I would like advice for a beginner.

I'm a "newbie" who needs veteran advice. I'm an ex-music teacher, ex-folk singer who is facing retirement and I didn't have a stereo. I have told my friends I'm going to buy a used system for not much money and incorporate the "dink" system. No, that's not "D-ual, I-come, N-o, K-ids"!! It means I want to "dink around" with my new hobby. I know nothing, but my motto will be "Learn First, Upgrade Later."

Presently I have purschased a factory reconditioned Yamaha RX-596 receiver($179) and a Yamaha CDC-845 demo CD changer($129). I purchased Yamaha, for the time being, because my local stereo shop guy told me they would be adequate and were "work horses." I have them hooked up to old JVC 50 watt speakers from an old bookshelf stereo system with a broken cartridge CD changer(free). Now, I can, at least, listen to music while I shop for speakers.

This is fun!!

I would like advice for speakers. I have liked the sound of stand mounted speakers better than floor speakers. The heavier bass sound seems to get in the way of what I want to hear. I listen mostly to classical, especially choral, Celtic and folk music, with an occasional slip into classic rock and bluegrass. The speakers I have most appreciated have been the B&W 601's and 602's followed closely by the Paradigm Studio 20's and 40's. Any opinions offered on those speakers or any other similar speakers would be greatly appriciated. Oh, by the way, I plan to spend $200 to $400 for used speakers.

After I get the speakers, I will have $500-$700 invested and will be listening to a good solid system. Let the DINKING" begin.

Thanks in advance for the advice.
You know I remember when I first got into this hobby a few years ago. My "dink" system was a Sony TAE-9000 pre, Sony DVD player, Adcom 5 channel amp,Infinity speakers and a Velodyne 100 watt sub-woofer.

Everything was sale or demo items, I think I had around two grand invested in that system. Boy those were the days.

Now my investment in High end equipment is up to around 50K.

My favourite "baby" speaker that is in current production and is reasonably priced is probably the Castle Acoustics "Richmond". It is a small two way that is ported ( yes, those that know i don't really like ported boxes can go into shock now ). It sounds quite smooth and musical and quite a bit fuller than most other speakers that are of similar size without sounding bloated. I was very impressed with what i heard coming out of these "pint sized" English speakers.

Here are a couple of reviews on the Richmond:



If you can't find a local shop that has these ( and that will probably be the case since Castle is not a big name in the USA ), drop Andy an email at Saturday Audio Exchange here in Chicago and tell him that i sent you. He's got these listed on his website in the "new gear" section for just under $300 brand new with full factory warranty. If you are worried about buyng speakers mail-order, they ship stuff all the time and are great to deal with. On top of this, they also offer a 90 day exchange, which is quite nice. Hope this helps and good luck with your search. Sean

Your musical experience and listening tastes, which I happen to share, would be best served by a monitor of the BBC heritage as they really do voice right. My suggestions, which are just out of your budget, typically, are Harbeth or Spendor. Many sound engineers have to spend hour upon hour with their speakers, and both of these have proven themselves to be accurate reproducers. I highly recommend that you squeeze everything you can out of your budget to get this kind of speaker. If not possible, the PSB line is a very good cost performer. When you turn back to electronics, buy NAD, and never look back. Ignore advice on cables and interconnects.

Best of luck,

My suggestion is to pick up a pair of the Infinity Intermezzo 2.6p powered speakers. 250 watts per woofer per side. They are a small, stand mounted monitor, that can probably be picked up for a song if you stretch your budget. Plus, the only thing you'll have to power is the tweeter section and so you can pick up very low power and much cheeper, and some would say better sounding tubes or solid state amps like the audio note amp 1, and focus on your source like a CD player (the REGA planet would be great match) or tuntable (check out Music Hall or Rega)something warm and liquid sounding. Add either AlphaCore or Analis Pluss budget cables and stir. You can see a review at the link provided. Audio Advisor has them on sale or you can get them used for even less.
Best of luck and to happy ears,

Spendors and PSBs are nice in your price range. Get some very low prices on used PSB stuff at Agon. Used NAD and Rotel hard to beat too. I've never heard the Castle but Sean has burned through a lot of speakers so he should know.

I agree with above about cables. Of course it is a logical puzzle to give advice on cables telling someone to ignore advice on cables but I think I get the drift. And actually it is helpful to understand a little about resistance, inductance and capacitance when dealing with them so don't ignore everything.(not that RLC tells the while story) Maybe diy a pair. Don't spend much there at your price point.

Finally, if you like celtic and folk music and are a guitar player try listening to Martin Simpson if you haven't already.

You can have great fun dinking in your price range and it is surprising how good the sound can be with a little effort.

I remain,
Someone here at A-gon is offering new Castle speakers at 1/2 price, click Audiogon logo, then search 'castle'. Castle makes a nice speaker with superior build and and real wood veneers. Another alterative would be used Quad 11L, very clean with a beautiful piano finsh. Either of these speakers will be great for the music you are into... or most music. And they will inspire you to upgrade amp, then source. Look at Rotel int, amp for starters. Good luck, enjoy.
Save yourself from losing all of your money and spending all of your time in the pursuit of sonic perfection. My road to my current padded room started with a simple pioneer receiver, magnovox CD player and some no name eight inch two ways...now I am up to having seperate systems for my video and audio.

