• New Sponsor: ShipNerd, Ship Your Gear with Us... for less! Click Here.

Help me build a stereo

theSoyf

Member
Messages
183
Hey guys, I'm pretty much a newb when it comes to modern home audio systems. I once had a stereo in the 90's with an Onkyo receiver, cd player, and tape deck. Unfortunately the receiver broke and only a couple of the speakers are left. I'm clueless about whats available today. I just finished my basement and would love to get a great system to listen to music from multiple sources.

Here's what I'm interested in:
  • Obviously great sound
  • Ability to play Vinyl
  • Ability to play CDs
  • Ability to play music from web services like Spotify
  • Maybe play songs from iPhone and Mac
  • Ability to hook up with my tv but also be able to use the regular tv speakers when I cant be too loud
I'm willing to spend up to 3k. I can't always play loud so good sound at lower volumes would be nice. And also the room it would be in, would be kind of a long "bowling alley" like room in case that makes a difference.

If you have any links to sites that would be great too! Just looking for some ideas to get me started.

Thank you!!
 

Rex Anderson

Member
Messages
5,178
That's a bit low budget for all of that stuff.

Speakers are the most important item. See if you can find a high end hi-fi shop that has used gear and try to get a package deal on speakers, integrated amp and CD player. If you get good stuff, that could be your whole budget (don't forget cables, but don't spend a lot for them).

Get good cables from https://www.bluejeanscable.com/index.htm

For really good sound, you can use JBL LSR 308 speakers which are self powered so you don't need a power amp section. You can buy a good preamp instead. If you want a sub to get more bass, look at the JBL 310S.

I'd skip vinyl for now (or forever unless you have a lot of records). You can get a cable to plug your iPhone into your system (1/8" stereo mini-plug to RCA) or get an Apple AirPort to go wireless.

Any receiver (a combo of a tuner, preamp and power amp) or integrated amp (amp and preamp, no tuner) will have aux inputs to plug your TV audio in.
 

joolzriff

Member
Messages
2,171
A used LINN system & a dac (nad1050 or ?) for your digital stuff -------- I use a LINN System from 1992 and have tried to replace it with something more new & techy several times with fail - - I feel LINN is done right first time .
 

doc

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
7,402
Pick up a copy of Robert Hartley's book on High End Audio for some detailed advice. Given that you don't need to be all that loud, I'd look for some good quality bookshelf/monitor sized speakers and stands from a good company like Paradigm, NHT, etc. Speakers usually are difficult to make large, efficient, affordable, and great sounding all in one package - for your situation try to get affordable plus great sounding. Look around for used stuff that's local. Always go for good quality rather than lots of features. Given the variety of sources you want to use, you might be best off looking for a full featured receiver (most "serious" audiophiles tend to like separate components, but you have to make trade-offs). Rega and VPI make some great turntables at reasonable prices (especially used). Report back and we'll try to give more advice as you go.
 

finwhale

Senior Member
Messages
1,413
don't buy small monitors on stands - buy large speakers like these that use real compression drivers and match with a digital class D amp OR A TUBE INTEGRATED
small speaker suck with regards to dynamics these are much better :

http://www.critesspeakers.com/crites-cs-1-speaker-project.html

small monitors are crap - no joke - COMPANIES LIKE TO MAKE THEM BECAUSE THEY ARE CHEAP TO PRODUCE NOT BECAUSE THEY SOUND BEST

on turntables I agree with Doc - be sure to use a "tubed" phono stage
 
Last edited:

dconeill

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,749
Audition the audio specialty stores in your area, make sure you like and trust the staff, and decide on one; take your money there and spend it following their advice. Such a store would not be anything like a Best Buy. In the Washington DC area I've been happy with The Gifted Listener in Centreville, and there are other such stores as well.

But I agree with a previous poster, your budget is pretty low for everything you want. I'd skip the phonograph for now, and don't go all lunatic-fringe on things like cables. At this price point forget about tubes.

If you use your computer - which I guess you might already have - for a CD player, you could just get an external USB DAC and save some of the money you'd have spent on a good CD player to apply elsewhere in your system. The computer would also serve as your source for streaming audio and video.

Any particular price point for an audio/video system involves compromises - that's why it's helpful to use the staff of the vendor to help you make your choices. They know their gear and can help you achieve the best balance for the money you have to spend.
 

teledude55

Member
Messages
4,967
I found that vinyl sounds best in straight Stereo. I have an old '70s Pioneer receiver that sounds glorious with Vinyl, can hook up my Ipod as well through RCA adapter. Those old '70s and '80s Japanese receivers are well built and great sounding. I got mine for under $50 on Ebay and just cleaned out the inside with some good Electrical cleaner and it works like a champ.

I have a separate home theater sound system with surround for TV/Movies/Gaming... I don't know much about the web stuff, I am still on Ipod tech.
 
Last edited:

joolzriff

Member
Messages
2,171
don't buy small monitors on stands - buy large speakers like these that use real compression drivers and match with a digital class D amp OR A TUBE INTEGRATED
small speaker suck with regards to dynamics these are much better :

http://www.critesspeakers.com/crites-cs-1-speaker-project.html

small monitors are crap - no joke - COMPANIES LIKE TO MAKE THEM BECAUSE THEY ARE CHEAP TO PRODUCE NOT BECAUSE THEY SOUND BEST

on turntables I agree with Doc - be sure to use a "tubed" phono stage
But wouldn't large speakers be better off in a large room -- if you had a small living room some stand mounts would be better - kef ain't crap
 

guitarjazz

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
23,332
I have some stunning garage sale hi-fi that sounds great. The interface to your computer or phone is easy.
If you don't want to go the garage sale route these guys would love to help you. They've been in the business a long time:https://www.crutchfield.com/
 
Last edited:

finwhale

Senior Member
Messages
1,413
But wouldn't large speakers be better off in a large room -- if you had a small living room some stand mounts would be better - kef ain't crap

the new KEF with the all in one driver are good speakers but a monitor is an inherently compromised speaker. I guess in theory you could overload a room but for example I had a set of altec 19 compression driver speakers in a small bedroom once and it was fine...sounded fantastic.

