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1st HiFi setup on a base budget[incremental plan]


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Hello all,

 

1st post and sorry for any obvious noob questions. I have been into a lot of iems and headphones, but with the iso and work from home I am thinking of assembling a HiFi setup.

 

I am based out of Sydney and live in a apartment [for now]. I might be moving to a bigger place in the next 6 months and that is when I will look at upgrading this initial setup.

 

What I am after - a basic hifi setup. 

- Amp (Stereo or 5.1) - Happy with used good condition one

- Network streamer or Chromecast audio - I will be using primarily Tidal + Spotify and YT music( for different genres)

- Bookshelf speakers - Happy to get used /good condition ones

 

What I listen to : Rock, Jazz, Vocals classicals, Opera and symphonies, very keen on tonality and punchy base. I have realized I dont listen at higher volumes much but fidelity is important.

 

Now comes the budget, I am looking at < 400-450(max stretch) $ for all the above with upgrades for each every 6 months(sooner based on the savings!). I am not even sure if we can do this at this price point.

 

Some of what I have been looking at and seeking feedback

- Polk Audio t15 bookshelf (200$)

- used yamaha htr-2067(120$)

- chromecast audio(70$)

 

Thanks gurus for any help in advance !

 

Edit 1: Any Sydney based AV stores recommendations whom i can get in touch with for advice as well?

 

Edited by mav
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I haven't heard the Polk speakers, but have found over the years that bookshelf speakers, while fine for near field listening, just don't have the bass I like when listening casually / loudly / having fun rather than listening critically.

 

If you can stretch to a 2nd hand subwoofer try to include one.  You can always switch it out / switch it off if it doesn't suit the music.  The Yamaha will have bass management to allow it's use / removal when you don't want to include it in the output.  The sub doesn't have to be anything fantastic, just enough to beef up the sound when required.

 

edit:  use an optical cable for the Chromecast Audio - the built in DAC in mine are a bit weedy sounding.

 

Edited by Old Man Rubber
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Thanks @Old Man Rubber. I did look at a proper 2.1 setup and I think this makes a lot of sense. Let me add that to my list. 

 

Do you have any other recommendations re: the used amps. I have seen some basic brand new class d ones retailing(ebay,amazon) at  80-120. Are they any good ?

 

 

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6 minutes ago, mav said:

 

Do you have any other recommendations re: the used amps. I have seen some basic brand new class d ones retailing(ebay,amazon) at  80-120. Are they any good ?

 

 

I have been looking as some of the cheap Class D stuff myself, but it seems like something of a minefield in that the reviews aren't consistent and the brand names shift/change along with the amps themselves. 

 

A good quality, 2nd hand Yamaha or Denon HT receiver is around the same money.  I quite like the HT receivers from the era just before HDMI because you can buy them cheaply, they generally do what they say but still offer the ability to do 2.0, 2.1 or 4.0 or 4.1 or 5.1 depending on the settings.  Plus they all have a pile of inputs.  In my experience the Yamaha/Denon receivers are also more reliable compared to (say) a Sony of the same vintage.

 

Aesthetically I would probably prefer a classic 1980s stereo receiver, but having bass management and the easy option of adding a subwoofer always makes me pause.

 

There does seem to be a big range in "what the watt rating is" vs "what the receiver can actually achieve".  A Yamaha watt is genuine - the HT amps have oodles of power compared to other brands.  The Denon AVR 1100D HT amp I use in this room is fine as well but it just doesn't have the muscle that the Yamaha RX-V620 upstairs does.

 

Both of them also have phono inputs which may or may not matter, but is a nice bonus as you move ahead.  The old Denon doesn't have any digital inputs but it does have a 6 channel anolog input set I have never used.

 

Having bluetooth built into your receiver doesn't seem like much of a bonus to me - you can always add a bluetooth source or just plug your phone into the front mounted input on the AVR if it has one.  Bluetooth is fine in the car or when you're having a BBQ but I'd rather run a cable for streaming sources.

 

The pre-HDMI, good-middling quality HT amps are such a screaming bargain to build a really satisfying 2.1 system around.  Also leaves more budget for stretching to great speakers.

 

 

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36 minutes ago, Old Man Rubber said:

I have been looking as some of the cheap Class D stuff myself, but it seems like something of a minefield in that the reviews aren't consistent and the brand names shift/change along with the amps themselves. 

 

A good quality, 2nd hand Yamaha or Denon HT receiver is around the same money.  I quite like the HT receivers from the era just before HDMI because you can buy them cheaply, they generally do what they say but still offer the ability to do 2.0, 2.1 or 4.0 or 4.1 or 5.1 depending on the settings.  Plus they all have a pile of inputs.  In my experience the Yamaha/Denon receivers are also more reliable compared to (say) a Sony of the same vintage.