Actually, this hobby is a blast and I wish you lots of luck.
Not to sidetrack this thread, but i've read the reviews on PSB's ( always glowing with good measurements ) and listened to them on several different occassions and always wondered what the hype was about ? They sounded dull, thick and bloated to me. From what i can remember, the speakers were hooked up to NAD gear, which is typically offers a good "bang for the buck" but is "typically" on the "warm & smooth" side of neutral. My guess is that these components may work great individually, but i don't think that they work too well as a pair. I"m not trying to "dig" on Charlie's comments about speakers / electronics or anyone else that suggested PSB, only warning that one really should try out combo's for themselves and see if they like it. Some stuff that we think should work well just doesn't live up to our expectations once you try it.

As to the comments about cabling, i do think that cables make a difference but there is little need to spend tall cash to obtain good performance. This is especially true if the level of components aren't up to responding to increased bandwidth and lower dialetric absorption. The use of some Belden ( or equivalent ) copper based cabling with teflon insulation and decent connectors will get you a LOT of bang for the buck. Sean
You're on the right track as it sounds like you trust your ears, which is all that matters when choosing your gear.

The main thing I can add is to start with a clean source of power so you actually get to hear what the equipment you have sounds like. I highly recommend at least one dedicated line with a good quality outlet. Please research this option carefully & have fun picking out gear.
Hello Baileyje.... Danvetz's....Bravo! very astute advice, Baileyje... pursue it if at all possible!The paradigm studio 20's and nad are a very musical combo for very little money [new or used] and a combo I have highly recommended and put together numerous times for friends and family.Very hard to beat for the money when purchased new. That said..... and as Danvertz alluded to.An older pair of the rogers or chartwell LS 3/5a's bbc monitors[15 ohm versions]paired with the current nad stuff can easily embarrass many multi-thousand dollar rigs.The midband of the bbc monitors are legendary and can still compete with ANY speaker systems out there... regardless of price! They are a music lovers dream! I purchased a pair back in 1978 and still use them today in my kitchen system. These miniatures have floored and amazed many many guest's[musicians included] over the years.I will never sell mine and will probably take them to my grave. Cheers and all the best in your pursuit.
Thankyou all. I'm having a little trouble keeping up with all the new names of components I've never heard of. It's going to keeping me dinking a long time. As I write this, I'm listening to "Finlandia" and loving every minute. I spent hours in the kitchen yesterday while cooking for family and I had the stereo going the whole time as my kitchen is open to my stereo area. I know my Yamaha stuff leaves a lot to be desired, but it is head and shoulders over nothing.

I noticed nobody sang the praises of the B&W. Is there a reason for this? Is there something I should be listening for.

Again, thanks for all the great advice.
Speakers are more of a personal preference and room acoustics type of selection than any other component that you will deal with. There are obviously hordes of people that like B&W's and their "house sound", but they must all be on vacation for the Holiday. Otherwise, they'd be making suggestions in this thread like the rest of us "sheltered" people still dwelling at home : ) Sean
Teac Reference 350 receiver is $200 at:
J & R Music
and try these on the 600's. Then put the $150 you saved over the B&W 601's towards an Adire Audio Rava subwoofer. The point is an amp upgrade can do more than a speaker upgrade. Yamaha is a good brand but just bring in your Yamaha reciever and compare to a Bryston B60 or Creek 4330 on B&W.
Other speakers to look at are KRK ST6 (sold at Guitar Center), Monitor Audio Bronze II, and Epos has a new <$300 speaker.

Those that do not prefer B&W find their tweeters too bright, (which is the current "audiophile voicing," by the way.) As a musician, I think you will find an amazing amount of innacuracy in many speakers favored by audiophiles, often coined as "detail" or some other adjective. You have to have a good accurate speaker first. Any other advice is just plain wrong.


I couldn't tell from your post when you said "(which is the current "audiophile voicing," by the way)" whether you meant that the tastes of audiophiles go through trends, such as clothing styles, and therefore I should trust my own ears, because the trend will change, or, that, in fact, B&W speakers are a bit too bright and so may not be as well engineered as some other speakers. (If you can get through that run-on sentence and poor punctuation I will be amazed.) At any rate, at my age, 53, people often loose a sense of the higher frequencies. Maybe a brightness in the tweeter would be a good thing for me, and possibly that's what I liked about the B&W's.

