Absolute Bargains!

We use the Tune Method to evaluate performance

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lejonklou
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Absolute Bargains!

Post by lejonklou »

The purpose of this topic is to share tips about really inexpensive equipment that sounds way beyond expectations and can really play a tune.

Often these products are labelled differently on different markets and tend to disappear rather quickly.

One of the best car speakers I have ever heard was found after I evaluated 18 different pairs with the Tune Method (took a while, but it was rather fun) and it turned out that the cheapest of them all performed the best! They didn't cost more than 60 US dollars a pair, but unfortunately the entire brand disappeared several years ago...

PLEASE NOTE that this is a Sticky subject that is intended as a list of recommendations. All lengthy discussions and recommendations that don't fit will periodically be removed.
Last edited by lejonklou on 2007-02-04 23:07, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by Linnofil »

Absolute bargain of the year?

I was about to purchase a couple of small systems for my kids (5 and 6 years). I took a walk trough some local "HiFi" supermarkets. I had a couple of good CD's with me. By playing 20 sec on each system I soon discovered what was the best one. I checked all systems from $50 to $1500. The best one, by far, costed $50. It was a Denver MCA-54. I bought two systems right away! Apart from the amazing price/performance ratio, it's a typical microsystem with CD/tuner and cassette. My kids love them! Very tuneful and fun to listen to!

This system is now going out of the market, but can still be found new on eBay. It is sold new in box for €15 +shipping. Highly recommended! Even Fredrik Lejonklous daughter has one and it is highly liked in the Lejonklou family. (Fredrik got a tip from me on the Swedish Linn forum.)

It can be modified by blocking any light coming in to the CD laser through the top lid. (I myself used a mouse pad.) A considerable and very worthwhile mod. (As with many CD players.) It responds very well to the normal installation tips that is associated with normal (Linn/Lejonklou) HiFi, such as tunedem placement of speakers, placement of main unit and for us with a Euro plug, flipping the 230V plug the right way around. Not for the Keltiklovers out there, but for all others who need/want a small system I think the Denver MCA-54 is a must buy for €15! Be quick! :!:
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Post by lejonklou »

Thank you Linnofil and welcome here! This is exactly the kind of things I had in mind when starting the topic.

The Denver MCA-54 is really incredible value for money. I can recommend it to anyone in need of a simple system as it is really enjoyable to listen to. This machine was also marketed under the name Scantic MCA-100.

This is what they both look like:
Image

Another product recommendation from Linnofil, based on the same Tune Method evaluation of "all the products in the supermarket", was the retro-style table radio Denver TR-36. I haven't heard it myself, but I expect it to be good value at half the price of the MCA-54.

UPDATE: There is a new version of the table radio TR-36 out that has only FM. It sounds TERRIBLE. Avoid it! The old version (that looks identical to the new one) has both FM and AM. The new one which should be avoided has only FM and is an entirely different product inside. Thanks to Linnofil for this update!

Please note that these two examples is no indication that any other machine labelled "Denver" is good.
Last edited by lejonklou on 2008-04-10 22:17, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by lejonklou »

MP3 player and headphone
This is copied from the topic about portable sound by Linnofil:

I have always hated the MP3 players of the modern era, crap! I actually don’t think it is the compression that is the biggest problem. Music in DVD-films can be really good, even though it's compressed. (I think it’s encoded with MP3 or?) But one day I stumbled upon a player that I didn’t want to turn off imidiately. It’s the most musical player I have heard for compressed music. It’s the Sandisk Sansa M250, 2 GB player. Good enough to use for hours, and can double as a cheap source in small simple systems. Better than most cheap CD players. Very cheap for a 2 Gb player (in Sweden) at about $90. The headphones are unfortunately not as good as the player itself. After some serious searching in a lot of shops, a friend of mine found a pair of good portable headphones in the AKG K24P. A portable and foldable “on ear” type, very similar to the inferior Koss Porta Pro that is still popular among some people. The K24P are sold for about $50 in Sweden. The AKG’s require a lot of burn in before it is really good. So put it on a tuner for about a week or two before using it. I had a pair of Sony MDR WM-20 headphones for 20 years that was better than the K24P. Unfortunately the broke down about a year ago. I also heard a more expensive Sony 15-20 years ago that was even better, I think it was called MDR-50. But sadly, they are no longer on the market.
(Like the LP12…) My AKG 501 are better than the K24P, but not very portable! (And require lots of power to sound good.)

