How do I start shopping for a replacement stereo?
March 9, 2012 5:37 AM   Subscribe

My stereo system was in storage at my parents' house for several years. When I went home to reclaim it, we discovered that they'd allowed a local junk removal service to take it away! Now I need a new system, and I don't even know where to begin.

What I had was an NAD 314 integrated amp, a pair of Dynaco A-25 speakers, and a Marantz CD player (don't remember the model). So, can anyone give me some pointers on where to get started on a new or used system of comparable quality, keeping in mind that I haven't gone stereo shopping in years?
Oh, and if it matters, I don't care at all about home theater, this is going to be for music only.
posted by 1adam12 to Shopping (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
what's your budget?
posted by namewithoutwords at 6:42 AM on March 9, 2012

Also, where do you live?
posted by Betelgeuse at 7:43 AM on March 9, 2012

iPod + a good dock, forget cds!
posted by Tom-B at 7:51 AM on March 9, 2012

For the amp and speakers at least - Audiogon. Used equipment works as well as new, and this sort of stuff does not really wear out. I am more wary of equipment with moving parts, like cd players.

and yes, cds can probably now be forgotten now that vinyl is back. ;)
posted by caddis at 8:41 AM on March 9, 2012

You may want to get a 5.1 system so you can use it for video as well as audio.
posted by w0mbat at 8:56 AM on March 9, 2012

I'm sorry for your loss. That's some decent equipment to go missing.

I'd shop around at thrift stores; not to find your old equipment, but chances are you'll find something of similar quality/vintage worth getting sentimental about. I've scored some Marantz, Harman/Kardon, and Denon equipment on the cheap at the local thrift shop.
posted by bhayes82 at 9:25 AM on March 9, 2012

Boston area, total budget of less than $1000 I hope!
posted by 1adam12 at 9:52 AM on March 9, 2012

You know, I'm gonna suggest that Tom-B's suggestion may be a considerable alternative.

Maybe not IPod but an MP3 player in any case. A dock is way cheaper than a whole stereo set and the speakers can be really great. If you're a serious audiophile, well perhaps not, but I can say that I have an impressive system at home and I find myself listening to the IHome dock way more than my 100 CD changer. Just sayin'.
posted by elendil71 at 11:05 AM on March 9, 2012

Depending on how quickly you want your new stereo, Craigslist may be a good option. I've found very good speakers and amplifiers, and it has the added benefit of being able to listen to the system before you purchase it.
posted by Adamsmasher at 12:30 PM on March 9, 2012

I would suggest looking for shops that specialize in used/vintage gear. They'll typically have good quality equipment at more affordable prices.
A good shop can work with your budget and put together a good sounding system.

If you don't mind buying online, I can recommend Echo Audio in Portland, OR.
posted by nickthetourist at 1:19 PM on March 9, 2012

How do you use it? Do you sit down in your listening chair at the proper listening distance from speakers set in the middle of the room, or do you have music on when friends are over, or do you blast metal when you're at your desk?

Do you have hundreds of CDs which you play through? Or would you prefer to rip all of your music so you can put together playlists across albums? Or is it all already ripped (and if so, how)?

The good news is that even though that was some nice kit to lose, the floor has been raised over the years and you can get some great quality for not much money. But it really depends on what kind of listening you do.
posted by mendel at 5:50 PM on March 9, 2012

You know, I'm gonna suggest that Tom-B's suggestion may be a considerable alternative.

I first misread that as something like "you know, I've got to say that Tom-B's suggestion could not seriously be considered an alternative" because it's how I feel.

NAD and Dynaco? Clearly you are expecting far better sound than a little boombox will ever give you. It's sad what's happened to music playback in the age of mp3 files.

My 20-year-old NAD system is still going strong. NAD is still in business -- a good friend just bought a system last month. They'll be carried at your local higher-end audio dealer. Meaning not Best Buy.

Stereophile's budget equipment might give you some ideas. (noting that "budget" by Stereophile's standards is "expensive" by nearly anyone else's)
posted by intermod at 10:19 PM on March 9, 2012

Thanks for all of the suggestions. I combined them to get most of the way to where I wanted to go. Craigslist supplied a fantastic Pioneer SA-9500 integrated amp. A local thrift store produced a pair of Design Acoustics PS10a speakers, which are probably not going to be what I settle on in the end but which at least get me set up. A different thrift store found an old Sony 5-disc changer (blah) that has a TOSlink output (yay!), so I'll probably spend the next few weeks finding a newer DAC and then deciding what to do about the transport.

And mendel, my listening habits are a combination of dedicated time spent on the couch with the system set up correctly for the room and, yes, blasting metal at my desk. I had a large number of MP3s ripped at several different resolutions, but I saved all of the discs and plan to use those instead.
posted by 1adam12 at 9:25 AM on March 10, 2012

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