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Make me an audiophile
jmr
Brisbane, Queensland
7923 posts
So I'm ready to buy some beautiful speakers and a matching amp.

My uncle is massively into his audio gear, and I'm going to go in with him for a buy somewhere.

I want to forearm myself with some advanced knowledge. I have tried a few forums and websites, but haven't found anything general enough, they're all very specific recommendations towards specific products that aren't readily available here.

From the get-go I thinkI am looking for:

A 2-4 Channel AMP, I am assuming 150W RMS @ 4 Per Channel

2 x Bookshelf speakers (unless I am convinced otherwise) for music.

May run TV shows through it, but their primary function should be music. Hard to pin down a specific style of music, because I listen to everything from easy listening chill / house through hip hop, to rock, rage, etc.

What else do I need to work out before I am ready to buy something, and where should I be looking?

EDIT: He has some Tannoy Jupiters at one of his places that I love the sound of, but feel like I could do with a bit more power. Not sure if this is the amp though. http://www.hnny.nl/archief_tannoy/planet_series/Jupiter_J40-Venus_v30.PDF
02:57pm 20/03/13 Permalink
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02:57pm 20/03/13 Permalink
Damo
Brisbane, Queensland
6441 posts
How long is a piece of string?

What is your budget?
03:54pm 20/03/13 Permalink
mission
Brisbane, Queensland
8824 posts
Generally audio snobs will say to go for bookshelf speakers and put them on decent stands. I wouldn’t quiet call myself an audiophile, but I like good audio and I say just go for a good pair of floorstanders, they’ll take up the same room as bookshelfs on stands anyway….. You’ll get much better bass response and a fuller more powerful punchier sound. And more importantly no need for a sub (which can be a pita to get sounding right).

When it comes to brands it’s really up to you, especially the speakers.

Amp’s I’d look at Rotel or NAD as reasonably main stream but better quality units. When looking at power ratings make sure you are comparing apples with apples as generally the Japanese like to talk up their power ratings. Dynamic power (which is what Rotel and NAD are good at) is a better way to evaluate an amp’s performance rather than RMS (the common method). Dynamic power is the amps ability to produce short burst of high power to cope with loader passages of music. It’s important to match the amp power output to the speakers power handling.

If I was buying some quality HiFi speakers I’d definitely be looking at Energy:
http://www.energy-speakers.com/tower-speakers/

and

Polk Audio (not sure if they still import to Australia though):

http://www.polkaudio.com/products/stereo-and-hi-fi/floorstanding

But as I said there are heaps of speaker brands out there, so best get your ears to decide.

If it is mainly for music, forget surround sound crap, dedicated stereo is the way to go.
03:56pm 20/03/13 Permalink
mission
Brisbane, Queensland
8825 posts
I meant to add, if the speakers are going to be close to walls, especially the back, look for something with a front firing ventilation port.
03:58pm 20/03/13 Permalink
mission
Brisbane, Queensland
8826 posts
Stupid edit:

with loader louder passages of music.
04:00pm 20/03/13 Permalink
trillion
Brisbane, Queensland
2832 posts
NAD M2 with Bowers & Wilkins 805's on stands
04:05pm 20/03/13 Permalink
Coldy
Brisbane, Queensland
217 posts


Budget is going to be the biggest consideration here.

You need to figure out what your willing to part with and find the best performing products that fit into that price range.

The biggest problem with audiophile gear is that you can buy a 2 channel setup for $199 or $19999 and anywhere in between.

It will get better as you progress through the range, but always keep your budget in mind. And don't let the salesman talk you into spending more... most sales floor guys at high end audio stores are very, very good at mkoving you to the 'model up' from what you should be buying.



As for my opinion, check out B&O, B&W, M&K Sound, Harman Kardon, Marantz and Denon. I currently use a Marantz + JA Audio setup , but would happily replace my speakers with an M&K or B&W setup if my wife would let me spend the $15k+ required.......
04:10pm 20/03/13 Permalink
mission
Brisbane, Queensland
8827 posts
The biggest problem with audiophile gear is that you can buy a 2 channel setup for $199 or $19999 and anywhere in between.


Agreed, and the Law of Diminishing Returns really applies to audio gear imo. An amp and speaker combo for $2-3k* should sound pretty damn good. Sure you can spend more but does it really sound that much better. Set your limit and don't even bother listening to anything outside of it imo.

