Best micro system (desk top sized)

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by Mark Russ, Jun 15, 2003.

  1. Mark Russ

    Mark Russ Second Unit

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    I also have this one up in the Receiver/Amplifier forum, but I'll put it here too since it could equally apply to this forum as well.
    I want to get a decent system for work, as I now have an office where I could actually crank it a little. My current set up is a Sony which retails for $200 that
    I found on a Target clearance rack for $70. I think the model is CMT-EX5, or something like that. I guess it's OK, especially for the $$, but I want something more. I've heard the $400 Onkyo system at Circuit City, and was impressed by it. I also know that Yamaha has a little system that is supposed to be pretty nice called Piano Grand, and that Denon also has one too (w/ Mission speakers, I believe). I also think that JBL and Nakamichi have them available too, if I remember correctly.
    I'm NOT interested in a Bose Wave system. Bose will never get a penny of my money for anything.
    Does anyone know of any others, from HK, Marantz, NAD, etc.What is the best, especially for the money? I don't want to put no more than $400 or $500 max. No $1000 systems, or anything like that.
    Opinions please, and thanks in advance.
     
  2. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    The Denon/Mission systems are a little light on bass, but the music is clean. I was pretty impressed with it, but felt it was a bit too expensive. I am not a big fan of Yamaha, but the little shelf system I listened to (I think it was the one you are referring to) was not bad at all.

    Consider looking used. I picked up a Marantz SR4000 DD receiver for $150, that gives an honest 70x2. There are any number of speakers for less than $300. I got a pair of demo Paradigm Atoms for $113!

    That does not include a source, but you can get a NEW CDP for $100, and used for less.
     
  3. Brett DiMichele

    Brett DiMichele Producer

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    I talked my mother into a mini system from Onkyo. It has a
    seperate reciever and a seperate 3 disk CD Changer and
    comes with a small pair of bookshelf speakers that have a
    treated silk dome tweeter and some sort of treated fabric
    mid range. Added to that a Sony SAWM-20 (the 8" sub) and it
    sounds fantastic considering the total was about $450.00.

    Unfortunatly Crutchfield doesn't have them, she got the
    last one.. I know Onkyo came out with a new model that is
    very similar but Crutch doesn't have it yet...

    The system sounds very warm, no shrill highs at all and
    the midrange is very good if you keep the bass boost off
    and let a sub do it's job.


    This is very similar to hers. This is the MC35TECH which is
    the current model. She got last years model (I actually like
    last year's better..)

    [​IMG]
     
  4. Mark Russ

    Mark Russ Second Unit

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    Brett, The Onkyo you have pictured, that is exactly the system I heard. Do you think that little receiver could power a pair of Polk RT25i or RT15i? I'm sure they would probably be better than the Onkyo speakers that it comes with (although, as you pointed out, they actually aren't half bad themselvers)?
    John, it must be a very small sized system, small enough to fit on a desktop.
     
  5. Brian Bunge

    Brian Bunge Producer

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    Mark,

    Why not get a decent pair of speakers and mate it with the Sony initially? Then you can upgrade the Sony at a later date if you still find something lacking.
     
  6. Brett DiMichele

    Brett DiMichele Producer

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    Mark,

    In my honest opinion I think the setup sounds very decent
    for what it costs. Is there better sound out there? Sure..
    But for $350.00 or so, for the whole setup it certainly
    makes for a great desktop setup and for some people that is
    all they want and need (like my mother wanted).

    I am sure you could easily mate it with other speakers
    and yes it will drive them (those Onk speakers are 5 Ohms
    most speakers are 8 ohms and the most difficult to drive
    are 4 ohm. The onk will push 4 ohm speakers I am sure. But
    it doesn't put out loads of wattage (what do you expect
    though for a small package).

    In the end it's up to you, if you want a one box solution
    that's the way to go.
     
  7. Mark Russ

    Mark Russ Second Unit

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    Brian, I honestly don't think that the little Sony would be capable of powering any other speakers, except maybe for some high sensitivity Klipschs.



    Brett (or anyone else), how does Onkyo mate with Polks? Are they in general too bright for Polk, such as say Yamaha for example, and not a good match?
     