 

Aesthetically I would probably prefer a classic 1980s stereo receiver, but having bass management and the easy option of adding a subwoofer always makes me pause.

 

There does seem to be a big range in "what the watt rating is" vs "what the receiver can actually achieve".  A Yamaha watt is genuine - the HT amps have oodles of power compared to other brands.  The Denon AVR 1100D HT amp I use in this room is fine as well but it just doesn't have the muscle that the Yamaha RX-V620 upstairs does.

 

Both of them also have phono inputs which may or may not matter, but is a nice bonus as you move ahead.  The old Denon doesn't have any digital inputs but it does have a 6 channel anolog input set I have never used.

 

Having bluetooth built into your receiver doesn't seem like much of a bonus to me - you can always add a bluetooth source or just plug your phone into the front mounted input on the AVR if it has one.  Bluetooth is fine in the car or when you're having a BBQ but I'd rather run a cable for streaming sources.

 

The pre-HDMI, good-middling quality HT amps are such a screaming bargain to build a really satisfying 2.1 system around.  Also leaves more budget for stretching to great speakers.

 

 

Spot on re:bluetooth, it's always better to do a loose coupling to get more "upgradability" - more so with the prices of new tech very closely related to market nowadays! . I am leaning towards getting a used Yamaha/Denon - are. there any av shops/online which so seconds/refurbs with some basic "peace of mind" because I am overwhelmed with the amount of used receivers on the market now  - or a basic checklist (BTW - sub out/on/off was a great tip) !!

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25 minutes ago, mav said:

Spot on re:bluetooth, it's always better to do a loose coupling to get more "upgradability" - more so with the prices of new tech very closely related to market nowadays! . I am leaning towards getting a used Yamaha/Denon - are. there any av shops/online which so seconds/refurbs with some basic "peace of mind" because I am overwhelmed with the amount of used receivers on the market now  - or a basic checklist (BTW - sub out/on/off was a great tip) !!

I got my receivers from the local tip shop - I think putting a "wanted" ad here might net you something pretty special, there seem to be a lot of hoarders like me on here who might want to move something on to a good home.  Anything 2nd hand is going to have potential reliability issues but buying from somebody here you will likely come across gear that has been looked after.  Ebay == minefield in my experience. 

 

When I'm digging through gear the features I generally look for:  Coax and optical inputs, bonus for phono input.  Good name brand (yamaha, denon, sony,pioneer etc), subwoofer out.  The 6 channel input was a major marketing push back just before HDMI was released but it's practically useless now.  Super bonus if you can snag a remote, some of the AVR;s are almost unusable without the remote as the front buttons won't give enough input for changing the speaker setup. 

 

A Logitech harmony programmable remote is almost essential if you are buying 2nd hand AVRs without a remote control - can just download the appropriate codes and do your setup.

 

Avoid anything like Sherwood, you just can't get them to sound right no matter how much you muck around.

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Throwing a  curveball.

 I have an 'upgrade' to my 2nd (bedroom system)  recently and I'm suggesting it as an option that I think would let you spend time saving for serious upgrades and will give you separates to start from.

 I've been using one of the wee chinese 6J1 tube based pre amps, for a while (with upgraded tubes which are not expensive to get, and DO make a difference) but due to a speaker upgrade a little 8watt SE tube amp had to be upgraded and I took a 'punt' on a chinese NAIM NAP250 based 'clone' amp, and it's not too bad at all.  I see the Yamaha is about 70 watts 2 ch driven 20hz to 20kc tone which the wee 'naim clone' is also rated at.

 I was running a set of JPW sonata's (2 way bookshelf) and did try these with the 'naim clone' amp, it's certainly obviously a LOT punchier than the 8 watt SE and was not too bad at all.

 (speaker upgrade was a pair of KEF Concerto's that do need more than 8 watts). The pre and amp pair new are less than $300nz

 

This is similar to the pre amp I use (Mine is an FX audio)

https://www.ebay.com/itm/AIYIMA-APTX-Bluetooth-5-0-Tube-PreAmplifier-6J1-Vacuum-Tube-Amp-Preamp-DIY/254729048745

you can also upgrade the op amps in most of these for another cheap improvement

 

and this is the wee ''naim clone' amp I bought

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Finished-HIFI-NAP250-MOD-Stereo-Power-amplifier-80W-80W-desktop-amp-L9-17/123377130403?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&var=423771674302

 

American equivalent of the 6J1 is the 6AK5. 6AK5 variants include 6AK5W, 5654, and Western Electric 402A. The European designation is EF95 < I'm running Philips EF85's in mine.

Edited by Graywulf
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10 hours ago, Graywulf said:

Throwing a  curveball.

 I have an 'upgrade' to my 2nd (bedroom system)  recently and I'm suggesting it as an option that I think would let you spend time saving for serious upgrades and will give you separates to start from.

