Hi-Fi advice

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Extending ever onwards from the i-pod + the headphone threads..... I need a new amplifier, my current one is on its last legs + only works through one speaker. Problem is I know next to nothing about hi-fi gear, like what I should be looking out for + what to avoid etc, plus I'm on a limited budget.

Any tips or advice greatfully received.

stevo (stevo), Tuesday, 3 February 2004 20:56 (nineteen years ago) link

Can't remember if you're in UK or elsewhere, stevo. If UK, Richer Sounds are always a good bet for cheapo amps. Don't know about particular models at the moment but make sure you've got the inputs you need. Specifically, if you've got a turntable, you may have to pay a bit more to get one with a phono stage (turntables need a special input), unless your turntable has an integral pre-amp phono stage, as with those cheapo Bush ones.

N. (nickdastoor), Tuesday, 3 February 2004 21:06 (nineteen years ago) link

I'm in the Netherlands nick. There was a branch of Richer Sounds in Amsterdam but I can't find it on-line anymore. Thanks for the tip re: turntables. Hadn't thought of that.

stevo (stevo), Tuesday, 3 February 2004 21:10 (nineteen years ago) link

N. OTM as ever. Stick to the lower-end of reputable brand's range (Denon, Marantz, Sony, Technics) and you probably won't go wrong. Richer Sounds are a bit keen on flogging *their* brands (basically, companies you've never heard of, or ones that disappeared from the marketplace a few years only to be relaunched under the RS umbrella) - best to ignore them. Do get their extended warranty though - it's very cheap and allows you to trade-in at 50% purchase price up to three years later.

Michael Jones (MichaelJ), Tuesday, 3 February 2004 21:14 (nineteen years ago) link

Sorry, "ignore them" = ignore their hard-sell on the unknown, don't ignore RS altogether.

Michael Jones (MichaelJ), Tuesday, 3 February 2004 21:15 (nineteen years ago) link

Sean to thread!

Ned Raggett (Ned), Tuesday, 3 February 2004 21:18 (nineteen years ago) link

Who fit into that bracket Mike - Cambridge Audio I think but who else?

N. (nickdastoor), Tuesday, 3 February 2004 21:18 (nineteen years ago) link

Sean's set-up cost like $150 000 or something, though.

N. (nickdastoor), Tuesday, 3 February 2004 21:19 (nineteen years ago) link

If you're a cheap bastard like me, you could do a lot worse than this:


plus this:


o. nate (onate), Tuesday, 3 February 2004 21:36 (nineteen years ago) link

Rotel and Rega make very nice entry-level gear. A bit more money than your Denon, Sony, etc., but are more musical and worth it if you can afford it.

Sean (Sean), Tuesday, 3 February 2004 21:44 (nineteen years ago) link

Thanks people. Sean what would I be getting extra for my money? A beter quality of sound, or increased relability, or both?

stevo (stevo), Tuesday, 3 February 2004 21:51 (nineteen years ago) link

Yeah, I'll go along with Sean there. Worth auditioning anyway (but you won't find Rotel or Rega in RS). The notion of musicality wrt amps sticks in my craw but I'm not in the mood to pursue that tonight.

N. - RS dodgy brands. I was thinking of the Eltax, CyberSwarf, Acoustik Environs, Sonic Balloon nonsense, but, yeah, Cambridge Audio is the one that everyone knows they now own. Their stuff might be good, but I can't help but be dubious.

Michael Jones (MichaelJ), Tuesday, 3 February 2004 21:52 (nineteen years ago) link

i bought a kenwood thing for $400 and it wasn't too bad. It's not amazing but it has a lot of options (built in turntable preamp and surround, not that I have enough speakers for surround). I've had kenwood stuff before and it seems reliable as far as quality goes although not spectacular in performance.

anthony kyle monday (akmonday), Tuesday, 3 February 2004 23:02 (nineteen years ago) link

ebay is a good source. look for 70s and 80s that last, eg quad, naim, cyrus, linn. Good deals on old kit. I just got a cyrus 1 on ebay for £85, it's a graet amp.

