IMHO CDs need a pre-amp as without one, the sound may appear to be "cleaner" (more analytical) but the music lacks the life (rich dynamics) that a good pre-amp can give it. Give a listen to the Vandersteen Model 1 or 2 speakers along with some Rotel electronics and possibly Rega CD. Audioquest makes some competitive cabling that sounds good. Point is, there are many ways to get not just sound, but music.
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jkphoto is right--there are many ways to get not just sound, but music. in terms of "entry level" tube amps--none are more musical than cj's mv55. it was my first tube amp and i listened to quite a few before i bought. i recently left it (after nearly 3 years) in favor of a more powerful cj tube offering. check the reviews at audioreview.com--this amp (stereophile class b) is nearly universally loved as a cost effective, reiable and very musical intro to tube amps. as always, testimonials and stereophile class designations are helpful, but you and your ears should make the final call. good luck.
Just curious...why tubes? If you must have tubes, Jolida makes some nice tube integrated amps 500-700$. Used Linn Mimik 5-600$ or Rotel 990 5-700,(discontinued) speakers Soliloquy 5.0 5-700(with stands used).However, if you want music "for life" and the chance to upgrade on the long run..audition Linn Majik integrated Mimik CD player and Linn Tukan speakers...all should not cost you more than 1.5k used.
Why tubes ??? I can honestly say that I have never heard a valve or tube amp. I have been out of the hi-fi game for some time. When I was last into this 79-80, Yamaha SS seperates with a Nakamichi tape deck a DBX-3BX and an ADC equalizer with a set of infinity reference series speakers were hard to beat.I have put a system almost identical to my old set-up together and it just doesn't sound like it did back then.I had considered Adcom SS seperates with a Cal Audio Icon MKII and some Paradigms.And maybe later a Magnum tuner and a Rega Planar phono.I don't know, it's been 20 yrs and I'm just starting over, looking for a place to start.Thanks for the advice Eldragon, Curt.
I would imagine that the system does in fact sound the way it did 20 years ago, but that two dynamics are at play. First is that memory is selective. Since the sounds was so impressive at the time (and it likely was), the memory is that it was "the best." Second, the definition of "the best" has moved up considerably in the last 20 years. Duplicating the system may be OK from the nostalgic perspective, but today there is much better music to be had from our systems than from the time period you referenced. I am not a dealer and do not want this to be an advertisement. But I have worked with someone (delaer) that I believe would be able to offer guidance to you on this quest. He is in NJ. If interested e-mail me at [email protected] and we can discuss.