Sub $1K Recommended Systems

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. Read 57589 times.

jarcher

  • Industry Participant
  • Posts: 1938
  • It Just Sounds Right
Sub $1K Recommended Systems
« on: 4 Nov 2012, 01:33 am »
As many are aware, there is a sub USD$1K limit to systems on the Cheap & Cheerful (C&C) Circle (if you're not, please see the Welcome sticky).  I personally believe that a very acceptable system can be put together for this budget - and not "acceptable for USD$1K" - but acceptable for the vast majority of people.  Furthermore, to promote this passion and to serve as a resource for those new to this hobby, I suggest that we recommend complete systems within that sub $1K budget. Yes - it is possible to do something pleasing to many people for a lot less than $1K - from a used iPod to going to a free concert, for example. The idea & challenge is not what's the cheapest sound experience - but what is the BEST possible sound system for under USD$1K

The emphasis really is on 2 channel stereo systems - and within this budget restraint, probably the most realistic.  This does not mean multichannel systems are excluded, but just that the emphasis is on 2 channel stereo reproduction.

The following are the guidelines for the system recommendation:


1. New, used & DIY components allowed. Personally, even though I feel used & DIY is usually a better value, recommending all or mostly new components would be the more impressive challenge.

2. Price restrictions per the C&C Welcome post: i.e. up to $350 for any specific component. Exception can be made for "full featured integrated amp w/ DAC and / or phono section".  Any particular cabling should not be name brand unless cheap - I'm going to suggest less than $100 per cable or pair.

3. Please at least try to include price & where to buy or bought / available (even if ebay / craiglslist / etc)

To make things easier, shipping & sales tax do not have to be included in specific components or total system cost. Yes, those are not insubstantial costs incurred, but for the purposes here, it seems a needless detail.

4. "System" needs to be a COMPLETE system, comprised of the below categories.  I can appreciate that many will already have one or more of these components possibly already bought. All that means is the recommended system could be all that much cheaper for a prospective buyer.

(A) Source(s) : E.g. computer, DAC, cd player, turntable, etc.  If a computer, please add cost of media specific software, if there is such.  E.g. itunes is free, but Amarra is not.

(B) Amplifier (or amplified speaker)

(C) Speaker (or headphones)

(D) Cabling & Accessories / tweaks :
must include the minimum cables to have your system work.  Accessories & tweaks optional.

(E) Comments (optional) :
why are you proposing this system?  Please keep comments reasonably short : i.e. under 200 words. It's a budget system, not War & Peace!

5. General rules / recommendations :

Contributing multiple systems is ok.  No limits there, but please make each system a separate post. 

It's ok to reply to a recommended system with a +1 / thumbs up / etc  - "audience" appreciation is always useful.  But if you really like someone's system (or your own) and want to discuss at length, please start a new thread in the C&C forum.  Same goes if you DON'T like someone's suggested system, but better yet, if you think particular component(s) are bad / should be changed, please propose your own system instead in a new post. 

Most of all - have fun & know that your are doing something useful & helpful for newcomers!

Edit : would appreciate it if systems could include on the source side some kind of player / streamer, even if just an ipod + doc or used computer, etc.  I know most will own some kind of computer, but there will be cases of people starting from zero, or trying to get a system started for family members / friends / etc, who may be starting from nothing.
« Last Edit: 5 Nov 2012, 09:52 pm by jarcher »

jarcher

  • Industry Participant
  • Posts: 1938
  • It Just Sounds Right
Re: Sub $1K Recommended Systems
« Reply #1 on: 4 Nov 2012, 01:35 am »
Here is an "example" system:

(A) Source(s) :

Used Squeezebox Touch (now discontinued) : $200 per old AC trading post ad.
500 GB USB external hard drive : $70 on New Egg, etc

(B) Amplifier (or amplified speaker) :

Vintage Pioneer SA-7800 : $270 : offered price by used vintage audio dealer.  Can get on Ebay for up to $100 less.

(C) Speaker (or headphones) :

Vandersteen 2CE : $350 actual Craigslist price paid. Vandersteen model 2 prices are all over the place depending on age / model.

