15K system

I (we), finally have decided to purchase a new(er) system by
Jan 1,2003. Currently I have my trusty Acoustat 2+2s, Spectral DMC-10, DMA50(bridged), DMA-200, ARC SP-8(Mk2), ARC
D-115(Mk2), VPI turntable HW-19(Mk1) with Audioquest arm and Van den Hul Mc-10 cartridge. Also, a Resolution CD-50,
CD player. I like the transparency and speed of electrostats, the resolution and smoothness of the Spectral, and the midrange warmth of the ARC. The Resolution
CD gives a wide spacious soundstage and the turntable gives
a very smooth, warm, non-analytical presentation. I mix and match for effect. If everything goes according to plan I will have 15K to spend for: 1.Speakers 2. Pre and Power Amp
3. CD (I will keep the VPI turntable) 4. Cables Personally
I want MG20.1s/Sound Lab M-1s with Aesthetix Callisto Signature with Atmasphere MA-2s, but that ain't going to happen for 15K, used!!! So what available options do I have, new or used for a complete system????? I will consider
box speakers.
Why not Magnepan 3.6's instead of the 20.1's(around 3k used)? perhaps wolcott amplifiers(around 6k used), the resolution audio is a good player but perhaps the audio mecca mephisto II or audio aero capitole mkI would do better(3k+, may put you over budget), and I won't make any cable suggestions because that is completely personal taste and what I don't know about analog could fill a book so I am not informed enough to make any suggestions there either.
Have you taken a look at the maggie 20.R currently on sale
at this site for $5,500. If it weren't for my wife, I would've snapped them right up.
They may not be the 20.1, but they are close.
Shubertmaniac: I think you should consider a Berning ZH270 tube amp (under $5k new) as the heart of your new system. Due to its unique design, it will drive a wide variety of speakers, including electrostats. In addition, it has an a/b input switch and volume knob so you won’t need a line level preamp – in my experience it sounds better going directly to the Berning anyway. It is really a fabulous amp – speed, air, plenty of bass, and you still get that wonderful tube midrange sound.

As for speakers, that is such a matter of personal taste you have to listen for yourself, but I have heard that the Merlin speakers are a good match with the Berning. In my experience, driver technology has come a long way in the last 10 years or so and the newest drivers are so clean and fast that electrostats don’t seem to have that much of an advantage anymore, and a properly designed box speaker should have better dispersion and imaging. But with the Berning you can go either way – it will drive even 2 ohm speaker loads without a problem.

As for a cdp, personally I put most of my resources into my analog set up, and have an inexpensive Pioneer dvd/cd player that was modified by Supermods, and the total cost was under $450. To me, this is good enough for red book cd’s. Going to one of the mod shops is a highly cost effective way to get the most out of regular cd’s. (One day, I’ll have to break down and get an sacd player.) Depending on the speaker (and cables) you choose, you might still be able to afford an Aesthetix phono preamp (I occasionally see them used), which in combination with a direct feed into the Berning would sound heavenly.

Good luck with your quest. Let us know what you finally decide to do.


For my two cents I was in this situation a while ago. The items you list are great but barring a huge market crash you won't find those for your price range.

I have changed my thoughts over the years and concluded that the speaker is the first thing to get out of the way. I have always loved electrostatics and had magneplanars in the past. When I went with a new system I got ribbons (the piega p8ltd) and was amazed how great they are. The are very open like the stats but with impressive bass and have a high WAF. There are a number of good deals on audiogon to be had and I can give you some insight into those if you are interested. Prices for the p10 or p8ltd would be around 5.5 to 6.

From there I would consider the source the next area to look into. Of these I have the audiomeca, which I enjoy greatly, and which has come up on the used market at quite good deals. You just have to make sure it has been well taken care of. There are a number of excellent players around in the 2-3 thousand price range that you will just have to audition. I am impressed that if you watch carefully on audiogon you can do quite well and stay within your price range.

With regards to the preamp/amp I think there are lot of great products out there, especially used. I would decide on my speakers before picking a power supply. I would also not forget about integrateds. I bought the musical fidelity nuvista m3 and am very pleased with its performance, and saved on cables. There are some unsung brands out there I have heard of you might wish to explore (ASR for example which someone I know in belgium thinks is one of the best made but is almost unheard of here).

Cables are the last thing and while they can make a big difference I don't think it is as much as the other components.

Don't know if this is of any help or just my biases but look carefully, be selective. Like when buying a house, there is always another house. Should you have any questions feel free to drop me a note
SchubertManiac -

Don't be so sure Sound Labs are out of your price range. There's a pretty good chance you could get a pair of new Millennium-2's and a very nice amp (new or used) to drive them and still have several grand left over for preamp, CD and cabling.

Shoot your friendly neighborhood Sound Lab dealer an e-mail for details (assuming you didn't get my e-mail).

I'm quite familiar with the Acoustat 2+2's, and if you want to keep that level of clarity and inner harmonic articulation, that's going to be a tall order from a box speaker. The thing the Sound Labs would bring is even higher resolution (due to a diaphragm 1/6th as thick), a much wider sweet spot, deeper bass, and richer timbre. I think the Acoustats would probably have the edge in imaging, as this is something flat-panel electrostats do extremely well because of their minimal sidewall interaction.

Best of luck in your quest!

You might want to consider a Red Rose Music system. I think they are good about letting you upgrade.
How about an Innersound system- Eros Mk.II speakers, preamp & amp- Cost $12K new.

Or Talon Ravens with the new Parasound JC-1 mono amps- $13K new.

You going to sell your DMA-50s?
If it's tube gear that you are really looking to use to drive your speakers, then contact Von Schweikert for a pair of their new DB100 speakers, a true 100dB loudspeaker especially designed for use with tubes.
Current retail is nearly 10k new, in the standard finish, slightly more for specialist finishes. But hunt around, you may be able to get an ex-demo pair, it will be well worth it, and I doubt whether you will ever submit a posting like this again once getting into the DB100's!
Check out their web site: www.vonschweikert.com
I will leave the subject matter of amps to others, because to be honest, I am a solid-state Krell man myself.