Could use some help, please

I once heard the sound of the felt pad just before the hammer hit the string on a piano. What impressed me was that this was not a live piano but a recorded reproduction. On that day I was hooked.

Since then, and three grown children later I have dreamed of having a Hi Fi system that could truly reproduce music as if I were there. My dream has remained out of my reach over the last 30 years.

I am disabled, confined to a wheelchair every moment that I am awake. Home bound and only getting out to see the occasional doctor or clinic. I live on a fixed income along with my wife and grandson. My dream of a Hi Fi has consistently had to take a back seat to the every day challenges of keeping a roof overhead at below poverty level income.

I'm very proud of my accomplishments and over coming the adversities of disabled life, so it is with great internal conflict that I convey the following;

So far I've manage to put together an Onkyo A-RV401 Amp, T-403 Tuner, DX-702 CD Player, TA-RW344 Cassette and a CP-1100A Turntable. The Amp, tuner, tape deck, and turntable were an Ebay surprise I found for $50 as a set. The CD was another Ebay prize I picked up for $6.50. Originally I had found a DX-1500 CD but was damaged during shipping. For speakers I picked up an older pair of Kenwood JL-802 speakers at the local flea market for $20 and a really old pair of Sansui SP-50's from Goodwill for $5.00.

Although, this system is far superior to the Emerson it replaced, I'm still not hearing real music. The Kenwoods have a tendency to get muddy sounding in the mid to upper mid range tones. They also require higher power levels to get any bass response out of them making it difficult to have conversations. We have taken a liking to the old Sansui's on lower volume levels. Their sound is not bad for the age but there is no definition to the sound. There is also no 3-D range, if I'm using the term correctly. When the Kenwoods are turned up the music fills the room and surrounds the listener, where the sound from the Sansui speakers is flat and just there.

I'm thinking my biggest weakness lies in the speakers. (Though I am sure many feel the whole system may be lacking.) I'm up to $75 so far which for some may not be very much, but for me, that's a large dent in my monthly income.

I have bid on several sets of Kef's and Bostons only to watch them price themselves out of range in the last hour of the auction. My friend suggested that someone on this site may have a pair of speakers that are old, cosmetically damaged or even being used as the rears in a surround sound. If any of you have a pair of speakers sitting there that you would part with for a very small amount of money, please let me know. I sure could use them. In fact, any advice you might have, even on a DIY speaker you have personally used with good results would be welcome. Any advice on getting the most out of the system I have now would also be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for this great site and for all I have learned from reading here.
Hey Dave

Are you still living in Virginia? I am in Blacksburg and have ways I could help you out.

Hey Dave,

Dude, I know that if I was confned to a wheelchair, music would be my escape of choice (along with some mighty fine drugs, but one thing at a time [g]).

If you're in Virginia, I'm not too far from you - Bethesda, MD. I have some gear sitting around collecting dust, maybe you could use some of it. Free (except maybe shipping).

C'mon guys, let's help Dave out! I'll bet we could hook him up with a pretty fine system with all the stuff we've got lying about...

Hey guys, thanks for the response. I wish we were still in Virginia but currently I'm in the dull brown hot desert of Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Really I do hope someday we'll be back where its green!

Again, thanks for your responses.
I scouring CraigsList. Look at this:
Here's another one:
Virginia and NM make no difference, post office and shipping companies go everywhere. Someone should still be able to hook Dave up with a good set of speakers that would work with his Onkyo---or at least a better set of speakers as nothing is ever good enough in this biz! (800-338-0531) has a system that was designed for 5.1HT use.My thought is that you look at the SC5.1 speaker.The drivers are Hi-Vi and they are on special ($18/tweeters/$38/woofers-price per pair and $32/2-2 way Xovers.Cabinet requires 2 boxes; 9"w x 7.5"d x 11.5"h).Maybe you could source some boxes or throw together a MDF enclosure.
Dave...Please email me off board. I might have an idea or two to help with your situation.
you didn't say what your budget is - I'm assuming you ewant to stay in the ~$100 range. As far as speakers go - here's a couple of thoughts:

1) you'd be surprised (actually stunned) by what you can get by retrofitting new drivers and a simple 1st order crossover inside existing cabinets. If you can find some old speakers locally, buy the drivers from Parts Express, or ebay. Buy the Caps, Inductors, and misc hardware like binding posts for your xover from Parts express. This can be done for $100 - $300 depending on how you go about it. The challenge here is you may need to make a new baffle board. Not expensive, but requires cutting holes and drilling.

