Those MKII attracted me because of the WhatHiFi 5 star award, and a few of the technical details I know a bit about look good on paper.

    Because at the moment I am only Internet shopping, I can't obviously hear them so am building up a list of ones that look good on paper, then will eliminate them when I try some out.

    As for music I'm looking for a diverse system, I listen to Rap, Folk, Rock, Metal, Classical and Country. Anything really, I really enjoy decent music and this comes in many genres for me. I will make sure I test all the music types on each system to ensure it copes with all ranges of notes and frequencies sufficiently.

    I always get nervous when I walk in a shop any ask lots of questions, I'm quite timid in that respect and am worried I'm wasting the experts time because he obviously knows millions more than me. Obviously this is stupid, so I will get over it. They want the sale and will help me out whenever I ask.

    Any advice on cabling? I'm really naiive about it. Maybe I could ask them in the shop to rig it to some cheap cabling and then to the top end stuff, if I can't notice a difference then it doesn't really matter I guess to go with the cheap stuff.

    Also another question, is it possible to get surround sound systems? I want to link the system in with my computer, to watch films and play games as I do with my current system. My soundcard is surround sound on my computer, but do I need special surround sound amps?

    Also another question (oh my god sorry!) is it worth getting a subwoofer. I'm not bass mad, but like a bit of bass to underpin and give depth to music, is putting a sub on a hi fi an unusual thing to do?
     
  23. Londondecca

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    Be careful of taking to much notice of specs. A 10 watt SET matched with some Lowther horns could provide very high sound levels and amazing quality but on paper you have a very low powered amp with speakers which would not normally measure as well as some £100 speakers.

    When you take your CD's to the demo, try and find some which have very poor recordings. A good system will also allow poor quality CDs to sound great
     
  24. alexs2

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    With respect to multichannel systems(surround/Av etc),have a good read around the forums to get some idea of what's available,and to get an idea of what you may want to have,but do bear in mind that whilst an AV receiver will do all things including playing music,it's by necessity a compromise,and won't play stereo sources as well as a dedicated stereo system at a lower price would.

    Cabling....there's something to suit every budget from the all-in-one market up to the highest priced systems....buy something decent but not excessively expensive,and don't be swayed by the retailers.
    I wouldn't spend more than a few hundred pounds out of your total budget on cabling,as if you choose carefully,you shouldnt need to.

    Subs...yes,they can add an enormous amount to a system,especially if properly set up and integrated into the overall system,and more so if you are contemplating bookshelf/standmount sized speakers like the AE1 or similar...be VERY careful over your choices here,and buy the main speakers first before going anywhere near a sub,so that you get the basis of the sound correct prior to adding a sub.

    The magazine reviews are all very well,and can be useful,but it's your own decision that counts,not the ears of a reviewer.

    Finally,dont be put off by having to ask questions,and if the retailer cant or wont help...walk.
     
  25. karkus30

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    I really hate hearing that, please forget What hifi 5 star awards. Even the least sceptical amongst us has a good idea how these are dished out. Ignore the stats they really dont make a lot of sense either as different rooms respond in different ways. A really good speaker might sound bright in one room and distinctly muffled in another. The only way is to try them.



    Remember that by simply looking at the more poular models your ignoring many of the small manufacturers. My personal favourite is http://www.neat.co.uk they are about to launch the new motive range which is great value and very undemanding on amplification. I have heard the floorstanders several times now and am really impressed with the results. Thats not to say these are for you by any means, but it gives an indication of loudspeakers that dont appear in the usual mass market.




    The more revealing a system becomes, the more it will highlight poor recordings as well as showing off the best. Be aware that the software that you play on the system can be a major part of the overall sound. I like to test a system by playing music I dont normally like and if it makes me start to listen or even enjoy it, then I reckon Im on the right track. Of course you need to take along well known music as well so you can compare systems. I usually use Cyndi Laupers 12 deadly cyns, Nirvana - nevermind and Stings - Ten Summoners tales. I dont usually listen to Sting or Ms Lauper, but these albums have tracks which show aspects of the systems performance.


    Anyone worth his salt will question you so they can properly understand what you need. It shouldn't be like an interrogation, more a comfy sit down over a coffee and a bit of a chat. But contained in that chatting should be lots of questions and answers. After that maybe a demo of some different systems to get a feel for the sort of thing your looking for. This should really be followed by a home demo IMO, but its difficult for dealers to offer this unless they get to know you well. Secondhand systems have been suggested and that's a great way to buy and gives far more scope. Of course half the things wont have 5 star what hifi stickers on them, some maybe too old to have been around when WHF started, let alone get a review. I buy virtually everything s/h.

