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Thread: First hifi advice

  1. #1
    Keep it sexy Zhaoman's Avatar
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    First hifi advice

    I'm looking to get my first hifi rig mainly for music listening but potentially also for occasional movies if the setup can cater for it (although this is not important). This will be first hifi setup so I'm looking for some advice on what is the best bang for buck for a beginner. Although one big caveat is I own a pair of Shure SE846 earphones and I'd like to aim for a similar level of detail and bass extension. The budget is up to around £1000 (depending where the bang for buck sweet spot is, I could stretch the budget) and aim to fill a 3x5m room. The main thing is bass extension down to 20Hz (or as low as possible), good detail/transparency and preferably a flat(-ish) response.

    My dad had an old Cambridge Audio amp with a Sony CD player and Tannoy bookshelfs and I have always had an interest in hifi so at the very least I have some experience of what goes where. I realise I will probably have to buy second hand and sniff around for deals which I am more than happy to do; and I've also heard that pro equipment is generally better value than consumer which I am also happy to buy since I don't really care about how it looks. So what are the best options for me?

    1) 2.1 Bookshelfs + active sub (KEF LS50s second hand seem reasonably priced and an older amp like Marantz PM6004 + an active sub?)
    2) 2.0 Floorstanders (2.0 is preferred for me to avoid the sub crossover but none of them seem to extend down to below around 40Hz unless you spend thousands)
    3) Second hand pro equipment (I know nothing about this)

    I am also considering getting a Chord Mojo/Hugo as a portable DAC and pre-amp (not part of this budget) so I could get a power amp instead of integrated if that makes a difference in any way. So which route should I be looking to go for maximum musical enjoyment? Any advice, watch-its or sensible slaps in the face are welcome!
    Quote Originally Posted by Hexus
    And which will be able to Crysis 2?
    Which huh, punk?

  2. #2
    Laird Of The Glen jimborae's Avatar
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    Re: First hifi advice

    Er you haven't said what your music sources will be, presume CD & streaming (lossless?) but any other sources?

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    Keep it sexy Zhaoman's Avatar
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    Re: First hifi advice

    Silly me, yes streaming over AptX Bluetooth via the Mojo/Hugo is most likely for everyday convenience. I plan to get a CD player at a later point but it's not a priority right now. My files are in lossless and 320kbps mp3 so streaming from my laptop will probably be the most convenient route to take. I have no interest in vinyl right now.
    Quote Originally Posted by Hexus
    And which will be able to Crysis 2?
    Which huh, punk?

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    Senior Member kalniel's Avatar
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    Re: First hifi advice

    Why are you OK with sub crossover for bookshelves but not floorstanders? If as you say you really need the LFE then your only choice is a sub. So bookshelves + sub the cheapest option, but don't rule out floorstanders + sub either - you can just pipe out the really low stuff.

  5. #5
    Keep it sexy Zhaoman's Avatar
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    Re: First hifi advice

    Quote Originally Posted by kalniel View Post
    Why are you OK with sub crossover for bookshelves but not floorstanders? If as you say you really need the LFE then your only choice is a sub. So bookshelves + sub the cheapest option, but don't rule out floorstanders + sub either - you can just pipe out the really low stuff.
    Yeah good point; I meant I would prefer a 2.0 setup (bookshelf or floorstander) and avoid the sub if possible but as you say if a sub is needed for proper low end then I'm happy to get floorstanders + sub. For a budget of £1000 do you think I could get decent quality amp, bookshelves/floorstanders and sub?
    Quote Originally Posted by Hexus
    And which will be able to Crysis 2?
    Which huh, punk?