If you want new, then NAD is a good mid price brand but be warned they are very clinical and need a warm speaker to go with it. Stick with second hand though, you will be rewarded.

the cyrus is just a stop gap, it will eventually be replaced with a naim or quad.

Ed (dali), Tuesday, 3 February 2004 23:06 (nineteen years ago) link

Ed OTM wrt old kit, especially those four (perhaps add Audiolab, Musical Fidelity). I'd have thought the Netherlands would be awash with this stuff (based on the extremely flimsy evidence that the only auto-reverse Nakamichi I've ever seen was at an Amsterdam flea market).

Michael Jones (MichaelJ), Tuesday, 3 February 2004 23:10 (nineteen years ago) link

generally the more expensive the kit was to start with the better it will have been looked after. Caveat Emptor though. Another good place to look is in the trade in's list of good hifi shops. I got a pair of 80s rogers speakers and stands very cheap from such a store. The stands were worth more than what I paid for them all.

Ed (dali), Tuesday, 3 February 2004 23:17 (nineteen years ago) link

two years pass...
hi, i have an interesting turntable problem:

used to use this cheapo turntable that had a built in volume knob. the machine petered out, and a friend showed pity and gave me a Technics she had no use for.

now, I used to plug into the phono jack of of a crap Sony cassette/cd/radio single stereo unit. the problem i have now is that even at highest volume, i only hear the faintest of music. on the prior table, i could crank the volume along with the Sony's volume and get a lot of sound.

i dont think anything is wrong here, i am guessing the Technics isn't supposed to produce a loud signal, esp since it has no means to govern it's own output. what do i need here? i'm not into getting a new (real) stereo setup, so do i need a preamp or a mixer? are there any cheap solutions? i don't want to buy overpriced DJ crap, as i'm not mixing two signals. just want to play some thrift shop records i happen to have. anyone have something inexpensive they can recommend?

c. harsley (chorushour), Monday, 28 August 2006 00:05 (seventeen years ago) link

sounds like the cheapo turntable had its own preamp... i don't know much about standalone turntable preamps but i'm sure an acceptable one could be had relatively inexpensively

electric sound of jim [and why not] (electricsound), Monday, 28 August 2006 00:25 (seventeen years ago) link

I had to replace my old worn out Technics this week. I figured as long as I need a new turntable I might as well get a USB one that plugs right into my computer (also my stereo) and got the Ion. $149 at Circuit City. This thing is going to pay for itself very fast transferring vinyl to cd. No dust cover, though. Good thing I saved my old one. Not a perfect fit, but hey.

jim wentworth (wench), Monday, 28 August 2006 01:16 (seventeen years ago) link

nine years pass...

anybody got any opinions on Rega RS1 speakers vs. these? I have the RS1s, which, with a subwoofer, are the nicest sounding speakers I've ever had, but I'm kinda smitten with the Martin Logans

tremendous crime wave and killing wave (Joan Crawford Loves Chachi), Sunday, 6 September 2015 00:34 (eight years ago) link

one year passes...

Anyone got one of these? (Roberts Bluetune 100)


Any thoughts or recommendations for alternatives?

djh, Sunday, 20 November 2016 19:08 (six years ago) link

(Basically ... looking for a bedroom/kitchen stereo).

djh, Sunday, 20 November 2016 19:24 (six years ago) link

Bought the above but have returned it. Too bass-y, even with bass turned down to minimum. Probably not much use for the bedroom (too complicated to lean over and turn it down in the dark).

djh, Sunday, 4 December 2016 18:36 (six years ago) link

seven months pass...


My old 1990s amp is crapping out. I am going to replace it with a 70s amp off ebay. My budget isn't huge - about £150 - but there are lots of nice amps on there. Is there anything I should look out for or avoid? Any particularly good/bad brands?

My head is v easily turned by illuminated volume meters.

Senator Luther Strange (stevie), Friday, 28 July 2017 11:05 (six years ago) link

timely! my cheap 90s technics amp has also just decided that sometimes it only wants to play the right-hand channel. don't know if this is an easy fix or if I should just replace with something better?

plp will eat itself (NickB), Friday, 28 July 2017 11:14 (six years ago) link

three years pass...