2) Consider mini-monitors as a speaker option. You can probably find some incredible deals for <$100 for a pair. Example - I have some Parasound CRS220 monitors I bought in the 80's for $50 from a liquidator. I've seen them selling for $20 on ebay used, but serviceable. There may be other that some folks here can recommend that are more available than the parasounds. A cheap subwoofer combined with mini-monitors can give you very satisfying results

I think your location actually is problematic - unless there are a lot of Agon members near you. I'm also in Maryland and if you were in Va, I could gift some surplus gear I have (eg a Denon CD player). It's probably not worth the shipping charges to you, especially since it has a minor issue with not reading some discs.
Again thanks for the responses. I do appreciate them. As for a budget I'll be honest with you. My wife, grandson and I are living on almost $1000 per month. From that besides utilities the biggest deduction is our rent at $831.00 What remains has to cover utilities, food, clothing and such. So we have become very good bargain hunters for sure. As for my Hi Fi budget its very small and as I've said before it resides on the bottom of the list.

I like the idea of "home built" but I own very little tools and my construction skills with one arm is limited. Please understand that I do not use my disability as an excuse but sometimes I can't overcome the facts.

Again, thanks for your responses.
Do you need floor standers? How big is the space? what do you listen too? How loud? I could help but would need some guidance. I have a lot of stuff but it sounds like what you really need is is a tube amp. I have a lotof unused gear. Tube amps not really excepta vintage piece.
Come to think of it we might as a group consider all physically challenged and financially strained individuals and create a pool of equipment to donate as gifts or present at heavily discounted prices like the cost of shipping. I didn't hear what he wanted other than soundstage.
This would require some one to decide how things get distributed etc. Email me on the side. Imight have a good solution.
Dave, I picked up a pair of Athena - Audition B1.2 monitor speakers new on sale at Music Direct for $120.00. These speakers perform way above their low price. I have seen these come up on Audiogon as low as around $60 per pair. There are some on-line reviews of this speaker you could read as well.

I have a pair of Tannoy M4 that I haven't used in a while. Please let me know if these would work for you. Feel free to e-mail me. I'm pretty sure I can help you out.
Again thank you for all your responses. The room is 15 ft X 20 ft X 10 ft. Open on the one end leading to the kitchen area and the other end has a patio door and large picture window. The Onkyo system sits on a long wall but is 4 ft short do to a opening to the bedroom hall. The floor is covered with a very low nap and cheap carpet.

As per music. I like all. Most days I'm listening to NPR. I really enjoy violin and piano works together. When alone and the dog is outside the volume gets turned up substantially and I enjoy a little Pink Floyd, CSN, Bob Seager, Jackson Brown, George Thorogood just about anything from the mid 60's till now. I also enjoy light jazz and been known to drop in a Christmas CD at times. I am not into Rap so much not because of the music, but of the language. Plus when my grandson is home from school, a little Peter Paul and Mary really calms him down. It really depends on my mood.

As for volume. If there are others in the house I don't like to talk over music. I'm 55 years old and enjoy a good conversation. I have noticed the volume level is dependant on the quality of the music produced. And left alone I've been known to crank it up to concert levels. :)

I hope this helps with the questions, and I thank you all for showing such an interest.
I too am disabled and on fixed income and I have been helped by many here putting my system together, most of it donated, I have cables and such doing nothing if you need any...I am in same boat as you so if you can swing shipping let me know!
I posted an idea of collecting gear to donate to a wounded Irag veteran to be determined and was sad to see almost nobody wanting to help with that idea, I am glad to see you are most likely going to see results. Being in our position I can safely say that music is great therapy for you aswell as me, I have a spinal disease and the music can make the pain go away for a breif amount of time. This is one of the worst hobbies to fall in love with being broke lol!
You know Dave, now that you might be getting a set of speakers and I hear a CD player may be in your future, I have a sweet PAT4 preamp.

