To buy a budget system or not?...


Apr 27, 2008
my first day posting on hifivision...though I have been lurking around here for over 6 months now, gathering enuff info to be able to communicate with you guys. I am a hi-fi noo-b in Bangalore looking to get my first system.

From what I have been reading and hearing I guess a first system should be a budget system for around 60-80K. I have tried to wrap my mind with this idea but i just dont seem to like music emanating from budget systems. One budget system that i liked was the MA BR5 with NAD amp auditioned at ARN sys Blore. But the bass wasnt ample enuff. This could be due to the fact that when I visited ARN, they had lots of empty space and a large room with glass panels and hard flooring. The other budget sys that i liked but this time the high freqn kind of fell a little short of sweetness. This was the MS Avant 916i. The dealer(sorry I forget his name but he was a great guy, talked about a lot of technical stuff) did say that the speakers werent properly run in. The bass seemed to be spot on with 916i. I listened to Hotel California and some Mark Knopfler. For someone who has all his life been listening to 2-in-ones and mp3s, these sounded great. But those subtle areas(bass, treble) of discomfort made me wonder whether I will be able to enjoy them for a long time. I am not sure whether Hi-fi in India has a good resale market. I am cash strapped and cant splurge to upgrade often. With all this in mind I have been planning to push the budget and raise it to somewhere beween 1.2 and 1.5 lacs. Then probably I can choose from one of the much talked about MA RS6, MS Mezzo 6 and Dali Ikon 6 (6 seems to be a magic number here). I listen to a wide variety of music, except hard rock, death metal. I would like a system that prforms amply across the freqn range. From reviews and forums I find the MAs, MSs and Dalis have got this ability(some give and takes here and there). Waiting for the cash to get ready. I am yet to audition any in this range so I dont know if I will end up finding flaws in these too.

My question to you is- the manner that I am thinking, is that correct for a newbie....should I really be spending the extra to get a better system. Or am I unknowingly looking for that technically perfect sound. Will a budget system like the ones mentioned at the beginning, give me enough pleasure for atleast 3-5 years.

I am aware that this is a rather subjective matter but nonetheless your views and advice will be much helpful

Are you looking at just speakers & amp or is a CD player included in this budget as well? I think 60-80k is a very good budget for a hi-fi setup and certainly not anything of a compromise. Sadly we often find in hi-fi circles that the notion creeps in that you need to spend X amount of rupees to get a decent system. Not so. You could buy a Norge amp for Rs. 9,000 and a pair of Rs. 12,000 speakers and be satisfied (if not happy). Contrast this to your vastly higher budget. It depends on what makes you happy. You have plenty of options that should keep you happy and pleased with your investment for many years to come, not just 3-5.

As you may have figured out, you should start with the speakers. The Monitor Audio RS6 is often recommended because its an incredible all-rounder. It is therefore a safe choice. You could also look at the Quad 21L2, PSB Image T55, and other choices for floorstanding speakers. Do not rule out standmount speakers though -- there are some excellent choices: (our own Indian) Cadence Arita, Dynaudio Audience 52, Totem Rainmakers, Monitor Audio GS10, Focal Chorus 807V, etc. Once you decide that a speaker has the sound that appeals to you, the next step is to choose an amp that best pairs with it. E.g. the RS6 is a slightly bright speaker and pairs well with a warm amp like a Marantz, CA, etc.

So take about 10 of your own CDs spanning the genres and elements (such as voices, instruments) you listen to most often and start visiting showrooms for listening sessions. Remember to listen to the speakers in "pure stereo" mode with tone defeat on and without a subwoofer connected. Have fun!
You are on the right path, but instead of spending a lot on 1 time I'd say go easy and buy some good used stuff get the feel of the system(meaning getting used to the sound and trying figure-out what exactly is your kind of sound etc)

Then jump into the bandwagon of the biggies by going for a full blown setup !

Any help just PM.

I would like to add one more thought while speaking of a "budget" system. Judge a system you are auditioning in isolation -- not physically but mentally. For that moment alone, put other systems out of your mind and ask yourself if this offers the sound that you are looking for, if it makes you happy. Do not be swayed by opinion -- what I like, you may hate -- many people like the KEF iQ series, I can't stand them. Most importantly, it is easy to think that the speaker you have your heart set on is rubbish if you compare it to something that is in a far higher price range. The MA salesman may play the Platinum series for you and the RS6 will pale in comparison. An unfair comparison like this often ruins a decision. Remember that when that same RS6 is sitting alone in your room, it will have the most heavenly sound you have heard especially when you switch it on after a long hard day at the office.
Thanx for the replies.

I was thinking of clubbing RS6 with Roksan Kandy Mk LIII Amp and Rega Apollo CDP. But again these are purely based on reviews and hearsay. Whats your take on this combo? How good is the staging on RS6?
About budget equipment- I havent yet given Norge a try but did check out sonodyne sonus with CA components twice. Everytime i heard them I could not bear them for more than 30-45 seconds. My ears were hurting bad. Norge could be a different deal and i will surely give it a try along with some of the other higher priced speakers that you have mentioned.
Btw i didnt like KEF either. I heard them at proFX(iq5) and tried hard to find wat was so special about these. I couldnt figure. Infact I liked the polk audios better. No offence to anyone. Just what i felt.

