Need advice on a new stero system [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums


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03-09-2009, 05:52 PM
I'm looking to buy a new system. A couple of nice speakers, what kind? My room is not an auditorium. 12' x 16'. I don't need to blow anyone out but want good bass, clarity, etc. Is there such a sytem? I have an old but in great shape reciever, pioneer 450. Do I buy another, maybe an amp instead? Everybody I am new and just looking for direction. Can anyone help.?

Thanks Bob D

Mr Peabody
03-09-2009, 06:18 PM
Just for stereo? If so, those vintage receivers have a growing following. So if it works fine and you are happy with it, keep it. Of course, once you get a remote in your hand it's hard to go back.

What is your budget for speakers? I'd recommend Paradigm and B&W to start with, both offer good quality entry level and go up from there. A couple hundred dollars may only get you bookshelf from them but fine bookshelf they would be. Either would give you better performance than your typical mass merchant brand.

I'm not sure where to steer you if you want size over quality, I think Best Buy carries some JBL pretty reasonable.

03-10-2009, 12:36 PM
I sure thank you for the information.

Mr Peabody
03-10-2009, 07:02 PM
You are sure welcome and welcome to the forum.

03-11-2009, 04:19 PM
Mr. Peabody,
Thanks, this is fun. The room I am working on is about 12' x 16'. The speakers would be placed on the 16' side, the long side, and have a depth of 12'. I have an entertainment center in the ceter of this wall that would split them. I could get 7' centers between them. Pricing, well I'd say I don't want to go higher than $700. The receiver works fine even though I wouldn't know the difference. I can't find much info on it and what little I find I believe says about 35 watts a channel what ever that means.

Mr Peabody
03-11-2009, 06:52 PM
35 watts in a receiver isn't a lot of power. If you have an older Pioneer with the FM dial that goes completely across the front and manual tuner you will probably be alright with some Paradigm or something even more efficient. You might want to price some Klipsch. I don't usually recommend them but they play loud with not much power. If you have a 80's to 90's Pioneer that is only 35 watts and you are really concerned about what quality of sound you get, then retire your receiver to the garage and start from scratch. I can only be honest and there was a long period where Pioneer receivers had no balls. They must have just used IC's for the amp section. I made the mistake in the 80's of buying a Pioneer, it was rated at 45 watts, I was drawn by the space age looks. Shrill and bright come to mind. Prior to the IC chip Pioneer, as well as any other receiver had to use old fashion circuits on a board, commonly referred to today as "discrete circuitry". Now a days, and rightfully so, this is a selling point.

03-12-2009, 01:01 PM
If $700 is your total budget and if you're going to need an amp too, I'd suggest looking at integrated amplifiers from NAD and Cambridge Audio. I haven't put together a stereo from scratch in a few years but I've used NAD amps with NHT speakers and Cambridge Audio Amps with Polk speakers. I think NHT speakers are being closed out now. Good deals can probably be found on the Classic 3s.

There's often a debate on whether to spend more on speakers or more on an amp. I think in the long run it may make more sense to spend more on the speakers, but with only $700 to start a system, $400 - 500 can get you a good integrated amp and the speakers can be upgraded later. Probably a $200 - 300 pair of book shelf speakers from Paradigm, PSB or even something cheaper like Infinity Primus 162 can get you started in the right direction. The point is you won't have to upgrade both amp and speakers next time around.

If you start off with $400-500 speakers and only $200-300 left to spend on an amp, you might find that you'll be limited to low-end A/V receivers with less than optimum amplifiers.

03-12-2009, 02:03 PM
I can spend more if that helps, say $1200. Does that open things up. What about Klipsh speakers and a Donnan amp?

03-12-2009, 02:34 PM
You might want to think about these.,108,20,250.aspx

You get a ten year warrenty, 30 days to listen in your own ho with free shippng both ways, and if you decide to keep them, you can trade up within a year. They also get great review. And check out the specs....the are even real wood.


Mr Peabody
03-12-2009, 06:33 PM
For stereo I would personally go with NAD or Cambridge over Denon. If you have local Craigslist or not afraid to buy used from Audiogon one of the best values going is used Adcom gear. You can sometimes find preamp and power amp combo for $400.00. The gtp-450 is a preamp with built in tuner and you can find those for under $200.00 usually. Pair that up with a gfa-5400, 125x2, and you are rockin. Adcom will give you good bass like you are looking for and drive most any reasonably designed speaker load. Go up to the 555 or 5500 at 200x2.

Klipsch will be easy to drive but those horns can be bright so if you go that direction be careful what amp you use and I'd not pair it with Denon. Use something warmer sounding like the NAD. Some of the other, I mean, most, well, all, the other speaker suggestions would sound better though.

