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  1. #1
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    2-Channel Stereo on a $300 Budget and a few other questions

    My party room receiver just burned out and I am looking for an alternative that doesnt put a huge dent in my pocket.

    I use this receiver to drive a pair of mid-sized bookshelf speakers but I am also considering the addition of a Sub-Woofer or Upgrading my speakers to towers so I would like to have good wattage available in case I do. (I have been considering an amp around 80W).

    Sound quality is more important than volume for me, as I dont usually play my music as loud as movies which get handled by another amp in another room.

    My audio sources for this amp are primarily a good quality CD Carrousel Changer and an IPOD (my MP3 collection is ripped at 192 Kbps and I am testing the different lossless formats available), so all I need is a good 2 Channel receiver or Amp-Pre Amp setup in my price range.

    I have been considering the Marantz 4320 as I have had good experience with the brand, but will definitely consider other brands and refurbished units as well to stay close to my budget.

    I would appreciate any comments or sugestions.

  2. #2
    Suspended markw's Avatar
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    This is just a little over your budget, but if you can swing it...


  3. #3
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    If you really just want a 2-channel stereo system, and you're not opposed to buying 2nd hand gear, I think you should just drop $100 on a NAD 3020 or 3140 similar Integrated unit...Then buy some used power amps (Adcom, NAD, etc) to fill out the rest of your budget if more power is desired...plenty of amps on ebay and audiogon in the $100 area.

    Cheap, good party room system...I have a 3140 linked to a wicked little 80 wpc AudioSource amp i stumbled across right now in my garage driving some old Wharfedales I have.

    If you insist on buying newer gear...markw's suggestion on the C320Bee is a good one!!!

  4. #4
    Just passing thru topspeed's Avatar
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    Gotta agree with Mark and KC on the C320bee if you go with an integrated. You might also look at this Cambridge Audio 540a which is what I bought over the NAD because it was a lot less expensive yet very, very close in sound quality (the NAD had slightly better bass).

    If you like listening to the radio in your party room, might I suggest something a little more vintage? You obviously like Marantz so why not look for a nice used 2275b or something of that ilk? These old tanks are retro-cool wearing brushed stainless steel faceplates with blue lighting and sound marvelous. If music quality is a priority, I can attest that they sound better than 90% of modern disposable receivers as my little 2230 sounds far better than my Denon 3803. I'd also look into vintage Sansui and Fisher receivers as they are also highly regarded. You can find units for sale on ebay all the time like this.

    Hope this helps.

  5. #5
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    My Budget Keeps Growing...and growing...

    Thanks for the advice to date guys. I have been researching your reccomendations and am totally open to all of these options and many more. My initial budget is stretching, but hey... sometimes you gotta say "What the hell..."

    One question that I have regarding my current research is that my CD player has Digital Outputs but none of the options I have been researching has Digital Inputs.

    Is this related to my price range or to technical considerations regarding D/A conversions in Pre Amp/Amp setups for 2 Channel Stereo? Should I look for Digital Inputs if all I want to listen to is 2-Channel?

    Please enlighten me.

  6. #6
    Suspended markw's Avatar
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    Not that they don't exist, but I cannot think of a two channel unit with a digital input. This would mean that it had it's own internal DAC built in and this would certainly add to the price. If you want to avail yourself of that digital output than one of the low end HT receivers would be more in your price range.

    But, if two channel is your goal and you have no problems with the CD's built in DAC, then either of the two integrateds recommended two channel amps oreven a vintage Marantx 22xx series receiver will be more than adequate. My 2270 is over thirtry years old and still amazes me.

  7. #7
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    Just to follow up

    For what it's worth, I can't tell a bloody difference on my Arcam CD player or my cheaper Yamaha CD player when switching from the digital out to the analog out.
    I think way too much hype is placed on DAC's and the impact they have these days.
    Analog connections are fine if you've got a way of accepting inputs from your Ipod or MP3 source...you might need to do some brainstorming.

    Make sure whatever you buy has enough inputs to accept whatever you want to connect with it...there's nothing more frustrating than forgetting something. Been there done that!

  8. #8
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    Still looking... a few more specs required

    Hey Guys.

    I was close to taking the plunge on the NAD C320 BEE when I realized that it doesnt have "B" Speaker outputs, which I have used in the past on my current unit. I also read some reviews on Epinions that said it "Humms" and sometimes pops when it comes on (please let me know if you have any experience with this, which I would not expect on a high end unit)

    I also looked at the Marantz Classic amps (227X and others) as recommended, but found that they only have one Aux input, and my sources include a CD Player and an Ipod, so I may be stuck with less inputs than i need with these alternatives.

    From what I have seen on the Forums, NAD is in a superior class than, Onkyo,Yamaha and Marantz, this seems to be confirmed by the price differences. Please let me know if the pricing difference is considered justified or if "Brand Appeal" is important in the pricing difference

    Sorry about coming back with so much, but as you all know.... this is more of a hobby than a science.

    Again thanks to all, I will appreciate all the input you can give me.

