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Good Sound System For Classical CD's


nemesis
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I think he might be referring to the "Acoustic Wave music system." 901's are really good- my father's got them hooked up through a Harman Kardon receiver to his Audigy 2- his Verdi collection has never sounded better. Once I clear enough space in my room, I'm getting the stuff he had in college- a Dynaco tube setup with amp, preamp, and record player, plus a pair of Bose 301's (I can get them for free, unlike 901's on Ebay).

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I went through a similar situation about a year ago, and first of all, yes, Bose is way overpriced, though the 901's, which my friend's family own, are still good speakers (but still overpriced). I remember I inquired about buying the Bose Wave Radio for $500, but after doing some research and getting a great deal of help (particularly from a helpful guy named Pennstater), I was able to get a full featured 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound Home Theater that also happens to be an awesome music system for a little over $800. It sure beats a little crummy box that has a radio and CD player.

Regardless, the internet is your best friend, as well as going to audioreview.com for extensive reviews on any products that you are looking for. I was able to acquire an $800 Harman Kardon Receiver for $200 directly from the company because it turns out that there was a minor flaw in its appearance, which is that it had minor paint marks that could only be seen in direct sunlight at a certain angle. I was able to get some of the last pairs of tower speakers from made by the company Aura from Ubid, and my main "audio advisor" compared them favorably to Magnepan MMG's (which are comparable, if not better, than the Bose 901's). If you want a good sub in the $100-$150 range, look into either JBL PB10 subs or my personal sub, the Acoustic Research SP108.

Good luck in your search, I had a similar, stressful experience with my limited student budget. But I have been more than satisfied with my system, and listening to the Sibelius Violin Concerto or La Boheme inside a magical aura of sound is just too cool!

Good Luck,

Daniel

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I would recommend that you find a audio dealer who sells PSB speakers and listen to some of the smaller ones connected to the best electronics in the house. I heard a carefully set up system consisting of a pair of PSB speakers going for $325 and some very expensive Theta Digital equipment. As far as classical music was concerned I would of sworn that the sound coming out those speakers were from a pair of MartinLogan ESL Speakers costing six times as much; the mid-range was that good. If you feel the bass is a little lacking then get a PSB sub-woofer and enjoy.

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I don't want to spend more than $900. As Steve suggests, perhaps a surround sound home theatre system might work best since I can play DVD's on it too? I susbscribed to consumer reports but would prefer to get some actual experience and feedback especially from the classical music audio viewpoint.

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We have some kind of high-end audio system. I hate it; it's huge and between the speakers/amps/receivers takes up the entire family room. (I'd much rather have a small sound system and room for a sofa and nice reading lamp.) But it does sound good. I'll check when I get home and try to figure out what brand it is. It was purchased from one of those high-end audio specialty stores... if nothing else, you can always go browsing in one for ideas.

I like Bose ok myself but my husband refuses to have it in the house.

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Once my bank account recovers from the violin, bow & case purchases, the stereo system's my next biggie.

When my friend got her system, she did a bit of research & brought CD's with her to the shop to hear them with various component combinations. She got a Cambridge Audio amplifier, the D300 CD player, and a pair of B&W DM600 S3 bookshelf speakers. I'm thinking of getting that same combination except maybe the D500 CD player instead.

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I have a set of BMW 802s with Musical Fidelity Amps. I use a Canton Sub. THe system is great and very real. The system puts you at about the 5th role in the concert hall which is where I perfer to be. THe Bose systems has very harsh bright sound and the bass is too "hard". But I've been saving up for my system for a while, it costs 2 arms and 2 legs.

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If you are on a limited budget invest as much money as possible in a good set of speakers, since that is where ALL your sound comes from. If classical music will be what you listen to most, I would avoid the sub-woofer/satalite systems. Generally speaking you don't need to "feel" the “rumbling bass” of classical music and you will not need to reproduce low's down to 24 Hz to realize the full sound spectrum of classical music.

