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First home audio system

2246 Views 10 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Greedy
So I'm thinking about putting together my first real home stereo. I will mainly be listening to music on it, its also going to be hooked up to a tv, but just the fact that it works with the tv is much more important than quality.

I am really on a budget, so I was thinking just a 2.1 system for now. That may be the best anyways because I really only care about music. I've heard you wanna pick out the speakers first, then go from there with the reciever an all that.

Does anybody have any recommendations on where to shop around for speakers, and what kind I should get? Please keep in mind I'm just a college student with barely any money to throw away, so I need something fairly cheap. I'm looking to spend less than 500 if possible on the whole setup. I know it wont be awesome for that kinda money, but hopefully a lot better than my computer speakers!

Any help is greatly appreciated, thanks!
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Hi and Welcome to the Shack,

You will find most two channel receivers cost as much as Home theater receivers because of the volume of sales HTR's do over two channel. a really good option is to go with an Onkyo system like this as you get decent speakers/sub and a nice receiver all in one. Then later on down the road all you have to do is replace the speakers as budget allows.
Its true I am very new to all of this, but I've heard a few people say that a good 2.1 system will sound way better than a mediocre 5.1 system any day, especially for music. I just figure I can by a little bit better speakers and reciever if I'm just gonna get a 2.1 rather than a 5.1. And personally, I would rather have a couple quality speakers, and be able to keep them around for a while even after upgrading other things. Maybe I'm going about it all wrong, please let me know...
If your looking for quality speakers AND a good two channel receiver for under $500 your going to have to look at used. Good speakers alone will cost you at least $300 if your looking for something the has a good frequency range and then you will still need to purchase a receiver, A good 2 ch receiver will run you about $300 if not more otherwise your better off getting the above mentioned system. The speakers supplied with the Onkyo are actually quite good for the money.
ok thats probably true. Maybe I'm just being stubborn, but I kinda just want 2 speakers, especially cause I don't need 5. So I think thats what I will go for. I guess I can spend a little more money than I thought, well see.
shoponkyo.com, wait for a good deal on a 507, hopefully around $250, Pickup a pair of es90 off ebay from the Harmon seller for $400. $650 is the lowest I can put together a 2 channel, full range system of any quality that you can easily expand into a 5.1 system in the future.

If you'll only ever want 2 channels, just get a pair of powered studio monitors and be done with it. The Behringer b2031A are supposed to be fabulously good for the money, but you're still only digging down to 50hz, so if you like electronic music or a 5-string bass, you really need to get closer to 35hz with bigger speakers or a subwoofer.
First of all, the OP said this system is primarily for music. Second, the Harmon Kardon stereo receivers cost less than HT receivers and will sound better in a stereo system. Third, the OP has had to reiterate this system is mainly for music. Fourth, there are speakers capable of providing a satisfying music listening experience without a subwoofer. That can always be added later if you feel you need more bottom end. The bottom line is the OP can get a satisfying receiver and loudspeaker stereo music listening system for $500.


Harman Kardon HK-3390 stereo receiver $220 delivered

PSB Image B25 bookshelf loudspeakers $380/pair delivered

The Harman Kardon provides ample clean, power to drive the PSB loudspeakers, has preamp outputs to make it possible to add more power in the future, has subwoofer outputs to add a subwoofer in the future, and has inputs for an iPod.

The PSB are an excellent speaker for critical music listening on a budget. They are not bass shy producing 45 Hz +/- 3dB and 40 Hz -10dB. The lowest note on a bass guitar hits 42 Hz. Unless you are frequently listening to pedal organ music or some electronica these speakers will provide satisfying bass. As I mentioned above, you can always add a subwoofer later, but if you are mostly listening to music and just watching TV through the system this deserves a try. Read the Stereophile review on these speakers.

Add an OPPO DV-980H universal disc player for $170 and you have a complete music system. http://www.oppodigital.com/dv980h/
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First of all, the OP said this system is primarily for music. Second, the Harmon Kardon stereo receivers cost less than HT receivers and will sound better in a stereo system. Third, the OP has had to reiterate this system is mainly for music. Fourth, there are speakers capable of providing a satisfying music listening experience without a subwoofer. That can always be added later if you feel you need more bottom end.
Yes and the original poster also stated that he wants to get a decent system for under $500 your list of items even just for the speakers and receiver is well over that. All we are tying to say is that you need to spend a little more in order to get quality. I also dont agree that a two channel receiver will sound better than a Home Theater receiver, please clarify that. In that price range you get what you pay for.
What's $100 among friends? So, $600 is the lowest I can put together a quality entry level music system. Wait a minute! The OP might be satisfied with the sound of the Infinity Primus P162 loudspeakers for $220/pair delivered. Many people are even given their shortcomings. Now I'm down to $440 and will provide a system which has met the OP's original objectives, two channel music listening that satisfies for under $500. In that price range the OP will be getting a good value.

Click here for the Stereophile review of the Infinity Primus P162

The reconditioned Onkyo TX-SR507 is $269 delivered. It has a bunch of circuitry the OP doesn't need for his stated objective. The new Harman Kardon HK-3390 is $220. Open both up and look at the amplifier sections and you can see why the Harman Kardon has more guts and more refined sound; bigger transformer, bigger caps.

And really, you have got to be kidding suggesting the Onkyo HT-S5200 to meet the OP's objective for a system for listening to music. Talk about getting what you pay for. A bunch of stuff that's not needed that compromises attaining the stated objective.

When posters on the Stereophile forum ask about HT I suggest they come over here, when posters ask about entry level two channel music systems here it appears they really will get better advice over at the Entry Level Stereophile forum.
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Someone had suggested used gear. If you are just looking for stereo perhaps checking Craigslist in your area. Craigslist is nice because you can go audition the equipment before you purchase. Garage sales are sometimes great too. You just have to make sure the gear was well taken care of and works as it should. Speakers can also be found for pennies on the dollar as well. Just make sure the speaker surrounds are not rotted and all the drivers work on each speaker. I have found high quality separates on Craigslist and I have put really nice systems together for around $150. For example, I have a pair of Altec Lansing Model Three speakers hooked up to a Harman Kardon Citation Eleven pre and a Citation Twelve Deluxe amp. I bought it all at a garage sale from an elderly gentleman who had it in a nice case. The amp and pre-amp are in the original optional wood case that was sold separately. He bought the stuff new and from the looks of it, really took good care of it. I paid $150 for it all and have had it for 4 years to run my turntable and cassette decks with. The controls are not scratchy and everything works. For way under your budget, you can go this route with a bit of hunting.

In any case I wish you the best of luck on whatever you choose. Your entering a fantastic place that may bring years of enjoyment. Bravo on asking the right questions as you may find some great advice from others who have taken the journey.

Good luck,

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