(D) Cabling & Accessories / tweaks :

1M Wireworld Luna RCA : approx. $30 per local dealer
(2) Liberty Cable Z500 speaker cables for bi-wiring (now discontinued) : paid $50.  DIY bulk based speaker cable is also easily do-able at $50.

(E) Comments (optional) :
Total system price : USD$970.  Mixture of vintage / used for a good full-range R&R combo based on one of my actual systems.  Only slight "cheat" in that music collection would have to be ripped or transferred to USB hard drive, though SB Touch has USB port to read drive.  With careful buying up to $100 savings can be achieved & put towards an old record player (SA 7800 has phono section).

JohnR

Re: Sub $1K Recommended Systems
« Reply #2 on: 4 Nov 2012, 09:20 am »
Here's what I'm listening to this instant in my study:

(A) Source(s) :

Airport Express $100
CAL Alpha DAC - no idea on price, let's say you could get one for $200

(B) Amplifier (or amplified speaker) :

Virtue ONE.2 - $300

(C) Speaker (or headphones) :

Jordan JX92s DIY speakers... I paid ~$220 originally for the drivers but say the modern equivalent is the mark Audio Alpair 7.3 @ $85 apiece, let's say $300 to make a pair of speakers

(D) Cabling & Accessories / tweaks :

You're kidding right, make your own cables, say $50 tops

That works out at $950, assuming the computer is "already owned". What would be more interesting would be a system that could be assembled from scratch with new components. For example:

(A) Source(s) :

iPod Touch - does this have to be counted? Anything prior to the current generation, let's say used for $200? Or an old iPhone.
Pure i-20 dock - $100

(B) Amplifier (or amplified speaker) :

I'd get a DIYHifi T2, + power supply from connex, let's say $200 to build this amp

(C) Speaker (or headphones) :

As above - Alpair 7.3 DIY for $300

(D) Cabling & Accessories / tweaks :

$50 DIY

That's $650 if you already have the iPod/iPhone, $850 if one has to be acquired. Spend the rest on absorbing material for the nearest walls. Not actuall heard/built this one yet, but it's sort of in progress.

Unintentionally, it looks like I've apportioned roughly 1/3 to source, amp, and speakers. Hm.

JLM

  • Full Member
  • Posts: 8933
  • The elephant normally IS the room
Re: Sub $1K Recommended Systems
« Reply #3 on: 4 Nov 2012, 12:40 pm »
Event 20/20 BAS active 2-way monitors, $900 MSRP

NuForce uDAC2, $119 MSRP (homage paid to AC vendors)

OK, $19 over and one component is way over the guidelines, so shoot me.

The 20/20 BAS is a studio monitor, 14.75" x 10.25" x 11.75", rated 35 - 20,000 Hz and well reviewed by people who make our recordings (IMO enough said).  Comes with power cables.  Sorry you'll need RCA/XLR cables (these are professional monitors).

http://www.eventelectronics.com/2020BAS

The uDAC2 is a throwaway usb DAC, as all DACs are these days should be thought of as (with as fast as improvements keep coming).  It also provides headphone outputs and comes with usb cable (no extra power needed).  They even sell an upgrade kit for $140 to go asynchronous.

http://www.nuforce.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=4:udac-2&Itemid=186/

This system is small and simple, yet will have more bass output than any new, good quality, non-DIY, sub $1,000 system I can imagine.

Letitroll98

  • Facilitator
  • Posts: 4067
  • Too loud is just right
Re: Sub $1K Recommended Systems
« Reply #4 on: 5 Nov 2012, 03:42 am »
This is a system I have running a HT setup presently, but I’ll only detail the 2 channel music part of it as the $2000 LCD flat screen would prolly bankrupt the C&C budget by itself.  At one time I had this setup as a two channel music system, differing only in an Oppo DVD player running an outboard DAC instead of the Sony directly into the receiver, and some cabling differences.

