Anyone would be hard pressed to answer this question as the budget in my opinion would not come anywhere close to "audiophile ". That's not to say that the budget could not get something that sounds reasonably good. There are quite a few products on the market that make nice sounding equipment but even there it would be more than the amount stated. That's my 2 cents opinion.
30 responses Add your response
You haven’t given much to work with in terms of goals, sources etc. But: The Outlaw receiver is good. A lot of people rave about the Elac stuff, but I’ve not heard them. Maybe consider vintage too. My posted vintage system, with an old 1970s McIntosh integrated, sounds better (warmer) than the Outlaw. I’ve got Focal bookshelf speakers in that system + 1970s turntable, and it sounds pretty nice and comes in under your budget.
I'd go with a refurbished receiver with XT32 RC as a prepro. I'm using a $750 Marantz SR6013 to great effect for HT and was impressed with the correction quality and jitter reduction. Add a used 2 channel Parasound class A/B and $600-800 for used speakers. Budget cables. That's how I got started, and it sounds way better than new receiver and speakers for $2000.
The PS Audio Sprout100 ELAC System looks like a nice starter system (includes speaker cables). Add a source and a subwoofer to complete the picture.
I disagree that an audiophile system can't be developed at this budget. It is all about the intent, the desire to get the the greatest sonic experience for the investment, which requires a learning curve and research. I would think that for most of us this is an ongoing process. Certainly is for me. A very enjoyable system can be developed with this budget.
I agree that a little more information on the desired sources would be beneficial.
The Outlaw receiver is a common/quality recommendation. However has many features that may not be needed, FM tuner, phonostage, and DAC. Another common/quality recommendation is for the Yamaha A-S5,7,801 series integrated amplifiers which also possess internal phonostage and DAC. Might be best to identify the speaker 1st, thereby having an idea about power requirement. Avoid speakers that are hard to drive. Look for quality over quantity regarding power. There are many speakers that would fit, Elac, Wharfdale, PSB, Dali, and others. For the small room under consideration herein I usually recommend stand mount types however there are small floor standers that would fit into this budget.
Again, what source(s) are to be considered?
Sounds like your friend need a DAC, integrated amplifier, and speakers.
There is a thread under Digital concerning budget DACs. Might check that one out. The DACs in the Outlaw and the Yamaha A-S801 are thought to be good also. RE the Yamaha the DAC in the 801 is may be better that that in the lessor expensive models of that series, I does have different specs. I own the A-S701 and use the DAC with my MACBook Pro with a USB/SPDIF converter as the 701 doesn't have USB input. The 801 does have USB. Both have coax and toslink. I believe the amplifcation in both the 701 and 801 are the same (100wpc). I also own a NAD C356BEE (80wpc) integrated which lacks DAC and phonostage. It has a warmer sound than the Yamaha, as does the C326BEE (50wpc) which I once owned. The aforementioned amplifiers were used in my secondary system which had a retail price around $2000. All bought used though nearly new. I am currently driving a pair of B&W CM5s ($1500 when new) with the 701 and am pleased with that combination. This secondary system is a revolving door.
Would your friend consider used components?
I have done this more than once using preowned components. Specifically
1) Audio Refinement electronics - integrated amplifier and CDP with/without tuner
2) Speakers: Spica TC50 with proper stands or Celestion SL700
The SL700 that should not be used with a sub. Both are pretty forgiving as to placement.
The key is to be patient.
I was thinking Outlaw receiver and Elac speakers Thoughts?
My thoughts are that's not the way to go about it. Oh yeah a receiver seems like the answer. But you just shot your friend in the foot. No such thing as a receiver that sounds good. Does not exist. Pure crap.
Regardless of budget its all the same. First you need to ask your friend about his expectations. His REALISTIC expectations. Impress upon him the REALITY that he can have quality OR quantity but not both. If he wants 7.1 surround with video and a player and turntable and tuner he can have all that. It will suck. He won't want to listen to it. But he can have it. No problem.
If he wants music though then he needs to be realistic and keep it simple. Either analog or digital but not both.
My opinion, if he balks and you are a true friend you will walk. Let him know you are ready to help when he's ready for high end audio. Which does not mean expensive. It just means the priority is music not gear.
