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Receiver Recommendations?

post #1 of 63
Thread Starter 
Ok, first and foremost let me say I have no idea which subforum to post this in, so if a moderator feels it's inappropriately placed, feel free to relocate to a place where I'd find a better answer.

I am working on building a "cheap", upgradable setup.

I own a pair of Sennheiser HD555's and intend to purchase the Rega P1 in the near future (catching up on bills after a brief unemployed stint). My only issue is where to connect the two. I've heard of amps, DAC's, receivers, all working in unison, but if I'm looking to first and foremost listen to records (with the prospect of adding amps and what not in the future), are there any in particular one would recommend?

I would say I'm looking to spend $500-$1000 TOPS, ideally on the lower end, but I understand that "audiophile" can create some wallet strain.

Also, with the intent to grab some nice speakers in the future, what would you say about the Paradigm Atoms? I've considered a pair as they could be sufficient for home theater and music listening usage.
post #2 of 63
In this price range, your best option is to buy a used integrated amplifier. They sound better than receivers. Arcam, Creek, NAD, and Rotel are famous for their integrated amps and which usually include a good sounding phono section. Look on Audiogon.com
post #3 of 63
Thread Starter 
It's to be used for music and home theater purposes. I'm fairly young, don't have the income to build both an audiophile setup for music and home theater purposes, looking for a relatively cheap ($2k is about 2 months work of 40 hours a week) to get me by for a few years until I graduate.
post #4 of 63
Buying speakers? (stereo or multi-channel/home cinema?) If so then ok buy a integrated or av amp, otherwise if you're just using headphones buy a stereo pre-amp with *headphone stage or use tape out to external headphone amp *. Or buy a av pre-amp same again *
post #5 of 63
Thread Starter 
Eventually I'll buy speakers, maybe in 3-4 months time?
post #6 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by Donald North View Post
In this price range, your best option is to buy a used integrated amplifier. They sound better than receivers. Arcam, Creek, NAD, and Rotel are famous for their integrated amps and which usually include a good sounding phono section. Look on Audiogon.com

Are there any differences in the amp section or headphone out between integrated and receiver assuming both from the same manufacture and in the same price range?

I thought receiver is just an integrated + turner and A/V receiver is a receiver + video capability + D/A.
post #7 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cankin View Post
Are there any differences in the amp section or headphone out between integrated and receiver assuming both from the same manufacture and in the same price range?

I thought receiver is just an integrated + turner and A/V receiver is a receiver + video capability + D/A.
Receivers back in the 70s and 80s often were an integrated amp + tuner section. My Tandberg and NAD are this way.

However most of today's AV receivers do not incorporate the same quality of amplification circuitry as used in a stand-alone integrated. Today's receivers are using power pack output sections or class D amplifier modules to maximize power output while minimizing required chassis space and energy consumption. These aren't built to the same sound quality as a dedicated integrated amp which is normally incorporating discrete transistors and output devices. In fact, many AV receivers aren't even designed by their parent company - they're designed by the OEM factory who is given a feature set list, front panel drawing, and price point to hit.

A lot of pleasure can be derived by hooking your TV/DVD into a 2-channel stereo. While it doesn't have sound coming from behind you, to me it still sounds 90% as good on video along with being much better on music.
post #8 of 63
Thread Starter 
I don't need video capabilities or anything, it's simply to be used to connect my 360, PS3, cable box, and turntable to my headphone/speakers.

So an amp is the best way to do so, and though I see brands above, are there any particular models to keep an eye out for?
post #9 of 63
You might want to use a DAC, as onboard analogue from 360 & PS3 could be a bit ropey. For your turntable you'll need a phono stage.

So either looking at a av pre-amp, a stereo pre-amp and DAC. Then either integrated headphone amp and phono stage on the two units or two external boxes.
post #10 of 63
In the range the OP has ($500-1000), the best bang for the buck right now would be to get a good integrated amp from someplace like NAD (325BEE or 375BEE), Cambridge (550A or 650A). The Music Hall - A25.2 Integrated Amp is also nice. They all come with headphone out. Even just thumb through Stereophile recommended components to get an idea. After that buy yourself a separate phono preamp, NAD and Creek both make small decent ones. When you want to upgrade, start with 1) getting a separate headphone amp, 2) a better phono stage, 3) get some better speakers and 4) then finally you can separate the integrated amp into components. I hope this helps.
post #11 of 63
First, in your price range its better to buy used!

Try searching in Audiogon for a (If you can audition them first):

Tube (close to $1000 and no phono stage):
Manley Stingray MK1
Pathos Classic MK2 or better MK3(+300)

SS:
Creek 5350SE
Naim Nait 5
Rega Mira3
Primare I21
Arcam A85
Musical Fidelity A1

A good and cheap external phono stage is the:

Musical Fidelity V-LPS
Rega Fono Mini
Creek obh21se

Any of these offers a distinct presentation, but all are very good choices, as I said, try auditioning them! and good luck!
post #12 of 63
Thread Starter 
Briefly researched through some of those recommended, the NAD amps stand out as they're pretty slim and I live in a pretty confined space. Price-wise they're not too bad either, could get a pair of Atoms and either the P1 or Debut III as well as the amp for under a grand.

Appreciate all the input so far, keep it coming!
post #13 of 63
I had Creek 5350SE, it's headphone out was nice, not a bad amp either.

Does the MF A1 have a headphone jack?
post #14 of 63
Thread Starter 
There's a hi-fi shop a half hour or so away (New Hampshire, options are pretty limited) selling a demo Cambridge 640a for $349. Given I could save about $200 (chump change to some of you guys I know haha) do you think it's worth going a step down, or should I just suck it up and go with the 550a/650a? The near-$600 price tag isn't awful for a new product I could use for a few years, but is the difference really enough to warrant the upgrade?
post #15 of 63
Thread Starter 
I've settled that I'll be getting one of the Cambridge Audio amps, but I've also been reading that they could have trouble powering larger speakers. For headphones and bookshelfs it seems fine, but if I do ever upgrade down the line to a nicer set of speakers, would I be running into issues? I suppose what I'm asking is, how powerful can they go?
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