The keys to building a system are knowing your needs and preferences, your room, and your plans or goals. The system I would design for someone who places a high priority on streaming, mega bass and high volume in a dorm room is completely different than for a listener who enjoys intimate singer/songwriter LPs in her living room.
Since all we know here is the OP wants a system for a 10K I would say start with half an hour and work up to an hour, then a week of interval training at race pace and you should be good to go.
Failing to know someone's musical priorities has never stopped folks from making wide-ranging recommendations based on their own personal preferences. Plus, I was aligned with @tvad 's thoughts here. I thought the secret sauce always consisted of selling everything you already have, buying a Raven integrated at the price point you can afford and support any associated gear with as much SR, PPT, and BDR products that you can throw at it. If you want to add a vinyl system you must always somehow find a way to integrate a Herron phono stage and Soundsmith cart....and with some tape and a dot on the tonearm. There's really more than one possible "correct" solution????
I'd go with a modern receiver, something like the AVM Inspiration ($6,000). It has a phono stage, FM tuner, D/A converter, CD transport, streaming and a power amp. NAD, Micromega and others make similar products. Pair that with something from Tekton. Only one power cord and a pair of speaker cables and you're still under the $10k budget.
This is my $10K system so this is my tastes in sound. It is only streaming but you could add 4 analog sources to this system. I have 2 other analog sources that I am not listing (a tuner and SACD player).
- Benchmark HPA4 preamp $3K (or LA4 without headphone for $2500) - Benchmark DAC3B $1700 - Benchmark AHB2 $3K or Peachtree Nova amp500 ($1500) - Sonore microRendu $300 (used or new I have not looked recently) - KEF LS50’s $800 (new price on many KEF sales recently) - Benchmark XLR interconnects to get 24 dBu signal level (under $300 for DAC+preamp+amp) - Audience speaker cable (choice based on remaining budget)
I will ignore my Torus RM15 power conditioner ($2500). It is not essential to get up and running but it does make my system sound great. There are many other options such as none at all.
I currently own much more expensive Audience XLR interconnects. I have a feeling these will be replaced by the much cheaper Benchmark XLR’s. I am only stating this preference on Benchmark gear.
Good luck finding any of those Benchmark electronics on the used market.
I have this system listed above in my office except my amp at the moment is the amp section of a Peachtree Nova 150 integrated. I am surprised at how much better than OK it is. I used to own the AHB2 and sold it along with the Benchmark DAC3 HGC. The AHB2 will return to my system when I sell the Nova 150 but you could do a lot worse than this HPA4 and Nova 150 combo. That is why I am suggesting the better Peachtree amp500 (only an amp not an integrated). Actually it could be that any decent class D amp could work in this setup.
Someone above said that the AHB2 + DAC HGC is the way to go. I owned that combo and now have the HPA4 preamp in the mix. The HPA4 maybe the greatest component I have heard (or not heard). It is incredible for my tastes and just blowing me away in the sound I am hearing.
I am going to be adding a AHB2 amp to round out my $10K system. However, I will be buying a second amp to play with (not a necessity). The top contender at the moment is the Luxman m900u amp. I will go and demo the CODA #16 once the local Los Angeles dealer gets one. The specs on the CODA are even better than the Luxman. I think the combination of the HPA4 and the CODA or Luxman could be a reference caliber pairing.
Prior to hearing the HPA4 the Luxman c900u preamp + m900u amp pairing were the best sound I had heard (at my straining to afford price range). Now I am so happy I bought the HPA4 instead of the c900u preamp. The m900u is another matter.
I demoed the Luxman 509x integrated for $10K new. I think I like the Benchmark system a heck of a lot more.
I’m glad you qualified that your system doesn’t have any low end because benchmark products tend to be More cool/analytical sounding which other products can be more neutral or more warm. The op needs to specify what type of sound he prefers: neutral, warm, cool, because all products will fit into 1 of these categories. He also needs to state if it’s going to be an analog plus digital or just digital. If it’s straight digital, he can spend money on a good dac and a good amp (no preamp) using the dac as a volume control. If you go this route, not all dacs can perform this function well, so you have to be very picky. Also, when getting a dac, get 1 with a network interface, don’t use usb. Then you can route your music using Roon from a computer In another room straight to your dac using Ethernet You also need to state: How big Is your room? How loud do you like playing your music?
