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used melos sha-gold reference pre - $1k used.
electrocompaniet aw60/aw75/aw100 amp - $800 used.
used oracle table/arm/cartridge $1k used.
used meret re speakers w/stands $800 used.
used acurus p10 fono-stage - $150 used.
used sansui tu-717 tuna - $150 used. used nad cd-changer/player - $200 used.
that leaves $900 left for cabling - find whatever ya like - used. or, get a wee-better tuna-or-cartridge-or-fono-stage-or? and have less for the cabling....
or, add a pair of vmps original subs, a used adcom amp, & a passive x-over for ~$900 & run rat-shack cabling, until ewe can afford a decent outboard electronic x-over & better cabling.
Conrad-johnson premier 11a tube amp - $1600, magnepan 1.6's (1400), XA7ES (1100) oval 9 speaker cables (300), two harmonic tech rca truthlinks (300), adcom gfp-750 (750) (forgo if it's a cd only system. xa7 has variable outs), Dinner&wine at Olive Garden w/wife to convince her to allow magnepans in the house (30).
given cwlondon's description of his malady, which must have been brought on by years of self-denial--no, dammit, i'm a music lover, not an audiophile- here's what i'd suggest he do with his hypothetical $5,000 audio budget: (1) purchase a used airtangent reference airbearing tone arm (original MSRP $14,000- but i know where i can buy a mint used one for ~$5,000); (2) buy a tivoli audio henry kloss model one radio ($100); (3) listen to music only on the kloss radio, nightly, whilst scrutinizing the airtangent tonearm, unmounted, in its fitted aluminum flight case; (4) wait. in about a month or less, cw's audiophile instincts will take over, imagining the turntable that'll best mate with the sensuous tone arm, the perfect multi-tube phono to drive a koetsu onyx platinum, the speakers, the amps, the wire, the cable, the conditioner. and the quest will be on again. will it lead to bliss or skepticism? that's practically a cosmological question: will the expansion of the universe continue or will it slow down, collapse and end in a singularity? damned if i know. but i do know that cw suffers as an audiophile, a condition that won't allow one, if he has the means, to live long with a $5k system. course that's just my opinion, FWIW. -kelly
I have a couple of options here in fact.
Option #1: I would start out with a system such as my own, but I would substitute a couple of pieces within the system. My own system consists of a pair of KEF Reference 102 Speaker Monitors ($900.00 back in 1988..... if they were new today, they would probably cost about $1,300.00), an Adcom GFA-545 MkII ($250.00 used.... purchased in 2000), an Adcom GFP-750 ($1,250.00 brand new.... purchased in 1999), Magnum Dynalab FT-101 FM Tuner (about $600.00 used..... also purchased in 2000), JVC XL-509TN CD Player/Changer ($400.00 new..... purchased in 1994..... and was used in an older system before I have begun upgrading to this one), and MITerminator 2 (Interconnects and Speaker Cable) and 3 (Interconnects only) ($610.00 total..... spanning from 1999 to 2000.... and all purchased from Audio Advisor). A Meridian 506 CD Player will join the system in June or July (approximate cost -- $2,100.00 if I decide to purchase new at my local dealer, or $1,000.00 used if I should find one and purchase it off the internet). If I were buying this EXACT system brand new today, I would opt for either an NAD or a Rotel CD Changer. That would be about the only change I would make. I am going to either have a stand custom made, or I am going to go to a woodmill, select the wood(s) I want, and make the stand myself (an option I am leaning toward to), and then go to a marble and stone dealer and purchase a slab of marble and then put it on top of the stand and use other vibration deadening materials for the other shelves within the stand itself. And I am going to purchase electrical cords and a power conditioner soon afterwards. But these items are going to push the cost well beyond $5K, and thus, I view them as secondary items and not primary ones. This system would be one option to go with.
