Looking to get started. please help

Hi everyone. I am new here. I had a friend suggest I check this site out. I am really new to higher end audio and am looking for some help!

For years I have been listening to music on a crappy surround sound system and I feel it's time to move on.

I know I am at the VERY low end, but right now I would like to spend about $1500 on speakers and amp at the most to move on to something better. Over time, I'd invest more money, but that's my max at the moment.

My main sources for listening to music would be a record player, my iPod, computer and occasionally my TV. Because I am not really into movies or anything like that, I've definitely decided I don't need anything more than a 2-channel system.

I went to a local shop and this was what was recommended to me...

Receiver - Onkyo

Speakers - PSB

But, then someone told me to come to this site and ask for advice. I was also told that I really shouldn't get a receiver, but instead get an integrated amp.

I really need help! Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
An integrated amp would be a much better choice than a receiver.

Can you use speakers larger than the PSB's?

What is the brand/model of your turntable?

What types of music and which source do you use the most?
Thanks for the response. I could definitely handle larger speakers.

I think he sources I would use the most are turntable and iPod. But I'd also like to run my tv through the system if possible.

Here is the turntable. Will most likely upgrade after I recover from whatever I spend on the new set up.
Sorry. Forgot to address the other question. We listen to a lot of different things. Everything from bluegrass to jazz to hip hop to live grateful dead.
If you're interested in buying used, your money would go further.
That Onkyo unit features bass management, which means to take true advantage of it, you'd have to buy a sub woofer. An integrated is going to have better amplification and a probably a better volume control, but very few of them feature bass management. Are you interested in a 2.1 system, or is this strictly a 2.0 thing?
On this site, there are plenty of good floorstanders for $1000. Your musical interests imply a need for speakers with a decent low end: monitor audio is a good start, I have the BX5s and enjoyed them when they were in rotation. I'd also take the Revel Performas, the Wharfedale EVOs, or the B&W CM7s any day.
Tekton speakers - VERY efficient, a 50 watt amp will blow you out of the room...

I like RW's Tekton recommendation. I've had 2 pairs, Lores and Katz Meow and still have the Katz. You get a lot for the money, I think much more than those $1,100 PSBs.

Here's a link to some highly rated sub-$1,000 integrated amps.
You know... maybe I would be interested in doing 2.1 over time. If I was to do 2.1, I wouldn't want an integrated amp like this, right...

This one is highly rated.
Consider looking at the Dared i 30 integrated with built in DAC. I believe it can be bought new for a reasonably low price, and will sound much better than the onkyo. As for speakers the wharfedale EVO (40's or 50's) are a good value. Quad 22L2's are nice, and a fav of mine the KEF 104/4's or reference 4's are great. Speakers, whatever brand you go with are probably best bought used. Don't forget that you'll need to buy some speaker cable too.

Good luck
When I got started, I spent a lot of money trying different things. Once I determined what the ultimate goal was, I was able to buy in line with that goal. What is your ultimate goal? Home theater? Two channel? What size is your room? What is your budget? I think you'll get more appropriate advice once these questions are answered.
I agree that you have to really think through your prorities. If you want uncomplicated 2 channel sound that will sound superb as your budget allows then good advice for that will follow. A budget is critical. You want a turntable and that alone involves a bit more these days. You need a good and appropriate cartridge and an amp or phono stage that can work with it. Your budget can be blown real fast with that stuff. I recommend an entry level integrated amp a simple turntable with a MM cart a inexpensive phono stage and speakers you like . All this bought used will make it more affordable. I would worry about the TV later. If you are a bass freak then bookshelf speakers with a subwoofer may be your thing, but I would stay away from receivers. Good luck
If you really really want a sub woofer and flexability for TV and movies a different type of system might be best.Then and only then would I even dare think receiver ugh!
P.S. My first venture after a long absence from the hobby was a small tube amp a music hall turntable and CD player and entry level Von Swcheickert VR2s (no lomger avail) but you can find something similiar.
I was definitely thinking a pair of Tekton Mini Lore for speakers.

No doubt the NAD will sound much better than the Onkyo, and the Onkyo does not have bass management, only a subwoofer pre out. You could step up to the NAD C326 to get a sub pre out, or choose a sub with high level input for the NAD C316. The Mini Lore may just satisfy you for bass, or just add a subwoofer later.

The Onkyo has digital inputs because of its internal DAC, so using the NAD, you will need a DAC for the digital inputs. Newer TV's generally use an optical digital, but need more info for iPod, model, docking station (have one or want one)?

