Best Budget Rig sub $600

Hey out there.

I'm a college student currently running a pair of Sennheiser 600s through a Rega Ear amp. This minimalist setup has served me well throughout my college years. In a few months I'll be moving into my own apartment and I'm ready to invest in my first substantial home audio system.

Here's the deal:

I don't care about surround-sound. I just want 2 channels. All I want is an amp and a set of left/right speakers.

Anyone have any recommendations? It's going to be a relatively small apartment and I am not going to need a ton of volume. (I don't want to disturb my new neighbors)

After cables and such, I don't want to spend more than $600 bucks.

After browsing C-net's electronics reviews for a few hours I've come up with the following setup. Let me know if you think I can do better! Here's the best deals I've found:

Amp: Harmon Kardon HK3480 ($260)
Speakers: JBL E90 ($209)
I helped my cousin match that same receiver with Athena speakers. If you can find some Tannoy MX series speakers, they would be a good pickup. Lots of good value price/performance cables available.
There are a pair of Kef Cresta's for sale on A'gon as well as an NAD C720BEE receiver. Nice combo that comes in under your budget.
Just use cheap interconnects and speaker wire until you have a system that is resolving enough to notice.
The JBl speakers are not that good and you can get much better for the money.

Good luck!
For speakers, pick up a pair of Wharfedale Diamond 9.2 speakers currently for $250 (list $550) at Audio Advisor . Can't do too much better for the price.

For your amplifier, go with a NAD C320BEE integrated amp ($400 list) or alternatively, if you can spare an additional $200, an Outlaw RR2150 receiver directly from Outlaw Audio .

I own all three components and am very pleased with how they perform.

Sensible Sound has just given high marks to Onkyo 503 receiver . J&R Music has it for $225. I owned a prior version (434) and it was a very good amp ... just an average tuner.

Regards, Rich
on that budget you'll be better off buying used. For example - used AMC Solid state power amps are an incredible value at about $100 or so on ebay (AMC 2100 - 100 w/c). Then you can get a separate preamp for $100 or so (Adcom, NAD, Parasound). There are no receivers that will touch this for sound quality.
A Jolida JD 1701 hybrid int. amp is the most musical amp you can buy new for $500 (retail) or around 300-$350 used. I highly recommend this int. amp. Do not be put off by the 50w per ch. rating. Sounds more like 100w. A great int. amp! ( has a few comments on this amp.) I've owned the Jolida all tube 20w model and the hybrid JD 1301 and this JD 1701 sounds by far the best.) Owned quite a few other int. amps as well and this is the one I would recommend above all the others. Spks, the Tannoy MX1-M/Fusion 1 would be an excellent, modern affordable spk. Better still would be some vintage ADS spks. Bill
I think the amp is a good choice but I prefer NHT SB-2s over the JBLs. It should be easy to find the NHTs discounted.
"After cables and such, I don't want to spend more than $600 bucks."

How much are you planning on paying for cables :-)

Seriously though,
Second the NHT SB-3's or Ascend Acoustics CBM-170 ($300)which are a little more clear and analytical.
Better still would be used Epos M5's or M-12's. Stay away from ELS-3.
I had the Harman / Ascends and got really nice "high end" sound but too analytical for me - more of a "home theater" sound. I think NHT would've been better,