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Stereo purchasing advice


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Hi folks,

I am looking to make a modest investment in a used stereo set up, and was wondering if some folks here might be able to provide some advice. Basically what I'm looking for is a set up that will enable me to play records, and plug into a computer to play the rest of my music library via iTunes, and eventually plug into a TV when the day comes that someone gives me a free HD TV.

I'm looking to buy used stuff and my budget is about $400. I'm basically looking for:

1) a receiver

2) a turntable

3) speakers

If I was going to spend a little more on one of the above I'd probably make it the speakers.

I don't have any need or desire to play the records through a computer, or make digital files out of the records.

I'm not sure what an Apple TV is or does, but I have a hunch that it may be a good thing to incorporate into my set up down the line.

I'm not really an audiophile and admittedly I barely know what I'm talking about here. :cool:

Any tips or leads would be greatly appreciated. First question coming up..

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I was thinking about getting this used Kenwood VR 405 receiver. It's listed for $120 and comes with some Sony speakers. The speakers are Sony SS-SR3000P (Rear) amd Sony SS-CN3000P. Check it out:

http://toronto.en.craigslist.ca/tor/ele/4039770616.html

Any thoughts??

PS: here are the specs on the receiver:

Product Identifiers

Brand Kenwood

Model 405

Family Line Kenwood VR

Product Type Home Theater Receivers

MPN VR405

Key Features

Channels 5.1 Channel

Output Power 400 Watt

Amplifier Output Details 100 Watt - 1 channel(s) ( center ), 100 Watt - 1 channel(s) ( subwoofer ), 100 Watt - 2 channel(s) ( front ), 100 Watt - 2 channel(s) ( surround ), 80 Watt - 8 Ohm - 40 - 20000 Hz - 5 channel(s), 80 Watt - 8 Ohm - 40 - 20000 Hz - THD 0.7% - 5 channel(s)

Sound Effects Bass Boost

Sound Output Type AC-3 (Dolby Digital)

HDMI Yes

Built-in Decoders DTS, Dolby 3 Stereo, Dolby Digital, Dolby Pro Logic, Dolby Pro Logic II

Receiver Tuner Type Digital

Receiver Tuner Bands AM/FM

Response Bandwidth 40 - 20000 Hz

Technical Features

Input Impedance 47 kOhm

Input Sensitivity 122 mV

Power Consumption Operational 20 Watt

Connectivity

Connectors Type 1 X AM Tuner Antenna input - rear, 1 X Analog Audio output - rear, 1 X Composite (Video) output - rear, 1 X Digital Optical input - rear, 1 X FM Tuner Antenna input - rear, 1 X Headphones output - front, 2 X Digital Coaxial input - rear, 2 X RCA (2 Audio Channels) input - rear, 2 X RCA (2 Audio Channels) output - rear, 3 X Analog Audio input - rear

Coaxial Digital Input Yes

Optical Digital Input Yes

Headphone Jack Yes

Miscellaneous

Color Black

Remote Control Type Remote control

Built-in Display Type Fluorescent, LED

Bass Control Yes

Dimensions

Height 5.51 in.

Width 17.32 in.

Weight 15.87 lb.

101_4884.jpg

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I would get an older japanese integrated amp or receiver--Yamaha, Denon, Onkyo with a phono input--some nice pieces out there from the 90's.

Speakers would be a bit of a tough call but if you can get anything britsh for around $100 go for it--Kef, B&W, Mission etc.

Turntable would likely be Japanese to fill the rest of your budget--something late 80's or early 90's vintage from whoever would work.

If you do 2 channel rather than surround you'll do a lot better regardless...

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I picked up some (3) KEF speakers and denon amp (all used) in the spring for about $400 and am quite pleased with it, for the most part. I've been recently running into some serious squelching and popping and clicking on some of the preset channel features on the amp, but I'm sure it's just because it's old and some parts of it are on its way out. That piece of the puzzle was $130 so I'm not going to be too upset if it kicks the bucket soon.