    Hoho..........we all are so dont let that worry you ! If anyone could give you the definitive answer on cabling it would be something of a miracle. Cabling does make a difference, of that there is no doubt and its particulary relevant to loudspeaker cables, but not as much difference as siting your loudspeakers correctly. My advice is to use some good quality 4mm sq stranded copper speaker cable and terminate it directly to the speaker and amplifier connections without any gold plugs and whatnots. Im not even going to start on interconnects, Ive had loads of them and cant really tell the difference. Mark grant (on this forum somewhere) does high quality interconnects with professional connectors for about £30 a pair and I think these are about as good as you can get.

    This is a whole other ball game. I think its just about accepted that a good hifi system is better as a two channel dedicated system. You can get add on amplifier/decoders from manufacturers like Yamaha. The front speakers can then be driven from your hifi amp and the rest via the decoder. DVD players tend not to give as good a sound quality as a dedicated cd player (at present) I would recommend a seperate home cinema system for this type of use and wouldnt pay big bucks for it personally. I run a fairly expensive Denon amp and CD player through some mid range home cinema speakers and an SVS sub woofer. Its probably cost me the thick end of 5K and apart from the SVS sub I reckon that the quality increase over my old Yamaha cinema amp, with its 5 tiny speakers and subwoofer (about 350 quid) is really not ten times as good, not even twice. The sub makes a big difference as the littleYamaha struggled with big bangs and thumps.

    It really depends, its a purist thing for me but many seem to have intergrated a sub into their systems. Im lucky enough to be able to afford speakers which can get down to 20Hz (low frequency sound) and an amplifier which is capable of dealing with the current needed to do this. Most CDs dont have much really low bass on them. The bass you hear is really mid range frequencies. Pick out some straight rock music and there is virtually nothing in the low bass department unless it has been specifically engineered onto the album.

    Home Cinema is a different matter as it has sound effects and a dedicated sub woofer output (thats why its called 5:1, 5 main speakers and one sub ). Some of these sound effects really need a subwoofer to get the most from the film so a sub is definitely worth it. Its a mystery to me how a film can have all these fantastic low frequency effects but a scratchy dialogue that you can hardly hear, that isnt on all films but again the software is paramount.
     
  26. alexs2

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    I also buy a good bit of ex-dem gear,and it can be a very good way of buying better for less.

    As to subs and hifi...like yourself,my last set of speakers went down flat to 20Hz,which is a trick that not too many subs can match,but at the expense of a triamped active speaker system,and constant complaints from my wife.

    My current system uses B&W 805s or Quad ESLs(the latter most definitely needing a sub to avoid compresion and overload in the LF regions),and with careful choice,it's easy enough to find a good,fast responding sub that will integrate with a stereo-only system,and I'd say that I'm fairly picky about finding a system that will perform well with music(the other reason for using a sub is that a 300B based triode amp doesnt do deep high level bass at all well!...the Krells do,but dont have the subtlety of the 300Bs).
     
  27. karkus30

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    I have a PC Ultra so Im well aware of the merits of a fast sub. I would love to hear that system of yours with the ESLs and 300Bs mixed with an SVS. Have you used anything to smooth out the overlap like a BFD? My first thought would be 'no way' that would all fit together, but I have heard other even more unlikely systems which have made me reconsider my views.
     
  28. Gullanian

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    Thanks for all the advice guys! Hopefully I can go shopping tommorow and start my quest!
     
  29. Londondecca

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    Agreed, products by Sugden, Audio Analogue, Snell, Avondale, EAR, Croft, WAD, Wilmslow Audio, LFD etc are not going to be stocked by a mainstream HiFi dealer (accepting the kits have a very limited distribution).

    I would also recommend acoustic modelling software by Cara or RPG to assit in getting the best out of your system. In fact I may argue that £1000 spent on getting the acoustics right will give the biggest upgrade to any system.
     
  30. KoThreads

    KoThreads
    Well-known Member

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    Are you sure? The further I go the better good recordings sound and the worse just get worse. I've got AE3's and they are lovely sounding speakers, but if the recordings not that good then they let you know it.
     

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