I personally use a Bluesound Node 2i streamer($420 refurbished) and a Topping D90($700). The Topping and my music service both have volume control so I don't use a pre amp. I do not have a turntable. That is several thousand more I think. I have not checked out. I am still heartbroken oven selling all my albums.
Then you have to choose the speakers. Efficient? Sub? Monitors with stands? Size of room? I have a dedicated room so I have big Crites speakers and subs. The Crites were about $2000. I have had the subs, crossover and amp for quite a while. If you want the sub, SVS has some good ones for reasonable pricing. Most subs now are powered and no crossover is needed. The biggest mistake I see is people have nice speakers and then they jam them against the back wall with an equipment stand in between them. No way the system is optimized at that point.
Room treatments are important but not easy if you are combining your system with living area. But $1500 will get you quite a bit. I got 6 first reflection panels, 3 diffusion panels on rear wall, and sub traps behind my system. I also have lower quality corner traps. This setup may not be the same for you but GIK is quite helpful and have experienced people. I have a Schiit Aegir which is $800. l think it is a superb sounding amp.
If you choose a small Class A amp then your speakers need to be over 90dB. Efficiency needs to be higher than that if you want to play the system loud. If you end up with less efficient speakers, the Parasound power amps look good. The used A23 is reasonable($700). A new A21+ is about $3000. Either one has lots of power. These are Class AB amps. A Pass Labs amp is a good choice but entry level appears to be $4K. The Pass Labs XA25 is rated for 25W but will put out about 80W. Once again, you would need some fairly efficient speakers for an amp such as that.
For cables,cords and interconnects, I bought most everything from Pine Tree Audio but there are many out there. I have about $1100 in everything. I think mine sound fine but not here to debate. You could skip the cords to start with and buy them later.
So many choices. I have about $7000 in mine and I think it sounds wonderful but I already had the subs. I also sold some other equipment so you could subtract that. The biggest thing is you match everything correctly to your liking, not someone else's. Lots of good sounding stuff out there.
@maholl50 My take on your thread is that you are interested in learning about what other A'goners have setup for there own pleasure at the 10K price point. Make sense to me to learn from those examples. The issues about sound preference dictate the gear we get. The system that I have listed above is not a warm system, but a system that makes me think I am in the studio with the performers or at the live event that it was recorded at.
Another system I am putting together (unfortunately for the same room) will be considered much warmer than the 10K system listed above. Though that one will bleed much more money from me. I will get a warmer amp and a warmer speaker for that one.
If a had a friend looking to put together a $10K system, I'd recommend buying used whenever possible and it would look something like this:
INTEGRATED AMP ($2K budget): I like the combination of a tube preamp and a solid stare amp; so, you're choices of a "hybrid" preamp are fairly limited, such as the offerings from Exposure. Pathos, Rogue Audio or Vincent Audio.
SPEAKERS ($3K budget): Too many choices; plus, you've got to trust your own ears. So, demo as many speakers as you can and also read as many reviews as you can.
SUBWOOFER ($1K budget): Golden Ear, JL Audio, REL & Velodyne. However, it's hard to find anything by JL Audio in this price range.
DIGITAL ($500 budget): I'm a big believer in using a "universal player" that can handle CD - DVD - SACD & DVD Audio: so, Oppo and Marantz are probably your best bets.
DAC ($1,000 budget):
Too many choices; plus, you've got to trust your own ears. So, demo as many DAC's as you can and also read as many reviews as you can.
POWER CONDITIONER/SURGE PROTECTION ($500 budget):
Too many choices; read as many reviews as you can and try to find the best deal that you can.
POWER CABLES/INTERCONNECTS/ISOLATION ($2000 budget): Too many choices; read as many reviews as you can and try to find the best deal that you can.