I'd recommend getting some speaker stands too - talk to Tungsten, I know his company was blowing them out. Well worth getting them up off the floor.

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Does it have to specifically be a phono input, or could I just plug a record player into an AUX input? Is there a difference between these two types of inputs?

I found this used Denon amp but it says "no phono input". Could I plug a record player into an AUX, and if so is there a downside to this?

Two channel vs. surround -- Admittedly I have to do some reading up better understand this. My intuitive and uneducated thinking would have been that surround sound is good. If I were to go for a two channel receiver, would I be looking at older models? (i.e. do they still make two channel or did they go exclusively to surround, then dolby 5.1, etc?)

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Does it have to specifically be a phono input, or could I just plug a record player into an AUX input? Is there a difference between these two types of inputs? --yes phono input is amplified so either you have to get an external phono amp or you buy it in the unit.

I found this used Denon amp but it says "no phono input". Could I plug a record player into an AUX, and if so is there a downside to this?--not without an external phono amp unless you get a turntable with this built in(only on newer and generally cheezy models).

Two channel vs. surround -- Admittedly I have to do some reading up better understand this. My intuitive and uneducated thinking would have been that surround sound is good. If I were to go for a two channel receiver, would I be looking at older models? (i.e. do they still make two channel or did they go exclusively to surround, then dolby 5.1, etc?)--if you spend all of your budget on 2 channel you'll do way better, if you want to listen primarily to music and TV and movies are secondary don't even think twice about it. 2 channel works fine for TV and movies provided everything is set up properly but most surround systems aren't great at reproducing music well.

What Fluffhead77 described is pretty well right on the money--you may need to buy some contact cleaner to clean the switches out if they're scratchy but that's not hard to do at all--just unplug it first and you're good...

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I don't think that Kenwood would work. Weirdness' advice was very good but I'd go even older than 90's if you can. 70's gear is the baddest ass. Looks sexier and are often built better and sound better. You can still find this stuff on kijiji pretty easily. It's a never ending "upgrading" once you get into it but definitely spend any extra $$ on getting as quality speakers as you can get within your budget. I hooked a friend up with a really kick ass Thorens turntable (my brother owns a hi fi business), and then he went to future shop and bought really shitty speakers that he paid way too much for, and ruined the whole fucking thing imo. When looking for a turntable, look for something heavy. I could go on a bit more here but something heavy will lose less vibration (lost sound) thru the body. You want the vibration to go out through the needle, usually a good heavy turntable will help with this. What you want is something made out of wood rather than plastic. That might bring the price point up a bit and you will do just fine with a plastic turntable, just saying if you find a wood one out there or something with a heavy plinth go for it.

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Canuck Audio Mart isan excellent place to find used gear. You might even find a really cool tube amp in your price range there.

Don't forget to save some of your budget to buy some records too. Having a turntable stereo without records is kind of boring. Me, I have lots of records and a broken amp right now, that's kind of boring too :(

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Thanks! This is helping a lot and I'm taking your advice directly into account. I'm going after a receiver first. Have been doing a lot of googling.

I am interested in this used Yamaha RX-397 receiver. It is a fairly new model (within the past 5-10 years), 2-channel, phono input, and everything I've read about it so far has been quite positive.

The price seems a bit high though ($200), as it looks like it retailed for around $250-300 and there are others in the States selling the same model on eBay in the $70-100 range.

Any thoughts on this baby??

