help an old man

default -- Mon, 08/10/2009 - 21:13

I want to buy a good amp and speakers. I have been told to buy a Rotel RA 1520 amplifier and B&W C9 speakers.
I know nothing about the technology. I just want to hear my jazz and classical cds as clearly as possible. I'd like to keep this purchase (with cables) around $5m or less. What equipment would you suggest? Also, I have an old B&O turntable and a 5year old cd player; do I have to get a new cd player also?
Lastly, where on the web can I find reviews of the equipment?
Any help you give me will be much appreciated.

Sam -- Tue, 08/11/2009 - 01:16

click the product guides/reviews tab on this page and its alphabatized.  Also the 2009 editors awards issue by TAS is coming out this month, you can go to Barnes and Noble or news stand to get it.  You could also order old issues of TAS where they build for example. 7 complete systems and you wont go wrong.  does $5m mean $5 million or was that a slip. for K
for CD players thats one area that changes a lot and has changed/improved a lot, Id recommend upgrading the CD player....CD players are getting cheaper and cheaper while outcompeting many multi thousand dollar players......just requires a little research.

JLeeMD (not verified) -- Tue, 08/11/2009 - 12:25

The Rotel 15 series CD player and integrated amp are 1k eack.  2k can buy some very good speakers such as the Dali Ikon 9 leaving you room for cables and under budget. 

JLeeMD (not verified) -- Tue, 08/11/2009 - 12:29

Sorry, I meant the Dali ikon 6.

JLeeMD (not verified) -- Tue, 08/11/2009 - 13:28

Actually, at 2k, the speakers I would choose is Paradigm's Studio 60 v5. 
Cables: Kimber Timbre or Hero interconnects /  8TC speaker cables (~$400-500).
Don't scrimp on the foundations of a high-end system:
a) power delivery: PS Audio Duet power conditioner ($299); Shunyata Venom power cords x 3 (50% sale now: $62 each at  
b) vibration control: Solidsteel AV rack (~$500 at 

gongli (not verified) -- Wed, 08/12/2009 - 05:04

   Please go slow and try to hear many systems before you buy.
If I were you, I would buy all used gears at
This way, if you don't like something, you can resell them and not lose a lot.

gongli (not verified) -- Wed, 08/12/2009 - 05:12

   If I were you, I would buy this mini system and enjoy music right away - and go real slow in assembling your 5k system - there is a lot to know before you can put together the best system possible.  5k is not peanuts, so you certainly want to take your time in choosing - perhaps even a few months.
   This one received good reviews from the
That's a good place to start learning about hifi - it has review section you might want to read upon gears.

gongli (not verified) -- Wed, 08/12/2009 - 06:06

   If you buy used gears, you will end up with better quality sounds - and your heart and ears will thank you.
I will try to hear as many speakers as possible at your local hifi shops.  Visit many and train your ear.
You will be surprised at how good the onkyo mini system is.  You would have to choose wisely to better it significantly. 
For a cd player, you might want to try an old Playstation SCPH-1001 - you can pick one up for all of $35 on ebay.  Make sure you get a working one though !  A hifi magazine said you would have to pay $6000 to better it !  You can read all about it here :
That will give you more money to spend on a receiver and speakers - I would spend more on speakers though.
If you buy used, you can do better than the B&W you mentioned.  Try to hear many speakers with your favorite CD - since it's personal, and you have to like it. 
Decide if you want an integrated amp or a receiver (integrated amp + tuner - radio) for power.  If you don't listen to radio a lot, you can get an integrated amp. 
Here is a system for under grand you might want to start with - instead of 5K.  This is will sound pretty good.
1) Onkyo A-9555 digital amp - received good reviews on stereophile magazine :
2) Sony Playstation 1 model SCPH-1001 from ebay ($35)
3) B&W DM 620 i Full range Speakers :
4) Ixos RCA cables :
5) Qed speaker wire:
  This system will better the onkyo mini, you can use mini in other places like basement, bedroom, etc.

gongli (not verified) -- Wed, 08/12/2009 - 06:10

   B&O turntable is pretty good - you might want to add LPs to your system if you have a collection - many say LP still sound better than CD player.

Robert Harley -- Wed, 08/12/2009 - 10:17

I must disagree with the suggestion that the poster buy used components over the internet. Rather, he should visit several dealers to get their recommendations and listen to the complete systems for himself. Buying components at random and hoping that they form a musical synergy is a hit and miss propostion. Conversely, buying a complete system that has been expertly matched by a skilled and caring dealer (and set-up by that dealer in the home) carries no risk. Moreover, that dealer will be there in the future for repairs or when the poster is ready to upgrade.
Shop for a dealer, not for equipment.

Sam -- Wed, 08/12/2009 - 11:31

I would not waste any money on a temp system. Rather add that money for a better cable or other long term component. Listen to your iPod in the mean time and match the system carefully. Don't throw ur money based on lowest price of components

gongli (not verified) -- Wed, 08/12/2009 - 13:35

   With all due respect to the last poster, headphone listening is not good for the ears (doctors are warning us).
I agree with the poster about listening to many systems in hifi shops, however, you might want to buy them used at
This way, you can sell them again when you want to upgrade and not lose much.
The onkyo is a new digital amp - has a smooth sound rivalling amps many times the price. 
The under 1K system should give you enjoyment for years to come, and the Onkyo mini should be good for the bedroom, or basement.
As I said, there is a lot to know before buying 5k system, so please go slow, and ask questions on sights like this one.
You can also chat alive here and ask questions :
Good luck to you sir, and I hope you find your sonic nirvanah...

JLeeMD (not verified) -- Wed, 08/12/2009 - 17:38

I've spent BMW money on my hi-fi, but recently I helped my brother-in-law biuild a system from scratch for 4k guided by reviews in TAS and "other publications."  The results are surprisingly good.  My advice: if do your due diligence, a 5k system will surprise and delight you.

Sam -- Wed, 08/12/2009 - 18:52

I would also look into building up a 5K system around Magnepan 1.6 speakers if you have the space.  They sound awsome and are one of the best speakers in under 10K range costing only $1700.  Match it with a powerful amp like Parasound, Placette audio volume control, a decent CD player and you will be in buisness.
This is what TAS recommended for the Maggie setup in issue 184:
1. Magnepan 1.6QR $1900; or Martin Logan source $2000
2. Cambridge 740A integrated amp $1000
3. Simaudio Moon CD-1 CD player $1500
4. Synergistic Alpha interconnects $135/m and speaker cable $450/8'pair
System price $4500
Order TAS issue 184 if you'd like to see some more combos.

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