$1500 system for a friend


A friend is interested in putting together his first system and has turned to me for suggestions. His budget is probably about $1500. His expectation is to have speakers, an integrated amp and a CD player. I’m curious to hear various suggestions for this $1500 system, so please suggest away. Thanks! 
768e3cdc b761 4131 ab7d b47af0995626zavato
Okay so first you need to broaden his expectations, because that is not gonna do it. What he needs for $1500 is speakers, integrated amp, CD player, two power cords, one interconnect, and speaker cables.

He should then budget about $300 for each. He could spend about $500 each on the three things he thinks he needs. This is where you explain to him how the quality he is paying for winds up being wasted when run through lamp cord and patch cords and freebie power cords. Better yet do a demo and let him hear the difference. 

Another thing to explain, there is a difference between putting together a budget system that is one and done. In other words when the person is sure they will not be doing any upgrades ever no matter what. In that case you budget equally like I said because you get the best results when each and every component is balanced to have no weak link.

But if on the other hand this is a starter system and he'll be upgrading then you do things a little different. In that case if you find a deal on something a lot better, and it could be anything even a power cord or speaker cable, then you go for it with the understanding its a keeper while the rest is temporary. So in that case he might decide to get only the three components and accept the crap sound he is gonna get until he can upgrade to some decent cables.

Both approaches work. Something I know from having done exactly what you're doing. Don't sell your friend short. Explain and show him the importance of wire.
easy
edifier speakers from Amazon... spend about 500 dollars for powered monitors
get a used CD player from anywhere - $100 dollars tops
smsl SU8 DAC - 207 dollars on Amazon
spend the rest on Tidal streaming for a year
anything left send it me
 Used equipment:

1.  Sherwood 7100 or 7100A receiver (about $100 on eBay).

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-Sherwood-S-7100A-Japan-AM-FM-Stereo-Receiver-Tested/382999595665?hash=item592c8e0a91:g:wlgAAOSwdkxc~oJz

If you want tubes, look for a nice Fisher 400 receiver in place of the Sherwood receiver. Here's a Fisher 400 in excellent shape for $495 plus shipping:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Fisher-400-Vintage-FM-Stereo-Tube-Receiver/123871672928?hash=item1cd753ba60:g:WNoAAOSwl-ddUHd5

2.  Pioneer Elite DVD player (about $100 on eBay) Have a tech upgrade with premium caps. Total cost should be in the $300 to $400 range.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Pioneer-elite-DV-05-DVD-CD-Player-With-remote-TESTED-THX-dvd-player/264404510245?hash=item3d8fbca625:g:O3wAAOSwPlhdM0LK

3.  One pair of Audioengine HDP6 Passive speakers, new ($399).

https://audioengineusa.com/shop/passivespeakers/hdp6-passive-speakers/

4.  Here's a nice pair of speaker stands that I found on eBay for under 50 bucks.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Sanus-BF24B-24-Inch-Speaker-Stands-Pair-OpenBox/123874704924?epid=4022910308&hash=item1cd781fe1c:g:8HAAAOSwtYJdVDBH

Speaker and interconnect cables. Your choice to fit the budget. 

This will make a very nice system that plays emotionally involving music.

So, this totals up to $950 so far not counting wires.  $1,350 if you go with the Fisher 400. The Fisher would be my choice, however, the Sherwood is a very fine sounding receiver.

 
Frank


Canare, Belden and Mogami speaker cables and interconnects can be had for a very reasonable price from Blue Jeans, Markertek and Redco, among others.
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@zavato how about a Marantz M-CR612 (all-in-one CD player plus streaming integrated amp) plus a pair of Internet-direct speakers (e.g. SVSound, Emotiva, Ascend Acoustics, Aperion Audio, etc.)?
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Does your friend wish to purchase new or is he/she willing to enter the used market?

What is size of room where the system is to be placed? 

