help me choosing first HiFi

Hello everyone

first time poster here, not a big expert, just music lover. Please I need your help to select a good (understood pretty difficult to use the word “best”) system for my budget. My apology for the long thread.

My source: mainly cd (around 2.000 so ripping is not an option)
Music: classic, chamber, opera, piano solo, jazz + radio and some podcast.
Like detailed, spatial, clear and natural sound, but not cold.
Budget: 2.000 EURO (2.000USD/ 1500 GBP), stretchable at most to 2.500 euro (2.800 usd/ 1.800 gbp)

I have been reading for some weeks now, and few days ago I started to listen as well. Basically I am torn between two main alternatives:

“Alternative 1”- a good integrated entry system, like the Cambridge MINX XI, which is Ampli+DAC+network streamer. Has a good price, good quality. This would give me everything, and leave budget for the speakers, and be the simplest and cleanest solution. I read many reviews and the internal Dac is supposed to be very good.

“Alternative 2” - increase a bit in quality, stretch the budget, get a good ampli-dac+cd, and add a cheap web radio which will be sent to the good Dac into the amplifier. First thinking: Cambridge new CX series: ampli culd be the CX A60 and the cd player the CXC, a player with NO dac inside. I would miss the chance to send some podcast from my pc/mac to the stereo. I would gain flexibility to change some component or add a new one in the future. As far as I have read, the network streamers currently on the market produce good sound but software somehow has still to catch-up, so i might buy this in the future, and now buy just a web radio receiver. Nevertheless, I saw network streamers like Pioneer N30 do not cost too much.

I should try to listen to these two alternatives and assign a price to the difference in quality I am supposed to hear (not sure yet!) But I am still confused about few fundamental issues.
Let's start:
1- “invest more of your budget into the speakers” VS “rubbish in rubbish out, so split equally your budget among the components”. I heard both of them. What follows in the first case is to use a basic cd player/dvd player, send the digital signal to my good Dac and enjoy. In the second case instead I should also invest in a good cd player or blu ray should I use the same for movies as well.
2- pairing ampli with speakers. I am still confused on how to undestad if an ampli and speakers are potentially a good match. I know, I should listen, but in theory I hear “that ampli cannot express the best out of those speakers” or “those speakers are an overkill with that ampli” or “you need a better ampli for that speakers” or instead “with that ampli you should use a better speaker set”. In theory, I understood I should look not at WATT, but at somethink related to electrical power/ampere, but dont know much. So if I choose speakers first, I dont know how to choose the best ampli for that speakers.

As far as the speakers: so far I heard just TOTEM (canadian producer) MITE model. I was blown away, seriously. I couldn't imagine speakers so small would produce that clarity, that definition of space. Cannot think a bigger speaker to sound better. But I'd like to hear something more before. I was set to listen B&W 685 s2, as I had read good things, but perhaps the Mite are a bit superior. Other I'd like to listen: Sonus Faber Venere 2.0, Focal 906 and some Monitor Audio.
To sum all this up, my questions for you experts are the following:
1- what would you suggest for me in terms of alternative1 vs alternative2?
2- should I buy a quality cd player or a basic cheapest blu ray reader ?
3- should I look to buy bigger floorstander spearkers? or with the budget is better to stick to bookshelves? Do you have alternatives to the speakers I mentioned?

Thanks really a lot in advance
Finding a good dealer, assuming there is one within driving distance of you, is a much better way to proceed at assembling a music system, IMO.
if i was starting all over again, with your budget, instead of the mountain of big boxes i've accumulated i'd opt for a relatively compact integrated/dac solution like a peachtree nova--haven't heard your cambridge minx, although it looks good on paper; just about everyone else (marantz, yamaha, nad) also make comparable products in that $500-1000 range. since you'd have a good dac, i'd opt for a modest networking bluray player (you can find a denon or marantz for $300 on accessories4less and their ilk). as for speakers, i'm sure you're on the right track--also check out the kef ls50 (big rave around these parts)or for less dough the whafedale bookshelf is also vg
hello Lorcar. what type of listening space do you have? small office? giant cavernous living room? 11' x 13' dedicated man-cave? that will help determine the type of speakers to recommend.
Lorcar - apologies upfront for answering questions you did not ask, but I was in a similar situation when I got back into the hobby about four years ago, with a similar re-entry budget.

