Ladies and Gentlemen:
BOTTOM LINE UP FRONT: What the best "bang for my buck" 2-channel amp and speakers can I get new?
BACKGROUND: I mostly listen to music from the late 1990s through the 2000s. This includes Electronic Dance Music, alternative rock, pop, and some rap/hip hop. I also listen to more modern alternative rock and some 1980s rock.
My preferred format is vinyl records. I have an Ortofon Bronze cartridge, and I just ordered Lounge Audio's dual-mono silver pure analog phonograph preamp. (At $500, I heard it was a lot of bang for the buck.)
Eventually, I'd like to order a separate unit that allows me to plug in a USB drive and listen to .flac files. I've also heard good things about digital streaming services, so I'll probably get one of these in the future. Again, I'd like these units to be separate from the amp I'm buying.
I have a Sansui QRX-7001 paired with SP-7500X speakers. Eventually, I'll send this in to QRX Restore for a full restoration. In the interim, I picked up a few amps/receivers at thrift stores. But, they all have problems. I purchased a Technics SA-GX500. I cleaned it up and rocked it for a few weeks until it died. Then today, I spent hours cleaning up a Kenwood KA-127, only to find a leaking capacitor as I was putting it back together. Unfortunately, I have no soldering skills.
- NEW: I'm tired of cleaning used equipment, and I'm tired of it failing on me, so I'd like to buy something new.
- Compatibility: It would be nice to swap speakers back and forth between the new system and the Sansui QRX-7001. But, it isn't critical.
- EQUALIZER: I'd like the amp to have the capability of hooking up an external equalizer or for it to have an excellent built-in eq. I like the old-school sliding adjustments. I don't want to navigate through LCD menus to make adjustments.
- Technology: I'm NOT looking for a unit with a built in DAC, bluetooth, wireless, etc.
- Bass: Hearing the full range of frequencies is a necessity for me. I'd prefer the amp and speakers be able to provide this without the addition of a sub. Just give me adequate power and big woofers.
- Performance at lower volumes: I heard 100 watt-per channel systems underperform unless you crank the volume all the way up. I'm not going to listen to this system at very high volumes, so I need the system to perform (including giving me bass) at low volumes.
- Outputs: A line out output is preferred. I'd like to be able to use this to hook up something like an external sub in the event I need to.
- Inputs: Lots of RCA inputs are preferred. A built in phono-preamp is not needed, since I'm using an external unit. I'd prefer the unit did not have digital inputs.
- A tuner to listen to the radio is not required.
- Cost: I'm looking for the most bang for my buck. I don't have a budget yet. (That's why I'm posting here.) Past what price point will I experience diminishing returns? Again, I like Lounge Audio's preamp and Ortofon's Bronze phonograph cartridge because of the bang for my buck.
What do you recommend? I like home-built products. That's one of the things that attracted me to Lounge Audio. Their preamps are made by a husband-and-wife-team who do their own R&D and hand-build the products. But, I'm not opposed to buying from name-brand companies either.
Your thoughts are appreciated!