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  1. #1
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    Question Noob looking for living room solution

    I currently am using a 15-year-old mini-stereo system on AUX to stream music and internet radio on my Mac via an Apple Airport Express router, which has an audio-out port. (I also occasionally use the stereo's built in radio to listen to news and NPR.) Convenience is fantastic but the sound is definitely not. I'm trying to learn about options for a replacement system (total budget around $1400) that would include a receiver (or integrated amp) and floorstanding speakers. (No bookshelf speakers if possible.)

    My living room is an L-shaped living/dining room. The ceiling is 8'. The LR is approx. 12x24' and at one end it flows to the 9x9' dining room. The end of the room where the DR meets the LR has a 12'-long (5' high) window.

    I'm looking for bang-for-the-buck for a system which is probably never going to deliver analog sound -- no LPs, no cassettes, just radio, streaming radio and high-bit MP3 and AAC files. I listen primarily to indie rock (eg Apples In Stereo, Flaming Lips, Ted Leo, Spoon) and news/podcasts. Some jazz, a tiny bit of classical. I'd want to be able to continue to stream from my iMac, which has over 25,000 songs on it, as well as be able to plug in an iPod from time to time.

    I was attracted to the reviews (and price, and look, and technology) of the Magnepan MMG, but several reviews state unequivocally that placement is difficult and a rectangular-box room is much preferred for Magnepans, so I guess those speakers are out. But I'm pretty open to just about any other brand... and I'm not experienced enough to know models and brands.

    I don't know what the proper money-allocation of speaker-to-receiver (or speaker-to-integrated amp) should be, so I'm not sure what % of my $1400 total budget should be dedicated to speakers.

    Any ideas?

  2. #2
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    One more thing: I have no intention of connecting this to a television, so this is an audio-only setup.

  3. #3
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    If you want to go the receiver route for 2ch, take a look at these receivers-
    The Harmon Kardon has a nice warmer sound. It's a lot of bang for the buck.

    http://stereos.about.com/od/stereore.../fr/HK3490.htm

    http://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&key...sl_66aa1v70e_b


    http://outlawaudio.com/products/rr2150.html

    For speakers, I would consider these-

    http://www.audioadvisor.com/prodinfo.asp?number=PBSTGT1



    http://saturdayaudio.com/
    http://www.audioadvisor.com/prodinfo.asp?number=PBIMT65

    Take a look at theses Monitor Audio RS6's here for $1,100pr-
    http://saturdayaudio.com/

    Others to consider woud be B&W 683's or 684's.

    The PSB T65's are a lot of bang for the buck and would mate well with that HK receiver.


    Another option for an amp would be to go with Emotiva separate amp and preamp for about $600-

    http://emotiva.com/upa2.shtm

    http://emotiva.com/usp1.shtm
    Last edited by blackraven; 07-16-2010 at 06:55 PM.
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  4. #4
    Phila combat zone JoeE SP9's Avatar
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    Magneplanars or any other di-polar radiator are not difficult to place. They need at least 2 feet (3 is better) of space behind them. A suggested listening distance is 1.5 times the inner distance between them. That's a good starting point for almost any speaker.

    Buying speakers because of looks and technology is the wrong approach. Although you can do that with other parts of a system (still not recommended) speakers are something you definitely should audition before buying. Also, buying on someone else's recommendation is not recommended. What I or my cousin absolutely love you may hate and vice versa.
    ARC SP9 MKIII preamp,VPI HW19jr, Rega RB300
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  5. #5
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    One thing that comes to mind is the NAD L54, this does have a video output and DVD capability but it has tuner and plays CD. NAD also has similar all in one units with just CD but the L54 has a bit more power. You can find this for $399.00 or less. A pair of Maggies would about eat up your budget unless you went with the smaller $599.00 set and I hear they are even more difficult to place and either model typically requires a sub.

    Here's possible speakers but not a good match for the L54, it likes only 8 ohm speakers
    http://www.spearitsound.com/epos/epos_els303.asp

    Speakers: http://www.cambridgeaudio.com/summary.php?PID=344
    Also give a listen to Paradigm and B&W. Speakers are a personal choice and I'd recommend listening before buying.

    Here's an integrated and CD, but you'd need a tuner for FM
    http://www.spearitsound.com/Music_Ha...cd252_a252.asp

    Ha! here's the tuner: http://www.spearitsound.com/Music_Hall/mmht252.asp

    Another option http://www.spearitsound.com/Music_Hall/mmhtrio.asp

    Here's a Cambridge Audio All-in-One solution http://www.spearitsound.com/Cambridg..._audio_One.asp

    Here's a Denon stereo receiver: http://www.usa.denon.com/ProductDetails/3417.asp

    Here's a NAD stereo receiver: http://www.spearitsound.com/nad/C725Bee.asp

    Here, drool on this: http://www.spearitsound.com/shanling...ing_mc3000.asp

    All of these would give you a nice improvement over what you have now.
    Mark Levinson #512
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  6. #6
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    A lot to chew on. Thanks for the pointers.

  7. #7
    Man of the People Forums Moderator bobsticks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alphadelta
    A lot to chew on. Thanks for the pointers.
    Oh, but wait, there's more...

