Like anything else, the more research you can do, the better chance of finding what you will enjoy. Consider some key questions that help to quickly narrow the search.
1-What is your budget? The sellers here at Audiogon offer a lot of high quality equipment at very good prices.
2-Do you listen to smaller ensembles, full orchestra, rock, jazz.....or all kinds of music? If you listen to music with wide dynamics, you may opt for a more powerful amp that provides the speed and extra "headroom" needed. Also the size of the room can have a great impact on the decision. I have 25W/ch tube based system with efficient speakers that does very well in a 12' x 17' room.
3- Do you prefer digital/CD or vinyl? My preference is vinyl, but a digital based system might be less expensive and enable you to get off to a more satisfying start that allows you to put more money into an amplifier and speakers. Look for speakers that have an efficiency of 89db/w or better.
4 - Try to be flexible and consider an upgrade path. While there is no perfect system, you can strategically replace equipment down the road.
5 - Do you intend to listen actively, or is this more for background music? (maybe a $200.00 Bose bluetooth speaker is all you need)
Good luck and have fun along the way.
There's no one size fits all within price points as all systems will sound different even in the same price points. You wouldn't buy a car that way, would you? It would be like a rising rap star buying Dom Perignon because rich people drink it (personally, I can't stand the stuff).
You'll have to huff it as best you can and get out and listen for yourself and by all means, take your time. Practically all of us here now know what we'd want as a final system through trial and error with the pain of knowing that we didn't need to spend all the money we did. Good luck.
All the best,
Two great takes on the advice above. I would just echo this sage advice.
Know what you are willing to spend-- Take your time-- Check dealers in your area to listen; even if it takes a round day or round weekend trip.
1 - Trust no one's ears but your own.
2 - Be honest about how you listen to music most of the time. Throne? Puttering around the house? Concert level?
3 - Try to give systems a long term listening experience, as many things sound cool and interesting in the first 5 minutes, and then wear off fast.
The fastest way is to let someone else do it for you.
does the local dealer know anything?
some do; some don't
your last item might be best
Why does it have to be "Fast?"
Good advice here.
I'd say the slowest and most hassle filled is to take the time to do everything yourself...although conceivably it may hold out the most promise for the "...that one can be satisfied with longterm" part of the equation.
Dealers do indeed vary in their level of knowledge and helpfulness, but once you've found a good one, it will then be on you to be as good as you possibly can be at successfully communicating with them on what it is exactly that you're looking for...and it may not help you too much if you're still substantially unsure about what it is that you want.
For that, continue to listen to as many different systems in people's homes, in stores or at trade shows to answer that question for yourself as best you can.
Best of luck to you!
There are several tips I have to build great sounding system analytically:
1. Use combined components such as receiver or integrated amp to build system around -- it's indeed the fastest. If you're planning to spin records, make sure it has phonostage built-in. Aslo have in mind players that you want to play and how many so you can have an idea how many inputs to the unit you need.
2. Pick up speakers that will match to that integrated component receiver or amp
3. Pick up player(s) you wish to have with sufficient output (line or phono) for your integrated component. Bare in mind that having only one player(source) will certainly make process faster
4. Visit Mogami Ave to choose any wires necessary to connect your components, because it's never wrong way due to great quality and affordability.
Finally, to build system fast(yourself) you should at least pick up one static reference component that you want to build system around.
@sakelig Buy all the components from a single brand!
- Cambridge Audio
etc... there are many companies out there
Which one sounds best? - pick one - they all sound pretty darn good !
That way you are capitalizing on the company's expertise of designing and building components that work together
- not the personal preferences/prejudices of an audio store or sales person
- some components may not be the "absolute best" choice,
- it might not be the most cost effective approach either
- but it will work and sound very good also !
- NEVER log onto to this, or any other forum again - it can drive you nuts!!!
Hope that helps :-)
- NEVER log onto to this, or any other forum again - it can drive you nuts!!!"
Best Advice, Ever.
Don't be in such a hurry. Take as long as you need until you're satisfied, otherwise you're wasting your time and money. Then you'll have to start all over again.
Fastest way does not mean rush. It means proper logical structure of choosing shortest path with smallest number of traffic lights and busy intersections.
czarivey, whatever. It’s best to take ones time. Explore the side streets. One never knows what they'll come across that they may just love and would have missed.
+1 +1 +1
I had asked "Why Fast?" a number of posts ago.
