If you go used, the NHT 2.5i might not be too bad.
For the integrated amp I'd recommend looking at a used Audio Refinement Complete int. amp which has been very, very highly rated and you might be able to find one used for about $700 (new $980).
International Audio Review concluded their review of the Audio Refinement Complete by stating "If you're looking for the most musically enjoyable solid state amp you can buy with price no object, this is it. If, on the other hand, you're price sensitive and are looking for the most economical entry point to true high end sound, this is it. Any questions?"
For your speakers I think you would do very well with the Kestrel. They do very well on the mids and highs for their price class. Little bass shy but for the type of music you enjoy may not be a problem. Try for the hot rod will cost you 700 to 800 plus freight. For the integrated why not go with a NAD until you can upgrade. Not the very best but puts out enjoyable music.
Second the Audio Refinement as it really is the champion in this league. Vote Totem Arros used for speakers. Bit bass shy, but oh the imaging and and voicing, particularly for the genres of music you listen to. Kestrels are a bit distant and non-involving, don't like Linn speakers and the NHTs will tend toward bright. Good luck.
The Complete is one of the champs in this area, but it blows a big hole in your $1K budget. It will probably cost you $650 used. You should then consider the Creek 4330, which will be around $400 used. Also see what is available from Musical Fidelity.
If you can hunt up a pair of B&W P4 speakers for +/-$500 you will be pleased with them I think.
Don't compromise on the amp. I believe if you get this part right i.e. Audio Refinement's Complete, you'll be 90% there.
Then the best speakers you can find will then take you most of the way home.
But the amp is key. Most amps, especially in this price range, do very strange things to the signal as they amplify.
If you do get the AR Complete you may not want to get speakers that are too difficult to drive. The Complete is in many ways a budget version of the YBA Integre (YBA makes The Complete). The literature for the Integre clearly rates it at 50 watts at 8 ohms and 90 watts at 4 ohms. They do not give a 4 ohm rating on the Complete. Inquiries have yielded nothing. I read a review of someone who claims to have tested The Complete and it was about the same (50 watts) at 4 ohms. So the power supply, etc., appears to be one of the ways YBA cut down The Compete to lower the cost.
The best of the speaker bunch that you list is definitely the Kestral...especially based on your taste in music.
I would second (or third) the NAD recommendation. If you shop VERY carefully, you can probably buy both for under $1K - presuming that you're looking for the "Hot Rod" version of the Meadowlarks.
The Audio Refinement is nice, but if you've gotta' keep it under $1K, then the NAD gets you 95% of the performance for 50% of the price.
Likewise, if you can't find a great deal on the "hot rod" Kestrals, the standard version will get you darn close to the same performance.
Also agree with the Totem Arro as a nice alternative. Very musical.
I have just done what you are trying to do. Only difference
is that I didn't think I could really get decent full range speakers for that kind of money. I tried a lot of products in the price range and have found that a pair of Spendor SP-3/1p's with an Exposure Super XV makes music like I didn't dream could be accomplished at this price level. A pair of Spendor SP-1's (older models) with a nice integrated (one of the British designs) will also make you think you're dreaming...they are that good.
Good luck in your search and above all..have fun!
PS. I found the Audio Refinement to be a bit dull for my tastes...I like the Regas, Roksans, Naims, Exposures, Arcams, Missions and the lot, WAY more. They are just more involving.
You might try looking for some used Soliloquy 5.0s with the Creek integrated. The 5.0s are monitors but pack quite a punch for their size/price, they absolutely disappear in the room and throw off a huge 3D soundstage with excellent imaging and dynamic presence. It'll be tough to find floorstanders in your price range that don't have some significant flaws(i.e. boomy bass, bright treble, limited soundstage, etc.). Best of luck.
I have been in your shoes. Lets look at this from a totally different orientation. How about a set of Grado headphones??
Even the budget models sound great (I suggest the 225's) and you could bank a bit more in the meantime.
If I had 1k, I would try my hardest to find a used set of the TLine rega speakers and a Naim Nait.
If you have never heard a NAIT, do yourself a favor and check one out. 18 Watts.... BAH!
I heard one of these strung with Naim cable (I think it was Naim Cable) best budget sound I had ever heard.
I cannot argue with anyone, the AR Complete is a great integrated. It is more musical and dynamic than the Creek 4330. But this is not to say that the 4330 is a dog. It is good. Kestrels are great, but at your budget go with the Vireos. Call Pat McGinty at Meadowlark and see what he has in B stock. These are speakers with some cosmetic problems. The Complete and Vireos would be a killer system.