We should see if we could get a deal on a Van Alstine kit for the thing and mate it to one of the old Audionics or Haflers...maybe an adcom.

Another thing you might want to try is making sure you have a proper room setup.
I just looked for you, but could not find my copy of "good Sound" or whatever it was called by Dearborn, was it not fella's?
If you can find that somewhere, it would be worth a reading.

Can't wait to get some reviews from you on your now evolving system :>) JD

PS, you guys make me believe in human beings again...
Audiogon people are the best!
You're a beautiful bunch of nuts. So much generosity expressed in so many ways in these posts. What I'm reading here is likely just a tip of the ice berg of our community. You folks make me proud of my hobby. God bless you all.
Wow, Maineiac, those look like NICE speakers! Tell ya what, if you end up sending him the speakers, let me know along with your mailing address and I'll kick in $50 towards shipping.

Alternatively, I have a Harman/Kardon DVD50 sitting basically un-used in my rack. It is a 5 disc carousel DVD/CD changer - with HDCD!! It glitches out when playing DVDs, starts acting up about 2/3 of the way thru. However, it plays CDs perfectly and is actually quite good sounding. It was originally a $500 unit, but I would be willing to donate it to the cause. I'll even pay the shipping.

So, Dave, get back to me with how things are going and we'll figger out a way to bring Christmas to New Mexico a little early this year [smile]...

You guys are great!! I am so impressed with all of these responses. You hear so much negative on the news anymore that I was beginning to think that humanity had left long ago. This is such a major reaffirmation that there are nice people still around.

Chadnliz: I had not even thought about cables and such. I'm just shocked at the responses. Let me know what you need for shipping and I'll see if we can swing it. Thanks

RW it truly is Christmas in New Mexico the only thing missing is the snow!!
Dave, it would be helpful if we could set up a list of the items being donated or being sold cheaply so that we can eliminate duplication of effort. If any members out there have some web space they could donate, we could build a list of the gear. Barring that, we need to have some centralized location where we all can correspond, Audiogon is not well-suited for this purpose. Anyone have any ideas on this?

If needed, I could knock together a quick app that would let us enter the gear, who is providing it, etc. (I'm a .NET programmer by trade.) But I don't have a website to host it.

If anyone wants to correspond with me offlist about this, send an email to: or call me: (301) 530-4589 between 9am and 10pm EST.

I am leaving for a (much needed) 2 week vacation in 10 days. I'd like to take care of this before I leave, if possible.
Dave, I have a .5m Audio Art Cable IC3 interconnect that I posted for sale recently; it is a very nice sounding cable If that lenght will work for you and you'd like the cable I'll pull the add and ship it to you no charge - cable or shipping; just let me know
I want to thank everyone who have posted and contacted me. I have been offered and accepted a Rotel cd player, a cash donation and Tannoy M4 speakers. There are some other offers that are out still that I am very pleased about and will tell everyone when finalized.

This has been a dream come true for me and I have all the fine members here to thank.

Again thank you very much.
Just wanted to let everyone know that my first "care package" arrived today. ( my wife called it my care package ) Inside I found a pair of TICE IC 1A Interconnects. They look really cool.

I just wanted to say Thank you!!
Hi Dave,

While you get the new speakers, I can offer you free of any charge an Onkyo EQ35 that might work with your all Onkyo sytem. It might hold you for a while. If you like this idea send me an email.
I will warn you though. An EQ is a no no for an audiophile ;-)
I wanted to let everyone know that the Rotel RCD-950 CD Player arrived on Saturday. Today my wife and I connected it to the Onkyo using the TICE IC's. My grandson was watching a movie so it was about an hour later I got to try it out.

The music woke my wife from her nap. Not because of the volume, but because of all the "new" music we were hearing. We were listening to Brothers in Arms when she asked if it was a new CD. I said no, it's the same CD we've owned for years.

We went through several CD's re-listening. Everything sounded crisper, cleaner and clearer. The only song the system hung on was Ava Maria by Sarah Brighten. It has been a troublesome song all along. However, the Rotel improved it considerably over the old Onkyo player. I suspect the problem lies in my speakers and suspect Wednesday when the new speakers arrive the song will sound even better.

