$35K to spend, how will you build a system?


Never in any stereo system arrangement have I or anyone I know, ever initially proportioned out the money for the whole enchilada. We just bought this or that. We began somewhere and finished it all later on. Somehow.

Or, the proposition ‘finished’ became a moving target and the trek wandered about here and there, as the effort continued past the intentioned budget. Some steps were sideways, some allowed for definite improvements. Some moves took us a step backwards or merely into a different perspective.

All of the moves provided one benefit everytime, experience.

Experiences are what is being asked for in this topic.

Then one day, suddenly, buckets of duckets land in your yard and you want serious sounds? .

Here’s the question…

If you had it to do all over again, what do you put into a home audio system if you have $35,000.00 to spend?

Regardless the format, tubes, Solid state, mega watts or flea powered doesn’t matter. Its your rig and your money.

The destination is a rig with copius amounts of Acquired Illusionary Reality (AIR) in short, an involving alluringmost respectable, , “man I really hate to turn this thing off”, stereo system.

Because invariably someone will ask, so For the truly anal, the room is not in a mansion, has no dedicated power lnies, and is of moderate size 14 to 17ft wide, 18 to 23ft. long, 8.5ft. ceilings. Acoustically untreated. Closed off, or opened onto other areas, you make that call.

How do you feel you’ll spread the dough around immediately?

Address all four areas? Maybe attend to only amps and speakers, then later look towards other parts of the affair?

Example 1:
Find someone who already has a stellar sounding system, rent a room, and buy the new entry level Tesla..

Example 2
Buy new amp and speakers along with better than average cabling and isolation, just on a smaller scale.

Example 3
Spend it all in thirds, source, power, and speakers obtaining the best value possible, new or as re-sold because everything matters.

Example 4
By new SOTA speakers that you can find with the whole wad! Steal everything else.

What is your approach with $35K burning a hole in your pocket to acquire great sound? Can it even be done in 2017 with such a budget?

blindjim
Buy used or demo to make your dollar stretch farther. I would start with speakers. I would spend 10-15K on speakers. 
I assume spending $35k without further upgrades except cartridge and tubes for the next, say, ten years. That's tough and may not be enough even if you get almost everything used.
Roughly, $10k for the new table/arm/cartridge, $10k for the used speakers and $15k for the used electronics and cables. But when buying used one may get pleasant and unpleasant surprises in terms of prices, so those $25k might be spread somewhat differently.
Also, when setting the budget I always think that it might go 20%-25% up, and that could make a major difference. I would not save $2000 on tubes or $1000 on cartridge at this level. In your example I would probably be working within $30k-$40k range.

I agree with ricred1 too ... always start with the speakers that are appropriate to the room size and fit your music taste.  

Then find the matching power amp.   The rest gets easier after that.

Cables would be 2nd to last.  

Room treatment / racks / isolation tweaks et al are more like icing on the cakes, and thus I tend to leave them the last.


Roughly $30k for records and other media and $5k for the rest of stuff.

ricred1 > …buy used. I would spend 10-15K on speakers.

Blindjim > pre-owned is a virtual certainty. Though not entirely. Sounds right on the spkr apportionment. Thanks much.


Inna > ….may not be enough even if you get almost everything used.
….when buying used one may get pleasant and unpleasant surprises in terms of prices
…. when setting the budget I always think that it might go 20%-25% up, and that could make a major difference.

Blindjim > TTs are off the table, so to speak, in my particular scenario. Ie., phono pre, carts, etc.
I feel the budget is not sufficient either despite the fact no vinyl is going to be a source. The prospect now of a RTR could well be however. I’ve not researched Reel To Reel tape in decades, though I did buy one in Italy way back when. TEAC middle of the line. RTR would be an afterthought and well down the road.
Thank you.


Bsimpson > always start with the speakers that are appropriate to the room size and fit your music taste.

Blindjim > thanks so very much. Agreed. Mostly. Hmm.

Here is where I always will disagree with the spkrs first theme. Principally, the decision on how to power the system comes first. Not the spkrs you like or even want. SET amps of 12wpc or so, even those with 100wpc or less, won’t get anyone too far with demanding spkrs. No matter how well they do with some other sorts of amps.
Consequently, it’s the tuype of power and its power output first, than speaker congruent or germaine to which ever power amp type is chosen , IF you want to really optimize the spkrs performance.
Then its their overall presentation using the chosen power plant..

Thereafter, if the spkrs do indeed fit the room, that’s another factor.

Everything can be in place but the fit to room usually makes or breaks the deal, unless one is not thinking with their head but with their heart.
Same thing goes for great sounding spkrs being driven by lesser powered amp of varying tuypes.

Few people would want a four cylinder motor in a brand new ‘Vette.

Beyond that, their sound is going to migrate with any changes upstream, if indeed they are transparent enough. Change to an upscale source and the sound changes. Change the amp or amp type, again, the sound and presentation from the spkrs also changes. Same for racks, cabling, PL conds, room treats, etc. “IF’ the spkrs are revealing enough.