So my position when it comes to good portable music is: (For all tunedem’ers out there)
1: Sony Walkman WM-D6C with AKG K24P (Requires a good source, LP12, Unidisk etc.)
2: Sandisk Sansa M250 with AKG K24P (Requires a standard PC!)
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Post by lejonklou »

Shuko (euro) type distribution block

I don't claim this to be the best distribution block available, but nearly! It sounds good and is very cheap. In Sweden the 6-way block is available at Clas Ohlson for SEK 35 (4€) and the part number is 32-7216. The cable is 1.4 meters long.

The exact same type is also available in a 3-way version with 1.4, 3 or 5 meters of cable. Stay away from the versions that have a mains switch as they sound much worse!

The 6-way version with 1.4 m cable looks like this:
Image

If you want to get the last few % of performance, you can peek into the packaging and check which way the mains cable is running. I have found the ones with the text on the cable (H05VV-F 3G1.5mm2 <VDE> NINGBO QIANGHONG) running from the wall plug towards the distribution block to sound the best.

Update Oct 2008: Music Lover reported that the same distribution block is sometimes supplied with a different cable, with the following name: CIXI HONGYI. This does not sound quite as good as the one mentioned above.
Last edited by lejonklou on 2010-11-08 20:17, edited 5 times in total.
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Post by Rutger »

The Audio Technica AT-95E is a great cartridge that is hardly beaten by devices ten times as expensive as this unit.
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Post by Rutger »

The IKEA LACK coffetable is one of the absolutely best platform to place your turnable, CD, DVD or amplifier on, because it sound better " tune dem". Price about 10$ !
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Post by per »

http://www.musiikin.com/lackmod.htm

Here is an article showing one way of modifying the IKEA Lack table. I have a similar table from IKEA, "Corras", and have plans to try that modification. When done, I will get back with pictures and a report.
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Post by Linnofil »

I have been recommending the Sandisk Sansa M250, 2 GB player as the best portable MP3 player I have ever heard. However I must now issue a warning for this worthless and useless player! :twisted:

What? :?:

Well, I recently bought a pair of M250 players as a backup if the other ones where lost or broken. I bought two players for less than $100. I thought that was pretty good value for money. But I was wrong! The newer players are of a different HW and SW generation and they sound just like all the other players out there... Total crap! (Mine was 4.x.) If you want to buy a Sandisk Sansa, make sure it has firmware starting with 2 (indicates HW generation). The FW version can be found under "Information" in the main menu.

Apparently the M260 player with 4 Gb memory was only sold on the 2.x HW platform. So if you want to be sure of good sound and the seller can't look up the firmware for you, go for a M260, it should be a safe bet.

Do not buy a 4.x player! :evil: It sounds bad and it has SW bugs as well.
(See: http://www.anythingbutipod.com/forum/sh ... php?t=6933 )
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Post by Source »

Hi!

I had the opportunity to get assistance from Lejonklou himself when I recently installed active Ninkas. Due to a problem with my chakra amplifier one of the trebles was dead quiet when I pressed play. In fear of something being broken I called Lejonklou who came to my rescue and brought the treble back to life again :)

During his visit we also talked a little about cheap equipment that sounds really good! I told him about a pair of compact speakers that I had own for a while and that I recently tried with my classik music. I had no high expectations about them and was more than pleased with the performance!
As "payment" for his emergency field trip to my livingroom, we decided that I would enter a post here about these speakers.