We just finished part of our basement and were hoping to set up a little home theater system down there. Anyone have any advice on buying a $500 or less system? We're looking at the Onkyo HT3900 5.1 system, but if anyone knows anything better around that price range, I'd love to know.

Heez, Friday, 7 August 2020 15:25 (three years ago) link

three weeks pass...

anyone know anything about swapping the woofers out in old speaker cabinets? i shredded the cones in my ancient wharfedales that i got supercheap at a carboot sale and i quite like the big scruffy old cabs cos they're good for sitting on or for somewhere to put your mug of coffee on without feeling bad about it. i have to say they never sounded all that great since i had them anyway, i think they were already on the way out perhaps but they were really muddy in the bass. so i have the urge to replace the 8 inch drivers to see if i can get them sounding passable but i'm not too bothered about achieving amazing fidelity or anything as i already have some good sounding dali bookshelves that i'm fairly content with. what i don't know about at all is matching the power rating with the amp or that whole side of it. if i have an amp that's 30 watts per channel, what sort of spec do i need to look for? any recommended budget-but-decent brands?

this is my clean tone (NickB), Thursday, 3 September 2020 12:14 (three years ago) link

I can't recommend any specific drivers but afaik you don't need to worry about the amplifier being too powerful for the speakers as nearly any decent new or vintage speakers will be able to handle any reasonably powerful amplifier. That being said I'm not recommending you connect a 200 wpc amp into bookshelves and then crank them but generally speaking it is a non-issue.

Much more important to good sound is making sure the amp is powerful enough to drive the speakers as, if you have inefficient speakers, 30 wpc may not be enough to drive the speakers well. You also need to be mildly cognizant that the speakers' impedance rating is matched to the amps'. Some amps will have different terminals for connecting to speakers of different ratings, though not all will. 8 ohms is the most common impedance so most likely not an issue, but if the speakers are 2 or 4 ohm it may be a concern.

I would start by trying to find out what brand of driver the wharfedales originally used. If it was a big brand (JBL or something) you may be able to find a current replacement version or even vintage drivers for not much money.

James Gandolfini the Grey (PBKR), Thursday, 3 September 2020 14:42 (three years ago) link

that's really helpful, thank you!

did some googling and this is the spec:

Power Handling - 35-watts DIN
Suitable amplifier matching - 10-watts to 40-watts R.M.S.
Frequency Response - 60-Hz to 20-kHz at ±3-dB
Crossover Frequencies - 1-kHz, 4.5-kHz (9-element)
Sensitivity - 87-dB S.P.L.
Impedance Matching - 4-Ω to 8-Ω

might try one of these as it's the right sort of ballpark pricewise:

or maybe i'm just being a fool and it would be cheaper to dump them and buy some different speakers altogether?

this is my clean tone (NickB), Thursday, 3 September 2020 15:40 (three years ago) link

Sorry, one other concern would be making sure the frequency response of the driver you add covers the frequency response of the one you are removing. Are the 8 inch drivers in the wharfedale the bass driver, the mid-range or covering both? The driver you linked to says it is a mid-range driver.

In frequency response, the first number is usually in Hz and represents the the low frequency (bass) and the higher number usually in kHz is the high frequency. Assuming the 8 inch driver is just the base driver, you would want the replacement to go down to 60-Hz as well. The frequency response for the driver at the link you provided (f3-3500Hz) is a little confusing but I think that means 3-3.5khz which would be a midrange, not a bass driver, afaict.

If the 8 inch driver is also the midrange, it's probably beyond my knowledge to know how to go about looking for a replacement unless you can identify the specific specs of that specific driver (as opposed to the specs of the speaker as a whole).

I am not that DIY so I would probably be looking for a cheap replacement on Craigslist depending on budget. Obviously sentimental value, desire for a DIY project, budget, or not putting them in a landfill might influence that decision.

