Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Dedicated Source Components › $500 upgrade - suggestions?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

$500 upgrade - suggestions?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Hi all,

 

I've got about $500 to spend, and was wondering if there's anything worth buying to upgrade my parents' (quite old) system.  They've got a Yamaha CDC-635 CD player running into a Yamaha RX-360 receiver/amp, and then to a large pair of Infinity speakers.  They're SM-series, though I can't discern the model number.  Looks like the SM-series has been heavily criticized, but they sound ok.  Aesthetics are important for the speakers, as they're also furniture, and it's quite possible they won't want to replace them at all.  There is also a Yamaha TT-400U turntable which runs into the receiver, but it's used sparingly.  The system is used almost exclusively for classical music, though there's also some Indian classical, and rare forays into pop.

 

I realize this is quite a low price point, but I'd appreciate any recommendations (even if the recommendation is to do nothing until I've set aside a few more shekels).

 

Thanks!

post #2 of 9
The receiver looks pretty low end, so that's a definite candidate. Without a model # on the speakers, it's a little hard to say, though you say they're old. How big and how old? It really depends how it sounds now and whether the listener will appreciate the changes. If it's you and you're doing it for yourself, it may be worth it (you're on head-fi after all!). If it's for you parents, they might not appreciate the audio upgrade (mine wouldn't - it's just background music for them played mostly at low volumes).

If you really want to upgrade the sound significantly, you may want to two-part it and leave room for more upgrades when you have more $. I wouldn't worry about the CD player for now. Since the speakers are big and furniture, I might save that for a bit later too as you have to consider the aesthetics as well.

I would take a look at the receiver first, and you may want to buy locally at a place at allows returns in case you upgrade the receiver and you (or your parents) are not impressed by the upgrade. If this is for two channel listening only, you may also want to look on Craigslist locally for an older high end receiver that doesn't have HDMI or decode the latest surround sound standards - you may find something really cheap. For example, I bought a NAD T752 (10yrs old, 5ch amp vs 7ch, doesn't decode lossless surround standards, originally about $900) for only $50. People will dump their older receivers for quite cheap to get the latest bells and whistles which don't matter for music only listening. Ideally you could find something with pre-amp outputs to give you the option to use a discrete/separate amp later if desired.

Try that first and see how much the receiver upgrade does for you. If it's an improvement but you still want more, then get parental input on what cosmetically would be acceptable to set guidelines for what options you have. Used is also worth considering via Craigslist, Audiogon, etc. Personally, I wouldn't go too old on the speakers because foam/rubber surrounds like break down as they just started to do on my 20-yr old Paradigms.

Good luck!
post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks, that's exactly what I wanted to know.  I had actually been looking at speakers, because the consensus seems to be that they're the most important part of the audio chain (and because I don't know anything about receivers).  I'd been thinking about a pair of used Tekton M-Lore's (at 34" they're only 4" taller than the current setup--which were purchased in '93, btw), but ran into the aforementioned aesthetics problem.  Your suggestion to buy a used receiver sounds excellent, and 2-channel output would indeed be sufficient.  I'll start looking through the forums for recommendations, but I'd certainly appreciate any models you think would give good value.


Edited by Appleby - 8/7/12 at 1:51pm
post #4 of 9

Make sure to check out Audiogon. A lot of the stuff there is way expensive but you still see some affordable stuff at times. Also check your local craigslist to see if anyone has speakers there. Save on shipping. 

post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks, that's good info!

post #6 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Appleby View Post

Thanks, that's exactly what I wanted to know.  I had actually been looking at speakers, because the consensus seems to be that they're the most important part of the audio chain (and because I don't know anything about receivers).  I'd been thinking about a pair of used Tekton M-Lore's (at 34" they're only 4" taller than the current setup--they were purchased in '93, btw), but ran into the aforementioned aesthetics problem.  Your suggestion to buy a used receiver sounds excellent, and 2-channel output would indeed be sufficient.  I'll start looking through the forums for recommendations, but I'd certainly appreciate any models you think would give good value.

 

I think the speakers are the most important, but what caused me to recommend trying the receiver first is that it's hard for me to know how good your speakers are without a model # and you have that aesthetic constraint - so recommending you replace your speakers first might not be the best move if your current ones are already pretty decent. 

 

On the other hand, your Yamaha receiver seems somewhat old, was more of an entry level model even when it was new, and whether your speakers now or new speakers that you'll eventually get are not the most efficient, you'll likely benefit from more real power - I say real because some/many brands inflate their power ratings. 

