So I'm thinking about buying a stereo...

I’m thinking of spending $800-$1000 canadian on a stereo. Can one get a decent stereo for this price? What speaker/amp/bass/etc brands are good? What brands should be avoided at all costs? Is there anything that is excellent buy in realtion to the cost?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

You can go two routes: The all-in-one package or go with separate components. I prefer separates because you can pick your favorite brand of whatever component you’re getting.

Rotel and Parasound are good bang for the buck brands. Sony, Technics, Yamaha, Onkyo, Denon, Kenwood, Harmon-Kardon all make solid stuff. Look for used gear, too. NAD, Adcom, Creek are other brands you might find used for a good price. There are a lot of brands out there. With that budget, you’re probably looking at a cd player, receiver/amp (integrated receiver), and speakers, yes?

I have a set of b&w dm302 speakers. They’re small but sound great. I think I paid maybe $240 US. You really need to audition speakers though to find ones you like. Don’t spend a lot on speaker wire. is good place to poke around and in the techtalk/general forum you can post your budget and what kind of components you want and you’ll get a couple suggestions for systems I’m sure.

I used to love buying audio stuff but it gets real expensive real fast.

Havok: Check out . It’s a great resource.

And mack’s suggestions are solid, IMHO :slight_smile: .

  • Tamerlane

I recommend the Googlephonic stereo with the Moonrock needle. It’s okay for a car stereo but I would not want it in my house.


Rotel is superb. I have a Rotel CD player and integrated amp. Both of them retail for about USD 400. They sound better than most USD 1000 components. Clear, harmonious, and a great undistorted output at all volume levels. I tossed in a couple of Tannoy Mercury M3 speakers (aggressive, crisp sound, about USD 200 each) - an excellent package for a total of USD 1250.

Oh, and Sony does not make high-quality stuff. Their CD players have the worst break-down rates of all. Plus, the sound is crap - although that’s highly subjective.

Speaking of subjective: let’s move this baby to IMHO.

Be aware that most mass-market brands sell on features over sound quality. If a system comes with a Multi-Cd and Tuner and Tape Deck and Minidisc and Flat speakers and Graphic Equalizer and …etc. it will invariably sound far worse than a well chosen, no frills Cd, Integrated amp and speakers at the same cost.

No-nonsense brands (Rotel as mentioned above is just one such brand) give you fewer buttons to press but much more pleasure.

Magnum, this sounds familiar. Is this from an old Steve Martin stand-up line?

I agree with Coldfire. I would like to throw my 2 cents in, however, and say get a nice pair of Jamo speakers to go with your Rotel system. I’ve seen them retailing between 280-370 USD.

And, no matter what anybody tells you, stick with components. It’s a lot easier to replace or upgrade components as opposed to an entire complete package stereo system.

Good luck and happy listening,

Home or car?

Jamo?? The horror!!!

See, opinions differ. I’d rather stick a toothpick through my eardrums than hook up a pair of Jamos to my amp. Yet YoungGotti seems to like it. :smiley:

I’m quite happy with my 1.5 year old Marantz amp and CD player, with PSB speakers. I’d advise you to go to a specialty store and make sure you get the sound that suits your needs.

Good luck with it!

I recommend an NAD or Rotel receiver, and either Paradigm or PSB speakers. I have several friends who have gone stereo shopping recently, and they all ended up buying a combination of those.

Yes, Coldfire is right. A correction to my endorsement of Mack’s list - I dislike Sony. The mass-market stuff, other than Walkman’s, is junk.And while they can make good-sounding equipment, the good stuff tends to be ludicrously overpriced compared to the compeitition. Also I wouldn’t really mess with Technics or Kenwood, and I am indifferent to Onkyo ( did used to have a cheap Onkyo turntable that was reliable, if not particularly musical ).

NAD, Rotel, Marantz, and Harmon-Kardon all make very solid entry-level audiophile-quality equipment. If you absolutely must buy a unified mini-system, the only one I’ve ever listed to and thought was even deceny was a Denon. But I strongly recommend you don’t go that route.