03-12-2009, 06:35 PM
If you have a budget of $700-1200, I would consider the Harmon Kardon 3490 reciever for about $270

and put the rest of your money into some nice speakers like B&W 685's or NHT Classic Three's.

Do you need a CD player? If so consider the Marantz CD5003 You should be able to find it for $300.

Also consider the Cambridge Audio 540c CDPfor $300.

03-13-2009, 06:35 AM
I can spend more if that helps, say $1200. Does that open things up. What about Klipsh speakers and a Donnan amp?

With a budget of $1200, I'd either keep your vintage receiver (for now at least) and look into one of these speakers:

Monitor Audio RS6 $1100
B&W 684 $1100
Paradigm Monitor 9v6 $950

All of which have good sensitivity and should be able to be driven to acceptable (though not very loud) volume levels with just 35 watts in 12x16 room...


You could look to buy those speakers used (probably around $700) and get an entry level NAD, Marantz or Cambridge Audio Integrated amp to pair them with...

I'd advise checking out audiogon for used amps and speakers...

03-14-2009, 12:15 PM
You all are giving such great advice. I need to hit up this Audiogon site and get educated. I keep hering how good these NADS are.
Bobby D.

Mr Peabody
03-14-2009, 02:29 PM
Are you saying you might be thinking of getting some NAD's?

03-17-2009, 04:56 PM
That didn't actually come out right!

03-24-2009, 08:51 AM
Option 1:

Keep the Pioneer, buy an OPPO DV-981/3 ($200), and buy a really good pair of speakers for $1000.

Option 2:

Keep the Pioneer, buy a very good used CDP for around $600 (e.g., Marantz SA-8001, Cambridge Audio 840) and a good pair of used speakers for around $600 (Paradigms get my vote)

When you get a little more $, look into the Cambridge Audio integrated amps and you will have a really good sounding system.

Good luck!

03-26-2009, 02:04 PM
You say this is for an entertainment center. So I presume you will be using it some for movies. In that case deep bass response in your speakers would be impressive. Later you might consider upgrading to a 5.1 surround sytem. At that time you would buy an AVR receiver and three more speakers (center and two surrounds) for really great movie and multi channel music palyback.

For now, to get the most bang for your limited buck, I would concentrate on the speakers only and keep the Pioneer receiver. 35 watts per channel is plenty of power if you go with very efficient speakers. For example this RB-61 bookshelf speaker from Klipsch (List $499, probably could get at least 10% or more off from a motivated dealer) has a sensitivity rating (also called efficeincy) of 95dB's. Compare it to the average home speaker at about 89dB's sensitivity. The is means that the average speaker would have to be driven by an amp with 140 watts per channel to reach the same volume levels as the Klipsch RB-61 driven by your Pioneer 35 watt per channel receiver! That's the importance of speaker sensitivity in your situation.

Some audiophiles will talk poorly of horn load speakers but they have several very positive characteristcs: They play very loud for the same power and the have tremendous dynamics. You would match these two speakers up with a good powered sub and have a great sounding system for your limited budget and the groundwork for a 5.1 system. You would need to buy or make a cheap pair of speaker stands.

Now if you don't mind buying online direct from a great company take a look at these speakers from HSU. They have received rave reviews and are such a low price because they are manufactured and sold direct to the end user. They have a sensitivity rating of 92dB's and would play as loud as the average speaker with 70 watts per channel, still plenty for most applications.

HSU is very famous for their superb subs. I highly recommend the system I link below. I myself own speakers, sub and amp for three different online direct companies with excellent results.

You have two outstanding sounding horn bookshelf speakers with a very fine sub at $647, a superb price! Another option for the sub is a similar sounding sub form Outlaw Audio (designed with help from Dr. HSU) and a gorgeous inlaid plexiglass top (I own the larger version of this sub). Total price with the HSU HB-1 Mk2 speakers - $697.

RR6 :D

Mr Peabody
03-26-2009, 06:40 PM
Good suggestions RR6 and with the addition of the sub the receiver won't have to work as hard and any lack of umph in the low end from the receiver can be conpensated for by the sub.

03-26-2009, 07:43 PM
if the original receiver in this discussion is the Pioneer SX450, we're talking about 15 watts per channel RMS. Something like a NAD 3020 would probably be a nice step up in sound quality, even though it's low-power, too. Depending on how much volume is desired, the 3020 should work fine in a 12 x 16 room. Of course, if more power is needed it's hard to beat the above-mentioned Adcom equipment for value.

Mr Peabody
03-27-2009, 09:42 PM
If that's the receiver it's Pioneer's entry level and I'd recommend getting another amp. Of course, if you don't like your music loud at 15 watts it still could work with a sub until you had the money to upgrade. The NAD would be a big step up in sound quality though.