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Topic # 99349 17-Mar-2012 09:19 Send private message

Hi, all.

I'm planning on moving into a small apartment and would like to choose a suitable Hifi setup. It would be used exclusively (or at least almost exclusively) for music, with my music source being 256kbps files in iTunes so audiophile grade sound quality isn't required but I still want it to perform well. In this environment volume will obviously be kept to moderate levels. 

My current thinking is to get a set of affordable stereo speakers such as these KEF C5s at $564 along with a run-of-the mill receiver such as this Onkyo 5.1 channel which is on special at $398. However I have noticed this more expensive stereo Onkyo unit at $799.

Do I need to buy a stereo receiver in order to drive these stereo speakers, or would the cheaper 5.1 channel unit be okay for this purpose? If so then what is the benefit of the stereo receiver compared with the 5.1 channel receiver? Any general feedback would be much appreciated. 

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  Reply # 596431 17-Mar-2012 11:06 Send private message

First up, the Onkyo 609 is on sale for a ridiculously low price at the moment (hundreds cheaper than when I bought mine at what I thought was a "too cheap" price at the time!) - you'll save $100 and get a better unit than the second one you had ear-marked.
http://www.jbhifi.co.nz/jb-hi-fi-home-audio/receiver/onkyo/7-2-channel-home-theatre-network-receiver-sku-21457/

A 5.1 (or 7.2) receiver can drive just 2 channels if desired or can simulate various "surround" options from a 2 channel source if more speakers are fitted.

As for KEFs, as a brand, I like them, but that preference is a bit historical, predating their buy-out by a Hong Kong(?) outfit. The C5s however I understand to be perhaps not the best in their price range. Options from Wharfedale could be considered too.



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  Reply # 596436 17-Mar-2012 11:32 Send private message

xarqi: First up, the Onkyo 609 is on sale for a ridiculously low price at the moment (hundreds cheaper than when I bought mine at what I thought was a "too cheap" price at the time!) - you'll save $100 and get a better unit than the second one you had ear-marked.
http://www.jbhifi.co.nz/jb-hi-fi-home-audio/receiver/onkyo/7-2-channel-home-theatre-network-receiver-sku-21457/

A 5.1 (or 7.2) receiver can drive just 2 channels if desired or can simulate various "surround" options from a 2 channel source if more speakers are fitted.


Thanks for your advice. For my purposes would the system that you have recommended here really be that much better than the much cheaper $400 5.1 channel unit that I was considering? I realise that there may be substantial benefits from a home theatre perspective but what would I gain in a music only environment? I want to try and do this on a shoestring budget if possible ($1000 or thereabouts) but will stretch the budget a bit if it's justified.


As for KEFs, as a brand, I like them, but that preference is a bit historical, predating their buy-out by a Hong Kong(?) outfit. The C5s however I understand to be perhaps not the best in their price range. Options from Wharfedale could be considered too.


I have to confess that I gravitate towards brand names that I know, so KEF and Wharfedale would be my natural preferences. I see that Wharfedale is Chinese owned, so I guess that's just the way of the world.

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  Reply # 596444 17-Mar-2012 11:59 Send private message

I haven't checked the specs of the cheap unit, but some of the things the 609 has that may be relevant that the cheaper one may not are Audessy sound optimisation (plug in the supplied microphone and push a button; the system runs a series of sonic sweeps identifying the number of speakers attached and their distances and frequency responses, then tailors the amp to deliver the best signal - it works!); networking with DLNA client, so stream your music that way, or pick an internet radio station if you prefer.

Mind you, at the end of the day if all you want is a stereo amplifier, then there is no point at all in buying an AV receiver. Just pick up something off trade-me, e.g.:
http://www.trademe.co.nz/electronics-photography/home-audio/amplifiers-tuners/auction-456488958.htm
http://www.trademe.co.nz/electronics-photography/home-audio/amplifiers-tuners/auction-456553493.htm
http://www.trademe.co.nz/electronics-photography/home-audio/amplifiers-tuners/auction-456791851.htm
http://www.trademe.co.nz/electronics-photography/home-audio/amplifiers-tuners/auction-456908670.htm
etc.

If you want any sort of "future-proofing", the 609 has a lot going for it.



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  Reply # 596449 17-Mar-2012 12:14 Send private message

Awesome, thanks for that!

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  Reply # 596545 17-Mar-2012 19:45 Send private message

Sorry - I don't quite understand why you're looking for home theatre receivers to run a music setup...
They, put simply, are a massive compromise for decent music listening - and I'm not talking audiophile levels here.
What does the receiver you've listed attempt to do?

Power two zones of audio.
Upscale video.
Work as an HDMI switch.
Convert analogue video sources to HDMI.
Be an AM / FM tuner.
Connect to your network.
Work as an ADC.
Work as a DAC.
And all for a basement price?

