Put the reviews away, and go out and listen to as much equipment as you can. At some point, you'll figure out what you like. Then buy it. If you buy based on reviews and opinions, you'll probably have better luck in a casino.
It is simple. You will need a source- I would start with old technology a CD player. an Amp, I would choose one with the amplification ability in it and the control over the amplification and a few other tghibgs, this is called an integrated amp. and you need speakers.
So go to a Stereo store with your favorite music -acouple of things,(no home theater if possible) esp. a store that sells used gear . Then Listen to as many speakers as you can using the same same set up. Go home don't buy anything. Come back and narrow it down , and pick one. Then do the same for the integrated amp. Then the source.
That's your starter system.
Or you could buy what a Magazine tells you to buy but I wouldn't do that.Good Luck and Happy Listening
Zd is correct. You need to first identify what sonic character you most prefer. Many different fine systems can be developed on your budget. They would not all sound the same.
If you are looking for more specific input, please provide additional information. What is the room size and placement of the system?
What sources are you considering; turntable, disk player, computer?
Take your time and do your homework and you will end up most happy.
Get a discounted Naim Nait 5i (List $1,895) or Naim UnitiQute 2 (List $2,595), Linn Majik 140 speakers (List: $2,999?) and any iDevice loaded with tunes and be done with it for life!
Forget chasing rainbows / the holy grail and upgrading all the time! You'll go round and round and spend a lot of money for nothing. Focus on the music!!
Mechans pretty much nailed it - find the speakers you prefer 1st. Then get an amp that is suitable for those speakers. Then you need to find sources for your media. $5,000 will allow you to assemble a *very* nice system. Expect to spend about 1/2 your budget on the speakers. Then about 30% ($1500) on the amp and about 20% ($1,000) on source and cabling. Keep in mind that these figures are not set in stone, be flexible, but not ridiculously so.
Do NOT spend a bunch on cabling, maybe $200 - $400. And then feed your system the best source material you can find. If you do all this, you should be quite happy...
As an addendum, here's a suggested system:
1) GoldenEar Triton 2 speakers - $3,000
2) Emotiva XPA-2 amp - $750
3) Oppo BDP-105 Universal player - $1200
4) BlueJeans cabling - about $300
Total: $5250 for a very good system which will play back virtually every digital source and shiny disc out there...
Also, dont shy away from buying well cared for used gear. You could easily save 20-30% of the system cost by doing so. Watch the ads here for suitable gear...
Everyone always seems to say speakers first, I'd rather listen to a $500 pr of used speakers with a $ 2,000 good integrated Hegel or Yamaha amp than vice-versa. Any day.
I vote for finding speakers that you like that suit your room first and then finding suitable amplification (likely an integrated amp).
It would help if you stated what type of system (HT, 2 channel, headphone) you desire and what sources it will need to accommodate.
I would put in a vote for buying speakers first since they will lay the foundation for your system and because you are working within cost restraints (which many are) buy efficient speakers so you don't have to invest in expensive amplification.
Dangit, These are good suggestions from the group. As Zd originally stated, you need to go out and listen to understand what sounds best to you. This is especially true with a somewhat limited budget.
Some like very efficient speakers driven by SET Amps, and others like powerful amps driving more inefficient speakers. Some people want the best natural mid range, sacrificing lower and even at times upper frequency extension. While, others want full range and are willing to sacrifice some mid range. Of course, if you have all the funds you need, you can most likely get it all with either approach. But, that's not the case here. Then there are those who swear by Vinyl, and others who don't want to be bothered by it. And, those who need both. If you choose one media format over another, you can save a lot of money.
When we start off, we may tend to misjudge what's important, because we don't have the exposure we need to identify what we like for the money we've got.
Go out to an Audio Show, and find gear for your budget. Pick the system that puts the biggest smile on your face, and keeps your feet tapping. Don't listen to the salesperson, listen to your ears.
It is simple. You will need a source- I would start with old technology a CD player
one lady back in the days of WA Mozart had a chance to meet him personally and ask question:
Lady: How to achieve the level of maestro as you sire?
WA: First you have to study basics of music, than as you advance, you'll have to enroll into higher musical education such as concervatory and take composition classes, than you have to start establishing yourself as musician and composer to the public.
Lady: But how did you first time make it when you were only 8??
WA: But I did not ask anyone on the first place!:-)
Dangitt, Ill answer this as if the information would be used by a relative, close friend, neighbor, or my brother-in-law. In other words
someone who Id have to see and hear about my recommendations well into the future. That said, Im looking at it like this: knowing what I now know, after a few years in the hobby and listening to a few systems, what would I get with a $5,000 budget?
Odyssey Khartago Stereo Amp $1,000
Doge 8 Tube Preamp, direct from China via Ebay ($1,475 which includes shipping). Seller has over 1,000 positive feedbacks (100%). Despite what others may say, I got a hybrid tube integrated this way years ago. It is still in good service in my bedroom system.
EITHER Ascend Acoustics Sierra Tower OR Fritz Speaker Carbon 7s (approx. $2,000)
depends on if you prefer floor standing (Sierra) or monitor (Fritz), you will not go wrong with either choice, since they both offer 30-day in home audition. I have owned another model of Ascend (given to my daughter for her new home) and have auditioned Fritz at a couple of audio shows.
For your front-end there are a number of choices between $300-$400 used. Check out todays offerings on Audiogon from Rotel 1060 ($299.95) to Oppo Digital BDP-103 ($400), with some good choices in between like Meridian, Marantz and Arcam.
For cabling start with Blue Jeans Cable throughout. I have auditioned and experimented with many brands and have pricier aftermarket stuff installed in my main rig. But at the entry level point, you cannot do much better in price/performance than Blue Jeans Cable.
This, I believe, represents a killer system for the money. Of course if you want to do some due diligence, just search the archives on this forum, or check Google reviews on anything that I have recommended. There is plenty of additional information available. That way, all you have to do is satisfy yourself on these specific recommendations.
One more option, if you don't want phono or plan on adding vinyl at any time ... pair the Odyssey amp with Odyssey Candela Tube preamp ($1,600 base).
I would put in a vote for buying speakers first since they will lay the foundation for your system and because you are working within cost restraints (which many are) buy efficient speakers so you don't have to invest in expensive amplification."
I disagree. You can get yourself into trouble doing it that way. I have a pair of Wilson speakers that are very efficient and if you don't use high quality amplification, they sound like crap. Not only that, with efficient speakers, its very easy to get noise. If you don't match the speakers very carefully with regards to gain and overall build quality, you can get a nasty hiss. For a beginner, I would avoid those types of components.
Everyone always seems to say speakers first, I'd rather listen to a $500 pr of used speakers with a $ 2,000 good integrated Hegel or Yamaha amp than vice-versa. Any day."
You still have to take things on a case by case basis and match your components, but that's a very good strategy. Its a much safer way to go for best results.
Zd542, I should of made myself clearer in my post that a less powered less expensive amp does not have to be lower in sound quality. Let me refer to the line-up of Conrad Johnson amps as an example. You already know that their 100 WPC will cost you less than their 200 WPC amp. Does not mean the 100 WPC amp sounds inferior to their 200 WPC. In fact many would suggest that if you have efficient speakers and can get by with the lower powered amp would actually sound better.
I have owned many amps and I never encountered a hiss problem with efficient speakers.
Does anyone know what type of a system he wants ?
Does anyone know what type of a system he wants ?"
Yes. He wants a good one.
Please describe the room size and any special features that would affect acoustics.
Please describe the room size and any special features that would affect acoustics."
I think we scared the OP away.
There goes another one...