• 02-11-2004, 09:03 PM
    College student needs help with audio setup
    Hi Folks,

    I am writing to ask you opinion of a purchase I am considering. I am a budding audiophile college student with about $600 I am willing to spend on a new system for stereo listening (mostly classical and some jazz).

    Right now I am looking at:
    JBL 38II speakers (Discontinued, and priced at $250)
    Either and Onkyo 8211 or a Sony STR-DE185 reciever (200, 135)
    and a Pioneer DV-563A DVD/CD/SACD/DVD-A (150)

    Is there anything I should change in this setup? What type of connections should be used? Any help or additional ideas is appreciated.

    Chris Morgan
  • 02-11-2004, 10:20 PM
    Chris; I could not find anything on the JBL 38 11 speakers although I think they were a 3 way system. JBL s in a larger size usually sound good( I liked the two way Northridge 28 with its 8 inch woofer). As for the receiver, forget the Sony. The Onkyo has had a good reputation and is one of the last of the two channel receivers out there with decent audio quality and specification. You can read REVIEWS; STEREO RECEIVERS on this website on that receiver which is quite favorable overall.

    You do not specify use for watching movies and as such I do not know if you really need the Pioneer DV 563A. If all I was going to listen to 2 channel CDs, I would look more into a CD player for your use. If you were going into a 5.1 system, then the Pioneer would be a good choice because you would have the opportunity to use the multichannel capabilities of that player. They will just remain unused with a stereo two channel set-up.
  • 02-12-2004, 12:20 PM
    Thanks for the advice on the Onkyo. The pioneer is so that I am able to play both SACD's and DVD-audio.
  • 02-13-2004, 03:43 PM
    Chris; I have not fooled around with DVD-Audio and SACD. Usually when one uses this kind of machine, their receiver contains a 5.1 channel input. You are dealing with a stereo receiver that does not have this. The big question here is will any type of DVD-A or SACD sound come out of the standard stereo analogue outputs of the Pioneer or does that sound come out only from the DVD-A and SACD outputs that are on that machine. If that sound comes out only from the above outputs of that machine, can that machine perform a 5.1 to two channel mixdown. If it does, they you should be OK since you would have to use an additional aux input on your receiver connected to the main left/right DVD-A/SACD outputs on the Pioneer in order to hear those discs play. Some of those new discs come with additional tracks to choose which can also be in a two channel mode. In that case, you would choose that option to listen to but you may still have to maintain the secondary hook-up that I described.
  • 02-13-2004, 06:11 PM
    my comments are simple...skip SACD for now because the money you spend here won't do it justice..in other words you're having to put more money to SACD while be relegated to JBL. Other than Bose I can't think of a speaker line as atrocious as the Northridge and Studio Series...cheap drivers in an even cheaper box - the name is big...but so is Bose.

    $250.00 prsuming US can get you something decent from B&W, Energy, Mission, Wharfedale, Linn, Boston Acoustics, Kef. My first choice would Be upping the budget to $400.00-$450 and getting a used 2 channel amp. Hell just the other day I saw a Used NAD 712 and 710 integrated amp and CD player for $200.00Canadian ~140US.

    You say you're looking at Jazz and classical which is even more of a reaosn to get a better speaker than JBL. In this price band and in general i would be looking at 2 way designs. The B&W 602S3 standmount would be my first choice, Followed by the M70 line from Mission and perhaps the Energy C5. http://www.bwspeakers.com/index.cfm/...l%20DM602%20S3
  • 02-14-2004, 06:19 PM
    Hi Chris: I have the Onkyo 8211 and really like it for its price. I got mine on eBay for $100, but, I still think the wholesale price is very good. If anything happened to mine now, I would replace it with the same thing. I don't know anything about JBL speakers. My recommendation to you for speakers would be to get a pair of RCA Pro X44AV speakers at radio shack. Wait for them to go on sale. They go on sale usually twice a year, at least. I got mine for $64/pair including tax!!! These are the same as the old Minimus 7 speakers that Radio Shack sold for years. Read the reviews under the name Optimus for the speakers, RCA bought Radio Shack and changed the name of the speaker. I heard these speakers for years in my friend's parents cabin in Colorado, his father taught Music Theory at our university. You'll be amazed at the mids, and, they pair with the Onkyo very nicely. I use a Technics SL-PG 4 cd player. This is $140 delivered. It is a single player, very basic, but the sound is incredible for this price. My sister-in-law bought my wife a very expensive Panasonic DVD player years ago, A300 ($700). It was for Karoke (they're from Taiwan....). Anyway, I had it hooked up to my Onkyo and RCA speakers. Wow, what sound. It didn't play burned cd's though and I replaced it with the Technics. The sound is really the same, great for this price. I use a Radio Shack FusionAV interconnect, $25. My brother hooked this interconnect up to his $3000 tube system and said "huge Difference". I would recommend 12 guage speaker wire from Radio Shack $0.99/ foot. I use wire from a speaker manufacterer that is unavailable now. Also, I use isolation feet under the amp and cd player from the same manufacterer. I have them under the stands I have my speakers on, heavy concrete. I wouldn't use them just under the speakers themselves, it killed their sound. You can get small isolation feet from Audio Advisor for $24/four. At retail, you should be able to do this for around $600. You will certainly be pleased, especially with classical music.
  • 02-15-2004, 07:50 AM
    A radically different approach
    Hey Chris I have a totally different suggestion. If you are looking for the absolute best sound for little cash, you should consider a good pair of headphones like the Sennheiser HD 600. You should be able to find a good used pair for around $200 if you look around. Their sound will rival much more expensive speakers. Very natural and detail and still have very good bass, they are perfect for classical and jazz. If you are using an amp to drive them (instead of a portable player) you should have no problems.

