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  • Bobjua
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first time buyer of audio equipment
im moving out of my parents house soon and i will finally have room to get audio equipment. i know i will need speakers and a receiver to start with. i have a record player, and i will be running audio from my computer with a 2496. i plan on getting a tv, and maybe a tape deck.

so my question is what exactly should i get? should i get bookshelf speakers and put them on my desk, or perhaps studio monitors? should i get one pair of speakers for my desk just for computer and another to go on the floor for the reciever/ tv etc? what kind of receiver should i get? should i buy new or just find a used one?

sorry with all the questions, i just don't really know where to start.

edit: i guess aesthetics are pretty important. i like the look of vintage silver faced tape decks and receivers. i think i'd like speakers without a grill for the desk, but if they were floor speakers i'd prefer for them to be covered.
  • Last Edit: 19 February, 2012, 02:58:45 AM by Bobjua

  • kennedyb4
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first time buyer of audio equipment
Reply #1
I would advise that you buy bookshelf speakers as best as you can afford, then add a subwoofer as soon as your budget fits that.

Don't put them on a bookshelf though.

I am partial to B&W but his of course is an area where many opinions will come up.

first time buyer of audio equipment
Reply #2
Remember that speakers and room acoustics affect the sound quality far more than any other part of the system.

I would go used on a receiver - they have no moving parts so there is much less to break / wear out and any one in good working condition should sound just fine for the task.  That should free up some cash for the speakers which will make the most difference to sound quality.  I'd focus on ergonomics and looks (because you said that is important to you) - is it easy to use / do you like using it every day.  Don't sweat power too much - you need 2x the power just to get a 3dB increase in volume which isn't much.  100W per channel should be just fine.

As far as number of systems go - be very realistic about how you are going to listen to your music.  You may listen to both the computer and your TV set up - so you'd need two systems for that.  Or you might just get some really inexpensive PC speakers because you'll rarely use them and spend most of your listening time through the TV system.  Put the money where you'll spend the most time.

For starting out, I think the Audioengine speakers look like a good value, but there are lots of other good speakers out there too.  Have fun!
Was that a 1 or a 0?

  • Bobjua
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first time buyer of audio equipment
Reply #3
I know I will mostly listening to music on the computer, so i guess i should just look for a pair or speakers that look nice to me. i guess that might be a problem finding ones that look nice but also sound good. i really want vintage wooden speakers.

  • DVDdoug
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first time buyer of audio equipment
Reply #4
Every speaker sounds different and you just can't tell that much form the specs.  Different manufacturer's use different measurement methods, and some manufacurer's fudge the numbers.  So, go to an audio video store and LISTEN!   I'd advise you not to buy anything on your 1st visit...  Just listen...  Find out what you like and what's available in your price range.

I agree with what DigitalMan said...  Speakers are everything...  A pair of great $10,000 speakers would sound great with a good $200 receiver.

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i really want vintage wooden speakers.
The don't make 'em like they used to!  The trend is smaller speakers, often with a separate subwoofer.  Home theater has probably influenced this trend.    A proper home-theater setup needs a separate subwoofer for the ".1" LFE channel anyway, so you can use 5 smaller speakers (which can't reproduce good bass) and route the "regular" bass from these 5 channels to one subwoofer (bass management).

But, the basic technology hasn't advanced that much in the past few decades...  You've still got a cone, magnet, and voice coil in a 2 or 3-way setup with or without a port.  And, a good speaker can last many years too, as long as it's not damaged.    So, if you can find a good pair of used speakers, go for it!  You'll get more sound for the money.

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i plan on getting a tv...
You should probably consider surround sound.  It's quite a different experience.    Give it a listen while you're at the audio/video store.    Even when listening to CDs & MP3s, I use one of the Dolby Pro Logic soundfield options to add some reverb in the rear channels.    And, concert DVDs with digital 5.1 sourround can sound amazing!

Headphones are also a "different" listening experience, but you can get a pair of really good headphones for 1/5th or 1/10th the price of "equally good" speakers.  (Although, it's kind-of hard to say "equally good", since they both sound different.)

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...and maybe a tape deck.
Can you even buy a tape deck anymore?    If you haven't digitized your tapes, you might want to do so before it's too late!

  • wakibaki
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first time buyer of audio equipment
Reply #5
If you're intending to do any recording, then there are advantages to having some near-field monitors. Tape decks are pretty much a thing of the past now, but a standalone digital recorder can be useful as computers are sometimes noisy. You can get a quiet, fanless atom-based PC though, which might be a good option if you're not intending on using an existing machine, lots of people have them now purely for home theatre. Since they can accommodate a Bluray or DVD drive they are often a low-cost option.