*It's been years since I've looked at any audio gear so this range might vary a bit?
04:17pm 20/03/13 Permalink
jmr
Brisbane, Queensland
7925 posts
OK - I was thinking, technology wise it might be wiser to invest a little more in an amp, maybe $1k - $1.5k and perhaps there would be an opportunity to save money in the speakers by buying an old classic or something?
04:18pm 20/03/13 Permalink
crazymorton
Brisbane, Queensland
3994 posts
have you tried
http://www.stereo.net.au/forums/index.php

and
http://www.dtvforum.info/index.php?

lots of good stuff in these 2 AU sites
04:48pm 20/03/13 Permalink
TiT
Brisbane, Queensland
5508 posts
Yeah I had listen to some Bookshelf speakers a few months ago, I have my heart on some B&W CM5.
Love the sound that comes out of them. I know VideoPro in the Valley have them to listen too.
http://www.bowers-wilkins.com/Speakers/Home_Audio/CM_Series/CM5.html
04:53pm 20/03/13 Permalink
crazymorton
Brisbane, Queensland
3995 posts
Todds Hi-Fi are pretty good and they have great room set ups to test drive

http://todds.com.au/index.php
05:08pm 20/03/13 Permalink
jmr
Brisbane, Queensland
7926 posts
WTF, That bowers site wont resolve for me

Yeah those CM5's look sick
05:23pm 20/03/13 Permalink
Whoop
Brisbane, Queensland
21588 posts
resolves for me but it's reaaaally slow.
06:05pm 20/03/13 Permalink
mental
Brisbane, Queensland
3856 posts
Listen to your music (take a cd with a couple of DIFFERENT genres of music on it) and listen to at a LOW volume and SLOWLY turn it up. Depending on your house inside and position with neighbours walk around the store a bit so you can see how it sounds a little further away, through walls. I only have a s***** Sony 'box set' 7.2 so it isn't very good at low volume but travels a heap at a moderate volume so have to be mindful of the neighbours. But the ex scored the good s*** in the breakup (I got the Tv and main comp).
07:17pm 20/03/13 Permalink
shad
Brisbane, Queensland
3900 posts
Would love to pull the trigger on a full on theatre setup. Even with my current setup I prefer it to going to the movies. If I was in the same situation I would go for an a/v receiver and just buy two awesome speakers for music, later then add on a centre and surrounds.

For anyone thinking of getting a home theatre in a box, please don't.
07:32pm 20/03/13 Permalink
mental
Brisbane, Queensland
3857 posts
^you can buy something in a box to 'do for now' and then replace the amp with something better, and then replace the main speakers,then sub, rears, centre, etc bit by bit to awesome after a financially unsettling event like a big breakup with kids and only a quarter of a house of things to move with you, in the rain, by yourself, fridge slipping as you hulk it from the trailer into the house.
08:19pm 20/03/13 Permalink
shad
Brisbane, Queensland
3901 posts
you can buy something in a box to 'do for now' and then replace the amp with something better, and then replace the main speakers,then sub, rears, centre, etc bit by bit to awesome after a financially unsettling event like a big breakup with kids and only a quarter of a house of things to move with you, in the rain, by yourself, fridge slipping as you hulk it from the trailer into the house.


If you are going to go that route, try to get something that has been packaged with a real a/v receiver with multiple hdmi inputs and speakers that are 6-8 ohms. Or else you will have to buy a complete new system. Or get something cheap enough that you won't worry about if you have to replace the whole thing.
08:29pm 20/03/13 Permalink
mental
Brisbane, Queensland
3858 posts
Ahh you meant one of those blu ray players with speaker outputs, I meant a cheap proper amp and speakers in a box. A big box.

My original setup I got the amp i wanted and some cheap speakers in a package that was 200 more than buying the amp by itself, gave me an extra pay check to lay down on the actual speakers I wanted and I sold the cheapies for a small profit. My choice was based on listening to my cd long a lot of different setups, which was my point.
08:39pm 20/03/13 Permalink
Damo
Brisbane, Queensland
6442 posts
Wouldn't waste my time with todds hifi, they have become commercial garbage these days.
08:43pm 20/03/13 Permalink
jmr
Brisbane, Queensland
7927 posts
Two fantastic contributions thus far Damo, consider me subscribed to your negativity
09:24pm 20/03/13 Permalink
59fifty
Brisbane, Queensland
994 posts
Dont forget ebay - can find some bargains on there.
Picked up a nad amp in great condition for a couple of hundred dollars off there nearly 10 years ago..