With respect to the power supplying them, My tact on which spkrs I’d buy is simple, they need to be as transparent as possible, present excellent imaging, produce a legitimate or believeable stage, be well heeled with the bandwidth, and not look like someone put them together after they took a couple tabs of orange Sunshine.

To save on the spkr expense, adding subs is my usual path. Despite that thought, sometimes, and quite often subs are a must.


Czarivey > Roughly $30k for records and other media and $5k for the rest of stuff.

Blindjim > Excellent!!! Better yet, Jabbar BT Head phones, an Ipad, and subscriptions to several music streams. Total cost: $500 or less + music subs. $2K if you go with half and half on USB DAC and better HPs. Thanks. lol

I feel the conundrum for myself, is deciding which way to go with the power train. Tubes or not tubes. I enjoy both, but tubes have the lead. 60/40 or 55/45. And if a SS type amp or amps are the ticket, a tube preamp will more than likely be in the chain as I’ve not yet heard a fully non tube power line that really floored me… though one or two came pretty close. Regardless, $35K would not get me either of those systems.

Personal issues force the use of self biasing amps as well, so that furthers the mystery.

This theme ought to be interesting to see how others would approach things going forward.

@blindjim 

You asked: " If you had it to do all over again, what do you put into a home audio system if you have $35,000.00 to spend?"

I'm not sure if your question is theoretical or this is something you are actually planning?

In either case, you asked what 'we' would do. In my case, I'd enjoy what I have and find another use for the $35K.

Education is a very high return investment. Reaching out to a promising kid and funding their education at a state school would be at the top of my list.

BTW, great post and thoughts on the rationale not to go speaker first.
I would invest the $35K and then purchase components gradually with the proceeds leaving the initial $35K intact.
Post removed 

ebm,

That wasn't the question...

Post removed 
Power first? I can understand that. I would almost certainly go with used Lamm, tube pre-amp and hybrid power amp. All tube VAC would probably be my second choice. I'll just mention two other companies that would be on my list, expensive and almost nothing used: Gryphon Audio - transistor, top level, and Ypsilon - hybrid, also top level.
Studer A810 would be a great choice, there is one on ebay for $5500, by the way.

david_ten > 1. I'm not sure if your question is theoretical or this is something you are actually planning?
2 Reaching out to a promising kid and funding their education at a state school would be at the top of my list.
3 BTW, great …. thoughts on the rationale not to go speaker first.

Blindjim > your insights are more than appreciated. Tanks.
RE 1. Both. The thrust is one MUST throw the wad into their “NEXT” system now that they have some exp..
2. nice. Even found money would be tuff for me to be quite that altruistic.
3. it just makes more sense. Its when you get to the amp choice where things get interesting and your options begin to diminish, depending, because by then you’re closely eyeballing speakers, if not already..


Falconquest > I would invest the $35K and then purchase components gradually with the proceeds

Blindjim > Tanks. Killer handle! with today’s interest rates and the market stumbling along in a muddy ditch, that’s gonna take a long time before anything lands in the house. Maybe if you start flipping real estate things would be more hurrie.

OK…. NEW RULE
The targeted bankroll MUST be fully used to put together either a first, or as the topic implies, the NEXT outfit. In whole, or even partially.
OK? OK.


Inna > … I would almost certainly go with used Lamm, tube pre-amp and hybrid power amp. All tube VAC would probably be my second choice. I'll just mention two other companies that would be on my list, expensive and almost nothing used: Gryphon Audio - transistor, top level, and Ypsilon - hybrid, also top level.
Studer A810 would be a great choice.

Blindjim > that’s the spirit. Thoughts are immensely appreciated. Never heard of “Ypsilon”., I’ll look into that one.
Gryphon, the more I read about it and a couple other non mainstream electronics makers, hegel, Constellation, Wells, etc., the more I’m inclined to pursue it or them.

Most have a limitation for the speakers they can optimize however.

Yeah, I do get it, 80% of the music occurs in the first 20wpc. There is however a sincere argument for the application of very ‘strong’ as well as very well ‘voiced’ amps for any given speaker, apart from horns, for example.

Its why power lines from Aeon, Llamm, Audio Note, VAC, and the like give me some pause as the speaker short list is comprised of mostly 4 ohm speakerage. Otherwise, all are decent on the Eff side at 89 or above.
Incorporating one of their preamps though sure seems a viable option down the road. Right off, I have one I like from a now obliterated system which has seen no use for far far, too long.
I’m tired of hearing it wail on its lonliness and consequent plummeting self esteem from not having a job.

Instead of the speaker first approach, or the amp first approach, I suggest the combo (speaker/amp) first approach.
Go out and listen to as many combinations as possible. Take your time.
Maybe even allot $5K of your $35K on travel expenses.