(A) Source:
Sony BDP-S360 Blueray - $89 retail

(B) Amplifier:
Pioneer VSX-D912 receiver - $110 used

(C) Speaker:
Polk RTi6 Speakers - $150 used
Sonus stands - $28 closeout
Infinity TSS-450 Subwoofer - $29 used

(D) Cabling & Accessories / tweaks :
Audioquest Indigo Speaker Cable - $200 retail
Kimber PBJ Interconnect - $30 used
Radio Shack Auvio Digital Cable - $18 retail
2x4 blocks as cable lifters  - free from my backyard

Total System Cost: $654.00 USD

(E) Comments:
The total system cost could be totaled somewhat less as the cabling was lying around unused, but these are the prices initially paid.

For music the system is beautifully engaging, sweet yet very detailed.  The high points are the Pioneer D912, the very unit picked by Dr Earl Geddes to show off his Gedlee speakers, a chip amp that also got the preamp section right for a great combination if mated to the correct speakers.  And the Polk speakers are a real gem, looked down upon by me and most other audiophiles, until I heard them.  Delightfully musical and very well balanced. 

The holes in the system are the Sony Blueray, a wonderful player for movies and soundtracks, somewhat less so as a CD player.  And the DAC in the Pioneer, which is a bit flat and uninvolving for music.  This could all be fixed by using a different DAC for music, which I did when it was a music system and would do now if I spent more time listening to it and not watching TV with it.

hoxuanduc

Re: Sub $1K Recommended Systems
« Reply #5 on: 5 Nov 2012, 04:21 am »
(A) Source:
StealthAudioPlayer - free http://andy-audioplayer.blogspot.com/
Hifimediy ES9023 DAC - $42 http://hifimediy.com/index.php?route=product/product&path=62&product_id=83

(B) Amplifier:

Parts Express TPA3110D2 amp - $9.98 http://www.parts-express.com/pe/showdetl.cfm?partnumber=320-329
Any laptop PS that fits the darn thing - free or < $10 on ebay

(C) Speaker:
Pioneer SP-BS21 - $69 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16882117405

(D) Cabling & Accessories / tweaks :

Speaker & interconnect cable - Cat5e - free or really cheap

Total System Cost: $120.98 USD

(E) Comments:

Newegg usually have the speakers on sale @ $50 which bring the total system price to a bit over $100 plus shipping.  This system doesn't play loud or goes very low, suitable for a small room, but sounds very good... The weakness of the system is in the speaker resolution.  You can control the volume via Windows w the DAC (I believe it's an analog VC because you can change the volume even in Kernel streaming or Wasapi mode).  For tweak:

1) wash / brush the DAC PCB w alcohol, get a power injector & hook up w a 6v battery
2) get a battery for the amp
3) If you have to use an old-fashion VC, you can get one on ebay http://www.ebay.com/itm/190552098485?_trksid=p5197.c0.m619

You can upgrade the system by going w a sensitive set of speakers or whatever strikes your fancy.  I'd recommend the Pi 2 Tower (95db/w/m - $200/pair kit  - you have to build the box which is around $100 of plywood & finish) or the Pioneer SP-C21 ($100 a pair on sale now @ Newegg)



jarcher

  • Industry Participant
  • Posts: 1938
  • It Just Sounds Right
Re: Sub $1K Recommended Systems
« Reply #6 on: 5 Nov 2012, 09:57 pm »
Great start guys! Interesting to see how people allocate limited funds to different categories, whether sources / amplification / or in one particular case, mostly speakers.  Keep 'em coming! Hoxuanduc would seem to get least expensive system honors - though remember folks - you do have up to $1K to work with!

jarcher

  • Industry Participant
  • Posts: 1938
  • It Just Sounds Right
Re: Sub $1K Recommended Systems
« Reply #7 on: 9 Nov 2012, 04:43 am »
Sorta surprised there haven't been more recommended systems so far.  Aside from being interesting, I think this is a useful resource for many.  If there's something about the idea or original post which is hampering participation, would be interested in comments.

Otherwise, I propose a competition for best Sub $1K Recommended System 2012.  That is not to preclude 2013+ honors....unless interest totally shrivels on the vine.