I understand and get the OPs need for ’Hassle Free’ but would like more clarity from the OP regarding why ’fast?’
you can wander endlessly and find nothing or you can get from A to B with plotted guidance.
Also in agreement with your point @czarivey
I don't agree with the advice to buy all from one brand.
In my opinion, to know what you must spend you must first know what you like as far as music is concerned. Are you listening to music ( by that I mean sitting and actually listening for hours?) or do you listen to music as back ground music while you are doing something else. It may not seem that this is important, but actually, it is.
If you want to try to reproduce stereophonic sound from concerts in your home, and have the artist step out of the speakers and set up their equipment and play in your room, then you are sitting in front of a right and left speaker. You can tell (if the recording is correctly done) where the artists are on stage, where the lead singer is standing, how wide and deep the stage is, etc.
If you are listening as back ground music doing something else, you won't hear this, nor will you care.
This distinction can help to determine how much money you should spend on equipment.
Same is true for quality of reproduction of musical instruments. I was a classical violinist, clarinet, sax, oboe, and other instruments. I know what musical instruments actually sound like. If I don't hear that from recordings or audio equipment, then I'm not "there" and I have to keep upgrading until I get "there". Otherwise, I can't sit and listen. It drives me out of the room if it doesn't sound right.
This also helps determine how much you might have to spend.
If you establish a budget first before knowing what sound you like, you will be upgrading till the cows come home. Know what sound you like first, then go research and listen to the equipment that gets you "there".
Then, establish a price point budget for the equipment.
Go listen to equipment in high end audio stores. bring the music that you really like with you.
Go to audio societies and club meetings and meet people and listen to their and your friend's equipment. Know what sound you want and like before you go shopping.
don't let anyone tell you what you like.
You are going to buy equipment, set it up, listen for awhile and realize that you aren't quite "there" yet. Then upgrade one piece at a time.
I can almost guarantee that you will not end up with equipment from the same manufacturer. But, you will end up with equipment and sound that suits you.
take your time, go research, go listen (extensively), listen for yourself and enjoy the ride.
...and don't forget, when auditioning ANYTHING to bring your own selection of music with you. Don't take 'pot luck' that the seller or the vendor will have something you're familiar with. Burn a CD with some favorites if you can, or a thumb drive. If they won't play it, Walk.
Your $ and your tastes come first. And pay attention to the space you're auditioning in as well. Yours will likely not be the same, and will make a difference in perception.
And have fun...it should be fun. If faced with attitude, find a better one...
Opinion #1: Your choices should be directly related to the size of the room you intend to listen as well as whether that room can be controlled (acoustic treatment, for example). My room is small and it has presented many special challenges.
#2: I agree with the commenter who suggested that you do not need to match components by brand (unless you'd like to for aesthetic reasons).
#3: Start with speakers. Although no two components including electronics sound the same, The differences are greatest in speakers since they are mechanical as well as electrical. Same/next for phono cartridges. With exceptions, smaller speakers may be more satisfying in a smaller room.
4: What will you listen to? If, for instance, you will share your system with surround sound movies, you might want to add a subwoofer that can be switched out for jazz, for instance. Use your ears. A previous poster was correct when suggested that you listen for more than 5 minutes. What sounds flashy and exciting can often result in ear fatigue long term.
Anyhow, just some thoughts. Have fun and good luck with your decisions.
You're a better man than me if you can build a system "you're satisfied with long term". My wife once asked me "doesn't it sound good enough". Made me laugh. If you buy high quality components to begin with though, you can tweek them (without replacing them) & get great improvements without spending a bundle.
"minorl" Has given you some very "sound" advice. I may throw in my 2 cents worth. Many will emphasize loudspeakers over everything else.
It is a starting point. I have been completely surprised at how electronics (amplifiers & preamplifiers or an integrated) can make a loudspeaker that you may not have ever appreciated, sound like you just upgraded it or even sounds completely different. Please remember that amplifiers that essentially measure the same can sound completely different. Your ears have to make the call.
A dealer will only sell you what they carry and has a bias towards their "stuff" and may even make derogatory remarks about components that you have found to be very pleasing.
These are important choices that you really want to get right the first time and I am not sure that there is a fast route to achieving this.
Good luck and happy hunting!
1) Invest in a good set of headphones. They will help you isolate the effects of components from speaker cables and listening space.
2) Take your time and savor the journey as much as you can. By the end, you will have a much better idea of what you like and will have developed much better listening skills. It is a joyful process.
