Old fart needs help with speakers and power req's

I'm not an audiophile,just a guy who loves music. I'm trying to build a system with about $7,000. I'm thinking of 4,000 for speakers. After reading thru the specs in stereophile buyers guide 2010, I see the NAD C375BEE (int amp $1300) as my benchmark for power vs money (it's actually less than $1 per watt). In other words I can't spend much more than 1300 on power. So now that gives me 150 wpc to work with. So now to the speakers; my only real requirement is they sound at least as good as what I've got now. And here's where you guys will get a good laugh.
I've been listening to the same speakers for 35 years with the same power and source for 25. They are (you ready for this) 4 JBL L100's (yes 2 on left and 2 on right) driven by a Yamaha A700(int amp 100 wpc) and a Sony PS T3 turntable.
My listening room is only 12x14 open at one end.
So where is the question?, there are two, what in your opinion are the best speakers (I know this is subjective) I can get for 4000 or less that will actually "sing" at 150 wpc, and a kicker, could I get away with less power if I went tube (realizing with tube I can only get about 60wpc-Jolida $1300)? And last but not least I would rather stay away from sub-woofers if I can, I'm not even sure where they came from; of course with 60 inches of woofer in my living room I may not be able to. I hope I've not been to confusing here I've never posted on anything before. Thanks for your help.
I laughed when I read your post...but not for the reason you thought! The L100's were and still are outstanding speakers although I'm sure your original foam covers have deteriorated by now and you're probably running them with nothing in front to the speakers. You can certainly replace them and get different sound...but you might well find that in a blind test, the JBL's sound better than many/most of the newer speakers.

I would not replace them...I would add a subwoofer like the James emb-1200 which is very musical (it's fast and doesn't boom). I would spend my money on replacing the amp...maybe a used NHT Power 5 or ATI 1505 and I'd buy a good preamp/processor that could handle 4 speakers plus the sub well....many choices here.

Don't confuse old with not good. AR3a's and JBL L100's were wonderful speakers. From what you described, your weak link is the Yamaha unit.
oh..I forgot. If you do want to sell those antique old speakers, send me a note....I'd be willing to pay the shipping to take them off your hands...:)
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You are proceeding in a way guaranteed to lead to disaster. First decide what kind of sound you like. Then see what kind of speaker provides it and what it takes to drive it. Consider buying used, you get much more for your money. Your room is not large, why are you using 4 speakers? I laugh when I read the last post, I go WAY back beyond the time of the speakers he recommends, ARs time had ended by the time the 3As came out and JBL was famous for making speakers with an exaggerated midrange that sounded good in the show room. IF you really like the JBLs get a better power amp and try using one pair. You won't get so much of a "wall of sound" effect but it will be much clearer. DO NOT buy anything else till you have a clearer idea of what you are trying to do, you may well be throwing your money away.
Yep, I have to say - now is when the fun begins. I still have a Pioneer stack (Spec) and a set of ADS 710's in the garage and I still love that setup for 70's/80's rock and roll. In my media room (converted bedroom) I have a much smaller system that I have spent about 10 years building. This is where I spend most of my time listening to music. It's the system that gives me goosebumps. I bought, sold and demoed a lot of equipment to end up where I am at now and I wont boar you with details. My point is - it's time to get out and listen. See what you like ... Horns? Softdome? Monitors? Ribbons? Towers? There is just so much to try. Your room is a big part of the equation ... I finally settled for smaller monitors on stands and I have been very happy.

As for some direction:

I will tell you this ... and this is strictly from my experience. Pick your speakers first and get as much as you can afford, making sure to match them to the room. Next, I like a tube pre and a quality solid state amp. There are many, many good combinations but it was only when I mixed tubes into the mix that I really got the satisfaction I was looking for. You dont need to spend a TON on cables but get quality interconnects and speaker cables. Try not to create any weak links ... then later on, you can play with the details if you want to deal with the time and trouble. If you really want to dial in a system to fit you ... you might want to buy and sell a little. This is a good place for that ... do your research, demo the piece and then buy used. If it doesnt work out - you can sell it and for the most part break even. Then try something else. Buying and selling might not make the best financial sense and it can be a pain, but if you play your cards right and are patient ... you will discover exactly what you like.

Good Luck ...

PS - Hang on to the L100's - they are like gold.