  9. #9
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hermann_giron
    From what I have seen on the Forums, NAD is in a superior class than, Onkyo,Yamaha and Marantz, this seems to be confirmed by the price differences. Please let me know if the pricing difference is considered justified or if "Brand Appeal" is important in the pricing difference
    I'm a big fan of NAD's integrateds (I have 2 that have been with my father and I for over 20 years now), but I wouldn't say NAD is "superior class" to anything...especially not Onkyo, Yamaha or Marantz...In my opinion, these companies produce far better a/v receivers than NAD does at any price point. Not superior, just different.
    NAD offers great bang for buck in amps and integrateds in my opinion...this is their strength. Compared to some offerings by Onkyo, Yamaha, and Marantz, yeah NAD's better at most price points. Each company has it's strengths. Each appeals to different buyers.

    As for the humming and poping noises, awhile back here there was a thread that RGA mentioned something about these NAD's. You may wish to ask him. I've played around with at least 6 different C320Bee's now (different stores) and I'm still of the opinion their a great little performer. The one's I've seen have all been fine. But no manufacturer is perfect, so I wouldn't doubt there's a few bad apples in the bunch. That's what warranty is for. Seems to me people were recommending the C320 or the "Non-BEE" amps instead....you might wish to check those out.

    I'm also starting to really warm up to Cambridge Audio's stuff, and Topspeed is probably as good a person as any around here to fill you in on their offerings. If you're going to base your decision solely on reviews and internet research though, you'll never buy anything. Get out there and start touching them amps...that's where all the fun is.

    Bottom line is you could drag 10 people with your budget, looking for the same thing, and end up with 10 different purchases. At some point you gotta pull the trigger. All we can do is sort of steer you in the right direction.

  10. #10
    Suspended markw's Avatar
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    As far as inputs go, that's not a big problem.

    I'm using a $15.00 switch from Radio Shack that allows me to select from any of three line level inputs for that one on the receiver. And, to stave off the wannabe's' there is no sacrifice in sound quality by using it.

  11. #11
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    Hi Herman,

    A couple receivers that are in your price range would be the Denon DRA-395 or the Harman Kardon HK3380. Both have solid amp sections, A/B speaker connections and sub woofer pre outs. The Denon has a lot of features while the Harman Kardon is more basic. I own the prior model of the Harman and have been very pleased with it's performance. The Denon performed very well in my auditions of it but I preferred the HK's simplicity. Either model would handle your projected speaker upgrade quite easily. Hope this helps.

  12. #12
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    Finally took the plunge, with a NAD C320Bee

    Hi Guys.

    Thanks for all the advice regarding this purchase. After a few weeks of reviewing and receiving all kinds of advice I placed an order for a NAD C320 Bee integrated Amp with the people at www.yawaonline.com (accompanied by a C521Bee CD Player). I really reccomend this retailer, as the offered excelent service, they negotiated an excelent price, have immediate availability and quick email responses (kudos to David and Joseph at Yawaonline)

    My loss of productivity at work was probably more expensive than my purchase...chalk it up against the endless nights of staying at the office til 10:00 pm when I should be home listening to some music.

    Why the C320Bee? It all came down to the expected sound quality and future growth possibilities it affords you.

    As I said before, most of my research was done via internet forums, as I travel a lot and have not had a chance to go review the units at a brick and mortar retailer. Also, these retailers are usually closed when I have the chance to listen to my music and access the internet.

    From my research I have the impression that NAD sound quality may be slightly better than the Cambridge Audion 540A which was its main contender; I also reviewed a few other alternatives but dismissed them after a few mediocre reviews on Epinions and other forums.

    The preamp section of the NAD has received rave reviews (some people saying that this section alone is worth the price of the whole unit). When I eventually decide to upgrade to a higher powered AMP this will be very usefull.

    One quip I had with the unit was the lack of A/B speakers. From what I saw on the message boards, this has been the reason why a lot of people have chosen other alternatives. I imagine that given the relatively low wattage rating, the people at NAD dont want to share the available current with a second set of speakers... If this is the reason for not having second speaker outputs, think I share their opinion.

    Finally, many people think that the NAD looks are not up to par with the Cambridge Audio unit. As luck would have it, my amp will sit on a stand that is of out of the way in my listening room, so it wont be very visible.

    thanks for all the advice.... Ill start another thread once the unit is installed, burned in and pumping my speakers and let you all know how it sounded in real life.

    take care,

    Hermann.

  13. #13
    Forum Regular psonic's Avatar
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    Well done, you will love the sound of that! Can't think of a better choice for ~$300 new. Give us some feedback when you listen to it...
    Dynaudio Audience 60
    Audio Refinement Complete Integrated
    Sony DVP-NC685V CD/SACD/DVD
    Audioquest Viper Interconnect
    14AWG OFC Speaker cable

    "hey dreaming it up accounts for half the fun - and time"

  14. #14
    Just passing thru topspeed's Avatar
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    Congrats! An excellent piece that will serve well as the cornerstone to your rig for a long, long time.

    Enjoy the music!

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