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I need a new HiFi system ... some input please?


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Hi ... I'm not sure this it the best section for this, but I need some advice from gear people and this is where many of them hang out, so...

... my "Hifi system" (it's an ordinary compact Hifi system, nothing professional ... one of the kind that stood in many a youngster's room in the 00's maybe) stopped working properly, it now switched to a mono unit as one speaker is dead and I hereby decide that this is not bearable anymore.
Here's how this thing looked like: 56014aad5206cbc7178b459b

I kept procrastrinating eternally, but now it's over - I need a new one!

Well, I have been looking - and problems arise: these compact HiFi systems are not sold anymore in the form I used to know them. It seems, that there's only two forms now anymore: either go full professional (and terribly expensive) with receiver, amp and whatnot ... or you go compact, with tiny speakers and usually also very limited functionality. Most of the tiny ones don't have what I need.

I absolutely need these features:
- reasonably good sound that also has a reasonable amount of bass ... doesn't have to be super great, but mine actually did well ... imagine playing Noma - Navigator on it. The tiny ones sound like a box of matches...
- a headphone jack is an absolute must - and I'd prefer a large one, not the small jack
- two external input pairs with the red and white cables ... my system had one, but it'd be nice if there were two = I want to connect the vinyl player and the TV at the same time rather than always plug and unplug

I'd also find it cool if there was a tape deck, but it's not a must.

The price is a big factor for me ... it may not be too big. When a 2 input channel amp alone is 400 EUR, I am out. I'd seriously like to spend less than that on the whole thing = speakers, amp and CD player ... but is there even something half-decent available with that budget?

What Hi Fi system do you have? Which one you can recommend? Is it a good idea to look for a used professional one - are these units sturdy and long-lasting? Any experiences? I really need some help, haven't found anything in my comfort zone yet...

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i had such a thing as a kid. didn't even realise that some of these are still working today ;)

 

my current "hi-fi system" is monitors hooked up to an audio interface and the computer. there's no need for an amp with active monitors, but still with a cd player you'd be looking at something like 2000€ for my setup

but i think with cheaper speakers like the adam t8v you'd spend something like 500€ for speakers (active, so no amp needed), and get superb sound quality compared to your old system. of course you'd still need a cd player (a quick search only turned up discman clones and usb-drives for the computer, so i'm not sure if they still are a thing now) and an interface.

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Since you wanna connect your turntable, I'd recommend you find an old integrated amp from the 70s, 80s as those generally tend to have better phono preamps built in than some of the 90s models have. You could find a great one for 25-50 eur. Downside is they have a larger noise floor than the modern stuff. 

I'd also find a cheap old Cd player from the 90s, and some passive 4-8 ohm speakers (preferably monitors, if you can find a good pair, as a linear frequency response is more pleasant) 

Then you'd be set, and you wouldn't spend hardly anything and you would be reusing someone's fully functioning old gear. 

There's honestly not many modern new options that would sound better than this, unless you wanna spend 50-100x that.

 

edit: i have since 3.5 years worked at a large 2nd hand shop, at the electronics dept. So for the past years ive done nothing but testing + refurbishing, pricing, and selling old vintage stuff that people turn in. Plus Ive always been a hifi geek since i was little, so i have some slight credential on the matter :p Its not until you get to the modern NADs that you really start to outclass the old stuff. And even then i would pick a 70/80s amp any day of the week over one of the new ones! This is a hifi/turntable/cd setup Im talking about just to be clear. 

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Great, thanks for the input - I see that I have two ways to go now:

  • old way = used equipment: old amp and old CD player ... plus some old passive speakers that are nice
  • new way = active monitors and some CD player gear...

I'd appreciate some hints for the old amps - I have litterlally no clue about that stuff

 

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You've gotten some really great replies here, I like the two-path solution that sprung out of it. :) I will say that if you would chose to buy a pair of active monitors, wether older or pretty new ones, they will undoubtedly open up a new world of sound for you. For example the adams recommended here in the thread, will bring your listening experience very close to how the producers of the music heard it. So there will be more details for sure compared to the old hifi-system your ears are acustomed to now. Either way keep us updated on what you get in the end. And how your listening experience hopefully has improved. :) 

This thread brought some nostalgia as well, when I think back to the home stereo equipment of the 80's, 90's and the 00's. In the late 90s and early 00's I remember how the systems were similar to yours and often had like a spectacle of a light display, they blinked like somekind of christmas tree lol. :D  And often had like a visual equalizer jumping around/moving to the beat. 