James Gandolfini the Grey (PBKR), Thursday, 3 September 2020 16:17 (three years ago) link

Thanks, that's a great help! I think the 8-inch currently in the speaker is the bass (it's one of three speakers in the cabinet). The first crossover frequency listed is 1kHz so I'm assuming that's the point where the frequencies get passed to the mid? (i really don't know anything about this subject so maybe that's a stupid inference on my part)

The frequency response for the driver at the link you provided (f3-3500Hz) is a little confusing

yes it is! i read it as a hypothetical 3Hz to 3.5kHz, so that's probably somewhat idiotic of me

this is my clean tone (NickB), Thursday, 3 September 2020 18:20 (three years ago) link

ah wait, i should've googled f3: 'f3 denotes the frequency at which the driver's output is 3 dB below its "flat" response'

so if "max frequency range f3-3,500Hz", that just means the output of the speaker drops off after 3.5 kHz

but yes, that monacor one is listed as a midrange unit, so you're quite right, i think i do need to be looking at a bass driver instead

this is my clean tone (NickB), Thursday, 3 September 2020 18:40 (three years ago) link

If you like the speakers as a piece of furniture, you could always remove all the inards of the dead pair and put a smaller set of speakers inside the current cabinet.

Chewshabadoo, Friday, 4 September 2020 08:47 (three years ago) link

true, but i'm not sure i'm quite attached to them enough to put in that sort of effort. i like their solid robust look but they are pretty fugly tbh (b is certainly no fan!). i guess i'm just idly dreaming that maybe i could transform them into big booming beauties with minimum outlay and that would justify having them cluttering up the place, but maybe i'm kidding myself that i could do that reasonable cheaply. but you have made me think that i could also just gut them and use the boxes as storage for 7" singles or even window boxes or something, could probably fit about 300 records or eight geraniums inside the pair of them

this is my clean tone (NickB), Friday, 4 September 2020 09:43 (three years ago) link

three years pass...

just put out my stereo for council collection, was the first thing i bought when starting work and it still had the receipt taped to the back of one of the speakers

£470 on 30/12/1989

which according to bank of england's calculator:

"£470 in 1989 would be worth £1,178.51 in Jul 23"

which is a bunch of money for something that was middling at best. aiwa midi system, twin tapes, separate 6-cd using a cartridge and attached via a ribbon cable, plasticky turntable, speakers. it's an aiwa cx-77

(i'd post am image here but it has characters in the url that ilx doean't like)

main system has been replaced by separates over the years but the above was still in use about 5 years ago as a bedroom system, because of the alarm. one christmas i unplugged it and just never plugged it back in again. nowadays i just use my phone.

koogs, Monday, 18 September 2023 08:13 (six days ago) link

;_; rip.

pour one out for the "stack" system, kids don't even know

Tracer Hand, Monday, 18 September 2023 09:08 (six days ago) link

inflation is one thing but id imagine that a like for like equivalent spend on something on the same scale of todays high end would be multiples of that?

close encounters of the third knid (darraghmac), Monday, 18 September 2023 09:34 (six days ago) link

You'd be out of luck with the tape deck (or a CD changer for that matter), but I think you could spend around £400 in Richer Sounds (maybe even Currys?) and walk out with CD+DAB+Bluetooth+amp+vinyl+speakers (Denon/JBL level of stuff). Not high-end by any means but probably comparable with a semi-integrated 1989 Aiwa stack. (I remember it well, koogs... I think I heard Comforts of Madness on CD in yr old place on that ;) )

The high-end has galloped away in pricing, but there's (surprisingly) still something like an entry level of new audio gear at roughly '90s prices. Amps, bookshelf speakers, turntables (not so much CD or radio, unless they're part of an all-in-one). Can't vouch for the build quality of this stuff but it can't be any worse than my shoddy Sherwood receiver, back in the day.

Michael Jones, Monday, 18 September 2023 10:55 (six days ago) link

i look at replcements like the LG CM2460DAB or a Denon DM41 and they look shiny enough but the two things that catch my eye in the description are 'clock' and 'sleep timer'. i'd probably be better off with an alarm clock. #middleage

the aiwa was actually from OG currys back when tewkesbury had a currys in the high street (opposite woolworths)

koogs, Monday, 18 September 2023 11:22 (six days ago) link

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