Good sound needn’t be the reserve of the well-heeled. With some care and consideration it is possible to get good quality sounds at home. We’ve been doing this a long time and we’re always up for a challenge so we determined to find the best sounding budget system we could put together.
Our system starts with a Rega Planar 1 turntable which has become our reference for affordable record players. It comes complete with a cartridge and is plug and play. Truly; you can have this out of the box and playing music in less than 5 minutes. There really isn’t a massive amount to say about Rega but if you’d like to know more about their top down approach to design look here. The P1 is £249
Finding an amplifier that offers good performance AND a decent phono stage on a tight budget was a hard task. We looked and listened to selections from a few Japanese companies before happening on this Denon PMA-520Ae – an integrated amp with a cost of £179. It offers 35 watts per-channel, a decent MM phono stage as well as 5 additional inputs, meaning the system could easily be expanded should you so wish. Whilst the Denon isn’t particularly powerful it delivers the power cleanly and quickly and sounds far more powerful than you might expect. It is also remote control!
Our final component is of course the loudspeakers and we settled upon the Monitor Audio Bronze 1 compact loudspeaker. They’re easy to drive and designed to fit into most British living rooms. They are small enough to be wall mounted or to work on a shelf or of course on a pair of stands. They’re also available in a wide range of finishes.
We chose the speaker by listening. In the end it was between these and the more expensive Bowers and Wilkins 686s2. The Bowers are better but they should be because they#re more more expensive. Since we were trying to reign cost in we felt the Monitor Audio’s were perfect for the job.
Total cost of system £626
Proof of the pudding
The system makes a really good sound. We’ve had it playing now in our smaller demo room for the past three or four months and we’ve never failed to impress. It is musical and detailed and exceptionally easy on the ear. The sense of engagement is something that we value a great deal. A good stereo should draw you into the music and despite it’s modest price; this system manages that.
Despite their size the Bronze 1 speakers produce good bass. It’s easy to follow and keeps up.
A couple of albums we tend to use to test out small speakers is Floyds Dark Side of The Moon and Jean Michell Jarres’ Oxygene. On both recordings there is a lot happening and it’s easy for the system to sound cluttered and confused. That doesn’t happen here!
Back in April on Record Store Day we had this system placing all day. One customer came in simply because he’d seen some of our facebook posts. He brought in an old Northern soul single from the late 70’s and asked if we would play it. We put it on and he was ecstatic at the quality of the sound. He’d only hear it before on a jukebox and had formed the opinion that it would sound “worse” on better quality equipment. This was something we were able to very quickly disprove.
This system has proved very popular and we sell quite a few of them. Often people are so impressed by the sound that they ask what it would sound like with a better amplifier or speakers. This is something we can easily demonstrate.
If you’d like to buy this system you can find a link here and this includes speaker cable and home delivery to Mainland UK.
If you’d like to hear it bring some records and pop in whenever you’d like!