Perhaps I should clarify my requirements. This system is for my dad and he doesn't have much space and lives in an apartment with people below and above him. Therefore, a high wattage system is not needed. High fidelity is much more important. However, I know that underpowering speakers is often worse than slightly overpowering them and causes unwanted distortion, etc... So of course I understand that speaker matching is quite important. Perhaps for him slim free standing tall speakers similar to the Beolab Penta's would be the best choice? He wants something that also looks great and has a design element to it.
Now onto the important bits: Active vs. Passive speakers (getting a pre-amp and connecting to active speakers vs. buying a new receiver and connecting to passive ones). Tube amp vs. Hybrid vs. Electronic (obviously in my price range only the latter would be viable?) Given my price range which would give me the highest fidelity?
When searching for something on Craigslist or Ebay, I can't simply put "Audiophile" so I wanted your advice on companies and their specific Speakers (to start off with) and Amplifier/Receivers/Pre-amps (to follow up with). The Receivers I have liked I mentioned some of the higher end Onkyo's and Marantz from about 10 years ago that are in my price range now but may have been even around $2000 when new. I would really like something from the 90s-00s as I love 90s and early 00s designs!
In regards to price, I wasn't thinking of buying anything new at all, more like used gems. Some examples are: I bought a Pioneer BDP-51FD in Mint condition for $80 Including shipping (IE around $50, was $600 new), Super Silver HGA cables for $50 (Were $230 new). You can even buy a receiver that was $2000 new just 10 years ago that was Made in Japan and now costs $200 on eBay or Craigslist. B&K is a great example of this... Just like you can buy a used Loewe TV for $100 that cost $3500 new 10 years ago and still beats out many modern sets in terms of contrast, colour, and definitely black levels. I guess I am looking for the audio equivalent of this in terms of a Receiver OR Amplifier and Speakers.
In regards to dismissing things made in third world countries, it's more a matter of principle than of quality or anything else. I wrote my MA dissertation on this subject and I would prefer not to support jobs being outsourced, on top of this I really respect companies that don't outsource as it costs them 10-15 times more for Labour costs and they focus on helping their local community vs. making a big profit. This is why I don't like Rotel, a lot of modern Cambridge Audio, NAD, some newer Arcam, etc... I would say from my experience of looking at where things are made, even today at least 80% of the very high end audiophile equipment is still made in the developed world.
I recently had email communications with Mark from Antipodes Audio. A company I very much admire and respect and he was telling me that when he started the company they outsourced to Asia (he didn't specify the country but I am guessing it was China) and by the third batch they were sending him inferior sterling silver instead of pure silver. Anyway he decided to support his local community vs. just turning a profit and now everything from the unbleached cotton, to the cable stock, is done by local firms and everything is hand assembled in his own workshop. I would rather support him than any company that outsources because I respect him and his decision instead of the corporate American mentality of gaining bigger profits. Just my two cents.
Plus if you notice many of the companies that did outsource lost a lot of their "High End" respect, Nakamichi is a great example of this and I don't think that Arcam, Cambridge, NAD and many others are what they used to be, not to mention Marantz, Denon, Yamaha, Onkyo and others which have gone from mid-fi to low-fi in my opinion. I believe the quality does go down and the products even look cheaper a lot of times. There is an LCD company that just moved production back to the Bay Area and one of their motivations was the fact that from China they had a 30% defective product rate, now they only have a 5% one...