I did check your turntable, and it has a built in phono stage, so it will work with any input on the NAD.
"No doubt the NAD will sound much better than the Onkyo,"

Infinite wisdom would suggest that but not in every case. I have the Integra version(DMT-40.4) of the Onkyo TX-8050 and let me tell you, with my Klipsch Heresys in my 13x13 room, it sounds fantastic. The Integra replaced my beloved Luxman R-117 stereo receiver and IMO, it has about, if I had to put a figure on it, 90% of the punch, detail, and overall sound quality. The imaging and soundstage defies it's price point. I was pleasantly surprised how good the combination was. Not to take anything from NAD in which I own a T773 AVR, C542 CD player, and a T175HD pre/pro, but I expect those pieces to sound that good. The Integra was a huge suprise.


Hi Roots

High-end audio is both very easy and very hard. The easy bit is you simply listen to gear - lots of gear - to know what you like. It really is that easy. The hard part is - for some reason - people don't want to do the easy bit. They come up with all sorts of reasons - remote location, no dealers, confused and need some help, become addicted to what magazines like Sterophile and Absolute Sound say thinking they will lead to audio nirvana, or throw up their hand entirely and become part of the blind tests show all competently designed gear sounds the same crowd.

Don't fall for it - make time to hear gear, if you don't have dealers near you use the Hi Fi forums to find fellow audiophiles and hear their systems, join an audiophile club. You will likely find like me that the large boys stuff you hear at dealers are often (not always - but often) no where near as good as stuff direct sold that you can only hear at fellow audiophiles places - for the money anyway. But no need to take my word for it - simply listen to gear and I believe that will quickly become clear.

As for a specific recommendation to seek out and listen to I suggest, in your price range, the Martin Logan Electromotion:

OK thanks everyone. You're all making me think about this hard, which is great.

Again, the budget I am looking at is roughly around $1500. I have a turntable so I am set there until I decide to upgrade. Here is what I KNOW I want...

I want to start with a two speaker system with the possibility of adding in a sub woofer at a later date when I am able to spend more money.

I want a receiver/amp that will allow me to utilize my turntable, ipod, computer and television through my new speakers.

Now... I am going to look through everyone's suggestions!

Thanks everyone!
TLS49... But wouldn't the turntable sound better if I connected through a phono input? The NAD units do not appear to have that.
As has been stated up above, for speakers, I can't see going with anything but a pair of Tekton m-Lore speakers. I just bought a pair a few weeks ago for surround speakers in my home theater, and was shocked at just how good they are. Nothing can touch them for the price.

As for a receiver/integrated amp, you are going to be somewhat limited in that you need one with a phono input. I would look for used on this site -- you will be able to get so much more for your money. The m-Lore speakers are nice in that you can drive them with a small receiver (I ran them on a Marantz NR-1603) and they sound great, but are also at home in higher end system (in my main system, I have them running with a pair of Wyred 4 Sound mono amps). They have incredible bass for their size. They would be a keeper even as you upgraded other components down the line.
Yeah. I am looking into the m-lore and like the reviews so far. And they are less than I was actually thinking of spending on speakers.

Can you elaborate more on the phono input? The turntable will work on via "phono" or "line". I have been told it will sound much better via phono. Is that correct? Or not so correct?
But wouldn't the turntable sound better if I connected through a phono input?
A phono input provides additional gain and RIAA equalization for records. Your turntable has this built in, but can be switched out to use a phono input, like on the Onkyo. I really don’t think there would be much difference in quality between what’s in your turntable compared to what’s in the Onkyo. Now if you were to use this, sound would definitely improve.
OK. Now I feel like I am getting somewhere.

I could get the mini lores for $649

The NAD 326 integrated amp for $550

And the phono stage for $170 to run my turntable through and into the amp, right?

That is basically what I would need? That would put me at around $1,400. Getting more for my money with more ability to upgrade in the future than what I originally posted in the very beginning of this thread, right?
And this would also allow me to easily add a sub woofer down the line, right?
And I could also run iPod and TV, correct?
Rootsrockreggae, did you read this review on the NAD? Also, here is a review for the Integra version of the Onkyo. My understanding of the "Audiophiles Welcome?" section at the end of the Integra review is that the unit is a good choice for a simple one box solution, but a little extra effort and expense will result in better sound.

As I previously stated, to use the NAD, you will also need a DAC for digital inputs (TV & iPod), and you can connect a subwoofer to the NAD C316, just differently from the C326.
I did read the review. I'm really not able to tell the difference between the 316 and the 326. Is the 326 worth the extra cost?

Do you have a dac recommendation?
For the $1500 budget,

Mini Lore - $649

NAD C316 - $380

Schiit DAC - $449

Also, researching a few other DAC's under $500.