3) Don't blow your budget on expensive cables until you have proven to yourself that YOU can hear a difference. If spending $500 on speaker wires is a better way to invest your money than getting better speakers, something is wrong.
4) Decide what media is the alpha dog in your collection. If your favorite music is all on CDs in your library, get a great CD/universal player first and hold off on a turntable & cartridge, or vice versa. Or if funds are limited at this time and you're true love is vinyl. Get a decent CD player and and hold off on the analog front end until you are thoroughly familiar with the rest of you system and have saved enough to avoid compromising your choice of turntable/arm/cartridge/phono pre and tonearm cable - the one cable that makes a big difference. IMHO
5) carefully identify 3-5 really good CDs or LPs that test a system. Well recorded with wide, deep soundstage, the vocals that really move you, the best sax solo you've ever heard, your favorite bass line, the most subtle details, etc. Use them as a uniform set of tests for all listening decisions.
All this is simpler than it sounds.
Best of luck and enjoy the journey.
I wouldn't say this is the fastest way but the better way for better gains and satisfaction: focus on acoustics of the room. period. Too many audiophiles tweak their systems with expensive cables, power conditioners, and even components and speakers. The biggest element in any system is the listening environment. One can spend far far less on acoustical treatment that would increase the sound quality of a room exponentially more than upgrading ANY component in their system. But it doesn't come with Bragging rights...just intelligence.
The room is the component in the system most overlooked . A good start for a novice is to read Jim Smiths book Get Better Sound .
First find a speaker that works well in the room and satisfies your taste . Next find a amp that drives that speaker well .Then the golden rule crap in crap out . Buy good source components .
I did not take a fast pathway to purchasing a 2 channel system. I spent 2-3 years researching, mostly reading The Absolute Sound and the advice of its editor Robert Harley, and set forth a budget (on his advisement) of 10% my annual income. Not sure it was time well spent, or a budget necessary to achieving a satisfying listening experience. As stated above, you need to go listen, and trust your own ears. If you want the fast approach, and are a music lover who wants very good sound to simply enjoy the music (particularly as background music), more power to you. You can achieve that with a very modest budget. I could build a very good system for 20-30% of what I spent. Take 3-5 CDs to your local audio store, or if unavailable, travel to the closest metropolitan area to visit a few stores. Research the speakers they carry, select several you want to audition based on reviews and your budget, and listen to several over the course of an hour. Then pick a good quality integrated amplifier that will adequately drive the speakers (e.g., NAD, Yamaha, Naim, Rogue). Then pick out a source component (e.g., CD player, streaming device/DAC, turntable).
I would suggest you audition a pair of dipole speakers (e.g., Magnepan), as they are more conducive to good room acoustics with no side wall reflections. On the flip side, they generally require quite a bit of space, and quite a few watts, to sound their best. Their sound is not for everyone, and the wife approval factor is low.
If you want a dedicated listening room, or are an audiophile cursed with the ear of a musician like minorl, like the discerning palate of a vinophile, well then you might as well settle in for a long ride. Take your time ... again letting your own ears being the judge, and devoting an ample part of your budget to room acoustic treatments.
One other thought ... and perhaps better devoted to a separate thread. I am going to go out on a limb and state that I think that most audiophiles -- certainly not all -- would advise that the fastest electronic path to creating a high end system that brings you to the sound of a live event (the so called absolute sound) is to combine a tube preamplifier and a solid state amplifier. While there may be some tube amplifiers that offer good resolution/ control at the frequency extremes, and have narrowed the gap in this respect with solid state, they are out of the reach of most of us in terms of capital. Here I'm thinking of high dollar offerings from the likes of David Berning or Victor Lamm -- in the 40-80 K range. Not to mention the cost of replacement tubes. The tube preamplifier will give your system a touch of the magic that tubes offer -- warmth, bloom, air, decay -- without a huge investment.
The room is the most important, and most overlooked piece of the puzzle.
Jim Smith's book is excellent.
All of the previous posts are valid and worth paying attention to.
I've been in this hobby since 1975, and am still seeking, tweaking, changing, adjusting, and still loving it.
Don't get in a hurry, don't rush, and HAVE FUN!!!
The OP doesn't appear to participate. No matter.
I would always choose the speakers first. Analogue or digital or both is the next step. In any case, if you want long term satisfaction - don't rush it and prepare to spend enough.
It's Vladimir Shushurin aka Lamm not Victor, by the way. Great stuff.
Especially if the system is to be placed into an existing room, try to audition the speakers at home.