Advice on new system

toreaux -- Sat, 07/14/2012 - 11:29

Hi, new here. I just bought a house and need advice on the setup. Room is 17' x 15' with 10' 4" high ceilings. I listen to all types of music, from hip-hop to metal to classical. Won't be using for gaming or theater. I currently have a Sony STR-DE975 receiver (10-15 yrs old), 2 Energy bookshelf speakers (about 10 years old and I think one is blown- clicks a little when loud), a ProJect turntable and a Mac with itunes files.

I don't know much about this stuff but I love listening to music. I don't have room for floor standing speakers- they have to be bookshelf. Can I do this with two bookshelf speakers? Is a sub a must? I'll have a hard time finding room for it as the room layout is a little funky. The kicker is I'm on a tight budget. Can I get this done for $1,500? I found a pair of Klipsch rb61 for $300 on Craigslist. Are those good? Someone mentioned to me that Marantz was a good entry level brand for receivers. I also have been told to get an integrated amp and some high end full range speakers. Music Hall and paradigm mini's are what I'm thinking about. Or should I just get a receiver? Too many options!

Steven Stone -- Sun, 07/15/2012 - 09:25

 Start by listening to some speakers, find a pair that you like sound-wise and fit-wise for your room - then worry about electronics.

You could use a Sonos 120 or " Sonos Connect" to your speakers and use your i-Tunes music library with it - no receiver or integrated amp needed (the amp is inside the Sonos.)

Steven Stone
Contributor to The Absolute Sound,, Vintage Guitar Magazine, and other fine publications

staxguy -- Mon, 07/16/2012 - 00:02

Thanks, Steven,

Great suggestion! The local hi fi shops have been pushing Sonos, so I assumed it was crap, somehow. It would be a great step between something like the B&W MM1, and B&O Beolit option, and something more complicated. With the price of bookshelfs like the B&W PM1 at $2800/pr being indicitate of recent hi-fi pricing, I thought that pro powered monitors might be a good way to go, instead. But you are right on, by choosing the sound you like, and what fits. I was thinking I'd get Quad 2905's until I saw how wide they were! :) So it will likely be Sanders 10c's for my panel system, right now. I just hope that the Sanders amp is worth the $, and betters Classe, Bryston, Krell, etc.

Since seeing the Beolit 12 and the Devaliet D-Premier, I've changed my mind about wanting big racks of gear, with large "manly" cables and conncectors, which was always my shopping "ideal." The closer something resembled lab-gear, the better it was... whcih might be the way of clocks, etc. but perhaps not hi-fi... hmmm.

If the Sonos Connect is $600 and puts out 55W at 8 ohms, what are some contemporary bookshelf monitors (non-powered) that offer sound good quality, below $900 a pair?

KEF Q300 maybe?

I gave my last integrated amp away, so thanks for not pushing one. :)

Modern convenience has its merits.


Steven Stone -- Mon, 07/16/2012 - 09:08

In that price range I've reviewed the Silverline Minuet Supremes, which I loved as a near-field monitor and would also work in small room. Other speakers I've heard and liked are from Role Audio (Kayak and Canoe), Quad 11L, and Epos ELS 8.

Steven Stone
Contributor to The Absolute Sound,, Vintage Guitar Magazine, and other fine publications

staxguy -- Sun, 07/15/2012 - 11:40

First, I'd suggest to go and listen to the B&W MM-1 PC speakers. They're $500 a pair, and can plug into your Mac with USB. Inside they have a DAC, and 4x25W amplification, I believe. I've heard them fill a very large room, quite well, suprisingly. See how you like or dislike this level of sound, and go from there.

Also, give the $800 Bang & Olufesson BeoLit 12 a listen. You may like it or not. I do. It has airplay, a 5 hour battery life, and USB to your Mac or iPhone. I've played Hip Hop on one, and was pleasantly suprised with the sound quality. It's a luxury looking product, that you can use in a variety of places. I really like  it. It's convenient. It's one box. 

