Edited by mmo1324 - 6/19/13 at 9:15am
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Edited by mmo1324 - 6/19/13 at 9:15am
At that budget you're in the "vintage" zone. Too much out there to advise specifically, and everything is subject to condition, you'll have to shop and listen. On vintage speakers, pull off the grill and make sure the woofers don't have crumbling surrounds. That's the flexible area near the outer edge of the cone, and anything older than 15 years could have disintegrating foam there. Holes are bad, you'll need to have them fixed or get new woofers. A cracked cone or bad surround takes the speaker value way down, but not to zero. I bought a pair of Boston Acoustics A40 once with bad surrounds, bought new woofers, and got them working just fine. I think I spent $50 on the whole project.
Between the 640 preamp and your speakers you'll need something to control the volume. If you just get a power amp, you won't have that, so at your budget look for a vintage receiver or integrated amplifier. Make sure you can test everything out. Listen for crackles, hum, buzz, anything but the music. Try all the controls, particularly the volume control and selector switch.
Great deals can sometimes be had at Good Will stores, and resale shops. I saw a nice pair of B&W speakers at a resale shop once, if I'd had a way to get them home I'd have bought them. Resale and Good Will will let you hook stuff up and try it. Ebay has more to pick from, watch for peoples return policies, make sure they promise the stuff is not DOA, and look very carefully at the photos. Don't buy speakers without seeing pix of the cones! Remember to read the return policy carefully, a lot of used stuff is sold "no return". You can't really audition stuff you buy on eBay and return it without a bit of a struggle. But if you buy something with a known but repairable problem, you'll save big.
Thanks Jaddie. Good advice. Now, if I get an integrated amp, won't I have 2 preamps? The 640 and whatever is in the integrated amp? What should I get that just has an amp and allows me to control volume? I think I'm set on the speakers, I'll check a few out on craigslist.
The photo I saw of the 640 didn't show a volume control. Does it have one?
Technically, there are two different types of preamps. The 640 is a phono preamp, which is matched specifically to a phono cartridge, provides the required gain, and applies the required RIAA equalization curve. The output of the 640 is a "line level" signal identical to what you'd expect from a CD player or DVD player.
The other kind of preamp is really a control preamp. It takes line level signals from source equipment like CD players etc and provides volume control, tone control, source switching etc. The output of that kind of preamp is intended to feed a power amp. A power amp, as you know, is required to amplify a line level signal to the point it can drive speakers.
When you roll the control preamp and power amp into a single unit, you have an "integrated amplifier". It has volume and tone controls, input switching and connections for speakers. If you add a radio tuner, you have a "receiver". Today's AV Receivers (AVR) combines video switching and processing, room calibration, surround processing, digital signal processing, and a ton more, but is still a receiver because it has volume control, a radio tuner, and speaker connections.
The reason your 640 exists is that most modern AVRs don't have a phono preamp in them. So you cannot connect a turntable directly to an AVR without it sounding terrible.
Your 640 performs an important function, and will do it better than most built-in phono preamps you may find in vintage integrated amps and receivers. Technically, you are using two preamps, but they are very different kinds, and work together just fine.
There are passive volume control units, but they are over priced, and have many other issues. They wouldn't serve your application well.