You can get a respectable standard of reproduction very cheaply now, but to keep prices down requires a judicious choice of equipment. 10 watts or so from a T-amp from ebay will provide sufficient volume to make the neighbours complain if you give it to efficient full-range speakers, such as Audio Nirvana, Fostex or Lowther. The key word is efficient. Such speakers are less common second-hand, they're often home-built. This is not difficult to do, no crossover (necessary for multi-way speakers) is required.

Second-hand equipment is frequently a good way to go, but there are some risks, as I'm sure you can imagine.

You can only listen to one thing at a time, so aim to be able feed everything through the same, high quality system which will require a source selector. Although you can watch TV on the computer you really need 2 screens and if you want to use the soundcard for electronics you may find the activities clash.

Additional channels for surround sound can lend an added dimension to the experience but don't dilute your resources to get it when the primary requirement is for good stereo.

Good luck.

w
wakibaki.com

  • Bobjua
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first time buyer of audio equipment
Reply #6
starting to look at places to move out now, so i've been doing research again for this setup. i'm thinking of going with the passive audioengine p4 speakers. http://audioengineusa.com/Store/Audioengine-P4#tech-stuff

now, i need a receiver/amp. i love the look of the old silverfaced pioneer and technic ones from the 70's, but i have a feeling this won't be very practical for a modern computer centric audio setup. i don't have any intention of surround sound for the tv though. would there be any other reasons to not go with a vintage amp?

  • Bobjua
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first time buyer of audio equipment
Reply #7
i found someone selling a pioneer sx-880 for 150, and someone with a sx-780 for 100. i'm going to ask them if they will take less first before i decide which one.
  • Last Edit: 31 May, 2012, 12:01:37 PM by Bobjua

first time buyer of audio equipment
Reply #8
i found someone selling a pioneer sx-880 for 150, and someone with a sx-780 for 100. i'm going to ask them if they will take less first before i decide which one.


These are ancient pieces - late 70s early 80s. The switches and electrolytic capacitors are highly questionable. In the US I can get a brand new 100 wpc Sherwood for less than kind of money,.

  • stephan_g
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first time buyer of audio equipment
Reply #9
...even though it's questionable whether that one will also last 30+ years. But yeah, something not quite that old is generally a better idea, especially if you're not comfortable with having to work on the usual contact issues right away.
My little "blogalike":
http://stephan.win31.de/music.htm

  • mzil
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first time buyer of audio equipment
Reply #10
i found someone selling a pioneer sx-880 for 150, and someone with a sx-780 for 100.

I remember those had power level meters, pretty much unheard of in today's receivers. Even if arguably "imprecise", they still offer a convenient visual aid to show how much power one is using and when the dangers of amp clipping start.


  • LosMintos
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first time buyer of audio equipment
Reply #11
Dear Bobjua, IMHO you should start thinking about typical scenarios, where you actually listen to music. You mentioned the computer ... Does that mean, you sit at a desk in front of a PC and there you listen to music? I do this fairly often and I'm happy with my 2.1 active system (two small speakers on the desk, a subwoofer on the floor; no additional receiver needed). You find such things a wide range of quality (and prices). (To give an example look for "Teufel Concept" or "Teufel Motiv".)

Alternatives would be any (active) studio monitors (near-field). If you like to produce music at your PC, you might want to go in that direction. You won't need a receiver. You can plugin other sources either directly or by means of a small mixing console.

Well, if you think of a couch, a lazy life :-) with TV and music, you might want to go for the classical approach (amplifier/receiver+speaker). Here, my 2 cents are: Why to put small bookshelf speakers on speaker stands if you could buy some full-size loudspeakers that demand actually the same space in your living room but should offer much more audio potential (Disclaimer: you have to listen to a set of speakers yourself --- in your room!)?

It depends on your flat, the space available, and your habits, whether the first scenario or the second or any combination is good for you ...

Just my 2 cents, I hope they're helpful :-)

  • Bobjua
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first time buyer of audio equipment
Reply #12
i really love the look of the silver faced pioneers so i had to get one. sx-880 and audioengine p4's. sounds great. if it breaks it breaks and i will buy a new one.


  • stephan_g
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first time buyer of audio equipment
Reply #13
Nice-looking middle-class receiver of yore. If the usual contact woes have been taken care of and electrolytics are in decent shape, it should be a decent performer. Uses some of these old TA7136 audio opamps which were somewhat popular in the day and are difficult to replace by something better now. Not exactly a low-noise champ.

Try getting the speakers a tad higher, maybe halfway between the desk and the shelf at least. Putting them directly onto the desk tends to add a healthy amount of coloration.
My little "blogalike":
http://stephan.win31.de/music.htm