The turntable will work with its phono stage, and just add the NAD upgrade later.

there has never been a better time to get into Audio/HiFi.
A ton of great, used gear is on the market. Have Fun!
I'm not sure you need a DAC. You can connect your TV and your iPOD with RCA connectors to any input on the new integrated or receiver.
For subwoofer later, you can connect via the receiver's preamp outs, or if it doesn't have preamp outs then can be connected via the speaker cables (make sure the new sub has these inputs).
The Martin Logans are good speakers, I've heard them several times at shows. The reason I think the Tekton recommendations are better is because they are less expensive and they are very amp friendly, IOW they are easy to drive. Most logans that do not have powered subs (like the ones suggested above) are the opposite, difficult to drive so they would likely need a more powerful/more expensive amp.
But also keep in mind that there are many many choices besides the few that have been recommended to you (speakers and amps). You should use these recs as starting points to find what you want.
I can't thank everyone enough for all the advice.

I have found a NAD 326 integrated amp, used for $350 that I am looking to possibly pull the trigger on. The big difference between the 326 and 316 seems to be the power. So, I figure why not buy the one with more power used for a better price.

I've also e-mailed Tekton about the mini lore. I like the 30-day return policy and I'd love to try them out. I don't think I have found one negative review on those. I am wondering what Erik at Tekton thinks about those going with the NAD 326.
I have found a NAD 326 integrated amp, used for $350 that I am looking to possibly pull the trigger on. The big difference between the 326 and 316 seems to be the power. So, I figure why not buy the one with more power used for a better price.
Sounds like a good idea, and get a pair of Mini Lore's. I was thinking about the DAC for better sound quality with the iPod and TV, but you could just get started without it as Sebrof said. This might be wise since I found out that Peachtree will be introducing a new version of the iDAC in the near future. Priorities may even change once you start using the system.
Another vote for the m-lore, they are fantastic low-cost speakers, you can't go wrong with them.
If you are looking for and Int. amp, there's an Arcam Alpha 8 for sale on Agon for $235. Another fantastic int. amp is an NAD 302, if you can find one. Matched w/the right spks. and other aux. equipment...pure musical pleasure. As far as Spks, there is so many great ones to chose from. You could easily put toegether a very satisfying system for way less than $1500. Bill
Thanks, BIll. I actually pulled the trigger on the NAD 326 yesterday so I am set on an integrated amp.

Now on to speakers! As I mentioned, I e-mailed Tekton but Eric has not gotten back to me. I am wondering if those will match up nicely with the 326.

What size is your listening room? Is it a listening room or is it the family den? I won't argue that the Tektons are good speakers, but the one or two reviews that I read indicated that they were a bit picky about setup and placement, if you want to get the most out of them.

Most speakers require at least some experimentation to get the most out of them, but some are more picky than others when it comes to placement.

I'm just offering some food for thought. I know that I've had to take a pass on some really nice speakers because they didn't sound all that good when I put them where I needed them to be.

Larger speakers aren't always the answer. There is a reason that stand mount speakers are so popular. Good ones sound good and image like crazy. They are easier to setup too. If you need them lower or higher, it's a simple matter of adjusting the height of the stand.
You did well buying the NAD 326. IMHO, more than the power difference, the fact that the 326 has sub out and PRE/amp that can be separated justifies it over the 316.

Speakers contribute most to the character of a sound system. Many people putting together their 1st system haven't heard enough distinctly different systems to identify what character they prefer, and what qualities they most demand (soundstage vs. detail). There are a number of quality speakers selling under $500, some far less used, that you might consider purchasing to get by with as you explore the speaker marketplace. You would be positing yourself to enjoy your system now and on an inexpensive path for an upgrade once you have identified what exactly you are looking for. Just a thought.
For the iPod, go with this dock that has an in-build DAC that has got great reviews:


Make sure your iPod is compatible with this dock. Also you can read about this dock here:

The room would be a family den type of situation. Not solely a listening room.

Mesch and Tonyangel, I am really zeroing in on the Tekton m-lores... to at least try them. Would you guys recommend other speakers that may be cheaper or better in that price range?
If u have the space...a 40 Hz floorstander would provide ample bass until a sub is added...they also don't require stands...which are a hidden cost for small speakers...for mainstream, easy to find, good sounding products I like Infinity...
If you're looking for a floorstander you might consider the Magapan MMG's. There new and they would ship from the Magapan factory w/a trial period. I believe under $600. They would sound unlike any box spk! Bass output may be an issue depending on the type of music. Give them some thought...your NAD would drive them fine. Not many new Floorstanders under $700. Used no problem, but I would like to see the factory shipping cartons. Vandersteen's, PSB Silver's, Paradigm 5/7's. Bookshelf spks. easlier to ship and a world of choices. It looks like the spks. you are considering use a Vifa tweeter. Good tweeter. Not sure about the tweeter below the woofer design. Older Mission Freedom spks. were this way. Let us know what you get and how you like them! Bill

The reason I asked about the listening room is because speakers do require setting up; meaning that they need to be placed in a particular location and orientation relative to each other in your room to sound their best.