Option #2: Start out with a Classe CAP-101 Integrated Amplifier ($1,395.00) and a Meridian 506.24 CD Player ($2,095), or go with an NAD S500 CD Player (a pretty good alternative...... for about $500.00 less) and then, go with the Vandersteen 2Ce's (if you want a "Rock and Roll" or a "Get Up And Boogie" system..... price -- $1,300.00), or a pair Totem Rokks (if subtlety is more your strong suit.... price -- $895.00). And then in either case, I would tie it all together with MITerminator 2 Cable (pretty damn good cable if you ask me..... I am still amazed as to why it costs so little??? Interconnect is $80.00 for a one meter pair. And the speaker cable is $120.00 for a eight foot pair. And that's provided if you buy it from Audio Advisor).
Well my friend. I've just given you two more options in which to ponder over. Let me know what you think about these as well.
You guys are great! Don't know where the $5K came from, but I find it a very tricky budget that perfectly illustrates my theory of the audiophile dead zone. That part of the price/performance curve, in my experience, is the crack cocaine of our hobby. Everything is just good enough to reveal its limitations, but not really good enough to touch nirvana, resulting in a deeply unsatisfying experience and neurotic preoccupation with the placement of shakti stones and cable risers. My next entry level, "budget" system , therefore, will be along the following lines: Audio Research SP-10/11 ($2000) Audio Research VT100 ($2500) Magneplanar MG 1.6 R ($1800) VPI TNT ($3000) Sony SACD ($1500)With cables and cartridge, more like $15 K used, but I really would, otherwise, rather listen to the radio and stare at an airtangent arm in its fitted aluminum flight case. Let's up the budget and remember the music!
You want to up the budget?? Okay my friend, you're on. And with a budget of around $15K used (and for an audio system only), there has to be plenty of great gear to pick from. Gear that was produced from about "ten to about twelve years" ago is right about the greatest gear that was ever produced in my opinion. And because quality of the materials used was better and quality of manufacture was both better and cheaper, even "high-end" from a decade ago has to be built better than the "high-end" gear that is available today, making them even better values in the used market. So with that said then, I would shop the used market almost entirely if I was putting together an audio system for about $15K today. One more thing to remember. Either high-end gear did not EVEN exist a decade ago. Or if it did, it was beginning to scratch the surface back then compared to what is available today. So even the most expensive audio gear from a decade ago can be an incredible value today, if you do your homework and shop hard enough just to land that incredible bargain.
So, with all of that said then, here is what I would buy if I had $15K to spend on an audio system today. And like you, all of the gear you will see below is used. So then, without further ado, here goes:
Speaker System: Aerial Acoustics 10T -- $3,500.00 (Used).
Power Amplifier: Mark Levinson No. 27 (200 Watts Per Channel) -- $2,500.00 (Used).
Preamplifier: Mark Levinson No. 26 -- $2,500.00 (Used).
Compact Disc Transport/DAC: Wadia WT-2000/Wadia 27ix Decoding Computer -- $2,200.00 (Used).
Turntable/Arm/Cartridge: VPI 19 MkIII/Graham 1.5 Basic/Benz Micro Glider Phono Cartridge -- $2,000.00 (Used) + $750.00 (New -- Phono Cartridge).
Cable: MIT MI-350 Interconnects and MIT MH-770 Speaker Cables ($750.00 Interconnects and $1,250.00 Speaker Cables -- Used).
Total -- $15,450.00 (Okay, Okay..... So I am over budget by about $450.00. What the hell. Want to find a remedy for that?? Take a bag lunch from home to work for the next month or so and stay out of McDonald's for a while. If you do that, you may finally recoup the $450.00 that you have overspent on buying this system. But hey, you will get to enjoy yourself and lose yourself into some beautiful sounding music when you get home from work in the evening. It is what I call the "American Dream". And isn't that what life is all about?? So, to hell with constraints. Go on the edge. Live a little. You only live once. Be good to yourself. You deserve to every once in a while).
P.S.: Now that was fun, wasn't it??
In the passage where I was describing the "state of the art" in high-end gear about a decade ago and so forth?? Well, in one sentence, it was said that "high-end" gear did not exist a decade ago. That is incorrect. High-end gear has actually existed for almost three decades now. Just not to the extent back then like it is today. What I meant to say was that "high-end HOME THEATER gear" either did not exist a decade ago. Or if IT did, then THAT type of gear has just scratched the surface. I'm sorry for the misprint, and I do apologize.