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First stereo system for a beginner


New Member
Oct 31, 2021
Hi all,

I've always loved music. Is just that I've never put much thought into the components that play that music.

Last year I bought a pair of Sony-WH1000X M3. They sound absolutely amazing compared to anything I've heard until that point (pretty much only cheap earphones bought from supermarkets :facepalm:).

Now, I decided to take this a step further and build a stereo system. I've saved some money and now I'm ready to buy some speakers and an amplifier.
Some of my requirement/limitations are:
  • 1. I currently live in a small apartment so I would really want to not have to turn the speakers that loud in order to enjoy the music. I try to keep the neighbors off my head.
  • 2. I have a subscription to Tidal hifi, so I was thinking that an amplifier that also has a dac and bluetooth would be ideal for now. I don't have much space now. In the future I'm also considering buying a turntable.
  • 3. My budget is around 500 Euros, it could get a bit higher if I really find something that's worth it (but not more that 700E).
  • 4. I live in Europe (Romania), and don't have any shops in my city where I could go and test speakers/amps. Also many products aren't even available online from retails within the country. Amazon is not very popular in here, and, even though I could order from them, I wouldn't do it in order to avoid future problems in case I need to return something.
  • 5. I listen to all genres of music except heavy metal. Since I'm just starting out, I don't have any particular preferences in what it should sound. I just want a clean and maybe warm sound.
  • 6. It would be nice if I could use the amp also with my headphones. But that's just 'nice to have'
So far I did a bit of research and came up with a list of speakers and amps I like. I have to admit there is a lot going on, and, as a beginner, I'm still trying to wrap my head around all the reviews and information I read.
That's why I'm here, maybe I can find some help if the components I've selected so far are ok, what speaker goes with what amp or maybe some other recommendations/advice for a newbie. Here's the list so far:
  • Speakers: KEF Q150 (on sale now for 250E), KEF Q350 (on sale now for 300E), Wharfedale Diamond 12.2 (on sale now for 250E) and Q Acoustics 3030i ( on sale now for 250E)
  • Amps: SMSL AD 18 BT (180E), Yamaha R-S202D (300E), Cambridge AXR85 (400E), NAD D 3020 V2 (400E). I also read a lot of positive reviews about Atoll IN50 Signature but it's quite expensive (750E). I've also searched for Loxjie A30 which seems to be a good option also, but couldn't find it anywhere in Romania..
I would very much appreciate your help!
Thanks in advance!


Major Contributor
Oct 10, 2020
Sweden - Слава Україні
Maybe if you do not already have it. Took review of 12.1

Fortunately you can use a thick rug to absorb the floor reflections like I have

Picture two all over the floor. Maybe overkill, but that possibility also exists.:)

Just a thick carpet, Amir usually writes in every other review of speakers. What is appropriate for your listening room / speaker specifically remains to be seen.:)

Adds another tip. Fun to think about different speakers.
These seem to be good:

Speaking of Polk, in that review Amir writes:
As noted -- and it is how I have my room -- use a thick carpet. That should be a nice absorber from 1 kHz up which we need to fix that trough and extra high frequency energy. High ceilings help to reduce the impact of bounce in that direction. Or you can stick an ugly absorber up there.


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