New to audiophile and need HELP.


I’m new to this audiophile “hobby” , relatively “poor” , and need some advice and direction. 

I am willing to spend around $2k US now and then maybe another 1 k or so over time but then that’s it. I just simply can’t afford to go chasing a perfect system from now on. 

I realize that I’m going to be looking at equipment that is WAY below what most of you are running but I can see that this forum is extremely knowledgeable and helpful and so I would greatly appreciate some guidance. 

Right now , I have two Sonos play 5’s (gen 1) and two Sonos play 5’s (gen 2) as well as Sonos SUB. I really thought that these were good until I bought a Naim Mu-so and now I’m having real difficulty listening to the Sonos equipment. 

I’ve just recently ordered a signature Sound Anchor stand for my Mu-so which should be to me in about two weeks and my intention is to keep the Mu-so in my bedroom and then supplement/replace my Sonos with better equipment in my living room. 

Over the last few months I’ve been researching Bluesound , Audio Pro Addon, Devialet Phantom, Kef LS50 Wireless, Buchardt, more Mu-so’s Etc. And I really think that I’ve just managed to confuse myself. I really feel that if the Mu-so could function in stereo with another unit and you could add a sub then it would be about perfect for me.

However, I haven’t listened to and really don’t have access to listen to any other audiophile equipment either. 

I’m really salivating over a Naim Uniti Atom but it’s a lot of money to spend (for me) and I would still need to add speakers and probably a sub. Would streaming to my Mu-so (s) from an Atom give me an appreciable sound quality upgrade? 
If not, then I would have to save up for the speakers and sub as well. I can get more Mu-so’s For about $850.

Streaming is a must for me and I don’t really want to add a turntable or anything like that. 

My listening is very eclectic as one minute I will be enjoying classical and the next I might be 
Thrashing to punk or metal - thus the need for a sub. 

I’m sorry for the rambling post but any and all help would be greatly appreciated!! 

Thanks



bacchus1234
bacchus, I can't help you because I'm new to this game as well. But there have been discussions here about the decline in interest in hi-fi. Various theories have been given.

My theory is that there is this idea that you have to spend $10,000 to get in on the game. That alone will keep most people out of hi-fi even if they appreciate good sound quality. I think the key to this market surviving is to make it possible for someone to get in the game for a few thousand, which is still a stretch for most people. I would guess for $2-3k that you should be able to get a pretty nice set up.

Come on experts, let's help him out.
@ bacchus1234, You can find great sound for $2k, but you will need to do some sleuthing or you will need to find someone who already has done that kind of work at this end of the market for you. Go on youtube and subscribe to a guy by the name of Steve Guttenberg (the audiophiliac). He regularly looks at budget gear and has found some gems and some not-so gems and can guide you through.

Good luck and welcome to the hobby!
If I had around 2k to spend for a complete system I would buy the LS50W sight unseen. Good use of DSP and amplifiers specifically developed for the speakers. Spend that extra 1k later for a sub and be done with it. 
Never heard them but they look awesome. I want some. 
@bacchus1234 - I am a big fan of Bluesound - I have the Node 2 in my 2 channel system and I use a PowerNode2 for the A/V system.

When treated to some good cables the fidelity is extremely good.

The PowerNode 2 has a sub output and at a push you can add either a component with optical output OR a component with analogue output (analogue and optical share the same dual mode input).

It is 50 w/channel and has no problem driving my Tannoy Mercury 4 floor standing speakers, so it should work well with a large selection of speakers, and as you know it streams most popular services

It supports wither wireless or ethernet, but in wireless mode I find the signal has to be very strong for it to play 24/192 files without experiencing occasional gaps in playback - but that is related to the location of the wireless router and the PowerNode2.

The interface is very simple and quite intuitive and the Bluesound Support is top notch.

I have never regretted this purchase - it is perfect for this application and provides decent power without distortion (even when cranked up) and an exceptional image that at times sounds a bit like surround sound (i.e. sounds appear to come from behind the listening position)

It’s not the only solution - but it is a pretty darn good one for the money

Hope That Helps - Steve
Pick up some of the Andrew Jones Pioneer speakers, or ELAC's. You can get them for a couple hundred bucks a pair (I paid $100 new for a pair of Pioneer's). They are amazing for the money. Are they perfect? No. However, to most non-audiophile folks they sound amazing. The first day I had mine someone came into my house and immediately commented on how much better they sounded than his higher-dollar speakers. He even pointed at the Pioneer logo on the speakers and made a, "WTF" face. I had $100 Pioneers and a (new $3,500) NAD Integrated I purchased here for $200 and it blew people away how good it sounded.
 I'm unfamiliar with your amp, so I can't comment on that. I will say you can pick up a very decent used amp here for less than $500 that will be fine for your system. Pair with a Blue Sound and call it a day.
I've also owned the LS50's, and as great as they are that would take your entire budget. It would also continue your journey of searching for cables, better amps, etc.
I'm 95% certain you'd be more than happy with the Pioneers and a decent used amp. You'd probably in be in <$700 plus the Blue Sound.
Big difference between streaming and original recordings. Audio gear choice depends on the individual wants/needs and pocketbook. Respect all or or stay ignorant in your biased thoughts.
I cannot offer any suggestions for the OP's post hence my needs are different.
Buying used whenever you can will save you mega $. Audio gear typically holds its value about as well as used underwear.
Buy smart-buy used.
Welcome to the club!