Still got it and still going strong...
09:47pm 20/03/13 Permalink
Obes
Brisbane, Queensland
9971 posts
I have some fostex monitors propped up on cinder blocks, and an m-audio usb interface ... I am happy enough.
09:54pm 20/03/13 Permalink
59fifty
Brisbane, Queensland
995 posts
I would also stick with quality 2 channel for music over a 5/6/7 speaker system any day of the week...

home theater systems are good for movies (and music dvds mixed for 5.1 etc..) but when it comes to old fashioned music in stereo, 2 channels is where its at!

Some of the older amps provide a much warmer sound due to how the amp is powered - my Nad and Technics amp both exhibit this characteristic compared to the sterile sound of a Yamaha home theater Ive compared them to (along with other all in one systems).

I think the Nad and technics have class a poweramps - not sure what the yamaha was...

Here's my NAD:
http://news.cnet.com/8301-13645_3-20079793-47/nad-3020-vintage-hi-fi-that-still-sounds-great/
10:00pm 20/03/13 Permalink
Herron
Brisbane, Queensland
194 posts
Yahah, if you are after a system for decent music then don't go the av receiver route as your paying for a lot more than just sound with them. NAD had the best budget amp when I was looking a few years ago - around $500.
09:51am 21/03/13 Permalink
TiT
Brisbane, Queensland
5513 posts
yeah i bought onkyo receiver from ebay about 8-9 years ago, paid $1500 worth $3000 at the time got it from hong kong, havent had any issues with and still looks brand new
09:55am 21/03/13 Permalink
jmr
Brisbane, Queensland
7929 posts
Righto, so look for some retro NAD amps?
10:11am 21/03/13 Permalink
jmr
Brisbane, Queensland
7930 posts
Those CM5's sound very good

Videopro paired with a Cambridge Audio delivering 150W

They want like $1700 for the premium 2 Channel Cambridge Audio amp though which feels steep?
02:12pm 21/03/13 Permalink
thermite
Brisbane, Queensland
10934 posts
I can make you an audio file, what do you prefer .wav or .mp3 ?
02:35pm 21/03/13 Permalink
bargain
Sydney, New South Wales
1961 posts
Hey jmr,

Just thinking out loud here...

I know it's so easy when reading suggestions in this sort of thread to just gloss over a lot. This brand, that brand, etc. While the general advice is usually pretty good, the brand specific advice really is the hardest to get a good feel for.

It'd be nice if every time you did some reading on any particular topic, the overwhelming majority steered you in one direction, (sometimes it does seem to, like PC hardware I've found), but with audio gear it's definitely not the case. Soo subjective, soo many opinions...

With brand specific advice, or type of gear specific advice, it seems like a lot of people (and not necessarily in this thread) 'recommend' brands that they personally have, or gear that they have. And while sometimes that isn't altogether bad (some people arrive at a choice with their own extensive research/reading/listening), sometimes it's not that informative.

Once again, not that anything anyone's said in here is no good.

/rant

Now with all that said, sort of a disclaimer to my own opinions I guess, I've got my own recommendations.

I own B&W speakers and they are indeed nice. But there's so many nice speakers. If I were to buy again I'd have a good look at Focal speakers and Magnepans as well.

But what I really came in here to mention was the amp/s. Now I DO own some of this brand myself and for good reason.

www.emotiva.com

Cross my heart hope to die stick a needle in my eye, these are some kick-arse amps, and at awesome prices. The sort of clean, HIGH, quality power you get for your money, you'd be paying 10 times the price and more for comparable amps from the big names, and they do compare favorably. Seriously, if you care to check them out and read some reviews and impressions on these guys amps, you might be surprised. While I might buy a whole different range of branded speakers, at the moment, I wouldn't be interested in buying any other amps than from Emotiva. Btw, I own the XPA-5. Seriously unbeatable prices.