Finding the right combination of amp/speaker interface will make the effort worthwhile.

It's a shame that you are already limiting your choices of amp by looking at more difficult to drive speakers. There are many high efficiency speakers that sound very good, and I would definitely not go the low efficient route until I had heard some high efficiency speakers with quality SET amps.

Listen to some Daedalus , DeVore, Tannoy, Klipsch, Tekton, Coincident, etc., with a quality flea powered tube amp.

You just may find that a pair of DeVore O/96's with a Shindo Cortese 300B amp MAY suit your tastes much better than your 89 dB - 4 ohm speaker combined with a push-pull KT88, or SS amp.

Of course you may also find that a  pair of Maggies with 200 wpc SS amp is what sounds best to you as well.

The point is that no one can tell you what will sound best to you, or how to spend your money.
I certainly wouldn't throw around $35K without doing my due diligence though.

Happy Hunting,
John
I think that the OP is just asking the question hypothetically for the sake of conversation.
Gryphons are very powerful and stable. There are many demos and interviews with the designer, Flemming Rasmussen, on youtube. He sounds very serious to me. Ypsilon is an elite Greek firm, highly sophisticated sound. Their least expensive offering is a $25k integrated amp.
You might want to consider another company - Vitus, like Gryphon it's based in Denmark. Swiss always want double price for being Swiss.

Of course, speaker/amp unit first is great approach. Problem is that most of us cannot get everything at once, sometimes it's too expensive and at other times you just can't find it quickly enough. Sound preferences also wildly vary. In a perfect world I would have two very different set-ups for different music, rooms and mood.
We can dream. How about Lamm/Kharma/Purist cables, Ypsilon/Lansche/HB cables and all Gryphon systems ? That's three, I know.
my dream is a living room with built-in Sound Labs or maybe some giant Quad

you could not see the 5 or 7 speakers but they are there in the walls
 jmcgrogan2 > Instead of the speaker first approach, or the amp first approach, I suggest the combo (speaker/amp) first approach.
Go out and listen to as many combinations as possible. Take your time. Maybe even allot $5K of your $35K on travel expenses.

Blindjim > John, thanks much. I believe we are on the same path here as your input stated.
The traveling aspect for me at least, is gonna be involve and expensive. Might just eat up all of that $5K. though I do feel its both a valid factor, and worth the expenditure.

Finding and then buying the rig I hear which sounds best, is quite likely that is what will take place. Its what I should have done 13 years ago when I first joined this site. The issue as is said below, was I could not afford the rig I heard which actually nailed my jaw to the floor. Well not completely.

Although, I did try to emulate it, piece by piece. Found out, it could be resembled, but not duplicated, unless I got the same gear. I did come quite close and ,was pretty happy about it before my world stopped turning for a while.


roxy54 > I think that the OP is just asking the question hypothetically for the sake of conversation.

Blindjim > “roxy54“, thanks, but not really. Some perhaps. Afterall, forums are all about conversations anyhow.

Its supposed to be two sided. There’s the part pertinent to me as I’m tentatively in this boat. Or am trying to be. Albeit, I’ve not much faith in putting together a serious contender, soup to nuts for under $40K addressing every facet of the system adequqately.

But let’s see what someone else says… and as such this thread came to mind.

Then there’s the part that back in ’03 – ’05 I was trying to figure all of it out from scratch. Not knowing anything of nearly any manufacturer or their models. Virtually knowing nothing at all about anything, but wanting to arrange a serious audio system, so this input affects those who are in the ‘boat’ with me eyeing a new arrangement, or just beginning to consider different themes on the same road.


inna > Of course, speaker/amp unit first is great approach. Problem is that most of us cannot get everything at once, sometimes it's too expensive and at other times you just can't find it quickly enough.
I would have two very different set-ups for different music, rooms and mood.

Blindjim > inna I think I got it. I liked what Fremer said about the Greek Alias monos, but at $30K plus. Yikes.

I’m a planner. I need to see the thing and get comfortable with it, before I try to get or do, the thing.
We ain’t talking buying a bag of burgers and fries here.

Even with ‘found or unexpected money’ once its in the pocket, pulling it back out is much harder.

2 systems. Yep. In a near perfect world, two very different outfits is the ticket. Well that and a kick ass HT rig. So, really it would be 3 rigs. Lol

A turn key setup. Now theres a decent idea. For amps and speakers only, that sounds more than very do-able. For the whole system, well, we’ll see what others say on it perhaps.

I did see a blurb on Andrew Jones ELAC stand mounted monitors which showed recently and gained loads of appreciation and the whole affair ran well under $35,000.00. well under. A highly touted power line conditioner at $5k was the most expensive piece in the array.

One idea right off was a system with one primary digital source (DAC) which doubles as a preamp, a quality Integrated amp and a pair of nice easily drivable speakers, floors or stand mounts. If the INT also has a competent DAC, the end of the road is quite close.

