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PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2018 9:02 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jul 05, 2018 4:57 pm
Posts: 185
Location: Homestead, PA, US
I can't think of any field with so vast an amount of choices as audio. If you had $2000 to spend what new or used equip.that's realistic to find would you be hoping to find with the goal of "natural" realism & maximum sound quality for that amount of money. Extra stars for systems that you have actually put together for that amount or less that had great synergy.Here are some of mine. Most of these were found in thrift stores long ago, out of myself being too $$ strapped to spend much,and I think this made it all the more rewarding.Thinking you couldn't afford to put together a fine stereo and then thanks to bargains being able to do so. I wish I still had most of the stuff I found, but vintage equipment is sometimes on its last leg. I will give 1 to 5 stars (*****) depending on how synergistic a Combo this system was for sound. I will include the price I remembered paying for each piece of equip. I have a phonographic memory !

Optimus cd3400 CD player ..$59 new at Radio Shack. This was the player that Joe Grado told Sam Tellig about & was a minor sensation for a while. **** Sequerra marketed a beefed up power section/station for it.

Heathkit stereo tube integrated amp $60

Optimus LX4 PRO Bookshelf Speakers.. $80 pair new on sale at Radio Shack with kevlar woofer/mid and lineaum tweeter (ribbon type).



TOTAL COST: A whisker under $250.
It gave me really open and clean sound.The treble control on the Heath brought up the slightly shy Lineaum tweeters response.Wonderfully sweet treble and mids thanks to the combo of tubes, kevlar and ribbon tweeter.Once during a night in December I absolutely couldn't believe and was stunned how open and sonically sweet it was possible to reproduce Bing's White Christmas.From the ticks you could tell it was not from tape; probably from shellac; it was a various artist compilation disc.It was one of those magical moments where everything had been playing for hours and was so warmed up that even the speakers noticeably accentuated area sounded perfectly even and natural. Synergy: 3 1/2 stars


System 2: Dynaco Tube stereo power amp...$15 at Thrift Store.

Tandberg tcd310 cassette deck...$19.95 at same Thrift.

dbx 3x2 bookshelf speakers...$19.95 at same Thrift.

TOTAL COST: $59 with tax.
This gave me a surprisingly detailed and fast sound with excellent imaging and what sounded like a ruler flat frequency response down to the upper midbass,which is far down as the speakers would go.These components literally sounded like they were made for each other.The speakers with solid state sounded very thin and bright, but with tubes actually sounded appropriately warm & thicker and had at least the beginnings of a bass foundation, (they were originally sold as part of a 3 piece system with a subwoofer). These speakers were particularly focused and fast with a big image in the middle that slacked off in size at the sides predictably.I remember being really impressed with vocals and how effortlessly it reproduced subtle drum trills.Especially after they sounded without merit with solid state.I did do a few mods like stuffing straws in its port and gluing braces inside the cabinet.The tweeter was extended but a bit white and bleached sounding, later replaced with Vifa tweeters.The midrange was the star.Really impressive.When removing the mid/woofer to brace I noticed a third wire going from the crossover to driver instead of the usual 2 wires.Always wondered what that was about.Any ideas ??
The real star was the Dynaco tube amp of course. Just gorgeous tonality, and bass that was anything like muddy or slow. Later found out the amp was modded.Circa mid 1990's I actually ended up with about class B sound (ala very limited bass) for under $60 outlay.Most systems in Stereophile class B at that time would have cost at least $2,500. Very rewarding to be able to achieve something I thought I couldn't come close to affording. The Tandberg cassette deck gave pure analog sound with near CD clarity without the artificiality of many players at the time minus quite their dynamics. Synergy: 5 stars.

I realize finds like those at them prices do not happen often.What kind of stuff would you realistically hope to find to put together the ultimate $2,000 or less system? Also if you ever put together a system like the above elaborate and describe.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2018 9:02 am 
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Joined: Thu Jul 05, 2018 4:57 pm
Posts: 185
Location: Homestead, PA, US
The main limitations of the first system (Optimus equipment with tube amp) was image size and bass extension along with limited dynamics. The speakers simply sounded too small with solid state, but the instrument size really took a nice jump with tubes and the amps big beefy transformers. The CD-3400 also had a problem with image size to a somewhat lesser degree due to the fact that as a portable CD player its transformer was obviously minuscule in size.Sam Telling in Stereophile made the comment that the 3400 was the only CD player with analog like bloom, (at the time). Not much dynamics, but enough to enjoy and the speakers had a peak in the lower treble, which a review in the defunct Fi magazine had instructions to remedy for people who are DYIers with things like crossovers. The magazine said the speakers were the bargain of the century. The wood awning over the drivers didn't help either. I should have tried using them horizontally, while I was using them.

On the positive side, thanks to the clean kevlar midrange driver the sound had a cleanness that reminded you of multi thousand dollar speakers, the Linnaeum tweeter might have been even cleaner, really grain free. The speaker did a pretty good disappearing act. My guess is that with a decent subwoofer you would have had a system that no one would have guessed was budget oriented.

System 2 (dbx,Heath,Tandberg) put together for $59 as I said was a perfect example of perfect synergy. The dbx speakers were bright but had a midrange clarity which kind of reminded you of Wilson Watts or something simialar.Definitely not the dbx cabinets though, which needed work.Its tweeter was white sounding and needed replaced with something more colorful.The dynamics and frequency response evenness in the mids & highs were superior to the above system. The speakers brightness and the amps darker warmer sound perfectly complemented each other like a match made in heaven.The Tandberg cassette deck had a sound preferable in naturalness to many of the CD players available then. Cassette clarity from this model fell somewhat short of good CD clarity, but its clarity was far superior to what most people think of as the clarity limits of cassettes. The Tandberg TCD 440 is even better and would astound many people with its sound quality, but as an upper model be prepared to spend nearly $1,000. Worth it though. The 420 model is said by many to eat tapes: which is definitely not a problem with the 440 model, which can give the 3014 a run for its money in playing back prerecorded tapes.
An I.M. Fried subwoofer later rounded out this system, along with an upgrade to the TCD 440 model, at the time provided a sound quality which might have made Stereophile class B, whose systems price rangesbin that class back then would have routinely cost $2500 to $3,000. Not bad for $59 !


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