    Then I suggest going down to your local shop and pick up some cheap second hand $50 speakers, so that when your buddies / gf come over you can still put on chill out music.

    Not long ago when I was in university, I had NO cash to spend on audio gears. So I bought a pair of Sennheiser headphones and a portable CD player. The combo worked so well that, through 6 years of university I owned 3 pairs of Senns (I listern to them A LOT, and I listern to them everywhere so they do break.) The last pair I purchased are the HD-495 silver, which I still use today and still sound fantasic. They certainly held off my need for a full system until I got my job with regular pay!
  • 02-15-2004, 07:06 PM
    Coe6688; There is one difference between the Minimus 7 and the Pro X44s. The 7's were sealed acoustic suspension units. The 44s have a port on the back of the speaker. I would think that probably helps the 44s bass response and effeciency. I use orginal and cannabilized orginal minimus 7s on my home theater system. The canibalized speakers have two differences. I use a Parts Express 4 inch woofer on one set of two of these 7s. Because of blown tweeters, I did not want to order replacements from radio shack. I use a piezo tweeter attached to a small bracket on the pair. There was also a Minimus 2 way 5 inch speaker that was made by RS. These sounded quite good but I sold them to a friend years back who is still using them today. RS may still offer this two way speaker under another number and can make a good stereo speaker system. They may be either acoustic suspension or ported.
  • 02-16-2004, 06:49 AM
    I would have to agree with RGA here... Skip the SACD and the JBL's and spend your cash on a little better speakers.
  • 02-19-2004, 07:30 AM

    Check out Grado 65s for headphones. They are only $65-70.
  • 02-23-2004, 06:42 AM
    remember...if you get better speakers first...you can get an SACD later
    but if you get both speakers and SADC...well...then you're stuck...

    I would run everything with a discman or something at first then upgrade to SACD or something
  • 02-23-2004, 08:44 AM
    Nothing wrong with the S38II's

    There is nothing wrong with the JBL S38II's. I have them setup in my dorm room. HEHE, the only problem is space...but i came up with a nifty solution.(ill send you a pic if you want) I actually have a 6.1 setup in my TINY dorm room...just becuase im an idiot and couldnt live with out my system for a year. I have the S38II's and the S center II and the S26II's for surrounds, and a pos speaker for the rear center...mostly becuase i ran out of money. All run on off of a denon avr 1803. Sounds great. The S38II's have a really brite sound to start off with, but after a substantial break in period they mellow down a bit. I listen to EVERYTHING...from jazz and classical, to heavey metal and rap. Not much country how ever. I bought the S38II's before they were discontinued....:-( they are much more affordable now...about 100 dollars cheaper, if i had to I would buy them again, ESPECIALY now that they are cheaper. Like i said though, dont be fooled by "bookeshelf" speakers, these suckers are big. You can turn the JBL symbol on it around so they can be placed verticaly or horizontally. If you have any more quesstions about them...feel free to email me. Hope i helped. later

  • 03-01-2004, 01:53 PM
    Real college budget HI FI
    I wish you long audio appreciating life and happy college education.

    What I did is bought stuff that was nice enough to keep in my bedroom once I graduated or move to my office.

    During my days (early 90s) I bought a nice quality yamaha mini system and a nice pair of headphones. This was perfect since dorm rooms are small and a little power goes a long way and the headphones were very handy for studying late at night and not upsetting your roommate or neighbor.

    Get a nice clock radio with cd player (waking up to nice music is great)
    cambridge soundworks 740 $400 one piece, good sound space efficient, cd player, alarm.
    JVC FSB70 $250 5cd changer micro system with alarm
    Onkyo MC35 $400 very good sound NO Alarm though
    Denon Dm31s $400 very good sound, with alarm

    Nice headphones.
    Sennheiser 570s headpones $100 on the net, VERY comfortable and good sound (yes 580s and 600s are better BUT high impedance will require headpone amp)

    When I was in school I used my headphones more than anything.
  • 03-02-2004, 12:02 PM
    Back to your original question...
    I concurr that Sennheiser headphones are excellent. I have been using their noise-cancelling model and they are light, foldable, and really help drown out outside noise, which is important for me because I travel, but would have saved me some sanity in college too.

    Regarding your system, I would recommend something simple. I'm a big fan of SACD (for classical), but the real beauty lies in it's surround sound capability and thus would require 5.1 speakers - not an ideal setup for a dorm room and yearly moves. That said, I only buy hybrid SACD's so they play fine on a regular cd player as well. So you could start with a regular cd player and purchase your music as hybrids for now.

    Also, another person asked how SACD's sound on 2-channel systems. I have a Sony SACD player so I don't know how the Pioneer will do it, but I can set my player to play my SACD's through the 2 channel output in stereo w/o any problems. It is no longer 5.1 sound, but sounds excellent nonetheless. Please note that the Onkyo you are considering does not have 5.1 inputs so the Pioneer player, if it will downconvert the 5.1 channels to stereo like the Sony, will only connect to the 2 channel inputs of the receiver and thus only play in 2-channel mode; my guess is that you plan to upgrade this receiver in the future. This makes the choice a little more difficult. If you can afford it, I would recommend the Onkyo TX-SR601 instead. It has 5.1 channel inputs and would allow you to expand the system into a full surround setup later when you have the room. It provides excellent stereo output and a whealth of sound modes that can simulate surround sound out of two speakers.
  • 03-08-2004, 08:50 PM
    Grado also makes some very good headphones. When i was researching phones i read alot about the HD570 being more for classical music. And that they really werent that great.

    If you read the reviews, grado's phones are very good. some complain about the comfort which i dont feel is an issue. I have the SR125's and really enjoy them.