My first recommendation is that you determine what your three year budget is and do not spend more than half of that total. Your odds of nailing this the first time out are practically zero. You will end up tweaking, upgrading and experimenting.

Second, no matter what system you end up with, spend at least 500 hours listening to it and learning how to optimize it for your listening habits before you swap out any gear. I've moved my system at least four times as I've learned how I listen. Turns out I do much more solo listening than I thought I would and as a consequence I carved out dedicated space, which also influenced my ultimate gear selections.

Third, if possible go to audio shows. This is the easiest way to get exposed to all genres of gear and identify what you like and don't like, represented in the current SOA.

Fourth, speaker/amp matching and system synergy is paramount to performance so your technical questions are a good sign. An excellent primer on the technology that drives all stages of audio reproduction is "Audio & Hi-Fi Handbook", edited by Ian Sinclair. I have the 3rd edition which was published in 1998 but is very much current for all but the most modern technology and engineering.

Good luck.

I've been through way too much gear (electrostatics, horns, small box, big box, etc) since 1980. My current room is 8X14, and I have finally assembled a system that plays music. Speakers are Blumenstein Orca Deluxe with a DIY 45 SET tube amp, made by Oliver, an Audiogon member.

This system, with Kimber 4tc, is balanced and musically engaging in a way that has escaped every other system I have tried. I do use a Mac/iTunes/HRT dac with all of my 1,400 CDs on the hard drive. I also built a Lenco turntable with a slate deck.

This system does not slam, but the essence of people making music is amazing. I will pick up the Dungeness for when I want to get more bass impact, but strangely, I'm quite happy with the output of the 3"Foster drivers.

I bought my Blumensteins used on Audiogon a few months ago, so I have no financial investment in the company, but I want to make sure people are aware of a very special speaker. An amp that also sounds wonderful for almost nothing is the EL84 Miniwatt tube amp. You can find these on Ebay for about $240.

I will mention that I had to work at placing the speakers over a matter of a few weeks to get the balanced sound, but you know when it locks in.

Good luck on your quest, and try not to get caught up in the cost equals quality syndrome.
Take a look at Dynaudio Xeo for a somewhat different but very cost effective and good sounding solution.
For 2800 U.S. my focus would be to find items that you can
get a modest deal on.......
The Cambridge CXA60 is 799 in the U.S. and has a wonderful DAC
and I believe it's built much better overall than Peachtree or Marantz...

Cambridge Topaz CD Player 349.00

1149.00 so far
2800.00 budget
1651.00 left

No question, go for the KEF LS50, depending on the size of your's not very efficient......but in a small to medium room,
even 60 watts should have no problem making them sing.....
I agree with BG's suggestions, particularly his Second suggestion.
The way the system sounds the day you drop it in won't necessarily be the way it sounds in weeks or months. It takes time, probably a combination of getting accustomed to the sound, positioning the speakers, and understanding how you listen (at first we often play the music louder as we are judging the sound). I don't know if 500 hours is the number, but it's as good as any number. Bottom line - It takes a while.
First thing I would change would be to buy USED and save a ton of $$$ ... $2000 USED goes much farther than in new gear
A lot of good suggestions. If you have a local dealer that you can work with, that would be best to get the synergy between the components. Even better would be to purchase some used or demo equipment from that dealer. This will be the start of your adventure so purchasing electronics that could be used with a future speaker upgrade would be beneficial.
If you like the Totems, can't go wrong building around that line. A used Bel Canto Integrated would be a nice match. Most Totems like power and current to sound their best so try not to skimp there.