  8. Brett DiMichele

    Brett DiMichele Producer

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    Mark,

    People generaly say Onkyo is on the warm side for what it's
    worth. I wonder though why you want to replace the speakers
    right off the bat? Have you listened to the particular
    mini system I posted and found the speakers lacking? If so
    you will probably find most of the speakers in the low
    price range lacking also. I know one thing, it's one of the
    better sounding mini systems that I listened to. The other
    choice would be the Denon setup with Mission bookshelfs.
    All of the other mini systems I have ever heard (Sony,Aiwa,
    Kenwood,JVC, Pioneer etc) were more like very low grade
    boomboxes.

    I really don't know what else to recommend in this type of
    small systems. If you really want bigger better sound then
    you will need more power from a true integrated or reciever
    and better speakers but going this route you will also need
    a seperate CD Player. You could still get into something
    along those lines for not a whole lot of money like has
    been said above.
     
  9. Mark Russ

    Mark Russ Second Unit

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    Hey all. I just found out that there is a company called Creek that makes a very good "bookshelf sized" integrated amp. Anyone ever hear of them?
     
  10. Marc H

    Marc H Second Unit

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    The Creek integrated amps have a nice tasty sound to them. Michael Creek is well known in the industry for his gear and has been at it for about twenty years or so. I'm told he designed the Cambridge Audio amplifiers too.

    Teac makes some good small gear too. Have a peek at their Reference series:
    http://www.teac.com/ConsumerAudio/re...ence_Index.htm
     
  11. Phil Iturralde

    Phil Iturralde Screenwriter

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    FYI: I have the Sharp XL-1700 - AM/FM CD Player Audio Systems.
    [​IMG]

    Originally announced @ 2002 Las Vegas CEA show w/MSRP $199.95 (Availability: Models XL-1600/1700: May 2002)

    My wife bought it @ CostCo for $69.95 + CA tax!

    It sounded great out of the box because of the supplied speakers, a 2-way bass reflex (1/2" ? piezo type dome tweeter & 4" woofer) and if you want a little more bass, ... you can add a small powered subwoofer via Sub Woofer OUTput (RCA jack)!!!

    Using the supplied wire FM antenna, I can receive my favorite Jazz Station KKSF (SF Bay Area). The AM loop antenna is like the ones you get with your AV Receiver's and I easily receive my news / sports AM stations like KGO & KNBR.

    It may not be a CD Changer, but the coolest option, ... besides the color & shape (my cubical panels is the same gray color), ... is that the CD Door raises automatically UP and DOWN via the Remote Control button!!! [​IMG] That alone was worth the $69.95!!! [​IMG]

    Phil
     
  12. Mark Dickerson

    Mark Dickerson Stunt Coordinator

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    Mark:

    Creek makes wonderful gear and it has a very high bang for the buck. If you can get something you like from Creek at a price you like--get it.

    If you are into an integrated amp for your office, also look at the NAD C320BEE, which was designed by the same guy who designed the legenday 3020 integrated amp. It has the famous NAD 3db+ in headroom, so it has more than enough power to tackle anything you mate with it. It is fully remote controlled and has a wonderful sound. It is also what I consider bookshelf sized (less than 12" deep), so it might be a very good choice.

    Another idea is that you might also look at the Marantz Duetto, which is two components sold in a package, like the Onkyo MC35TECH, but without speakers. You can find it at Marantz's outlet, Accessories 4 Less (accessories4less.com). The Duetto has only been reviewed in Europe, but it was viewed very favorably. It has more power than the Onkyo. BTW, the Onkyo, Denon (MC-30 and MC-50) and the Yamaha Piano Craft series, all have their power rated into 4 ohms, as are the speakers that they are bundled with. Putting Polks into the mix might leave you seriously disappointed.

    Another option is what I did for my office--get a good, inexpensive receiver, like an Onkyo 8211 (MSRP $200). It is not that large, physically, and has much better guts than a micro system (50 wpc x 2; and rated to handle 4 ohm speaker loads), but you would have to add a CD player. However, a decent, matching CD player can be had for about $125 new, as well.