Also really hanging out for their Pre-Pro due out sometime very soon, the XMC-1.
08:02pm 21/03/13 Permalink
DecayingCorpse
Brisbane, Queensland
2141 posts
I didn't spend a huge amount of money, but i've got a reasonable system.

Found a second hand Technics amp/cd/tuner/tape/graphic eq/speakers system on ebay for $300.

The amp blew up and the graphic eq was already rooted but they only cost me $155 to get them both fixed. The speakers are dying so i've borrowed a pair of bookshelf Polk Audio speakers from my brother for a while.

Together with my Technics 1200 turntable with "audiophile" cartridges it sounds great. The whole setup cost me $1800 something and the turntable itself was $1200 because I wanted a brand newie.

You don't have to spend mega bucks to get good sound. Remember, old gear is still good stuff. Even if it needs some TLC, its still worth it.

Not a good picture, but you get the idea...

http://www.chawtle.com/images/hifi.jpg
11:50pm 21/03/13 Permalink
HerbalLizard
Brisbane, Queensland
5743 posts
+1 on the emo gear, my younger brother has the XPA5 and XPA2 he is in the market for a decent AV pro/pre since his pioneer SCLX82 pre stage is arse. Can't say I like the speakers he has paired with them which is cerwin vega XLS-215 they are loud for sure. I did however get to pair my missions up to the XPA2 which was awesome. Emo stuff is great for the price but that's about it, value and power in spades pretty much.

How much space to you have to fill?
To what level did you want to f*** the neighbors off?
Whats the mix ratio of movies and music? Or is it purely music only?
Have you considered headphones and a high end headphone amp and dac, you could be a truely antisocial c***!
Given any thought to how to spread the audio over the house if required, is it? Or you just want something in one room?

Also go take a trip to lenwallisaudio.com considered to be one of the better wallet dieticians in the business



12:03am 22/03/13 Permalink
HerbalLizard
Brisbane, Queensland
5744 posts
+1 on the emo gear, my younger brother has the XPA5 and XPA2 he is in the market for a decent AV pro/pre since his pioneer SCLX82 pre stage is arse. Can't say I like the speakers he has paired with them which is cerwin vega XLS-215 they are loud for sure. I did however get to pair my missions up to the XPA2 which was awesome. Emo stuff is great for the price but that's about it, value and power in spades pretty much.

How much space to you have to fill?
To what level did you want to f*** the neighbors off?
Whats the mix ratio of movies and music? Or is it purely music only?
Have you considered headphones and a high end headphone amp and dac, you could be a truely antisocial c***!
Given any thought to how to spread the audio over the house if required, is it? Or you just want something in one room?

Also go take a trip to lenwallisaudio.com considered to be one of the better wallet dieticians in the business



12:03am 22/03/13 Permalink
koopz
Brisbane, Queensland
9958 posts
http://www.qldaudioclub.org.au/

prepare for some mental anguish...

you'll meet some pretty cool peeps there, though you'll discover a whole swag of reasons not to go outside ever again.


I'd like to have the kind of kit that these chaps enjoy, though I could do without their predispositions toward people of my age.


I'm pushing 40.. I'm a trained (woodwind) musician as well as a ( well kinda poor actually ) classical guitarist. Apparently I'm a n00b to these people... such was said - and now is 'law'.


And here I thought TOG had it tough with gamers.. good luck dude - you'll need it.
12:11am 22/03/13 Permalink
mission
Brisbane, Queensland
8831 posts
Not a good picture, but you get the idea...



SL-1200.


respect.
07:56am 22/03/13 Permalink
jmr
Brisbane, Queensland
7933 posts
Yeah, those AMPs are very well priced

Maybe XPA-200 ?

J - mostly music TBH, generally chilling around living / kitchen area which is combined, and hopefully will be in the next place.

Have good headphones, but enjoy whole room sound.

Watch a tiny bit of TV, but I'm not a serious movie fanatic by any means. How would TV sound through a channel AMP like that?
12:02pm 22/03/13 Permalink
Vash
3707 posts
Best thing about audio gear, they last for f*****g ever. I've had the same setup for 10 years.
RXV1400 Yamaha, legendary amp.
5.1 Focal JM Labs

Only recently learnt that optical sounds like s*** on my PC, went to jaycar and did a multi channel input via 3x 3.5mm split to 6x RCA, and the sound is 10x better.