Then if he wants music you explain everything matters and no one single part is any more important than any of the others. So you break it down. What he absolutely needs:
Source, amp, speakers, interconnect, speaker cables, power cords, cones. Absolute minimum. At this low budget level we can lump interconnect, speaker cables, power cords and cones into one category. Call it Source, Amp, Speakers, Accessories. Four items. $500 each.
You can get a pretty decent integrated for $500. Ditto speakers. Never worth spending more than that on CD anyway. Could probably just stream and skip it altogether. BDR Cones, $120 for 2 sets of 3 for the speakers, leaves $380 for wire. Should be able to find decent Synergistic Research used, roughly $120 or so each no problem.
And there you go.
Just remember, you leave out the wire, the cones, and the integrated, you might as well just turn him loose at Best Buy.
gsm18439 I like where you are going.
Those pieces speak music, not bump and grind. I did own the Audio Refinement CD player and had lots of issues. Otherwise, the line is so solid, and cheap now.
Spica speakers, I redid the crossover and wiring to great effect. I love the old British Celestion. I owned UL-6, far below the SL 700.
I have never had any issues with either my or my friend's CDP. I did have to repair my integrated amplifier, and I did have to replace my friend's tuner. While that may seem a lot, it represents a 20+ year experience; and replacements are cheap. I got my friend two Spica TC50s (one for her living room and one for her office), and I have used SL700s in my bedroom also for 20+ years. The beauty of these items is that they continue to satisfy. I never think about upgrading. As you mention, they are all about the music.
I tend to buy new.
In a 9 x 14 room, I would go for the best speakers that I could, like the Wharfedale Lintons @ $1200 ($1500 with stands).
For the amplifier and the $500 left to spend, I would get something like the Denon DRA 800 receiver, which would give him all the connectivity that he would need
I would look at Omega loudspeakers. Nice quality and easy to drive. You could go with a floorstander like the Omega Super 3 XRS ($1095) or go up a little in their line to the Compact Alnico Monitor ($1495). Either one can be paired with the Vista Audio Spark Integrated amp ($349).. great results have been reported when pairing with this amp.
Omegas would work as well. I have owned a few over the years. The Super 7 mkII are very sweet @ $1000 The Super 7 are also the least amplifier fussy of the line and do well with both tubes and solid state. Also, the least fussy with placement.
I would still go with an amp that allows both analog and digital connections.
I am old school and use a Rega Brio with Omega CAMs, but also used the Rega with the Super 7s.
Marantz pm5005 integrated $499
Pro-ject x1 $699 (comes w/ sumiko mm)
Wharfedale diamond 220’s $349
Marantz cd5005 $399
Musical fidelity v90 dac $299
This outta do it!
Slightly over budget at $2245, but those are all retail prices and you can grab any of the above at great prices, especially through Amazon. In fact everything above is available on Amazon, how is that for easy!
The diamond 220’s do midrange and bass far above its price point (whathifi 5 stars) The marantz are very musical components with that classic warmish sound signature. The pro-ject was reviewed by fremmer (and he was impressed), and the v90 dac is border line class a component in stereophile. Not certain how you could go wrong or do any better than above.
Just a note, and to shave off a bit of dough, if you can score an old play station 1, I’ve read an article and review that indicated that the playstation is a killer cd player.....
Based on current Audiogon listings:
Marantz CD5004 @ $200 or Marantz DV 8400 @ $300
Rogue Audio Sphinx V2 @ $998.77 (integrated amp)
Monitor Audio Gold 50 speakers @ $600
or Monitor Audio Gold GR 10 speakers @ $700
If you go with the lower priced CD & speaker options, then there'd be $200 left for an entry level Schiit Audio DAC; or, plenty of choices for a used DAC among the Audiogon listings.
What is the size of the room that the music will be played in? That would make a difference as far as speakers go. What is the best thing he has ever heard? An audiophile is someone who does like quality sound, so much so that he (or rarely she) will make music the foreground for much of the time, if not all. They don’t put AC/DC on then mow the lawn. They don’t play Mozart and do the dishes. They don’t read a book while listening to easy listening 70’s. This is because we need the quality. Still, there is such a thing as experience. Don’t get too caught up in "he won’t like it", because we cannot know this until we have a point of reference for comparison.
All Audiophiles have a beginning. Mine was listening to a box that looked like it was for holding small toys, but it opened and played records. I sat there and played the same two 45 rpms for as long as my parents could take it. Find out what he has heard, then see if you can improve on that within your budget. Don’t be afraid to go to the used market for a component or two.