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Proof that you don't have to spend tons of money to get a good sound system.

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#1 of 11 OFFLINE   Seth=L



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Posted October 21 2006 - 01:01 PM

I just want to share with those who may feel that it is simply to hard and expensive to get a good system. First of all don't look at Bose. Good that bridge is crossed.

I would like to share my personal experience as a demonstration to show that you don't have to be rich to get good sound, you just have to know how to look. I dabble heavily in the used market because I can usually tell what is going to work out and what isn't. Having a basic idea of what certain audio companies are and where they stand in the Hi-Fi world can help you determine what is good and what is not good. Note: This is only helpful, some companies make some things good and some things bad. Sony for instance makes great LCD flat panel TV's but makes poor speakers and receivers for the most part. It also can vary from series to series. Polk makes some good speakers and some not. You can usually tell if a speaker is good by it's weight, knocking tests, and driver quality/configurations. Same goes for amplifiers, only look for heavy amps, with big power supplies, large power consumptions and large capacitors. Weight isn't always a factor, but commonly is, especially in a used electronics market.

Speakers: Bigger doesn't always mean better. You look at a pair of Optimus floor standing speakers with a shallow depth cabinet and a 12" woofer, and then a pair of NHT 1.5 bookshelf speakers with a funky design. They both cost $100 (hypothetical scenario). You think to your self, hey the Optimus are bigger so they are better right. Well they are better for being loud and having boomy acoustically inaccurate bass, but of course they cannot match the tonal clarity of the NHT's. You knock on the Optimus, it makes a hollow sound, you knock on the NHT's you hear a dull thud of your knuckle cracking on the cabinet. Guess what, that means that the cabinet will be less prone to vibrating and making it's own sound when you listen to music. The hollowness you hear when listening to the Optimus is mostly cabinet noise.

Getting to the subject at hand, Can you afford a high end system without out spending thousands? absolutely. I have a very respectable system IMO for much less than what you would pay at retail. Just for illustration I will share the suggested retail of each item, and how much I paid, rounded prices of course. Some of these items may no longer be in my system, of course redundancies serve their purpose, but there are limits.

Onkyo TX-DS787 6.1 Surround sound receiver (100 watts per channel and THX certified)Blue book MSRP:$1100. Price paid at Speedy Pawn:$100

M&K MX-100 subwoofer w/ a high head-room 200 watt amp and two 12" woofers in a Push-Pull configuration, MSRP:$1300, price paid at Broadway Loan:$350

PSB Century 600i Floor standing speakers, Dual 6.5" woofers and 1" tweeter. MSRP:$600, price paid at EZpawn:$100

Toshiba SD-9000 flagship DVD player, built in DD decoding w/ 5.1 analog output. MSRP:$1200, price paid at EZpawn:$40

Carver AV-505 Five Channel amplifier (80 watts per channel all channels driven @ 8ohms) MSRP:$1100 price paid, at EZpawn:$300 (not the best deal, but still very good IMO)

Rotel RSP-960AX Preamp/Processor with Dolby Pro Logic, and good stereo performance, MSRP:$600 price paid at B&B loan Pawnbrokers:$90

Pioneer Elite PD-65 CD player with stable platter design, nice, MSRP:$800 price paid at B&B loan Pawnbrokers:$90

NHT 1.5 bookshelf speakers w/ 6.5" woofer and 1" tweeter high Gloss black finish, MSRP:$600 price paid at Cash America Pawn:$60

HSU STF-2 Subwoofer w/ 10" woofer and 300 watt BASH amplifier MSRP:$400 price paid at Cash America Pawn:$70

Three Boston Acoustic's HD-5 bookshelf speakers with 5.25" woofers in a sealed cabinet, Total MSRP:$235 (one was a HD-5v, a shielded model that cost $10 more) price paid at garage sale after haggling:$20

My current stereo system has the NHT's, The Rotel pre, the Carver amp, Toshiba DVD, BIC speakers, and the Pioneer CD player. A system with a suggested retail: $4550 that I paid only $600 for. So as you can see, that with patience, attention to detail, and not so much care about cosmetics and remote controls (just get a Harmony remote), then you can have a very good system with out spending all of "Lois's rainy day fund".Posted Image

#2 of 11 OFFLINE   gene c

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Posted October 22 2006 - 02:09 AM

There are many ways to buy this stuff, from paying full retail at BB/CC to hitting the flea markets and pawn shops. I prefer to look for open box or closeouts from authorized dealers with full warranties and 30 day returns/exchanges. Over the last few years I've picked up an H/K 520 ($899) for $299, a 435 ($899) for $399, an Onkyo HT-500 for $119 and matching SKS-500 5.1 speaker package (NIB) for $129, Polk RTi8's, RTi6's, RTi4's and a CSi5 ($1925) for $875 and an H/K dual tray CDR20 for $49! And of course you can do much better than that on the used market. I've been criticized for being too harsh on cheap htib systems, but if you are willing to take the time to do a little research and some legwork you can piece together a really good setup for less money than you think. My brother, on the other hand, would never buy anything used or open box. Different strokes for different folks.
"Everyday room": Panasonic 58" Plasma, Dish HD DVR, Pioneer Elite vsx-23, BDP-23 BR, dv58avi universal dvd player, Paradigm Studio 20 V1, CC-450, Dayton HSU-10 subwoofer.