I was in love with monitors too in the beginning till I learned better

this is hobby were you just have to listen with your own ears to many systems ...no amount of reading on line is going to teach you about what things are true and what is hype
 

theSoyf

Member
Messages
183
Wow thanks for the replies! I didn't have the email notifications on and thought no one replied haha.

Really appreciate the advice. So far my takeaway is that speakers are most important, don't spend a ton on cables, and go for simple and good quality vs feature packed. Sounds like good advice. I think I will pick up a copy of Robert Harley's book.

I also may decide to up my budget to 5k. But I want to spend some time researching first in order to make wise purchases.

I will try to update the thread as I go along but it might be a while before I pull the trigger on anything substantial.

Thanks again!
 

Rex Anderson

Member
Messages
5,178
Be sure to look at the research done by Floyde Toole and Sean Olive at Harman (JBL/Revel). Their findings about speaker preferences in the listening lab (Harman MLL), data on spin-o-rama tests and how they design speakers to meet the goal of beating all other speakers in double blind tests made me change the way I thought about monitoring audio and I have been a professional recording and live sound engineer for over 30 years.

Things you need to consider: how big is your room, how far back from the speakers will you sit and how much low end extension do you want (does good bass matter)?

Buy once, cry once is my philosophy.
 

Otto Tune

Member
Messages
3,852
First, do you want stereo or surround? I'd vote for surround, but not over 5.1.
Most TV's have an audio output, so you can take the TV signal into a path on the stereo receiver, the TV can be configured so the line out can remain fixed and still use your onboard speakers.
IMO, the most important speaker is the front center. Don't scrimp. Scrimp on the rear L/R, they don't have as much information as you'd think. Get a good subwoofer.
DVD players can also play CD's. Why people like records is a mystery to me, but there are nice turntables with USB or RCA outputs, so they can play into your receiver.
 

doc

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
7,402
For higher SPLs I'd agree that larger speakers with compression drivers are a reasonable route, but for lower volume listening the emphasis should be on getting the most accurate sound and best imaging possible for the money. A smaller well made speaker will naturally tend to image better and have stiffer less resonant walls to prevent coloration of the sound than a larger speaker at a similar price point.

I'll list what I use in my office as an example of something that might be a model for you, more as an outline of types of things to look for than specific parts. Its stereo and I can play CD, vinyl, and computer audio. All these components were bought used at a big discount from new prices. If you plan to use your system as more of a surround sound for TV you'll need to go another route - probably a modern reciever.

Linn LP12 turntable
Linn Pretek preamp
Dayton Audio DTA120 amp
Pioneer pawn shop DVD player for CDs
Vienna Acoustics Haydn speakers

Sounds great. Another option to just mention is - if you're the only one listening and you plan to always sit down and really listen, consider going with some great headphones and headphone amp instead.
 

joolzriff

Member
Messages
2,171
For higher SPLs I'd agree that larger speakers with compression drivers are a reasonable route, but for lower volume listening the emphasis should be on getting the most accurate sound and best imaging possible for the money. A smaller well made speaker will naturally tend to image better and have stiffer less resonant walls to prevent coloration of the sound than a larger speaker at a similar price point.

I'll list what I use in my office as an example of something that might be a model for you, more as an outline of types of things to look for than specific parts. Its stereo and I can play CD, vinyl, and computer audio. All these components were bought used at a big discount from new prices. If you plan to use your system as more of a surround sound for TV you'll need to go another route - probably a modern reciever.

Linn LP12 turntable
Linn Pretek preamp
Dayton Audio DTA120 amp
Pioneer pawn shop DVD player for CDs
Vienna Acoustics Haydn speakers

Sounds great. Another option to just mention is - if you're the only one listening and you plan to always sit down and really listen, consider going with some great headphones and headphone amp instead.
Your the only other guy I've seen that owns a pretek -I own the pretek and powertek -hows the power amp you run? Any better than the powertek ?
 

doc

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
7,402
I've never heard the Powertek, and got the Pretek used and cheap. The Dayton amp sounds very good for being very inexpensive - I got it mostly for the small size. Its a class D amp - Dayton is the "house brand" name for Parts Express. Thats one area where time has marched on - in solid state stereo power amps you can get inexpensive ones that sonically rival the best of the expensive stuff from 15 years ago (IMHO).

I think the "devil is in the details". You can put together a really good sounding system pretty inexpensively if you know where to put the money and make use of older components that were well made and are still competitive, or able to be modified to be competitive. My main speakers for my "big system" are '50s Wharfedale open baffle speakers, but heavily modded. The original drivers were shot, and have been replaced by an odd combination of modern speakers (with significant thought given in the process) including a Tang Band neo version of a Lowther. Most of my other stereo stuff is similarly "opportunistic".
 

doc

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
7,402
Maybe eventually. I'm a bit of a Luddite with this digital tech thing, so I don't have the whole photo hosting thing sussed out yet, and limited time. Second, the area with the "big stereo" is a serious mess - I hate for anyone to see how the troll in the basement really lives (the upstairs where the princess lives is like something from the pages of Southern Living magazine).
 

doc

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
7,402
Sorry it took awhile to respond. I don't know what an "ohm walsh f guy" is, so I guess that's not me.
 




Trending Topics

Top Bottom