I am really enjoying each new discovery that I hear in the music as you kind folks help out. I am very thankful for everything.

This has been one of my favourite threads in a long time. Not really about equipment, but the joy and pleasure of bringing music into one's home. Dave, I have a pair of Grado SR-80 headphones that I have not listened to in years and would be happy to send them to you if you are interested in some headphone listening. Just let me know by e-mail.
I'm sitting on pins and needles today. The Tannoy M4's should be here this afternoon. I keep resisting trying to call UPS to see where they are at. I hope my Radio Shack speaker wires do not pull them down to far.

We've been enjoying listening to the Rotel CD player. We keep replaying CD'S and listening to the new music. Now my wife has started looking at old CD's and LP's at local thrift stores. Even my Autistic Grandson who use to leave the room when we played music now stays in the room and some times even dances. We suspect that his sensory systems were picking up the background noises and had problems processing them.

It is fun to watch him play with his little cars while his toes tap to the beat of the music.

And its all because of the generousity of the members here. I can not say thank you enough.
Dave, how about youre mailing address? As we all constantly pursue the latest remasters,we end up with duplicates of some great music. I'd be glad to send you some of mine. I dont really have any equipment to part with, but I could help you with some tunes.... Mike D.
Hey Wino,

I had not posted my address in public because we have a small child in the house and you never know. However I have given it to all who have asked.

We enjoy lots of different music and have no problems accepting "hand me downs"

My address:

Dave Evans
4744 Camino Dos Vidas
Las Cruces, New Mexico 88012

Thank you for your offer, music is always a welcome item in our household.

Oops, I guess its posted now :)
They're here!!!! They arrived a little while ago. My grandson and I cooperated together to get them out of their boxes. They look really nice.

Later my wife and I will get them hooked up. If they sound half as good as they look, I'm going to be a very happy camper.

Thanks goes to everyone.
I love it!! There is so much more I am hearing on the Tannoys. Its incredible.

Originally I was thinking the old Kenwoods did a pretty good job at least till we did a side by side test. The Tannoy's blew them away. The Kenwoods sounded hollow and were lacking on some of the instruments.

Its cool how each part that gets added brings the quality of the sound up even more.

Again I have you all to thank for this enjoyment.
Hey I KNOW WHAT TO DO!!!!!!!!

Instead of worrying about a decent TT or improving on Dave's amp...

Lets all pitch in and get him a Tice clock, water filled silver speaker cabling and 2600.00 shunmook rubber dots to stick under his gear to keep him in phase. ;>)

(I could not help myself.)
Let me know what you're using and / or still need for cabling. I'd like to help out if I can.

S/Cs, I/Cs ? What lengths?


Hi everyone,

Sorry been gone. The hard drive in my laptop decided it needed to act up. And of course, I've never done a backup.

Last night at 10 PM our local UPS dropped off a package containing 2 pair of Audioquest Copperhead cables. I'm hoping to set them up today.

Yesterday, I discovered that the A/B switch on the Onkyo was making a lot of static on one side. Switching it back and forwards seemed to clean up the noise. I'll keep you all informed on this development.

Again, I thank everyone for all your help.
Just wanted to let everyone know that I received a box that had a set of AR Cables and a set of IXOS cables. Also in the box were some pretty hefty cord for use with speakers and some great sounding CD's.

All were given to me by one of the members here. I am very thankful.

I also created a virtual system so that there was an easy way to see how my system is coming.

Again thanks goes out to all who have helped me.
I wanted to give everyone an update. Today I received a set of Grado Labs SR 80 headphones from one of the members.

I've been enjoying my music a whole lot more thanks to the generosity of the members here. I have notice some small issues with the Onkyo amp. It is interesting how as you improve in one area the weakness of something else shows up.

However, over all I am very happy and thank all that have contributed.
Just wanted to say Hi to everyone. Winter has finally ended and we've already been up in the 90's. The stereo is doing great thanks to those who helped out. I still get some fuzzy sounds on the Onkyo but flipping the speaker selector around helps. Almost sounds like ocean waves at times.

Recently someone gave me over 100 reel to reel tapes full of music. So I've been looking out for a reel to reel at the flea markets.

Again for those who helped, a big thank you!!