Ever Bought an Audio Product that was Stupid Good for the Money?


This is the place to share. Please no shills. 
seanheis1
I don't like vinyl (grew up with it). I have never had a good audio system, and I am 60 yr-old medical school professor. Here is my system:
Wilson WattPuppy 7 speakers;
McIntosh 275 amp;
New version of the McIntosh C22 preamp;
MCT450 CD player; 
D150 preamp that can accomadate any file format (downloads, SACD, upsamples redbook, etc).

I had listened to the PS Audio Directstream combination of player and DAC, the Dytek Manhattan II DAC (MQA) and the Marantz SA-10, but the all-McIntosh system with the Wilson speakers just blew my mind. But I am of the 60's generation-still the sound is unbelievable - even my best friend who has 2 warehouses of vintage audio hardware could not believe the sound. FWIW - Gerry
Fidelity Research FR-64s
A little voice is telling me Wilson Watt Puppy 7s don't really fit into the category of Stupid Good for the Money.

Fully restored Gale GS401A speakers. To me they not only sound incredible they also look incredible. Not bad for only $1,500 including shipping from David Smith at Vintage Gale in the UK.
Highly flawed and highly dated, but the original stacked Advents.
Audio Research VT-80, rare combination of pure musical bliss and pleasing aesthetics.  
Dr. Jerry you and I have much in common, but not the gear.  The Stupid good for the money is my favorite pre the AE-3 by AES a sub brand of Cary .  Cost me $350 used.  I have tubes (each) that cost close to that I put in it.
My Mapletree Audio 2A/SE preamp (6SN7/12SN7, tube rectified, custom gains per input). Upgraded version (Blackgate caps), new, was less than $1k. Have had it for years and have no intention of swapping it out. Terrific value (and sound). The stupidest goodest gear for the money in my setup by far.
For me, Klipsch Epic CF-4 speakers. $1000.00 used.
The Dragonfly Black USB DAC that I paid something like $98.00 for is amazing. That's value.
"I don't like vinyl (grew up with it). I have never had a good audio system, and I am 60 yr-old medical school professor. "

So Gerry, what component of your listed system is stupid good? You really didn't answer the question. Not that it is important but why is it important to tell us your profession?

To me in my audio life it is a very simple question to answer but it dates back to the  mid 80's, The  Vandersteen 2C speakers for sure. Relative to everything I listened to and compared to at the time, many at multiple times the price, it was and may still likely be among the most "stupid good for the money" products I've ever experienced in this hobby. Timeless value.
Oppo UDP-203 Blu Ray player.
I read the reviews and was wondering - how good could it be? Well - it is. Beautiful sound on CDs and SACDs, not as harsh as my previous middle of the road SONY player. Fast operation and load times on Blu Rays and DVDs. Solid build quality and beautiful very basic design.
A true audiophile performer for $550.

Don't make fun of me but the best audio money I have ever spent was for a store return JVC RX-302 I bought 27 years ago for $40 that I have used to power my garage audio system, I use compressed air to blow the dust off every year and it keeps on ticking. I scratch build RC model aircraft and spend a lot of time in the garage. This thing should have died decades ago!
LFD LE V+ integrated amplifier.  About $4K, better than almost anything I've ever heard, regardless of price.  The original B&W Nautilus 805's, which can be had for about $1000 - $1500 now also qualify, if you can find a decent pair.  I auditioned the new Diamond 805's and didn't like them nearly as much as my originals. 

I also love the AR Ref 75 amplifier (in both amp only and integrated amp forms) but I think these don't qualify as "stupid good for the money".  They're expensive for a reason.  The PS Audio DirectStream DAC is amazing but also isn't cheap.  Maybe the Junior version? 
My Snell Type B's. Used at $766.00 I heard a pair of $38,000 Magico's the other day. I preferred my Snells! Joe
Back in the mid-1980's, when I was first learning the audiophile equipment ropes, I needed an amp. So many choices, most of them crazy expensive; others seemed to push unrealistically high output power ratings for cheap money (that didn't appeal either). One of the big audio magazines gave an extremely favorable review to the new Adcom amp--handsome black thing, heavy, 200 wpc. I bought it (think list price was $500 or $600...not cheap money then).