Gryphon integrateds do have optional dac, not sure about Ypsilon. I have no idea of the US prices of Diablo 120 and Diablo 300, I think it's something like 9000 euros and 13000 euros respectively without dac plus VAT in Europe.

blindjim,
Sorry if I misunderstood, but I just went back and read your original post again, and it certainly sounds like a hypothetical. I don't see you mentioning anywhere in the post that this is something that you are actually considering doing. 
Inna > Gryphon integrateds do have optional dac, not sure about Ypsilon.
I have no idea of the US prices of Diablo 120 and Diablo 300, I think it's something like 9000 euros and 13000 euros respectively without dac plus VAT in Europe.

Blindjim > I saw those options. No, I don’t think the yps allows for a DAC onboard. I’ve not checked on what current prices are exactly. Just saw what was mentioned in the older reviews if I mentioned them at all. I liked what I read on the Greek offering. I’m pretty sure they’re not on the table for me especially if bought new though.

As for using an INT, once more for me, its overcoming my own prejudices that a single box can out run separates in performance… we all have our demons to deal with regularly.

Although, for this thread, it & they are exceptionally viable options depending ..on the DAC and speaker choices one would add on which brings the rig in under or on budget.


roxy54 > blindjim,
Sorry if I misunderstood, but I just went back and read your original post again, and it certainly sounds like a hypothetical. I don't see you mentioning anywhere in the post that this is something that you are actually considering doing.

Blindjim > No worries. You’re right. I purposefully avoided making it all about me initially.

originally I figured as said, the thrust of the topic might aid someone else as it asks for ‘experiences’..

Personal curiosity fueled a large part as well. Given recent iterations, new brands, models etc., I’m completely unfamiliar with, the hope was input would land here on what or how others would formulate all or parts of their outfits with the handcuffs of $35K as a learning experience and with luck, as some notes already demonstrate, some fun too.

The last line says:
What is your approach with $35K burning a hole in your pocket to acquire great sound? Can it even be done in 2017 with such a budget?”
‘it’ refers to the topic of a system in total or in part, for $35K.

Invariably at some point, we always ask each other what did this or that run you? right? Or why did you pick that one? Or simply where or from whom did you get that?

Yes, I’m considering erecting another rig which if all falls in line can well exceed the inferred financial barrier. My original plans were to do one front to back, ‘landed’, under $75K. more or less.

Talking with other friends, about the advances in Digital technologies, and associated platforms, cabling, and especially loudspeakers, felt I might be far too deep into the diminishing returns bucket and could be wasting money with such a knee jerk over the top budget.

Then came along the thought, well what actually can be done with less money in the here and now? Hence, this topic.

Find out what other’s think and learn something new very likely.

Maybe I should not have shown my hand thru the course of the feedback. I apologize if anything herein was confounding or confusing. It seemed crystal to me.

No apologies necessary. I understand now, and I agree that replies can be for the benefit of everyone. Whatever the result, I'm sure that you could have a very nice system for $35k, but if you had $75k to spend, that would surely be nice.
@blindjim 

It might be helpful if you re-post exactly what you are looking for, in a highly summarized form. 

roxy54 > I understand. I'm sure that you could have a very nice system for $35k, but if you had $75k to spend, that would surely be nice.

Blindjim > 35, 75, or possibly nuttin’. We’ll see. This misadventure will be a serious one for sure, either way.

One idea not yet posted is “Fill out your outfit using only those ‘keeper’ items already in place, adding more of the same, or upgrading them ie., speakers, source, amps, room treatments, subs, adding dedicated power lines, etc.


david_ten > It might be helpful if you re-post exactly what you are looking for, in a highly summarized form.

Blindjim > thanks. You might be right.

Trust me, I do edit my comments towards as much brevity as I feel is appropriate. Usually. Sorry.

Btw… see my recent threads. They summarize my primary personal goals en masse. 2017 Speakers, 2017 amps, 2017 cables. I could or should add one on DACs, but there seems plenty of those. Or one on the DSD ripping or acquisition thereof, for the files and the predominate themes on DSD formatting, and sampling rates 64KHz or 128KHz,

Anyhow, let’s see what happens here a while longer.

If I could start over again, I would buy great sounding interconnects, a box of directional fuses and the best speaker cables I could find. Of course 35K would not nearly be enough - so I definitely wouldn’t waste money on electronics or speakers as these can be easily found in a dumpster or at a recycling center.

Shadorne > If I could start over again, I would buy great sounding interconnects, a box of directional fuses and the best speaker cables I could find. Of course 35K would not nearly be enough - so I definitely wouldn’t waste money on electronics or speakers as these can be easily found in a dumpster or at a recycling center.

Blidnjim > sounds like Dum[ptsters and landfills in your area are very special. lol

You don’t ask people who aren’t there themselves yet, they’re only guessing or wishing like you are! Best bet find a dealer or friend with the type of sound you like and give them your budget. With $35k you should get exactly what you want if the dealer is competent.

