Advice on Budget System?

I'm currently running my music through a Toshiba DVD player and a low-end Marantz (5500) AV Receiver. But I've become convinced by these forums that I can put together a decent music system for less than $1000 (not including speakers), so I'm ready to take the plunge. I currently have a pair of VonSchweikert VR1s, and I plan to upgrade to VR2s next year. But first, I'd like to get some decent electronics.

I've pretty much settled on a Cambridge Audio CD player for the source (either 540C or 640c). For an integrated amp (I never listen to the radio), I'm looking at these choices right now:
Cambridge Audio Azur 640A
Music Hall A25

Any thoughts on these or other choices in the same price range? Will either give me a noticeable improvement over my current setup? Will they make these VR1s sing, and provide enough power for the full-range VR2s?

Am I at least asking the right questions? :-)
The VSA speakers are reasonably efficient. Power should not be a huge concern. Any of the above should be adequate. I like the NAD and the Musichall should be good too. The Cambridge amplifiers are a little bright with the VSA speakers. THe NAD makes a decent preamp if you wanted to upgrade to separates peicemeal.

The Cambridge CDP's are great. THey have just upgraded the DAC's on the players as well. Be sure to get a V2 player.

It looks like you are well on your way to a nice stereo.

Good luck!
An audio refinement complete may be just what you are looking for. About 50 watts per channel.

Another option you could look into are the Consanance line of integrateds. They make atleast one near your price range. I heard them on VS speakers and really liked it.
For a $1000, I would go with a Music Hall MMF CD 25 CD player and pair it with either a NAD C320BEE integrated amp (fantastic synergy) or a Music Hall 25.2 integrated amp.

If you go with the Cambridge Audio CD player try an Outlaw RR2150 stereo receiver ($600 direct from Outlaw Audio ). I have the Outlaw paired with a Cambridge Audio 540 DVD player and NHT SB2 speakers and it is excellent sounding with CD's; DVD's' and FM. Outrageous sound for the money spent($1200 with speakers).

Regards, Rich
I'm running a Rega Mira 3 - a 60 watt integrated - with my VR1s and the combination is magical; detailed, dynamic and rich-sounding, with excellent soundstaging and imaging. I get more than enough volume in a 10x13 room. But I suspect that a larger room would need a little more power.
I would concur about the Audio Refinement Complete. It's exceptionally good for the money and better built than the others you listed. I've owned the Music Hall CD25 player and it was a wonderful piece of gear but don't have any experience with their amp.

I recently bought a used Creek 4330R for a friend's system and can highly recommend it or anything else from Creek, as well.

I did own a Cambridge Audio 540A integrated and while it sounded pretty good, it was not in the same class as either the Audio Refinement or the Creek. I would buy one of the latest Rotel integrateds before I would buy another Cambridge. All the ones you're considering and that have been suggested should work fine.
I owned the VR-1s powered by the Audio Refinement Complete two years ago and thought they worked very well together in a small room. Not sure how well the 50 watts would sound with the VR-2s. Good luck and check back in after you put the system together.
All of the amps which you are considering, and which other posters have suggested, seem like good prospects. I would suggest you listen to as many as you can. Speaking for myself, I once purchased a small integrated amp. I auditioned a number of readily available amps, including Rotel, Arcam, and NAD. I was just entering the audiophile world at that time and I was surprised at how different they sounded. I ended up purchasing a Creek. It sounded the best to me from among the ones I auditioned.
Thanks, everyone, for your helpful responses. After reading your posts, I was very, very tempted to snag one of the Audio Refinements for sale on this website, but I decided to go with the NAD for a bit more power. Not only will this amp be driving full-range speakers (not now, but soon, I hope), but I tend to play music a bit loud so I can listen to it as I move around the house.

Not sure if that was the right decision, but no one outright dissed the NAD, and I got a terrific deal on a new one. So I should be able to resell it at a very small loss if I end up with buyer's remorse.

I realized that I had to make a decision quickly, because once I decided to make a purchase, I was not going to stop obsessing over it and get any work done until I made a decision. Anyone else ever have that problem?
The Complete is much more powerful than the 320BEE.
Regardless of stated output the Complete is very beefy.
The NAD is very good though and I think it will work well for you.

Good luck!
Hi everyone,

I received the Cambridge Audio 540C CD player last week and the NAD C352 integrated yesterday. No surprise, the CD player was a major and immediately noticeable improvement over using the Toshiba DVD player for music CDs--more open, detailed, natural. An awesome upgrade.

The NAD also has some major advantages over the Marantz A/V receiver for music. Extended bass, sharper highs and upper midrange, and much more natural sounding. However, the sharpness gets a bit fatiguing. It's not "bright," really, but just more assertive on some notes, if that makes any sense.

I'm still breaking in the NAD, so I'll hold off on a final judgment, and I think some decent RCA cables might make a difference, too. (I'm using some $8 cables I had lying around until I can get some better ones.) Even if I end up trading it in, it's interesting and exciting to hear sound from my CDs that I never noticed was there before.

The bass from my VR-1s is so sweet now that I may not need to trade up to the VR-2s. But of course, that impulse won't last very long . . . :-)
After some experimenting with budget cables, I achieved excellent sound with
the NAD C320BEE using the following: Signal Cable Analysis One (basic) speaker
cables and Better Cables Blue Truth/Silver Serpent interconnects. I had
originally started with Radio Shack mega cables, but they deadened the sound. I
still prefer the Music Hall with the NAD, but the Cambridge Audio is an excellent
player (I have an Azur 540 DVD player paired with an Outlaw receiver) and
should pair off pretty well. Give the NAD a little time to break in and you will be

Regards, Rich