If you can, stick to your guns and stay with the separates. Spend a bit more time looking at the speakers you might choose and basically forget about those power cables for the moment, :"You may want Join a cable library", to help you get a feel for what cable types and materials, connectors and adaptors will work best. Both with the gear and your personal taste in listening. Just find some basic but decently made speaker and interconnect cabling to start. Possibly even making your own speaker cabling to learn a bit about the subject, "If you happen to be handy like that", The most important thing "IMHO", would be to get you to understand the importance of letting the system "And yourself", evolve as you go. Instead of having a list already "Finalized" and ordering it all at once .Which may be a recipe for disaster. "And thinking that your done". Remember, 2/3rd's of the fun is in the "Journey" of this hobby. Again, this is simply my humble opinion. Regardless; "Have Fun" with the entirety of it!
The OP posted this in the Pro Audio section. Maybe they are looking for pro audio gear.
My thought as well, but going by the OP’s latest response it would seem pro audio, as it should correctly apply to this topic segment, isn’t the primary target, if at all? What’s worse then, answering the OP with regard to the presumed specific field of audio he/she is inquiring about (i.e.: non-pro gear), or abiding by the topic of ’pro-audio’ that may/may not go contrary to the wishes of the OP? I’ll to stick with pro-audio in my reply, which if nothing else is the proper context of addressing the matter here - a context that would otherwise see close to no interest in the remaining topics here at the ’gon.
Pro audio is sound reinforcement that has a clearly defined functionality demand at concerts, clubs, studios etc. as its primary focus - at a price that reflects actual performance, that is, and thus "snake oil" like exotic cables, a range of accessories, luxury finishes and honing in on a corner of a canvas in excessive detail instead of its bigger picture, simply has no home here. Not to mention the overall range of typical audiophilia-aimed low sensitivity speakers that wouldn’t last nor deliver the expected performance in a pro audio environment.
As someone who cares about sound reproduction with no frills and BS and seeks to adhere to physics, pro audio is indeed a liberating venture that holds great potential for the unassuming "sound reproduction adventurer," not to mention at fair prices, but how does pro audio apply to sound reproduction in a domestic environment; is it even doable, and what are the pro’s and con’s of pro audio gear used in a home setting?
Though the implicit notion in this discussion concerns the relevance of pro audio to anyone with "audiophile" aspirations, it would seem fruitless trying to justify the purchase of pro audio gear and instead get to the point of this thread: what would I buy with $10k at my disposal? Before getting to that however, just one disclaimer: pro audio gear, selectively chosen, is more than capable at reproducing music/HT in a home setting, and you’d be surprised how far $10k can get you with the sheer level of sound quality that’s attainable here.
I may, in this instance, go with a mixture or pro and "consumer" gear, some DIY, as well as suggest buying 2nd hand gear. First, I’d recommend a pair of used 2 or 3-way pro cinema main speakers, be they Electro-Voice, JBL, K.C.S., QSC or similar - preferably for active configuration. $2.5k/pair should get you suitable items, and buying used here will get you better items than new, similarly priced (cheaper quality) speakers. Age largely doesn’t matter; pro cinema speakers of the highest quality are build to last in a much tougher environment than at your home. Then opt for a pair of front-loaded horn subs like the (DIY) Cinema F20, which can be made for $1k/pair incl. wood and drivers. Now I’d spend roughly $3.5k combined on a fitting number of amp channels from the likes of MC² or Crown or other (used or new), as well as a quality digital XO from Xilica. Going with 2-way main speakers saves you 2 amp channels, so 6 channels in all would be needed incl. 2 subs. Lastly I’d spend the remaining ~$3k on a used reference DAC/preamp with a dedicated preamp section, high quality volume control, an excellent analogue output stage and PSU, and great jitter suppression.
I can assure you a well implemented set-up like the above suggested would be an immense sonic experience, and one that would easily equal or exceed any typical "hifi" system costing 10 times as much or more - depending on one’s preferences in audio reproduction, of course. I would know of the potential of such a system, because I’m using it myself in a variation of the above. Sorry for being immodest here, but sometimes honesty gives you an unexpected advantage :)