Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment for Everyone


Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment for Everyone

  • SoundStage! Shorts - Totem's Tribe Tower (May 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Amphion's Three Newest Argon Loudspeakers (April 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Making the Hegel Mohican CD Player (March 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Estelon Lynx Wireless Intelligent Loudspeaker (March 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh's Five New Solid-State Integrated Amplifiers (January 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Amphion's Krypton Loudspeaker (January 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Anthem STR Preamplifier and Power Amplifier (December 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - McIntosh Laboratory MA252 Integrated Amplifier (November 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Hegel H90 and H190 Integrated Amplifiers (October 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - How Hegel's SoundEngine Works (October 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight  - Estelon History and YB and Extreme Loudspeakers (September 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - What Makes Hegel Different? (August 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Estelon Extreme Legacy Edition Loudspeaker (July 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Amphion Overview and Technologies (July 2017)
  • SoundStage! Insight - Totem Acoustic Signature One Loudspeaker (June 2017)
  • SoundStage! Encore - The Cowboy Junkies'
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- Anthem's STR Integrated Amplifier (May 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- Paradigm's Perforated Phase Alignment (PPA) Lenses (March 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Paradigm's Persona 9H Loudspeaker (March 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Contrasts: Dynaudio's Contour and Focus XD Speaker Lines (February 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - New Technologies in MartinLogan's Masterpiece Series
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Dynaudio/Volkswagen Car Audio (December 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Gryphon Philosophy and the Kodo and Mojo S Speakers (January 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- What's a Tonmeister? (November 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - AxiomAir N3 Wireless Speaker System (December 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Bang & Olufsen BeoLab 90 (November 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Gryphon Diablo 120 Integrated Amplifier (October 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Dynaudio History and Driver Technology (October 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - The Story How Gryphon Began (September 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Devialet History, ADH Technology, and Expert 1000 Pro (September 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Devialet's Phantom Loudspeakers (August 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh Home Theater and Streaming Audio (July 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - McIntosh MC275 Stereo Amplifier (June 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh History and Autoformer Technology (June 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - NAD Viso HP50 Headphones (May 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - GoldenEar Technology's Anechoic Chamber (May 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - PSB's M4U 4 Earphones (April 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - GoldenEar Technology's Triton Two+ and Three+ Loudspeakers (March 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- KEF's LS50 (February 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Monitor Audio's Platinum II Series (January 2016)

Please send all questions to feedback@soundstageaccess.com. All questions sent to this e-mail address will be replied to online. If you do not wish to share your e-mail with other readers, please do not send it. But if you have a question, chances are others are wondering the same thing. Therefore, you will be helping not only yourself, but other readers as well when your question gets answered here.

I am in college and my roommate and I are getting a projector for our room and need to buy a sound system to accompany it. I have read a few articles, but most of them are about systems or speakers that are out of my price range. 

I have a price range of $200-$350 and the main use of the sound system would be for movies and video games. I was wondering what might be a good choice for a full sound system within my price range. 

Thanks,

Will

You could buy one of those cheap home-theater-in-a-box systems that come from places like Best Buy, but most of them are junk. We’d recommend looking at something better. If you value good sound like we do, look at a speaker system from Audioengine (Audioengineusa.com). Their self-powered speakers are very well made, good sounding, and quite affordable. For example, the 2 starts at $199 for a pair, the 5 at $349 for a pair, which seems to fit your budget. They build the amps into the speakers. You can hook the analog outputs from a CD player, DVD player, or even an iPod to them and you’re in business.

Another option is to look at Axiom Audio’s Audiobyte computer speakers (AxiomAudio.com) that come with a dedicated amplifier that also allows for hook-up of a subwoofer (good for future expansion). The Audiobyte speaker system is $349 (two speakers and the amplifier, but no subwoofer). Audioengine and Axiom Audio both sell factory direct and offer money-back guarantees if you’re not happy with your purchase.

I am in the process of building a new system, the first since college. It has been downhill since then. 

Currently, I have two MartinLogan Source loudspeakers, a MartinLogan sub, dual NHT A1 amps with an NHT X1 crossover, an older Sony CD changer (jukebox), my original Garrard GT-55 turntable (new cartridge, but needs a tune-up), and, finally, a Dell P4 computer with lots of disk space. The old Sony stereo receiver is history. 

I will be using the system for 2.1-channel audio only. I may be over reaching, WAF is running thin, but I am looking for a XM/HD/FM/AM tuner and haven't found one yet with all four (I already have Verizon FiOS music channels), a DAC, and a preamp to pull it all together. I am hoping the computer will handle Internet Radio. I am looking at the Peachtree Nova, but am not certain this would be the best value. 

Any suggestions/ideas would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!