David
Spend $20,000 on my dental bills (I wish I could say charity; but I know that won't happen), invest the $15,000 ( good idea, falconcrest), pick the one component i my system that would be LAST to replace, and start learning, listening, and upgrading slowly; only buying what I could hear making a distinct improvement in the sound in my listening space. I would consider room treatments, but that may require a consultant,and I hate to dilute my buying power that way. 

Maybe I could afford to donate my old stuff to a Charity.
I would get the Sanders Sound Model 10 system. Speakers, amps (2), preamp and room correction all for $22k. I’ve heard this stuff, and can say it is Class A. Then get a good digital source,  stand, decent cables, and other accessories for say, $8k. Leaving $5k for a turntable rig (used) if you are inclined that way. Otherwise buy more music and maybe room treatments. Plus a good chair.


Dkarmeli > You don’t ask people who aren’t there themselves yet, they’re only guessing or wishing like you are!

Blindjim > Appreciate the input David but, I’m not guessing at all. Rather I’m asking for experiences: “had it to do all over again…” you did see that, right?

Although I’ve been involved in electronics since 1969, a member here since ’04 or so (see previous reviews and threads I generated), things change fast in ‘audioland’. Having been out of the game for the past five years, I simply wanted to know what’s up today from those who are in the mix. I’ve put together some outfits in my time, heard many many more.

Dolby Video? Streamer renderers? Tidal streaming service? Magico S series? There are cable companies now that were not even considered just as high end options five years ago. How many of the cable companies have completely changed their products since 2011 or 2012? No one was playing DSD without an SACD player when I had to withdraw. Paradigm was not a true high end option in 2011 or 2012. Exogal wasn’t even in existence. Vienna acoustics ‘Liszt’ wasn’t even built yet in 2012. Oppo has made immense strides and so has Modwright since then. Where was Endeavor? Etc.

Best check your reference.

I feel I’m ahead of the game philosophy wise and have my own preffs as to what is the most significant aspect of the audio system, arguably.

I’m certain of only one thing for sure, I do not need a dealer to make up my mind for me. I need a dealer so I can see and or hear what makes sense to me from his or her inventory, not from their ideas or opinions.

As for hearing everything in the context of your home and system, well, good luck with that dream. Its just that ‘a dream’ if one thinks they can get whatever in house to listen to before they buy it all the time with any item. That’s just sheer fantasy. Ridiculous.

And who, at some point in time or other, has not thought to themselves or mentioned to someone else, what they would do if they had a sudden chunk of change to drop into or on a system, or if they were to do it all over again?

Yeah. Probably no one but me.


Mikethehunterguy > I would get the Sanders Sound Model 10 system. Speakers, amps (2), preamp and room correction all for $22k.
… digital source, stand, decent cables, and other accessories for say, $8k.
… $5k for a turntable rig (used) if you are inclined that way.
…. music and maybe room treatments. Plus a good chair.

Blindjijm > winner winner, chicken dinner!! Excellent idea on the Sanders arrangement. Some years back I almost pulled the trigger on his amps.
‘Chair’ again, Excellent thought. No one thinks about the ‘chair’ as a part of the experience. Although, GamuT I believe offers one on their site. Thanks.


If someone approached me about helping them build the best system for them for 35k (about what I have into my own), I would want to know several things. What is the room size? What kind of music do you listen to? Do you want to play vinyl, vinyl and cds, or will you be streaming high resolution files through a DAC? 
If a small room
Vinyl will eat up 10k or more of the budget. If I had it to do over, I don't think I would've gone the vinyl route. I would spend the money on better speakers and electronics. 

I would travel to a major metropolitan area and audition speaker-amp combinations. I would like to hear a SET amp with a high sensitivity speaker (e.g., Shindo or Line Magnetic amp, Devore speakers). I would want to hear an OTL system (e.g., Atma-sphere or David Berning) paired with a higher sensitivity speaker. Also, a dipole speaker (e.g., Magnepan 3.7i, Martin Logan 13A with built in room correction), paired with a high quality SS amp (e.g., PASS Labs 250.8, Constellation Inspiration). If I went the latter route, I would probably still go with a used Audio Research Reference preamp. 

Ayre cx-7emp CD player for disc playback and transport. $1,700. (Used)
Audioquest Earth Interconnects balanced $1000.
Audioquest Diamond Digital cable $1000.
Ayre qx-5 for streaming and HI-Rez $8900.
Audioquest Earth interconnects - balanced $1,000.
Anthem STR Integrated $5,000. ( on-board room correction and phono)
Audioquest Oak - 2 runs for biwire $6,000
Paradigm Persona 3F $10,000.
Total $34,600 without tax.
N
Dcevans > I would travel to a major metropolitan area and audition speaker-amp combinations.

Blindjim > my preffs and room have been outlined above. we’re on the same wavelength on a few accounts. It seems a necessity to travel at least some. Or find those dealers that will allow for an in home demo. Spkrs by nature will be the problem children and why one has to accumulate air miles.