Apparently it's difficult to find an amp as good as the RXV1400 without spending a good amount of coin. And i'd only be doing it to get HDMI, not worth it.
12:22pm 22/03/13 Permalink
DecayingCorpse
Brisbane, Queensland
2142 posts
SL-1200.
respect.

Everyone thinks they are just a DJ turntable, but they were designed first up as an high end/audiophile turntable. The DJ crowd happen to love them because they were as reliable as the sun rising and built out of depleted uranium.
12:39pm 22/03/13 Permalink
Crusher
Sydney, New South Wales
1246 posts
I have been a long time audio dabbler and have a pretty good ear for good quality stuff.

However audio is really really really subjective. What sounds great to me might sound like 12 angry cats being held in a picnic basket. Everyones ears are different so the key is audition lots of stuff in different combinations.

I have heard speakers that I hated one one amplifier that sounded great on another. Same for source eg CD/DVD/BDP... your system will only sound as good as whats put into it so no good having a 20k setup fed from an ipod.

A good way to leverage into much higher end gear is second hand on stereo.net.au as a audio nut with well looked after gear is a good place to buy when someone gets upgrade-itis.

My previous system was Orpheus, Rotel and Marantz. My current system is an Anthem MRX700 receiver, Paradigm Studio 60's and a Richter sub with tuning baffles.
08:28pm 22/03/13 Permalink
jmr
Brisbane, Queensland
7958 posts
So to update

My uncle had a 3020b sitting in the cupboard which he's basically given me.

I'm planning on running with that, I've taken it out to Aussiehifi at Capalaba, and Vaughan there checked the amp out and ran the CM5's off it.

Sounded great, even drawing like 1-5 watts. He said I would need to be careful with it given the age, risk of clipping etc, but given the sound I think it would easily be doable. Might grab some nice chord speaker wires so I don't need to buy them again.

Then I can throw down some serious dollars on an amp in a few months or something.

Short term, unsure what to do in terms of a DAC. Apparently Airports and Apple TV's are halfway decent, though I find Airport's a bit temperamental.

I've got an Apple TV ATM which I'm using for music just to the Bose Sounddock I've got. Sounds OK, but you need to run it through the TV due to HDMI (as well as have it running). This won't be an option where the new setup will be located so I am at a loss as to what I should do.

Sonos is ~$500 dunno if that's the best option?
07:55pm 22/04/13 Permalink
shad
Brisbane, Queensland
3934 posts
Good luck with that. I'd probably at least try to run the Apple TV headless as there seems some success on-line in doing that. Sonos might be good option down the track if you don't want to go with airplay/ (or airplay/dlna built into amp).
10:34pm 22/04/13 Permalink
jmr
Brisbane, Queensland
7959 posts
Airplay would be ideal. Looks like I am going to need an external DAC unless anyone has any cooler ideas?
06:18am 23/04/13 Permalink
bargain
Sydney, New South Wales
1965 posts
Well... :)

Emotiva again, I bought one of these: XDA-2

It's a
-USB DAC (does 24bit/192khz)
-digital preamp (6 inputs in total, superb volume control)
-high-current headphone amplifier

in one.

For the price, it's ridiculously good.

I'm using it as a USB DAC with some active monitors for my desktop setup, half and half headphones and speakers. Absolutely awesome for both.

My setup atm:

http://i.imgur.com/bZbgk03.jpg?1
03:08pm 23/04/13 Permalink
jmr
Brisbane, Queensland
7970 posts
Snagged some Dynaudio Focus 110's, currently running off the NAD 3020. Already sounds beautiful

I've got a copland CSA-8 on the way, can't wait to see how it goes
06:34pm 13/05/13 Permalink
FaceMan
Brisbane, Queensland
10201 posts
You using a bass box too Bargain ?





08:47pm 13/05/13 Permalink
bargain
Sydney, New South Wales
1969 posts
No I'm not, but I know quite a few ppl with a similar setup do, just to fill out the range nicely. Would be nice.

As it is these puppies go down to ~50Hz, so it's not too bad for just a PC setup.

The ribbon tweeters are so sweet.
10:45pm 13/05/13 Permalink
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