How do I choose a decent system?

I am a novice audiophile who would like to set up my first (and last) decent system for about $2,000. That would include a receiver, CD-changer, speakers and maybe a phonograph (I'm a little old school). An MP3 player wouldn't be out of the question either. The room I have is about 40'x20' without much in the way of sound absorbtion material (hardwood floors, high ceiling, spread out furniture, etc.) Oh, and the system shouldn't be too conspicuous. I've looked at(but haven't heard) the Nakamichi compact systems, as well as B&O stuff. Any advice would be appreciated.
Best of luck. It is fun. Just read these forums for a few weeks (or more)and learn.

I'd avoid a receiver, unless you must do HT.

I agree with avoiding the receiver if possible. Get a nice integrated amplifier and a tuner if you want FM.

On a $2000 budget for a whole system consider ----

Cambridge Audio, NAD, or Rotel amplifiers (with phono stage);
B&W, NHT, or Paradigm speakers ----;
Music Hall MMF-2.1 turntable with cartridge; ----;
Cambridge Audio CD player ----;
Kimber, Nordost, Audioquest or MIT cables ----;
Used Onkyo Integra or NAD tuner.

Or since appearance is an issue, look at a truly nice all-in-one component system like the Linn Classik (plus speakers, etc, etc, above); and forget about the B&O where you are paying for looks only.

You can also look at some low end, or aging separates. A used threshold Pre amp with phono can be had for say $350 and while old they are built to last forever. Adcom sold a well regarded pre amp GFP 555 that was well regarded and should be had for the same price. Amps from people like Adcom can be had for similar amounts.

Speakers are always a challenge but good name brands can all be had at good prices - KEF, B&W, Vandersteen and others. You'll need to decide on aesthetic as well as full range issues.

I just bought a used Sony SACD 333ES CD changer for $350 and I think it is excellent. Turntables are probaly best had as a turnkey system at your price point, but a used Rega Planar 3 should be within reach. You will stretch your budget by going separates, but I think it is an option. I've heard good things about some of the other integrated amps that were mentioned too.

Most of all, have fun with it.

For $2000, I might consider:

California Audio Labs Tercet or Icon CD player ($300-$400 used)
Arcam FMJ A22 integrated amp ($1300 used)
PSB Image 4T ($350 used)

This should provide a decent starting point and stay within budget. Good luck!
The best thing you can do is go to two different audio-shops and have each of them assemble two systems within your price range. Then the most important thing starts: listening!!! Bring your own music, and listen, listen, listen untill you know which kind of sound suits you best. You can swap components from the different outlays, but not to much, since this wil only add to your confusion. Once you've made your choice, negotiate some kind of money-back guarantee if the ssytem sounds worse at your place then in the shop. If all's well, start saving for a lot of new music..... Good Luck!
You've got an 800-square-foot room and you're worried about the system being too conspicuous???

Seriously, it's hard to give specific advice for a very unspecific problem (maybe a turntable; maybe an MP3 player?), but the general advice I'd give is to budget about a third of your $2000 for speakers (PSB, Paradigm, and B&W all have good reputations in this price range, but they're hardly the only ones) and another quarter for an integrated amp (NAD, Rotel, Yamaha). That leaves a good chunk of change for sources--tuner, CD, phono (plus phono stage), etc.

And listen, listen, listen.
Westlake Lc4.75 Pro monitors
Bryston B60 with MM phono stage
MMF turntable/arm/cartridge package
NAD C541i CD player
MD FT-11 tuner
Rat Shack cables
I would look into Sherwood Newcastle products for your rec.
and cd player. has a R-725 for $279. The
CDC-680T CD Player would most likely work with the receiver's remote.(Check w/dealer as the CD is current model
and the receiver is not.) As far as interconnects, I'm using
Van Den Hul D-102 and I recommend highly.(Around $115 .8m)
Also AQ Quartz is a fine interconnect. A Music Hall would be a fine turntable choice.($200) This would leave you
around $1000+ for spks. and wire. To fill a room that size,
PSB Bronze spks w/Kimber Kable 4VS wire. You need to listen
to as many products, and hopefully, be allowed to audition
in your home with a return policy if things don't suit your
tastes. Do look into Sherwood Newcastle because for the $$, IMO, they are well worth the price. Good Luck, Bill.
Check a Jolida hybrid integrated for amp/preamp ($600)or a creek integrated 4330, a marantz CD6000 OSE CD player ($500), PSB/B&W/Epos speakers ($1100), definitely biwire with Kimber ($200 used), good interconnects (there are many for $50 ea used), some vibration dampers......... there are many combos, I definitely think that going into the used market may help a lot (but be patient and you will be rewarded).......Good listening