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Posted: 4/30/2001 6:34:53 PM EDT
We're looking for a new stereo. I know just enough to get me in trouble. We have a house and need it for the small to midsized living room, family room and dining room, with occassionally cranking it up to reach our back patio through the kitchen. I initially started looking at shelf units, because it seemed like a good package that required a relatively limited research on my part. They also seem space concious and economical. I was looking in the $300-$600 range. My wife wants a "conventional" stereo. I.e., receiver/equalizer/radio, double tape deck, 5-disc CD changer, and speakers. She likes the look over shelf units, although it's probably mainly because we're replacing her brother's component system that we got in '95 after he used it for 10 years (i.e., pre'85 vintage). A few years back I replaced the larger speakers (woofers? I dunno), with some Radio Shack units to squeeze a bit more life out of it. And, I think it's important to note that both my wife and I believe (either right or wrong), that a component system is higher overall quality than a shelf system. And we're willing to shell out more for a better system that we'll be happy with in the long run. Here's what I *think* we're looking for. Please feel free to give me some input if you think I'm going in the wrong direction. - I would like something with over 100 watts (because I *think* that's the power baseline, or at least it was in the early '90's); - I would like a 3-5 CD changer, preferrably one with a rotating disc system (i.e., the big plate come out), versus the internal storage or 10 disc magazine (post ban?[:)]); - Radio with digital tuner and programmed channels would be nice; - Option of adding Dolby Surround Sound later would be nice, though I probably wouldn't buy all 4 speakers right now unless someone knows of a killer package deal; - Remote control would be nice; - The system should be all one manufacturer so it's all designed to work together and is pretty much plug and play (don't tell me to get a shelf unit, see above); - a double tape deck, though this is something we could add-on later; - Later AV extension is probably going to be required at the price range we're getting into -- we have a nice big modern TV, so maybe if the CD player also read DVD we'd be set up front...; and - I'd like to spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $500-$750 on the entire package. Is this realistic? Please give me suggestions on options, features, and models that would work for me. I'd like to be able to walk into a store (or, better yet, deal with Crutchfield online -- I prefer to deal with local shops, but Best Buy is no more local than Crutchfield, IMHO) and say, for example, give me a Sony ABC receiver/tuner, Sony ABC CD player, and a set of Sony ABC speakers. I'd write my check, go home, plug the suckers in and be in business. All advice and experience, including manufacturers and models, would be greatly appreciated. Even if you tell me to get a high end shelf unit! TIA PS I should add that I have a background in music (drums and percussion, from garage bands to regional symphony orchestras), so sound quality is important to me. But not so important that this purchase is going to exceed the price I paid for my Wilson 1996A2 or my Colt R6530. We're talking NIB SIG Sauer Classic prices, here. You could maybe talk me into a preban mag up front with more later, but that's about it.
Link Posted: 4/30/2001 6:54:30 PM EDT
Well that's the great thing about component stereos, you can buy them a piece at a time. Most of the name brand ones come with the features you mentioned, Kenwood, Pioneer, Sony, Carver etc. Heck, I'm in the market for a new CD player my old Kenwood quit awhile back, and the 100 disc changers at stores like Best Buy were $109 for Pioneer. I don't know if Pioneer still makes the VSX receivers, but the one I have kicks 150w per channel. I bought some Infinity bookshelf speakers and they sound great. You ought to be alright as long as you stick with the well known brands.
Link Posted: 4/30/2001 7:14:41 PM EDT
Link Posted: 4/30/2001 7:30:20 PM EDT
For $300-$600 you should be able to buy 1 good speaker. Actually you can get a component for that amount, but you lose out. DO NOT BUDGET WHEN PURCHASING A STERO because steros are kept a very long time. You even mentioned the one you had was more than 10 years old. If you are on a tight budget buying components one at a time would be a good idea. Another idea would be to purchase a Bose system. Although it would be about $1200, you would get the surround and subwoffer plus radio and CD player for that amount. Even the lowest end model of Bose is 10 times better than other brands top of the line. My 2 cents.
Link Posted: 4/30/2001 7:43:45 PM EDT
Jac: I am no expert. It seems to me that what you want, and the price you want to pay, are not in the same ballpark (perhaps not in the same game even). Sorry. In current times, with current entertainment choices (DVD and digital satellite TV) may I suggest that thinking of a 'stereo' is a bit stone-age. Likely, what you want is a "Home Theater" setup - Dolby 5.1, 5 speakers, etc.etc. I dropped a bundle on such a setup over the last couple of years, one or two pieces at a time. I am finally happy with what I see/hear. If in the end you think you will end up with a Home Theatre setup that brings out the best of your T2 or Matrix DVD then my advice, which cost me a lot but is free to you, is to NOT spend $300 - $600 on an initial system. Spend the $600 on a fair quality receiver, and go from there, as you can. To put this into AR15 context... If the end result desired is a Match shooter, do not start out with a NIB RonCo complete rifle, for 4 easy payments or $39.95, and if you act within the next 24 hours you get a free brass catcher and Leapers 16x scope. Wizer purchase would be the ultimate lower, to which you could later add the ultimate other parts. Don't shoot the opinionated messenger... DanM
Link Posted: 4/30/2001 7:49:58 PM EDT
audioreview.com - look under Hall of Fame.