Well buying used stuff didnt cross my mind yet because I havent come across too many people selling equipment. But do point me towards any sources where i can find good quality used hi-fi.
Ah, the Norge was just an example - I'm not suggesting you audition it. While it is excellent at its price point it falls short of the other options available to you at yours. The RS6 is an excellent speaker with a high capacity for resolution. I have heard it on an Analogue Audio amp & cd combo and it revealed so much detail that I was dumbfounded. On Nina Simone's "Feelin' Good" you could hear the ambient sound inside the studio and even the sound of something being moved around (possibly a stand of some kind) before the song starts. I'd never heard this on any system before. This goes to show it will be able to scale up to whatever amp and cdp you upgrade to in future. Of course its not a clinical sound as this example might suggest, it impressed me by handling rock, jazz and classical equally well. Imaging was great but its not something I am really equipped to judge. I have never experienced the "soundstage" people talk about. I have no idea about the Roksan but the Rega is a superlative CD player. Best to request a home audition once you have got the speakers and see which you like. The Marantz PM-7200 or CA 740A might be good partners as they are both warm. You probably heard the CA 640A with the Sonodynes - a terrible combo as those are particularly bright speakers and the CA cd player loves high frequencies.

We have members here who are more aware of better amps so they may suggest good amps with a warm sound.
Sure will do No probs ! there are a few friends of mine who into secondhand stuff so..
btw did you read my Pm ? just Pm so that I guide you to them..
Well buying used stuff didnt cross my mind yet because I havent come across too many people selling equipment. But do point me towards any sources where i can find good quality used hi-fi.

Audiogon is probably the best known source but then you have to worry about shipping and customs:
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Hi Manditri, where ar you located?
In case its b'lore,we'll see if its poss to set up a listening session involving Lyrita Audio's Valve Amp/Single driver speakers-it'll be quite an eye( & ear) experience, I promise you.
,we'll see if its poss to set up a listening session involving Lyrita Audio's Valve Amp/Single driver speakers-it'll be quite an eye( & ear) experience, I promise you.
I'd be interested too. Burt first I need to check if the price would be within my grasp anytime in future.
Spend the amount u are comfortable spending. This hobby is never ending.
Ur combo of Rega+Roksan+MA RS6 is about 16oK!!!!!! and u should be getting a very competent HIFI for that outlay or even less!!!
How much wattage do u think would RS6 need?...50-60 watt at 8 ohms?...Will that be sufficient to drive the MAs. I think they are 120 watt at 6 ohms. Can you suggest any amp for the MAs not over 60K.

I was reading in last months whathifi about naim 5i integrated amp and how refined it is. I am not saying that based on the review I want to buy naim to drive the MAs but if it really is what they say it is then I might want to give it a try. But I was also reading that naims dont go well when partnered with other brands. I know one thing for sure- whatever speaker or amp I buy, I want rega apollo to be the source. But if the naim amp doesnt work well with rega then I will have to look elsewhere.
Naim components have a very distinct sound, see if you can first try out the amp with the Rega before you buy it. If I were you, I would go higher on the speakers, thats your weak link in what you are looking at.

Sorry, I forgot to mention that since you are in Bangalore, why dont you come into ARN and listen to the Ushers? We also have the MA RS6s and you can do a comparision to see what you like

Choosing the amp would be hard. For speakers you are in luck as there are plenty of options. I'd like to add Dyna Aud 62, Jamo D590, Jamo Concert series to your must audition list. For the amp, Cyrus is a competent amp with plenty of details even if a bit upmarked on Indian soil.
Integrateds? hmmm.. how about an Odyssey Khartago (110W into 8 ohms) with Gain control? What is the ballpark price on the Naim?
Hey Sridhar,
I am guessing u forgot abt the pms u sent me earlier abt usher X-718. I have been reading good things abt usher. I was wondering if I can come by tomorrow.

There is something of a mental block with me- I have always kind of wanted floorstanders. I know good bookshelves can be as room filling as floorstanders. But somehow dont like the idea of having to spend extra for the stands with bookshelves.

Dynaudio I need to demo...but i hear they are pricey. Jamo I havent found a good place to demo in bangalore. I went to cinebels at Garuda Mall. The place is kind of cramped and they dont have a good demo setup. Seemed they are more into HT.
The cheapest cyrus is 6vs2 for 60K. I am not sure if its 40watt output will drive floorstanders well. I could be wrong though.

Usher/MA/MS ....i havent fixed my mind yet....I am going for a second round of hunting to decide on the spkr and amp. First round i found out that budget may not be good for the long run.
An educated guess Mr. Ranjeet. :)
Just kiddin. Sridhar asked for a ballpark figure so that is what I gave. Whathifi quotes that the naim is cheaper than CA 840A v2 which is priced at 60K.
A beautiful, well-constructed speaker with class-leading soundstage, imaging and bass that is fast, deep, and precise.