Decent sound for the masses

People sometimes ask me what hi-fi stuff to buy, and since I diy almost everything, I'm usually clueless. This year I picked up some speakers for the TV, some KEF iQ1 little bookshelf thingies. I stole a diy amp from my tri-amped system to run them, but then my wife complained she couldn't play Christmas music in the living room. I have a couple amp projects going, but at the speed I work they might be ready for Christmas of 2010, certainly not this one. OK, off to see what one can buy that resembles an amp, without spending much. Found a Sherwood RX-4109 receiver at Radio Shack for $99. The thing said 200 Watts, but I figured it was peak-falling-off-a-cliff-high-line-voltage-music-power. Probably 5 watts rms when measured properly.

This may be hard to believe, but the Sherwood really is 100W/channel, though I doubt it could keep that up continuously, and the KEF speakers are serious competition to some much more expensive stuff. They use a tiny coaxial driver, and image like crazy. They seem to be almost a point source at any frequency. KEF wisely used a non-rectangular enclosure. The bass is impressive for the size, but with a sub this system would be amazing.

Thus, my current recommendation for cheap but good hi-if for the masses is KEF iQ1 bookshelf speakers, and a Sherwood RX-4109. Plus whatever CD/DVD/turntable source one prefers. If you get a deal on a DVD player, the total cost is under $500.


2001-09-24 11:12 am
I bought some kef c55 for 100 bucks, replaced some of the electrolytics with old films I had and was quite amazed. They are first generation concentric speakers and the construction is pretty good. The front baffle is cast iron, and has a passive radiator.
While they are not as good as my breference kls10s they sound better than they deserve to. In my expoerience, cheap speakers are good, cheap amps are not, but thats just in my limited experience.