College student needs advice with choosing a new stereo setup


New member
Username: Chrismorgan

Post Number: 1
Registered: 02-2004
Hi Folks,

I am writing to ask you opinion of a purchase I am considering. I am a budding audiophile college student with about $600 I am willing to spend on a new system for stereo listening (mostly classical and some jazz).

Right now I am looking at:
JBL 38II speakers (Discontinued, and priced at $250)
Either and Onkyo 8211 or a Sony STR-DE185 reciever (200, 135)
and a Pioneer DV-563A DVD/CD/SACD/DVD-A (150)

Is there anything I should change in this setup? What type of connections should be used? Any help or additional ideas is appreciated.

Chris Morgan

Silver Member
Username: Hawk

Post Number: 281
Registered: 12-2003

Change everything.

If you want great sound, try this setup:

1. NAD C320bee integrated amp: $319 new from If you want to save even more, they offered me a factory refurb for $289.

2. Epos ELS-3 speakers: $269.95/pair, and the shipping is free. See them here:

Named Budget Audio Product of the Year on three different continents--they are something special.

Silver Member
Username: Gman

Post Number: 189
Registered: 12-2003

What exactly do you want? You say you want to listen to stereo, but then you have a Pioneer DVD player that is universal for playing surround sound.

Unless you are a college student that lives home or off campus, I doubt you could fit a surround system in a typical college dorm room. In addition, most surround is really for watching considerable amount of dvd's. So it is pointless buying surround with the Pioneer dvd player unless you have a good tv.

If you truly just want to listen to stereo, Hawk has given you a fine recommendation, unless you want to have a receiver to listen to AM/FM too. But back in my college days I only listened to my clock radio for AM/FM and mostly played my stereo for LP's.

So you need to clarify what you really want. A stereo system, a surround system, or what? You can certainly get a much better stereo with far better sound at your budget than you can a surround.

New member
Username: Chrismorgan

Post Number: 2
Registered: 02-2004
Thanks Hawk and Gregory for your advice. Hawk, while that setup sounds good, I really am only looking to spend $600 or under. Spending much more than that really is not an option. Gregory, the purpose of the pioneer DVD is for playing SACD's and DVD-Audio, as well as playing DVD's with my TV. Is there a better SACD player you would recommend, or should I avoid them all together? My primary purpose is to listen to recordings in stereo sound. I do not have any plans for a surrond sound system (again the money issue).

Thanks again,

Silver Member
Username: Gman

Post Number: 191
Registered: 12-2003

You need to find a stereo receiver with video input and output. I don't think the Onkyo 8211 has video inputs and outputs.

So buying DVD-Audio discs and SACD surround discs are totally pointless. Just buy cd's--they are meant for stereo. And don't wast your money on the Pioneer as you cannot use most of its capabilities. Buy an inexpensive dvd player for $75 or less. It will play your cd's and dvd's better than your system can handle.

The speakers Hawk mentioned are miles better than the JBL's. You can click on the Axiom speaker site on the ecoustic opening page--they sell good speakers in your price range too--and you can return them after 30 days if you are unhappy.


New member
Username: Ocrazor

Post Number: 4
Registered: 02-2004
I am in the same situation, trying to put together a high quality system on a college budget. Here is the plan so far:

Speakers: B&W 601 $450
Amp: NAD or Rotel $300 (Used/Refurb)
CD: CD-ROM Drive $FREE (If you have a comp.) $FREE (If you have high speed internet and a good sound card its better than FM)

TOTAL: $750

If you want a cheaper system just subsitute the B&W speakers for Paradigm Titans. They are almost as good and and only cost $220. So, provided you have a computer with a quality sound card and high speed internet (if you want radio) the total cost would be $520

Unregistered guest
You could also pick up an older NAD integrated for about a hundred dollars on EBAY and try Wharfdale diamonds which ben from alot of trickle down technology from Quad... The Paradigm Titans and Atoms can also be found on Ebay for around a hundred bucks.

That being said, I would go with the 320 BEE (I did because it will allow you to upgrade speakers down the road and still remain very happy)... when you have some more money you could also add the matching 531 Bee and have a nice little setup.
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