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Budget Hi-Fi recommendations: streamer, amp, speakers, sub

Discussion in 'audio' started by TheAuthor, Mar 19, 2020.

  1. TheAuthor

    TheAuthor pfm Member

    Budget Hi-Fi recommendations: streamer, amp, speakers, sub

    I'm looking at buying some budget Hi-Fi, primarily for streaming.

    Currently I have a NAS drive with all my CDs ripped to it, but it streams to a couple of Sonos Play 5s that I have in two rooms. I also have a Sonos playbar and a Sonos sub in the lounge connected to my TV.

    But, I'd like to get back in to some 'proper' Hi-Fi as when I stream my NAS to the Sonos playbar and sub, well, it's kind of ok for background, but, let's fact it, it's not exactly Hi-Fi.

    I'm on a budget of about £1,500 and don't mind second hand equipment.

    I was thinking, for the streamer, something like either (new) Bluesound Node 2i or an Arcam rPlay, or a used Linn Magik (they go for about £800).

    For the amp I was thinking of a used Rega Brio R, which go for about £350, or a new Brio, which is £600.

    For speakers, I do like my bass, so I was thinking of a used REL Strata 3 or 4, both go used for about £250, then some stand mount speakers to compliment, but not sure where to go on this one.

    Finally, I have quite a lot of high-res FLAC files that I've downloaded from the Linn and Naim sites from when I had a Linn streamer a couple of years back.

    I listed, primarily, to quality rock and pop, and some vintage Deep Purple, Led Zep, along with 80's stuff from Thomas Dolby, Prefab Sprout, most Trevor Horn produced stuff. For more modern music I'm into Empire Of The Sun at the moment. Being an ex classical pianist, I also like to play the odd bit of piano and classical, but rock/pop/blues are the main thing for me.

    I don't like brash/harsh sounds, I like a warm more rounded deep full sound with lots of bottom end slam/depth.

    Dimensions of living room for this equipment is 10 foot from couch to back wall where speakers will be and the room is about 16 foot wide, normal hight ceiling. Back walls are plasterboard, nothing too solid, backing onto neighbours house.

    I don't think I've left anything out.

    Suggestions greatly appreciated.
  2. Soulman

    Soulman pfm Member

    I've got an original CA cxn streamer, nice bit of kit, doesn't do Qobuz though, it'll be for sale around £300 when the dddac 1794 is finished.
  3. Del monaco

    Del monaco Del Monaco

    I'd go for a Yamaha 803D(amp and streamer(£500), the Strata(250) and Kef Q350s.(£500) Money left for stands and wires.
    booja30 likes this.
  4. wcavanagh

    wcavanagh pfm Member

    If it were my money I’d go for a Naim UnitiLite (£700-£800) and spend the rest on some decent floorstanding speakers (and ditch the sub - too much hassle in a stereo setup).
  5. linnfomaniac83

    linnfomaniac83 I bet you can’t wheelie a unicycle!

    If you’re thinking of going down the Linn DS route, a used Majik DSI/DSM would be my choice, then you have your streamer, DAC (for other digital sources) and amplification all in one neat package, they sound fantastic. For speakers, I’d be looking at Linn Ninkas or ProAc Studio 125s, both have a smooth, detailed and open presentation with deep, extended bass. You should be able to achieve this on your budget if you’re patient.
  6. foxwelljsly

    foxwelljsly Me too, I ate one sour too.

    The Cambridge audio streamers are excellent. S/H Proac Studio 125s, S/H Quad 606/909/QSP and a Tisbury passive pre-amp and you're off. Mission 753s, Ruark Talismans and Linn Ninkas are also good choices for cheap-ish S/H floorstanders. For standmounts to go with a sub, I'd seek out a good pair of Ruark Sabres or some Linn Katans.

    Subs are a better bet than floorstanders in a small room, as you can dial them in, but can be a source of constant fiddling. The Proacs are the best of the speakers I've recommended here and sublime (and VERY loud) with a big quad power amp, but they're rear ported and need plenty of space around them.

    In your room I'd start with floorstanders.

    IMHO, of course.
  7. TheAuthor

    TheAuthor pfm Member

    This is good stuff, guys, thank you. I'm writing down various things and starting to check them on eBay.
  8. Charlie_1

    Charlie_1 pfm Member

    Rega have a new entry-level amp (the 'io') which sounded really good at the Bristol show with their Kyte stand mount speakers:

    Agree with linnfomaniac and foxwelljsly that Linn Ninkas are great value. Also consider the older Keilidh which I still use. These can be picked up for about £100 - £150, or £250 - £300 with the upgraded stands. They have nicely controlled bass and tend to hide any upstream nasties very well. And they boogie especially with Naim amps. Both Ninkas and Keilidhs will sound a bit shut in compared to modern speakers but their sealed cabs mean that bass and timing are really good, probably better than most modern entry level speakers.

    The Linn Majik is popular with many although I find it a bit analytical. They are great value though and you can always sell on easily enough. Linn K20 speaker cable is good with any Linn/Naim amps and cheap.

    I also like the old Creek 4140 which can be had for about £100. A lot of fun for not much cash.

