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Best Living Room System for €300- €400

post #1 of 43
Thread Starter 

I am looking for some advice please.


I am looking to purchase the best possible system for listening to music in my living room from my iPad, iPod and laptop for €300 - €400.


What I was thinking of was:

1. Bose Sounddock III

2. Audioengine A2+

3. Audioengine A5+

4. Denon D-M39DAB or another other micro HiFi system (suggestions welcome). Most of my music is on a hard drive so I don’t have many CDs


At the moment I usually listen to music through my AKG 550 headphones which I enjoy but I would like a good quality system for filling the room with good quality sound. I understand audiophile quality is not possible on this budget but looking for the best I can get for the budget I have.


Currently when listening to music in the living room I connect my iDevice or laptop to my Samsung HT-Z320R 5.1 Surround Sound Home Cinema System.


Would any of the 4 items I am looking at be a good choice for my needs or would anyone have any other suggestions?


Also, would these provide better sound than playing music through my home cinema system??


Thanks in advance...

post #2 of 43

For sound quality alone I think the A5+ are the clear winner.

The Denon is also a good sounding system, but it's more feature oriented, so the bulk of the price goes in that direction.

post #3 of 43
Thread Starter 

My living room is 18ft x 16ft. Would the A2+ be big enough for this room or would I need the A5+?


How would these sound in comparison to my home cinema system?

post #4 of 43

They will sound much better, there's no doubt about it.

Regarding the Audioengines... the A2's are very small and are designed for desktop use really. 

A5's are much better suited for a living room environment.

post #5 of 43
Thread Starter 

Thanks. Are there any other options available for my budget or would the A5+ be the best for my budget?

post #6 of 43

The only thing better is a full stereo system, amp + bookshelf speakers, as you would be able to chose from a much wider variety of loudspeakers including excellent vintage models that rival modern speakers.

But you're sacrificing space, possibly better aesthetics and depending on the system, higher energy consumption.


The A5s are nice if you can only find the right place for them. They're very picky with where you place them regarding how they project bass, due to the rear-ported enclosure.

I found that they needed at least 20cm distance from the wall to significantly reduce the boom effect. If you can give them some breathing space, and ideally put them on speaker stands (as the boomy bass will only be amplified by any furniture you put them on) you'll get a great sound out of them.

post #7 of 43
Thread Starter 

I have a wide TV unit that I am planning to place the speakers on so an Amp and book shelf speakers would also work. Would you have any suggestions for an Amp and speakers in my price range?

Would the A5+ be good enough to replace my home cinema system for watch movies? That would also free up space in my TV unit if I could remove the home cinema system?

post #8 of 43

In terms of sound quality I think the A5's will be orders of magnitude superior to your current Samsung surround system.

As far as amplifier - speaker combo is concerned, it is tough to find something that would outperform the A5's for the same money.

New, from the store, I don't think that's possible.

There are lots of affordable amps from NAD, Cambridge Audio, Rotel and so on which can do very well coupled with affordable speakers like Wharfedale, Monitor Audio, PSB, etc.

However you won't necessarily get better audio quality, just more flexibility of choosing your own combination.


The only way to get more bang for your bucks would be from the used market, in which case you might an amp-speaker combo capable of outperforming the A5's.

Whether it's worth it or not, it's up to you.

Given the whole premise of this thread, upgrading a run-of-the-mill samsung surround system, I would think not.

post #9 of 43
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the feedback. Just so I am sure before placing an order on the A5+, is there anything else in the market I am not aware of that would be better than these?

post #10 of 43

Well to find something 'better' than the A5 in a vintage package for the same price would take too much time, research and then there's the stress of not having a warranty or something in case it fails - because after all... it is vintage. 

I think you'll be fine with the audioengines - if however you find the bass too boomy with them sitting on the TV unit, just put some small acoustically isolating feet under the speakers, so the TV unit doesn't resonate with them, as I imagine it might.

post #11 of 43

Not really.

A separate system (amplifier + passive speakers) will usually cost more to get into the same ballpark, quality wise.


Better value for money can only be found in the pro market, with studio monitors.

You can get similar sound quality to the A5+ for less money. There are many good, affordable monitors these days from the likes of M-Audio, ESI, Mackie, Fostex, KRK, etc which can take on the A5+ on sound quality alone.

But they will come with zero "creature comforts". Looks will be minimalistic and not very attractive, connectivity will often be on XLR or TRS only (instead of the home-friendly RCA) and no volume control, requiring a separate device to do that.

Also their sound character may not be very appealing to everyone.  Studio monitors tend to have a very matter-of-fact presentation, very neutral and often interpreted as 'flat', 'boring', 'cold' and so on.

That's not necessarily true, but the fact remains they're generally less appealing to the larger public.



All this put together should also give you a better understanding why the Audioengines have become so popular and very good value choices.

Edited by Bobby S - 3/10/14 at 10:06am
post #12 of 43
Well, I was more referring to the off-chance of getting lucky enough to find something pretty good/better than the A5, for cheap, which isn't impossible... but because it's unlikely I agree with you.
post #13 of 43
Sorry, I didn't see your message when I wrote mine.
I was responding to Paulie's question about alternatives to the A5+.
In terms of vintage stuff, I agree. It is a hassle.
post #14 of 43
Thread Starter 
Cheers for the feedback guys, looks like I will go with the A5+ and get a DAC in a few weeks time.

Just for curiosity, what would be the best Amp & passive set up for less than €500?
post #15 of 43

Short answer: there is no "best"!


But there are similarly good options. It's up to the buyer to decide which suits him more (based on sound, features, price, and so on).

To give you a starter point I'll list some good amplifiers and speakers and you can go from there.


Amps : NAD 316 BEE, Cambridge Audio Topaz AM10 or Azur 351A, Exposure 1010, etc

Speakers: Wharfedale Diamond 10.1, DALI Zensor 1, Monitor Audio BX1, PSB Image B4 or B6, Audioengine P4, etc.

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