An annoying LA question

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  • 12-30-2006, 11:52 AM
    LAnovice
    An annoying LA question
    I have just moved to LA from London and I have the kind of question that annoys audiophiles, so I'll keep it as short as I can.

    I'm after a fairly cheap, simple system that does nothing more than play CDs and vinyl but does it well and with little fuss. I had to leave my CD player, amplifier, and turntable in Britain because of the voltage difference (I brought my speakers and wires), and now I am having trouble finding anything remotely comparable to what I had. I can get my head around the fact that amplifiers are called "receivers" over here and that they often pick up radio. I can just about get used to the fact that single-CD players seem to have vanished. But I cannot get used to the fact that there seem to be only 2 kinds of stores: well-lit places that sell systems for much more than I wish to pay ($200 for a CD player and $200 for an amp, tops) and chain stores where the staff have no idea of what they are selling. In Britain there was a chain called Richer Sounds that had well-informed staff selling basic stuff--I had a delightfully simple amp made by Cambridge Audio which cost me about $150. Not surprisingly, the chain was expanding fast.

    So, where do I go--in west LA? Or, if I am to be thrown to the tender mercies of the chain stores, what is the best receiver for around $150-200? As I say, the thing needs 2 inputs, CD and Phono. That's it.

    Thanks, and sorry again.
  • 12-30-2006, 12:15 PM
    anamorphic96
    Sorry to hear about the frustrations you are having. Welcome to the forums though.

    You might have a tough time here at those price points. Most of the better equipment you are looking for will be in the smaller high end shops here. Just about everything you buy in the bigger chain stores here like Best Buy and Circuit City will be HT oriented.

    You can probably get some used equipment off http://audiogon.com/ for the prices you are talking. But the entry level models from NAD and Cambridge Audio our around 375 to 400. However Harman Kardon, Onkyo and Yamaha make some decent 2 channel stereo receivers which may have phono inputs. For CD players Marantz and NAD make some single drive units for 300 that sound absolutely stellar for there price points.

    What speakers are you using ?

    Receiver models -

    Harman Kardon - 3380 and 3480 - Check jr.com for best prices. Both have phono inputs.
    Onkyo - TX8222 and 8522 - Both have phono inputs and go for 199.00 and 299.00. Check Frye's.
    Yamaha - RX 397 - With phono jack is 299.00. Try Ken cranes or jr.com.

    If you really want to extend your budget and get the NAD or Cambridge stuff. Check there respective web sites and do a dealer search for your area.

    Don't know much about phonographs but someone will respond who does.

    Hope this helps
  • 12-30-2006, 12:24 PM
    blackraven
    Also check out www.outlawaudio.com and www.musichallaudio.com they make some nice 2channel recievers for a reasonable price. Marantz makes a nice CD player for about $300.
    The 5001. I havent heard one but people in this forum seem to really like it.
  • 12-30-2006, 12:37 PM
    Mr Peabody
    I'm assuming you mean $150.00 U.S. dollars, if I'm correct, are you serious? The only thing you will find here for that money is basically junk. You can find Cambridge here also but not for that price. For just under $200.00 Onkyo makes a pretty decent stereo receiver. I use one in a bedroom system and it doesn't sound too bad with a little decrease on the bass control and a slight bump on the treble. I don't think it has a phono input. Last time I listened to entry level CD players I actually ended up buying a Yamaha. The Denon and Onkyo had much better bass but the Yamaha had an outstanding midrange presentation for a $150.00 player. I hope you didn't want everything for that price, you meant maybe $150.00 per item, right? I wouldn't even bother buying a turntable for that price. I just learned of an Audio Technica model that is just under $200.00 that has a built in phono stage. The phono stage would help you out a great deal, since that feature has all but disappeared on amps here. You might want to browse www.audiogon.com for some used or vintage gear for a good price.

    Sorry, I know nothing of L.A. Welcome to the U.S. and AR!
  • 12-30-2006, 01:39 PM
    The Tahitijack
    Try the small audio video shops in your area. They often have good used gear, taken in trade or returned, at a fraction of the original new price. A few weeks ago there was a thread about used gear shops and I was surprised to see they still exist in the LA market. At $200 per you'll be looking at mass market products from majro brands. Also have a look at craigslist. I'll bet there is plenty of gear in the LA metro waiting for a new home.
  • 12-30-2006, 04:24 PM
    Century L100
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Mr Peabody
    I'm assuming you mean $150.00 U.S. dollars, if I'm correct, are you serious? The only thing you will find here for that money is basically junk. You can find Cambridge here also but not for that price. For just under $200.00 Onkyo makes a pretty decent stereo receiver. I use one in a bedroom system and it doesn't sound too bad with a little decrease on the bass control and a slight bump on the treble. I don't think it has a phono input. Last time I listened to entry level CD players I actually ended up buying a Yamaha. The Denon and Onkyo had much better bass but the Yamaha had an outstanding midrange presentation for a $150.00 player.

    I think you're referring to the Yamaha CDC-585, which I am considering myself. It seems like a very high quality product and, from my limited test-listens, sounds pretty good.