In addition to what stanwal states. I would suggest that you consider going to a few dealers and tell them what you are doing and ask them to suggest a few complete systems with in their product lines. Take time to listen to each combination if they will provide demos. Make a cd of music you like and are most familiar with and use it on each set up that you listen to. To spend 7K you should be sure that you are getting what is most pleasing to your ears. All just my opinion as food for thought.
Stanwal, I noticed you have quite a variety of equipment. It is nice to have when you need a change, but I am curious what power cords you use in your system.
I use a NAD 375 bee in my office system It replaced far costlier kit. And your JBL are still a good performing loudspeaker. If you do sell them make sure you check out value. I use altec a7 JBL 300,Tannoys KCS loudspeakers many different models and the NAD works fine on all. Consider a Tannoy like Tannoy GRF Memory HW a pairs up on audiogon now near your price. I mention such since these loudspeakers will sound amazing plus last like your JBL. Plus easy on the eye. A classic loudspeaker unlike most in this price range.


25 - 35 years on those speakers?

Routine changes aren't your bag apparently. Good for you.

Stan's notes are right on. Figure out what sound you want and proceed prudently along those lines.

With a record player as source, I'd say tubes somewhere are going to suit you, whether or not you add a CDP to the mix or not.

You did not say another source piece was on the list, so I’ll assume not.

Another take on the 'buy a stereo' idea is to put more $$$ into the front end than into the speakers alone.

Both ideas work and I suspect the 'get better speakers' first camp are all about making improvements upstream thereafter.

if it's all about the original quality of that signal, and I think it is, one needs a great source, very good amplification, and THEN, great speakers. Not the other way 'round. IMHO.

I feel what will very likely happen now with a much fresher amp, better wires, and new speakers, or even preowned units, your source is going to be shown for it’s true self and noticeably so. IOW… more revealing gear will reveal more of the signal that TT is putting out!

I’d rethink the budgetary allocations myself. Shifting just $1,000 from the speaker budget onto the power train, if not a bit more, will be a better solution in the long run. if the remaining $3K is spent on preowned speakers, the signal sent to them from a good preowned $2500 int will be better… noticeably.

Perhaps still better would be placing 3K each into power and speakers with the balance sent towards maybe another TT and cabling. Some excellent speakers are out there for $3K… and it’s a whole other world for ‘ints’ when you hit the $3K class.

If it were me, that’s what I’d do… 3K into the power, and 3K into the transducers. One grand into another source or what ever. Merely pay attention to the power needs of the speakers being considered, and there’s scads of speakers, certainly more than there are amps!

I won’t say which power or speakers though, as that will depend upon individual tastes and room size. So do get out and listen to some setups, and if possible, take some home for brief trials. BTW some online dealers offer just such things.

… and it really is all about the signal being generated… always. Whether one builds a rig from front to back or back to front.
To Rrog, 2 PS Audio Statement SCs, 2 of the model just below them, 3 Qyaide GPX and a bunch of Gutwire B 16, which I sell, or would if anyone ever bought any. Also 2 BPT boxes. This collection was assembled by the scientific method of buying what I thought I would like when the price was right. I don't want to be like Raul, who raises the price of any cartridge he mentions so I have to tell you that they are all terrible and if you have any of them dispose of them at once.[I need some more cords ]. I have WAY to much stuff and am disposing of it by the usual audiophile method of buying replacement components before actually selling any, LOL. Stan
Hey, thanks for the ideas. This is great. But so many speakers and so little time. I had no idea they would be so hard to find. It seems a lot of audio places in my area are by appointment, and while they generally say what brand they carry you don't know if the model you can afford is there.
Plus I'm not a good shopper in the sense that I don't like to bother them if I'm not actually buying.
So after reading a lot of reviews on the speakers, so many seem to say something like, "they were good but really came alive when I gave them like 250 watts". I was just trying to set some power limit and see if there were any that you guys felt were great at that level and then I would go out and listen to them to try and put this thing together.
I have the 4 speakers in that room only because they moved in with me. I stuck with them mainly because I didn't think I had the money to beat them.
The 3000-3000(used) split is something I had not thought of, do you guys buy used equip through this site?
Does tube power equal SS power when a speaker lists how much power they recommend?
Thanks again for your responses, this is a kick.

One-third each rule of thumb: source, amplification, speakers. In that order.