Both of these are elegant contemporary solutions that I think are suprisingly good .

If the budget was higher, I'd say $16,000 for a Devaliet D-Premier, and $25,000 for a Magico Q1 would be a stellar sounding combination. 

20 years ago, for $1500 or less, I'd have suggested trying a Rotel integrated amplifier with B&W bookshelf speakers.

I'd suggest that Cambridge Audio may a sweet way to go, if you really want traditionally designed entry level hi-fi components today: If you were looking for floorstanders, and thus higher power, Emotiva would be a good great-value high performance electronics bet. (

As an addendum, I recently visited a friend who had a great sounding system.

He's a software developer who works from home. The second (lower) level of his home is his office level. His wife has her photography studio office there, his kids have their computer stations, his co-worker (another programmer) has a large station, and also him. There's also a nice home theatre room on the floor (Ingegrate Processor, Bryston amps, PSB speakers).

He recently added a Focusrite Scarlet USB DAC to his computer ($150), and a pair of nearfield powered monitors, KRK Rokit 6 ($450/pair). That combo would run you $600, total, and you'd have room for a KRK 10s subwoofer ($400), if you so chose, leaving you with $500 left over. You could go for KRK Rokit 8's ($500/pair), on your budget, and a more expensive DAC if you wish, or save up.
It's herasy to say, but I was more impressed, near field with the sound and imaging of the KRK Rokit 6 speaker's ($450/pair, powered) than I was with the Sennheiser HD 800 phones ($1500/pr), which would also fit your budget, should you decide to eschew speakers. The Sennheisers have glorious sound and headphone imaging, but not to the level I heard with setup KRK's, listening near field, with good head position. The height of the imaging was glorious.

You can find KRK and Focusrite at Pro Audio dealers, or B&O at the B&O store, and B&W mm-1 at the Apple Store, etc.

I haven't heard good bookshelf speakers lately for less than $1500 a pair, but you can give NHT a try if you would prefer to go the hi-fi route to sound reproduction. Used, you can find the formerly top of the line NHT 3.3 in your upgrade budget, should you find room for floorstanders.

The B&W MM1, B&O BeoLit 12 are elegant solutions to PC based playback, which just work. The KRK solution is less beautiful visually, but audibly quite detailed, as it should for being a professional monitor.

You could step up to the KRK Rokit 10 ($1000/pr) on your $1500 budget, as the amplification is included. $150 for the DAC, and your at $1150. I'd suggest you'd likely get better results with the KRK RP10-3, and no sub vs. the 6's or 8's with a KRK 10s sub. :)

Working up the pro-audio bookshelf monitor setup, you could try Focal SM9 speakers to see if it's worth trying to save up to a factor of 10 increase in price, for a later upgrade ($7200/pr).

Think, and give this a listen at your local pro-audio and hi-fi shops.

The best that I've heard so far has been in the $200,000 system budget, but you can get quite a bit of sound for $1500. If you liked headphones, you could grab an Audeze LCD-2 headphone ($1000), and a DAC/headamp for $500, or go the bookshelf route, if others are also to enjoy.


AB -- Sun, 07/15/2012 - 16:24

You have a vast resource of knowledge online. Use it. I've speced out most of the major components I will have in my system using reviews from whathifi, needle doctor, stereophile, sound stage direct, and I just found this sight. You don't need to spend many many thousands of dollars as some may suggested here to get a nice sounding system. The bookshelf speakers I'm going with are 650usd/pair (KEF Q300), the sub is 365usd (Wharfedale Diamond SW150), the integrated amp 600 or 700usd (Marantz PM6004), and all have been given highest marks by professional reviewers. Deciding which turntable & tonearm to chose is ongoing. Yes I'm old school, and I'm going pure analog, audiophile vinyl pressings, for my main output source though I will also utilize my ipod in the system for social gatherings at my house. Buy what you can afford. I'm going to have to save up to get my system together. Use this internet thing, unless you're one of the lucky ones with a real hifi shop close by. Cheers. Happy listening. Congrats on your new house.

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