They are called Dynavoice challenger S-5 and has a price tag about 900 SEK (about $95) (They costed about 600 SEK when I bought them though)

Check them out here:
http://www.fynda.se/index.php?prodid=1526

They dont sound as clear and musical as my ninkas of course, but they are quite fun listening to anyway!
Of course, a good source often make wonders... :)

/Jesper
The sun's not yellow it's chicken - Bob Dylan
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Post by lejonklou »

Many thanks for the info, Jesper!

I was in a rush but got very interested when you told me about your comparison between these speakers and several much more expensive models from well regarded brands. The dead cheap Dynavoice Challengers were the clear winners.

To my ears, it sounded like something that just had to be in the Absolute Bargains thread!

Didn't you also mentioned some other Dynavoice model? A floorstander, I believe. Which is the model, is it any good, is it better than these Challenger S-5's?
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Post by Source »

lejonklou wrote:Many thanks for the info, Jesper!

I was in a rush but got very interested when you told me about your comparison between these speakers and several much more expensive models from well regarded brands. The dead cheap Dynavoice Challengers were the clear winners.

To my ears, it sounded like something that just had to be in the Absolute Bargains thread!

Didn't you also mentioned some other Dynavoice model? A floorstander, I believe. Which is the model, is it any good, is it better than these Challenger S-5's?
I have owned a pair of the floor standing speakers in the same series, called M-65, and I liked them as well even though they were not as musical as the S-5. They are more expensive as well, about 2000 SEK.
In fact there is a new M-65 arriving real soon. A little more expensive, 2500 SEK i think.. Probably the S-5 will be updated as well, and it would be interesting to try them out. They will probably be a little more expensive as well..
But hey, ~1000 SEK is still a bargain :) If the update is any good that is!
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Post by vicdiaz »

Wow! Sounds interesting! Just did a quick Google search and found their english web site. No dealers in the US though.
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Post by ThomasOK »

I just had to add the unit I am using for record demagnetizing here. Considering the improvement it makes to records, the ease of use and the low price I feel it belongs in the bargains listing.

This unit is the Radio Shack 44-233A High-Power bulk eraser (although other similar devices should work just as well). There are generally several of them on eBay at any one time - currently there are four listed with prices ranging from $9.99US starting bid to a Buy It Now of $29.95. I paid just under $20 including shipping for mine. I have written more on it in another thread (search: demagnetisers) but here is another photo of it:

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Post by Per A »

Rutger wrote:The Audio Technica AT-95E is a great cartridge that is hardly beaten by devices ten times as expensive as this unit.
Well I have bought an AT OC 9 MkII and if it is anywhere as good as the Klyde it will replace I am very happy. It still sits at my dealer's waiting for me to pick it up :)
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AKG K 420 headphones

Post by Linnofil »

As I have previously recommended the now discontinued AKG K24P with some reported satisfaction on the forum, I would like to share my latest find. I tested the K24P/K412P against a pair of (well run in) AKG K 420 and could not believe my ears! It was a definite improvement from my beloved K24P. They where so good that I bought them on the spot for 600 SEK. They are also much more comfortable to wear than the K24P, and they run in a lot faster than the K24P.

To make a headphone that is really better than the K24P is an achievement. I give them my best recommendations. Especially now that I know they can be bought for 399 SEK. ($46 USD, £32 GBP in Sweden at cdon.com)

If K24P was a steal, K420 is a robbery! :)

I'm very pleased with my new K420! I'm so happy that my K24P snapped in pieces, it forced me out on a treasure hunt again. The K420 really are a fabulous upgrade from K24P. Highly recommended by Linnofil!
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Re: AKG K 420 headphones

Post by rowlandhills »

Linnofil wrote:As I have previously recommended the now discontinued AKG K24P with some reported satisfaction on the forum, I would like to share my latest find. I tested the K24P/K412P against a pair of (well run in) AKG K 420 and could not believe my ears! It was a definite improvement from my beloved K24P. They where so good that I bought them on the spot for 600 SEK. They are also much more comfortable to wear than the K24P, and they run in a lot faster than the K24P.