    Also, I have seen the Yamaha RX-397 receiver for $249. And it does have phono inputs. HTH.
  • 12-30-2006, 04:57 PM
    Mr Peabody
    You should listen to the Yamaha before buying and compare it to Onkyo or others. Yamaha gear seems to have a house sound that lacks bass detail.
  • 12-30-2006, 05:14 PM
    emorphien
    Did that cambridge amp cost you $150 US or UK pounds?

    You have to find local audio shops for the amps you are used to, receivers are something else entirely. Cambridge Audio is available in the states, but that $150 amp (assuming its pounds) is probably going to be $300-400 USD. Same for CD players, there are tons of single CD players but again most of the better units won't be found at the big chain stores.
  • 12-30-2006, 05:40 PM
    LAnovice
    Many thanks to all, especially for the suggestions on Onkyo, Yamaha and used shops. I'll give them all a go.

    Perhaps my memory is faulty, but I remember paying 90 pounds for my amp, which translated to about $150 at the time (4 years ago). I suppose the falling dollar has made Cambridge Audio more expensive. They seem not to have a dealer in LA, in any case.

    Yes, I am hoping to pay $200 each for a CD player and an amp. It may indeed be true, as Mr Peabody says, that goods at this price range are "basically junk". But there is a vital difference between basically junk and entirely junk. I have been in shops where they try to convince me to buy a $50 DVD player, on the grounds that it would play CDs perfectly well. I don't know much about audio but I know that isn't right.

    My speakers, since anamorphic asked, are Gale gold monitors.

    Thanks again.
  • 12-30-2006, 05:45 PM
    emorphien
    LAnovice, if you aren't opposed, you should consider keeping an eye on Audiogon or ebay, as you may find used Cambridge, NAD or similar equipment in your price range.

    Cambridge has been in the $300 and up range for a number of years as far as I can recall though. Perhaps you are right, it might be more compared to the UK pound simply because of the falling dollar, I know that has had an impact on some Canadian speakers sold in the US.
  • 12-31-2006, 12:58 AM
    anamorphic96
    Just noticed this HK receiver at JR. It is quite good for the money. It has the phono jack you need. As well as being under 200. It's bigger brother the 3480 is considered quite good as well and can sometimes be found for 265 at various sites, and also had a positive review in Stereophile.

    http://www.jr.com/JRProductPage.process?Product=3964198
  • 12-31-2006, 02:15 AM
    basite
    what about vintage gear? there is alot of vintage stuff on ebay selling for almost nothing (like $50-$200) that were expensive in their glory days, and still sound good (my kenwood (not using it anymore now) is like 30 years old and it's still going strong), better than alot of today's cheap crap. the vintage gear will most likely not have a cd input, but they do have a tape, or an aux, so you should still be fine, only the remote, that would be a problem...


    Good luck,
    Bert.
  • 12-31-2006, 10:26 PM
    blackraven
    LAN, at $200 you can get a decent onkyo receiver that I would not call junk. Is it audiophile equipment? No, but it will sound very good with a decent CD player and good speakers.
  • 01-01-2007, 12:19 AM
    Florian
    Get a voltage converter /like 40 bucks/ ang get your stuff from home :-) I imported a modded Sony SCD777ES from the USA to Germany cause it saved me 3K. Works like a charm! :-)
  • 01-01-2007, 11:27 PM
    Dusty Chalk
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by LAnovice
    I suppose the falling dollar has made Cambridge Audio more expensive.

    It's not just that -- most British gear is more expensive here than the equivalent in Great Britain. I think it has to do with import tariffs and whatnot -- US don't like outside competition, so they make it more expensive to sell their stuff here. Musical Fidelity is the only one that's close, and that's because they sell in quantity, and cut their profit margins closer on the American stuff. If you're familiar with some prices of equipment (Rega, for example), have your friends back in London look them up, then look them up over here. Eventually, you'll get a feel for what to look for in British gear. If that's what you're looking for. You're more likely to find a deal on US-made gear, but at that price point...well, good luck!
  • 01-02-2007, 08:53 AM
    Woochifer
    That's pretty much how the market has shaken out. The westside of L.A. has a very large concentration of audio stores. Just crack open a phone book and look for the listings under "stereophonic."

    But, keep in mind that they stay in business by catering to the home theater market. That's where the profit margins are, and that's what keeps the lights on and the doors open. But, most of those demo rooms do include two-channel systems. Just don't expect a lot at the entry level. Audio stores nowadays have to rely more on home installations than equipment sales to stay in business, and the installation market does not include a lot of entry level equipment. If you have an idea of what you want, then these stores can special order the low end gear for you, just don't expect to see a lot of these models in stock.

    Outside of the westside, Shelley's Stereo in the Valley, and L.A. Audio Video near downtown are two of the more prominent audio dealers in the area.

    As far as chains go, you can look to Magnolia Audio Video or Tweeter. Most of what they carry in your price range consists of multichannel home theater receivers, but they do stock two-channel receivers as well.