Glad to have you here. I would encourage you if you are new to this that some exposure to different kinds of equipment is most important. I'd be less concerned with the distinction between new and used at this point as price seldom equates to the musical pleasure that will be important to you, at least until you become neurotic like the rest of us. Bear in mind there are some classic combinations out there (NAD/PSB and Blue Circle/Reyanud to name just two) if you need both amp and speakers for your source. And if the turntable is old you will need a cartridge and someone knowledgable to tune it up. Also listen with your heart and your ears and don't cheat either one when making decisions. Probably goes for life too.
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You might have good luck with an older reciever or integrated amp as it may also have a phono section. Many of the newer ones don't have a phono amp and then you would need to buy one seperately. Also, there are many nice two way speakers to be found used. Without making specific recommendations you might try looking at adds in your budget where the seller is also an active member of audiogon and ask specific recommendations. Even though you will see a lot of very high dollar items here it does not take a ton of money to really enjoy your music and records. I would be happy to send you a set of nice speaker cables that my dealer gave me until my nicer ones arrived. Send me an e-mail and I can get them your way. They are simple but good guage, sound very nice and that would save you some money. And help me clear out my parts bin.
As twisted as it sounds to say this, don't ignore places like Goodwill, or St Vincent DePaul. My brother-in-law got a pair of B&W Matrix 1 for $8.00!
The problem you are going to have is knowing good from bad, oh wait that's a different sermon. You need to do some homework or you're going to have to depend on the kindness of strangers... an often precarious situation.
There are good deals to be had, but how will you know before you pull the trigger?!?
I am no audiophile but do live and love good music including playing the old Vinyl LP's.I am an expert on bargains and believe anyone can find something within their budget with enough research.
The advice about newer receivers is correct because you have to have a seperate preamp for your turntable and you loose some qualty especially compared to a Vintage or New Tube Amplifier.So, back to business how can I help:
The older receivers from Pioneer,Morantz,Fisher,Mcintosh, etc., are available for a reasonable price and while not as qualty as some, do sound great and are affordable.
As for Speakers I think I would rather have a mediocre amp and great speakers than vice-versa.
So again,Pioneer,JBL.Klipsch,Advent,Jenson,CerwinVega,Boston Accoustics and the list can go on and on as they are all good choices.
Now for the purchase, many online stores have vintage audio for sale at reasonable prices and you know what you are getting so just do a google search for vintage audio and read thru the ads then go to ebay and craigslist and compare or even garage sales, flea markets, and local sales papers.
just a quick search here brought up :Tannoy Speakers $300.00 I am sure these are nice sounding, Tannoy is a very good brand
and this receiver:A Marantz for $165
I am not a party to either sale, just trying to help
Cheers and enjoy your records when you get your system setup and playing
"...my budget is between $500-$550...any ideas??"
Yes. Save your money.
I don't mean to come across flip but I firmly believe that if you buy a system (speakers, receiver, cables, etc.) for $500 it'll be a waste of money, especially if you're goal is to build an audiophile system as you mentioned. It's just a bad strategy for building a system and you won't get much out of it.
Either save your money until you can buy a good system or, just buy one component at a time and keep buying and selling your way up while putting in additional cash. The key to the latter is to buy something of quality at a good price that you can sell for at least what you paid for it assuming you take the time and do your homework so you know a good deal when it comes along. And, trust me, they do. But it has to be something of quality or, it's going to be hard to sell.
If you all you have to spend is $500 and that system will have to last for a few years; get a Bellari which is a tube phono stage/headphone amp and a pair of used Sennheiser 650 headphones. You should get better sound than you do today and you have your money in only two components of decent quality that don't depreciate that quickly.
This is what I would do in your situation. I'd look first for a excellent spk. Right now "Full Compass" is closing-out their KRIX loudspeakers. I highly suggest you give these spks. some serious thought. I own the Apex 3 and just ordered the small Equinox's. These are excellent spks. at give away prices. Tannoy also makes some exc. loudspeakers as well. I'd look at a vintage Receiver or Int. amp to drive the spks. This will meet you needs very well and stay under your budget. In the future you can upgrade to the likes of a Rega Brio 3 Int. amp and your system would sound magical.