To make a headphone that is really better than the K24P is an achievement. I give them my best recommendations. Especially now that I know they can be bought for 399 SEK. ($46 USD, £32 GBP in Sweden at cdon.com)

If K24P was a steal, K420 is a robbery! :)

I'm very pleased with my new K420! I'm so happy that my K24P snapped in pieces, it forced me out on a treasure hunt again. The K420 really are a fabulous upgrade from K24P. Highly recommended by Linnofil!
I've not listened to these, but just thought I'd add that if you're UK based, these are available at http://www.iheadphones.co.uk/headphones ... 0+Blue.htm for less than £29GBP delivered, which makes them even better value!
KRDSM, Tundra to 242s
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Post by lejonklou »

I've ordered a pair of K420. Will post my impressions when I get them!

Several people have emailed me saying that they read Linnofil's tip, bought a pair and think they're great.
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Post by Lego »

Per A wrote:
Rutger wrote:The Audio Technica AT-95E is a great cartridge that is hardly beaten by devices ten times as expensive as this unit.
Well I have bought an AT OC 9 MkII and if it is anywhere as good as the Klyde it will replace I am very happy. It still sits at my dealer's waiting for me to pick it up :)
Years ago I bought an OC 9 instead of going for the Asaka and it was worse than my worn out K18.. :lol:
I know that tune
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Post by lejonklou »

I agree with you there, Lego. I even preferred a K9 back in the day when I compared them.

The question is how much better version II of OC9 has become. I'm unsure of whether Per has actually made any comparison between his old Klyde and the OC9 Mk II.

Per?
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Post by Per A »

I switched from a worn out Klyde to a new AT OC II which was a vast improvent. At the same time I replaced the old cable for a t-cable in my ekos. It runs into a Linto. It is exquisite thank you.

I have owned K9, K18, Asaka and three Klydes. I was disappointed in the way Klydes wore out making it expensive per minute.
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Post by Music Lover »

Per A wrote:I switched from a worn out Klyde to a new AT OC II which was a vast improvent. At the same time I replaced the old cable for a t-cable in my ekos.
A worn out MC can be totally tuneless.
Have you compared a good Klyde with the OCII, not changing the t-cable?
It's all about musical understanding!
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Post by Per A »

Well comparing was quite difficult. I got the AT over the internet. Memory related of course to the worn out Klyde.

As I dont have a mm riaa I have never really considered the adikt.
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System fidelity

Post by doze84 »

I think most all products from System Fidelity are bargains. Especially the cheaper ones. I want to mention two products that are most extremely good for their value.

That is the D-30 t-amp,(15watts) 120$ is a portable amplifier that can be driven by battery, I would guess it's a perfect match to your sandisk m250 HW Gen 2.x.x. player or any good source. It even outperforms my stationary amplifier in timing. It can even drive some floorstanding speaker, and maybe this one can be used as an portable headphoneamp with some switch of connectors aswell?. But that's another thread.

And then the cd-250, which cost around 250$ and is performing extremely well for it's pricetag in timing and sound. They say it's better than naim cd5, and Hifibutiken.se had to get rid of much of their other cdplaying units when they got this player.

They also have matching speakers in all prices, the only two i can't recommend are their most expensive floorstandig (4000$) since majik 140 might be better in musicality, and their floorstanding speaker SF-4050, since it got the bass speaker on the side, which make you loose a little bit om timing. They have a 200$ speaker that performs extremely good and might be a good upgrade from challenger s-5(guessing without being able to compare)
Last edited by doze84 on 2009-05-28 19:43, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: AKG K 420 headphones

Post by lejonklou »

Linnofil wrote:The K420 really are a fabulous upgrade from K24P. Highly recommended by Linnofil!
Got them! Great pair of headphones!

Less harsh in the treble than K24P, feels safer for my tinnitus ears. Basslines are more in tune, with solid notes instead of a blur. A bit less agressive and direct. No strange timing issues, highly enjoyable.

Once again I owe you great thanks, Linnofil!
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