Well, it was pretty good. Surprisingly good, in fact. 1-2 yrs later, after upgrading my preamp and main power amps to all-tube designs (used), I took a chance and had the Adcom modded by a company then earning great reviews for doing that w/various mfrs' gear (forget the name). Think the mod was ~$200.

Got the Adcom back, put it in the system, and damned if the bass (already pretty good) had become astoundingly good! That was perfect for me, because what I used this amp for after that was driving the subs built into my big Vandersteen 4 speakers.

That Adcom was my first "high end" purchase, and it worked out from day-1 to the day I sold it to a friend (and regretted it later!).

Just bought one of the last refurb/closeout pairs of Gallo CL3's. Un-freaking-believable for the $650 shipped I paid. Holographic imaging, wide dispersion tweeters, super detailed yet musical and bass down to 30hz. Crazy deal.
A Sony XA5400ES CD/SACD player I bought as a close out direct from Sony with a 2 year extended warranty for $400.  Was $1600 new and a raved Stereophile component.
Epos Epic 2 speakers
Yamamoto a08s power amp.

Line magnetic 518 integrated amp

line magnetic 515 CD player/dac.
Pair of Belle Klipsh in walnut for $500 and change
at an auction house!  Early 2000's and who wants these behemoths in their house?! In rural Hawaii, no one even knew what they were.
One guy drove from the other side of the island to bid. He got the K-horns for a similar price as I ran out of $ at about $550.  Oh, I also got a pair of fixerup Mcintosh Mc2300's for $75. Never finished them but got one running for a while.
Stupid good..... yeah, these are mine B&W DM2a's which I bought for just 75,- Euro.
They sound incredible.
Important when you choose speakers: you must not get tyered. Checking: use dixyland music. Due to the mix of instruments you can check how prominent these are specific in low volume range. Note: Most speakers will perform quite good on higher volumes.

Have fun!

Ton
Due to the way I build my audio component collection (frugal & patient) most of it is stupid good for the money.

But two components stuck out as Surprisingly Stupid Good.  One was a Denon DVD9000 (~$3000 msrp new - $300 to me used); I couldn't believe the sound improvement over my other reasonably high end Sony on regular CDs.

The second was a Music Hall 9.1 turntable with its' stock Goldring Eroica LX mc cartridge ($1000 to me).  I was utterly blown away by the improvement over my aging Thorens and Technics.

And then there's my speakers which are a variety from the defunct Meadowlark Audio co.  There's loads of better speakers but I don't believe many could be had for what I paid for these that sound more satisfying (to me at least).

Mike
PS Audio Sprout.
Recently bought a VPI Cyclone. Cant believe how much of a difference this thing makes.  Nothing like clean vinyl.

I must share a couple more...
McIntosh MC2105 in very good shape, with the wooden case for $390 including shipping, here on Audiogon. It was open for bids with no reserve and slipped through the cracks.
Pioneer Elite CLD-79 Laserdisc in mint condition with the remote control (original price $1,600) for $40 at a used books/music store.
Infinity Renaisannce 90 speakers. Paid 1500 used. Drove from Pa. To S. Carolina to pick them up. I will never sell them.
Renaissance 90's
Audio Research LS25
Aragon 8008BB
Oracle Delphi MKV/Rega arm/Goldring cartridge
Audio Research CD3

Logitech Squeezebox. $299 ea. Transferred my whole iTunes music library to any system in the house...plus, internet radio....plus digital out. New Sierra 10.12 operating system doesn’t load up though. Help!
Well Tempered Classic $700
Magnepan Tympani 1A  in perfect condition for their age $500