Tom

In your case, buying used but well-maintained equipment will virtually double your budget. Just as tomcarr said above (good analogy to underwear, I will have to remember that one).

Now, what equipment to buy is more difficult to decide. At least for speakers, listen to them first if you can. For example, no review and no person seems to have ever disliked above-mentioned Pioneers. Statistically they may be the best buy you could ever have. Had I bought them for myself, they would have been the biggest disappointment ever. I bought them for a friend of mine and he was beyond satisfied which is what really mattered. I am just trying to say "approach carefully and try to hear first". At least for speakers. For your budget, Monitor Audio has a good price/quality ratio in my opinion. They can be found used and in great condition for relatively little money.


Also, what kind of system are you really envisioning? Plain two channel, sitting in front of it and just listening, or something that would eventually involve movies and, maybe, surround?

The Naim Atom you mentioned is a very special piece of gear. It is compact, has great streaming capabilities, very well built, and sounds spectacular. I would think you would notice a good increase in SQ in it's streaming capability. BUT, as you said, it is expensive and would eat up all of your allotment of money, and then some. Just something to look at for the future. The Bluesound Node 2 would be an excellent choice in your price range. A used pair of Kef LS-50's would be pretty good too. 

It's not about what I like though. It's what you want. Please due the research and go out and listen to as much equipment as possible. Look for an audio store that has a good selection of used gear too.
I have both the BlueSound PowerNode and a NAIM Atom in different systems....

@mr_m. has heard the Atom driving $8 K speakers and it is up to the task....an astonishingly good product that will eat most of your budget, even IF you find one used. But try !!!!!!! Find a pair of ADS 710 or 810 on Craigslist and don’t worry about a sub. There are a lot of very high quality used vintage speakers out there that will sound great w 40 watts of NAIM power. Tannoy would be a real score!

The PowerNode is an amazing value and the application well developed. The amp section is NAD and IMO very nice for a switcher...well executed by a company with a lot of engineering talent, and ears..I drive a pair of Totems in a large sunroom and it also can rock. As mentioned it has a RCA sub output.
I would suggest a powernode paired with the PSB speakers/ sub engineered for it.

Have fun, go listen !!!!!!!

 I will be doing almost exclusively online streaming as I really love the ease of use and the fact that I can listen to almost anything at any time and with decent quality via my iPhone and Apple Music, Spotify, Deezer and Tidal all upgraded to high tier. Airplay 2 has been working great with the Mu-so. I’m still a bit unclear on whether streaming from a Mac desktop or Mac Mini (?) would be an upgrade from my iPhone or not.

My living room that the system will primarily be in is way less than ideal as it’s really three rooms which are loosely connected. 

I’m ( perhaps somewhat irrationally ) really drawn to Naim because I’ve seen how good their “cheap” and Chinese-made all-in-one unit is and therefore I’m REALLY interested to see just how good their other nicer completely British-made units are.

Does anyone have any experience with Audio Pro’s , Devialet Phantoms or similar sound Quality versus Mu-so? How would the Kef LS50 Wireless stack up (other than the obvious difference in soundstage) ?  

Finally, part of my personality is that I really like things that different and not common and so therefore my focus on British/Euro equipment rather than American or even Canadian even though I am American myself. This is also probably irrational as well. What North American brands would be somewhat equivalent?

Thanks so much guys for all of the ideas  and posting tips. Please keep them coming! 




Try Andrew Jones designed Elac debut 5 or 6, go for schitt amps, PS audio sprout amp. there are any listed now in stereophile budget 2018 equipment list
I’m not really interested in home theater either. 

Thanks!
I think some people here have already suggested going to active speakers. These will be your best bang for buck I think. The LS50w are fantastic but you will need a sub either now or later down the road. Elac has a powered speaker now as well that is looking very interesting. Powered speakers tend to go for reasonable prices too in the used market. As you have said you listening to primarily streaming and don't want to be on the upgrade cycle then buy a good set of powered speakers and enjoy. then you don't need expensive cables and the such. 

the next option would be an all in one integrated and a set of speakers. with $2k to spend i'd think about $1k for speakers, $700 for integrated and the rest for cables, stands, ect.  If you can find something like a newer NAD amp and older pair of ProAc floor standers you'd be doing well and  ProAc floor standers don't need sub's. 

