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$3k budget, please review my compenents before i buy.


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16 replies to this topic

#1 of 17 BlaineG

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Posted December 11 2004 - 01:24 PM

Hello everyone, i have a $3k budget and have compiled this list of components. Please review them and any input is greatly appreciated!

Marantz PM7000 integrated amplifier
Marantz DV6500 universal dvd
studio tech US-24 speaker stands
Dynaudio audience 52 1 pair

#2 of 17 fred garvin

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Posted December 12 2004 - 03:50 AM

is this going to be a 2 channel music system or a home theater? not too familiar with the components, but does not look like you have dolby digital or dts capability with the integrated amp. if home theater is your goal, you might want to keep that in mind. if music is your goal, then trust your ears (and perhaps go with used gear to stretch your budget)

#3 of 17 BlaineG

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Posted December 12 2004 - 05:48 AM

Thanks for the reply fred, it is going to be strictly for music.

#4 of 17 Mark C.

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Posted December 14 2004 - 06:04 PM

Strictly music? OK, I'll be the first to ask: why a universal DVD player in a music-only system?
Don't DVD-audio disks usually require some type of monitor for menu selection? If that's the case, might it be better to get a SACD-CD player, something specifically geared to audio?
I like your taste, by the way. Marantz and Dynaudio is a very nice combination.

#5 of 17 Elinor

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Posted December 15 2004 - 03:06 AM

Hmmm. I'd lighten up on the player (a Pioneer universal can be gotten very cheap, and you're going digital out, right?) and put the extra $$ toward upgrading the speakers to the Contour line. The Studio Tech stands look pretty, but as long as they are sturdy, the correct height, and can be filled if desired (sand, shot), anything will do. If aesthetics is important, though, by all means go for it. Personally I'd always put money into actual function.

#6 of 17 eryn shannon

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Posted December 15 2004 - 03:31 PM

Dvd-audio and sacd can not be transmitted through the digital out, except for firewire which the pm7000 does not accept. Because the dvd player will be outputting its signal through analog rca cables it's dac will be used, making it worthwhile to go with a good player. A good general rule for a well balanced two channel system is to spend an equal share of the budget on each of the three components, audio player, amp, and speakers. Didn't the PM7200 replace the PM7000?

#7 of 17 Elinor

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Posted December 16 2004 - 02:26 AM

I'm sorry, I didn't see where the OP said he was doing multichannel music (and I still don't). S/he did say it was music only, I assumed that meant 2-channel.

I understand that current constraints of DVD-A and SACD are analog output. One reason why I won't bother with it.

#8 of 17 PaulDA

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Posted December 16 2004 - 02:45 AM

But all SACDs contain a two channel stereo mix in hi-resolution audio. SACD is not at all wasted on a music only system. As for DVD-A, many have a two channel hi-res mix as well. As for needing a monitor to use DVD-A, that's not true (though it does make things a bit easier). Almost all DVD-As are authored to begin playback automatically, at the setting chosen in the setup menu (two channel or multichannel). You would need a monitor to make the initial settings on the DV6500 (I have the DV6400, virtually identical, save the remote and a couple of connection options) but once set, a monitor is not mandatory. Moreover, the DV6500 has an audio only selector switch, which entirely deactivates the video section of the player. Also, I'm not certain the integrated amp has a digital input, so the analogue outputs of the player become essential.

I love my DV6400, especially in hi-res. The Dynaudios are a great speaker set. You have a fine system picked out. Enjoy the tunes.Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image
Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes time, and it annoys the pig.

#9 of 17 Robert Hoffman

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Posted December 16 2004 - 04:34 AM

Paul, concerning hi-res 2 channel on a SACD, would you need to configure the SACD player to essentially tell it that there are only the front two channels (and then use the multichannel outputs...albeit just for the two fronts), or do you gain the advantage by just hitting play & using the standard analog outs of a SACD or Universal player?

I've not yet played around with SACD on my player yet, but my hunch is that I need to use the multichannel outs & configure the player for just 2 channel to actually hear hi-res 2 channel, versus 'normal' two channel.

Thanks,
Rob

As a side...someone above mentioned a rule of thumb of spending 1/3 on each component for a 2 channel setup. Boy did I blow that rule (60% speakers, 22% amp, 6% AVR as prepro, and 13% on CD player). And the amp is a 5-channel amp, so I could've cut down there if I wanted.

#10 of 17 Elinor

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Posted December 16 2004 - 04:42 AM

Robert, that may not be such a bad mix. I don't know about thumbs, but I do believe there is a hierarchy of what components have the most affect on sound quality. IMO and experience, and others certainly will disagree, it is speakers at the top, then pre/pro, then amp, then source from most influential to least (in my system design). So putting bigger $$ into the speakers makes sense to me.

