..."Classik" is great choice, also he can get the pair of "Tukans" for $500 and later on,Velodyne VA 806 sub (200+used)some Audioquest 4 cables...and he is on the way to become, another audiophile...good luck!
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Soliloquy will introduce a medium-small $500 bookshelf or stand non-ported monitor speaker at CES--the Sat 5. Same drivers as their other models up to $3000. Inch thick cabinets, and premium wood finishes. Their $895 similar, slightly larger, ported monitor is regarded as a super product. Check solspeak.com. For speaker cables, I suggest the new Analysis Plus "Copper 12" cables @ $150, 8' (SERIOUS...GET THEM! Check analysisplus.com and find a dealer) and Goertz Purl interconnects (~$80). Either used components, or something like NAD 522 CD and C340 int. amp, $700 for the pair. Don't forget Vibrapod isolation feet for both components and speakers. This is more than a mini system, it's the real deal! And keep the speakers on stands (cement blocks?) out from the wall if possible!
if I had 1500 bucks to spend, this is what I would buy. cd player-cambridge audio 4sce not as good as the rega but sometimes half the price and 1150 bucks in amplification won't pick up much difference. amp- I would definitly go with an intergrated amp for sure. If you go with cheaper speakers like the 250.00 B&W which have gotten AMAZING reviews you can go with a rega mira or lunar intergrated amp. Cables- I am not sure about speaker cable but for innerconnects I would go with the 40.00 cambridge audio cables. I tested them in my $7,000.00 system against harmonic tech truthlinks, nordost black knights, and a few others. These, for 40.00 bucks, held their own.. I recently shopped for a system like that of what you are looking for. As far as speakers go though, As good as the 250.00 B&Ws are (which by the way are very similar in sound to the 500.00 B&Ws) are very limiting. But in the 500-600 dollar range nothing really stands out. I did not like many that I heard. But the above system will be very good.... You can however, find a used pair of vandersteen 1c speakers for about 450.00 used. If you find a demo of them maybe 525.00 that may help...
Don't get carried away. A nonaudiophile would be better off starting simple. The NAD Music System gives them a passable CD, a tuner, and a nice little pair of PSB Alpha Minis that they don't have to worry about placement for. All for $800. It wouldn't satisfy 99% of the folks who read this board, but that's not who you're trying to please. It's got a line input and a tape loop so it's quite expandable. (They could add a powered subwoofer, for example.) Just let them get used to something better than they've had before you start throwing esoterica at them. (And, hey, Snowball, nobody spending $1500 on a complete system should buy anything better than Radio Shack wire. Put your money where it matters.) If you want to go something better, I'd stick to NAD or Rotel electronics. As for speakers, never trust reviews, let alone newsgroup posts. Go out and listen to everything you can find and make up your own mind.
These are my picks: NAD c340 integrated amp: $320.00 from Sound City or Happy Medium Cambridge Audio D500 24/96 cd player: approx $425 Audio Research Aegis One speakers: $300 (don't be misled by the price: read the reviews, LISTEN to them - they are nothing short of phenomenal) Decent Stands: approx $100 DH Labs Silver Sonic Interconnect: $80 DH Labs Silver Sonic Speaker Cables: appprox $100. So, there you go : an honest, clean-sounding and punchy system for $1325, with money left over for what is really important - the music. Good Luck!
I'd go for either a Denon DM 10 system: great looks, although a touch bright, gorgeous looking, and pair that with B&W DM 602, or I'd buy a TEAC Reference 300, also gorgeous looking, and partner that with some of the bigger Mission speakers. Both systems are very user-friendly, real mini-systems, sound pretty good (for the money) are reliable and backed-up by companies with a reputation for good service (at least in my experience). Oh, and like Srama says, save some money for the music....
The original premise said nothing about the type of music to which he/she wants to listen. I listen to mostly classical, and favor Maggies. I just got a pair of MMGs to compare to my 3.5Rs, and I am amazed at how good they sound. They don't have the bass of the biggies, but otherwise are very good, IMHO. I think they would be good in the subject system, but I wouldn't know what amp to recommend, since the Maggies aren't very efficient. The Rotel 951 would probably be a suitable CD player, but there's not much left for an amp after that. Any thoughts about an amp? MMGs would require a fair amount of "urge". Maybe a good used 85-100W?
A sad note to this is that my uncle has been diagnosed with cancer and I don't know that I will be able to assemble this mini system for him after all. Thanks to all for the great ideas and I would encourage more since this would help newcomers to high end audio. Jimmy P, I am going to give the MMG's a shot in my personal system. Do you know if they will affect a nearby television with magnetic discoloration? Again, thanks to all....Osclib