I would consider the Onkyo 7030 CD player at ~$150. A well built player, over 15lbs., with digital output allowing for DAC upgrade. 
Blue Jean cables are good at this price point. Also used Audioquest. 
Schiit Audio. would be another good place to look. 

Saga ss preamp($299) and Vidar amp ($699) brings you to $1000 that leaves $500 for speakers, cables. 

not hard to find good speakers used for that. or new for that mater. 

 I would suggest loading your CD's on a computer and add an inexpensive DAC later (like the Schiit modi ($99) or Audioquest black or similar). he could also go for one of the above mentioned CD players. 

 Also for an entry level system don't worry to much about expensive cables, power cords and room treatment, that can come later. focus on speakers amp and source for now. Really you can get good cables from many places that are not expensive. anti cables for example.  Or roll your own by buying cable from a place like Parts connexion. 

Vintage as some have mentioned is another worthwhile route. 
1- forget about used

2- I have interconnect and power cables I can give to my friend and for speaker cable blue jeans will fill the bill

3- speakers- my thoughts run to Elac 

4- Onkyo or perhaps NAD

5- electronics- how much is a Rega Brio? 
1 - Done

2 - Great for your friend

3 - One of many good choices at there price point. Hard to recommend speakers due to subjectivity and environmental conditions. Is interest towards stand mount or tower type? How about room size? 

4- I recently purchased a Yamaha A-S701 integrated amplifier for a secondary system. It has coax and optical digital inputs, internal phonostage input, and 3 line level inputs. Subwoofer output, headphone jack, and outputs for 2 speaker pairs. Rated at 100wpc 8ohms. This amp is in current production and can be had for $700 (likely less). I find it to be very tonal neutral and with high resolution at it's price point. Manual provides rating into 4 and 2 ohm loads, I forget actual specs. Would drive Elacs well I believe. I have used mine with B&W 685s and CM5s. 
       I suggested the Onkyo 7030 CD player based on feedback from others, low price and robust build. Thinking of getting one to use as stand alone and as transport into the Yamaha's coax input.

5 - The Brio is a fine product, have heard one at a dealer a few years back. Don't remember the price. 

 




If the friend has CDs, he has a CD player, and that CD player will be fine. If no CD player, then CDs can be stored in the attic.

Then: 

*Outlaw RR2160 Receiver ($800)
*Elac bookshelf speakers ($200) connected with whatever lamp cord, etc.
*Audioengine B1 Bluetooth music receiver ($200) + Spotify Premium and
*Spotify iPhone app as remote control (presuming WiFi access) (free)
*Hsu Research subwoofer ($350) + a few cheap RCA cables ($50)

Total $1600

Rock on!

I realize many of you have vast experience, but as a fellow newbie I would approach this in a slightly different manner. I dont want to argue cables and their value- but my hope is that some would agree that cables may not be as apparent on a lesser system. I would put my biggest chunk on one used component that had more winshield than the others- possibly$1200 to a really nice pair of used higher end speakers- like Vandersteens, NHT, or Klipsch or Ohms- with rubber surrounds. The remainder on a used NAD receiver and CD player- I  see a used T-753 and T-534 CD on auction for $150. That leaves some coin for a few CD's to actually enjoy.  If he gets into it, he will eventually upgrade but a decent set of speakers can hang around for a long time. That' what I just did. I could afford much more but I spent $2k on speakers, $750 on an amp, and bought an older high end transport/dac for CDs. I made my own cables and recapped the amp because I like to see how things work ($100 for good solder, iron, and sucker, another $27 in nichicon gold caps) Totally pleased with how it sounds and I now have a better idea what to look for inside components.

Again, you guys are pros at this, but at first I just wanted decent sounding music that didnt come from a Sonos.
I didn't see that used was out of the picture until just now.
Decware zen se84 UFO 
Omega loudspeakers Super 3i Monitor Speakers
and save for a CD player 

For a great starter system take a look at the PS Audio Sprout100 Elac System for $899. Plenty of cash left for a nice CDP and some CD's.

https://www.psaudio.com/products/sprout100-elac-system/#tab-features