#11 of 17 PaulDA

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Posted December 16 2004 - 05:46 AM

Robert,

It depends on the player. If the player is capable of m/c SACD playback, then you normally have to configure it to go to the 2-channel layer as a default (some players let you select two channel via a button on the faceplate or the remote--mine, sadly, does not) if you always want stereo playback. As to the connections, the Marantz will only pass hi-res audio through the m/c outputs, but I ran it in two channel for months without any problems (just hook up L/R from the m/c outputs to any L/R inputs on a receiver/integrated/pre-pro). Other players might pass hi-res through the two channel outputs, but I can't think of any offhand.

As for your spending mix, nothing wrong with 50% on the speakers (or more). I agree with Elinor's list of priorities completely.
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#12 of 17 Mark C.

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Posted December 16 2004 - 04:14 PM

My Sony C222ES plays two-channel SACD through analog outputs separate from the multi-channel outputs.

#13 of 17 Claire Panke

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Posted December 16 2004 - 05:00 PM

And I disagree with Elinor and Paul...not completely, but most definitely when it comes to the source.

In fact, I'd never put the source last in a 2 channel music system, not even in a modest or budget system.

Garbage in, garbage out. If the source isn't at least as good as the pther components in your system, you'll never hear what your rig is capable of, much less what's on your discs. When it comes to quality musical reproduction, power supplies, jitter control, and the implementation of analog output stages, DACS, etc., is absolutely key. This becomes even more important the more resolving and accurate your system is.

If you're only listening to highly compressed CDs and MP3s, why - sure - most any el cheapo player is fine. It's gonna all sound the same. But if you want to actually hear what's on well recorded discs (especially of acoustic music) you need to buy the best quality source you can afford.

If BlainG plans to spin CDs, he needs to be careful in choosing his player. I've noticed a lot of variation in quality with universal players spinning Redbook CDs - even some very pricey SACD/Universal players weren't nearly as good on RB as less expensive dedicated CD players. (Their quality with SACD/DVD-A, of course, is another story.) This is why many 2 channel folks use external DACs for CDs playback or have their hi rez players modded. As a fan of large scale orchestral music, I've found many front ends spit the bits on full passages of complex symphonic music (especially in compressing the dynamics and flattening the sound stage). It's not such an issue with good SACDs, but it can be a right drag with CDs.

I'm not advocating that you should buy the most expensive player/player & DAC combo you can afford, or that you should spend more on the source than on your amp (much less your speakers!)...but I am saying that if you care about music, you need to select your source carefully - it *will* affect your system's character to a considerable degree. (If it doesn't, you've got too much coloration or not enough resolving power.)

"Speakers first" I absolutely agree with. Moreover, you need to match your amp to the requirements of your speakers. But immediately after speakers I would rank the source in importance, be it a universal player alone or with outboard DAC...followed by preamp/amp (or pre-pro/amp) and cables.

If I read one of Blaine's other posts correctly, he's already purchased his speakers and stands. So on to the rest of his system.

I'm not wild about the Marantz 7000, I'd have to say that I find amps from Jolida, Exposure, Arcam, Blue Circle, Nad, Creek, Unico, Rotel, Naim and other audio specialists to be more bang for the musical buck. My standard rec for an integrated amp is a used Plinius 8200 ( or9100 or 9200), absolutely the last 2 channel amp most people would ever need to buy. But if you need to stay under 1k check out Jolida, Creek, Rotel and Arcam.

As for players, I haven't heard the Marantz DV 6500, but you might want to check out the Denon DVD-2900 - it's not the absolute best individually at Redbook, SACD or DVD-A, but it's very good at *all* these formats.(MSRP $999 but can be found for a little over $500 on line). It impressed me for the $$, and I am not normally a fan of un-modded Denon players. (It's also apparently an excelent candidate for mods, if you want to someday go that route.) The 2200 isn't quite as good as the 2900 but can be had for even less.

As Mark notes above, if your system is going to be any distance from a TV, be sure whatever player you buy doesn't require a display screen for menu/set-up - this might be a problem with the Marantz DVD players. The lower end Marantz players generally excell at DVD-A more than CD/SACD. The Marantz 8400 is pretty good, but pricey - the Denon will probably close sonically for less money. Most universal players have analog outs for 2 channel SACD listening.

I'd also leave a little in the budget for dome modstly prices cabling and tweaks. (Used is a great way to go here.) Take same care in setting up/positioning your speakers - great speakers that are poorly set up will sound worse than lesser speakers properly positioned.