Any good (they are not all) speakers at $4000 are going to reveal all the faults of the source and amplification. And I would go for near-new used gear on Audiogon to get the best value. Suggest keeping the speakers til last. There are tons of great speakers at $2000 used < 3-4 years old. Just my 2c.
Let me say firstly that you can not rely on magazines for advice. I have heard very excellent equipment sound awful when strung together without listening to how they interact with each other, and your room. ..also, don't buy cheap watts...they usually sound lousy. If you really want to do this right, you should train your ears with what good sound sounds like...go to concerts, and get an excellent earphone setup for listening at home. Headphones.com is a great place to go for advice..they know everything there is to know about the subject. What is very wrong (and what I did throughout my life) was to get a component I wasn't ultimately happy with, and move to the next step. All of those incremental steps were very, very costly.
Dear Mr. Old Fart,

Lots of good advice here. I like the NAD amps, the C-375BEE in particular. With that said, you should have an open mind, and ear, at this point. As stated above, I also believe the source is critically important (garbage in - garbage out). I believe the preamp/amp are critically important (quality in - loud garbage out). And the speakers are what actually move air (quality in - half missing out, new stuff added that wasn't there, buzz, buzz, ring, ring, OUCH MY EARS ARE HURTING!) You get the point - its all important. Furthermore, as stated above, good pieces can sound bad together because of lack of system synergy.

Here is what I suggest:

-go out to stores, make an appointment if necessary, and shop with your ears

-tell the sales person what your (FIRM) budget is, what kind of music you listen to, how loud you like to listen, how big your room is and whether you sit in the sweet spot to listen, or listen while practicing your fencing moves (just a guess).

-ask the salesperson in each store to suggest a complete system or two for you to evaluate within your budget, and if calling ahead, have them get the gear ready for you to audition when you come in - don't bias them with specific amounts for amp, speakers, etc. - just see what they come up with that stays inside your total budget

-bring a variety of music with you when you go to audition as suggested above and provide enough time for yourself to listen to a fair bit of music critically through one to several systems - make sure if you are bringing LPs, the showroom has a turntable set up with the demo system

-repeat this at several establishments to get an idea what you like

-if you are uncomfortable shopping in this way, just tell the sales people you are coming back into the audio market after a long break, you need to get an idea of what is out there and if you like what you hear at their store, maybe you will buy it.

I usually believe that if a choice is needed, it is better to spend more on source and amp than on speakers, and that many speakers can reward when fed a quality signal. But I recently did what I am telling you to do at a dealer, and was astounded when auditioning a great sounding system that contained a relatively expensive and competent set of speakers paired with a very budget amp and decent source. You just can never tell when a particular combination is going to sound really good, but you will know when you hear it.

Most dealers are fair and well informed about their gear - after all, most are professional music listeners and gear evaluators. Some less scrupulous dealers might try to unload something that they want to get off their floor, but you will quickly gain a sense for what does and does not sound good to you. Remember that "No." is a complete sentence.

So hopefully when you are done you will have evaluated speakers, amps and sources of all types and prices, and probably identified a few that really float your boat. Then you can ask the question if any of this gear sounds better than what you already have.

I’m an Old Fart in training and of limited means, but I’ve bought nearly 3 complete rigs since I’ve been here… all preowned, predominately. A few items I’ve bought brand new. Speakers, Amp, and some cables were all bought new or as demos. Sold off that which I had too or didn’t need any more as well.

You can click on the handles of all of us members and see our feedback sections which indicate our business here, at least. Not everything bought or sold here is preowned BTW. Ther’s plenty of folks here who’d love to sell you some new or newish goods, they call themselves dealers.

Also, clicking onto the handles ‘system’ link, will show you what they wish to post as their system (s). Although it says VIRTUAL it’s usually real.

Typing in say for instance, ‘tube’ into the main search box will reveal another page. There you can refine that search further by using the other options link just to the right of the GO button. At the bottom of that page you can enter your zip code or some nearby, or you can simply enter a price range “from & to” then select a category. Like tube integrated amp…. Or speakers, full range, monitors, etc….

Having just done that myself, and having very quickly scanned the listings, there’s about a dozen ints there for less than 3K. Doing the same for full range spkrs reveals way more options. Sonus Faber, Coincident, BW, NHT, Paradigm, etc. Probably way more if you go with monitors.