If your into a more close setting maybe a fullrange speaker like the Omegas. these are very efficient so you don't need much power so saving there in an amp. 

Look at Shitt Audio as well for very good affordable audio. 


buy used if your can for speakers minimum. 
@bacchus1234
I was in a similar situation as you not so long ago and started my first 'proper' system with a pair of KEF LS50 wireless speakers as they saved me the trouble/expense of a separate amp. However, after going through 4 replacements over a year for one issue after the other I finally had enough and returned them to the dealer. I previously also owned two Paradigm active products that failed and after the same experience with the KEF LS50 Wireless I decided no more actives for me.

I bought a pair of Dynaudio Emit 20 speakers and have paired them with a PS Audio Sprout 100 amplifier (which is quite good for it's size and price). I must add I use this in a near field setting but I imagine they would be fine in a small room as well. The combination is easily comparable to the KEF LS 50 Wireless - the highs may not be as clean/clear but they do play louder and have more slam/a fuller sound. I did feel the need for a sub with the KEF LS50 W (which also did tend to sound a bit bright in my opinion).

I do have a Naim Atom which I use with a pair of Atom GT1 bookshelf speakers and they sound pretty good. I got both the Atom and the speakers used for about $2000 so you could perhaps find a deal if you're patient/lucky! Wish you the best in finding your system, the quest is half the fun!  
So I too enjoy almost 100% of my music through tidal, band camp, other sources online and I enjoy CD's (no records for me yet). I also do not have alot of money ( though I enjoy music enough that I saved long enough to get what I want), I will say that I heard a pair of Elac uni-fi bookshelf speakers hooked to a rotel A-12 and was quite surprised at how well it sounded. (Not sure if it has sub pre out) You could get both new and a sub in your price range if it has sub pre out). I'm on my phone and can't see the rear pannel from the picture well enough to tell you if it does.
@bacchus1234 Do not take the red pill!. Buy speakers like ATC SCM 19v2 used, Legacy Studio HD (if you are set on price)/Calibre may be better may be $2k to 3k used. Buy a decent amplifier like Parasound used for 1k. The ATC for sure will beat the LS50 find them used and you are set. They can play all kinds of music, if you can integrate with your sub that is great. Get Dirac live and make sure your speakers are placed well in your room. 
I’m not a pro, but I had a similar dilemma.
The biggest impact to the sound of your system would be a choice of speakers. With your limited budget I’d go all in for a good pair of floor standing loudspeakers. Don't do shelf+sub for music. Your regular cheap surround sub won't get you a bass tight enough for music.

My choice is Audio Physic Classic 30. Crips highs, very tight and deep bass. Unfortunately, they are outside of your budget, but maybe a pair of used ones or floor samples can be within your reach. They are being decommissioned, so it might be a good time to buy.

As far as amps and stuff, I might shock some here, but I think a cheap old receiver can do a pretty good job as long as it can drive your speakers and have enough power for your needs. You can probably find a used one on craigslist for $50.

If you want all recent bells and whistles like ability to switch between 4k UHD sources, Dolby Atmos, etc. you can find something like Denon AVR-X2300W for ~$300. It has no problem driving 4ohm Classic 30.

You can later upgrade to amps/pre-amps for more power, but the sound difference will be subtle comparing to the speakers upgrade.
1) Buy "used." It's great buying quality gear for 30 - 40 cents on the dollar!

2) First, decide on the speakers that you can't live without. Once you know what your remaining budget and power requirements are, selecting an integrated amp should be easier.

3) I'd recommend getting an integrated amp that has a built-in DAC. A good DAC makes a huge difference in any audio system. For example, there's Hegel H70 listed on Audiogon right now for $799, with lots of good reviews and positive comments about Hegel gear in these forums.

Best of luck in your search; have fun and expect to learn a lot!


