Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

Dear GoodSound!

I need an audiophile setup to listen to my classical music CDs. Take in consideration that:

1) I only listen to classical music and recordings made from 1900 to 1960, because the best artists were in these years. So consider the fact that the recordings are not so good.

2) I like true stereo recordings (made with only two microphones), so I need speakers with a very sharp stereo image. For me, this is probably the most important thing.

3) I don t like colored sound, considering I listen only to classical music.

4) I ask you to recommend a complete setup with the minimum price to obtain an entry-level but audiophile-quality setup, from the CD player to the speakers. I will also consider active speakers.

5) I have seen speakers such as the Polk Audio RTi A1 loudspeakers and Infinity Primus P252 loudspeakers that were given Reviewers’ Choice awards on SoundStage!

6) My room is little, so for now I could consider a bookshelf-type speaker.

I hope you can help me.

A good pair of neutral-sounding loudspeakers will work well with any type of music. A neutral speaker is one that has very flat frequency response, both on and off axis, as well as good bass and high-frequency extension. You’ll also want the speaker to have very low distortion, particularly in the highs, given the nature of the recordings you listen to. You don’t need your speakers adding any nasty sounds to recordings that aren’t all that clean sounding to begin with. It goes without saying that your electronics should also be very neutral-sounding and free from distortion. Frankly, that’s not difficult to find these days given the general high quality of modern-day electronics.

The two speakers you mentioned are excellent in terms of performance and value. They’re a good starting point, but there are many more to listen to.

I won’t recommend specific models, or a specific system, because what you choose will come down to individual preference. Your own ears will have to decide. But I will point you to some brands that I recommend you look at, because they have various models that will likely fit your musical needs and budget.

For electronics such as amplifiers and CD players, consider NAD, Cambridge Audio and Arcam. They all have a number of products that would be suitable . For speakers, look at Paradigm, Axiom Audio, Aperion Audio, PSB, Infinity, and Polk. They all offer small to large speakers at a variety of prices. If your budget allows, look at Finland’s Amphion as well. I mention Amphion because you said how important imaging is to you. Their lowest-priced speakers tend to be priced higher than the lowest-priced speakers belonging to the other brands I’ve mentioned, but you might feel it worth it since their speakers tend to image extremely well. Don’t compromise on cables to connect it all together, but don’t go overboard and spend too much either. DH Labs (Silver Sonic) offers some excellent interconnects and speaker cables for a very reasonable price. Their White Lightning interconnects and ST-100 speaker wires are exceptional values.

I hope that helps. Happy shopping!