Paradigm Signature S1 v2 for $800. The beryllium tweeter is pretty special and the speaker is so small and unobtrusive it totally satisfies my living room requirements. Flattest frequency response I've ever seen in SoundStage reviews.
Klispch Herresy and a pair of LA Scalas! The Herresy's started me and The LA Scala's stole my heart for the price! With H.H. Scott 222 tube amp, the LA Scalas sound amazing! 
Post removed 
Fulton Nuance floorstanding speakers. New from going out of business sale for $250. I'm not hot doggin ya.  Replaced my Quad 57s. Never looked back.
Emotiva XPA-1L monoblocks, about $850 for the pair. The first 35 watts are pure Class A. Every tweak I throw at the system, and I seem to find one every week, yields better sq. So, I have not yet found the limits of the system. The blocks drive a pair of KEF LS/50s and the sound is so clean, with gobs of detail, bloom, and punchy bass.

I will add that I've been working hard on the system for over a year and have learned that taming room acoustics also yields a lot of bang-for-the-buck. Buy ASC tube traps if you can find them.
The Paisley Research AE500's I found several years ago on CL for $75 was beyond stupid good, it was more like stupid f'in amazing!  Definitely the best speakers I've ever owned.  Bettered the $1400 Omega Grande 8's I had at the time and they retailed back in the late 80's for $900. Really great value if you can find a pair, sonically on par with ProAc Response 2's and Celestion SL600's I believe....

Also, all of the Fleawatt stuff from Derek Sanderson is stupid good for the money too....
sMS-200

Unbelievable for $450
From Jonathan Valin of The Absolute Sound

"I have now listened to the 1.7s for almost four months, and I can say with confidence that they are worthy successors to the 1.6s, the speakers I have long thought (and often called) the best buys in high-end audio. "

This is probably the opinion I most agree with from any reviewer.  The cost of these speakers as a percentage of the total outlay for my gear is laughably small. $2,000/$28,000. Is that a pretty good bang?
Whoops, forgot to mention I'm referring to the Magnepan 1.7.

Yes! For a variety of reasons I ended up getting Class D amplifier kits for a ridiculous price. Around $250 per 250W/Ch amplifier.

Fantastic sounding even at full price. At the prices I paid they were a complete steal.

Best,


E
Yes! For a variety of reasons I ended up getting Class D amplifier kits for a ridiculous price. Around $250 per 250W/Ch amplifier. 

Fantastic sounding even at full price. At the prices I paid they were a complete steal.

Best,


E
A buck a watt is stupid cheap. Who manufactures those modules? TI? 
I put a small system together for my bedroom and bought a pair of Q Acoustics Concept 20's. Very happy with them

Rega RB 300
Beautifully cared for and set up Linn LP12 Ittok for $650. 
No, I got super lucky. :) $250 is per kit, including case.

ICEPower 250 ASP modules. Used, but working. :)
My Infinity Renaissance 90's that I purchased in great condition for 800.00
I'm dating myself....
Advent receiver used as a preamp. It had an outstanding phono section, Apt-Holman preamp section and very sensitive tuner. I got it new for $165.00 and it smoked preamps costing 10x more!

I combined it with a beautiful Quad 303 amp $165.00 and found a used pair of Rogers ls3/5a for $350.00 

Still have the Rogers......nice little system for very stupid money now
Oh, and now I have Maggies 1.7 which I paid $900.00 in excellent condition
geoffkait, "Fulton Nuance floorstanding speakers. New from going out of business sale for $250. I’m not hot doggin ya. Replaced my Quad 57s. Never looked back."

The automotive correlation: sold an 87 M3 for an 89 Celica.  Never looked back...
Trelja, Shirley you jest.

to bigfresser-
i purchased new back in the late 70s the advent for 269 and rogers ls3/5a for 495.  what a steal even at new prices. went through many used tube amps along the way, but kept both the advent and the rogers 30 years. regret selling both now.