Help re: sound system for room (Help from audiophiles!)


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seanlim

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Oct 28, 2005
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#1
Hey guys, I'm thinking of building a simple sound system for my room but know nuts about how to go about doing so.

Hmm, I would like to have:
A slick (thin?) cd player,
an amplifier! *Must have vacuum tubes! I love how they look*
good enough speakers.

My budget is about a thousand or so. Do you think it would possible to achive this?

:D Thanks in advance!
 

AJ23

Senior Member
Jun 12, 2003
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Town of Queens doing PORT-9YOU
#5
Hey guys, I'm thinking of building a simple sound system for my room but know nuts about how to go about doing so.

Hmm, I would like to have:
A slick (thin?) cd player,
an amplifier! *Must have vacuum tubes! I love how they look*
good enough speakers.

My budget is about a thousand or so. Do you think it would possible to achive this?

:D Thanks in advance!
A thousand dollars might be a bit stretching it.

What type of music genre do you like? Rock? Vocal? Instrumental? Jazz? Classical?

As a basic setup, generally speaking,

CD Player ~$300-400+
Amplifier (integrated) ~$500-800+
Speakers ~$300-400+
Cables ~$250+

This is probably the minimum IMO, else it would be better off with mini-combo, mini-integrated or even ur PC.
 

seanlim

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Oct 28, 2005
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#6
Yeah, i dont want to get "chopped" by the people at adelphi.

Anyway, willing to up the budget. I gave a lower budget cause I'm just looking for bare minimums.

I mainly listen to jazz. Downtempo. Lounge music. Love music ¬1970s-1980s. Mostly music before the 90s.
 

Last edited:
Dec 10, 2008
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Pasir Ris
#7
can be prepared to set aside at least 1k for the speakers.. that's the bare minimum.

or else just get an all-in-1 set. like those yamaha or jbl
 

#9
As mentioned, heading down to echoloft.com.sg will yield tons of information about HiFi systems as well as a Buy and Sell section for reasonable used gear.

Based on your musical preferences, may I suggest considering a vinyl approach as opposed to CDs. Vinyls reproduce those jazzy sounds in full analogue glory, imparting their warm sonic signature to the music. Also, all music produced in the 70s and 80s were on vinyl, and you would be getting the true vibe of that era, as opposed to digital remasters on CDs. For a vinyl setup, you would need a turntable, vinyl pre-amp, amp and speakers.

I don't claim to be an audiophile expert but I try to buy the best equipment that I can afford, and unfortunately its also on the budget side of things. However I get a very decent sounding system with a $300 Lenco turntable, $300 Cambridge Audio integrated amp, $250 yaqin vacumm pre-amp, $400 floorstanding Dali speakers. I did get a good price on the speakers at Adelphi coz the owner of the shop was phasing out that brand and he sold me the displays so you can get good deals there if you know roughly what you want and the budget you are willing to spend.

If you want a decent integrated amp, I have only good things to say about the Cambridge Audio amps and you really cant go wrong, however whether you choose a CD or vinyl setup if you want vacuum tubes the cheapest option is to go Made in China. Brands like Yaqin/other random chinese name brands are clones of the big name brands but made by legitimate companies. I've been to audio shops in China and Hongkong that sell both high end brands and these cheaper clone models. There are a couple of reviews online about them and they offer the BEST vacuum tube amp value you can get at the moment. Some shops in Sim Lim Square/Tower rebrand these China amps under their house brand and sell them at a $100-200 markup but the best way to get them is to go to ebay and buy them from HongKong or China dealers. You can't test them but as a side note, it really doesnt matter as long as it powers on and works because when you go to a shop and test some audio equipment, their speakers, amp and wires are all different to what you would have at home, so what you are hearing in the audio shop is not exactly what you would hear at home. You just have to rely on previous experience to mix and match the best components for your system.

If it were me, I would get a Cambridge Audio CD player as well, super value, good reviews and not that expensive at Sim Lim Square. I find Adelphi shops a little bit more expensive than the shops at SLS/Tower. About $200-250 will get you an entry level player. For interconnects and wires I use Canare cables. They are very decent and lots of people have good stuff to say about it. Not many people know but you can actually get them cheap from SL Tower, theres a shop on the second level that sells them in whatever length you want, however thick you want. Quad core also available. All you need to do is solder on the right Audio interconnect heads and you're good to go, cables for cheap! Don't bother with the expensive brands of wires and speaker cables as yet coz while there may or may not be a difference, paying $300 more for that marginal difference is not worth it.

