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Dmak

Starting from scratch stereo system

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Hi all, recently developed an interest with building a hifi system. I’m located in Newcastle so local shops are basically limited to one that I’m aware of, budget is around $3000 but flexible so I’ve been keeping an eye out on second hand gear. 
 

Will be either steaming from tidal, my computer or vinyl.
 

I did get a chance to visit Apollo hifi in Sydney the other week and had a listen to the KEF q350’s and the ls50’s which I didn’t mind. Also listened to some Richter merlin 6’s which I found seemed like good value for their price. 
 

so far my short list in terms of gear I’m thinking of: 


Speakers

 

KEF Q350

KEF LS50

Richter Merlin 6

 

Amp

 

Cambridge Audio CXA 60 or CXA 80 if I can find one at a decent price second hand.
 

Turntable 

 

Project debut carbon 

 

Haven’t decided on preamp but I’d imagine I’d get one sub $300 until I work out what I really want and train my ears better. 

 

Im just curious what  people think of my rough draft of what I want and if I’ve mis matched anything or if there’s better suggestions. 
 

thanks in advance 
 

 

 

 

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I'm a budget guy, the main thing for me is the repair-ability of the equipment. Seems like you are on the right track, make sure you hit up OzBargain for deals on bookshelves lots of places offloading old stock it seems lately on the cheap

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Why not Harlequin S6?  Rega Brio is pretty good at this price range. 

Or maybe Kef ls50 wireless.

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For $3k I'd be looking at floorstanders in the 2k range and a thousand on the amplifier.

A few items from apollo hifi that you should be able to demo...

 

Loudspeakers, Kef q750 or q550. Wharfedale diamond 240.

Amplifiers, Marantz 6006, Rega Brio, Cambridge Audio  CXA60.

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At 3k I'd be forgetting completely about anything you can buy in a shop...full stop. Your throwing away money.

 

I'd sit back and garner some opinions from the members here about what is available in the Classifieds and if you can attract enough people to give some opinions and more importantly advice then I'd bet you'll get a better starter system than anything you could possibly buy from a HiFi shop.

 

Save the purchasing of new gear until you understand a bit better the whole 'audiophile strata'.

 

For instance, here's a few items after a quick squiz of the FS ads:

 

$250?  Good price. Is it negotiable? Well you can try can't you.

Same thing applies, can you negotiate?

 

Speakers, you mentioned LS50's...a fantastic speaker and although they are getting on a bit, they still do the business. There have been a few FS here over the past year and prices vary from the optimistic($1400 or so) to the realistic $1150-1200 and I've seen a few pairs go for less on Gumtree and FB. They have been a flavour of the month for quite sometime now)

 

Maybe forget about a pre-amp at this stage and get a nice vintage integrated with it's own phono stage, there's a lot out there that do the business so to speak and you have the added bonus of vintage gear rarely  going backwards in price.

 

Some great speakers like these locally manufactured VAF's would be a steal

 

 

 

 

So much good gear rolls through here and a truckload of sometimes even better gear rolls through but it's sold via PM rather than advertised.

 

Take your time and perhaps start a wanted to buy ad and just sit back and watch and take in what advice you get.

 

Good luck.

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8 hours ago, dmak said:

Hi all, recently developed an interest with building a hifi system. I’m located in Newcastle so local shops are basically limited to one that I’m aware of, budget is around $3000 but flexible so I’ve been keeping an eye out on second hand gear. 
 

Will be either steaming from tidal, my computer or vinyl.
 

I did get a chance to visit Apollo hifi in Sydney the other week and had a listen to the KEF q350’s and the ls50’s which I didn’t mind. Also listened to some Richter merlin 6’s which I found seemed like good value for their price. 
 

so far my short list in terms of gear I’m thinking of: 


Speakers

 

KEF Q350

KEF LS50

Richter Merlin 6

 

Amp

 

Cambridge Audio CXA 60 or CXA 80 if I can find one at a decent price second hand.
 

Turntable 

 

Project debut carbon 

 

Haven’t decided on preamp but I’d imagine I’d get one sub $300 until I work out what I really want and train my ears better. 

 

Im just curious what  people think of my rough draft of what I want and if I’ve mis matched anything or if there’s better suggestions. 
 

thanks in advance 
 

 

 

 

A search of the forum finds this: 

 

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1 hour ago, Irek said:

Why not Harlequin S6?  Rega Brio is pretty good at this price range. 