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    Old and VERY grumpy. g8ina's Avatar
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    Re: First hifi advice

    Wot ? No turntable ? ( silly grin here as I have one for sale right now)

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    Senior Member kalniel's Avatar
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    Re: First hifi advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Zhaoman View Post
    Yeah good point; I meant I would prefer a 2.0 setup (bookshelf or floorstander) and avoid the sub if possible but as you say if a sub is needed for proper low end then I'm happy to get floorstanders + sub. For a budget of £1000 do you think I could get decent quality amp, bookshelves/floorstanders and sub?
    Yes. Marrantz nr1506 (~£270)+monitor audio bronze 5 floorstanders (~£500)+q accoustics 2070Si (<£200). More than enough spare for cables etc.

    edit: OK not sure about that sub, might be better to find a second hand thing, or this fits budget: https://www.richersounds.com/product...ar-diam-spc-10
    Last edited by kalniel; 03-06-2017 at 02:21 PM.

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    Laird Of The Glen jimborae's Avatar
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    Re: First hifi advice

    Good shout on the Marantz but where can you get it for £270?? Cheapest I've seen it for is £299 at Richer Sounds. The Q Accoustics are also really good too and would leave you more than enough for a decent sub.

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    Senior Member kalniel's Avatar
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    Re: First hifi advice

    Quote Originally Posted by jimborae View Post
    Good shout on the Marantz but where can you get it for £270?? Cheapest I've seen it for is £299 at Richer Sounds.
    Just keep an eye for special offers, including Amazon, I paid £279 for mine I think.

    https://uk.camelcamelcamel.com/Maran...uct/B012IUESZM

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    Re: First hifi advice

    Quote Originally Posted by kalniel View Post
    Just keep an eye for special offers, including Amazon, I paid £279 for mine I think.

    https://uk.camelcamelcamel.com/Maran...uct/B012IUESZM
    I am pretty set on getting a portable DAC so do you think an AV receiver is necessary? I was thinking I could stream to the DAC (either built in like on the Hugo or via a separate AptX receiver) and feed into an amp or even directly into a power amp. I was thinking I could save some money getting an older amp second hand (say around £50-£100) and pumping more money into the speakers or is this not a good idea?
    Quote Originally Posted by Hexus
    And which will be able to Crysis 2?
    Which huh, punk?

  12. #11
    Senior Member kalniel's Avatar
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    Re: First hifi advice

    If you can get a good enough quality DAC then you don't really need an AV receiver - though I must admit I do enjoy the connectivity of the Marantz. A receiver might give you more options with respect to tuning your cut off to the sub as well - instead of using the sub's pass through you can setup crossovers using the supplied microphone and automatic calibration, or just use the sub for .1 channels from movies and nothing else.

    Saving money by going second hand is always a great idea - you can put the savings into something else. The same applies at least as much to speakers, whose tech changes much more slowly than receivers.

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    Re: First hifi advice

    I'm not going to suggest specific kit, by virtue of being a bit out of touch, but will make three general points on the offchance that you haven't already thought of them.

    1) Think carefully about what type of music you like. Different systems will suit certain types better, or worse. Now, for me, that's a bit of a problem as I .ike an eclectic mix, from Bach to Black Sabbath, from Planxty to Acoustic Alchemy, or from AC/DC to Zee Zee Top. So I had to find components thst work together, and were broadly consistent with my main choices of music.

    Getting that right ain't easy.

    2) As for your budget, is that what you have to spend right now, or the total you intend to spend, subject only to adding CD, or whatever, later? Or, is it a stepping stone, but with the intention of going more upmarket as funds allow?

    These two options suggest different strategies. If your £1k is as much as you're going to spend, then you want to balance it, as any system is only as good as its weakest link.

    If, on the other hand, you're building towards a much better system, then you might want to pick one item and spend the bulk on that, reserving just enough to get something that'll 'make do' for now, and won't cost you a lot when you upgrade in 6 months, or whatever.

    3) Listen, listen and then listen some more. We can all give recommendations, but what matters, obviously, is whether YOU like the sound. Perhaps most critically, that applies to speakers, but other components do matter. It's also the case that for a given set of speakers, some amps (for indtance) will match better than others. This is extra important is you're buying a system to keep, not a series of stepping stones.