There are tons of stuff to tweak which I haven't even mentioned like power supplies etc, but you can modify your system as you go along. I hope this helps but if you have any further questions feel free to PM me.. or do a search on echoloft. People there are far more knowledgeable than I am!
 

seanlim

New Member
Oct 28, 2005
943
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0
NEL
#10
As mentioned, heading down to echoloft.com.sg will yield tons of information about HiFi systems as well as a Buy and Sell section for reasonable used gear.

Based on your musical preferences, may I suggest considering a vinyl approach as opposed to CDs. Vinyls reproduce those jazzy sounds in full analogue glory, imparting their warm sonic signature to the music. Also, all music produced in the 70s and 80s were on vinyl, and you would be getting the true vibe of that era, as opposed to digital remasters on CDs. For a vinyl setup, you would need a turntable, vinyl pre-amp, amp and speakers.

I don't claim to be an audiophile expert but I try to buy the best equipment that I can afford, and unfortunately its also on the budget side of things. However I get a very decent sounding system with a $300 Lenco turntable, $300 Cambridge Audio integrated amp, $250 yaqin vacumm pre-amp, $400 floorstanding Dali speakers. I did get a good price on the speakers at Adelphi coz the owner of the shop was phasing out that brand and he sold me the displays so you can get good deals there if you know roughly what you want and the budget you are willing to spend.

If you want a decent integrated amp, I have only good things to say about the Cambridge Audio amps and you really cant go wrong, however whether you choose a CD or vinyl setup if you want vacuum tubes the cheapest option is to go Made in China. Brands like Yaqin/other random chinese name brands are clones of the big name brands but made by legitimate companies. I've been to audio shops in China and Hongkong that sell both high end brands and these cheaper clone models. There are a couple of reviews online about them and they offer the BEST vacuum tube amp value you can get at the moment. Some shops in Sim Lim Square/Tower rebrand these China amps under their house brand and sell them at a $100-200 markup but the best way to get them is to go to ebay and buy them from HongKong or China dealers. You can't test them but as a side note, it really doesnt matter as long as it powers on and works because when you go to a shop and test some audio equipment, their speakers, amp and wires are all different to what you would have at home, so what you are hearing in the audio shop is not exactly what you would hear at home. You just have to rely on previous experience to mix and match the best components for your system.

If it were me, I would get a Cambridge Audio CD player as well, super value, good reviews and not that expensive at Sim Lim Square. I find Adelphi shops a little bit more expensive than the shops at SLS/Tower. About $200-250 will get you an entry level player. For interconnects and wires I use Canare cables. They are very decent and lots of people have good stuff to say about it. Not many people know but you can actually get them cheap from SL Tower, theres a shop on the second level that sells them in whatever length you want, however thick you want. Quad core also available. All you need to do is solder on the right Audio interconnect heads and you're good to go, cables for cheap! Don't bother with the expensive brands of wires and speaker cables as yet coz while there may or may not be a difference, paying $300 more for that marginal difference is not worth it.

There are tons of stuff to tweak which I haven't even mentioned like power supplies etc, but you can modify your system as you go along. I hope this helps but if you have any further questions feel free to PM me.. or do a search on echoloft. People there are far more knowledgeable than I am!
*jawdrops!* Oh my god, you're amazing. Thank you so much for the detailed write up

Are you suggesting buying a second hand turntable? Are these products available in singapore? eg the yanqin. :embrass::embrass:

Am I able to add another CD player to the set up above? is there a digital/cd turntable? I love the look but apparently vinvyl CDs are vv expensive
 

astroboy

Senior Member
Oct 14, 2005
549
1
18
Asia
#11
Firstly are you buying for "looks to impress your friends" or sound quality?

Turntables and valve amps, while esoteric, may not be suitable for an entry-level potential audiophile, especially one with a limited budget. You might give up your hobby in a few months, so start modestly and move up slowly as your needs evolve and you know the sound you are looking for. Looking for the perfect sound system is like searching for the Holy Grail and it may take you a lifetime to find it.

Given your taste in music, I would say, you start your search something like this:

Speakers:
Given your tastes for jazz and oldies, I would say look at the British speakers which are warmer and more musical without the "oomph" which the Americans are famous for. A pair of bookshelf Spendor LS3/5A would be a good start. You can also audition brands like Epos or Dynaudio (Swedish, if not mistaken).

