• 03-19-2006, 04:07 PM
    Zhyn
    Opinions on my audio set up
    I've been saving up money, just to save and I want to spoil myself for once. So since I listen to alot of music I really wanted to get a nice audio set up. I listen to music from my computer, hooked up to a stereo system. It's not the greatest stereo. My price range is around $1000. Not much more, maybe depending on the feedback I get on this post. Just looking for a good set of bookshelf speakers, and a receiver.

    I researched a bunch of audio stuff, speakers, new sound cards, cables, receivers/amps and all that. But trying to assimilate and organise all this information is just a bit too much. I didn't even know what a reciever or amp did, I'm still kinda unclear on alot of stuff.

    I live in northern Alberta, Canada. So listening to how these speakers sound first hand is probebly not going to happen, I'll also have to find a place to order them online...

    So after lots of reading and stuff, I kinda liked the <a href=http://www.audioreview.com/cat/speakers/floorstanding-speakers/phase-technology/PRD_124257_1594crx.aspx>Phase Technology 4.5</a> speakers and the <a href=http://www.audioreview.com/cat/amplification/integrated-amplifiers/cambridge-audio/PRD_299477_2717crx.aspx>Cambridge Audio Azur 540A </a>integrated amplifier (a reciever? not sure of the difference).

    I've read that the shape and size of the room, and where they will be positioned really affect the sound. So I thought it would be a good idea to take some pics of my room. My <a href=http://www.flickr.com/photos/zhyn/114909034/>room</a>, <a href=http://www.flickr.com/photos/zhyn/114908986/>desk</a> and <a href=http://www.flickr.com/photos/zhyn/114908727/>behind my speakers</a>

    I'd just like to here any opinions or recommendations for speakers/receivers in the same price range. And any other tips You might have. I still have to research information on speaker cables, and a sound card worthy of my new audio set up.

    Thanks for any help~
  • 03-19-2006, 05:47 PM
    noddin0ff
    2 cents...I have the 540A and I like it. But I would definately budget most of my money for speakers and find some that i really liked, even If this meant sacrificing the 540 for something comparable but a little less cash. Dollar for Dollar you get more out of nicer speakers than out of a nicer amp.
  • 03-19-2006, 06:08 PM
    Zhyn
    Mmm, well. I'd be willing to spend a little more on the speakers and increase my budget to $1500-ish if need be. Or go with your idea, and get a less expensive amp (not the same as a reciever? <_<') and better speaker.
  • 03-19-2006, 06:12 PM
    matt39
    Hey Zhyn,
    Welcome to AR. The difference between an integrated amplifier and a receiver is that a receiver has a radio (or tuner in audiospeak). Usually an integrated will have better quality parts than a receiver of similar cost because of being able to apply more money to less parts. If you want to listen to the radio in your area then there is nothing wrong with buying a good receiver from a company like Yamaha RX797 or a Denon DRA395 or 685. In integrated amps the Cambridge is an excellent choice as are NAD (320BEE or 352) or Rotel. As to speakers the Phase Tech is a solid choice. Since you live in Canada you might also consider the Paradigm Mini Monitor or the PSB Image B25. You might also consider Energy speakers and Axiom (an online dealer with a good reputation). So you can see that you have a lot of choices. Be patient and think about what you really need in your situation. If you can, audition your speakers as well as possible. If you have to order without an audition then make sure you have a trial period and return privileges in case the equipment doesn't satisfy you. Hope this helps a little and best of luck with your new system.
    Gary
  • 03-19-2006, 09:06 PM
    paul_pci
    Think of a receiver as having both the brains (processing the audio signal) and the brawn (amplfying the audtio signal) of a stereo setup. A receiver will also have many bells and whistles features and of course a radio tuner (not sure what is broadcast in northern Canada. An amplifier is just that, the brawn that amplifies a processed signal, usually from a pre-amplifier. An integrated amp, then is a single unit that contains a pre-amp and an amp with no tuner or bells and whistles and is ideal for a conventient stereo (2-channel) set up, such as I believe you are looking for. Typically, users will plug in a CD player or turntable into an integrated amplifier. Given that most mainstream receivers are geared for home theater surround sound, you'd probably be best off with an integrated amp and the best speakers the remainder of your budget can buy.
  • 03-20-2006, 07:11 AM
    noddin0ff
    Zhyn-
    I wasn't trying to knock your choices. I think you've got good ones (I've never hear the speakers myself, so I don't know). If I recall some of the other pre-amps mentioned above are a little less than the Azur 540A. I personally think the 540 looks nicer, which is why I choose it...vanity vanity.