    A digitally saavy character like you should have a digitally saavy receiver...

    http://www.outlawaudio.com/products/rr2150.html

    Read the review in Stereophile, this is a serious piece of gear...

    http://stereophile.com/integratedamps/306outlaw/

    I have one system that is very similar in functionality to the one you're looking for. I use KEF products which aren't as big on this side of the Atlantic but offer great bang-for-the-buck...mebbe:

    http://www.onecall.com/product/KEF/i...aker/_/R-99794
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  8. #8
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    I do like the KEF signature sound and those speakers look sweet, but the speakers price alone ($1200 for the pair) kill my budget.

    ...although the Harmon Kardon receiver Blackraven mentioned is going for $300 at J&R right now... Hmm.

  9. #9
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    Did you mean $1200.00 is your budget because I read $12,000.00 for some reason?

    Wharfdale or Jamo offer some decent budget speakers. The Cambridge look good as well.
    Mark Levinson #512
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    SVS PC13 Ultra (sub)
    Marantz BD-7003 > AV-8003 > LINN 5125
    Transparent cables / Tributaries HDMI
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  10. #10
    Forum Regular luvtolisten's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alphadelta
    I currently am using a 15-year-old mini-stereo system on AUX to stream music and internet radio on my Mac via an Apple Airport Express router, which has an audio-out port. (I also occasionally use the stereo's built in radio to listen to news and NPR.) Convenience is fantastic but the sound is definitely not. I'm trying to learn about options for a replacement system (total budget around $1400) that would include a receiver (or integrated amp) and floorstanding speakers. (No bookshelf speakers if possible.)



    Any ideas?
    Just my guess, but it appears you are currently using the analog output of your Airport Express, but it came be used digitally too, using the same output with the the following cable or one similar:
    http://www.amazon.com/6ft-Toslink-Mi...9464021&sr=1-1
    If that's the case I would look or a receiver or amp with a toslink (optical) input, to take advantage of the built in DAC of the receiver/amp.

  11. #11
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    Mr Peabody: Yes, total budget around $1400 (not $14,000).

    luvtolisten: That HK3490 receiver does have a TOSlink input, so at $299 it seems like a pretty good deal, yes?

    KEF might be a decent choice for my room -- the sealed back means I can place it close to the wall (as opposed to the 2-3 ft from wall for the Magnepans). I guess I have to find where in NYC I can find some to listen to one....

  12. #12
    Forum Regular luvtolisten's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alphadelta
    Mr Peabody: Yes, total budget around $1400 (not $14,000).

    luvtolisten: That HK3490 receiver does have a TOSlink input, so at $299 it seems like a pretty good deal, yes?

    KEF might be a decent choice for my room -- the sealed back means I can place it close to the wall (as opposed to the 2-3 ft from wall for the Magnepans). I guess I have to find where in NYC I can find some to listen to one....
    Yes the HK is a good deal, but don't let that sway your choice. I've have seen them around that price range for a while, so don't feel the need to rush out and grab it. That being said the HK is a fine receiver, I had a AVR 120 and still have a vintage 430, and both have served me well with no problems, and the HK3490 is farther up the food chain then those and should be a better performer. I'm just saying keep an open mind, Rotel and Outlaw are also good choices among others. You should, go out and give them a listen too, if possible, and see if there are any other features you may find to your liking, or maybe not.

    I think you'll find that most receivers do have a toslink input, whereas most integrated amplifiers don't.

    You are wise to go listen to speakers first, before you buy. Living in NYC, I would think you would have a lot of choices, and competition which should bring you a good price. I can relate to using your PC for playing music, I probably play 90% of mine using my PC. You may want make a CD (using your PC) of your favorite music and take it with you. Some boutiques may look down their nose at you,(because it's a home made disc) but who cares, it's your preference and how YOU listen to music,not their way that matters.. It's your money and it's still green. Trust your own ears. If you find speakers you like, make a note of the amplifier as well. Choosing a stereo system is like choosing a room mate. You have to live with it. If there is something about it bothers you now, it will only more later. Don't feel you have to pay the full $1400 to have good sound to suit you, but don't skimp either, just to save a few bucks. It's a long term investment.

    Most important, this should be a fun experience for you. Enjoy and remember you're holding the money and in control. Don't let anyone pressure you, take your time. The only person that needs to end up happy is you.

    Good luck and don't be afraid to ask questions. Everyone here is friendly and willing to help. Keep us posted on the "hunt". We can learn as much from your input as you can from ours.

  13. #13
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    At $1400.00 which is what I originally thought see my very first post with the links for that budget. With that and what every one else has brought you should be busy for a while
    Mark Levinson #512
    Pass Labs XP-10 & X250
    Clearaudio Performance DC, Dynavector 10x5, AcousTech Ph-1p
    Clarus Crimson loom - AC outlet to speaker terminal
    Revel Performa F52 main/center & S30's
    SVS PC13 Ultra (sub)
    Marantz BD-7003 > AV-8003 > LINN 5125
    Transparent cables / Tributaries HDMI
    PS Audio Quintet

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