sounds like a fair budget system, but why are you trying to talk her into anything.
please, i'm not trying to be inflammatory, but my experience is women hate being talked into anything. also, some people really,truly do not give a moments thought to what their music is coming out of, is this the case with your girlfriend? if yes, this is why best buy's and circuit city's exist.
personally i do not care for driving and as long as my car gets me from a to b, i don't think about it beyond that. now my stereo is a different story, i seriously think about that. it is pleasing to know that my listening experience is full of better resolution, tighter firmer bass, sweet mids, a soundstage with depth, etc. if your girlfriend is looking for similar things then take her to a high end shop and let her listen to some systems. if she is an audiophile but just doesn't know it, this experience should bring her out of the closet. who knows, maybe she'll decide that your suggested system does not suit her tastes/needs, which are now in the $2-3k realm. nice thought huh?
please do not take this the wrong way, a new audiophile convert is always nice. for it to be your girlfriend, now that's something money can't buy, too cool, too cool.
how about the NAD all in one CD tuner amp, with a pair of paradigm atoms?
the crestas are good too.
she'll thank you, you da man!
www.qaudio.com has good used and reconditioned stuff at good prices (cambridge, ma but also sell over the net)
Remember: You're not buying for an audiophile here! Keep away from separates. The NAD all-in-one is a good choice, even has a tuner, which she might like. If I recall, you can get it with the Alpha Minis, or buy the speakers separately. If you don't like that idea, get the electronics from Best Buy, but coax her into a real audio store for the speakers: Paradigm, B&W, PSB all offer multiple options in the $400-600 range. And terminate the speaker cables with something that's easy to deal with (spades are better than bare wire, for example).
You can go to AudioAdvisor.com and go to the as new/demo clearance page. A DVD player might be a good idea. You could connect her TV to the system.
CD Players: Cambridge Audio D300SE $250
Or the Cambridge D500SE $349.
Amplifier: Cambridge Audio A300V2 $219
Interconnects: Analysis Plus Oval One $69.95
Speaker Cables Audioquest CV-4 $119.95
At a local dealer, get her a pair of B&W DM303 $300.
Alternately go to http://www.spearitsound.com/
They have new factory refurbished NAD audio receivers (not HT). The C730 is $329. Then she'll have a AM/FM tuner also. Spearit Sound is also a Cambridge Audio and B&W Speaker dealer, so you could get the rest there also. The Cambridge Amp is only $250 new, the D300SE $289. Ask for Richard Moulding or Jack Tozzi. Check their specials/demo/used page also.
Cambridge Audio has a DVD player now also.
Or do a combination of AudioAdvisor and SpearitSound.
This can be a VERY touchy situation. I would proceed with caution. My suggestion is to buy new / demo / refurb with a warranty and keep it simple. Most non-audiophile women are more concerned with looks and convenience so long as it sounds "reasonable" and it doesn't take up the entire room.
With that in mind, even "mass-fi" can sound pretty reasonable if you take the time to set it up as best possible. Work with her as it is her system and money. Adding "special touches" to HER decision will allow her to exercise her independance while allowing you to "tweak" the system. If you do this carefully and reasonably, you should be able to get it to the point that she will notice the difference and appreciate what CAN be done in the future. Sean
The other responses above certainly convey the tone of concern over offering suggestions, since no one really knows your girl friend. I think, however, there are probably some "constants" that apply here when buying for the distaff member: buy something that is attractive to look at, takes up relatively little space, is reliable, and is easy to use. If you can combine those characteristics with decent sound, you'll probably have a winner. Many women find complex audio systems to be "user UN-friendly", and if your girlfriend does not find the system fairly intuitive to use, your best efforts will not be appreciated. (I also used to be an audio salesman, and take my word for it when I say that most women have very different objectives for an audio system than men.)
In this situation, I would NOT suggest buying used gear. It may not convey the message you want, and you'll have no warranty in the event something fails.
I recently put together several small systems for women who are friends of my wife, and the system that best met all of the criteria I mentioned above was built around the TEAC Reference components. This line has small, very nice looking units that also have pretty decent sound quality. There are two integrated amps to choose from (30 wpc, and 50 wpc), a tuner, and a CD player. All have gold-anodized finishes, and are easy to use. (An option to the CD player is to buy a decent DVD/CD player, which provides two functions for the price of one.)
For speakers, you've got some good, low-priced options. You might start by contacting AudioAdvisor to see what they have on sale -- they've recently had several good yet compact speakers on sale for around $200-250. The new Mission M71 speakers also got a superb review in TAS or Stereophile. Another option is one of low-priced speakers form PSB or Paradigm.
For a starter system, then, keep it simple, attractive, and easy to use, and you're 90% of the way home. The suggestions I've just listed will also provide pretty decent sound, and if your girlfriend likes what she hears, you can then help her upgrade the system over time.
linn classik + a cheap set of speakers. That's a high end receiver with cd player and tuner. The linn alone will cost 1000. B&W makes some really nice smaller speakers - the 301's. Paradigm makes some nice monitors too.
