/ Hifi amplifiers

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iccy - on 05 Feb 2013


Currently I've got an old sterio that I'm only using as a set of speakers for my ipod/laptop. I'm now thinking about upgrading and getting a proper amp. I don't really need it for the set up I have now, but I'd like the flexibility for the future to use it as a home cinema type amp - 5.1 sound and a couple of other inputs.

I'm clueless about all this stuff and don't want to spend loads of cash on something that realistically I'm not going to fully use, certainly not for a few years.

Are there any decent second hand deals to be had? What are the best brands to look for? How much is it worth spending?

Thoughts appreciated!
mrchewy - on 05 Feb 2013
In reply to iccy: Onkyo make some very nice, fairly cheap amps that fit your needs.
I've bought plenty of hifi gear off ebay before and had no issues.
icnoble on 05 Feb 2013
In reply to iccy: do you have a budget?
iccy - on 05 Feb 2013
In reply to icnoble:

I guess I'd be looking up to a couple of hundred quid, but I could be persuaded to spend more or less depending on recommendations.

I did have a quick look at ebay but I don't know enough about it to pick something decent, and so have no idea if I'd be getting value for what I was looking at.
Frank4short - on 05 Feb 2013
In reply to iccy: My suggestion would be to find your nearest Richer Sounds. They're usually pretty good in terms of recommendations and you're as likely to get a good deal there as off of ebay.
John_Hat - on 05 Feb 2013
In reply to Frank4short:
> (In reply to iccy) My suggestion would be to find your nearest Richer Sounds. They're usually pretty good in terms of recommendations and you're as likely to get a good deal there as off of ebay.

Good idea. Agreed.
Nige M - on 05 Feb 2013
In reply to iccy: You can pick up very good hi-fi amps with all the input options that you might want on Ebay ridiculously cheaply. There just doesn't seem to be demand for them. I see late 1990s vintage NAD amps selling for 30-40 that will sound sonically better than much of "home cinema" stuff on the market today costing 10 times as much.

GrahamD - on 05 Feb 2013
In reply to Nige M:

No 5 + 1 support, though. If you want sound quality AND 5+1 then you seem to be talking big bucks.
Murderous_Crow - on 05 Feb 2013
In reply to iccy: Hiya,

A relatively cheap solution which should keep your ears happy is to buy an iPod-RCA cable. Apple do a reasonable-quality one with a built-in iPod / iPhone charger for around 30. That way you're free to look around for any amp which takes your fancy.

Like anything you can spend a lot more, but this is what I use through a good (but old) Harman/Kardon 5.1 home cinema amp and it does me fine. H/K are (or used to be) one of the few companies to put quality stereo amps in their home cinema receivers. It's not as good as an equivalent-priced stereo unit granted but it ain't bad. Personally though I'd second Graham D's suggestion of looking around for a an old NAD / Arcam / Linn - type stereo unit, as it's cheaper and will sound better anyway.

You might want to look into upgrading any compressed tracks you have to CD quality (192 kbps) or above, as a good amp and speakers will reveal everything on the recording, including over-compression.

If you're determined to go 5.1, as said above, Onkyo do some good kit. Other solid performers include Denon, Yamaha and Marantz. Be patient and it's possible to get real bargains from high-street retailers: you have to haggle though! Look for last year's items, they'll be hanging around and the retailer will want them gone.
nniff - on 05 Feb 2013
In reply to iccy:

Our old NAD amplifier is still going strong. We had the builders in rcently and the subsequent remodelling of the house allowed the old turntable to be brought out of hibernation too. It sounds brilliant through equally old Mission speakers. CD player died a while ago and we couldn't be bothered to replae it. Ipod got played through a Bose sound dock.

However, connecting the ipod to the proper amplifier makes you realise quite how crap the sound quality is, or maybe it's the file compression that's to blame.
iccy - on 05 Feb 2013
In reply to nniff:

Thanks guys, that gives me a bit to think about. 5.1 was more about future proofing anything that I bought, but if I go for something cheaper from ebay then 5.1 is less important as I only have 2 speakers at the mo.
Murderous_Crow - on 05 Feb 2013
In reply to nniff:
> (In reply to iccy)
> However, connecting the ipod to the proper amplifier makes you realise quite how crap the sound quality is, or maybe it's the file compression that's to blame.

Yeah quite possibly. Headphone jack to RCA connections are also responsible for a lot of audio evil creeping in. A 32pin connector to RCA lead does a much better job. Interestingly some ipods (the Gen 5, non-touch ones) are a surprisingly excellent bit of hi-fi kit. They contain a very high-quality digital to analogue convertor (DAC) made by Wolfson, so a lossless audio track can sound excellent. Unfortunately you only get the benefits if you use a 32-pin connector: this bypasses the iPod's completely rubbish internal headphone amp.
Blastbar - on 05 Feb 2013
In reply to iccy: Another plus 1 for NAD amps, our house has one in nearly every room all off fleabay for not much a piece and they are absolute beauts. Just be sure to get decent wires or your music will be pants regardless of the system.
graeme jackson - on 05 Feb 2013
In reply to iccy:
take a look for Arcam AVR200 / AVR250 surround sound amps on ebay. Quite a lot on there just now at pretty good prices.
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Steve John B - on 05 Feb 2013
In reply to Blastbar:
> (In reply to iccy) Another plus 1 for NAD amps, our house has one in nearly every room all off fleabay for not much a piece and they are absolute beauts. Just be sure to get decent wires or your music will be pants regardless of the system.

Got a 90's NAD 3225PE, still going strong after about 20 house moves some very dodgy music...

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