Or maybe Kef ls50 wireless.

Unfortunately floor standers are out of the question, partner wont allow it 😬Have looked at the Rega, would like digital input for plugging in the computer to play Flac files.

 

Looked at the LS50 wireless as well, not a bad choice but id like to mix and match components further down the line. 

 

1 hour ago, warweary said:

For $3k I'd be looking at floorstanders in the 2k range and a thousand on the amplifier.

A few items from apollo hifi that you should be able to demo...

 

Loudspeakers, Kef q750 or q550. Wharfedale diamond 240.

Amplifiers, Marantz 6006, Rega Brio, Cambridge Audio  CXA60.

As above, partner only approved bookshelfs, no floor standers due to soon to be crawling baby 

22 minutes ago, Luc said:

Take your time and perhaps start a wanted to buy ad and just sit back and watch and take in what advice you get.

 

Good luck.

Thanks for all the advice, will keep it in mind and I am leaning torwards second hand gear, just need to know what im looking at/for.

 

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Floorstanders are much safer than speakers on stands.  

External dacs are usually better than those inside amps. 

 

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What music do you listen and room size?

 

LS50 is great and used about $900 but needs a better than average hi watt amp 100w plus to make them sing. Others like Jamo Concert 8, Lenehan, various Dynaudio, Legend, Focals, Spendor, various Sonos Faber, Proac Studio 100, VAF I91 etc.

 

Keep eye out for $600-1000ish used Yamaha AS1100 integrated amp, Vincent 236 or 7, Musical Fidelity A3 and similar etc (See Cafad’s regular poster reviews of many integrated amps here on this forum for ideas). A separate tube preamp and power is even possible for around $1k. There is/was a pair of Class D monoblock amps for $400 and nice tube preamp for $600 recently would totally beat everything above.

 

A streamer with DAC like Cambridge Audio, Pioneer, Yamaha etc for $300-800 can be found even an old Cambridge Audio NP30 for $250 is good. Google for streamer reviews of models.

 

Used good old subs can be found for as little as $50 like the Sony SAW40 etc but see the usual Focal, B&W, REL, Krix etc.

 

Basically just cast a wide net here and Gumtree and come back here for comments.

Edited by Al.M

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As you say, there's only Audio Junction left in Newcastle ( there were 7 or 8 different places when I first started out! ), but if you find some time one day, you could zip down to Gosford and have a look at Bill Mcleans, or Gosford Hifi. Sadly, I haven't been to Mcleans  since they were in Long Jetty, and I have absolutely no experience with Gosford Hifi, but just for a look, they are closer than Sydney, and hopefully won't look down at you just for having a look around. If they do, walk away.

As has been stated in the prior posts, consider second hand stuff. When you are only starting out, it can be a bit daunting to try and know what's what, but the good folk here will ( I hope ) be only too pleased to help.

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19 hours ago, Al.M said:

What music do you listen and room size?

Punk, alternative, rock and metal, Room size is around 4m x 8m with a bed room on the side and staircases. Room is a strange shape so it will be interesting to see how the acoustics will be and what treatments will be needed. 

19 hours ago, Al.M said:

 

LS50 is great and used about $900 but needs a better than average hi watt amp 100w plus to make them sing.

 

There is/was a pair of Class D monoblock amps for $400 and nice tube preamp for $600 recently would totally beat everything above.

 

I think the moment a set of LS50's come online for sale $1k or less ill most likely snap them up as I just love the look of them, I was also interested in Tubes but it seemed out of my budget for now but i will look into that combo, Could you find that pair of monoblocks ? can't seem to find them in the classifieds section. 

18 hours ago, The Rock Puppy said:

As you say, there's only Audio Junction left in Newcastle ( there were 7 or 8 different places when I first started out! ), but if you find some time one day, you could zip down to Gosford and have a look at Bill Mcleans, or Gosford Hifi.

I did pop into audio junction which is where I heard the Richter merlins paired with the cambridge audio cxa60, Shame they didnt have a set of LS50's I could compare to. I will be in sydney in a few weeks so i might go into lifestyle store and have a listen to more speaker. 