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13 hours ago, RTP said:

Great, thanks for the input - I see that I have two ways to go now:

  • old way = used equipment: old amp and old CD player ... plus some old passive speakers that are nice
  • new way = active monitors and some CD player gear...

I'd appreciate some hints for the old amps - I have litterlally no clue about that stuff

 

Doesnt really matter much. Theres about a milion models from different makers that sounds allright. So any brand really (id stay clear of the really cheap stuff though. The plastic stuff that barely weighed anything - that is really not something i would recommend); that has a form factor you like with the desired inputs and not much more extra that you dont need. Goes for pretty much both integrated amps and cd players. If youre not comfortable buying either from 2nd hand shops or ebay or similar; and checking up on each model youre looking at to see if its suits you, then its probably easier to spend a fortune and get the best right out the gate. Like a studio grade interface with a pair of modern active monitors. 

but theres tons of charm with an old hifi system, but i suppose you have to find that thing sort of fun, in order to get good deals and get the stuff you really want. Theres a bit of legwork behind it. And if you plan to play records then its pretty much a must have. Otherwise youd have to buy a seperate phono pre-amp and connect that directly to your interface; which ofc is a very valid option too, and something that many producers sampling from vinyl; opt to do. However thats not really the category I see this thread in; and what i really would recommend is to spend that bit of time, on ebay or similar; and get some great old stuff and have fun with it.

 

 

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Thanks

I think I'll go for the old option. Already contacted a first seller ... lets see what it brings.

I have a phono preamp though.

Will keep you posted

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Cool, what kind of amp did you find? :) I have an old Philips one myself currently, think its from early 80s or late 70s dont remember. while its slightly noisy on loud volume it is really great stuff. Got it for 19 eur :D

https://www.radiomuseum.org/r/philips_amplifier_f4122_00_00s_05_05s.html

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That's cool ... mine won't be that cheap, but since I need more than just the amp, I decided to look for a more complete system ... and I currently have set my eyes on a Technics one ... will be amp, receicver (which I absolutely don't need) and a tape deck ... CD player still needs  to be sorted ... I hope Technics is a good brand, I only know them because of their direct drive turntables :P

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10 hours ago, RTP said:

I hope Technics is a good brand, I only know them because of their direct drive turntables :P

if you buy technics, make sure you get two SL-1200 ;)
(sorry, i have no idea about their other stuff)

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20 hours ago, RTP said:

That's cool ... mine won't be that cheap, but since I need more than just the amp, I decided to look for a more complete system ... and I currently have set my eyes on a Technics one ... will be amp, receicver (which I absolutely don't need) and a tape deck ... CD player still needs  to be sorted ... I hope Technics is a good brand, I only know them because of their direct drive turntables :P

Sure, technics is fine when it comes to amps! Cd players too. What model is it of the technics? I'm familiar with a dozen or so models. I'm just curious since I love that stuff.. 

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My first CD-player in the 80's was a Technics one :D It even came with a demo CD with a cheesy Technics themed pop song lol. It added to the 80's experience. It was meant to demonstrate the new mediums crisp digital sound quality, and I sure was an impressed kid. :) It was magical coming from cassette tapes and vinyl. The transition to this new laser based technology felt futuristic.

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Did it :D ... bought a Technics "HiFi system" with amp, tape deck, turntable and speakers.
Speakers: SB-CS7
Amp: SU-X955
Turntable was SL-J110R ... but I'll put that one in storage, I have already a turntable

there also is a receiver but I don't need it...

Unfortunately it has no CD player - that hurts :( ... I hooked up my old DVD player and it's ok for now ... may still buy a CD player though.