    As for speakers, I assume you really like the Polks. You might also look into NHT speakers. One Call (www.onecall.com) is offering both the SuperZeros and the SuperOnes at a significant savings as they are being closed out. Still a very fine sounding speaker and they would give you excellent sound without being large.

    Just a few thoughts . . .[​IMG]
     
  13. Chris Tsutsui

    Chris Tsutsui Screenwriter

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    I agree with the above suggestions as a small mini system seems pretty ideal, but if you have the money, why not consider all options. [​IMG]

    DVD/Receiver combos are getting popular as you can get a JVC RX-DV3SL Silver*For $300 at crutchfield. This means you can use this as a 5.1 DVD player with progressive scan output. Heh, you can add a small TV to watch movies.

    Then get a pair of Jordan JX92S full range drivers and put them in a DIY cabinet for some very nice sounding speakers for $230. (No complex crossover to build). If you can't build the cabinet then it'll cost like $130 more for a prebuilt pair at Partsexpress. (But then it would still need holes for the drivers)

    If you want something small, you could use the tag band 3" full range driver that costs like $14ea. Then put them in two tiny boxes or mount them on a plate like dipoles.

    I guess DIY complicates things which is why shopping around for a mini system could be ideal. Then When the time comes, replace the speakers in the mini system wih a pair of DIY full range Jordans. [​IMG]
     
  14. Mark Russ

    Mark Russ Second Unit

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    Hello again all, and thanks for the input. What happened? I could have sworn that I saw some more posts after Phil I's from Brett, Debbie, John and others, and now they're gone.
    Anyways, to Phil I., your system looks very similar to mine (Sony CMT EX5), at a very comparable price (I snagged mine off of a Target clearance rack for $70, when it's $200 at Circuit City, Best Buy, etc.). It even has a top loading CD slot, although the door doesn't raise up like yours. I guess it's OK for the price I got it, but I just want something more.
    To Mark, I just happen to have the little Polk bookshelves that I snagged for a ridiculous price. I think Polk is decent for the money, but they are by no means the be all/end all of speaker companies to me.
    I have heard the Onkyo, and was impressed with it. The speakers with it were actually halfway decent. I was very surprised at the Onkyo speakers. The only complaint I have about it whatsoever is that the speakers have spring clips for speaker wire instead of 5 way binding posts. I have looked high and low for the Denon/Mission systems, and the Yamaha to listen to, but no local dealers around me seem to stock them. I guess that there's just not that much demand for a "high end" mini system in the market as opposed to the typical run of the mill crap from Sony, JVC, Kenwood, Panasonic, etc.
    Circuit City has the onkyo on sale for 5% off, with 1 year interest free financing thrown in to boot, and that's the way I'm leaning right now, but I would like to at least hear some of the others first. I would be very suprised however, if any of them were signifigantly better than the Onkyo.
     
  15. Mark Dickerson

    Mark Dickerson Stunt Coordinator

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    Mark:

    I don't know where you are or what stores may be around you. I know the Denon/Missions are available around me at the Soundtrack stores. I just moved from California and the same systems could be found at Good Guys. Circuit City and Best Buy, alas, are rather weak in their offerings, although your local Best Buy should have the Yamaha system. I first heard it there.

    If you want a mini system, I would recommend the Onkyo or the Yamaha over the Denon/Mission system. The Mission speakers aren't that impressive and aren't better than the speakers bundled with the Onkyo. There is one Denon system that is head and shoulders better than any other mini system out there, but it is VERY hard to find--the Denon D-F101. It puts out 35 wpc into 8 ohms and comes with Mission M71Bs (real speakers, not like the spring clip jobs they sell with the M-30 and M-50 systems). The F101 system is really good, and rivals any good home stereo system.

    Barring that system, my choice would be the Onkyo MC35TECH, pictured above, with the Yamaha a very close second (if you like it all housed in one box, then the Yamaha is for you, which is really the only noticeable difference). The Onkyo's weakness is the speakers, which are very good for what they are ("Fluance" level quality). Same could be said for the Yamaha "Piano Craft" system. However, whether you would ever drive them to home listening levels in the office may make the whole issue moot. At low to mid levels, they are more than adequate.