Nutty > Total $34,600 without tax.

Blindjim > Super!! That was very thoughtful. Very nice. My preffs and exp remove Ayre as a candidate though. For someone else? Sure not bad at all. I’m very interested in how those new Para spkrs work. I’m also surprised on how many tend to declare AQ as the cable solution du jour. Thanks.


Hello all, bows to Blindjim. I couldn't sleep. And a few hours ago I got up, bored I logged on and joined Audiogon. and somehow, This is the first thread that caught my eye. I'm not sure really how to begin other than to give you all an "I'll be as brief as possible" short preface. Of why me finding and reading this thread tonight/morning is just so ironic.   Five years ago my world stopped turning with a sudden blow to the head. And it's taken me about four and a half years to get my world to start turning again. Now it feel like it's all happening too fast.
      About four months ago I was allot like most. but I have been something of an audiophile since I was 15 and acquired my first pioneer 8 track combo receiver with upgraded kenwood speakers, "I paid $15 extra for those!" and they changed my life. But soon I entered the rat race and lost focus on what was my first love, music. Fast forward to several months ago.
    Like many I had resigned my fate to having an Pioneer elite sc-77 and a pair of martin logan "source" speakers. Using my dvd player as my trusty transport I was awed about once a month for about two hours, "the time allotted me with no one home" at how amazing my system sounded. And of course I was the envy of most of my friends as most of them have really nothing at all except the $150 Black Friday box of 5.1 tiny, "Wife approved" speakers 10" sub and with luck a $200 AVR. 
   LO and Behold, I was awakened by a Mighty Din! As the Martin Logans melted and the Pioneer "Elite" popped and fizzled, I laughed, I really did.
  Not too insanely though, The Jonese's might hear.
         What was I to do? I couldn't justify just running out and replacing it all. And that Monster Cable speaker wire had been in my family for generations! I should at least save that right???
    I'll skip ahead a few weeks now. You don't need to hear about me finding the gospel at Best Buy's and their price matching. My seemingly endless journey through that price match maze of AVR's All with their own proprietary technologies that only THEY had that didn't mean Didly Squat at the end. Because at that end was Indeed the mighty Marantz!
      And Indeed, as I worked my way up through their Integrated AVR inventory "sometimes daily". I caught my self peeking at the "Separates".      Soon I was actually even talking out loud about them in the stores!!!!!!
Amplifiers and Preamplifiers Audioquest cables.
     At this point I realize that I'll never stop getting x-mas cards and such from Best Buy's. I made those guys millennium! But enough was enough and I stopped! For an entire 3 days I did not ONCE peruse the adds from anything that I knew was garbage. now realise, my house is at this time chock full of speakers I couldn't return, Klipsch's and Polk's and pioneer's! "Oh My". I finally took the big leap on ebay about 3? months ago? ?Yeah, my short term memory is the last thing that wont heal" Anyway
I purchased my first real amp, a rotel RB1080 which I adored. for about two months. Then I bought another to Bi-amp the Klipsch f-20 synergies that were so awesome. Deeeep bass I thought for a week, with Highs that would curdle frozen milk! But I knew I needed speakers. I needed to find a pair that I could both afford. And be able to look myself in the mirror about. And maybe something vintage. Hmmmm. And I knew this because I had just auditioned some b&w 800's. The new top of the line one's. And although I could not afford those, at least couldn't bear to afford them. I knew in a very literal 5 seconds or less I had to have something decent. What even a REAL audiophile would have.
                           Here we have to take a break. Well I need a break.
     I can hear the pain pills calling me.
   And oh yeah, I have kinda left a little thing out. Haven't I told you about the settlement fairy? I didn't?        BRB