    Now, select your "test" music. I use a variety. A soprano (Emma Kirkby) singing a Bach cantata; the drum sequence from DIre Straights Money For Nothing; the storm sequence from Acoustic Alchemy, a particular Rick Wakeman piece with phenomenally low church organ, and so on. Each piece has two functions - I know it VERY WELL, and it tests something specific, like handling Wakeman's ultra bass, or Emma Kirkby's fantastically pure, powerful singing. Just be careful of volume on the latter because one shop blew the tweetets on a couple of grand's worth of speakers by not listening to my warnings about how high, and with how much power, dear Emma can go.


    Finally, a warning.

    Second hand gear can be fantastic value. You can also end up buying a dog. Preferably, take someone experienced with you, and TEST CAREFULLY, especially if buying privately and not from someone you have reason to trust. Remember, at all times, caveat emptor .... let the buyer beware.
    Noli nothis permittere te terere.


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  16. #13
    Senior Member kalniel's Avatar
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    Re: First hifi advice

    Great advice from Saracen as usual. I should have specified my component choices were really to indicate that it's possible to get something quite good within budget rather than an outright recommendation for that particular set up (though it would be fine). There are lots of individual preferences and circumstances that affect choice - how far from the wall you can afford to put the speakers for eg.

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    Keep it sexy Zhaoman's Avatar
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    Re: First hifi advice

    Thanks for your advice both. My intention with the system is a long term stepping stone I guess - something I want to happy with and enjoy right now but upgrading parts of it when I need to in future. The impression I've gotten so far is that it's better to spend the most on the speakers which is why I'm considering buying an older amp for around £100 and spending the rest of the budget on speakers. After kalniel's comments I think I'm going to aim for floorstanders and maybe add an active sub if the need arises. My plan is to get the portable DAC first to use with my SE846s and then I'll have to start demoing stuff. I have some tracks that I know very well (such as M83, Michael Jackson, Sigur Ros, Daft Punk) and I always like recommendations for new music so I appreciate your recommendations for test tracks!

    My plan is to test some stuff within my budget at my local hifi shop and if I like what I hear then I'll probably just buy it to save some hassle. But I notice that I can get floorstanders such as Tannoy XT6F and a sub such as B&W PV1 within my budget second hand so if I'm not entirely happy with what I hear in the store I'll have to look into second hand. The goal is to get a great music listening experience for my budget so I'm prepared to be patient if need be!
    Quote Originally Posted by Hexus
    And which will be able to Crysis 2?
    Which huh, punk?

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    Evil Monkey! MrJim's Avatar
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    Re: First hifi advice

    Years ago when I first got into hifi, the 'rule of thumb' was actually to spend around 50% of your budget on the source, 30% on amplification, and 20% on speakers. The rationale being along the lines of 'garbage in, garbage out'. Of course if you're buying some items second-hand, such figures are less applicable. Auditioning equipment is definitely a good idea though, like so many things, one's taste in audio is extremely subjective.

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    Re: First hifi advice

    Just to be clear, I wasn't exactly recommending those test tracks .... though feel free to try them.

    I was more using them as very good examples of parts of music I like. For instance, Emma's pure, crystal clean vocal tones. How does she sound on speakers A versus speakers B. Or, ditto the Sax solos in Al Stewart's Year of the Cat.

    The reason is I really like such pure, clean vocals, like Bach choral stuff, and I love great sax.

    I'm looking for good examples to test the type of music I like, and to some extent, how I like it to sound.

    For instance, I like bass but I like it to be tight, rather than "muddy". That Rick Wakeman track, or for that matter, a proper rendition of Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor on a major church (or cathedral) organ are testing the same thing, which is the ability to do really deep bass but in a controlled, non-boomy way.

    If you like, it's about trying to isolate why you like the types of music you like,and picking things that test those.

    So, while my choice of test tracks work for me, if the music you like is for different reasons, you'll probably want to choose completely different tracks. And similarly, you might be lookibg for a different sound. If boomy bass rocks your boat, so be it. Use a test track you love because of the boomy bass.


    EDIT - The Bach Cantata was BWV51 - Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen
    Noli nothis permittere te terere.


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