Buy the B&Ws first. Match everything to those as you go along...
The room at the store that I listened to the speakers at was smaller than the room that I would be putting them in and they sounded great. I will be buying a new house within the next year or so. I anticipate that the speakers will end up in a larger room. If I were to start with a better CD player what would be a good price point to start at? I see that there are some good brand names for sale here on Audiogon for less than $1,000. Do you have any recommendations as far as brands and models to try?
I have heard that the phono section on the Marantz 2325 is supposed to be very nice. I do not know first hand though. I am really curious about trying some vinyl, but I really would like to focus on digital for the time being rather than start over with no music at all. I am excited to expand my stereo and can't wait to enjoy the music on a whole different level. I am a little overwhelmed with all of the choices and which direction I should go that will offer the most enjoyment now and still allow me to expand/upgrade my system later.
I've been in this hobby for over 25 years now and have owned and have heard many different set ups and have probably read countless more equipment reviews from numerous hi end magazines over the years and sold audio at the retail level many yrs ago as well.
Over the years, I've put together many different systems on the cheap that were sonically very good and the main thing is that it is all about system synergy.
It also gives me great satisfaction to get components that are considered "giantkillers" that cost way less than a lot of other stuff and that holds it own with gear costing 2-4 times more. There are many products out there that are "giantkillers" and great bargains to be had in this hobby and you can also get taken to the cleaners and by expensive stuff that is really not so much better.
So here is what I would do if it were me and I had $5K to play with. I would keep the system that you already have and use that as a secondary system. You are familar with its sound and can use that as a reference point.
I don't know much about the B&W 803d speakers that you are talking about, but a quick search showed that they cost $8K (unless I made a mistake in searching) so realistically, I believe that they are out of the budget.
But more importantly, what amp was driving the 803d's that make you like them so much? What other components were used in this audition? And how loud do you listen? Listening levels, your room size, and the speakers you get will determine how much power you really need.
You have Klipsch's and you like rock, jazz, blues, and big band. Have you ever considered a tube amp? Hearing larger more efficient Klipsch's on a low powered single ended triode amp is a life changing experience. Wear some diapers, you may need it...You will be blown away by it...but tubes are not for everyone, some people don't like the idea of having to change them, but to me there is nothing that comes close...
The Tim Rawson gainclone amps are also incredible sounding "giantkiller" amps that can be had very inexpensively. They will also take your breath away. Couple the gainclone with a tube preamp and sonically its killer...
Rega makes great cd players (as well at TT's) and you can find a used Planet in the $3-400 price range and up for more modern versions. The Naim cd3.5 is an outstanding cd player as well and can be had in the $7-800 range or less. I never owned an outboard DAC so I can't comment on what Klipschfan said, but that sounds like an interesting concept as well if you want to get into ipod and computer based music.
As for me, I know that I prefer the sound of tubes to anything else. A solid state amp, or gainclone with a tube preamp is also a great way to go...
So if it were me and to narrow it down, I'd spend maybe $1000-1500 on a gainclone and tube preamp or tube integrated amp including interconnects/spkr wire, another $1K on a cd player, $500-750 on a TT, and $1500-2K on speakers...but realistically, I could be very happy with much less...
Specifically, I'd go with a Naim cd3.5 w/flatcap pwr supply, nice analog tuner, Nakamichi cassette, low powered SET amp w/hi efficiency speakers or gainclone/SS amp/tube preamp combo and monitor speakers.
Many people believe to start with the spkrs and build around that but the maker of Linn TT's believed to get the best source components possible (cd, tt, tuner, etc) because if you have great speakers, great amps and junky sources, the junk only gets amplified downstream. This makes more sense to me...
So let us kmow a little more about your listening habits and at what volumes you listen at. We can then go from there. A little thought about these concepts makes the infinite component choices much easier to make. Good luck,
Given your source preferences, one unit that impresses me sonically as well as from a flexibility standpoint is the Naim Uniti. It's an all-in-one player that performs the functions of an integrated amplifier, CD player, DAB/FM tuner, internet radio, iPod dock, digital-to-analogue converter, music file player and network stream player. If you can audition it, you may find that it seriously upgrades your source and amplification quality all at once as well as providing a comprehensive audio hub, and does it all in one tidy box that sells for less than $4000.
Of course, if you're set on the 803d speakers, then you'd want to hear the combination first. The power output from the Naim is on the lower end of B&W's recommended range, but reviewers of the Naim have commented favorably on its ability to drive even notoriously difficult speakers, such as Quad ESL's (which, at least on paper, should be a more difficult task than the 803d's due to their lower efficiency and more wildly fluctuating impedance curve).
Great posts! I am not 100% set on the B&W's I just know that I really liked the way they sounded. In the store they were powered by a Classe amplifier run by a Classe preamp and sourced by a Classe CD player. Systems like the Naim unity do have limited appeal to me due to the fact that over time I would like to upgrade and change pieces out to try to achieve different better sounds. I would like to audition some Naim CD players, but I am having trouble finding somebody who carries that brand. Lou_setriodes do you have any suggestions for used speakers in the 1,500-2,000 range? I seriously have not really considered much other than the B&W's. When I threw out the $5,000 number for the speakers that was a rough number for used speakers. There was a set at my local shop that was a demo for $5,600. I thought if I looked hard enough I could maybe find them cheaper.
There are so many spkr mngrs out there that you can make yourself crazy with it, but in particular I like British speakers a lot. For the most part, they are usually always very warm and pleasing sounding that disappear and don't draw attention to themselves.
In the $1500-2000 range, I really like the ProAc Response 2's which retailed for $3K back in the early 90's and also the single driver Omega hemp speakers which are a current design. Also, Omegas give you the opportunity to experiment with low powered SET amps which I find very captivating.
Spendors, Harbeth, JMR's and Reference 3A's are also supposed to be incredible speakers in your price range as well, just haven't had the chance to audition them yet.
over time I would like to upgrade and change pieces out to try to achieve different better soundsAnother way to approach system building is to listen to different systems put together by a dealer, or dealers, with whom you can discuss your sonic preferences. Lou made a good point about the importance of system synergy, the components in a system need to work together to achieve some pre-determined end, so figuring out your personal sonic priorities is an important first step.
How important are soundstaging and image localization? What weight do you put on the texture, timbre, and body of instruments? What about pitch integrity, rhythm, dynamics? No product, or system, does all things well. Some years, back, Martin Colloms of Stereophile wrote, "It's ironic that you can have an extended bandwidth, or high sound levels, or great stereo imaging, or very low coloration, or powerful, low-distortion bass, or several worthy combinations of these, yet rarely can you obtain these with a coherent, focused combination of natural dynamics, pace, and rhythm."
A good dealer can help sort out one's priorities and assemble a system that will satisfy. One customer might be thrilled with a system made up of a VPI turntable, VTL amplification, and Vandersteen speakers. Another might prefer a Linn turntable, Exposure amplification, and Spendor speakers. Both good systems, but perhaps neither customer would appreciate what the other had put together. And it's all too easy to throw together some excellent pieces of equipment that simply don't mesh as a system to do anything well.