There was a Musical Fidelity int but it’s sold.

AS I’ve had some of the stuff BAT makes, two amps, and one preamp, there is one BAT int w/Remote and an optional phono stage board. Tube preamp, SS amp. I know nothing of the seller. I’d also call BAT and see how much they want for the same phono board…. The seller wants $650. I thought they went for $500 though… but I don’t know.. Maybe it can be worked out between you two should you elect to go with it.

Adding say a pair of the Sonus Faber Dominus or Coincident Super Eclipse to that amp for example ought to be a fair to midlin’ start. And actually pretty nice beginning. It would also allow for you to get a real nice pc for that int like a VA audio Airsine, or Elrod Sig Iii, or Cardas GR. Leaving around a grand for a look see into another TT or a CDP. Even with some entry level spkr cables from Audience, Synergistic Research, etc., for a couple hundred, that’ll still leaves you some for a few accessories.

BAT int’s don’t often come up for sale and BAT support is great. Ask for the serial number and call BAT. Steve will tell you when it was made and it’s history, and if there’s a ph card available.

Those two items retailed for around 10K + when new. That’s all just off the top of my head, and stuff I’d not mind having in another room were I to have the jack and the space or inclination to do another outfit…. Plenty of other combos and choices around too.

The thing around this website is simple enough…. It’s a world wide website. Feedback matters to me. Distance too is a thought. Orig packing or better and certainly having the item insured! You can never count on items remaining in the FOR SALE cat…. As it’s first come first served pretty often. So be prudent and CYA always.

If wise choices are made here and safeguards in place as best are possible, this is a great place to stretch that audio buying buck with. If you’ve any concerns with any seler simply contact some of his/her former sales partners and ask them for more input.

There’s even some JBL speakers for sale now too! Remember, Google is your friend. Copy and paste the item’s name into Google and you’ll wind up with plenty of info on it… or go to it’s website.

Good luck..
If you really like those JBL's I would talk with Bill Legall from Millersound to see if the can rebuild your drivers and maybe even mod or improve the crossovers;this would free up more $$$ for electronics and might be able to move your system overall performance up to a higher level than you thought possible.I agree 100% with Stanwal's last comment on his first response as well.
Blindjim's advice is good, for somebody who has an idea of what is out there and is comfortable making a deal sight unseen for products they may have never heard. I agree with Rleff and Stanwal that you really need to do some "ears-on" research to get an idea of how current products in the marketplace compare to what you already have. I strongly suggest going out and doing some research before you make a major investment in this or any other Internet market, unless you relish trial and error by mail and bank account.

Another point - I took a twenty year hiatus from the hi fi marketplace, and when I returned, the most important thing I have learned from sites like this is the criticality (word?) of physical set up and your listening room are as important as the equipment itself. You may be able to increase your enjoyment of your current system by 100% by setting your speakers away from the back wall and adjusting the separation optimally to your listening position. Also, isolating some of your gear with even crude measures like heavy hard wood cutting boards and blocks, blutack, sorbothane dots, spikes, etc. can have surprisingly positive effects on system performance.

The second thing is that better wires often do sound better - again, just upgrading to well designed but inexpensive interconnects and speaker cables from Internet providers like Signal Cable and Blue Jeans Cables can add to your overall enjoyment and the performance of your current or new systems. When you go listen in the showroom, be sure to look behind the gear on demo to see how and with what it is connected together. Sometimes you can get gear home and it doesn't sound like it did in the store - because in part it does not have $4000 of cabling hooking it together. For your demo, make sure the sales person sets it up with wiring that is also within your budget.

Good luck. If you look at this as an adventure, it can be fun and highly educational for your ears, and perhaps actually save you some money and time in the end.
You know if you read thru this it's like a primer on thinking thru putting together a system and dealing with the way they are presented these days. I can't thank you guys enough for "taking the time" to walk me thru this. I now have an idea of how to approach this (and use this site).
One thing I miss Stringreen is the live music of old, most (not all) concert venues now are to big for me.
Would that old live music be like Frank Sinatra at the Sands with Count Basie;more of a 200-300 people?
There are always great recordings both cd and better yet to me LP.
Yes like that and even smaller, saw him (and a lot of others) at Mr. Kelly's (and Plugged Nickel) in Chicago. Even the Kinetic Playground, the music was much closer to you in those days.