Thanks to Audiogon and friends

Please be easy as I'm a nubile/novice/non-audiophile. Having said, I thought that I was the cat's meow. Friends and associates agreed. Now, please don't laugh. I have a HT/Surround system from a "high profile" manufacturer(it starts with B) that I, uneducated, thought was ideal. I was using the system for both HT and stereo audio. I thought it was great until I visited an old friend that had Rega gear. Suffice to say, he and Audiogon have awakened me. My surround system is great for "club sound" when I have a gathering, but is inferior when it comes to true music. I am begining to build a system with a small budget(I've started with a Cambridge Integrated). Needless to say, even wth a low budget amp, the difference is astonishing. Audiogon has been a great resource. Any further insight would be helpful. Please bare in mind that I have a limited budget. Thanks, audiogon members.
Welcome aboard !
And congrats on discovering Audiogon. I am also a relatively new member and I really fell in love with music and sound since I first came here. I hope you enjoy this place as much as I do. I visit every day.

Especially since you are on a limited budget, I want to recommend the Valab non-oversampling dac as a component to keep on your short list. You can buy one on Ebay, new, for $200. This is a great piece to start off early with, especially if you want to play music from your computer through your hifi system. Google Valab and you can read all about this true giant killer.

I hope your enjoy your new found path. Good luck and take advantage of the great folks in here with their deep, unselfish knowledge.
Welcome Auditory. We'll need some info before we stimulate your auditory senses any further... (sorry, weak pun!):
* which Cambridge integrated?
* how big's the room (for speaker choice)
* do you need a cd player or do you already have a multi that will do for now?
Welcome! The Gon needs more nubile members!

As Mattzack suggests, I'd seriously consider computer audio; there seem to be a lot of high value DACs out there.


Main Entry: nu·bile
Pronunciation: \ˈnü-ˌbī(-ə)l, ˈnyü-, -bəl\
Function: adjective
Etymology: French, from Latin nubilis, from nubere to marry — more at nuptial
Date: circa 1642

1 : of marriageable condition or age
2 : sexually attractive —used of a young woman

— nu·bil·i·ty \nü-ˈbi-lə-tē, nyü-\ noun
I think the best bang for the buck is some decent monitors (appropriately efficient for your Cambridge), subwoofer and computer/dac (mac with Iphone is mucho funno).

Have fun and happy listening.
Budget? Source - have one or want one? Power of amp? Room size? Speakers on stands ok or want floor standers? Since you liked the Rega gear and find your Bxxx system lacking, I am assuming more realistic and balanced midrange is your goal.
Thanks for the responses. Your comments have given me a good basis for further research.
The best advice I can give for a limited budget is to build your own speakers. This can be done by first auditioning all of the best speakers on Audiogon and identifying the sound of your favorite. You then duplicate this sound by experimenting with crossovers and drivers.
Orpheus10: was that really helpful? A new member asks for honest advice and you provide him nothing in return but cynicsm. Humor is fine but that wasn't even funny.

Why all the cynicsm? It must be viral.
That was not cynicsm. That is how I built the speakers I am Listning to. After discovering that Theils were my favorite, I chose drivers for a 3 way and engaged an engineer to design the crossover. They create a holographic soundstage. I simply hear music emanating from points in space.
Our new fellow audiophile is just discovering what Audiogon is all about. Suggesting that he start out by building his own speakers might sound pretty heavy duty to a lot of people just getting into great hifi. It is a great idea though.
I think he might be looking for the biggest bang for his initial investment. Maybe finding out what his next component purchase should be will lead to a pretty interesting thread that would be of interest to people like me and a few more of us who are still pretty new around here.
I suggested what I consider a great first component (Valab non oversampling dac) , but I really would like to hear other choices for his next purchase.
Since I have a limited budget, I have empathy for anyone else with a limited budget. After careful consideration, I must retract my suggestion in regard to building speakers.
First, let me apologize for the term "nubile." I meant to say "newbie", but you could see where my head was. Anyway, the suggestions regarding building my own speakers has some merit. My cousin has been doing this with some moderate results. However, the speakers I'm currently using sound, at least to me, better. They are(please don't laugh) original Snell K1s, circa 1986. My son found them boxed away in our basement. I had loaned them to my brother years ago and forgot he had returned them. They are pristine. They sound a little "bright", but do have noticable midrange as opposed to my consumer grade Bxxx surround sound. A contributor to their "brightness" might be the room. It is 12'x 24' with hardwood floors and 2 large display cases containing crystal vases and sculptures. Certainly not ideal acoustics but this is my living room, the last "bastion" from multimedia overload. Once again, thanks for any and all comments. I'm trying to recapture the days of my youth when stereo music was king!
You are in the right place for your quest to make stereo king again. Lots of really great folks in here, and no lack of opinions, sometimes to the point of emotional chest bumping. It's a pretty cool place.