    I found the previous gen Brio-R sounded well balanced but a bit grey and boring. Not heard the current one. Didn't make as much sense of the music as my Nait 1. I think I'd prefer a Nait 5i which are about £450. Nait 1 and 2 are amazing but I doubt will have enough grunt for you, even with Keilidhs which are quite efficient. A benefit of old Naim gear is that they can still be serviced by the manufacturer using their selected (and balanced) components, or an authorised servicing agent.

    Many of the 1970s Japanese amps are supposed to be really good too but I've only got limited experience with them (Akai / JVC).

    I use a single box Linn Sneaky DS in the kitchen and that sounds very good with Linn M109 or Katan speakers. Not tried it with floor standers. I think they sell for about £600.

    I can only really recommend the stuff I've owned (mainly Linn/Naim/Rega/Exposure) but there's so much gear out on the used market and everyones ears are different so best to try stuff yourself. Have fun!!!

    Btw - 'slam' that you can feel in your chest requires big drive units AFAIK - i.e. to move the air. Even my big Isobariks don't really do much of that. Others can advise but I'm thinking you'll need a sub or speakers with 10" drive units or bigger.
    Robert M likes this.
  9. Woodface

    Woodface pfm Member

    The Sonos amp has had good reviews, it is £600, a pair of decent 2nd hand floor standers for circa £200 & then a rega/naim CD player 2nd hand. The Sonos amp will link with your other Sonos so you can stream to it.
  10. TheAuthor

    TheAuthor pfm Member

    Woodface, I'd rather step up a little from Sonos, I know their streamer/amp is 'ok' but I'd rather aim a little higher. Linn DSM (for about £1,200) or Naim UnitiLite (about £850) as advised above seems logical. Or Linn DS with Rega Brio R perhaps. Undiceded on this. Wtih UnitiLite I would never need the CD player part so in slight doubt over that one.

    Ninka speakers and a REL Strata 3 or 4 sounds good also.

    Was considering Bluesound Node 2i, but I suspect a used Linn or Naim would blow it out the water.

    Friend mentioned Spendor speakers also. I know they are good, but not familier with their range.

    I'm not thinking too vintage, don't want to go buying 80s stuff as the circuit boards probably look like pigeon sh** by now, would rather used stuff no more than 10 years old.

    This is about where I am at the moment.
  11. ralphj

    ralphj pfm Member

    Suggest that you definitely consider a Naim Uniti, but should be a recently serviced one having had the display replaced and the 24/192 streamer board update.
    Then you will have single box streaming and i radio capability,networkable, Naim CD5i based cd player, 2x50w Nait 5i based amplifier, dedicated Naim stageline phono capability, 5 input DAC (optical/coax), USB port,twin sub outputs,connection for Naim power amp.( Brief list!)
  12. Konteebos

    Konteebos Surfing on the lake of fire

    There's a set of Larsen 4 speakers for sale on here, they do very deep bass for their size (unlikely that you would need a sub) and they work best right up against the wall so they don't take up much space.
  13. Gervais Cote

    Gervais Cote Predator

    Agree 100% with all of these, specifically the Creek integrated.
  14. TheAuthor

    TheAuthor pfm Member

  15. TheAuthor

    TheAuthor pfm Member

    Not sure I'd want Larsen, nobody knows who they are, strange company, nobody sells them new in the UK, seem a little bit of a strange speaker/company, would rather stick with 'main stream' company.
  16. Zombie

    Zombie pfm Member

    It is a respected company, see the thread about Shaninians and Sonabs
  17. EIffel

    EIffel Cereal Killer

    For the streamer, I suggest looking at a Raspberry Pi with PiCorePlayer or similar software... this solution will work with any USB DAC (or you could add an on-board HAT DAC such as the IQaudiO Pi-DAC), and will free up some of the budget for where it's needed (speakers and amps usually)
  18. foxwelljsly

    foxwelljsly Me too, I ate one sour too.

    I use a Pi, but would probably go with a dedicated streamer if I was starting with a blank sheet. I've wasted days tweaking PiCorePLayer/LMS and Moode and neither does everything I want elegantly and both are quite buggy. Compatibility with BBC Sounds and other streaming services is not great and can be very laggy and you're unsupported as soon as you run into problems - unless you call waiting days to be condescended to on a forum support. Sound just fine though and they're cheap. I'm only sticking with mine because I like my digital pre which lacks any streaming support.

    Plex media server and a Chromecast audio (which has toslink out if you want to use a DAC) with an iOS or Android remote makes a pretty good ultra slimline streaming setup if you're looking to avoid the expense of a dedicated streamer. Plex is, by far, the most stable home streaming solution I've found. Plex will also work with a standard Chromecast HDMI'd into a TV connected to a DAC via Toslink.

    I have all these setups as Moode has permission errors which prevent it reading some files on my NAS which I cannot be arsed to spend half a day analysing and fixing and LMS/PCP is just crap with ALAC files.
  19. PerF

    PerF Scandinavian Member

    Maybe not very known but indeed respected.

    Based on Carlsson speakers and staff, Swedish based.

    Great speakers if you like omnidirectional performance
    Placement against rear wall, welcomed by many.
    Snufkin likes this.
  20. jobseeker

    jobseeker pfm Member

    As far as I know, Audio Consultants is a Larsen dealer and I think there are a couple of others at least. A bit of a side issue but I thought I’d mention it.

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