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Hi There Dmak,

Congratulations on getting your Hi-Fi gear. I started a few years ago with a Rega Brio R, it is certainly a very special 50w integrated amp at a reasonable price, made in England (if this sort of thing matters to you). Here is an old review but the circuit in the new one is pretty much the same. http://www.tonepublications.com/spotlight/rega-brio-r-worlds-first-review/

New Brio link here https://www.tonepublications.com/review/regas-vivacious-brio/ It really has shined for me over the last few years. At the time I also got a Rega RP6. I definitely would recommend Rega in particular for turntables, they have invested like no others time and money on finding the perfect turntable and their engineering findings have now trickled down to all their turntables. Obviously the more you pay the better it gets. 

You can also improve the sources later on as you go. A good quality external DAC is certainly the way to go.

 

And it is true that here at Stereonet there are tons of second hand top gear, but it is a slippery slope and before you know it you'll find yourself churning over and over trying to find the perfect gear. Obviously it is a great hobby and many here enjoy it, if this is the path for you I am sure that it will keep you busy and you'll love it. Just my opinion.

On the other hand you may want to simply get some excellent gear which you are very happy with for the next few years until you have more money, the baby has grown and you can go back to enjoying it more. 

I have not been very long in this journey (about 6 years), I will be upgrading the amp in about one year (Rega Elicit), but then after I will be settling for a long time as I just got my dream speakers. Otherwise I may end up thinking more about the gear than the music.

Edited by Andpi
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22 hours ago, Andpi said:

Hi There Dmak,

Congratulations on getting your Hi-Fi gear. I started a few years ago with a Rega Brio R, it is certainly a very special 50w integrated amp at a reasonable price, made in England 

 

Thanks for the suggestion, I have been looking at the Rega's along with cambridge audio amps, Just trying to be patient and see what pops up on here and gumtree really. I know the Brio R is only 50W, what speakers are you using and how does the amp go ?

 

 

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1 hour ago, dmak said:

 

Thanks for the suggestion, I have been looking at the Rega's along with cambridge audio amps, Just trying to be patient and see what pops up on here and gumtree really. I know the Brio R is only 50W, what speakers are you using and how does the amp go ?

 

 

Hi Dmak,

 

All those years ago because of the tight budget, I had inherited a pair of Energy bookshelves from about 2001, made in Canada. They were mint and pretty new even when I got them. They were fine, probably a $500-$700 dollar speaker pair in today's money. So they did the job.

But finally I got my dream speakers, the PMC Twenty5 .22 I was a bit worried as to how it all would work out as the general advice, is to buy as many watts as you can, this is not intended for volume, but for head room, or so that the amp can run speakers with ease, so that the speakers show you more, if that makes sense, the speakers will sound better. You will find that in speaker reviews and here in Stereonet many, if not all people would agree that a more powerful amp would play specially nice with some speakers, such as the PMC.

 

But for now I couldn't afford more, those PMC cost a lot, but are totally worth it. So I took the plunge and I just couldn't be happier!

The Rega Brio R is really a very very good machine. The PMC Twenty5 .22 are 89db and the Brio-R really packs a punch. Yes, I imagine that if I had a more powerful amp the speakers would "open up" as they say, but I can't really complaint at all. The sound stage is incredible, those speakers really sound much much bigger. And he clarity of the whole thing is just astounding. Volume levels are not an issue at all I am satisfied with 9 o'clock, beyond that it is loud.

To me, it is just absolutely fantastic. If you read the Tone Publications review, you can see that the Rega Brio-R can run even Magnepans but obviously there would be some detriment.

The Rega Brio-R is rated at 50w into 8ohms, but it has a couple of Sanken Darlington transistors which are rated at 150w, so the Brio-R can pump when is needed. The 2017 version although uses the same circuit, I understand that has been improved.

 

At this point I am so satisfied with this arrangement that I am in no rush whatsoever to upgrade the amp at all. I will probably do this in about one year, possibly moving to the Rega Elicit-R, we'll see.

 

So good luck with journey!

 

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Thought id give a update on process i've made so far. 

 

Purchased a Pro jet debut carbon esprit off gumtree for $400 

 

About to pick up a fair of KEF LS50's this weekend off classifieds. 

 

Time to work out what I want to power all this. 

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1 hour ago, dmak said:

Thought id give a update on process i've made so far. 

 

Purchased a Pro jet debut carbon esprit off gumtree for $400 

 

About to pick up a fair of KEF LS50's this weekend off classifieds. 