The NAD L-40 is a great suggestion. DMC-Electronics.com offers B-Stock for $360. I own one as a travel system. At that price it frees up money for better speakers, stands if wanted and decent speaker cable. It's a great piece for the money and performs surprisingly well.
Linn Classik plus Sound Dynamics, Linn Kan, Spendor LS3/5 speakers. This system is solid. Also, try Creek 4330 plus above speakers and a solid DVD player...
Get her a Linn and she may become an audiophile...
I almost forgot one VERY important thing. Buy Bose. Everybody likes Bose and it may gain her some respect from her friends. After all, it is QUITE impressive : ) Sean
Buy an Integrated amp,you get more bang for you buck than seperates.
For 329.00 you can buy a brand new NAD T550 DVD-CD player from Upsacle Audio.
Your well on your way.
I thought about it some more and the comments to keep it simple are best. So a the NAD receiver or the better all-in-one systems, along with some good speakers. Looks probably matter too, just as much as sound. For looks using regular components, get her a nice looking audio rack to put the gear on.
The basic criterion for WAF (wife approval factor) or in this case GAF are
1 Is it pretty?
2 Can I make it function with the push of 1 button?
3 Is it small and does it fit in with the decor?
There are those who have posted above who have mentioned these various aspects of the typical woman's psyche. You would be wise to heed their advice. You may get her the best possible sound for $1k, but if she can't get it to function easily you will definitely hear about it.
Contrary to Sean's 2nd post, Do Not let her see Bose. She will think she can hide them and thus take care of the "pretty" problem. Or she may think they are cute (remember small is good). SD has mentioned the Teac components. Most likely the gold anodized finish will fit into the decor better and will be more appreciated than black boxes which don't match the carpet or drapes or sofa, etc. If you can get these features and good sound you have done well grasshopper. Remember great sound is what you want. Give her what she wants with great sound and you may make an audiophile convert. (although I don't know if you've done her any favors seeing as how she was satisfied with Best Buy's best and now it will take $10-25K to satisfy her addiction)
These observations are based on 26 yrs of marriage in which I am always amazed at how 2 people can seem to think so differently and so much alike at the same time.
This may not help determine the exact system but it may help to keep a girlfriend happy, and her happiness will help determine your happiness. YMMV
NAD receiver (7100?), B&W 302 speakers, and splurge on a used Cal Labs ICon cd player, don't forget just above budget interconnects and speaker wires
I agree with the above...skip the seperates and buy an integrated, or a receiver (with remote). They're probably right. She may learn to appreciate the improved sound one day, but it will need to be convenient and sensibly set up for her to use it regularly. There are plenty of decent receivers out there...like NAD, HK, Onkyo, Yamaha, Rotel, Marantz, etc. They may not be "high-end", but they're all relatively well made and they won't cause your ears to bleed. The speakers are probably the most important as far as the sound goes, so you may want to present her with a few options and let her choose the ones that she prefers (based on sound and looks).
If you're worried about "matching the decor," remember that the Linn Classik is available in about 7 colors; also the B&W LM-1 Leisure Monitors are small, have their own little integral stands, and also come in various colors, including white so you can mount them on the wall (probably not acceptable).
Plan for the future...I get frightened at times at how good my bedroom stereo sounds. Denon receiver 1025R, Denon 1650AR CD player and B&W 805 Matrix III speakers. Used, this would probably run $1,500-$1,700 with interconnects. I know...out of range -- but that's the point. I'd do the electronics now, and an Ok set of speakers -- then in a year or so...do an upgrade on the speakers. Good luck!
Simple, get her what SHE wants. Doesn't matter what it sounds like. Set it up for her and then sit back and ENJOY!
High end seperates suggestion have been made above so I will stear in the mini component system. The Denon DRA-F100 and DCD-F100 reference system with matched Mission 771 or 71B speakers.(i prefered the 771 speakers for its slightly better sound and cherry finish) 30 W/channel . The sound is very high-end. The components are very well made, have their own power supplies, have champagne beige finish and comes with remote. The speakers are bi-wirable. Get better interconnects and speaker wire and you have very clean sounding system in attractive package. All for around less than $800.00 . Find used subwoofer later. or for $200 from Agon. The Speakers goes low enough -55 Hz or so, so she may not need SW. At least have a look. My wife loves this system. It is 'her's' but of course I listen while reading in bed.
Thanks everyone! I Think a reciever is the picture here and a DVD/cd player. I am sending her to a high end store and Best buy with her favorite cd in hand to listen to the difference. I know it has to be to her liking or else....
There is a lot of good advice. Teac and Denon both have very nice systems (mini/compact) for under $1000 that sound good. Take a hard look. The girl friend factor is probably worse than the wife factor. Do not play around with used electronics. Used speakers are OK. Good luck. Contact me if you want to go over this in more detail. I used to be in the industry and have seen it all. Cheers!
Lance, i did something similar with a lady friend of mine in the past. She was looking for a system and had been looking at "rack systems". She was about ready to buy, but needed another week to come up with the rest of the money. Trying to steer her in the "right direction", we went to a local audio shop that carried very nice gear. I explained to the owner what she was looking for and how much she had to spend. He picked out components and assembled a system for her while we waited. It consisted of a cd player, integrated amp and small two ways that were sealed.