Most of your budget should go to speakers.
Q Acoustics is a brand that ALL of their products compete with others twice as expensive.
The 3050i floorstanders cost USD 799 with QED cables and sound better than speakers much more expensive. 
A big dealer in Spain who sells a lot of brands (ELAC, B&W, Monitor Audio, Kef, Tannoy, Klipsch, etc) recomended me this model. I didn't buy it, because I was looking for something more high-end, but I have today their flagship model (Concept 500) and they are monster speakers.
https://www.amazon.com/Acoustics-Floorstanding-Speakers-Speaker-Arctic/dp/B07KFPW2CX/ref=sr_1_1_sspa...
That will leave you about 1.2K to spend on a nice integrated amp as I understand the Bluesound Node is a streamer and a DAC. 
With that system you will rock! 
If you need to make a new purchase, then I'd ask for a 20% discount from the dealer. Or instead, go directly to the distributer and see what sort of discount you can get from them. I did this when I bought my amplifier and I got a brand new ASR with upgrades and warranty, for what people wanted for the same amp used. I've also gotten discounts from brick and mortar dealers and folks on eBay.
Nuprime Ida8 used, kef ls50 or legacy studio hd used, wireworld oasis or analysis plus oval 12 speaker cables.  Run a digital coax or toslink from sonos connect to amp.  2.5k and u will have a system that u will like, and u can continuee streaming.  Good luck.
I don't know where you live but you might try going to an audio show like RMAF in Denver where they have whole rooms set up featuring entire systems in your price range.  You can hear with your own ears and ask questions, too.  There are other shows around the country and thither may be near you.
A couple of thoughts/suggestions:
First, it sound like I'm similar to you. Though many find it very odd, I listen to everything from Chopin to Korn to Deadmau5.
When building the system I use in my living room and use  every day I researched the heck out of everything for about 5 months. 
Though many may disagree I believe the best route is to consider your speakers first and work backwards. My suggestion for these would be Tekton Design 'Lore Reference' at $750 or if possible the "Lore" at $1000. Both fantastic high sensitivity speakers so it doesn't take much power to drive them. I believe Eric has these on sale for possibly a bit less right now. Google "Tekton Lore review" to get a little insight as to what they are. I have had very large McIntosh and currently have 2 sets of PSB towers. They were removed from front channel duties when I received the Tekton Impacts I bought. You may even be able to forgo the subwoofer for music idea with the Lore model. Tekton claims they play down to 30 Hz and depending on the room I believe that could be accurate. I actually run my music with my SVS off with my Tekton Impacts. It's not needed.
For a receiver you may consider something like the Marantz 5012. It can be purchased from accessories4less at $449 refurbished right now. Good reputable company. 
The Marantz not only has things like Spotify connect (works perfectly on my 7012) but the whole Heos thing is pretty cool. Having High Res stations the TuneIn radio Internet radio is great and it would give you everything you would need to head the home theater direction as well. HDCP 2.2, Dolby Vision, HDR etc. I believe it uses the Akashi processor/DAC, DSD (2.8/5.6MHz), FLAC, ALAC and WAV. Marantzs MultEQ room calibration is fantastic. When I bought my 7012 and set it up it blew the pants off my Yamaha Aventage 2070. The Yamaha is now in a system in the basement.
Lastly, (I may catch **** for this one) I am FIRMLY in the camp of cables matter. For the time being I would recommend saving some money and buying a roll of Monoprices 12 AWG speaker cable and gold plated banana plugs to assemble yourself (SUPER easy to do), BUT considering you are a streamer like me, spend the money for a SupraCat8 ethernet cable. When I experimented between WiFi, a silver coated copper Audioquest and the SupraCat8, for sound quality, the Supra was a very clear winner. Google it.
If you went the route I suggested you would be under $1600. This could be a nice start and leave you some to put towards another purchase, possibly an amplifier. For those I would consider companies like Monoprices Monolith or Outlaw Audio, but that can be done latter. 
It is VERY VERY easy to get lost in this stuff.  Keep it going slow.  Look at your room size and the room sound.  Is the room bright or dead?  The size also really impacts what you may need.  You volume level needs are also an influence.  

I have been l working and playing in this for a lot of years and there is a lot of fun and enjoyment here.  IT is also easy to get G.A.S.   Sticking to a budget can be really hard.

If you do not want to experiment or play much there are some really nice systems that others have mentioned; such as the KEF powered speakers.  

Find a local store if you can.  Study reviewers to see if they work like you want to hear.   

It is VERY hard to describe how things sound and the effects that components have on system design..

Stick to that budget to start with...  You will be a lot happier.

So much to look at.  Be sure to keep listening to what you have.  Music is the goal here!

You can get a hell of a system for just 2 grand!

Here's what *I* would get if streaming was my priority.

Emotiva A-300 Stereo Power Amp  (150W/ch)                                $400
Emotiva PT-100 Stereo Pre-Amp/Tuner/DAC                                  $300
Monitor Audio Silver 100 Bookshelf Speakers (pair)                        $1050
Apple Airport Express Router (Attach to Pre-Amp DAC)                 $90
TuneBlade Software to stream from PC to Router via AirPlay         $10

Use the remaining $150 for streaming services like Tidal and cables.

Wow!

You guys have so many great and varied suggestions and I am so thankful for them all! It it will take me a little while to go through all of them - which may just be the best thing to happen to me (slows that trigger finger). 

Please, please keep the advice and suggestions coming! 

Thanks so much! 


Recommend no rush , and if spending money do it one time. Because the way you are heading, you will be spending more and more because you are doing small steps. You have to do 1 big step and that is it. Used integrated accuphase good enough for the last. No more headache if something might sound better