Link Posted: 4/30/2001 8:25:00 PM EDT
The only stereo I'd be looking at would be a pair of ar's. Fred
Link Posted: 4/30/2001 8:34:40 PM EDT
Try Crutchfield. I have never bought from them, so I don't know what kind of service they have, but if you want specs on equipment, prices, etc., you can compare them there from your computer. [url]www.crutchfield.com/cgi-bin/S-zoHNQyeMV9F/ProdMenu.asp?c=4&s=0[/url]
Link Posted: 4/30/2001 8:59:18 PM EDT
Ok Jac, the price range you want to stay in is going to be hard to stay in. First, just because one receiver has more wattage does NOT mean it is better. It depends on the manufacture. I'd put 70 watts out of an Onkyo receiver up against 120 watts out of a Kenwood or Pioneer ANY day. The more watts you have the louder you will be able to play without stressing your receiver and causing distortion. As for Dolby Surround, you would be hard pressed to find a A/V receiver now a days that doesn’t support Dolby Digital and DTS surround. Also, there are not 4 speakers in a DD or DTS system, there are 6. 2 front channels, 2 rear channels, center channel, and LFE (low frequency effects) or sub woofer. The radio tuner is built into most all A/V receivers as well. If you are going to get a CD changer, you might as well get a 5-disk carousel DVD changer. A remote will be included with your receiver, don’t worry about that. Tape decks can be had just about anywhere. So you are looking at 3 main components minus the speakers and TV. Your A/V receiver, your DVD changer, and your tape deck. As for brands I suggest Onkyo, Denon, or Yamaha. Those are good introductory brands that wont break the bank. You didn’t mention if you needed to upgrade your speakers. If you do, a great semi-inexpensive brand to go with is Acoustic Research. They are great for home theater, and sound good with day to day music too. Ok, here is the best advice I could ever give you. STAY AWAY FROM CRUTCHFIELD!! They are way overpriced. The only thing their catalog is good for it’s to give you and idea of what products are out there. Here are a few links to some online stores where you can get better prices, and great service. I bought my receiver from Onecall.com, and my speakers from Dynadirect.com [url]http://www.onecall.com/[/url] [url]http://www.dynadirect.com/electronics-audio-products-home-theater---speakers-ar.html[/url] If you have any more question, post here and I will help as best I can.
Link Posted: 4/30/2001 10:44:04 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Ice15: Ok, here is the best advice I could ever give you. STAY AWAY FROM CRUTCHFIELD!! They are way overpriced. The only thing their catalog is good for it’s to give you and idea of what products are out there.
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Don't know anything about Crutchfield's service, but the equipment that I just checked on have the same prices as the sites that you listed. ??????
Link Posted: 4/30/2001 11:12:46 PM EDT
You need to get down to some surfing. Despite what some people are saying you can get what you want, maybe not all at one time. Go after an Audio/Video receiver that already has the 5 channels and Dolby built in and a remote compatable CD player. The 100 watts/channel is a luxury and not essential. When you are ready you will only have to get some more speakers and a DVD to go to a full blown Home Entertainment Center. The stuff is out there and affordable as ever. I also like Yamaha but there are many good manufactures out there.