    For the budget you're mentioning, If you conserve on the pre-amp (or a receiver) you can aim pretty high for bookshelfs (maybe even, say Paradigm Studio 20's over the Mini Monitors, for example.) In the long run I think you'll be happier. If you think you might want to eventually build a home theater system out of this, you might think about an entry level Yamaha or Denon receiver over the pre-amp.
  • 03-20-2006, 09:44 AM
    topspeed
    The others have explained the difference between a receiver, integrated, and amplifier, so I thought I tackle the rest. BTW, if you listen to the radio a lot, Cambridge also makes a 540r receiver.

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Zhyn
    I've read that the shape and size of the room, and where they will be positioned really affect the sound. So I thought it would be a good idea to take some pics of my room. My <a href=http://www.flickr.com/photos/zhyn/114909034/>room</a>, <a href=http://www.flickr.com/photos/zhyn/114908986/>desk</a> and <a href=http://www.flickr.com/photos/zhyn/114908727/>behind my speakers</a>

    The two most important parts of any audio system are the speakers and the room. Period. Your room is pretty compact so you'll likely need something that sounds best in a nearfield (close to the speakers) position. The good news is that when listening nearfield, you don't have to worry about room interaction as much because you are so close to the speakers that reflections don't affect the sound as much as if you were 10' away.

    For optimum listening, your speakers and, in particular, the tweeters should be at ear level. Putting the speakers on top of your desk like that may be convenient, but it's going to sound pretty bad. I'd also avoid rear ported speakers if you are going to place them that close to the wall. You're just asking for port noise (chuffing) by placing a rear ported speaker close to the rear wall or in a confined area.

    Quote:

    I'd just like to here any opinions or recommendations for speakers/receivers in the same price range. And any other tips You might have. I still have to research information on speaker cables, and a sound card worthy of my new audio set up.

    Thanks for any help~
    For speaker cables, I'd either get some Home Depot 12g wire or equivalent and be done with it. There are a lot of myths in audio, so do your research and come to your own conclusions.

    It sounds like you do most of your listening w/ your 'puter as a source. If this is the case, I'd get a nice integrated like the 540a, which not so coincidentally is what I'm listening to right now. Speakers are the most subjective link in the chain and there have been some excellent suggestions. I'll just throw in these Von Schweikert VR1's for giggles. You can find them used on audiogon.com from time to time, which is the only way to fit them in your budget, but trust me they are worth it :D. They use a 4th order xover and work fine both in a nearfield and near wall placement. The rear port is a pressure release, not a tuned port, and therefore doesn't suffer from chuffing. You will not find a more dynamic mini monitor, especially at this price point. 40hz (-3dB) from a monitor is no joke.

    http://www.hifi.nl/gfx/vonschweikers_VR1_07012003.jpg

    Hope this helps and welcome to the board!
  • 03-20-2006, 07:28 PM
    Zhyn
    Thanks for all the help~
    I'm pretty sure I want the Cambridge Audio Azur 540A.

    As for speakers. I've been looking up information on which speakers work best against a wall. All I got for sure are the Von Schweikert VR1's (I founds a *really* nice deal on them on that site topspeed O_O) and the Image B25 Monitor from my list of prefered speakers (Phase Technology 4.5, Axiom M3, and the Paradigm Studio 20). I'm not sure how to tell if they are rear ported, which I don't want.

    And I could put the speakers on my desk, since I'd be getting rid of that huge monster stereo system, since I don't listen to CD's, tapes, or the radio. I can get much better radio stations online on my computer :P

    I'm just hoping that once I make a decision on what I want, I'll be able to find it >_<
    I really hope that deal does not go away soon... I just got approved for a credit card on the 17th.. so it will be another two weeks or so before I get it and am able to order things online.

    Just to make sure, the Azur has the right connection to allow me to hook up my pc to it right? I've looked at pictures of the back and read the manual. I'm assuming I use the tape/cd/tuner line in.
    While looking up info on a new soundcard I've read that You can output by analog or digital, I'm not sure which is better yet, but does the azur have a digital input? I can see two phone line looking jacks on the back, But I'm not sure what they are. The manual says they are for "A-bus kp10 keypads". So I'm guessing that's not it.

    Anyway... I'll stop for now. I need a break ^_^
    Again, thanks for all the awesome comments.
  • 03-20-2006, 08:38 PM
    topspeed
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Zhyn
    I'm just hoping that once I make a decision on what I want, I'll be able to find it >_<
    I really hope that deal does not go away soon... I just got approved for a credit card on the 17th.. so it will be another two weeks or so before I get it and am able to order things online.