I've never heard the M-Lores, but I did do some reading up and at least one reviewer commented that he was getting some phase variations that were getting his goat, until he got the speakers setup right. So, what I got out of his review was that the speakers were great, when they were set up in an ideal or near ideal position; which I believe was a number of feet from the rear wall and being tilted up a notch. Can you do all of that in your listening room that happens to be in your living space?

The point I'm trying to make is that the trick isn't to get the best sounding speakers. The trick is to get the speakers that sound the best in your home. Some speakers are more sensitive to placement than others.

You could compare brand A to brand B in the store and Brand A could surpass Brand B by a large margin; but Brand B could be less sensitive to placement and offer the same quality of sound no matter where they are placed, while Brand A actually sounds a lot worse when setup in less than ideal conditions.

I've been limited by space and kids/grand kids, so all of my experience is with very small speakers. I must have speakers that will physically fit on a bookshelf out of the way and be less likely to attract attention. I don't want a child pulling a 30+ pound speaker down on top of themselves. Hey, life is a compromise.

Just in the last year, I've gone through three sets of speakers. System Audio SA-505s, Paradigm Studio 10s and now Silverline Minuets. The System Audios were wonderful in the store. They sounded better than B&Ws and Paradigms and a couple of others in the near price range. Very small at around 10" tall and man could they make big music, but they didn't do rock well where I had to put them.

I then traded up to the Studio 10s. They didn't sound as good as the System Audios in the store, but I figured that their front ports would help. Wrong choice. Definitely speakers that need a bit of room to breathe. They wanted to be where they wanted to be, not where I needed them to be.

I recently came into a pair of Silverline Minuets. Tiny little things with itty bitty 3" drivers. I got them because I needed to sell something and I was offered these on a trade. I figured what the heck, based on the reviews.

Well, I've gotta say, I stuck gold. I don't know how they would sound on a pair of stands properly set up, but I'll tell you, these things are not very picky about where you put them. They sound very good sitting on shelves in an entertainment center. In fact, I've tried several configurations and can't make them sound bad. They make big music and are the best sounding speakers I've had in my system, in light of where I need to put them.

I'm not trying to sell you on the Minuets, I'm just trying to make a point. You have considerations to make. I know because I've been there and am still here.

I run small speakers because my wife just had to have an entertainment center and I don't want a speaker falling on a little tike. All of my electronics are either behind closed doors or up high. I just control everything with a Harmony 900 RF setup so I don't need line of sight for the remote to work.

Whether you get floor standers or something that will fit on a shelf, I don't think that you should be asking about which speakers sound the best. You should be asking about which speakers sound good without being too particular about placement.

If you are reading reviews, pay attention to the comments made by the reviewer. Comments like the speakers needing to be four feet from the rear wall and two feet from the side wall (which would have you with speakers and wires in the way of everything).

Like others, I'd also suggest that you buy used. If you buy quality speakers used and at a fair price, you won't take much of a beating if you decide that you have to sell them. If you buy those Tektons brand new for $650, what do you think you'll get for them on the used market?
Very good points! Placement, room, electronis and many other factors involved. Buying used is a exc. way to save $, but if I were to buy a used set of floorstanders I'd look for the factory shipping cartons. Blookshelf spks. are easiler to ship and hopefully the seller will know how to pack. A trial period is a good thing w/new spks., but you'll probably have to pay the return shipping if you don't like them. Shipping is not cheap. In your price range, there are not many floorstanders under $700. I've bought tons of equipment over the yrs. I honestly have to say, its a matter of finding which go well w/each other and it which space they are set-up in. You could very easily find used bookshelf spks. and stands for a song. Just for example, on Ebay used PSB 400's. Vifa drivers, warm sound, large cabinets and plain looking appearance. But, they will have a nice musical, warm sound. Same w/ Snell K's. Vifa Drivers. Musical. Many of these spks. have foam surrounds, so I'd look to see if they've been refoamed. Some spks. have rubber surrounds like ADS to name one. They are excellent spks. Tannoy are excellent spks also. You may even find an older discountinued new set of Fusion (3 or 4's) floorstanders. Mirage made Bi-polar spks. which have drivers front and rear. Fills the room w/sound, but IMO loses some imaging and freq. extension/accuracy. I wish you success in finding something the family will enjoy! Bill
I agree with Tonyangel, It is all about how the speakers sound in your environment. Given that you are outfitting a family room as apposed to an audio room, it comes down to flexibility in speaker placement and room treatment. Have you heard the Tektons? I am cautious about recommending speakers as one needs to hear for themselves, and they are environmentally dependent.

I have no problem envisioning that you will very much enjoy your upgraded musical experience. Go for it!
You could probably do really well at Best Buy. The Magnolia section of Best Buy would give you a great selection of equipment, including Martin Logan speakers. Your $1500 would go a long way there.