MY best advice is to take your time --listen at some high end stores to get a feel for the differnces --don't allow any audio snobs to hassle you--save some money --you will find you can afford more than you think and an extra 100-200 dolars will be a small price for musical enjoyment --there are int amps from 200-500- that are pretty good to start as well as speakers in the same range either monitors or full range --nht- or triangle speakers aren't bad for the money and nad as well for int amps --just so you know my first real amp cost $300 and I had buyers remorse til I listened to it and haven't turned back since welcome to this crazy hobby any ?? email --Rich
I'm kinda in the same boat. I started thinking budget, but after you start getting into it and reading a bit, you kind of throw that out the window. Vinyl is especially expensive, I think it's worth it but there is the table, then cartridge and most likely a phono stage. Then you get into cables, power conditioning etc.
Given that you have a turntable already (I have one too but need a new one), I would think $1000 minimum.
I'm new to all this too, but some names get repeated often enough. You can google this stuff and figure it out for yourself. I have a solid state amp (NAD 325bee) but am thinking of going for an integrated tube amp. At least I have something to compare. You might want to just go straight into it. Do some reading about speaker sensitivity etc.
This might help:
This guy the "Vinyl Anachronist" is really good, I like his articles. He writes for "ToneAudio" as well. It's a free online audio mag. Great freebie and excellent "software" (music) recommendations.
Solid state amps:
Nad 325bee ($200-300).... I like mine by the way. Been researching tube stuff so don't know other SS int.amps.
NAD 352, 372 ($350-450)
Prima Luna Prologue 1 & 2 (seen $800-1000 used on Audiogon)
Onix SP3 II ($400-600 used)
Jolida 302b ($600)
Cayin, Ming Da (other Chinese tube amps)
Unison Unico ($50-600)
I've never heard any of this stuff but am intrigued.
I have Energy RC-10s ($335), tried Totem Mites ($400 I didn't give them a fair shake, bought new, returned them for cheaper used speakers), Totem Arros ($500-600 might like their looks, popular).
Van Schweikert VR-1s ($400-500 popular). Usher X-19 ($600)
Music Hall MMF-5 ($350-400, seems to be very popular)
Rega P2 or P3 ($400, $700 respectively)
Goldring GR2 ($250)
Entech Number Cruncher 203.2, 205.2 ($150-250) These got a lot more expensive recently because of a write up buy a NY Times article about DACs. But this model works with an Airport Express and is cheap enough to give it a try.
Channel Island VDA 2 ($400)
(shrug)...like I said I'm new to all this. Haven't heard half this stuff but this is what has interested me.
Hope this helps...
Oh one more thing, as a generalization, audiophiles (like those on Audiogon) take care of their equipment. And love to upgrade for the hell of it...it's a hobby after all.
Looking through the ads and reading the reviews etc for a while, you get an idea of what is "popular" and what people like. If you choose carefully (quality products) and buy used, you will most likely be able to sell whatever you buy for around what you paid for it.
So like a few others before me, I would spend a little more and not look for the "absolute" bargains, that way when you upgrade, etc, you will get most of your money back.
And there will always be "newbies" after you...looking for advice.
...at least that's my theory anyway....
Your post will draw lots of attention with a title like that! :) Audio places are like Hair Club for Men, with too much testosterone and not enough female input. Sort of the way women would be excited to show a man how to decorate a living room, etc.
I agree with Paulowski in that if you're chasing higher end sound, then you need to save more. If you cave in too soon and buy, you'll end up with mid-fi sound and may get disappointed. Depends on the type of woman you are. If you are into techno stuff and want to flip equipment in search of something better sonically, then you'll jump in now and add $ as you go. If you just want beautiful Hi Fi sound and aren't interested in dealing beyond obtaining the system, then wait. If you are undisciplined and the money would be spent on clothing etc. then you'd better get the system now or you might never...
$500+ will never get you Hi Fi; you'll get mid-fi or vintage Hi Fi, which can be very good, but not up to standards of today, and can bring repair issues. The excellent thing is that you can attain well over 50% of the quality of authentic Hi Fi with such a reasonable budget! At your price point I would not go into tubes; stay with solid state equipment. Take the longest time looking for speakers, as they are what you will want to spend the most $ on. Maybe even up to half the money ($300 on speakers, $200 on integrated amp).
