Replace my Kenwood Stereo with????

moo_July 24, 2007

I purchased this back in the eighties. You know, the black cabinet with the 3' speakers on either side. AM FM Tuner, dual cassette, 6 CD changer and equalizer.

I want to downsize in size but not in sound.

I have erratic taste in music, I love the Rat Pack (Sammy Frank and Deano) Bon Jovi, Carly Simon, Classical, Willie Nelson are in my CD changer now.. Not a hard rocker but most everything else.

AND, I'd like to pre-wire my kitchen and LR during our remodel in a few weeks.

Can you recommend a system or a brand or an online source? I honestly don't know where to begin!

Any advice appreciated.

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You did not mention cost or whether or not the main stereo would be located in the living room with auxillary speakers in the kitchen. There is a lot of good product out there but more info is needed...

    Bookmark   July 25, 2007 at 9:59AM
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Budget is critical, as tobr24u mentioned, though there are some remarkably-good values out there for non-critical listening. One big decision you have to make is if you want to make room for a stereo/home-theater receiver and at least a pair of bookshelf speakers in the main area and however much space you want to devote to the auxiliary speakers, and whether you will want to have them play the same source at the same time. An alternative is going for one of the nicer small systems (like Tivoli's or Cambridge SoundWorks'), but that will limit you on signal sources and ultimate sound.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2007 at 2:39PM
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OOh. See, ya'll already know more than I do about this!

Budget, hummmm, I guess I haven't really thought about it. I'm starting a remodel so don't hate me but I'm going to say $500. Perhaps I could get a system to start with that I could add to later for more money? Is that possible?

I'm not interested in the home theatre aspect. I really want this more in my kitchen and nook (because that's where I listen to it most often and DH wants to see the TV) and I need it to be able to be heard in the Living room as well as the kitchen when we entertain.

This is why I was hoping to wire the house during the remodel so I can either plug in more speakers or move around the ones that I have.

tobr24u, I'd like to have the system in the LR, that would be fine, as long as it doesn't dominate the room. Are there smaller speakers with really good sound?

I hate to sound so ill informed but honestly I just want a crisp delicious sound.

Perhaps I could just get the CD changer and amp or equalizer or whatever it is? I surely don't need the cassette or radio. Wouldn't that save space overall?

I want to be able to hear more of the piano for instance when listening to Elton John. Does that make sense?

Please let me know what you think. thanks!

    Bookmark   July 26, 2007 at 7:06PM
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Don't know how you could do all of this for only $500. Perhaps you could just run some speaker wire from your Kenwood while remodeling to the areas where you want the music. Then you might consider mounting the speakers in the ceilings or walls. The Bose system mentioned by Steve may be your cheapest way out with decent sound, but for the sound you want the speakers will be key and your old Kenwood should power them if it has the ability to switch from one set of speakers to another (most of the older, decent stereos do). You could than upgrade as you can afford it but the CD player would still have to be near the Kenwood and this would limit your control to another room of what you want to hear and when. Whatever, the wiring for future reference might not be bad at the moment anyway as it is the cheapest part of what you are planning...

    Bookmark   July 28, 2007 at 10:11AM
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That additional info helps.

$500 is a tight budget, but if you're willing to re-use components you already have or are willing to buy refurbished or used, you can do it. It sounds like your Kenwood system is one of those "rack" systems they used to sell "back in the day" -- individual components grouped more closely by appearance and price than capability. If there is a CD player or receiver/amplifier you could pull from that rack, you could invest just in additional speakers now and have what you want, replacing the older gear as money comes along. Frankly, some home audio was at its best in the mid-80s, so it's not unilaterally a bad idea to keep some of it as long as it works.

Getting rid of the cassette deck or tuner (if your system had one) will save some space, as will getting smaller speakers. I don't know where you live, but most good-sized cities will have at least one store that sells "high-end" audio. Don't be scared by the name. There are several companies which sell "high-end" audio that doesn't cost a fortune. I know; I own some of it :-). Tell the sales rep what you like to listen to (or, in your case, not listen to), your budget, and the dimensions into which everything (particularly the speakers) must fit.

Listen to speakers from companies like Paradigm, Energy, Triangle, NHT, PSB, Monitor Audio, and B&W. All of them offer small speakers which sound excellent if you're not trying to fill Yankee Stadium with sound or listen solely to pipe-organ concertos. Listen to the model one or two price levels above the ones that fit your budget, just to get an idea of the differences in sound. Ask about a discount for buying four speakers (and maybe electronics if you're buying an amp or CD player, too). Ask about trade-in equipment or used or consignment equipment, if they handle that. Ask about buying floor demo speakers. Be resourceful about saving some dough.

As for the electronics, if you cannot reuse what you have, your most economical choice for amplification is a stereo receiver. The ones you can buy new are adequately powerful for what you want to do. Again, be resourceful. Harman-Kardon (a good name with which I've had positive experience) sells their factory refurbs on eBay. Others may sell on their own Web sites (Onkyo does this) or through places like or . You can save a bundle by going through something like craigslist, but you need to know what you're buying there. You might be better off at a place that sells used/consignment audio (i.e., not your local Best Buy or Circuit City).

Ditto for a CD changer. Don't cheap out too much on this or it will be disposable. :-( Again, used is a possibility here, too, but make sure you can return it if it doesn't work for you. (I have a Sony ES CD changer which is temperamental about some CDs but sounds marvelous otherwise.)

Finally, go ahead and wire the walls. Use a good grade of lamp cord (12-14 ga should do it, especially for longer runs) and leave some cord at the end to add connectors for whatever you end up using.

Does that help?