"Movie/Music room": Toshiba 65" DLP, Dish HD receiver, Marantz 7005, CC-4003, BD-7006, Polk LSI25's-LSi7's-LSiC, 2 original Dayton 10" "Mighty-Mites" subwoofers. (subject to change without notice).
Also have  MB Quart Vera VS05 +.....too much to list. Help me.


#3 of 11 OFFLINE   Seth=L



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Posted October 22 2006 - 04:01 PM

I look at it this way, if someone really wants to listen to something good, then they should put the work in and find something used or discounted, and why not, it doesn't hurt you as much, even if what you get is bad.

#4 of 11 OFFLINE   Jim Peavy

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Posted October 23 2006 - 02:26 PM

Dang, I need to start hanging out at pawn shops! Thanks for sharing that, Seth.
"I just pre-ordered I DRINK YOUR BLOOD, even though I have no job."

#5 of 11 OFFLINE   Seth=L



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Posted October 23 2006 - 04:04 PM

Thank you Jim for your support. You just have to be patient, and not worry about manufacturer's warranties. If you can do that, then you are home free.

#6 of 11 OFFLINE   TristenEugene



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Posted October 23 2006 - 10:39 PM

This info is quite helpful. Good job!

#7 of 11 OFFLINE   mark11aa



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Posted October 24 2006 - 05:07 AM

I concur: I am a novice. However, I will say this. If you want to pay retail, take a quick look on ebay. What goes for 1k on Amazon, you can typically find for 500-700 on Ebay. I just bought Boston Acoustics VR3s new in the box, factory sealed. They retailed for 1100. I bought them for 750. If I kept looking, I probably could have gotten them cheaper.

#8 of 11 OFFLINE   homthtr


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Posted October 24 2006 - 02:17 PM

Just like buying a used car verses a new car.... You'll save 50% buying something slightly used compared to driving a New Car off the lot and Loosing 30% of it's value before the first 2 miles you have on it!

#9 of 11 OFFLINE   SteveKNJ


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Posted October 27 2006 - 08:00 AM

On the other hand, if something goes wrong with that item you just bought at a pawn shop or on ebay, you are SOL. I think I would agree with gene c and go the open box/closeout route. I bought my Onkyo speakers through the dent and scratch section on the Onkyo website, full warranty for about 1/3 of MSRP. My Sony receiver is an open box as well. Certain things I won't go that route because of the increased risk of unseen damage (not sure I'd buy an open box $5000 big screen), but for many things, that is the absolute route to go.

#10 of 11 OFFLINE   Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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Posted October 27 2006 - 02:04 PM

Nice going, Seth! I’ve got quite a lot of pawnshop gear myself:
  • Two Adcom GFA-555II amplifiers, and two ACE-515 line conditioner/power directors. $2200 list, paid $800
  • Top-of-the-line Yamaha TX-950 tuner, $425 list, paid $95.
  • Mitsubishi 32” TV, $1400 list, paid $600. It was only 3 months old when I found it!
  • Pioneer CT-S709 full logic, three-head cassette deck – list $500, paid $130 (presently retired from system).
$3700 worth of gear, paid $1625.

It’s not all that bad. If you can get $4500 worth of gear for $600 like Seth did, even if something goes south you’re still thousands ahead!

The nice thing about pawnshops is that you can hook it up and test it out before you bring it home, to make sure it works okay. These days you can print out the manual and take it with you (which is really helpful with DVD players and receivers), to make sure all the features are working, which further minimizes your odds of getting burned. Plus, most pawnshops will give you at least a 14-day warranty. If there isn’t a replacement DVD player (or whatever) n the shop, you can probably find something else in the store you have a use for, so you don’t totally lose out.

The downside about pawnshops is that it’s hard to find first-class gear in them, so it takes a lot of patience and beating the streets. That’s why I started eBaying – much easier to find quality gear, although you often end up paying a higher price than you would if you found it in a pawn shop.

Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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“A nice mid-fi system,” according to an audiophile acquaintance.

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#11 of 11 OFFLINE   Seth=L



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Posted October 27 2006 - 05:02 PM

B&B loan in downtown Fort wayne almost always has cool gear. Adcom (they have 2 amps, a pre amp and a external DAC). They often get M&K gear and currently they have some Snell Type B speakers, unfortunetly they are damaged and someone has them on layaway. The pawn shop says they are going to repair them and then sell them to the person that has them on layaway.

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