 I've been using one of the wee chinese 6J1 tube based pre amps, for a while (with upgraded tubes which are not expensive to get, and DO make a difference) but due to a speaker upgrade a little 8watt SE tube amp had to be upgraded and I took a 'punt' on a chinese NAIM NAP250 based 'clone' amp, and it's not too bad at all.  I see the Yamaha is about 70 watts 2 ch driven 20hz to 20kc tone which the wee 'naim clone' is also rated at.

 I was running a set of JPW sonata's (2 way bookshelf) and did try these with the 'naim clone' amp, it's certainly obviously a LOT punchier than the 8 watt SE and was not too bad at all.

 (speaker upgrade was a pair of KEF Concerto's that do need more than 8 watts). The pre and amp pair new are less than $300nz

 

This is similar to the pre amp I use (Mine is an FX audio)

https://www.ebay.com/itm/AIYIMA-APTX-Bluetooth-5-0-Tube-PreAmplifier-6J1-Vacuum-Tube-Amp-Preamp-DIY/254729048745

you can also upgrade the op amps in most of these for another cheap improvement

 

and this is the wee ''naim clone' amp I bought

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Finished-HIFI-NAP250-MOD-Stereo-Power-amplifier-80W-80W-desktop-amp-L9-17/123377130403?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&var=423771674302

 

American equivalent of the 6J1 is the 6AK5. 6AK5 variants include 6AK5W, 5654, and Western Electric 402A. The European designation is EF95 < I'm running Philips EF85's in mine.

Thanks @Graywulf, you have introduced me to completely new world of amps!  wll admit I am feeling a bit like a child again with a new world of possibilities :). I am very keen on the setup you have mentioned. Some noob questions:

 

1. Is the preamp mandatory and does it need to be a tube preamp. I now understand that A/AB produce a sound whch is what I was after. Also these tube preamps can directly output onto active speakers ( which is another new learning)

2. I feel I would also need to source the below separately ?

a. replacement tubes.

b. DV power supply(preamp) and

c. possibly RCA + speaker cables(preamp to amp, amp to speakers (passive)). Is that correct?

 

Will need some more time to establish, but willing to go this route !

Edited by mav
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I'd agree with optical out for the CCA. 

 

As for receivers, I've used one of these in the past:

 

https://www.hifiengine.com/manual_library/pioneer/vsx-d908s.shtml

 

For which I paid $200, which is slightly over the odds, but still great value. If you see one come up cheaper, it'll be worth it - very solid power supply, ubiquitous Burr Brown DAC. The UI is a bit of a pain without the remote, however. 

 

As for speakers, there's the Pioneer Andrew Jones jobbies that you can get new for $250, or, if you're lucky, used for as low as $150. They don't really meet your punchy bass requirements, however. For that, in a bookshelf, look for something like Dynaudio DM 2/7s. Second hand they might be between $250-350 but the bass output is substantial and they are a great all-rounder. 

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3 hours ago, twofires said:

I'd agree with optical out for the CCA. 

 

As for receivers, I've used one of these in the past:

 

https://www.hifiengine.com/manual_library/pioneer/vsx-d908s.shtml

 

For which I paid $200, which is slightly over the odds, but still great value. If you see one come up cheaper, it'll be worth it - very solid power supply, ubiquitous Burr Brown DAC. The UI is a bit of a pain without the remote, however. 

 

As for speakers, there's the Pioneer Andrew Jones jobbies that you can get new for $250, or, if you're lucky, used for as low as $150. They don't really meet your punchy bass requirements, however. For that, in a bookshelf, look for something like Dynaudio DM 2/7s. Second hand they might be between $250-350 but the bass output is substantial and they are a great all-rounder. 

Thanks for your reply @twofires. What's your views on pioneer vsx d510 and denon 1000x? 

Edited by mav
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18 hours ago, mav said:

Thanks for your reply @twofires. What's your views on pioneer vsx d510 and denon 1000x? 

I've not heard the Pioneer, but it seems to have a teeny bit less power than the one I mentioned before. Pioneer were a bit misleading with their specs, quoting RMS at 1kHz at 1% distortion, which basically means at this power at the easier part of the frequency band it clips. I imagine the real/useful power output (20Hz-20kHz 0.01 THD at 8ohms) would be about 70% of the quoted spec. So, for the D908TX 110wpc becomes 77wpc, whereas D510 becomes 70wpc. Both pretty normal for a receiver on paper, although I've tested the D908TX with KEF floorstanders and it seemed to cope - nothing caught on fire. For near field I imagine either would be fine. 