For a receiver/amp., invest your money in discrete circuits as opposed to the electronic type. Common brands with discrete circuitry are Harmon Kardon and Oynkio. Another key here for good sound reproduction is an amp that produces high current, NOT high watts. Watts are often over stated and misrepresented by sales people and literature. If you are driven by watts, you look for the watts to be measured as “continuous watts” and not “peak watts”. You also want low THD (total harmonic distortion).

My system consists of a mediocre CD player (Kenwood) a Harmon Kardon receiver and Infinity Crescendo speakers. With this system and a good full digital recording of classical music, if I listen closely, I can hear the pads on a piano contact the strings, the orchestra turn their pages and the conductor’s stand squeak. If I choose to listen to more pop or rock n roll, this system cranks.

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Ok, let me chime in here I consider myself a cheapskate audiophile. I also listen to a lot of classical music, especially violin concertos.

I can give you some of my personal opinions. However, you have to answer some questions first.

1. How much is your budget. And are you going to spend more later.

2. Do you want a home theater or a nice stereo system. If you don't watch too many dolby digital 5.1 dvd movies, I would start with a good stereo system with a dolby digital receiver and then add on from there when you have the money.

3. What type of music do you listen to and what type of reproduction are you looking for. For classical music, it's not bass heavy so there might not be a need for a subwoofer. However if you like rock or movies, a sub will make a big difference. Personally, when I listen to classical music, I look for accurate musical reproduction and a realistic soundstage.

4. Don't get caught up on wattage ratings. There are many ways to "rate" wattages of amplifiers/receivers. Factors that affect wattage ratings include: the frequency range that the rating is done on, the impedance of the speakers that the test was done on, and the total harmonic distortion at that max wattage. Crappy brands like Bose and others rate their receivers at high frequency ranges (It's a lot easier to drive high frequency sounds) and high total harmonic distortions (meaning at the max wattage there is a lot of noise.) They also quote the wattage in driving low impedance speakers (4ohms or 6 ohms) rather than 8ohms speakers, which are what most consumer line speakers are at. For example, my receiver can drive 8ohm speakers at 85watt per channel, and 115 watts per channel on 6 ohm speakers.

Here is my system. remember, I didn't get to here overnight. I went through many upgrades over a span of 6 years.

Mains: Magnepan MMG (2)

Center: Aura LSC-537M (one of the best cheap center channel speakers)

Rears: Aura LSC-627M (2)

Subwoofer: Infinity IL-120 500W crossover set at 50hz

Receiver: Yamaha RX-V795

Speaker wires: homemade wires using two strands of cat-5e ethernet cables.

That's about $1500 worth of equipment (in today's value).

Oh, BTW consumer reports IS NOT the place to get electronic opinions. They do cars, washers/dryers fine, but they are clueless on audio and video equipment.

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OK - here goes.

I got a DVD for Christmas last year. Convinced I would enjoy movies more (I don't do TV, just one or two good DVDs a month) with a surround dolby (5 speaker) amp I took my old system to work. What a bad mistake. DVD players will play Audio CDs well but they're slower and not so easy to programme. The amp and speakers are most important and I honestly couldn't recommend a cinema-type set up over a standard quality amp and speakers. The system at work is near perfect and was bought bargain basement. All 'old' models from discount stores that were the cat's cream when new.

eg NAD amp £70 Marantz CD £110 KEF Speakers £100. This when new (first available) would have been easily £1000. Find a place that deals in this kind of stuff and Bingo! In England we have 'Richer Sounds' - they do some AMAZING stuff.

A simple but high quality amp sounds better than a surround amp in my opinion for classical music, therefore buy the DVD player but stick to plain Stereo through two speakers - not so good for TV but fantastic for instrumental music - since that is how the majority of classical CDs were recorded.

TD

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Jim Hoyle, I was talkin about the acoustic wave thingee Linux mentioned. Cheapo junk.

I own lots of stuff. Harmon Kardon, Infinity, denon, you name it.

I listen to all my music with reference Monitors. They are used in recording studios. They add no "color", what you hear is what they recorded, they are flat (to an extent).

I use an Alesis Amp, Tannoy monitors and a Denon Cd player (or my Harmon Kardon CD player). Great recordings sound awesome, bad recordings sound bad.

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