For my office the other month I purchased a used Parasound cd changer in beautiful condtion, and has very nice sound. Older Parasound, NAD, Rotel and Adcom equipment should give very decent sound and be relatively repair-free. At your price point you may want to consider a cdp as it will likely outshine your vinyl - at least until you can upgrade the system. I would begin with the speakers and integrated, as you have a turntable already. But, consider a used cdp later and it will open up a world of economical, excellent audio.
I suggest an integrated amp since it will mean less cabling to buy and get you the most bang for buck at your price point. You would do better to find an excellent pair of Monitors (bookshelf speakers) rather than a so-so pair of larger speakers.
Some speaker suggestions, all of which are decent quality and reasonably priced used: PSB, Paradigm, B&W, KEF, Klipsch, etc.
Regarding cabling; Start with whatever you can use, but with time put a bit of money into used interconnects and speaker cable. Don't worry about power cables...yet. Your components will likely not have detachable power cords anyway! :)
Go online and look up phrases like "budget speaker of the year" etc. and see what you find. Then look for them used.
Watch out for used items for sale without boxes and manuals. Often you are at risk in purchasing such eqipment, since you are at the mercy of the shipper's packaging skills, or lack thereof. If a remote control is important, don't forget to look for it in the ad.
An alternative way to go, IF you are COMMITTED to building a system, would be to load the purchase of the integrated first, with some super economical speakers, then work toward saving for new speakers. I kid you not, the lowly Best Buy Insignia speakers that have been raved about on Audio Asylum (do a search for Insignia speakers - I wrote the first review in the world on them!) would work - I think well under $100 and really decent sound for a starter speaker.
Finally, call dad and ask for money for Christmas, or take some of your rediculous amounts of clothing to a resale shop and convert it into audio eqipment! ;)
Bottom line: Something is really going to suffer badly in absolute audiophile terms. However, you can make a bold move toward Hi Fi with your $500. I would purchase from sellers here who have good feedback and reputations. And always, always ask for female discount! :)
Currently, there are two decent speakers for sale in your price range:
Warfedale Diamond 8.2's (just came up - they won't last!) and Paradigm Mini Monitors V4, either of which would sound decent and leave money for integrated.
Welcome girl newbie.......
With your budget I would also recommend getting a quality vintage receiver from the 80's with phono. Look at Marantz, Pioneer, Yamaha and Sansui. Built like a tank, beautiful and great sound to boot. Make a visit over at http://www.Audiokarma.org to get more info.
Welcome to the hobby . . .
I think there's plenty of good advice above, and even though much of it will lead you to believe your budget won't be enough (ie, "save your money" comments, and equip suggestions clearly higher than your budget). I think it's still fun, and possible to assemble a system on a shoestring. More importantly, if you search carefully, research thoroughly, and by used. you can build a very satisfying budget system. Satisfying to you is the goal, and it doesn't matter if it meets someone's standard of audiophile quality. As pointed out above you can upgrade later selling off what you bought without losing much if any of tour initial cost.
So browse the forum archives. Make sure you know how to search them too, because there's wealth of information there already. I've been a member for ~3 years now and many discussions come up every year or more, and it's also likely that pretty much any topic you want to know about has been asked and discussed previously. Finally, browse the equipment listings, and monitor new listings. If you can, buy a Bluebook subcription. All of this will prepare you to jump on the item you want when it comes up.
OK My advice is to try and find the cheapest possible receiver with phono stage locally on craigslist, or from a local paper or vintage shop for $50 - $100 and no more. Now spend about $500 or more on the best used speakers you can get. Really - break the bank - spend more if there is any way you can.
Now you have the building block of a decent system. In a year or 2, even 3 if thats what it takes, you can replace the cheap receiver with something better. If you can eventually afford one of the tube integrated with a cheap outboard phono section, you will have really nice sounding playback approaching audiophile quality.
Spending $250 each on an receiver and speakers is just too low for good sound quality.
The buidling block method is the way to go, but it requires that at least one piece be of very good quality, then later replace the weakest link.