At this point I'm listening to music, loving it, and enjoying this web-site, its dialogue and the different position you all take. I'm auditioning many different speakers and I'm in no hurry. I'll wait for that "Amazing" sound sometime, hopefully soon, and keep reading this web-site.
I use a Yamaha RX596 to power outdoor speakers and a pair of inwalls in the living room. I can tell you that whatever speakers you choose, make sure they are very efficient. Although the Yamaha is rated at 150 WPC, it's not a high current design and you'll have trouble with inefficient speakers. Good Luck, Mike.
Another inexpensive speaker that I think you'd like is the Acoustic Energy (AE) Aegis Evo One. Very smooth and natural for the price ($300 list), and you may be able to find the previous model, Aegis One, essentially the same speaker for maybe $150-175. This speaker has plenty of bass. Those tasteless audiophiles Charlie mentions probably don't like this speaker because it isn't bright and hyper detailed like their favorites - they would say it's dull or dark. It is smoother and less detailed than an absolutely accurate speaker would be, but you don't get absolute accuracy in your price range, and it is better to err on the side of soft and forgiving, especially with inexpensive electronics.

The Monitor Audio Bronze 2 mentioned above is also good.

Get cheap stands, wood is good, and don't let anyone sell you cables.

Where do you live?

This is great stuff. You guys are a wealth of knowlege. I live in Northern Michigan. Any suggestions? What makes a good speaker stand? It seems like most I see in the magazines are metal. I took a friend sailing today who is an electrician and a talented welder. We were discussing how to make good speaker stands. I told him I thought they had to be heavy with no open cavities that could amplify vibrations. Any thoughts on this?
Great question, Baileyje, and another subject of controversy in the audiophile community. 90% here would recommend a metal stand where the floor:stand:speaker are all coupled rigidly with things like spikes, or the like, at each interface. On the other hand, you could take the advice of someone like Robert E. Greene, (writes for The Absolute Sound;teaches math and acoustics at UCLA; is a perfoming violinist; produced the Philadelphia Orchestra's "Natures Realm" cd; etc...) who finds that rigid stands serve to move resonances up to the speaker. He recommends DECOUPLING the speaker from the stand. Let the speaker do it's thing! Let the stand be rigid for safety, but have a little fun and try it once with blue tack, and then again with something soft, between the speaker and stand. Let your ears be the judge.

Good luck,


As to B&W speakers...if you like them, I recommend you buy them! (I was just referring to the most common complaint from those that did not find them to their liking.) Room acoustics and speaker positioning are varied, so it makes sense that opinions are differing. Home auditions are a must!

Also Ascend Acoustics CBM-170 are a terrific value. I found the mids a bit etched for my taste but they are exceptionally transparent and dynamic.
I like concrete blocks for stands. They are cheap and totally dead. Not the best looking however.
Charlie, you are hearing bright electronics, not speakers. What is this with the bright all the time? And Yamaha, Truth, and Mackie used in pro studios aren't bright? Engineers who work in the business need speakers to be accurate as part of their job. Most audiophile speakers are pretty watered down compared to real pro-monitors.

We certainly disagree on this subject, and I suppose we could debate this another time...

The concrete block stands sound interesting, though.

Take care,

After getting the speakers, cables are next - they do reward. 10% of your systems cost to cables sounds reasonable. Get them used. You can get some here on audiogon.

You might like speakercity.com EFE speaker ($330). Nice highs you can listen for a long time. They got some good reviews.

Niles audio outdoor speakers are also nice and soft sounding with a good transparent souding tweeter.

You said you bought the Yamaha coz the salesman told you they were work horses - without being too cynical, next time please take what the audio salesmen say with a grain of salt. They have become experts at selling at our price point.

Yamahas sound pretty good especially for what you payed for them.

I would read Hifichoice.co.uk although even magazines are sometimes biased toward those companies placing ads on them. The advices here are good, and also you can chat alive on audioasylum.com Since you were a music teacher, your ears must be well developed - having heard many alive music. In the end, I would say buy what you like. That sounds so simple, but you will be the one listening to it, so it should please you, despite what other's recommend.

I teach music too - cello and piano. Nice to see someone who has made his vocation avocation, and still loving it. I hope tobe that lucky after I retire.

I too got into this hobby not too long ago. It's tempting to keep upgrading, but I decided to enjoy my system for at least an year before upgrading, coz others have warned me about the constant upgrade bug.

It certainly is an exciting hobby. Reminds me of an artist going to a great length in search of beauty. There is a lot we can learn to tweak our system to sound better. I wouldn't open a unit without knowing safety measures first though!

Have fun... and welcome aboared.
Thank you all for the great advice. I've now listened to B&W 600,601 and 602's, Paradigm Studio 20 and 40's, and PSB Image 2A and 2B's. I like 'em all. I have listened to them in 4 different show rooms with 4 different amp set-ups. From what I have read on this site, it is important for me to get them home an try them. I know some of these low dollar speakers are way below most of your interests, however, this is great fun finding the best bang for my buck to get started. By the way, if I were to choose right now after what I've heard to this point, the PSB's would win hands down.
It's great that you're checking out lots of speakers. I owned a pair of B&W 602's and was impressed when I first bought them, but after a while I was really irritated by the high-end. You should also check out Linn Kans or Tukans. There are a couple for sale here on Audiogon for $300-$360. I've not owned Linn's before, but I've been impressed with them in auditions. Just another option.
Linns are even brighter than B&W.
I'd like to thank all those who responded. I have learned a lot and enjoyed immensely. I finally picked up a pair of used B&W 601's. Thanks for the advice.