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Help Me Build My Music System & Understand Some Terms

Mogami Cables


New Member
May 27, 2014
Based out Chennai. Now in the U.S.A
Dear FMs

My clear objective here is to build a music system, just for music.

I have read lots of similar posts and thought of getting what i want by asking these precise questions:

I can understand, for music and just for music alone, I would need a stereo amp and bookshelf speakers. I am in the US. I need to place the music system in my living room which will be ~ 180 sqft. Budget is medium on a scale of low/medium/high.

1. Which Amp will be a best. I could see Cambridge and Marantz are the brands that are widely talked about in the forum. What about Yamaha and Denon, do they not stand out in front of Cambridge/Marantz amps?

Help me choose an amp.​

2. If all i would need is a 2.1 stereo, does it mean that i would need 2 speakers and 1 sub woofer?

Help me choose a speaker and sub woofer.​

3. Do I need a DAC? or otherwise - A stereo amp + book shelf speakers would be suffice?

Help me choose a DAC if required​

4. Would i need a pre-amp though?

Help me choose a Pre Amp if required​

Also please help me understand what DAC ad Pre-Amps are and what are their significance in terms of setting up a music system esp'ly one for my need?



New Member
Jun 28, 2014
hi idthiru

1. the best amp & speakers would be the one you like after listening, so demo

2. yes 2.1 mean 2 speakers and a sub woofer

3. Depends on source. You may or may not need a DAC.

4. No you will not need a pre-amp

DAC is used to convert digial to analog signal where amp don't have digital ports like spdif optical/coaxial
DAC with amp can also amplify signal hence quality of sound.

Cambridge and Marantz are said to be better than the other two in terms of music but find out for yourself by taking as many demos


Well-Known Member
May 12, 2008
Everything depends upon your budget. You are located in a place where electronics are cheap and plentiful. You do not need to restrict yourself to CA and marantz. There are many other options to choose from.


Well-Known Member
Nov 6, 2012
Since you are located in US, there are you could find plenty of integrated amp and speakers on ebay. You would require a CD/DVD player, Integrated amp and 2 fl speakers. Could look at Marantz, nad,CA for amp and speakers could be MA, B&W, PSB etc


New Member
May 4, 2014
If you are looking for a 2.1 receiver do audition the HK3490 as it is a very clean and powerful receiver with a subwoofer out. It is outstanding value and very underrated. Being in the US you would get an awesome deal on it as well :cool:


Well-Known Member
Feb 27, 2012
A minimum sterio system looks like:

source -> amplifier -> speakers

source can be:
1. CD/DVD player
2. PC with a sound card
3. [CD/DVD/PC/etc-> digital output] -> DAC -> analog output
4. Turntable
5. Tuner
6. Any other device like phone -> analog output

amplifier could be:
1. Integrated
2. Pre-power
3. more complicated suff here best looked into at later stage and beyond scope... (and budget :p)

speakers usually are used in 2.0 mode without sub (well at least the purists say that :) ) but a 2.0 should be sufficient to start with.

Some tips:
1. If you are beginner everything will sound good if this is first time listening to Hifi.

2. I took at least 1.5 years to develop a finer taste and being able to differentiate different amplifiers and speaker sound. Give yourself much needed time.

3. Your taste of music will decide your musical journey. If you like classical no point getting a setup that does hard rock well and similarly the other way.

4. Best bet it to keep objective to keep the setup "neutral" and "transparent" meaning it should be "balanced" for all frequencies. Higher pitch sounds should be also clean and audible and same for lower Bass sound. If any one is more prominent then there could be problem unless that effect is desirable. Example if lot of high frequencies then ears will start to pain due to fatigue. Same with too much bass - it will overpower rest of the sound.
(Disclaimer: The search for neutrality and puristic sound is a never ending journey so take this with a pinch of salt, but this gives some hints)

Most amplifier have their own house sound. Example a NAD will tend to have more emphasis on mids and lower mids with bass. This sometimes people refer to as "warm" sound. It is said that this kind of sound is good for longer listening and fatigue free.
Marantz tend to have slightly more transparent sound with higher frequencies being more cleaner as compared to NAD. This people call as tending towards "bright" sound meaning higher frequencies are more predominant.

Is one better than other? The answer is a BIG "NO"!
Which one will you like? It depends!! Well on your taste...

How do you know your musical preference or taste?
Ask the following questions:
1. What are you favorite music albums which you listen over and over again?
2. How long do you listen to music? Extended listening Vs a quick listen
3. What is more convenient for you? Simply putting a CD in the CD player and pushing play button or having a source like a PC or a laptop/etc or the romance and "labour" of using a turntable perhaps?

These are a lot of things that are answered over a longer period in musical journey :) so best is go and listen to as many systems as possible.
Some question will get answered automatically as you answer some will be answered later in the journey and its okay to make mistakes and learn and unlearn..