Link Posted: 5/1/2001 7:12:11 AM EDT
check out: [url]http://www.audioreview.com/reviews/[/url]
Link Posted: 5/1/2001 7:34:50 AM EDT
Lets keep it simple: 1. Forget the "equalizer" 1.5 Forget the "cassette player" 2. Make sure it is Dolbly digital 5.1,or 6.1,or 7.1 AND DTS ready/decoding 3. NEVER buy from CROTCHFIELD-WAY, WAY, WAY overpriced! 4. see rule 3 5. go somewhere you can test different systems(best buy/circuit city)-get the model numbers of all the stuff you want- go to Pricescan.com find the lowest price on the net-call J&R in new york www.jandr.com tell them the price you found-they will match or come close and most importantly anr a VERY reputible company. Yo will save literally hundreds of dollars this way (and not pay tax) 5.5 I have purchased many thiongs from J&R-VERY good prices-MUCH cheaper than crutch or best buy 6. Loud does not necessarly mean good 7. Some places-i think Circuit city-will let you buy some speakers and return them within one year for full price refund toward new, better speakers. 8. Heed advice of other posts-get a good quality reciever right off the bat-unfortunatley-600 bucks may just cover that 9. If getting Sony-get ES models Better quality/sound and have 5 YEAR WARRANTY-so you dont have to purchase additional "extended warranty" 10. Watch out for some new Denon recievers-quality seems to have gone WAY down on some. 11. Get a good powered sub 10" minimum 12" better
Link Posted: 5/1/2001 10:23:53 AM EDT
Ive always been a fan of Onkyo equipment. Ive got a receiver that is only 65 watts and it knocks the hell out of my speakers. Its not always the amount of power as it is the quality of power that does the trick. I looked at Kenwwod too but when played sid eby side the Onkyo sounds sooo much better. I also like Infinity speakers. If you are planning on running surround sound for movies dont skimp on the center channel. This speaker makes a HUGE difference in the movie audio
Link Posted: 5/1/2001 10:39:49 AM EDT
I would reccomend taking a few of the cds you know best to a high end stereo shop (look in the yellow pages). Listen to a fairly expensive system. You will get a good idea what a good system CAN sound like. Then you can spend time some time trying to get as close to that as possible with budget equipment. If you get really serious, you ought to spend quite a bit of time with equipment, getting to know what you like/don't like as far as sound. The more you listen the more you can get a feel for this. As with anything in life, you don't get something for nothing. Real power is not cheap. Good quality bass response is not cheap. It is a balancing act. Some high-end audio shops are snobby. Screw 'em. Walk out and try a different one. When you find a good one, they can give you advice and help you make a decision. This is all they do. They don't sell micorwaves or blenders. They sell quality stereo equipment all day every day. You may pay for their expertise, but you will end up with a more enjoyable system. here is a good page for those on a budget: http://www.goodsound.com/home.shtml And a good place to buy used equip: http://audiogon.com/ You will end up paying 1/2 to 2/3s buying used and most people take care of it.
Link Posted: 5/1/2001 10:41:40 AM EDT
Don't forget to get good speaker cable as well. [url]http://gallery.consumerreview.com/audio/gallery/files/opus-mm.asp[/url] Nuckles.
Link Posted: 5/1/2001 11:00:13 AM EDT
I am a retired audiophile. Retired because being an audiophile, is, well, retarded. :) There is a point of diminishing returns that starts relatively low down on the market scale. There is also a point of no returns. You can get an excellent system for under $1000. And you will be just as happy with it as with a system you bought for $20,000, provided: you do not listen to anyone's crap. My Blowjobpunk Super-conducting vaccum tube hyper-blaster stereo is the best! Your puny stereo sucks! The reason exclusive brand components cost so much is because they are made in small numbers in small factories. As we all remember from supply deman economics, the more you make, the less it costs to make it. One audiophile magazine recently tested some speakers from Radio Shack, thinking they were going to say how bad they were. Surprisingly, they kept their objectivity, and these speakers rated as high as speakers costing 10 times as much. Keep this in mind. After 10 years of audiophiling, I have come to the following conclusions. I cannot explain why, because it would take too long, but I can certainly give you more detail in email. 1. Sony recievers are the best value. Sony ES receivers can compare to any receiver on the market. You can get a great Sony reciever for $300, an ES receiver for $700. There are some great deals right now on Pro-logic (as opposed to dolby digital or dts) ES receivers. 2. Get a receiver, decoder, eq combo box. If I put you in a room with a $300 combo unit and $1200 pre-amp, amp, and eq, you will not be able to tell the difference without hours and hours of listening. And hours and hours... 3. Speakers. A good speaker should cost no more than $500, with $300 or even $250 each being acceptable. Never buy speakers with powered subwoofers built in. These subs always sound worse than a separte box sub and the speakers with them cost a great deal more than the same speakers without them. You only need one subwoofer. Both Polk and Infinity make great speakers in this ballpark. Radio Shack makes great speakers..but only one of their series is good. I don't know the name...ask for the ones that were tested by "that stereo magazine". The only important thing about speakers is the drivers and the enclosures. Drivers should be high quality, have good surrounds, and sound good to you. Tweaters are the most important component when it comes to sound quality. A good powered sub with a 12" woofer and about 200 watts is all you need. When matching surround speakers, it is important that they have identical drivers. Satellite speakers can be okay, but make sure the enclosure is big enough and the driver is at least 3.5", 4" is even better. Stay away from Bose. 3. Power: 200 watts is not twice as loud as 100 watts. You need to go 10db higher to get something twice as lout. So 100bd is half as loud as 110db. Doubling the power only gives you 3db as a rule. So to get something twice as lound as 100 watts, you need 1200 watts. That's a lot of watts! You should have 100 watts per speaker. Your sub should have it's own power source. Stick to these guidelines, and you can have a great stereo for a good price that will last at least a decade, if not much longer. Good luck. Bill Wallace