Amps:
I particularly like the older names in integrated amps like Arcam but on a budget, you could try Pioneer etc. Cambridge Audio is also good.

Player:
Forget about those budget all-in-one CD players that are slim, good looking etc. You want a solid player that plays nothing but music CDs (well, maybe the higher-end CDs as well). Brands to consider include Arcam, Pioneer, etc.

I am recommending these few brands only because of your limited budget. And don't forget to take a few of your favourite high-quality CDs along when auditioning the hi-fi components.

During my days of setting up sound system, I even bring along my own speakers to hook up to their amps etc. I can tell you, the serious audiophile shops will not mind you doing it as long as u allow them to set up for you. And plan for a less busy time/day. Good luck on yr search!
 

Apr 20, 2003
410
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Visit site
#12
Player:
Forget about those budget all-in-one CD players that are slim, good looking etc. You want a solid player that plays nothing but music CDs (well, maybe the higher-end CDs as well). Brands to consider include Arcam, Pioneer, etc.
is there really any noticeable difference using an all-in-one CD players and a dedicated CD player that only play music?
 

astroboy

Senior Member
Oct 14, 2005
549
1
18
Asia
#13
Yes. Gadgets that try to do many things end up not doing anything well. Eg a videocam that can shoot still photos. The stills are usually quite bad. :)

is there really any noticeable difference using an all-in-one CD players and a dedicated CD player that only play music?
 

Jun 1, 2007
71
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0
Bukit Timah
#14
Get monoblock amps hor... hahaha..

Anyway just a word of caution, vacuum amps can't take too high power revving through them ok?

More importantly, plan your budget. Rule of thumb for me - your system is only as good as the weakest link, which may be your amp, cables etc... If I were you I'd budget about 15% for my cables then find out what else my cash can get. Haha...
 

dlee12

New Member
May 4, 2009
31
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0
#16
hi! what r the model of Dali speakers that you bought for sgd400? When was that? Is the "sale" still on? Thanks.
 

#17
dlee12: That was about 4 years ago? It was a real 'lucky' deal because I was just browsing for bookshelves and the owner said he had these display Dali Blue 5005s for sale at a $800 discount because the cabinets were chipped at the corners and the sound grille was missing some stubs that hold it to the speaker. I tested them out and they blew the bookshelves away obviously.. Im a student and looks dont matter, no one is gonna ever look at the corners and I dont use a sound grille so I bought it on the spot. It pays to browse around sometimes!

terryansimon: For HiFi audio distortion is NOT what you want. it is one of the big no-no's and audio equipment manufacterers actually put specs on total harmonic distortion.. the lower the better. What you are referring to is vacuum tube guitar amps. When you crank it up, the tube distorts and you get natural warm tube distortion. Different purpose and they may or may not use different grades of tubes as well.

Monoblock amps are sexy! but I think abit overkill for the TS's needs. It depends on your room size and speakers that you match also. TS will have to read up abit more on those subjects to make sure your amp is high powered enough to drive your speakers. That is why people talk about speaker efficiency. No point getting the biggest and best speakers if you dont have the power to drive it. 10-15% on cables is a good estimate to start!

seanlim: Yes second hand turntables are widely available on echoloft Buy and Sell forum and I can assure you if you have any questions the sellers of turntables are very enthusiastic about the subject and would be more than happy to talk shop over kopi and educate you on the subject. The uncle I bought my turntable from spent 1 hour chatting with me at the carpark and none of us wanted to end the conversation! Yes there are some folks in Singapore with these China made amps and they do turn up from time to time in echoloft. The ones that are brand new I have seen in shops at SLS/Tower but they are rebranded at a markup. The best way is buy from China direct like I did(went to the Beijing version of Sim Lim to get my pre-amp), get people to ship it to you if you have friends there, or buy from ebay(authorized re-sellers).

Of course you are able to add another CD player, radio, DVD player etc etc. As long as you have enough inputs on your Amplifier to connect up these inputs you are good to go. But vacuum tubes do best with music. I don't usually see people hooking up their cinema home systems to vacuum amps because transistor amps provide more power at less cost to drive those huge multi speaker surround sound setups that people have.