You've got long signal paths, low quality stereo performance and bulk...
If you want music to run in an environment that is small, with presumably controlled volume levels... and you don't require spine snapping volume, why not look for another svelte 2 channel audio system.
Add a DAC if you feel the need, and have a system that won't date - but will instead give you great sound for years.
I used to like the Perreaux Silhouette system - a 25W Class A amp, a passive pre-amp and a DAC, a pair of stand mount speakers... and I'd be stoked.

Remember, the very definition of 'Hifi' (high fidelity) is accurate music with little or no distortion. Something that a mid-level home theatre amp won't deliver with.

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  Reply # 596570 17-Mar-2012 21:20 Send private message

Dunnersfella: If you want music to run in an environment that is small, with presumably controlled volume levels... and you don't require spine snapping volume, why not look for another svelte 2 channel audio system.
Add a DAC if you feel the need, and have a system that won't date - but will instead give you great sound for years.
I used to like the Perreaux Silhouette system - a 25W Class A amp, a passive pre-amp and a DAC, a pair of stand mount speakers... and I'd be stoked.

What would be a workable "entry-level" set up, at what sort of cost?

(And yeah - Perreaux!  I still have my PMF2150B and my SM3)

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  Reply # 596580 17-Mar-2012 21:45 Send private message

I'd start with the Denon DM38 - it's under a grand for the CD receiver + speakers... plug in a DAC or Airport Express and you're away.
Or, a Perreaux setup... but that'll cost more and it's not exactly complete with the 'mod cons'. To put it another way, a 25W Class A power amp, a passive pre (no power source whatsoever) and a DAC... would run, well, I don't really know anymore. BUT, it's something to look into.
Oh yeah, as it's a passive pre, there's no remote control!
So it's real 'desktop audio' sorta stuff.
Mmmmmmm.

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  Reply # 597211 19-Mar-2012 15:35 Send private message

Agreed - don't buy a surround receiver if the primary use is for listening to stereo music. See if you can find a 2nd hand NAD C320bee or Rotel RA-01 or similar. For music purposes it'll sound much better than a HiFi receiver and it won't colour the sound as much. Plus they won't hurt your power bill as badly.

There's a C315BEE and RA-01 on TradeMe at the moment which would be ideal. They'll hold their price fairly well too I'd imagine.

Speakers are a bit more personal. I've got an older set of Energy e:XL bookshelfs which I got for an excellent price and they're still good for what they are.

Those Kef speakers you found should be nice. My main system uses Kef surrounds and my father has an old set of Kef reference monitors which are getting on a bit but still sound marvellous.

If you buy any Bose gear, I'll have to track you down and slap you with a fish though.




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  Reply # 597234 19-Mar-2012 16:04 Send private message

Have you thought about a Sonos setup?
I have one of their S5 speaker systems, which is now called Play:5 I think.
They also have a smaller Play:3.

The Play:5 puts out an awesome sound for the size of it.
I also like the fact that it is portable (you may require a Bridge if you don't have data outlets where-ever you want to put it) so you can move it around. I mainly use it in the lounge but if I'm working in the garage I move it out there quite a bit.
Also use it in the bedroom often.

I'm seriously thinking about getting another one as they can be made to run as a stereo pair to give you even better stereo sound. (i.e. a seperate left and right speaker)
It plays pretty much any music files stored on your computer (PC or MAC) and also online music like free radio stations and a heap more.
Everything is controlled from my iPhone or android tablet and you can also control from the PC/Mac software.




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  Reply # 597266 19-Mar-2012 16:52 Send private message

The Sonos units are a tad on the expensive side, but they are very cool and have a lot of geek cred.I had a play with one of the higher-end units a while back and it was very droolworthy, but alas was a bit more than I wanted to pay at the time.

If I had the spare money and was in an apartment-like scenario and didn't have to worry about WAF, then they'd be near the top of the list. They are for music though, not great if the intent is ever to end up with a surround-sound setup.

Oh yeah, they sound pretty good too :)

That said, I've got the Onkyo 609 mentioned above, and it will duplicate all of the various remote-control functionality (iOS/Android app) of the Sonos units as well as supporting native iPod playback and Network streaming (DLNA, web-radio etc). It is a fairly big power-hungry unit though, but for the price it has some very good functionality. Possibly overkill for your needs though.

If you wanted to go fairly low-fi but still get sound, then the A2 speakers linked to in another topic here coupled with a basic amp would probably work nicely by themselves if you were mainly going to be playing audio from a PC - http://www.aquilatech.co.nz/productDetail.asp?idProduct=A2W
   
You could also get a super-basic TubeMagic A1 amp: http://www.mav-audio.com/base/product/tube_magic_a1 - essentially only has 1 RCA input, but that may be all you need for some tube-amped goodness. They're well-made attractive units with a tiny footprint.






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  Reply # 597301 19-Mar-2012 18:03 Send private message

Thanks everyone.

Given the level of complexity I'm starting to think that I may just stick to my Onkyo micro system with built in iPod dock for a while longer. The micro system actually sounds pretty good as the iPod dock has a digital interface (hence bypassing the useless DAC in the iPhone), and I think it will be beneficial for me to allow a bit more time to think about what I want.

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