My own system ( which is little more than a bedroom system ) is a hodepodge of equipment since that’s how I picked it up - Mostly as discounted floor demos or as special sale items at various points. Good way to shop if you have the time. But you can end up with mis-matched components that way ( if you’re a fussy listener ). Includes:

1.) Marantz receiver ( probably soon to be replaced with a slightly beefier and cleaner Rotel integrated amp and separate tuner )
2.) NAD 616 tapedeck for dubbing stuff for people
3.) AMC CD-8a CD player ( good British company - I like the spare look and solid build of their equipment - And Good Sound is correct that it is very “neutral” sounding )
4.) Music Hall turntable ( basically a ProJet repackaged by the people that make Creek equipment - cheapest good turntable you can buy at about $300 )
5.) Sennheiser 580 Headphones ( Love’em :slight_smile: - Highly recommended and still available dirt cheap on the net, since they are a discontinued model )
6.) B&W 602 speakers ( I’m very fond of them, but some hate B&W’s - Speakers are about the most subjective piece of stereo equipment in terms of preference - I like Paradigm, NHT, and PSB as well, but they all have different sounds ).


NAD, Rotel, Maranzt, and Harman-Kardonn are all excellent brands indeed. The “sound” is very much different, though, and depends on taste (well, duh ;)). I, for one, think H-K amps sound much too “warm”, too “cosy”. I like the clean (if at times a bit harsh) sound the Rotels deliver. The NAD and Marantz amps would be somewhere in between, in that respect. Another suggestion is the British brand Arcam. Relatively unknown, but they make amps that (too my taste too “warm” again) IMHO are comparable if not better than H-K, and for significantly less money at that. Onkyo and Denon are NOT high quality components in my book. They’re better than Technics and Sony, but that’s about it.
Stay away from Bang and Olufsen at all times. It’s crap.

CD players: you want one that’s as neutral as possible. Don’t bother about specs, don’t let the salesman talk you into buying high-tech shit you don’t want. Hook up a decent amp and speakers in the store (both preferably neutral sounding ones), and compare CD players. Choose the one that sounds the most neutral and detailed. In my case, that certainly meant a Rotel. They use Philips components (which of course Marantz does as well, seeing as it is Philips’ luxury brand), but they re-engineer the player so that the wiring is better, and more importantly, shorter. Plus, the line jacks are of higher quality than the comparable Philips models.

Speakers: as said, this IS the most subjective part. I chose my Tannoys because they have a very detailed, aggressive sound. My stereo is almost incapable of playing background music. It’s cristal clear, and very natural sounding.
There’s very little to recommend in this area, you just have to listen and compare, once you’ve chosen the amp and CD-player. There are, however, a few brands you want to steer clear of. The following brands are just utter crap: Bose, Jamo, Dali. All in different price classes, but all WAY too expensive for what they offer. The first two live on brand recognition alone, and the latter just looks good. (Women love Dalis.)
Brands to consider are Tannoy, Warfdale, KEF, B&W, BNS, JBL, and probably a lot more I can’t think about right now.

Wiring: buy better wiring than the stuff that comes with it, but don’t go overboard. If you’re paying $30 per meter of wiring for hooking up a $400 amp with a $300 pair of speakers, something is amiss.

All info is, of course, IMHO :wink:

I found my thread!

Thanks for all the help so far. I was planning on getting a home stereo as a component system, sorry for not clarifying that.

This “warm” sound I don’t quite understand, but I’ll bet I’ll get it when I listen to the stereos.

What type of music should I play to test out the components? For example, I listen to a lot of metal and punk. Should I bring in those type of CD’s, or is there a stereo tester CD that I could buy?

Also, since I don’t really listen to bass intensive music, would it to get subwoofer?

Sigh. I know so little about this. I have a mental image of me walking into a wolves den draped in meat and asking for help. Anyways, once again, thanks.

Don’t say “wolves den” :wink:

Subwoofers are evil, IMHO. While Dolby Surround stuff is nice for a home entertaiment system, it’s useless for a “normal” stereo. Better buy two good speakers for your money.

Bring the music you usually listen to, I guess. That’s what you want to play at home as well. If your prospective stereo works well for Pantera but not for Brahms, who cares? It’s YOUR music, and YOUR system. My set-up isn’t perfect for classical music either, although it still manages above average.

With “warm” sound, I mean… well, I guess it IS hard to explain. Softer, rounder, less… in-yer-face. I don’t know. Just compare a Rotel amp and a H-K amp with the same CD player and speaker, and you’ll see what I mean. The H-K sounds “warm”, and the Rotel sounds “clear”.

That’s as good as I can put it into words. :slight_smile:

Oh, and sorry for not putting the thread move in the notification thread in GQ. Slipped my mind.

Here is some good advice on how to go about listening to new stuff:

Of course they want you to buy Linn stuff which is outside your budget :frowning: but the method works for any hifi. Remember that the aim is to get something you enjoy listening to overall - don’t get hung up on a single aspect of the sound (bass for example) as you may well miss that subjective ‘feel’. If you find your foot tapping along that is a good sign.