Building your first record-player-based stereo system can be a daunting task, and going at it alone can leave you feeling lost, confused and potentially broke. Earlier this year we got this conversation started by suggesting a $500 entry level hi-fi system, and the overwhelming response to that article was simply stated, “Can this be done at a lower cost?” With that question posed, The Sound Floor team immediately got to work, and today we’re here to help you build a $300, quality, record-player-based stereo system.
We believe there are three very important things to consider when building any hi-fi:
You should build your stereo system with individual components (turntable, amplifier, speakers) so that you can upgrade each piece individually on your future path to audio nirvana.
Even with a budget, you should create stereo separation (left and right speakers) in order to expand the soundstage. Remember, friends don’t let friends buy Crosley.
- The source of your music should receive all the attention in the beginning. Your new turntable is the most important part of your new stereo system, as the other components will rely on the initial information that it provides.
BUILDING A STRONG FOUNDATION
As was the case with our $500 system, we believe that you should earmark half of your budget towards your turntable. In this case, we suggest spending a very reasonable $179 on the Orbit Basic Turntable by U Turn Audio. Not only does this bad boy look like it should cost twice as much, but it outperforms every single other option at this price point. Simply stated, there is no competition.
This easy-to-use, belt-driven turntable will play 33 ⅓ and 45 RPM records and comes with a factory mounted Audio-Technica AT91B cartridge (needle). The Orbit Basic does not come equipped with a phono pre-amp (the device that actually picks up the information from the record needle) so we suggest picking up the plug and play ART DJPRE II Phono Pre-amp in order to get the job done, which comes in a the low price of $30.
DIMINUTIVE POWER THAT PERFORMS
With your front end taken care of, you now need a device that will further amplify the information coming from your preamp. Look no further than the Lepai LP-2020A Mini Amplifier, coming in at the ridiculously low price of $27. This well-built class-T amplifier packs a serious punch at 20 watts per channel and comes with an additional mini-input for your digital device. We love that it’s compact size allows you to hide the amplifier anywhere on your bookshelf so that your new, bad ass record player can demand the visual attention it deserves.
BIG SPEAKERS AT A LOW COST
Now it’s time to push some air and start jamming out. These $47 Dayton Audio B652 Bookshelf Speakers will do just that. This well-packaged pair comes in right under 12” tall and will deliver clean sound - neither overly bassy, nor overly bright - from a 6.5” woofer and 0.6” tweeter. With this product, Dayton Audio is providing its customers with the best sounding speaker at the lowest possible price. Hell, they even come with the speaker wire included!
Once you’ve assembled your new, low-priced, quality-sounding hi-fi system - having saved a ton of money in the process - it’s time to head out, buy some wax, invite some friends over and get down!