Inexpensive Amp and Speakers

I'm really really new to home audio. I have done some audio stuff in my car, but nothing with home audio. I am currently just using some Cambridge SoundWorks $50 speakers haha, and I really started to notice that the sub and mids sound like crap. I checked out the Zalytron website and was thinking of getting the budget German 2-Way speakers. I would probably order all the parts and materials but put the box together myself to save some money.

Now I need a receiver and I am clueless as to what to get. The only audio place around me is Circuit City and they sell moslty crap, so I can't really demo any receivers and plus they wouldn't have the speakers I am going to use anyway. I looked a little on eBay for new and used equipment but I really didn't know what to look for. I need some suggestions on any kind of amp for around $150. It doesn't need to be anything fancy at all, because I'm ONLY going to be playing music out of my computer, so the amp just has 1 set of RCA inputs and a line-out for a sub it'd be fine. I think that about 100w per channel would be fine, but I'm not really sure how many watts those speakers can handle.

If anyone has any suggestions on other speakers and amps I could look into I'd be very greatful to hear what you have to say. I'm sure almost anything will be better than these cheap speakers I'm using now!
NAD, Rotel, Cambridge are receivers I'd look for at $150 (which is really pushing it).

Mission probably make the best monitor speakers at this price ... here's an example

If not mission try NHT.

Keep browsing ebay and audiogon .. something will come up.
If you have local thrift/resale shops keep checking them out for receivers (they average $20-$40 in my area - LA) and I even run across ones from NAD from time to time. You will need to take along interconnects and speaker cables to test them @ the shops (which usually have CD players and speakers on hand for this task). Once you find a nice receiver, that checks out (take your time) you can then spend the money saved on speakers, if you wish. This is the only way that I know to go on a tight/low budget.
I will add one more vote for NAD
Any specific model by NAD? I saw some on eBay but some are more than 10 years old and I don't feel right buying something that old and trusting it to work everyday. I also saw that a lot of them only pushed about 20-45w continuous and most were at 8 ohms. I might be wrong but I think that I need a bit more than just 20-45w per speaker, and I want to run at 4 ohms.

I would go in a completely different direction. The powered Swans might be found used for under $200 and unless you MUST have a tuner you would solve a lot of problems simply.
Wow Celtic66 that idea never occurred to me, but it seems like a very good one. Now... where can I find some of these speakers? I looked on eBay quickly and now I just did a search on google and didn't find much at all. Does the company have a website?
One of the audiogon featured dealers,, sells the Swan M-200 ($299 new). I have not heard them but they have some very good reviews. One of the reviews is on, and has a link to the web site.

If I were you, I'd check out so called "vintage" receivers from the late 70s (or early, early 80s) know...the giant silver things from Yamaha, Pioneer, or Luxman. I think that would be your best bet for $150 (some of the nice ones cost close to $1000 back in the late 70s). I'm sure you could find a used audio shop (or even a repair shop) selling some. They were built much much better than most of the recievers in the 80s and 90s (even the ones made by the same companies), they sound much better too, and many are rated 60-100wpc. As an extra bonus, they usually have good analog tuners and phono preamps built in. If you prefer to look for something newer and more modern, try to find something by NAD, Onkyo, Harmon-Kardon, Rotel, Marantz, NAD, Luxman, or Yamamha...they sound better and they're usually built much better than the mass market Sony, Pioneer, Kenwood, Technics, etc (though there are exceptions). I have a 30wpc Onkyo receiver that I purchased in 1983 and my brother is still using it. I replaced it with a *bigger* Pioneer back in 1989 or 1990 and that reciever died in three or four years.
The NAD stuff sounds great but I've heard too many horror stories of them dying after 5-10 years of use. If you're going with NAD try buying something used that is 2001 or 2002 model year. Good luck :)
the nad 2030 is legendary, and very old. it has somewhat of a cult following. they can go for 100 to several 00, depending on market and condition. check ebay.
NAD3020 is legendary and can be had for around $150. Check out Ebay for a Proton receiver, excellent tuning section and a reliable product at around $175. Don't get hung up on specs, I'm certain any of the suggestions posted is more than adequate for your application. As for speakers my pick would be Wharfedale 7.1's or B&W DM302's (used, approx $150). The B&W's have a little more low-end/mid-bass than the Wharfdales. Good luck!
Thanks for all of the input, I've been doing a lot of reading and researching and I have another load of questions: Do most amplifiers have crossovers, like so I can have the speakers play 90Hz and up, and have a separate powered sub play 90Hz and below? I would hate to beat up any speakers I get by playing too much bass with them. I am planning on getting a sub and amp and building a box for it sooner or later.

I am also hearing mixed reviews on the B&W DM302's. Some people say that they aren't so great for hard rock music, which is mostly what I listen to. I need speakers that can handle a lot of hardcore and complex music with fast guitars and drums, lots of cymbals, and screaming vocals. I am willing to spend a few hundred on speakers. For an amp how much power do I really need for my room which is about 15' by 15'? I want the system to be able to pound the room pretty hard... will this be possible with about 100w pc?
Most amps do not have crossovers.

Tough to say whether you would like the 302s or not. Compared to their competitors, they are slow to get confused, but they do not like to be played very loud. There is also a recessed region in the lower midrange that may leave you wanting more. Are you in a position to listen to them? Anyways, I thought you were on to something by putting together a kit, but i really to not know how they would compare.

Being conservative in regards to your wish for power, I would say that as low as 75-80 watts (for a monitor) would be fine. A lot rides on the sensitivity of the speaker, though.

Putting a sub in to 15x15 room is not going to be pretty, but since you are a headbanger you may not care :) Good luck. Let us know what you decide on and how it sounds.
If the sub is powered it probably has it's own crossover, run it off of a line out (tape, etc.) and set its' crossover a bit higher than your speakers low end. That is, if your speakers are rated to 45, set your sub at 50. Experiment.
Hey hey Ohlala, I can be a headbanger and have good taste too! haha. I actually do listen to some different types of music, some more instrumental stuff like NIN and lighter stuff like Radiohead.

Would a sub really be that bad in a small room? I mean, I'm not looking for a big powerful sub, maybe a 10" sub with an 75-100w amp would be good. I just don't want to get shortchanged in the low frequency area.

Oh, I also checked out some reviews on the B&W DM602 speakers and saw some on eBay and they didn't look to be too expensive. I think those would definately be a large step up from the DM302's.
Hey, I am with you. NIN is a personal fave.

It is not that your room is too small, what struck me was that two of the dimensions were the same (15'). You may want to do some research on room demension and bass and the integration of a sub with monitors. There has been discussion about it here and AA's FAQ, might also have some good information. IME the quality of the bass is a function of the room dimensions, the loudness & frequency of the bass and the location of the bass speaker relative to the room & all the parameters are interrelated. Bass traps also have an (positive) effect. John Risch at the FAQ at AudioAslyum has some inexpensive DYI bass trap designs and information. I think you can put a sub in your room (i did not mean to discourage you), and i think you are smart to go with a smaller one. You just may have a problem to address.

I used to own a pair of series 1 603s, and yes they are a good step up from the 302s, especially for rock music. They play louder and sound fuller. Great midrange, still a little bright and there is an area of a little muddiness in the lower midrange/upper midbass. Not too bad of a compromise, though. The series 3 may have addressed that; I don't know.