Link Posted: 5/2/2001 4:39:15 AM EDT
I aggree with Bill. Except the Sony reciever part. I hated mine. And haven't been impressed by others. :)
Link Posted: 5/2/2001 5:30:09 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Bill Wallace: Stay away from Bose. Bill Wallace
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Could you please elaborate on that? I am very close to dropping a large chunk of cash on a set of Bose speakers (they are small enough to actually be practical for my mobile lifestyle). Please tell me the bad pop - I need to know if there is something I do not know. Adam
Link Posted: 5/2/2001 5:58:12 AM EDT
I would defenitely stay away from Bose products. Not only do they sound horrible, all those outlets they have selling refurbished products are out there for a reason. I will tell you what, go down to your local Klipsch dealer and listen to a pair of the RF-3's and save yourself some time. I shopped for over a year and listened to hundreds of speakers and these are by far the best. Just go out to http://www.audioreview.com and look at the reviews on these speakers. Trust me, you will not be sorry if you buy these. They run about $700.00 a pair and are awesome. Then you can do what I did, buy a piece at a time. I bought the receiver and the speakers together and then added cd, cassette, and eq as I got the money. That way you can build a nice system that works with your budget. I just can't say enough about the Klipsch RF-3's though. If you plan on spending less than that, don't listen to them....nothing else will satisfy you!
Link Posted: 5/2/2001 7:15:22 PM EDT
Link Posted: 5/2/2001 9:07:03 PM EDT
Granted the little Bose systems dont sound as good as they should the 901 series are awesome. Ive had a pair for 21 years and the quality is still outstanding
Link Posted: 5/4/2001 4:53:54 PM EDT
OK. I'm beginning to see where you guys are going on the "home theater" concept. If I'm going to want to watch a DVD, I may as well have the right surround sound speakers. And if they do well for stereo, that great. So, how about the Phillips MX990DHT? It's a DVD player with separate receiver/tuner/EQ, 4 mini-speakers and 1 subwoofer. Total output from the system is 550 watts. Total output from me is $600. I couldn't find anything about it on www.audioreview.com and it must be new as it doesn't come up on the Phillips website (no photo or specs, kind'a like a space reserved). I like it because it will allow me to expand yet be really usable in the meantime. I won't have the best stereo speakers in the world, but I listened to them and think they sound great. I'd rather spend $600 for this system now and move it to another room in another 4 years when I want to get a high-end system, than spend $300-400 on shelf system (which I'm coming to understand are generally crap). Any thoughts?
Link Posted: 5/4/2001 5:45:07 PM EDT
Well my second hobby is stereo. I have a 35K system B&W Speakers and Krell components. This is cheap compared to what others can buy. There is one set of speakers I know of the goes for 1/5 mil....so you can go extreme. In the price range you are looking at, everything except Bose will sound similar until about the $2500.00 price point or so. If you can afford it I would go with a NAD or a Rotel system and some Joseph Audio speakers or small B&W speakers. You should be able to get this in the area of around 3K-6k depending on what you desire. Speakers are kind of personal thing, but the more you listen the deeper base you will desire. Mid-Range is where the majority of your sound is so check the reviews and buy something with a good MR. To get very good base you will be spending at least $7500+ or so on a set of speakers (Class A components). If you desire to go less than that then Sony would be your best bet. What ever you do don't get taken in by the Bose solution. As most audiophiles say Bose..blows! This is where I shop...enjoy http://www.audioforest.com/ After you buy your new system you can begin purchasing Gold CDs...there is a big difference. For more info go to http://www.audioasylum.com/index.html
Link Posted: 5/4/2001 5:45:41 PM EDT
Link Posted: 5/4/2001 7:09:41 PM EDT
Thanks Troy! You are a wealth of information! I'd rather spend $600 on a pretty good or even OK) component system that I can live with and expand later on, than $300 on a shelf system that I'll want to use as a target in 3 months. In another 3-5 years or so we'll be moving into a bigger house, the wife will be back at work, the kid will be in preschool, and we'll have a ton more disposable income to pick and choose a sweet $3K system. But, until then, I'd rather keep myself in ammo. After all, I just found a nearby range last fall and I've shot more in 6 months than I have in the past 6 years. Anyone have any experience with this particular system that I'm looking at? (Phillips MX990DHT) TIA everyone.
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