I checked on the web before the purchase and people (audiophiles) were saying it's not a "second coming" of a system, but it's proper and nice old stuff ... and when audio people say that, I knew it was a good decision.
And in comparison to my former thing it's really great! I always thought "nah, don't need a new system, only will have problems with the neighbors" -- but a point that I was not thinking about is, how good it also sounds on low volume...
Also the tape sound quality is really good ... unfortunately I have only 1 psy tape :P

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seems like it should be a great setup!! i really hope you are happy with your purchase. I dont see how i wouldnt be, with those things. But its all really alot of chance - to happen to grab something you really like. I probably had way too many setups before i found the perfect one for me, but theres always a ceiling, and theres always something better. so thats a good mindset to get rid of. you wont get any more satisfaction from something better- thats just a trap. Thats why I went with an old late 70s amp and some passive 90s monitors for my setup. Really no sense in trying to find something better. At least not with any sort of reasonable pricepoint. And money is ofc always the issue, for most people. Would i like to upgrade my ur22 to an apollo twin? would i like a pair of active genelecs? yes. but since thats not a reasonable quest i wont even set my mind there.

 

tape can sound better than any cd can too, a great metal tape recorded from a cd, will end up sounding better than the cd :p

just cause it adds a bit of subtle warmth and dulls out the sharpness a bit.

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On 9/7/2020 at 6:35 PM, RTP said:

Did it :D ... bought a Technics "HiFi system" with amp, tape deck, turntable and speakers.
Speakers: SB-CS7
Amp: SU-X955
Turntable was SL-J110R ... but I'll put that one in storage, I have already a turntable

there also is a receiver but I don't need it...

Unfortunately it has no CD player - that hurts :( ... I hooked up my old DVD player and it's ok for now ... may still buy a CD player though.

I checked on the web before the purchase and people (audiophiles) were saying it's not a "second coming" of a system, but it's proper and nice old stuff ... and when audio people say that, I knew it was a good decision.
And in comparison to my former thing it's really great! I always thought "nah, don't need a new system, only will have problems with the neighbors" -- but a point that I was not thinking about is, how good it also sounds on low volume...
Also the tape sound quality is really good ... unfortunately I have only 1 psy tape :P

 

Beware that SU-X955 is old thing but if capacitors werent replaced they should. My 80s Phillips HiFi was on half power, when I replaced all capacitors and resoldered everything it was full power again. Maybe previous owner done that but again...

 

They can also look normal but after 30 years they are dry af :D Open the SU-X955 housing and visual inspect them. If they look like this, they are pretty bad.

bulging_capacitors.jpg

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Replacing / upgrading caps can be a great idea for any peice of gear really, every 20 or so years. Good advice. 

Luckily it's very cheap and very easy to do. Just get new caps with same specs and you're good to go. There should be a few places selling them online in whatever country you're in.

Something like 0-2 eur each. 

Which reminds me to swap the caps on my Philips as well as that probably hasn't been done in some 40 or so years :angry:

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Yes @astralprojection you are right - it's, for my standards, a super awesome setup. I have great joy just listening to my tapes again - in the best sound I have ever got from them. With "surround" and "super bass" (or what it's called) on it enhances the tape sound to something of unheard quality for me...

Thanks @Imba for the hint with the capacitors ... I am not very experienced with this though (2 EUR per piece is cool, but I can't solder) - and I don't need the lot of power on the amp, neighbors don't like it anyway. If the sound ever started lacking in quality, I'll look there though.

cheers

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14 hours ago, RTP said:

Thanks @Imba for the hint with the capacitors ... I am not very experienced with this though (2 EUR per piece is cool, but I can't solder) - and I don't need the lot of power on the amp, neighbors don't like it anyway. If the sound ever started lacking in quality, I'll look there though.

Smaller capacitors here cost 1cent to 1euro, bigger can be bit more expansive. Soldering is not rocket science but yeah, you need some skills. Without them you can destroy print.

 

Just open housing of the amp and inspect them. You don't wanna have some blown and all that acid on print :D

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9 hours ago, Imba said:

Just open housing of the amp and inspect them. You don't wanna have some blown and all that acid on print :D

i don't know much about electrical things, but aren't capacitors just two rolled up metal foils kept at a small distance by an insulating layer of plastic?

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6 hours ago, Padmapani said:

i don't know much about electrical things, but aren't capacitors just two rolled up metal foils kept at a small distance by an insulating layer of plastic? 

it's rolled up foils in an electrolyte liquid that goes dry after 10-50 years or so.

Edit: the liquid inside is sometimes water based, sometimes its made up of boric acid and ethylene. but there's not a lot of liquid in there. Basically it's just moist. That's what she said. 

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My policy on such things generally is "if I don't touch it, it won't break" :D

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