Gregg Reilly 

I cut and pasted "XM/HD/FM/AM tuner" into Google and it came up with the McIntosh MR88 and Onkyo T-4555 tuners. So there is equipment out there that appears to support all four. More than likely, those aren't the only ones. Or if they are, there will probably be others in the future.

As far as what would be the best for your situation, as well as the best value, you have too many options to list here. The Peachtree Nova is certainly one component to consider, but there are integrated amps, receivers, and preamps that have built-in DACs that can suit your needs. I could list a dozen different options right now, and that's just scratching the surface. You'll really have to do some shopping around and then come back with some specifics if you want better advice.

But insofar as Internet Radio goes, I can give you some direction there. There are tabletop radios as well as receivers that support it. However, I’ve found that a computer works as well if not better. But how do you get the music out of the computer and into your music system if your computer isn’t located anywhere near it? What we use here is an Audioengine AW1 wireless adapter that allows you to stream the music signal from your computer to your audio system. It works great and its sound quality is suitable for this application. In fact, we were doing this the other day when we were having a backyard party and wanted to listen to some Latin music that we ended up streaming from a station in Venezuela. Aperion Audio just released something similar called the Home Audio Link that does the same thing. Kevin East just reviewed it on SoundStage! Xperience, one of our sister sites.

I am looking to add a stereo preamp to my system. I am looking at a Rotel RC-1580, Cambridge Azur 840E, and Emotiva USP-1, or any other preamp that you may suggest. 

Bernard Robertson 

You’re not giving us much information to go on, but you seem to have a good enough start for your search. If you want some suggestions for other brands that offer stereo preamps for a reasonable price, look to: Anthem, Bryston, NAD, and Vincent Audio.

I currently own a pair of Quad 21L speakers that I partner with a couple of integrated amps (Rega Elicit and PrimaLuna ProLogue 2). The setup sounds fine, but I am considering buying another pair of speakers with the goal of achieving a lower bass response, an engaging and rhythmic sound, yet without any shrillness.
 
I believe Eric D. Hetherington has quite a lot of experience with the Quad 21Ls. I wonder if he has heard the PMC GB1s and the Totem Hawks as well. If yes, could he please share his experience regarding these speakers compared to the Quad 21Ls.
 
Thanks and regards,

Anand 

Eric reviewed the Quad 21L in 2004; however, he no longer writes for us. But I think we can still help.

I have no idea how much money you’re willing to spend on your speakers, or if you’re concerned with buying new versus used, but there are other brands that you should be looking at if finding the best speaker for the money is a priority.  All of the speakers you mention have been on the market for quite some time and, at least to my ears, can be bettered significantly by the newest offerings from companies such as Paradigm, PSB, Focus, Dynaudio, and more. For example, there are numerous modestly priced speakers that can deliver deep, tight, low-distortion bass. If “shrillness” is a concern, I strongly suggest that you look at the newest Signature series from Paradigm that features beryllium-dome tweeters. Their tweeter is state of the art and outperforms the tweeters used on many ultra-expensive, boutique-brand speakers that can cost tens of thousands of dollars. My suggestion is to not limit yourself to just those brands you’re mentioning but to go out and do some serious shopping to find the best that’s currently out there.

I want to know if there is a simple way to rig up my Technics SA-203 receiver so that I can hook up speakers with RCA cables rather than the raw-wire standard connections. I've attached a photo of the back of the amp for reference.

Thanks in advance for any help.

George

You don’t want to use RCA-terminated cables for speaker-level connections -- those are for connecting line-level components to your receiver, such as a CD player or a tuner. There are, however, alternatives to bare wire for connecting your speakers.

I looked at the picture you sent and from what I can tell the speaker connectors on the back have holes that can probably accommodate banana-plug connectors. I prefer good-quality banana plugs over all other connection types because they’re easy to connect and they don’t slip loose. If those holes won't accomodate bananas, I’m pretty sure that if you unscrew the connector you’ll see a hole in the binding post that can either accommodate a banana plug or a pin connector, which is another way to terminate speaker wires. If the binding posts won’t allow for pins or bananas (I’m pretty sure they will allow for at least one of the types), them I’m sure they’ll allow spade lugs, which are placed around the post and clamped down by screwing the plastic part tight.

Does anyone make stereo integrated amplifiers anymore? I went to Best Buy and couldn’t find any. I could only find surround-sound receivers. I am not into home theater. What do you suggest?

Hugh Burritt

Stereo integrated amplifiers are getting tougher and tougher to find, but they’re out there. Anthem, NAD and Cambridge Audio all make good ones. You won’t find those brands at Best Buy, but you will likely find them at a specialty retailer if you look around.

The binding posts on the back of my amplifier are quite loose. They’re not causing a problem, mind you, because music still plays through fine. But is it dangerous?