There are digital cd turntables but those are more for DJing purposes. Pioneer is a good brand for that and you can find them at Zouk, Zirca, Butter factory etc. more for mixing purposes not for Audio. With CD prices now, vinyl is slightly more expensive but this is actually a big misconception that vinyl records(not vinyl CDs) are really expensive. In the past CDs cost 20 bucks a pop, now of course its cheaper around 10-15 dollars. New vinyl records cost about $20 and their not that much expensive. Double vinyl packages though, cost around $35-50 because of increased shipping and raw materials prices so those are more expensive. You can go to the second floor of Adelphi to check out new vinyl prices. There will ALWAYS be jazz releases on vinyl because there is a niche market for that so no worries there. If you want second hand used vinyl, ebay is your world and you can find them at bargain basement prices if you're not picky on reprints, first editions, jacket conditions etc. Trust me, holding that big piece of vinyl and flipping each side over when its finished makes you more connected to the music you are listening. You have to be involved with the music you are listening and you really take the time to appreciate it. Popping in a CD and just leaving it there makes one(me at least) distracted and music becomes more of the background than the focus.

And finally, sorry for the longwindedness, the reason why people buy dedicated CD audio players is because the components they use are better and more specifically tailored for the purpose it is made. These can include analog to digital converters, better damping mechanism, and other assorted microchips they use inside. If you buy a multi-purpose DVD player for example, the manufacturer has to squeeze in more functions, and for the same amount, your components will not be as good. Furthermore, the parts used may not be specifically tailored to HiFi audio and more for cinema dolby effects etc, so you end up shortchanging yourself on quality. CD players and consequently turntables are important because these are your source devices that extract the music from whatever medium you choose. If you get a sucky one, no matter how good your amplification system is(pre-amp, amplifier, speakers) it won't mask the fact that your CD player/turntable is crap.

By the way pre-amps are used in vinyls to boost the weak vinyl signal and equalize the signal for normal signal projection. The vinyl signal is not recorded as what you were hear and its very treble heavy and bass light. You NEED the vinyl/phono pre-amp. For playing CDs, budget option is to get integrated amps(pre-amp, post amp together) You don't need a phono pre-amp.
 

Oct 28, 2006
1,412
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Asia
www.flickr.com
#18
Slippery slope my friend. You'll get poisoned worse than photography IMHO & the losses are far greater as well since almost all hi-fi sells for half or less later.

Go Kino etc, pick up "What Hi-Fi" magazine to read reviews on basic system & set-up. There are many other titles but this UK based WHF covers a wide spectrum especially on entries to mid-level. Like all reviews, read with caution & best is to audition yourself.

S$1.5-2K is a better budget or you can check out "used" route but you'd need some experience first. Amps or most non-moving electronics are OK to buy used & they are run-in. I would go new for CD players as there are often upgrades with moving parts & you'd want warranty.

Tube amps are seductive but you'd need to know much more before entering this world & different tubes from different brands give out different sound. You'd also need to adjust the bias.... some tubes are vintage NOS & very valuable. Chinese amps are fine & great way to enter this world. Do take note that they do not generate great bass & vibe from solid states, needs warm-up to sound better & you can match them with solid state power amps. They also generate very low output of +/-20W for pure Class A so you'd need "sensitive" speakers above 85Db & best if 100+ from horns. Don't go this route unless you're prepared!

Cables & interconnects: I don't even want to venture here but spend about 10-20% of your budget on this. You can also DIY like what some said or the shop can help you to solder it. Do you know the grade of solder affects the sound??? That's what they said, I never tested this.

Lastly, you can have the best system in the world but if your room is not treated, too small or a lot of mess, forget it. Placing a carpet between them & you helps. Toe-in, space out from walls affects too & you'd need to trial & error.

Arcam, Pioneer, Marantz, Sony & the few brands that some offered here have nice systems for you. But to be frank, sometimes it's much easier & nice to have a simple all-in-one system. Just drop your CD/Ipod in & wala :)
 

Dec 19, 2007
95
0
0
Quahog, Rhode Island
#19
terryansimon: For HiFi audio distortion is NOT what you want. it is one of the big no-no's and audio equipment manufacterers actually put specs on total harmonic distortion.. the lower the better. What you are referring to is vacuum tube guitar amps. When you crank it up, the tube distorts and you get natural warm tube distortion. Different purpose and they may or may not use different grades of tubes as well.
ah fair enough. but am I right to say that amp tubes in an audiophile sense needs to be driven at a certain volume to obtain the tube sound anyway? or again, is that only applicable to the world of axes?
 

dreaming

New Member
Oct 22, 2006
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#20
tubes amp. one issue to take note of, i.e. heat generated by the amplifier. will dampen your mood if room is not air-conditioned
 

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