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Best Audio System under Budget

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9 replies to this topic

#1 of 10 OFFLINE   Sanman



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Posted April 07 2009 - 10:22 AM

I have read a few other forum threads but none of them suit my needs.
I just bought a new computer and would like to make it into a high quality, but cheap audio system. I used to have a Sony MHC-EC98PI for about $200. I don't really know if that was high quality or not seeing as I have never had a audio system ever.
That's it for the background info. I am trying to find the best audio system I can (even if it means refurbished or used, as long as it has all the accessories and a remote). My budget is about $300. I know $300 may not be much, but I'm short on money and just want the basics. Not too many features or anything, just the simple stuff like a remote. I'm not an audiophile as you can tell. I'm just looking for my first system. By the way I'm just 14 years old so I barely know anything about audio.

Can anyone help me with my budget shopping? Thanks

#2 of 10 OFFLINE   Alon Goldberg

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Posted April 07 2009 - 01:34 PM

Are you looking to build a 2-channel system, or a surround system to connect to your TV and DVD Player? Is this system primarily for music, gaming, sports, or movies? You may consider a PC speaker system like a Logitech Z-2300 to get you started, this includes a couple of satellite speakers, and an amp/subwoofer combo.

I think first we need to determine what your eventual goals are. If it were me, I would invest the $300 in the basics, and build up slowly over time. This way eventually you'll be able to build up to a fantastic system. If you're looking to build a home theater, many people purchase a receiver and a couple of bookshelf speakers, and later purchase loudspeakers, centre channel and subwoofer.


#3 of 10 OFFLINE   Sanman



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Posted April 08 2009 - 07:20 AM

I mostly want the system for movies and music. I think a 2.1 channel system would be enough for now. The cheaper the better. How high quality are the computer speakers you suggested?
I'm also wondering if I should just go with a Sony MHC-EC98PI... I have never owned a good system before that and don't know how well it compares to others. I want a system that isn't audiophile quality, but still sounding crisp and smooth.

#4 of 10 OFFLINE   Sanman



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Posted April 08 2009 - 08:17 AM

Sorry for the double post, but I don't see the edit button.

Is the the Infinity TSS-500 was a good speaker system? I found a refurbished set of it and I don't know if it has good quality sound or not... is it good? I found it for about $137/
If I would buy it, where would I find a good 5.1 or higher receiver? About how much should I expect to pay for a 5.1 channel receiver?

#5 of 10 OFFLINE   Alon Goldberg

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Posted April 08 2009 - 09:43 AM

Hi Ryan, a $300 budget will only take you so far (a decent receiver alone will usually set you back at least this much), however Infinity speaker systems are very highly rated in this price category. I haven't auditioned these for myself, so I'd suggest listening to them if you have the ability to. Let us know how it goes!


#6 of 10 OFFLINE   Thirsty Ear

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Posted April 08 2009 - 06:33 PM

Welcome to the world of audio.

I remember the days when I knew little about audio systems, when I thought I had nice speakers only to learn later that there was so much more out there. If I knew what I know now I would bypass buying a lot of cheap speakers that wasted my time and money.

If you are just starting out I would say go with a 2 channel system.

One suggestion would be a pair of SVS SBS-01 bookshelf speakers $209 pair
Then an Onkyo stereo amp or home theater receiver but the price would be around $200 to $400 at the least.

This would put you a little over budget but what I have learned is to set my budget at a price with a plus or minus of $100. I have found that sometimes just a few more dollars can get me so much more.

If you plan on using just your computer I would highly recommend a set of speakers that are just amazing. The NHT M-00 which are self powered so all you have to do is plug them into your headphone jack on your computer or music player. This way you can spend all your money on speakers instead of a receiver with extra features you may not need. These speakers are very powerful and are much better then your other speakers as far as sound quality. The amp inside is 75 watts each and matched perfectly to the speaker drivers. This means you do not have to try and match a good amp to speakers. To get “a good true 75 watts” from seperate system you would have to pay a lot more. Also because the NHT M-00 are just speakers and not a heavy pice of stereo equipment and speakers with wires connecting them you can move the NHT M-00 to another room easily or to a friends house. I have several speaker systems now, but I still have a pair of self powered speakers. Not so much now but I use to move those speakers from room to room or in the garage or over to my moms house where there was no good sound to speak of. I was always hauling them around and I got some real good use out of them.

Listen up is selling NHT M-00 at $199 each so total cost would be a 100 more then your budget, but it would be several hundred under a similar sounding system using separate amp and speakers. They would be a good investment that you will have years to come.

Check them out here and do some research on them as well to see what you think.

NHT M-00

#7 of 10 OFFLINE   Sanman



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Posted April 09 2009 - 11:19 PM

If choosing between the Infinity TSS-500 and the TSS-800, which would be the better choice for a beginner? I found a really good deal on them that will probably go a bit over my budget, but I don't know which one would be a better choice for me. The TSS-500 is cheaper but I don't know if I should get the TSS-800 and go farther over my budget but eliminate the need to upgrade my system sooner because it has bigger speakers and a bigger subwoofer and even has more wattage for the subwoofer.

Is it really worth the extra money?

#8 of 10 OFFLINE   CB750



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Posted April 11 2009 - 03:33 AM

I have a Logitech Z5300 hooked to my PC., it's a few years old. It is a 5.1 system which is THX certified. I am very happy with this system in a 12' x12' room and use it for TV, DVD, Music, and gaming. The only draw back is the speakers use RCA type plug connections and are hard wired to the speakers.

The current similar model would be the Z5500 which I think will have all the features you are looking for. Amazon is selling it for about $250.


One thing to be aware of is most of the sound adjustments of a PC type speaker system are going to be made by your PC Sound card so you are going to what to have a good sound card in your PC. Also you will notice that these PC type systems usually don't have any HDMI connections.

#9 of 10 OFFLINE   LanceJ



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Posted April 12 2009 - 05:32 AM

Well Ryan you can either:

* buy a 2.1 system that will sound MUCH better than any all-in-one system at the same price.

* buy a cheesy 5.1 system for $300 right now

* have a goal of a good 5.1 system but start out with just 2.1

Just to get you started..............

2.1 stereo system:

Sherwood RX-4109 stereo receiver w/remote, $100

This straightforward but nice receiver has received many great reviews the last couple of years. And IMO it is relatively inexpensive mostly because Sherwood is such a large manufacturer ("economy of scale") & they also build gear for other companies.

Check out this large discussion thread (288 replies on 15 pages!) at this audiophile/music forum for much more detail on the subject:

"Sherwood stereo receiver with phono input on sale at Radio Shack for $99.99"


Sony SAW2500 10" subwoofer, $99

Don't worry about this sub's power specifications - in your small room I think it will get plenty loud and still sound clean/deep (a typical living room is a different story). I've heard this sub at Best Buy and liked it.

Insignia NS-B2111, $88 per pair - bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp?id=abcat0205001&type=category

Do a search here and you'll find many many members who own this "miracle" Posted Image speaker and really like it. Looks great too.

Most computers I've seen have a "line output" on their rear panel to transmit audio to an external component and if yours has one - read the computer's instruction manual to make sure the following is true for YOUR computer too - use an appropriate cable to connect it to the receiver. ---> DO NOT use anything labeled "speaker output" or something similar - this will probably damage the input circuits on the receiver!

A headphone output will probably work O.K. but again, read your computer's instruction manual for the best advice on how to connect an external audio system.

#10 of 10 OFFLINE   Saida



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Posted April 13 2009 - 02:07 AM

Hey Ryan,

Try to inquire about Altec Lansing. It is a good partner with your PC and some models have remote control.