Integrated Amp and Speakers for a teenager?

Hi every one,

After working part-time I was able to put $900 togheter for my first audio system. So, as you can see my budget is very limited. I am lucky enough though to already have a CD, DVD-Audio player and tuner.

But I don't know to what to look for. I know instead how I will use the system: it will be for playing piano (keyboards), and for listening to radio, DVD-Audio and CD's. My favorite music is classical and from time to time jazz (experimental).

I am leaving in a small apartment in a building so I am not interested in loud sound. Even by contrary - I do enjoy listening to low levels.

What I would prefer - a NATURAL sound, as analytical and detailed as posible for this money.

So, which integrated ampifier paired with which speakers?
And because I am young and these money matter for me - I need something that will be as reliable as posible and will serve for the next 5 years (at least)

Thank you a lot

For the integrated amp, I would recommend a Rega Brio ($455-$500). For speakers I would go with Espos, or a pair of Rega bookshelf speakers on stands. If you check out reviews on the Brio and Espos, they can't be be. This is true audiophile equipment, and offers great synergy in a system.
Sorry for the typo- the speaker brand is Epos.
Check out the Creek 4330 integrated (around 400 used), the consonance A100 integrated (as a demo/used it goes for around 450), Cambridge Azur 540 or 640(3-400 used)...for speakers, Von Schweikert VR-1 (600-700 used), aurum cantus makes an interesting budget speaker Leisure 2, vandersteen 1C, or 2CE(spendy but sweet) Here are some starters for you to look at though:)
I'm guessing the DVD/CD player is budget and would suggest a quick upgrade of a small DAC like a $125 Assemblage or MSB, something better than the $3 DAC chip in most players.

Next, the Brio is great or maybe Audio Refinement. Speakers could be the Axiom M3Ti for $200 used or JM Labs Chorus 705.

So: DAC 125
coax or toslink 75
integrated 500
speakers 200

Yeah, that works. Good luck.
I would second the recommendation for the Vandersteen 1c's for speakers. For an integrated the Rotel RA970, 971 or 972 would all be great matches. That should even leave you money for cabling like Kimber PBJ's for interconnects and maybe Audioquest speaker cable. I have found using a single run of Type 4 to each terminal, one positive and then one for negative, gives great performance on a budget. Good luck and nice going. You deserve a nice system, you've earned it.
I've got the NAD 320BEE($299) integrated and PSB Image 2B($299) speakers. I'm not an audiophile, but I am a musician and I love every minute of my listening. This is a good combination for listening at softer levels.
I second the Cambridge Azur 540 or 640, if you want to go for a new amp. Another possibility are Yamaha-integrateds. In your stead, however, I would search the archives here and on for $1000 amps, and look ot here on audiogon which ones you can find used.
For the integrated amp, you can purchase a NAD C320 BEE ($400 new). I can not think of a better integrated amp for the money. More than sufficient power (50 wpc); excellent with all types of music; well built and reliable; and it will sound good with a wide variety of speakers and cables. I have used the NAD every day for a year and a half now, and have not had any problems.

If you would prefer to go with a receiver, look at the Denon DRA 395 ($350 list). Very nice unit for the money.

As for speakers, there are some outstanding bookshelf speakers out there. For starters, you can try the Wharfedale Diamonds 8.1 ($200); the NHT SB2 ($400); or the EPOS M 5 ($550 - just received a killer review in What Hi Fi Magazine). These 3 speakers will also all sound good if placed near a wall. Another way to go, are the speakers made by Axiom Audio . Look at the M3ti ($275) or the M22ti ($400). Axiom products are available only through the internet and they usually pay for the shipping.

Don't go crazy with cables ... in fact, if you are spending more than $75 ... you are spending too much. Radio Shack's gold series interconnects and mega speaker cables are very serviceable and do a decent enough job. Don't get hung up on cables, until you are working as an investment banker.

I tried to steer you towards purchasing new equipment, because you would be covered by the manufacturer's warranty in the event that your units ever require servicing. Reliability is my number one concern. Accordingly, for each manufacturer that I recommended, I have owned their products before. Also, you should be able to find these products locally or to make a web purchase and possibly save sales tax and shipping.

Regards, Rich
Although perhaps a little above your budget, I recently purchased a "second" system consisting of the Cambridge Audio Azur 640A integrated amp, 640C CD player, and Focal JMlab 706S bookshelf speakers plus stands. I am very impressed at this system for ~ 1500. You could always downgrade to the 540A and 540C to limit your budget.
I don't believe you should spend more than $150-200 used for your int. amp. On Audiogon, NAD 312 $150 obo. On E-bay, a couple of Rotel RA-820's are for sale. Absolutely nothing wrong w/ older electronics. They were build very well and sound IMO excellent. I'm really impressed by Sony amps/rec. of the early 80's. But, finding the right combination to work in your ROOM and to your tastes is very difficult! It's quite a challenge. If you were to buy new, the NAD C320 ($320) seems like quite a bargain, which would have good resale value. This would leave you $500+ for spks. Good Luck!
How about something a little different. A used Jolida 102B tubed integrated (around $400). Since this is only 20W, you'd need some efficient speakers. The Epos ELS3 might be a good choice. I believe a tubes integrated would meld quite nicely with your classical/jazz tastes.
I purchased a pair of Vandersteen 1Bs for $200 and a 40 wpc NAD integrated for $170 from Audiogon. Together with a garden variety Philips CD player, the musical presentation is truly exemplary. Classical and jazz in particular.
I second what a couple of other peolpe are telling you get a pair of VANDERSTEEN 1B,S OR 1C,S. I own 1B,s they are great sounding. I am thinking of upgrading to 2CE signatures but the 1B,s are a great sounding speakers for very little money you can't beat them with any other speaker in that price range
Have you considered the Cambridge SoundWorks "SoundWorks" Radio CD 740 priced at $299? The unit includes speakers, radio and CD player in one box. It plays loud and maybe be perfect for your teenager. The web address is:
Creek 4330 MKII might be the better option, for it might have solved the discharging sound issue that was particular to it and to other integrateds, such as the Audio Refinement. The MKII might be slightly higher, but along with the 4330 and a pair of older EPOS ES11 or newer used M series, you will be set to go. Older electronics might point at the possibility of replacement of caps, all depending of how the previous owner decided to "play" his music! Hgeifman, common, do not tell the poster to buy what it sounds to me as an overpriced radio. I believe that the poster is attempting to get a taste of what this whole hifi thing is about.

Even if it is possible, I would stay away from Audio Refinement Complete, I had two, and sold them both. The last unit had a serious reliability problem driving medium efficiency speakers that it should have driven without a sweat. I did not like what the distributor told me that "I was asking the amp to drive an unreasonable load..."(8ohm 89 db...nominal 5.6 ohms.) BS, I would say.

The Creek integrated are very well rated and entirely synergistic with EPOS speakers. Epos ES11 about $325 used, Creek Integrated, easily $400. Still money left over for cables and what not.