 

Once you reach a certain level on the receiver side, you'll (IMO) effectively remove that from being the bottleneck, not have to worry about that any more, and you can concentrate (and take your time) on the speakers.  By purchasing a higher end used receiver (whether two channel or older surround), you should be able to get away pretty cheap (<$200) while boosting power and amplifier quality significantly.  When I recommended you get something with pre-amp outs, this gives you the option later to pick up a used 2-channel amplifier to give you even better quality amplification, but I wouldn't go there first - it's just a possible option for later. 

 

If you pick something used but <10yrs old, you likely won't have any problems with bad caps, etc like you might with a really old 70's or 80's vintage receiver.  Many people like that due to build and sound quality, but going that old means that something may already have aged to being bad or may soon.  But <10yrs old should be pretty safe.  I would stay away from the total mass market brands (Sony, Technics, etc) - certainly stay away from any receiver that was part of a home-theater-in-a-box setup.  Higher end Yamaha, Denon, Pioneer, Harman Kardon, Marantz, etc should be pretty safe.  I had heard Onkyo's had a tendency to get hot and had potential reliability issues, so I personally wouldn't go there myself.  Look at reviews and forums to guide you as well.

 

Then see how happy your system makes you (after just the receiver).  If it's a significant upgrade, live with that awhile while you save up more money for speakers,  Then once you've saved enough and know where you can go aesthetically, pull the trigger on the speakers and I'm sure you'll notice a significant upgrade then.  Again, you may get a good value buying used.  Again, stay away from total mass market stuff from electronics makers that aren't known for making speakers - even some of the guys that are fine for receivers (Yamaha, Pioneer, etc) I'd steer away from for speakers.  There are a lot of good speaker manufacturers (Paradigm, Vandersteen, etc) that only make speakers - there's something to be said for having a core competency and focus.

 

I think it's also very important to listen to any speakers you may buy before you buy them.  Both to make sure they're good (if used) and just to make sure they fit your criteria of what sounds good/natural, etc.

post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks!  I used your suggestions as a starting point, and dove into the numerous receiver threads.  Since my parents have a turntable (despite its infrequent use), I think a phono stage is necessary.  That rules out a lot of the more recent offerings.  Since only stereo sound is needed, a lot of the cool vintage stuff (Sansui!) would be nice--but I'm ruling that out too, for maintenance reasons.  Right now my list is: Yamaha R-S300/R-S500/R-S700 or (at a good price) Yamaha RX-497/RX-797.  The Outlaw RR2150 looks very cool, but even used is rather pricey.

 

I've also been keeping an eye on craigslist: http://washingtondc.craigslist.org/ just in case something turns up. I can't be certain, but there doesn't seem to be anything worthwhile at the moment.

post #8 of 9

First off, did your folks ask you to upgrade there system? I ask because I've found most older folks dont like nor need change.

 

The Yamaha IA does not look to crappy to me. So can the system be truly upgraded for $500.? I dont think so. I've been seeing some refurb blueray players for $40.~ $100. as of late. You could pick up one of those and a Schiit Bifrost for a bit under $500. and that would be a good jump up in SQ. But $500. for a complete system, that sounds better is not likely(imo).

 

I've got a NAD c320bee integrated amp I bought new for close to $400. used it for a few months, and it's sat on a self in mint cond for the last 3 years. It's yours for $207. plus shipping.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Appleby View Post

Hi all,

 

I've got about $500 to spend, and was wondering if there's anything worth buying to upgrade my parents' (quite old) system.  They've got a Yamaha CDC-635 CD player running into a Yamaha RX-360 receiver/amp, and then to a large pair of Infinity speakers.  They're SM-series, though I can't discern the model number.  Looks like the SM-series has been heavily criticized, but they sound ok.  Aesthetics are important for the speakers, as they're also furniture, and it's quite possible they won't want to replace them at all.  There is also a Yamaha TT-400U turntable which runs into the receiver, but it's used sparingly.  The system is used almost exclusively for classical music, though there's also some Indian classical, and rare forays into pop.

 

I realize this is quite a low price point, but I'd appreciate any recommendations (even if the recommendation is to do nothing until I've set aside a few more shekels).

 

Thanks!

 

post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 

They did not ask me to upgrade their system, and there is always the possibility they won't care for the results:)  But my dad does enjoy his classical music, goes to concerts, listens to CDs in the evening--and I believe this is the only system he's ever had, other than a standalone turntable, and radio before that.  So I thought it might be worth a go.  Worst case scenario, I can always swap it back.

 

The NAD c320bee looks like an excellent piece of equipment, but it has neither phono stage nor tuner, so I think it's off the table.  I thank you for the offer, though, and for your perspective (especially regarding the current receiver not necessarily being poor).

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Dedicated Source Components
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Dedicated Source Components › $500 upgrade - suggestions?