If you want additional serious audio suggestions, post this same query over on the Amp/Preamp and Hi Rez Digital forum s at Audio Aylum (www.audioasylum.com)

The best systems are great because they have system synergy - it's not how much you spend but how well your components complement each other and sound good together. The whole is more than the sum of its parts. Take the extra time to get a good combo and you will be rewarded with great music for a long time.

It seems you've made a good start. Congrats on the Dynaudios and happy hunting.

#14 of 17 PaulDA

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Posted December 16 2004 - 11:42 PM

Blaine,

I must confess to not reading Elinor's post correctly (the perils of having a three year old in your lap when you're surfing--this is not to disparage Elinor's thinking) as I would modify my response a bit upon re-reading both Elinor and Claire. In a situation where a CD-only player is being used as a transport and a receiver is being used for all D/A purposes, then Elinor's approach is one with which I'd wholeheartedly agree. However, in a music-only system, where the pre-amp/amp or integrated amp has no digital input, then the importance of the source would become equal to the pre-amp/amp or integrated, if not a bit more. The player's DACs and other components are, in this scenario, as vitally important and should not be given the short shrift.

As to the Marantz DV6500, I have a bias (I own a 6400) but I did compare it to both the Denon 2900 and 2200 and found it the equal to the 2900 in audio (and notably better than the 2200). Where the Denon 2900 had an edge was its better bass management capability and PQ. In Canada the 2900 retailed for over 1000$ more than the Marantz DV6400 and the PQ (I can't use a prog scan output) and the better bass management were insufficient to tip the scales in the Denon's favour. As you plan to use this for two channel only, BM is no longer an issue, and neither is PQ. If you are planning mods, however, I don't know how easily the Marantz lends itself to such procedures.

On integrateds, I'd second Claire's recommendation for Arcam, Rotel, NAD and would throw in Cambridge Audio for your consideration (I've read about but not heard the others in Claire's list, though I'd audition them too if I were specifically shopping for an integrated amp).

Anyway, we can all make recommendations til the cows come home, but in the end, it's your money and your ears. I would re-iterate that you have a solid system chosen already (especially the speakers), and if you haven't made a final choice on the other components, you have a nice list to audition.

Happy hunting.
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#15 of 17 Elinor

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Posted December 17 2004 - 02:49 AM

Absolutely. I included the words: "in my system design" because I only use digital outputs from my sources. In this design philosophy, Claire, I doubt that any human (or most machines) could detect any difference among sources of reasonable build quality. The player's DACs are bypassed. All DAC is done by the pre/pro.

This is 2-channel (primarily) or multichannel (DTS/CD). I personally can't see investing in the quality of DAC I am used to listening to *twice*, which is why until there is digital output in DVD-A or SACD, I just am not interested in it.

#16 of 17 PaulDA

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Posted December 17 2004 - 04:12 AM

When I upgrade (which won't be for some time, I hope--not to mention my wife SERIOUSLY hopes Posted Image ) I will be looking for an all digital connection scheme. By then, one hopes iLink players will have come down in price as their primary usefulness will be as transports, not decoders/DACs.
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#17 of 17 Claire Panke

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Posted December 17 2004 - 09:04 AM

No offence intended. But the OP was after 2 channel stereo recommendations and I was approaching it from that POV.

Another way to look at it is since you're using the DACS in your processor at the front end, your pre-pro is actually *part* of your source - it's near the top of the chain. The "transport" portion of the source is the caboose in your priorities. In a the 2 channel stereo only rig, obviously the 1 box player is key. I still say the implementation of digital technology is important, and I don't find that even the DACS in comparably priced pre-pros all sound alike. (But let's not go down that path.)

The music biz apparently thinks we're all pirates when it comes to hi rez digital outs. So far, except for the megabuck Meitner gear, I haven't heard a one box audiophile solution that sounds great on BOTH hi-rez and CD formats. Music is very important to me - I have over 700 CDs so Redbook is a priority. The DACS in my Arcam HT pre/pro are very very good, but they're not as good as the DACS in my dedicated Cary CD player. I've dithered and delayed about SACD both because of the dearth of software and because of the expense of a second player. My hi-rez player's home will be in the HT set up and not in the 2 channel system.

For me, with my 2 channel and HT in separate rooms, plus other analog sources such as a tuner and TT, the traditional audiophile set up of source(s)>preamp>amp> is the most convenient. In a different house, some day, I may try to integrate the high end stero with the HT. But for now, I'm not truly happy with any 1 box hi rez digital source...at least that I can afford. Posted Image