I swear I only clicked it once, honestly.
19 responses Add your response
$1,200 Huh!?! Okay, here goes, remember this is "USED/WEB" prices and should be easy to find:
Speakers: NHT Superzero's ($150)
Cinder Block Speaker Stands: Two pairs, one on top the other, both sides (.13 cents ea)
Used Tablecloth or pillowcase to cover stands: should already have or Goodwill (.50 cents ea)
Sub w/ amp: NHT SW2P ($275)
Integrated Amp/preamp with AM/FM tuner: Nakamichi RE1 or TA-4A Stasis ($250 either one)
CD Player: Nakamichi CDC-4A 6-disk magazine player (can use in most auto's) or Pioneer 414 DVD Player ($250)
RCA Interconnect: Kimber Kable PBJ 3-meter ($60 and you'll have one left over to divide so you can use on CD player)
Speaker Cable: Kimber Kable 8-TC 2-meter ($115)
Black Diamond Racing Cones #3: Three used under CD Player and three under the integrated amp ($12 ea)
My reccomendation, if you don't go this route is to put the highest precentage on your speakers (e.g. NHT 1.5A with SW2P sub or Gallo Micro Nucleous satelite/sub combo), next the integrated amp (why integrated . . . . save $$$ on interconnects and you'll also have a decent am/fm tuner), then speaker cables and interconnects and lastly you could probably save money/space by adding a portable CD player and portable tape player.
Ken in San Diego
For a $1200 budget get an integrated amp, not separates. Cambridge Audio A3i (or A500) Integrated Amp, Cambridge Audio D500 CD Player, B&W DM602 Speakers. Actually this could be done for under $1000, plus you need to spend $200 to $300 or so for cables interconnets and speaker stands. Close out MIT Terminator 2 cables and interconnets at AudioAdvisor.com will do the trick. Actually Audio Advisor has some demo Cambridge equipment and good new prices, as well as stands, etc. If you need a tuner an used Onkyo Integra Tuner can be had for $50 on eBay all the time. I also know a local pawn shop that has an Integra Tuner for $30. The NAD integrated amps would also do nicely here.
There is a Musical Fidelity X-A1 integrated amp up for sale at $325 that is very hard to beat for the price (I own one) and recently had a Pass owner over who was very impressed with its sound (very similar to the Aleph 3 when the volume is kept below 10:00 on the dial). It should run most reasonably efficient speakers under normal circumstances. You would probably hang on to this amp (even when upgrade fever strikes). I replaced mine with a tube amp, but still use it in another system. It does not have a phono stage though and can just be used (as is) with CD and tape sources.
From what I've heard, the Cambridge D500 CD player is really worth checking out. As another option, I'd recommend a Stan Warren modded Pioneer DV333 ($450 total) or a used Pioneer DV05 ($350-$450)...that way you can also watch movies or play 24/96 DADs.
I'm sure the B&W speakers are very good. I'd also recommend the Mission 731i ($200 - $250). The British mags really liked the KEF Crestas (about the same price).
I'm not familar with any integrateds in that price range, but many people like the Jolida and Jadis tube gear. I'm sure you could find something very nice for $500 - $600 used.
I would not go used ... I would also go for flexibility and potential future use and go for AV compatible equipment ...
For speakers, try Acoustic Research 302. Original MSRP is $1000; internet price is $250 (www.accessories4less.com); Go with a quality AV receiver like the Denon 2801, which you can get for $550 or so (www.jandr.com); and I would go for a combination DVD/CD player like the SONY 306D for $200. This would put you at $1000 ... enough left over for cables.
If you look hard enough you can find Acoustat speakers for $400. They're too big to ship and lots of people dont have space for them. IMHO there is no deal around that even comes close. Then maybe find a used rega 'mira' integrated (950 new so maybe goes for 600 used? ive never heard it but got a good review in stereophile 4/01, recommended and class B) Connect a portable cd and shazam! you aint got shit. but you didnt go over budget. j/k, i think this system would rock for the bucks. and what's nice about it is you'll keep the speakers forever and when you get a bit more cash find a used rega planet cd player ($800 new so $500 used?) and it'll match the mira. plus it'll all look like it costs thousands)
Thanks for the great suggestions. I am framiliar with some suggestions and look forward to checking out the others. I really appreciate the responses. I am going to take my time with this so continued suggestions will be taken under consideration.
The only multi-channel suggestions intrigues me. Should one consider DVD-A or SACD input options?
If you are interested in the Cambridge CD Players the best deal on-line is at Northampton Audio / Spearit Sound (just add .com to either name, no spaces). Free shipping. The D300SE is $289 and the D500SE is $389. These are new. I highly recommend spending the extra $100 for the D500SE. I also can recommend the dealer. I have bought from them off and on for 25 years.
Maxcast: This will not get you good sound right away, but if you have "any" kind of CD player (even a Walkman) that you can use in the meantime, you might want to hold out for one of the upcoming low cost CD/SACD/DVD players that may be on the market in the next 3-6 months. Even if you do not get into multi channel sound you should still be able to take advantage of the DVD feature (if you have a compatible TV), plus have the option of playing SACD's. Will the new models sound any good? I don't know, but you will kick yourself if they do sound good and end up costing the same as the CD players that you are looking at now. You can still build the rest of the system in the meantime and if the new combo players suck, then pick up one of the suggestions above or something else that you like. I am just suggesting this because you seem to be on such a tight budget. I also am holding off on upgrading my player/transport to see what becomes available, as I am interested in adding SACD to my system (DVD does not interest me). I figure that once the low cost players hit the market the software will become readily available (unless the companies are intending on commiting marketing suicide, which I doubt that they are).
I like Sugarbie's B&W 602 suggestion. I used to own the 603s and thought they were great. If you were to buy B&W 300 or 600 series i would advise that you spend more on the integrated amp and just get a cheap cdp. They like a decent amount of clean power, but are a bit numb to the quality of the cdp. I would recommend used Classe CAP-80 ($600-700), a pair of B&Ws, old an old Rotel cdp with radio shack interconnect and thick generic speaker cable. Although NAD is good for the money (I still own mine with a pair of B&W 302s:), for a little more the Classe is far superior. In any case i would skip expensive cables for now. Experimenting with my B&W/NAD system, I have swapped my cardas speaker cable with my generic cable and my kimber interconnect with the pair that came with my cdp and found no difference in the sound. I did however notice a huge difference between thin generic cable and thick cable with the 603s. Good luck
Here's the system I just put together for my girlfriend: Marantz CD63se- used $150, Bryston B2 power amp 60W- used $250 ( 20 yrs old but hey it's a Bryston ) PSB "image" series 2B speakers- new but slight scratch on the cherry veneer $250, used DH Labs T-14 speaker cables & BL2 interconnects- $100, a TOTAL of $750, The CD player has a remote with volume, so no immediate need for a pre. Great sound, and wow, I can see/hear that I'm quite a ways up the ol' diminishing returns curve with MY pricey gear...
A friend recently paired a Jolida 202A ($450 - used) with Triangle Titus speakers ($400 - new). Although he has yet to settle in on a CD player, the amp-speaker combo seems to be really good with everything we've plugged into it (Sony XA20ES, Ah Njoe Tjoeb, NAD 540). Anyway, the $350 left over should be enough for a decent CD player and used cables (used cables tend to be heavily discounted).