Inexpensive and good-sounding micro system?
Mar 13, 2006 at 4:03 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 10

The_X

1000+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jun 5, 2004
Posts
1,006
Likes
10
I'm heading off to college pretty soon and I kind of wanted a little bookshelf CD system to use in my dorm. I know this isn't the best place to ask about speaker systems, but maybe someone here could give me some suggestions. I just need something attractively built (none of those plastic monstrosities you see at Wal Mart), compact, and good sounding. Price range is $150.

Are the Polk R15 speakers any good? I see them very cheap often ($40/pair right now at Fry's). Keep in mind I don't need anything mind-blowing at all, just solid performance and low price.
 
Mar 15, 2006 at 5:12 PM Post #2 of 10

memepool

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Mar 24, 2004
Posts
2,689
Likes
13
Generally you won't find many fans of "minisystems" in a forum for dedicated source components because most minisystems are very poor sounding and therefore arn't considered 'hi-fi'.

If you want to get the best sound for 150USD you are really limited to 2nd hand components from thrift stores and yard sales or else ebay. Look out for 70's Recievers from Pioneer, Marantz or any of the big Japanese manufacturers or better still integrated amplifiers from by NAD, Rotel, Marantz or Pioneer.

http://cgi.ebay.com/NAD-3020-Stereo-...QQcmdZViewItem

For speakers look for compact American designs from Acoustic Research or JBL in similar places. Finding smaller ones will be more difficult.

http://cgi.ebay.com/Vintage-1980s-JB...QQcmdZViewItem

Older CD players seem to have become very collectible recently as people have realised that sound quality hasn't really moved on so much and machines of a certain vintage were generally build to last. You can still find bargains mainly in the 90's machines which arn't so collectible. Again look for Marantz, Nad, Rotel..

http://cgi.ebay.com/MARANTZ-CD-70-Si...QQcmdZViewItem

Or else a modern DVD player like the Pioneer DV575 is also respected for it's audio quality and of course allows you to play all the latest hi and low resolution formats from SACD to MP3 as well as playing films.

Or again you could buy a decent quality soundcard for your computer for under 100USD from the likes of M-Audio and use this as your source. TDK make some pretty nice active NXT panel speakers which are ultra compact and sound amazingly good for the money.


Lastly if you really do want a minisystem then the some of the most respected names are Denon and Teac but I don't think they would come in much under 500USD. Look for mini-component systems as a sure sign of quality rather than one box machines or even one box masquerading as several components which is a common ploy.

Again vintage mini or micro systems from the early 80's are the best quality but even these are quite collectible now days. Look for Mitsubishi, Aiwa, Sony, Toshiba(Aurex) or (Sanyo) Fisher.

http://cgi.ebay.com/Vintage-Aiwa-V-9...QQcmdZViewItem

One mans ergonomic nightmare is another retro chic...
 
Mar 15, 2006 at 6:29 PM Post #3 of 10

episiarch

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Nov 4, 2003
Posts
2,635
Likes
251
Location
London and California, mainly
On that budget I would simply buy the best powered "computer" or "multimedia" speakers I could afford. Run the speakers either from your computer or from an inexpensive CD player, and if you've chosen well, you will have something far better sounding than the (as you so well put it) plastic monstrosities.

I also think that in college it helps to travel light, as you'll typically have to pack and unpack once or twice a year. Self-powered speakers and a PCDP are lots easier to deal with than full-sized systems.

Two speakers in this category that I know and like very much are:

Sony SRS-Z1 (hunt around; can be found for $80 and up on eBay, $130 on Amazon. Not much bass, but great clarity, very cool looking, and a PCDP fits nicely on top of its little control unit. They are a lot more speaker than they look like. On the day that you upgrade to a bookshelf system with more oomph, you'll simply move these to your desk and love them there.

Swans M200 (available from NewEgg for $190). Fine self-powered bookshelf speakers, again without a lot of bass slam but very musical-sounding.
 
Mar 16, 2006 at 10:46 AM Post #5 of 10

lini

Thought the last line in Citizen Kane was nosebud.
Joined
Jun 22, 2001
Posts
6,119
Likes
29
Location
Munich, Bavaria
thomaspf: So you've seen that Arcam for US$ 150, did you?
evil_smiley.gif


The_X: How about something like the Onkyo CS-210?

Greetings from Hannover!

Manfred / lini
 
Mar 16, 2006 at 1:59 PM Post #7 of 10

dj_mocok

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Dec 26, 2003
Posts
5,636
Likes
13
I am a fan of Denon mini system. Nice build quality. Nice and thick CD tray with smooth mechanism. Very knobbable volume knob. (knobbable...great, just invented a new english word)

The volume knob turns smoothly. All in all, doesn't feel like cheap looking P.O.S.
Great radio. Sounds great too (comes with Mission speakers). If you can get hold of the second latest generation (M31) that'll be great.


PS: Damnn! I want that $150 Arcam!
biggrin.gif
 
Mar 18, 2006 at 4:43 PM Post #8 of 10

Denim

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Mar 4, 2006
Posts
962
Likes
10
I was in the same delima when I ended up over seas for much longer than expected. I settled for 2.1 speakers for a PC and a discman. That was much better than any compact system available off the shelf. It put out enough power and sounded better than expected.

However, after seeing that Arcam, I'd want to check it out further. Is it available in the US?
 
Mar 18, 2006 at 5:54 PM Post #9 of 10
Joined
Oct 25, 2005
Posts
691
Likes
0
If you buy an inexpensive micro system, it's going to sound like an inexpensive micro system. Period. Now, some, I'm sure, sound better then others but there's not such thing as a good sounding inexpensive micro system. The tallest midget is still a midget.
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top