Ok, Coffee in hand, 6:00am. Only 30 more minutes until the pills kick-in. 
     Yee ha!
   Hey pal, Don't feel sorry for me! I'm allowed 3 of those pills a day.
  Besides, I "did" get a visit from the settlement fairy. And I cannot , will not EVER tell you about it! Yeah that's right I signed the papers! That's the only way I could have bankrolled this! I had always, always said that someday I'm going to take the time and the money and become what is in my mind a real Card Totin, golden eared Audiophile. And all it took was an 'Traumatic Brain Injury". Besides, All my friends say I'm finally becoming myself again. Whilst beginning my mid-life crisis! About all I know is that this entire 3 month journey has well been worth it! And I've learned allot.
      Indeed for someone that thought that "Monster Cable" was just an audiophile thing and that those "special cables" that the average guy laughs about were only for those that really didn't know any better! And that they simply had too much time and money on their hands.
                        And now I am one with them.  "I make my own now", and am on my third set. Just having received my fourth type to experiment with yesterday.
                              Can you FEEL the LOVE people!
      I COULD sit here and keep writing except that I'm starting to try to be funny and that's generally a bad sign. 
               Oh well , The signs never bothered me, so,
Which brings me to this morning. As I laughed three months ago after probably showing the sorriest face I've ever put on. As the Martin Logans crumbled. I knew I was going to do this . And set myself a limit of $10,000.00. Which was gone in about a week and a half. with not really much to show for it. I started with the Rotels, Moved up to Onkyo Gran Integra's and found my speakers right in the middle. I will never forget it. It DID feel like a sort of epiphany. Having seen them in a magazine in 1984? While I was overseas with the service. I think it was playboy. The full, or was it half page add for the speakers. There they were, In all their glory. With a FOR SALE on top of the Ebay page. That was the day I called Magic Marksy! For those of you whom might not know who I am referring to "Although I believe from the conversations I read that at least a few of you do". He is a purveyor of vintage Infinity Speakers And as it turned out that MY "Holy Grail" are a set of RS-1b speakers heavily modded with the Monsoon driver upgrade. I was going to buy them....Until I found a set two weeks ago of the same speakers, "Marksies!" that were now even more heavily modded and upgraded with a newly rebuilt Crossover to boot!
       I am now the proud owner of a crapload of decent to great "IMHP" amps. And my first Onkyo M-509 shipped to me yesterday from Montana. My two M-508's are on their way and I have four m-504's split between Home and the shop. Those at home I'll take to the shop for servicing next week when I pick those up Along with my 5 channel Rotel RB1095 for my HT. My Rotel's which are now gathering dust are soon for ebay and Audiogon. The second Panamax 5400pm for the extra dedicated circuits being installed came yesterday of course, as did the Nakamichi Rx-202, "The nifty one that spins the cassette around". Last night I took some pics of the first 2" maple plinth I ever made for my Pro-ject turntable. And today my three VTI audio racks shall arrive from "Douglas Connection Cables", "Great Service!!! Two VTI, BL304's that will sit side by side and a BL 405 that will sit to the right of my Nifty Old Infinity RS-1b's That I just signed a contract to have delivered from Indiana to Maryland Just after midnight last night. They will FINALLY be here tomorrow!!!!!
                             So WHEW!   I've been a busy lad the last few days.                      There's more but I wont bore you.

    If you haven't heard of "USHIP", don't feel bad, Neither had I until Thursday, AND THEY they are awesome!
         Can you tell I'm excited?
                               Break!
     Audiogon can tell me to stop boring everyone any time now If they'd like to.
           But I just had to get all that off my chest!   
 Next I may actually add something to this thread that honors it's intent!
                                  OR, Maybe not!
I think that "I" need to digest what was just written by myself. And I have chores. but if no-one complains too much I'll continue and tell you what I think of this thread. And I think "Mike The Hunter Guy" has it closest. But I just HAVE to say, Speakers first!

Jolly,
Lol! What a well written story and that hook at the end just makes me want to hear more. I look forward to your next installment.
jollygreenaudiophile2 > Next I may actually add something to this thread that honors it's intent!

Blindjim > I can definitely relate.

In 2001 I was excited to have a Sony STV 444es 5.1 HT receiver, a pair of B&Ws, a sony 50 CD carosel, and a B&K amp and some Monster wires.
ASAP a krell KAV 250 evicted the B&K amp, the BWs were upgraded and more small BWs were added on, and an ancient Velodyne .10” sub joined the fray.
The Krell KAV pre arrived ASAP and the BWs were again upgraded.
It was 2003 – 2004 when I joined this site and its forums. Asking every stupid question known to mankind, and a few I mdae up which were not known. Well, on this planet anyhow...

Insanity loomed large and I began buying stuff I couldn’t afford with money I did not have to impress people I had not even met yet.

Older, wiser, and far more experienced with 3 reasonably nice systems constructed and then deconstructed, later, and some critical life experiences I was out of the mix, but for no very good reason, I’ve managed to pull myself right back in.

Or not. We’ll see soon enough..

It ain’t the way you walk, its where you stand.
It ain’t how you fly, its where you land.
It ain’t how you talk, its what you say.
It ain’t what you buy, its how you pay.
Watch you when you go by R.O.B. 2001 album of the same title

I haven't read all the threads but after owning a lot of high end gear I know what I'd likely do. I'd buy used and start with a Dartzeel CTH 8550 integrated amp with the great built in phono stage if you want turntable capability. If digital only a Bricasti M1 for preamp and dac plus a great amp driven by the M1. For speakers I don't think that you could exceed Revel Salon 2's. I like AQ cables a lot looking for Niagara used plus one of their really good copper speaker cables. I'd buy the Naim Uniti Core ripper/player and enjoy an immensely musical system. The amp for the Bricasti would be a Pass 250.8 or similar such as a used JRDG 62s2. I prefer the Dartzeel solution very much for the most flexibility. It's a special unit as is the M1. Just my opinion.
4425 > I'd buy used and start with a Dartzeel CTH 8550 integrated amp

Blindjim > thanks much 4425 !! those are terrific ideas.
I’ve never heard the Dartzeel gear but have read some articles on them and they are very well received by anyone whose writing them up. Given the DS price, used would sure be the way to proceed.