    Whether you could get better sound out of the Polks is open to question as these two systems are designed to run their bundled 4 ohm speakers and I am pretty sure that the Polks are 8 ohm, so your power would be cut in half, but you might try it. Frankly there isn't much downside as you have already heard the Onkyo and liked it, so even if you are stuck with their speakers, it is a pretty nice system.

    Good luck!
     
  16. Aaron Smithski

    Aaron Smithski Stunt Coordinator

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    I would venture to say that the Mission MS-50's may very well qualify as "real speakers", if Mark's definition of a real speaker is not having spring clips! My MS-50's use actual binding posts, along with 4.25" glass composite woofers and real 1" silk dome tweeters! And they look pretty dang good too, with a convincing beech finish done in vinyl and silver accents around the drivers and port.

    I have been pretty impressed with the D-M30S Denon mini system! I am using this system in my kitchen/dining room area, along with a Pinnacle Digital 600 dual 12" isobaric subwoofer. The kitchen dining room is 23'L x 14'W with 10' high ceilings; or 3220 cubic feet. This area is totally wide-open to the living room, which measures 28'L x 16'W with 21' ceilings...or a whopping 9408 cubic feet! Combined area to fill is 12,628 cubic feet! [​IMG]

    The Mission speakers are mounted on wall brackets in the corners of the kitchen/dining area at 22' apart. They are 8.5' off the floor, pointed in towards the center of the room, and tilted to aim the sound down a bit. The Pinnacle subwoofer is totally hidden under a corner breakfast nook below the right Mission speaker.

    Simply put, this system sounds excellent! I was blown away at how the little Mission speakers, in concert with the Pinnacle, could fill up this large space. After deciding to break out the Rat Shack meter, I was rewarded with a 104 dB peak SPL reading (C-weighted) in the epicenter of the two rooms, with no distortion! It plays right up to the point of "too loud"; if there is such a thing! [​IMG] Okay, that doesn't exist, but it provides plenty of output for day to day listening and entertaining.

    The Mission speakers sound quite good, and blend well with the Pinnacle sub. I would highly recommend this system! [​IMG]

    Also, if you can find one used, the Teac MC-D90 3-disc mini system also sounds great for little money! The stock speakers are good, but I swapped them out for a pair of the Sound Clearing House K05B50 kit speakers and took it to the next level. Combined with an 8" Acoustic Research powered subwoofer, I find this system to be a superb bedroom alarm clock! [​IMG]
     
  17. Brett DiMichele

    Brett DiMichele Producer

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    FWIW the Onkyo speakers have real 5 way binding posts on
    the back, as does the Reciever! They accept 12Awg wire too.

    The Onkyo really is one great sounding "executive mini"
    system. It looks great and feels great to the touch, all
    aluminum front pannels and turned aluminum knobs. The
    speakers are solidly constructed for thier size and sound
    very warm (they don't produce bass thoug.. Forget it.. You
    need a real sub!) The MC34 and 35TECH have a real Subwoofer
    output on the back of the Receiver.

    I think the Denon is very comprable to the Onkyo. The Yammi
    I wasn't that impressed with. But I really like the Onk..
    So much that every time I hear it at my mothers I regret not
    buying one for my bedroom.
     
  18. Mark Russ

    Mark Russ Second Unit

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    Brett, the Onk speakers I saw most definitely did NOT have 5 way binding posts (although the little receiver did). They had spring clips. I specifically looked at that, and I do know the difference when I see it. Maybe they switched to save money or something. I'm not sure, but I seem to vaguely recall that you said your mother's was last year's model Not really sure how much difference that makes though, as contact is contact, and as long as the wire is touching, then I guess that's all that matters.
     
  19. Brett DiMichele

    Brett DiMichele Producer

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    Mark,

    Yes her's is the MC34Tech. Same Reciever and CD Transport
    and the speakers for the most part are the same. I believe
    the 35Tech has a larger diameter fabric tweeter. Her 34Tech
    most definatly has 5 way binding posts. I can't believe
    that Onk would quit using them but I can't argue with your
    eyes! Strange that they would change it.. Maybe it was too
    "complicated" for thier intended audience (Women? Office
    Workers?) who knows... They do studies on this crap!

    LOL [​IMG]
     
  20. Brian Bunge

    Brian Bunge Producer

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