I hope you enjoy your audio adventure as much as I have.
Thanks for the encouragement. Even my son, born in the digital age, can hear the difference! He is now a convert!
Hello, being a relatively new semi-audiophile perhaps I can pass on a few tips that generally don't come up until after you've already purchased components.

The room you listen in has a large impact on what you hear so before purchasing loudspeakers, etc. determine the size, shape, and how it is furnished. Many AudiogoN members can help in selecting the type/size of loudspeakers - and related components - for the room and your listening tastes.

Second, in order to help in selecting components you should start to "train" your ears. In the beginning we all just listen to the music but if you read some of the posts on AudiogoN and other forums you will see that people talk about subtle nuances in the music being played through their systems. You don't have to become a "golden ears" but you should be able to "hear" when one component sounds better - to you - than another. Welcome to the wonderful world of beautiful sounds.
Orpheus10, actually that's a very good idea although perhaps not building them from scratch. There are a number of excellent kits available - e.g., from Madisound - that are easy to build and have the crossovers already designed and built. I put together a kit after Christmas and have little experience. They are super; I would not have been able to afford retail loudspeakers of this quality.
I suggest going out to some hifi shops and listening to different gear, especially some very high end gear, to get an idea of what is possible and then make plans to build your system towards a reasonable (affordable) goal.

Several hints:

-Source is very important - garbage in, garbage out. look for a nice CD player, DAC/computer server, or turntable as the basis for your sound system.

-Deep bass is hard to reproduce with any fidelity, and you either need to buy very large floor standing speakers with a very poweful amp to drive them, or add a good subwoofer to augment your speaker/amp combination. Subwoofers usually always comes with issues of matching as you are now adding and tuning another crossover yourself - best to have a sound meter and test disk at least. Quality bookshelf speakers on good stands or small towers with decent amplification can reproduce low enough bass to provide convincing replay of acoustic jazz, vocal or chamber music without augmentation. Orchestral music, hip hop or heavy metal usually require more oomph.

-Don't ignore wires. The rule that many people start with is that wires should be 10 to 15% of your system cost. I feel that for budget systems this number should be more like 15 to 20% or more, although if you shop carefully, there are deals out there to be had. And yes, an after market power cord does make a difference, even (or especially) with budget gear where smaller transformers are used to cut costs. I would upgrade wires in this order - power cord, interconnects, speaker cables.

-Physical set up of your system and room are critical and the most important element of good sound, espcially in your case with the hard surfaces. Whole books have been written about this subject, but a few hints here. Adjust speaker distance from the back wall and adjust separation and toe in to dial in the best stereo image and balance of treble and bass to other parts of the sound spectrum. Isolate your equipment, especially CD players and turntables from room vibrations and make sure your speakers have a solid connection to the floor through quality stands and/or spikes. There is a lot of information available about this online.

-Don't be afraid to buy used gear, you can typically get one dollar of performance for every 50 cents invested compared to buying new once you know what to look for.

One of the better descriptions (in my opinion) of how to evaluate the performance of any stereo system can be found here.

Good luck in your Quest.
Knownothing, I agree with everything you said, and I know a lot. I would like to add that you can go to Vampire Wire, or Belden and buy high quality interconnect wire in bulk and build your interconnects to whatever lenth you desire. Of course you must be able to solder. If you don't know how, learn.