 

As for the Denon, if you're taking about the AVR-X1000, they give a proper spec of:

 

80 Watt - 8 Ohm - 20 - 20000 Hz - THD 0.08% - 5 channels

145 Watt - 6 Ohm - at 1 kHz - THD 1% - 5 channel s

 

While the 6 ohm spec is at clipping, the fact that they mention 6ohm at all gives you a small bit confidence that the power supply could tolerate a dip or two. Denon stuff is usually pretty solid.

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Just a heads up, there are two different ads in the 2 channel classifieds you should probably jump on - a set of NAD bookshelf speakers and a NAD amp.  $500 in total and it would be a sweet little starter system.

 

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On 19/10/2020 at 10:55 PM, Graywulf said:

This is similar to the pre amp I use (Mine is an FX audio)

https://www.ebay.com/itm/AIYIMA-APTX-Bluetooth-5-0-Tube-PreAmplifier-6J1-Vacuum-Tube-Amp-Preamp-DIY/254729048745

you can also upgrade the op amps in most of these for another cheap improvement

Hey @Graywulf, I was looking for something which ships from Australia (just to minimize shipping times), came across this - https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/HiFi-Bluetooth-5-0-Audio-Tube-Preamp-Stereo-Receiver-Headphone-Amp-USB-SD-Player/392913587460. The only difference I can see is that this uses 6k4 vs 6j1 in the one linked by you. Any idea if these are interchangeable etc or I will miss out on anything further down..Cheers

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On 20/10/2020 at 11:09 AM, mav said:

Thanks @Graywulf, you have introduced me to completely new world of amps!  wll admit I am feeling a bit like a child again with a new world of possibilities :). I am very keen on the setup you have mentioned. Some noob questions:

 

1. Is the preamp mandatory and does it need to be a tube preamp. I now understand that A/AB produce a sound whch is what I was after. Also these tube preamps can directly output onto active speakers ( which is another new learning)

2. I feel I would also need to source the below separately ?

a. replacement tubes.

b. DV power supply(preamp) and

c. possibly RCA + speaker cables(preamp to amp, amp to speakers (passive)). Is that correct?

 

Will need some more time to establish, but willing to go this route !

Hi,

sorry I work shifts, To answer, unless you have a volume control on your CD player or streaming unit, then yes you'll need a pre-amp. you said you wanted bluetooth, so that 'pre' will give you that option.  plus  with tone controls allows you to tailor you sound a bit. 

   No it doesn't need to be a tube pre, but tubes can take some 'edge' off of SS kit, and as said, changing a tube from one type to another, or even the same tube type, from a different maker can alter the sound of your gear quite noticeably. (if you take the blue pill of going tube?? It's a DEEEEEEEEP rabbit hole :D

Changing the tubes and op amps does improve these cheap pre's quite noticeably.

   I would guess (I've never used active speakers sorry) that the pre would work on the active speakers with the correct RCA connection cables.

  The tubes are easy to get, (Eprey or probably even in Aussie or on this forum) so are the op amps.

 Power supply usually comes with the pre amp, but yes you can certainly upgrade that to one that is higher quality and better 'ampage'.  This can be done slowly, or quickly as you wish.

Edited by Graywulf
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On 22/10/2020 at 11:18 AM, mav said:

Hey @Graywulf, I was looking for something which ships from Australia (just to minimize shipping times), came across this - https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/HiFi-Bluetooth-5-0-Audio-Tube-Preamp-Stereo-Receiver-Headphone-Amp-USB-SD-Player/392913587460. The only difference I can see is that this uses 6k4 vs 6j1 in the one linked by you. Any idea if these are interchangeable etc or I will miss out on anything further down..Cheers

Sorry I don't know that unit, but all I found on a quick search 6k4 is equivalent to an EF93, but you'd need to double check with someone who knows these tubes.... Sometimes these Russian/Euro/USA similar tubes do require some pin wiring changes. I don't know about the op-amps in that unit either, but I'd guess they will be upgradeable.

 Doak seem to do a fair selection of equipment, and they've not 'just' appeared. A lot of their stuff is rebranded, no different to so many other suppliers from the Asian world. 

   As I said, it's an option to go pre and power amp, just as it is integrated amp, or active speakers.

   Good luck with whatever you decide on

 

 

Just read the info further down on that pre you looked at,,, and

"P2 can be used as a tube preamp, connected between audio source and amplifier or active speaker to greatly improve the sound quality. Default 6K4 tubes, and can be directly replaced by 6J1/6J4/GE5654/6AK5/6*1n to enjoy HiFi sound of different styles."

Edited by Graywulf
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1 hour ago, Graywulf said:

"P2 can be used as a tube preamp, connected between audio source and amplifier or active speaker to greatly improve the sound quality. Default 6K4 tubes, and can be directly replaced by 6J1/6J4/GE5654/6AK5/6*1n to enjoy HiFi sound of different styles."

Keen observation @Graywulf. Thanks for all your inputs, immense help! 

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