    Bookmark   July 28, 2007 at 10:23AM
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Wow. Ya'll are amazing. I feel totally overwhelmed suddenly.

I've looked at my system and here is more info. Perhaps you can suggest speakers or anything that might help.

Made in Sept. 1993
Speakers are 3 way 140 watt impedance 8 (?)
The AMFM, tuner and cassette are all bolted together to make one unit that looks like 3. Perhaps I could toss the cassette? It's on the bottom but it looks like it all goes together, so perhaps I should leave it. The CD is a seperate componet.

Multiple compact disc player DP-R793
1 bit
Dual D/A converter
Digital Pulse Axis Control
Computer controlled CD recording system (?)

Looking at the back of the unit, it only has four of those connections for two speakers. Red and Black for each of the two so I don't know how to add speakers to this.

It also says below the place where you affix the speaker wires 8-16 and something I'll call a Q but I'm sure you know what I mean.

So, given this, how would be the best way to get sound into the kitchen? Leave this system in tact in the living room and wire in more speakers? Get a new componet of some kind? Anything? Keep the CD and toss the other stuff??? Keep it all?

Thank you so very much. This info is invaluable to me because it isn't coming from a salesman!!


    Bookmark   July 29, 2007 at 8:53AM
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You're welcome!

Given the additional information, I think your best option is what's called the "forklift upgrade" -- jack up the old stuff and shove new stuff underneath it. :-)

Seriously, if the tuner/amp/cassette are one piece and there is only one pair of speaker terminals, this unit was never designed to handle more than that, so there's little value in trying to make it do more. Especially since, at 14 years old, it doesn't have that much life left. The CD player still is usable, however, so you could keep that.

What I believe your options are:

- Replace the Kenwood system with a new receiver and speakers. This is the most expensive option, but it offers the best possible sound quality. You would have to run speaker cable through the walls or go wireless, though going wireless for this would be considerably more expensive and, likely, would not sound as good. You can use the old changer with this system if you want.

- Keep the Kenwood where it is and buy something different for the kitchen. To listen to the same music in both places, you'll somehow have to get the signal you're listening to in the living room to the kitchen. Depending on how far apart the living room and kitchen are, you could do this with a long "RCA" cable (for less than 20 feet of distance) or you could go wireless here, too, either with wireless speakers or a wireless signal extender. The wireless speakers, frankly, will not sound great unless you spend a bundle. The wireless signal is a better bet, but now you're adding the cost of a media extender to the cost of whatever amplifier and speakers you buy for the kitchen (and/or the living room).

There are some installation considerations, especially if you go wireless. But this should help you understand your choices at this point.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2007 at 2:56PM
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Well, Steve O, the truth hurts. ;)

I really hadn't realized it's 14 years old until you pointed that out. Yes, I know it was made in '93 but I simply hadn't done the math.

I think I'm going to go shopping for a new changer, equalizer (or amp or whatever it is called) and speakers. I'm going to try to get just those components, the bare minimum in a good quality.

Any suggestions?

Also, any idea's on what this old system would sell for or would they take a trade in at the stereo store? I mean is it worth $20 or $200?

I'll stay away from Best Buy, I'd already figured out that wasn't my best bet for informed purchasing. There is a big stereo specialty store in a nearby city that I can go to for quality stuff.

Thanks, Moo.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2007 at 4:37PM
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Sorry, moo_! If it makes you feel better, I have equipment around the house and in use that is at least 25 years old. It definitely could use some technical attention, though.

I would hold on to your current CD changer for now, as long as it works. That will save you some $$ to put into a new amplifier and new speakers. If you plan to stick close to your $500 budget, you need to save wherever you can.

For the unit which will replace the main Kenwood (three-in-one) unit, I would go with a stereo receiver that can handle two pair of speakers. If you're buying new, that should be most of them, but make sure to check. Even if you never plan to listen to AM or FM, a receiver will cost less than an amplifier for a given set of features and power. The problem here is that you'll spend at least $150 on a good new (or factory-refurbished) receiver, which puts your $500 budget in jeopardy. You can see if the specialty store has something even used -- if they've refurbished it and are willing to give you even 30 days in warranty, you should be okay. You just don't want to be buying old equipment that you'll have to fix later. Brands I like new include Onkyo, Denon, Harman-Kardon, and Yamaha.

As for the speakers, go with the brand list I mentioned in my first post, but, if the dealer you're working with seems to "get it", don't be afraid to listen to his/her recommendations. There are a number of good-sounding speakers out there which will run about $100 each but will sound like they cost much more. Below $100, not so much.

Bring some of the CDs you are very familiar with. Well-recorded classical music is a good test because they don't try to engineer distortion into the recording (as they often do on pop music) and most people can recognize a French horn or a viola. But lay off the timpani and pipe organ :-) and make sure the classical is a digital recording -- an analog dub just may not sound great. For pop music, I like simply-recorded solo voice and acoustic instruments; again, remastered and/or digital-source stuff is best.

Don't expect any kind of credit for your Kenwood system. The stereo store won't touch it. You might try craigslist or your local Pennysaver or the like. Its value at this point is way closer to $20 than it is to $200, but if it works well and you sell it with the speakers (and the rack, if you can), it will make someone happy and make you a few bucks.

Good luck! Good music is a joy!

    Bookmark   July 29, 2007 at 8:33PM
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Thanks Steve.

I've clipped the posts for future reference.

Your help so MUCH appreciated.

I thank you for your time and your kindness in helping me.

I'll let you know what I come up with in a few weeks.

Toodles, Moo

    Bookmark   July 29, 2007 at 10:59PM
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You're welcome! I'd like to find out.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2007 at 4:16PM
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