 

Time to work out what I want to power all this. 

Great to hear. Exciting times. Let us know how it all evolves. Cheers.👍

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Any update?? 

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2 hours ago, FIGGOAT said:

Any update?? 

Currently have the LS50's connected to an Onkyo  AVR my parents had laying around for now, Sorry everyone 😬

 

Still waiting for the right Amp to pop up in the used market, currently thinking something along of the lines of a yamaha A-S1100 (if for the VU meters and nothing else) or rega elex-r. Issue is right now when an amp comes up on market place, by the time i look at it and so some research on it and decide that its something i want, its sold already so id imagine soon I will become familiar enough that I can pull the trigger on an amp that I know is what i want the moment I see it online. 

 

Fear not, I will update the moment I get something, Will most likely get a Topping D50 / D50s depending if the amp I purchase has a DAC or not and same with Phono stage. 

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Hi Dmak,

Good to hear that you are getting the gear slowly bit by bit. How do the LS50s sound with the Onkyo?

A Rega Elex-R I've heard is a very good choice, specially as even new, for that money is like you are getting two Brios. And as I have stated before, that little amp is a marvel.

 

And as for the DAC, this is digital technology and my understanding is that as with computers, it is moving very fast. Therefore, a DAC that is more than two years old may (may not) start to make a difference too soon, and if the DAC is part of the amp then... you see where this is going. You may possible need (or feel) like the amp and the DAC may have to go.

I would suggest to consider an external quality DAC.

However, I am more in the analogue camp so I have a limited use for a DAC. What do other people here think? External or internal DAC?

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@dmak there is a cambridge cx80 in the classifieds currently at 1k, ?

gets very good reviews

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19 hours ago, dmak said:

yamaha A-S1100 (if for the VU meters and nothing else)

I am  currently running this  amp with my LS50 and is happy with it.  Yep - cheapest Integrated amp with VU meter that I could find.  Though the phono stage is pretty decent.

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22 hours ago, Andpi said:

 

Good to hear that you are getting the gear slowly bit by bit. How do the LS50s sound with the Onkyo?

 

They sound Great, only because I don't know any better right now, might be pushing myself into the rabbit hole by getting a decent stereo amp and forever chasing that perfect sound... 

 

In regards to DAC, I think I will most likely purchase a standalone DAC regardless if whatever amp I have has one onboard or not just like as you said, technology is moving so fast and DAC's are just constantly being updated. 

 

20 hours ago, wen said:

@dmak there is a cambridge cx80 in the classifieds currently at 1k, ?

gets very good reviews

Temping but I fear I may have buyers regret the moment a Elex-r or an A-S1100 pops up in the classifieds and ill end up selling it 

5 hours ago, NoS9 said:

I am  currently running this  amp with my LS50 and is happy with it.  Yep - cheapest Integrated amp with VU meter that I could find.  Though the phono stage is pretty decent.

Glad to hear its a good combo, have you noticed any drawbacks to this setup ? Am very much leaning towards this, Something about the look of those Yamaha Amps... 

 

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14 hours ago, dmak said:

have you noticed any drawbacks to this setup ? Am very much leaning towards this, Something about the look of those Yamaha Amps... 

Not sure if it's a drawback.. but it doesn't have a built-in DAC like other integrated - but  some will say that's a good thing.  I am running this with a M-DAC, a Mac Mini and a Synology Nas for all my digital music and a Rega RP3 for my vinyl.

Yes tha look - when your setup looks good...the music will automaticallly sounds good...:P

Attached some pics to tempt you..:P

 

IMG_20190712_133731.jpg

IMG_20190712_135904.jpg

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Very clean looking setup.

 

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4 hours ago, NoS9 said:

Not sure if it's a drawback.. but it doesn't have a built-in DAC like other integrated - but  some will say that's a good thing.  I am running this with a M-DAC, a Mac Mini and a Synology Nas for all my digital music and a Rega RP3 for my vinyl.

Yes tha look - when your setup looks good...the music will automaticallly sounds good...:P

Attached some pics to tempt you..:P

 

 

 

Oooof! Beautiful! Hard to go past the Silver, hopefully someone decides to sell theirs soon. How do you control your mac mini ? Do you have a screen hooked up or to the TV ? Im thinking i will convert my space macbook air laying around into a media server. 

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