Depending on how much time you want to spend on this you might be better off going to a dealer and buying new. Lot's of us hobbiests live and breath this stuff - we can't help it, and we're happy to help out! But if you find your patience wearing thin, a good high end dealer can be a real blessing. OTOH, if you are patient then you can get great deals on Audiogon, and chat with a lot of handsome intelligent gentlemen too. :-o
ps: You can sometimes stumble upon good gear on closeout, places like www.audioadvisor.com. I bought a Monitor Audio iDeck minisystem for my bedroom recently (the full size iDeck, not the "compact") for around one third of the list price of $350, and I got an ipod Classic 80 on Amazon, filled it with music ripped from CD's at a LOSSLESS rate, and I'm getting great music from this combination. (There is an aux-in on the ideck which you could use for your turntable if you get a phono stage, like the tubed Bellini, maybe $175 used, wow.) Ok, I did add a small subwoofer..... Oops, I'm digressing. Oh yeah, don't forget to allocate funds for cables (sigh). Creativity in this hobby can pay off and be quite fun too, BUT, it is always a bit of a crap shoot; systems routinely turn out to sound either greater than or worse than the sum of their parts - there is a synergy issue that can be hard to predict. There again is where dealer can help.
I agree with Hack. Go with a used NAD integrated and some B&Ws. Other good brands of inexpensive electronics are Rotel and Creek. Before I got out of the business, many years ago, I was a retailer at various places for quite a lot of different brands. There are lots of good speakers with which you could go, though. However, the NAD/B&W combination is good because: 1) They're both pretty reliable products. 2) The companies are still around and are relatively large, so they're likely to stay around for a good while longer. 3) For it's price, the NAD does, indeed, have a decent phono stage. 4) The warm sound of the NAD complements the more detailed sound of the B&Ws. 5) I have put systems together for customers using NAD and B&W. And they were satisfied, so I know from experience the combination works.
Of course, there are many, many other options available.
You (and everyone on the budget. And those open minded audiophiles) should check out new digital amp by name Little Dot T150. Here are some of its spects:
The integrated vacuum tube pre-stage (EF91) adds warmth to the mid-range and sweetness to the treble to accompany the dynamic, and razor-sharp bass.
At $499 It is a steal. It is base on technology similar to Trands Audio TA-10.1 - which was awarded Blue Moon Award from 6moons. But that is where the similarities end. T150 is a 145Wpc in 4/Ohm and 80Wpc in 8/Ohm with THD+N=0.1%.
Four analog input (Trands-only one).It uses a new highly-linear, ultra-low distortion Wolfson WM8816 Volume Controller (0.001% THD+N, -100dB crosstalk).
If $499 is still too much......check out his little brother(not that little) T-100 ($299) which puts out about 40Wpc less then T-150.
I can bet that this amp can squash almost any amp or integrated amp up to a $1000........and even some moooor expensive ones. Get the right speakers and you have a winner that will not only be a GIANT KILLER but will provide you with a first class system that will put to shame some systems costing double and triple the price.
Speakers........well, if you could put your hands on some nice second hand Ushers, Omegas, Quads (all monitors) or can increase your budge to get new Unity Audio's Inner Spirit bookshelf speakers (93db)(go down to around 59Hz) at $419 pair.....you could have completed your search, right there and then.
Cheers and good luck
Just a suggestion, if you could squeeze a little more into your budget and are looking for some decent gear you might wantto take a peek at the following two vendor sites, I am not affliliated with either DMC-Electonic and Audio Advisor (the latter is a A'gon Guild member)- DMC has new and or re-furbished NAD integrateds and PSB (blemished)at good prices (PS I bought a pair of PSB 'blemished' speakers and still lookig ofr the supposed blemish). Audio Advisor sometimes has Cambridge re-furbished integrateds.
It is a little unconventional, but for a sound that would far surpass any of the commercial integrated solutions, look for a Berning MicroZotl used here on audiogon. Match that with your ipod headphones until you can buy a decent pair of headphones. Then, when you can afford a good pair of small and efficient speakers you can add those to the mix. When ready to buy a good amp, you can convert the MicroZotl into an excellent preamp. You can also use the MicroZotl with your ipod in addition to your turntable. If you want to move toward really good sound, IMHO you will not get there even when spending several thousand dollars building a system around the usual solid state integrateds. IMHO, YMMV, etc. Good luck. Jeff