Cheap system on a budget that works in a small room and every change makes a difference

I used to own a reasonable system but due to my needing to spend big on health issues of my children I sold everything to help cover the cost. I now after15 years wa t to get back into the hifi scene. Financial circumstances it needed to be below $2000 Australian. Appropriate $1500US. I wanted turntable based system but also to play music from my computer. Shopping around i purchased a Pro-Ject E turntable, Pro-ject s2bt amp and a pair of Monitor Audio 50’s speakers. All cost $959 au. Fine but needed speaker stands $89au. Speaker cable that came with the system was too short and extremely thin. First upgrade was thicker speaker cable. These needed banana plug terminations as the binding posts on the amp are too close. Major sound improvement more dynamic base cleaner mids brand? IVF whoever they are $50au cost for 3meter lengths. But vocals very recessed and highs seemed very splashy. Next sorting a better phono stage (cartridge is an ortofon OM5) fou d the best in my price range to be the Rega fono mini a20 $195 au connected to the Pro-ject via neotech rca cables($50 au). Sound has improved greatly in all aspects but highs are still an issue so hae ordered an Ortofon OM 20 cartridge ($231au) not received yet 26 days from Germany. Was listening to music from the computer via headphone socket to amp. Not very satisfactory as the sound card in the computer is dodgy so invested in a Dac. Needed to be small ( forgot i need this all in a bedroom circumstances have bought me to a share house) So after some research bought a topping DX1. And a good quality cable to connect it to the amp. Cables are WBC 1 meter total cost ($190 au) . Have replaced the standard USB cable with an audioquest pearl .75 of a meter ($55au) total for the system will be $1809 au when the cartridge gets here. This is good sound quality on a budget and all changes have made a noticeable difference. As far as the USB goes it has not made any difference in range or dynamics ut has made a difference in the timber of the music. Such as the base is just as loud and as extended and dynamic as the previous USB cable but the difference is in i can now tell a bigger difference in what is producing the base.

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Welcome, Paul, and hope your kids are all well now!
I’m with you regarding thicker speaker cables, but look for cross section only and forget about exotic construction recipes, brand names and what not.

Regarding all other cabling, you might be able to convince yourself of improvements, but face reality, repeatable they are not - better not walk down that path and save yourself from delusion.

Rather save up, get better speakers, optimize their placement and room acoustics.

Heck, get yourself a 100$ USB microphone, read those threads on digital room correction using the free REW software, make yourself look like a fool waving that microphone around while listening to noise, chirps and sweeps, but you’ll be blown away by the improvements.

All the best!


Hi Paul
All the best wishes to your loved ones.

I 100% agree with @Marin_Weigel on the room corrections. with the 100$ mic and REW app and me doing just mild corrections there are big improvements on the sound. I can firmly put that in the real upgrades category. Just give time to it as learning takes some time. Or you can pay someone to do it. You’ll find all you need in the threads on this forum.

I have upgraded USBs, Power Cables, etc. and while better sound I also can suspect that “better” is all in my head. So I can say “real”. But the key was to spend on these a small amount, so that I have no hard feelings.

Enjoy :musical_note:

This is the cheapest and easiest way I know to do room correction.

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Replying to all who have kindly messaged me
I have had the hobby of HiFi since 1975 and worked at a hi-fi store from 1984 till 1996. I am not new to this media. I have played with hi-fi and got as close to the source (whether that was a studio recording or live) as my money would allow. I will set out what I used to have as by way of part explanation. I used to own a Dunlop systemdec 3 with SME series 4 tonearm and an Ortofon MC 20 super two plus step-up transformer. Being in the trade Ortofon gave me the cartridge and step up as a thank you. My amplification was a Harman Kardan Citation pre and power amp, feeding into a pair of Magnapan Magnaplaner 1.5 QR speakers. The power supply is filtered through a QED mains filter. Peripheral equipment consisted of a Nakamichi Dragon with a Nakamichi Hi-Com 2 commander, A Pioneer stable platter CD player, (model slips my mind) as well as a Denon CD recorder. Tuner I was not interested in the radio so had a basic Proton. Cables were the best in the day, and yes I demonstrated to all my friends as well as customers that good cables can make a difference the same as two speakers can have the same measured frequency response and noise floor use the same drivers but still end up sounding different.
I explain this as to show that I understand the dynamics of Hi-Fi and a good set-up. I was pointing out with my current system that with the application of finding good equipment and the best connectors possible even in a share-house bedroom and on a strict budget you can enjoy decent Hi-Fi. Thanks for suggesting a microphone and set up of the bedroom but I cannot change the room I rent it
Marin_Weigel it is a pity I am not still selling Hi-fi or I would invite you to demonstrate for you and blow your mind what a good cable can do interconnects especially from analogue have a huge effect.
The USB I was referring to had no effect on the dynamic range or distortion levels but showed a difference in the timber of the sound. So no no machine would detect that.
But I think that I am Mature enough in my life of Hi-Fi and music that I would say and have if there was no change in the sound, but I do know those $3 RCA cables you get from hardware stores can be improved on.
I made CD recordings of my records as well as cassettes, the reason being cars were fitted with CDs and Cassettes were and are not readily available in cars. But after demonstrating these discs while looking for speakers the comment I would get the most was “Are those Hi def CDs?” All were blown away when I informed them that they were from Record or Cassette. I do not believe it was just the hardware but the complete setup.
If it is just 0’s and 1’s how was it that the analogue to digital in the Denon was great but the digital to analogue was very bad, so bad I nearly sent it back until I played the discs I recorded on my Pioneer and other CDs. The Denon’s recording was brilliant its playback was awful but still had the same chipset as the Pioneer.
Thanks again for your feedback and an open mind never went astray

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Is this app available on android? Apple may be big in America but the rest of the world loves Samsung. Oh I am in Australia

Yes afraid it looks like it’s only available on iPhones and iPads. Sorry.

I do acknowledge, that we have very different angles toward the application of HiFi equipment and state of the art scientific knowledge, in order to enjoy music in our homes.

And that’s perfectly fine, as you enjoy it your way, I do so my way, so I’ll just leave it at that.