Some suggested basic rules:

1) Worldwide eligibility to post / enter
2) System must be posted by 11:59PM EST December 31 2012.
3) Propose as many systems as you like - no limit. 
4) Two or more components have to be changed from an already posted system to qualify as a different system
5) I - or if others join in the selection process - exclude their systems for consideration for the "prize". 

The winner will either be selected by me, me + other people, or perhaps a "short list" of candidates followed by a voting poll. To be determined. In any case, winner to be decided by 13 January 2013.

Prize is your choice of one of the following in your choice of size.  My gift & yes, will send it to you wherever you are.  You're welcome - and thanks django11 for the unintended prize idea!




Letitroll98

  • Facilitator
  • Posts: 4067
  • Too loud is just right
Re: Sub $1K Recommended Systems
« Reply #8 on: 10 Nov 2012, 05:13 am »
We already had a thread on this topic so they've been merged.
« Last Edit: 10 Nov 2012, 04:26 pm by Letitroll98 »

geowak

Re: Sub $1K Recommended Systems
« Reply #9 on: 10 Nov 2012, 01:36 pm »
How will you know what the best possible sound is for $1K? Unless these systems are acquired and ACTUALLY heard?!? Otherwise it's just folly or happenstance that one or another would sound the best?

What am I missing here? Would one by voting on the best he/she has that costs 1K$ I am confused.

jarcher

  • Industry Participant
  • Posts: 1938
  • It Just Sounds Right
Re: Sub $1K Recommended Systems
« Reply #10 on: 10 Nov 2012, 04:20 pm »
I apologize if the "competition" part is confusing : it was perhaps my lame attempt to motivate participation & entertain.  Opening up voting to AC members on a short list of system candidates is one potential way to choose a "winner" for 2012.

As for the first part of your concern - I don't think you can ever know 100% what's the very best system for under $1K.  The idea is to propose systems within those monetary constraints that represent good value for the sound quality.  I.e. as an alternative to the person looking for a sub $1K option to say a Bose lifestyle system or the usual big box retailer choices.  I think the temptation too often is to say to someone : figure out for yourself what works best.  As true as that may be, in my opinion many if not most people starting out probably don't have the time or inclination to take that approach. Worse yet, it may demotivate them from getting into this hobby & derive greater enjoyment from it.

Most of the systems proposed so far are based on ones that have either been listened to or owned.  Some Hi Fi magazines, such as What Hi Fi, also have recommended systems at different budgets that presumably they have also listened to.  That was one of my inspirations for suggesting a similar thing here on the C&C circle.

Alternatively, I can imagine people proposing systems based on components they've heard that that they feel would be complementary and within the guidelines of the C&C circle.  E.g. the approach JLM took recommending a system based on a powered monitor that presumably he's heard & that people he respects recommend highly.

Hope this helps to address your confusion & concerns.



geowak

Re: Sub $1K Recommended Systems
« Reply #11 on: 10 Nov 2012, 10:49 pm »
Let me say that I think you will/may have some members that will offer paper systems, and beyond that I can only understand those members like Letitroll98 and JohnR who have actual systems they own, listen to and enjoy. For me, I have owned systems that I had not demoed first, and they did not add up to good stereo. In many cases, it was terrible sound.

First and foremost, one must like what he/she "hears".

jarcher

  • Industry Participant
  • Posts: 1938
  • It Just Sounds Right
Re: Sub $1K Recommended Systems
« Reply #12 on: 14 Nov 2012, 03:59 am »
I'm thinking that at a sub $1K mark you're making enough compromises that folks can be forgiven for offering a "paper system" based on either well reviewed or personally reviewed components that seem like they would work together.  Obviously owned / used systems are preferable..........

jarcher

  • Industry Participant
  • Posts: 1938
  • It Just Sounds Right
Re: Sub $1K Recommended Systems
« Reply #13 on: 14 Nov 2012, 04:13 am »
Here's another recommended system that based on components I own or have owned:

(A) Source(s) :

Used 120GB Ipod Classic : $100 on ebay
Pure I-20 Dock / DAC : $100

(B) Amplifier (or amplified speaker) :

Acurus DIA 100 Integrated Amp : $275 actual price I sold for, which is about market average, maybe a bit lower.

