a good scaleable audio system
March 12, 2007
I'm looking to buy a good scaleable audio system for around
$500. To start with, I want to buy a good multichannel receiver and a pair of bookshelf
speakers. Maybe after a few months, I can buy more equipment to complete my home theater.
So, initially, it will just be a stereo. I would rather go for quality over features.
I listen to a lot of soundtracks and music like Pink Floyd,
Mark Knopfler, and the like. Even after I upgrade to a home theater, the system should
still play my audio CDs just great.
I live in California and would like to listen to the
equipment before I buy.
First off, I like your approach; buying good quality
then adding to it over time is a prudent direction. For speakers, we just published what
should become a great reference for you: What We'd Buy: Speakers Under $300. There are a number of
fantastic bookshelf speakers available that would fill the bill and come in at about half
of your budget, and this article describes them for you. I dont think there has ever
been more bang for the buck in the speaker market than right now, and what youll see
in that article is a good cross-section of the best buys. As for listening locally, the
Paradigm Atom might be the most accessible. Dont discount the Internet firms,
though, as most offer some type of trial period. As for a partnering receiver, here is my
advice: Buy last years model. You may give up some cutting-edge features -- that you
probably wont use -- but youll get more amplifier section for your money if
the model has been discontinued. You should be able to find a $500 receiver for under $250
if you shop around (which will be better than a $250 current-model unit). You may have to
stretch a bit to get some stands and wiring, but youll have a great start to a
fantastic home-theater system.
March 6, 2007
Is there a way to hook up a subwoofer with a speaker-level
connection if the subwoofer only has RCA inputs? I am wondering if maybe there is an
adapter I can buy to do this.
There is no way to do this that I am aware of. The
circuitry on the other side of an RCA jack is not equipped for high-current input from a
power amplifier. You would definitely damage the subwoofer if you attempted this. If you
have a single preamp output you could use a Y-adapter to create two outputs, one of which
you can use for the subwoofer. I am assuming that might be the reason you are asking about
a speaker-level connection rather than using the RCA jack. Some subwoofers are equipped
with speaker-level connections, but unfortunately if theyre not present, the option
is not available.
March 2, 2007
I have a receiver with preamp outputs and was considering
buying a separate amp to replace the internal ones. I have Phase Tech speakers and the
receiver is only rated at 65Wpc. Do you think a 200Wpc amp will sound better than what I
have in the receiver now?
In most cases, yes, a good-quality separate amplifier
will be an upgrade to the internal amps included in many receivers. Not only will you get
more power and more headroom for dynamic peaks, but hopefully youll also get less
distortion and cleaner sound. Most receivers have decent amplifiers, but they really cant
compete with the better dedicated amplifiers on the market today. I know a number of
people who use receivers as preamp-processors only, with multichannel amplifiers doing the
heavy lifting. This is a system configuration that is cost effective and can perform quite
well. So I say go for it!