The idea of an upscale Integrated amp is a real interesting approach. I’ve seen more than once, one instantly gets built in synergy from using one brand of power, and possibly source too has a really great argument for obtaining a high quality sound.

  It seems immensely popular in Europe to go with integrated amps. Gryphon, Ayon, GamuT, etc., all make feature rich INTs. .

Hopefully some day I’ll hear the Revel’s in a proper room and or without Transparent wires making up the entire harness. I do dig the esthetic of the ultimas but their power needs put me off. That and what I just said about setup which made them sound sterile dry and uninvolving.


 It seems immensely popular in Europe to go with integrated amps. Gryphon, Ayon, GamuT, etc., all make feature rich INTs. .

Integrateds are popular in the USA too, as Pass Labs, VAC, ARC, Ayre, BAT, Boulder,  D'Agostino, Rowland, and many more USA manufacturers all make quality Integrated amps.

jmcgrogan2 > Integrateds are popular in the USA too

blindjim > hey John, you are correct sir.
What we see depends mainly on what we look for. John Lubbock –

Since the 60s & 70s I’ve always seen INTs as purely a shortcut and not the best path to gain ‘the most’ performance or ‘the best’ sound. This is especially true after seeing what sort of flexibility separates can deliver in an audio system.

I’m on the road to relaxing that attitude and INTs are looking more and more attractive, here and there. The ones I’m getting transfixed on however are some pricey little meatballs! So, we’ll see.

They make great sense for putting together a rig under $35K too.

Well, my current system costs over USD35k, so I've blown that much money already. So what would I do now, if I started again (instead of 35 years ago).

1) Buy TWO Sony APR 5003 R2R tape machine - USD 1000 each in good nick - this was Sony's one and only studio R2R machine - super transport, great replay electronics and fabulous software driven interface for calibration

2) Spend USD 1000 on appropriate monitoring - twin needle PPM meters with mono/sum function (to check levels and repro head azimuth), XLR-RCA balanced converter (not just XLR-RCA leads), cheap studio XLR leads and a test tape.

3) USD circa 12k on speakers, pre and power amp

4) USD 20k on "master" tapes and blank tape (I duplicate each master tape I buy onto new tape stock with calibrated test tones for replay line up)


Why have I said this? I reached an epiphany about 2 years ago. I had spent 30+ years trying to get a high quality vinyl replay system. In fact I was really happy with this - Platine Verdier with GT Audio Battery PSU - 2 tonearms/carts; Schroeder Model 2, Allaerts MC1B and Hadcock 228 and vintage Decca London FFSS MkIV C4E - TRON Seven Reference phono - amplification TRON Meteor/Voyager tube pre/SET Power - Avantgarde Duo 2.2.

I then bought my first studio R2R machines - Studer A807/II, Sony APR 5002 and Sony APR 5003 - result - I haven't played my turntable for almost a year!!!
This would be fine, but where do you get master tape dubbs of real music not junk ? And at what cost?
Besides, R2R machines need servicing.
I like tape too and I don't really like vinyl and all that associated stuff.
Yeah, "it's the tape stupid" .
Inna,

You can find dubs of master tapes if you look hard enough, as well as original production masters. I have about 60 albums now, ranging from Miles Davis KoB to Michael Jackson Thriller, Pink Floyd The Wall and Nina Simone Pastel Blue. Some have cost as a little as USD 80 (bought several years ago), some as much as USD600. Most are around the USD 200 mark.

Servicing - as always, buy the best machine you can afford. If you get a studio machine e.g. Studer, Otari. MCI, Ampex or Sony APR 5000 series, you can find engineers and spares (some makes easier than others). New heads aren't a problem as JR French will make you a new head and align it correctly in your head block.

Charlie
$200 on average is very high unless it is something like Bitches Brew by Miles or Inner Mounting Flame by Mahavishnu Orchestra or Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd.
Still, I am thinking about Otari project for the future, or Sony pro. Studer A810 would be better but too expensive, though not as expensive as master tape dubs.
Inna

Yes, I've got for instance
Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here and Dark side of the moon (WYWH is nowhere as good SQ wise as DSOTM, which was recorded by Alan Parsons)
Miles Davis - Kind of Blue
Doors - Debut album, Morrison Hotel and LA Woman
Bob Dylan - Blonde on Blonde
Billy Joel - Stranger
etc
mostly at about the USD 200 mark

Charlie
$200 mark for master tapes of popular artists sounds about right. UHQR vinyl of DSOTM sells much above that point.

WYWH is their best album by far, in my opinion. Yeah, the recording quality is no good, at least that's what I hear on German record.
$200-$300 might be right, I wouldn't disagree.