    Meh...don't worry about it. Opportunities are like trains; there's always another one coming down the track.
    Quote:

    Just to make sure, the Azur has the right connection to allow me to hook up my pc to it right? I've looked at pictures of the back and read the manual. I'm assuming I use the tape/cd/tuner line in.
    While looking up info on a new soundcard I've read that You can output by analog or digital, I'm not sure which is better yet, but does the azur have a digital input? I can see two phone line looking jacks on the back, But I'm not sure what they are. The manual says they are for "A-bus kp10 keypads". So I'm guessing that's not it.
    You have guessed correctly. The 540a is an integrated amp, nothing more. A digital interconnect is for when you want to utilize the D/A converters (dac) on another unit, such as an audio/video receiver (avr), something the Azur most assuredly is not. You'll use the analog outs from your 'puter to the tape or cd input. Don't use the phono as that's a different animal alltogether.
  • 03-21-2006, 02:46 AM
    drseid
    You seem pretty set on the Azur540A, but a competing amp at that price point I went with for my office system (if you want to explore the tube angle) at $350 retail is the Jolida 1301A integrated amp http://www.jolida.com/catalogue/models/jd1301.shtml.

    As for speakers, another recent buy (that I use it with the Jolida in the same office system) is the Opera Audio Eric-1 ($995/pr. retail) http://www.opera-consonance.com/products/ERIC1.htm. The web page's Chinese to English translation may stink, but I assure you that these babies are phenominal. Since they are front ported, placing them in the position you would need to is not as much of an issue... As others have stated, the position is not optimal no matter how you look at it, but these will work better than most.

    ---Dave
  • 04-01-2006, 09:32 AM
    Zhyn
    I got my credit card O_O
    It's shopping time~
    I'm pretty sure I'm going to try and get a expensive (for me) used pair. Like the VR-1's, Image B25's or maybe the Eric-1's. I'm just not sure. I think it's just going to come to whatever I can find. I'm so sad I missed that really sweet deal on the VR-1's~
    I'll update if I find anything.

    OHHH O_O. Almost forgot about finding a place to buy a receiver.
    Sucks that my limit on the credit card is only $500. but I'm sure I can find some kinda work around when I do go to buy something.
  • 04-01-2006, 11:19 AM
    2chAlex
    How about Energy C-3's half price at Audioadvisor. As of yesterday they still had them for 249 a pair. Maybe for a receiver you could go as suggested with an entry Yamaha surround model, run it as stereo and have digital inputs for for less than 200 dollars.
  • 04-01-2006, 11:23 AM
    JohnMichael
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by 2chAlex
    How about Energy C-3's half price at Audioadvisor. As of yesterday they still had them for 249 a pair.

    Good suggestion. They are front ported speakers and several members own them and speak highly. AudioAdvisor also sells the Cambridge Audio integrateds and receiver. You might save enough for a new cd player.
  • 04-01-2006, 04:40 PM
    audio_dude
    IMHO i pretty much hate the C-3s for the reason that the metal dome tweeter is insainly harsh...when I auditioned them, I had to ask the salesman to turn them off, it was horrible...I would recomend the paradigm Mini-minitors, great bass response, so for music you wont need a sub, and they won't break the bank...
  • 04-01-2006, 06:43 PM
    2chAlex
    Zhyn

    Ignore the second part of my post. Seems I had a ice cream freeze and misread the previous posts and your intent. As for the C-3's just thought they might be good buy as per your budget. It's been some time since I have listented to them. I have Phase Techs
    so obviously I would be partial and its your system not mine. Phase Tech's current series is the Velocity. Another intergrated amp (also at AA) would be the Marantz PM72000, its previous version PM7000 had good reviews.
  • 04-21-2006, 09:23 AM
    stymie
    I have the Phase Tech 4.5 Teatros and got them for a killer price before Onecall sold out of them. The Phasetech Velocity v-4's are front ported and sound great. The V-8's are great sounding as well. I am partial to PT--best quality sound for the money. The wide soundstage on Phasetech speakers are incredible.
  • 04-23-2006, 06:55 PM
    Zhyn
    I guess I'll give an update, I bought the VR-1's.
    But I have more money left over then I though I would. So I'm looking and seeing if it's worth getting some more expensive then the Cambridge audio Azur 540A.
  • 04-24-2006, 12:17 PM
    topspeed
    Congrats. I'm sure you'll love the VR1's :).