Claude Beaumont

I think it’s safe to assume that anything loose on a piece of audio component could be a hazard. So, definitely, tighten ‘em up. It should be a fairly easy job providing the posts aren't damaged or too worn. Depending on your level of technical proficiency, it might be something you can do yourself (please make sure the amplifier is unplugged if you try). Otherwise, find a technician.

Hi,

I'm looking at installing a PA in a 350-seat auditorium that is 17m wide by 19m deep by 7m high.

I have my eyes on some good mid-fi speakers I believe are 600W, but am unsure how many I need and what amps I should get. Given the speakers are quite directional I'm thinking I will need up to six speakers.

Should I run two sets of three speakers, or three pairs with another two in the center? What amp(s) should I be looking at?

Thanks,

Mark Brown

The needs for a public-address sound system, which is what you're setting up, are a lot different than that of a sound system for the home, which is what we're most concerned with. So you're best off consulting with companies that specialize in public-address systems. They should be able to direct you to the right products and help you get it set up properly.

I have been a long time reader of GoodSound!, being someone who enjoys quality sound but does not have the budget that some audiophiles seem to have. I usually stop by every couple of months to see what is up in the world of affordable audio -- but the top article I see today ["Crystal Cable Piccolo Interconnects, Speaker Cables, and Power Cords"] makes me wonder if the writers seem to have somewhere lost their touch with their audience.

How exactly do $1300/pair speaker cables and $385 power cords come under the realm of affordable high-performance audio? Those speaker cables run more than the main speakers I have in my system (PSB Image 6T -- very nice speakers when I bought them, and still doing very nicely in my system).

There has always been a large number of sites and magazines devoted to the high-end, high-priced audio set -- and I always looked forward to seeing what GoodSound! would show in the affordable section, while letting us know what we were giving up by not going with the higher-end equipment. I'm just wondering if you are planning on returning to the world of actually affordable or if this is what you are claiming passes for affordable these days.

Nicholas Schumacher

You make some valid comments and ask some good questions. In fact, we expected that many of the things you mentioned would get brought up, so we're glad you wrote in.

You’re correct in stating that Crystal Cable’s products certainly aren’t cheap -- $1300 for a pair of speaker cables is a lot of money. However, the decision to review these items came because of two things. First, the Piccolo series is the least expensive series that Crystal makes -- the prices of the items in this Dreamline series, which is the most expensive, would leave most people slack-jawed. So, in Crystal's world, these represent their most "affordable" products, even if they’re still out of reach for many. Second, Colin Smith, our editor, really liked the products and wanted to write about them, feeling that for those who desire what Crystal offers, but can’t afford the most expensive stuff, these are a viable option. In fact, Colin told me that he wanted to purchase the review items because he liked them so much (as did his wife), but confessed that even he couldn’t afford them. So the review set is being shipped back to Holland right now, which is where Crystal Cable is based.

Hopefully that shows that we’re not losing our focus, knowing full well that the price of these products is out of reach for many. But we also know that they will be in reach for some, and for those few, Colin contends that they should check them out. Next month, though, it’s back to the basics. On June 1, we’re publishing a review on the Benchmark Media Systems DAC1 HDR that is priced at $1895. That's not cheap, either, but it combines a digital-to-analog converter, preamplifier, and headphone amplifier into one compact, lightweight chassis and is really, really good.

I am running an NAD T 753 receiver into an Earthquake Sub-80 subwoofer via a normal subwoofer pre-out. The rest of my system is set up as a 5.1 unit in the usual way. Whenever I make any function changes through the receiver (i.e., muting, listening mode, etc.), I get a loud (depending on volume level) thump through the subwoofer (not the other speakers). I have been putting up with this, thinking it's normal; however, it is very annoying and I am seeking a fix.

Any help or advice would be appreciated.

Cheers,

Dennis

What's happening is not normal. So we talked to the techs at NAD and they feel that the T 753 is likely the culprit -- there's something wrong with it, although they couldn't tell exactly what based on this information. Their recommendation is to take the T 753 into a NAD dealer for service.

I have a pair of Sonus Faber Concerto Grand Piano speakers, so they're a bit aged. I was thinking of getting or doing a crossover refurb. Nothing drastic, just component upgrades. Or should I use the same parts? How hard would it be to do it myself?

Thanks,

Harry Nelson

Unless there's actually something wrong with the crossover, I caution against changing it at all. If you do, your "upgrade" could actually degrade the speaker. The reason I'm against it is because I know that when good companies design and manufacture speakers, each part is carefully chosen and every unit is tested after assembly to make sure it performs like they want it to. Changing any part could drastically change the performance of the speaker, and with no follow-up testing, you'll never know that what you did actually made it any better. As I said, unless there's something wrong, I wouldn't change anything. If there is something wrong, contact Sonus Faber to make sure it gets repaired correctly.