(C) Speaker (or headphones) :

Magnepan MMG : $300 actual price paid.  Market average maybe more around $350 depending on age.

(D) Cabling & Accessories / tweaks :


1M Wireworld Luna RCA : approx. $30 per local dealer
2M Wireworld Luna Speaker Cable : approx $100 per local dealer

WW cabling higher up the series (e.g. Oasis) can often be had used at similar prices.

(E) Comments (optional) :
Total system price : USD$905 - 950. 

Overall I think this system can really produce a taste of the high end.

Weakness here is the source side : the Pure I20 dock / dac has an ok 24/192 Cirrus Logic 4353 DAC. It definitely pulls above it's $100 price, and will be a step up from the ipod's internal dac, but even a marginal future higher spend on another DAC will likely pay big dividends.

Acurus amps were often mated w/ Magnepan & have the power to handle them well.  The DIA 100 does 150 real WPC into 4ohms.  Nice robust built quality and "purist" design (passive preamp w/ high gain amp).  Some have said they sound more on the "dark" side, but this may better favor folks who think that maggies can sound too bright.

The MMG's need no introduction : perhaps THE entry level speaker extraordinaire, though a next possible "upgrade" to the system would be a good second hand subwoofer for the sub 50HZ frequencies.   

Rclark

Re: Sub $1K Recommended Systems
« Reply #14 on: 14 Nov 2012, 04:19 am »
Not to derail this.. but I think even $1000 seems like an astonomical sum for those just starting out. I didn't plan on spending more than that two years ago. There should also be posts for sub $300 complete systems, true entry level. Even $300 for a couple speakers and an amp is a huge amount of money for someone just starting out.

JohnR

Re: Sub $1K Recommended Systems
« Reply #15 on: 14 Nov 2012, 05:54 am »
There should also be posts for sub $300 complete systems, true entry level.

See post by hoxanduc...

jarcher

  • Industry Participant
  • Posts: 1938
  • It Just Sounds Right
Re: Sub $1K Recommended Systems
« Reply #16 on: 14 Nov 2012, 07:03 am »
Yes - the hoxanduc system comes in comfortably below $300.

It is the SUB $1K recommended system topic. I suggested $1K as the ceiling because that is the MAX system cost per the guidelines for the C&C circle.  Nonetheless, all sub $1K systems, no matter how low, are heartily welcomed! 

At some point it might be useful to have a separate topic for sub $500 systems, but it seems things are a bit slow to ramp up this one at the easier sub $1K level.  I hope things rally or else the wolves & the unicorns are not going to find a home..... :bawl:

Guy 13

Re: Sub $1K Recommended Systems
« Reply #17 on: 14 Nov 2012, 09:53 am »
Not to derail this.. but I think even $1000 seems like an astonomical sum for those just starting out. I didn't plan on spending more than that two years ago. There should also be posts for sub $300 complete systems, true entry level. Even $300 for a couple speakers and an amp is a huge amount of money for someone just starting out.
Hi Rclark and all Audio Circle members.
I agree with you.
A student and a freshly married couple and a couple with kid and some one
that just bought a house,
all those are money tight, therefore I think 300 to 500 USD should be the maximum to be paid for an entry level sound system.
I presume that most of them already have a source, like Ipod or Ipad or lap top, etc... Then they only need an amplifier and a pair of bookshelves speakers.
Am I right ?

Guy 13

JohnR

Re: Sub $1K Recommended Systems
« Reply #18 on: 14 Nov 2012, 09:56 am »
Guy, you obviously haven't priced out a wedding recently....

;)

Guy 13

Re: Sub $1K Recommended Systems
« Reply #19 on: 14 Nov 2012, 10:02 am »
Guy, you obviously haven't priced out a wedding recently....

;)
Hi JohnR and all Audio Circle members.
No, I have not.
What I know is that Italian weddings in Canada runs around 30,000 USD+
But, if you can afford a 30,000 USD + wedding, I am sure you can buy yourself a good hi end system.

Guy 13