    The Jolida was recently reviewed by our own administrator, EricL, about a month ago so go to the home page, read his review, and then determine if you'd like to audition it yourself. Personally, I wouldn't want to mess with the fussiness of tubes for a first rig, especially if you're still in school and your gear is going to be subjected to the normal carelessness (i.e. complete disregard for sobriety) of most students and their friends. Still, tubes do lend their own particular brand of magic to the equation, so it may be worth looking into. Other's you might consider are Cayin, TAD, or ASL if you really want tubes. On the SS side, NAD, Rotel, Creek, and Music Hall all make very nice budget integrateds. Do any better the CA? Overall, I didn't think so, but but let your own ears decide.

    The good news is that the VR1's will easily scale upward with your equipment. Therefore, you may want to get a good, reliable integrated for now and then as funds become more prevalent and you move into a bigger room, you can always upgrade to separates or whatever. With your room size, it's not like you're going to need much power. Take your time, this is a marathon, not a sprint. You've already used a credit card to buy the speaks, so don't go getting yourself any deeper into hock than you have to. It's just a stereo system after all ;)!
  • 04-25-2006, 02:25 AM
    drseid
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by topspeed
    Congrats. I'm sure you'll love the VR1's :).

    The Jolida was recently reviewed by our own administrator, EricL, about a month ago so go to the home page, read his review, and then determine if you'd like to audition it yourself. Personally, I wouldn't want to mess with the fussiness of tubes for a first rig, especially if you're still in school and your gear is going to be subjected to the normal carelessness (i.e. complete disregard for sobriety) of most students and their friends.

    I must have missed the Jolida review... oh well. As for dealing with tubes... I confess I am not the biggest tube fan out there... I use SS for my main rig, for example. In the Jolida's case, what won me over was the tubes are only for the pre-amp section, and as such they don't have many of the "tube" issues that encounter tube amplifiers... I also like the fact that they are enclosed, so the fragile tubes are not exposed to breakage like many tube integrated amps out there...

    All that said, I am not sure the Jolida 1301 is the best match for the VR-1s... Probably not, actually. The solid state integrateds Top mentioned are more likely good candidates... I would recommend the Music Hall out of those myself.

    I join in the congrats on your new purchase... Enjoy!

    ---Dave
  • 04-28-2006, 04:14 PM
    Zhyn
    So the VR-1s can handle 100 watts per channel? So should I aim for something that gives out 100 watts? Like the Cambridge Audio Azur 640A or Jolida JD-1501?

    I think for me it might be better to get something inexpensive like the Cambridge Audio Azur 540A. Since I can't actually listen to them myself. On the other hand, I don't know when I will upgrade my audio system again and I should get as good as I can get. I'm split on the decision.

    Oh, and don't worry about anything getting damaged. I take excelent care of my stuff, I live alone and have no friends :)
  • 04-28-2006, 08:25 PM
    paul_pci
    Yes, I think if this is the once in a great while purchase and you're not prone to the upgrade-itis that we are, then yes, go for the best quality that your budget will allow, in as much as you can discern and appreciate the quality difference. But if you can't really audition these amps, that might complicate that strategy.
  • 04-29-2006, 01:47 AM
    drseid
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Zhyn
    So the VR-1s can handle 100 watts per channel? So should I aim for something that gives out 100 watts? Like the Cambridge Audio Azur 640A or Jolida JD-1501?

    I think for me it might be better to get something inexpensive like the Cambridge Audio Azur 540A. Since I can't actually listen to them myself. On the other hand, I don't know when I will upgrade my audio system again and I should get as good as I can get. I'm split on the decision.

    Oh, and don't worry about anything getting damaged. I take excelent care of my stuff, I live alone and have no friends :)

    Just because the speakers can handle 100 watts does not necessarily mean you *need* 100 watts, IMO. In your room in a nearfield setting and taking into account the pretty good sensitivity rating of the VR-1s, I don't think either the 640A or 1501A are necessary... The 540A or 1501A would be plenty powerful for your needs, IMO.

    That said, if you think you might need to switch the speakers to a much larger room in the future without an amp upgrade later on, then the 640A or 1701A might be better choices...

    ---Dave
  • 04-29-2006, 01:53 AM
    Florian
    Dont worry about paper specs, they can be changed into anything. I have some of the most inefficent speakers there are and with about 60 watts i can ger 90db in here!
  • 04-29-2006, 02:00 AM
    superpanavision70mm
    Are you looking to go with analog hookups or digital? I am asking because one option would be go analog to an amp or preamp or processor, but maybe digital is the better route depending on what you want.
  • 04-29-2006, 05:47 PM
    musicman1999
    The Cambridge units do not accept a digital link,nor do the Jolida.



    bill