A Linn Majik and Keilidhs would be possible for a little more than 1000 - between 1250 - 1500 if you are patient and wait for the right deals to come along. For your musical tastes I think you will be extremely satisfied. The Keilidhs are often overlooked but at their current used prices they are an incredible bargain. Try to get the latest ceramic dome tweeter with the three bars - it's much smoother than the previous version. Give them a listen before you heed the prejudices out there - they fail to impress some tastes but I have compared the sound to many much more expensive speakers and amps and still feel that they excel where others fall apart. I've compared them to JM labs, B&W (the most overrated speaker I can think of - apart from Bose, IMO), monitor audio, pro-ac tablette series (the tablette 2000 is awful sounding), and others. I always appreciate my Keilidhs after hearing many of these. For reference, some speakers that I do love are Castle, Pro-ac (non-Tablette) , Audio Physic, Joseph audio, and Aerial Acoustics. - Yet at a much lower price the Keilidhs give all of these stiff competition and can do justice to the best electronics you throw at them. And the Majik is a truly sweet little amp - a pleasure to use with warm controlled, detailed, but never grainy sound - incredibly musical.
Buy a David Berning MicroZOTL and build a set of single driver speakers based on Fostex drivers. That is what I did for my $1k amp and speaker combo. I will lay odds its will make the SS amps mentioned seem like, well, SS amps. Why settle for SS when you can have a Class A Triode OTL tube amp? The low power/ single driver/single source system is what many tube freaks go GaGa over. And you could do it within your budget.($750 amp/$250 spkrs)With NEW gear. This type of system would suit your jazz tastes to a T. I know because it suits my jazz tastes, too. If you have been reading any of the amp threads lately, you know the Bernings are some of the best anywhere, and a bargain. You should leap at this chance to get World Class Sound instead of Entry Level Commercial Sound. For a single driver system, all you have to make is a box for each driver. If you can change a lightbulb, you can glue a box together. If you need help, email me. There is no comparison in sound between these choices.Do it!
If you don't go with the Berning, then go with the Naim Nait like Gumby said. That is a great amp.
The AR Complete is the way to go on the amp side. As stated, it may hurt the budget for speakers. You are on target with the Kestrels, but to make the budget work and still keep that Meadowlark magic, try the Vireos. The Vireo is perfect for the music you mentioned and you may just make it at 1000.
Most are missing $1000 for the two. If you are listening to acoustic, there is no better transducer than a ribbon speaker. Wonderful Apogee ribbon hybrids are available for as little as five hundred dollars and Jolida tube amps can be had for around the same. Just like there is no beating ribbons for natural sound, tubes hold musical sway over any solid state in the below $1000 dollar range. You go this way and you will have a better sounding system than any of your friends in the sub $3000 level.
I appologize for breaking in on this thread. My old advent legacy speakers have died and I need some new (probably used) ones. How would people compare the soliloquy 5.3, the vandersteen 2ce signature, the opera super pavarotti, and the ohm walsh 100 series? As you can tell from some of these, the "WAF" is a consideration here. I am an old geezer who mostly listens to classical, jazz, acoustic and chicago blues, latin, world beat, etc. I guess basically anything but hard rock and rap. I would like to keep using my ancient onkyo tx84 amp to power these speakers in a smallish (13 x 20 ft) room. Any help and advice greatly appreciated.
A good $300 speaker is the Tannoy Mercury? You can get them on ebay for $260 with "buy it now" feature. That and the Complete should do the trick.
Also, I highly recommend the older TA series nakamichi receivers. They are Threshold-esque statis topology designed amps with tuner and preamp in one chassis. You can get them for about $400 for the 100 wpc version.
Viggen's answer concerning the Tannoy Mercury is interesting . . . I have recently found a pair in a rubbish bin. One tweeter was duff but the other speaker sounded superb. Very smooth and silky. But before buying another tweeter, for the hell of it, I put in a Lowther PM6, slightly enlarging the 8inch hole in places to take it. I wired it direct, no crossover, and . . . the result was amazing. Far from listening to recorded music as "the HiFi sound", suddenly the performers and the performance appeared in front of you. There is a quantum leap in the listening experience, the realism, between these good speakers and such boxes with a full range Lowther drive unit.
Typically, if you listen to classical music, harpsichords are lost in the crossovers. If you use a pair of Lowther units, you'll suddenly discover instruments that you never heard before.
For acoustic Jazz?! Tube Anthem 1 integrated and Klipsch Heresy, all for one grand!
a pair of used kestrels with an used Jolida 202...that should do it...