She sat down to listen. Not only did she think that it sounded VERY clean, clear and natural, she was amazed at how much sound came out of "those little speakers". After all, she was comparing them to big ported boxes with a large woofer. The owner of the shop suggested listening to a different amplifier, actually a receiver. That way she could decide if the trade off in sound quality would warrant the inclusion of a tuner. His thinking was that she would be better off with a a good basic system and she could always add a tuner in a short time. She replied, "i'll never be able to hear a difference in that stuff", but he hooked up the receiver anyhow. She instantly said "wow, it sounds like somebody put a sheet over the speakers". She COULD hear the difference and it was obvious. She was using audio terminology even though she didn't know it. The receiver sounded "veiled" in comparison to the integrated.
In the long run, she bought the rack system. Not only did it have an equalizer, more lights, looked fancier and had a remote, it came with "BIG" speakers and the rack too....
Bottom line. Work with her WHATEVER she gets. It may not be what you would like her to have, but it IS her money and decision. Besides, listening to her system will only help you to appreciate yours even more : ) Sean
I wouldn't go overboard. Whatever you get you probably aren't going to be able to set the speakers/room up properly. The speakers will almost certainly end up flush against a wall and off axis from the listening position. This rules out anything rear ported like the B&W 303.
Source: Pioneer DVD player, ballpark $175
Amplification: JoLida 301A tube/mosfet hybrid, $350
Speakers: Maggie MMG's, $550
Cabling: Donate some of your old stuff
Okay this is a bit over your budget, but not much. The key component is the little Maggies. I think she'll like their openness and not miss the high volumes and deeper bass of a box. Of course if she doesn't like them, you have 60 days to return the mail-order-only MMG's for a full refund. Can't beat that!
Alternative amplification - used Arcam integrated. I like Arcam better than NAD, but the little JoLida unit with the tube front end is more musical.
My daughter has a system that works well for her needs. It has a tuner, multi disc cd player, and is relatively compact.
Denon DRA-295 (50wpc w/tuner 250$)
Yamaha CDC-685 (200$)
B&W 601 S3 (450$)
900$ retail, about 750$ new w/discounts. She was originally looking at all in one solutions, but for a little more money achieved better sound and flexibility w/the above setup. The 601s are front ported and come with a foam plug that can be used if there are placement restrictions.
I have a second system w/NAD C350, C521, and B&W 602.5 S3. This is about 1400 retail, but you can get the cost down by shopping for discounts and substituting w/less expensive speakers. I made my own ics (Cardas RCAs and Kimber PSB TCSS braided cable), and have Mapleshade Golden Helix speaker cable.
I know just how you feel in that regard. I say this because unlike us men, women (at least most of the time anyway) are not audiophiles. However, there are exceptions. During the course of my 24+ years of being an audiophile, I have met some women who are in fact audiophiles. When it comes to the knowledge of audiophile type of equipment and the appreciation of music, these women can go toe-to-toe with me as far as audiophilia is concerned. But for the most part, women are not audiophiles (and that includes my girlfriend). So with that said then, it is often more difficult for me to put together a system for a woman than it is for me to do the same for a man. Because with women, looks also become a factor. And it is said that in audiophile circles, looks, sound quality and performance do not go hand-in-hand. You either are going to have looks at the expense of sound quality, or you are going to have sound quality, but the components themselves are not going to win any beauty contests when it comes to looks and style. You just can't have your cake and eat it too. Not when it comes to audiophilia anyway. I didn't make the rules or anything. But that's the way it is in the world of audiophilia.
But however, a couple of years ago, I have put together and ACTUALLY bought a system for my girlfriend (which was in some ways, more difficult than putting together my own system (which has taken me years to put together..... if that makes any sense at all)), and this was what I bought her:
Sony CD Player/Changer (from Best Buy)
And if I could recall correctly, I paid about $800.00 for this system, and the last time I could recall, this system is still serving her well today. Now, I am going to put your girlfriend in the same context as mine here for a moment. If she were to ask me to buy a system for her today, here's what I would buy for her:
PSB Alpha B Speaker System -- $250.00
NAD C-730 Stereo Receiver -- $450.00
NAD C-521 Compact Disc Player -- $300.00
That would come out to exactly $1,000.00 if everything is bought at retail (which by the way, the name of the game is to buy the rig BELOW retail). So, what you do then is if it is at all possible, try to buy the rig at one store if that is at all possible. That way, if you buy the all of the components at the same store as a system, then more than likely, the store is going to give you a discount on the whole package, and thus, you can get a $1,000.00 system for around........ say....... $800.00 to $850.00 or so. And with that money left over, then you can tie this system together with a pair of Interconnects and a pair of Speaker Cables from your neighborhood Radio Shack. A pair of their TOL Interconnects should run you about $10.00 ($20.00... tops), and a pair of their matching Speaker Cables shouldn't run no more than about $30.00 or so.
And this system should keep her happy for a while. At least until the next time, she wants you to put together a home theater system for her to use with her 27" to 32" Television.
Good luck with putting together your girlfriend's audio system. Whatever combination you come up with, I'm sure she'll be happy just the same.