Help a newbie with low-cost system suggestions


I'm looking to get into the separate world at a low budget. Have done some research and am thinking about a used B&K ST-140. Pre-amp to be determined--do you have a suggestion? Currently I use an old Dyna SCA-35 integrated tube amp, and though I really like the tube sound I think it is a little underpowerd for my BIG (don't have the model number in front of me) set of 70's-era JBL's. Phono stage is important to me (have Planar 3 with high-output MC cart.) So, I'm looking for a low-cost new, or not inordinately difficult to find used pre-amp of good quality. Remote would be a nice plus!

Also, a friend of mine may be selling his Vandersteen 2C's, and I have my eye on them. Is the ST-140 a good match? Have I missed out on some other good idea? Or do I need yet more power?

Does this sound like a good plan? Anything else I should consider? Thanks for your help.
Your SCA-35 is already pretty good-sounding, especially the midrange. Most low-cost preamps, especially solid-state, would be a downgrade. Choose carefully! I suggest looking for a Klyne SK-5A.
I think Tobias may be right. You might be better off replacing the speakers first and THEN see how the integrated sounds. There's no point trying to match your 30 year old JBLs unless you really love them and don't plan on replacing them.
Im in the same boat. Ill let you know how the B&K sounds when I get a new preamp. Right now its not up to snuff.
Unless you like a front- row type of sound, you will like the Vandys, altho I expect they have a pretty different sound than the JBLs. Try before you buy if you can. But the Vandys are a classic, and will sound good with almost any gear (but need more muscle than the SCA-35.
I picked up a pair of Vandy 2C's last weekend and I couldn't be happier. They are a far more musical speaker than Paradigm Monitor 90Ps they replaced. The rest of the gear is an MMF-5 TT, Carver SD/A-360 CDP, Yamaha RX-V596 (as a pre) and a Sherbourn 5/1500A.
I suggest that you decide on your speakers first then decide upon the appropriate power and work back from there, choosing cables last. For what ever it's worth Richard Vandersteen told me many years ago that he thought the B&K ST140 was the cheapest amp he could recommend with the 2C's. He later told me that he thought that the Rotel amps worked even better at the same price point. Both those recommendations were a long time ago.
If you're going to be replacing your JBL's, then I think Unsound's suggestion is a sound one. Then, given a low budget and golden ears, an integrated amp to replace your Dyna would make a good deal of sense, rather than going for low-cost separates. As I mentioned above, a good low-cost preamp is very hard to find (although the Klyne SK-5A at $695 here is a candidate). Your Dyna could be sold here.

As for integrated amps, Bryston, SimAudio and Vecteur are the solid-state ones I would want to hear initially. (I'm betting your SCA-35 has spoiled you for low-cost transistor amps.) Tube integrated amps might include Passion and Cayin.
Wow. What a lot of great info. I guess I'll try to buy the speaks first--my only thought was that if I do that it'll be a while before I can pony up the money for an amp. As mentioned, the Dyna won't do them justice--but maybe I'm wrong about that (?)

Another option I did consider is an integrated tube, or hybrid tube/SS to power the 2c's. May be a while before I can swing that. I'll check the old threads on this question. I have heard good things about the Jolida 1501 integrated which would have enough power I believe. Would this be a good match with the Vandersteens? How would the sound compare to my Dynaco? Thanks so much. Any other input appreciated.
Your SCA-35 can power even Vandy's for a while, as long as you don't play it too loud. Tube amps are kinder to speakers ( and ears ) as they approach their power limits than transistors, by the way, since they clip more gently.

The Jolida integrated is a good amp. I don't know how well it compares to your Dyna. But your Dyna is really not bad-sounding, as I said above, and it makes sense to spend money on something that is sure to be a real step up. I have heard the two tube integrateds I suggest above, and I recommend tham.

But if you've decided on speakers for now, then wait and get used to their sound a bit, before you make a decision on a new amp.
Should you decide to buy the Vandersteen's, you might want to consider the McCormack gear. IMHO, on their own they both represent good values. This is one of those rare cases where the laid back nature of the Vandersteens mated with the some what forward sound of the McCormack amps does actually work synergistcaly. Not my personal choice, but, perhaps the best system value in audio.
Although I have not heard McCormack gear beyond a passing moment at an audio show, I would second Unsound's recommendation on the basis of value.

Putting music aside for a tiny moment, the pleasure of an audio system is in getting great components at bargain prices. McCormack equipment has a good reputation and is neglected in the market. Its price is likely to reflect that neglect. If, on top of that, it has a special synergy with the speakers you are considering, the tip is worth following up.

Klyne preamps are another neglected value, by the way.
Now that Ive gotten my PS Audio 4.5 preamp I can wholeheartedly suggest it. I dont have a TT anymore but the phonostage is supposed to be the best feature along with the passive "straightwire" mode. They can be had for around $200-$300. Check them out, you can always resell them for the same amount and not lose anything. Check my threads for a question about impedance mismatches for a small review with both components. Good Luck!
I would add to the recommendation for McCormack amps w/Vandersteen speakers. The 0.5 represents a real bargin now, if you can swing about $600. I've seen 2c, or cis selling for well under $500. BTW, as a newbie you may not know that the designer of McCormack amps also offers very worthwhile upgrades as SMcAudio, so you've got a built-in path to follow on a budget if you go that route. And DH Labs T-14 speaker cable is another "value" product that works well w/ that set-up.