Highlights:

- 50 watts x 2 (stereo) into 8 ohms (20-20,000 Hz) at 0.04% THD

- 4-ohm capability allows use with a wide range of speakers

- 40 AM/FM presets

- 5 audio inputs (including phono)

- tape monitor loop

- rotary bass and treble controls

- continuously variable loudness control

- Pure Direct mode bypasses tone, balance, and loudness controls for cleaner sound

- remote control

- headphone jack

- front-panel and remote switching for two pairs of main speakers

- binding post speaker connectors

- sleep timer

- 17-1/8" x 5-15/16" x 12-13/16"

- weight: 16 lbs.

yamaha_rx_397.jpg

Yamaha_rx397_rear.jpg

Yamaha%20RX-397-3.jpg

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oh yeah, you'd be rockin' with that one. The speaker posts will either screw around the wire or you can use banana clips, perfect. I'm still more of a 70's guy. For around the same price as that you could probably find a killer Marantz or Sansui. Something about the big knobs and fine machining with the older stuff just knocks me out vs. swithches and led's. I've always been a big fan of Yamaha stereo's too so I think that one is a very good choice.

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For around the same price as that you could probably find a killer Marantz or Sansui.

Sansui makes (or made, I suppose) beautiful products. I've got an AU-9500 as my main listening amp, and another model that I can't recall (4000 maybe?) downstairs in the living room. I absolutely love my 9500, except when I have to carry it (it weighs well over 50 lbs, I think).

au-9500.JPG

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That Sansui looks downright sexy.

I'm still shopping for all three components, and and roughly trying to heed by Weirdness' advice.

RECEIVER: Nikko NR-519

One receiver I am looking at is a Nikko NR-519. There's a guy selling one in Burlington for $50. Made sometime between 1978-82. The ad is here and there are favourable things said about it over here.. The pictures contained in the ad aren't great, but here's a close up of one:

DSC_3105.jpg

SPEAKERS: Celestion DL8 Series

I'm also thinking about this pair of bookshelf speakers on sale for $140 (the ad is here. From the late 80s. They have eight inch woofers with rubber surrounds. The ad says that all drivers work well and that they are easy to drive so a smaller powered receiver will work well. Power range is 10-150 watts each. Cabinets are black vinyl finish. AudioKarma chit chat about these speakers (found here) is favourable.

621288-celestion_dl8_series_2_speakersbritish_classics.jpg

621289-celestion_dl8_series_2_speakersbritish_classics.jpg

Any thoughts on these babies??

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I've got an old SAE receiver that I bought used in Toronto, probably, in 1985! I had to get it repaired in 1988, when I was living in London, ON. And it worked perfectly until maybe 5 years ago. it sat in my basement for a few years and then it was in storage the last two years while I was out of the country.

Anyway, I want to see if I can get it up and running again. I can't even remember what was wrong with it. I think that there was no power at all - just completely dead. Can anybody recommend a good shop in Ottawa where I can take it?

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Update on the Technics SA-8100X: An hour before I was set to arrive at the guy's house, he called me to tell me that the lights don't seem to be working. But that the rest is working fine and I could come over to listen to some tunes if I like (???). I told him to give me a call when the unit is in full working order, as I am not interested in buying something that needs repairs right off the bat. Back to the hunt.

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Success!! Last night I picked up an Akai AA-1135 receiver. So far it is working well (through my crappy old speakers with cheap crappy speaker wires) and I am very pleased. Made in Japan in 1978 or 1979.

Specs:

Tuning range: FM, MW

Power output: 35 watts per channel into 8Ω (stereo)

Frequency response: 6Hz to 70kHz

Total harmonic distortion: 0.2%

Damping factor: 30

Input sensitivity: 3mV (MM), 150mV (DIN), 150mV (line)

Signal to noise ratio: 80dB (MM), 90dB (line)

Channel separation: 55dB (MM)

Output: 150mV (line), 30mV (DIN)

Speaker load impedance: 4Ω to 16Ω

Semiconductors: 4 x IC, 1 x FET, 37 x transistors, 20 x diodes

Dimensions: 480 x 155 x 345mm

Weight: 10.8kg

These pictures aren't of the one that I bought, but same make and model:

381801-akai_aa1135_receiver.jpg

normal_Akai_0_AA1135_Rear.jpg

I realize that getting speakers first, and then an amp to compliment the speakers, might have been the way to go, but oh well.

Next up, speakers and turntable! Thanks for all the input.

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