I have always liked McCormack electronics. They come up for sale fairly ofter, Steve McCormack is still actively building, designing and updating his stuff so you can get service. And, if you get electronics built by the same manufacturer, whether its McCormack, CJ, Krell, etc, they should match perfectly both in performance and looks. With you budget, I would consider separates rather than an integrated amp because they are more flexible if you want to upgrade later. Good luck.
Bwoodham...I think your request is too open ended to get useful feedback from folks here. Do you have local dealers in your area where you can go and audition different type of equipment? My suggestion is to go and listen to a bunch of different speakers (dynamic box designs, electrostats, planars), amps (both tube and solid state), digital sources, etc...and see if there are certain types of speaker designs or tube vs. solid state amplification that you find are more appealing to you. When you decide what types of speakers and amplification float your boat, and maybe if there were certain brands that you liked in combination with one another, I would come back and ask your question with a more directed focus. This way you will be able to get much more tailored advice to your specific tastes. Also, I wouldn't blow off the dealer route altogether. Establishing a relationship with a good dealer can pay dividends over time in building and improving your system over the long haul. You can always buy certain pieces from a local dealer and other pieces of Agon as well. One thing to look out for in terms of economizing and still buying through a dealer is used or demo equipment they may have on sale. The upside of demo equipment is that not only do you get a more aggressive discounted price but you usually still get warranty coverage as well, which you typically do not get buying used off of Agon. My 2c worth. Good luck.
Here is what I will do:
Mac Mini with 4G RAM $ 800
Pure Music software $ 130
A pair of 2TB Seagate FreeAgent
Desk HD for Mac USB2.0, FireWire 800
(1 for primary, 1 for backup) $ 400
iPad for remote $ 500
Benchmark DAC-1 HDR $1,900
Quicksilver Audio V4 120W mono $4,900/pair
Vandersteen Quatro $7,500/pair
All prices are for new equipment. It will be lower of couse if you can buy
That leave you $3,870 for rack and cable. I wouldn't go crazy on cable but it
is kind of like religion so it is up to you.
Almost forgot. In order to get the most out of a digital system, make sure you
put a ferrite snap-on core on each end of every USB, Firewire and power
One thing I've learned over the years of enjoying this hobby is that people have different tastes. From your post it looks like you haven't figured out what you might like.
I'm with Cmalak when he suggests that you listen to some systems to get an idea of what's important to you. In your price range you could (hypothetically) put together 2 very good systems that on paper are highly regarded. But one you might love and one you might be disappointed with.
thanks for your responses, I was hoping someone had it all figured out. After years of testing and trying, someone found the majic bullet. Save me all the "fun" . Like looking for a reference sytem to start, and then tweak it to my own liking. I don't know where to start. Find a front end and then find speakers or visa versa. Tubes seem like alot of work and maintenance (money).Looking for someone who's been there...done that. Or maybe someone that has a nice system for sale ????
VMPS RM-30 speakers w/auricaps, megawoofers, fst tweeters, sound deadening, possibly upgraded exterior as upgrades. 2200.00-2600.00 used fantasically clear, dynamic sound like looking through a clean window.
Belles 150 Reference amp 1500.00-1700.00 used
Modwright 9.0 preamp 1100.00-1300.00 used
w/ phono pre 1850.00-2000.00 used
Modwright Oppo bdp-83 1450.00 new
or Modwright Sony 5400 about 2000.00 more new
Speltz anticable 80.00 new
Morrow MA-4 ic's 250.00 used
PS Audio 300 power conditioner 400.00-500.00 used
Adona 4-tier rack 1450.00 new
Absolute Audio Power Cords II 50.00 new/each from GTT Audio (makes every component sound better in every way)
Total about 10,000.00 or less for the system
Your system will work together, and have the ability to disappear while having great tone, detail, dynamics, TRANSPARENCY and your only problem will be lack of sleep from not wanting to stop listening. I have equipment put together very similarly and it's just awesome. The anticables are dirt cheap, don't look like much, but are great sounding--not just for the money, either (Absolute Sound recommended at the top for 5 years straight). VMPS speakers, with the upgrades I mentioned, are ridiculously good in all ways. The same with Modwright cd players and preamps/power amps. If you like big speakers, go with the VMPS RM-40 with the same upgrades. They are about 2500.00-3400.00 used. The 30's will probably sound better at lower volume but the 40's could really be cranked super loud.
I was hoping someone had it all figured out. After years of testing and trying, someone found the majic bullet.
Send me your credit card number(or cash) and I will gladly "fix you right up"!!!!!!!!!!
If you have patience, you could put that system together in a couple months or less. It's worth the waiting and yes I've been there and done that and am now extremely lucky to have put together a system that sounds so good, I'll be happy until it craps out. Disregard my stupid sounding username--I just needed something I could always remember. Many things I now have came from recommendations of other Agon members who tipped me off. The VMPS and Modwright stuff was my own luck. I bought and sold many things until I finally got it right IMO--the VMPS and Modwright cd player were the 2 most impressive ones, though. With the money you'll save, but some music. Bob
I'm sure he would also sell you a pair of suitable speakers. (no affiliation)
I listen mostly to classic rock but love Sheffield Labs master recordings.
If you want a reference system - start with speakers. Sheffield Labs (Doug Sax) uses ATC. Tom Petty from Gainsville Florida uses them too. There are plenty of other good choices but start with speaker you like first.
I strongly agree with Shadorne. Start with the speakers-- different brands/models will have different strengths and weaknesses which must mesh with your personal listening preferences. You'll also need to decide based on your listening space whether you want to go with full range floor standers, or smaller speakers (e.g. monitors) supplemented with a sub. Once you acquire the speakers, I would move ahead with amplification based on the sensitivity of the speakers and their particular tone (e.g. bright or laid back). That's also probably a good time to ask advice on this forum from other Audiogoners who own the same speakers.
You should be able to put an incredible sounding system together for that price especially if you buy used and can go up to 20K. The first thing to look at is your room. How big is it? Do you have the run of the room for speaker placement or is there a significant other or living considerations that relegate you to speakers placed close to a wall. This is going to be the biggest consideration. Also do you want a speaker that is going to sound good outside of the sweet spot or will you only listen by yourself and in the sweet spot. Find a speaker that will do the things you want and then get the right amp for it. These days you can get great sounding digital for very low dollars and use a Mac Mini as a server to feed the DAC.
Tyler has a complete Bel Canto system on here for under 5k. Leaves you enough for a killer set of speakers and some change.
Bwoodham...this is why i suggested you listen for yourself. There is no absolute killer system as different people have different tastes in what they are looking for. So you will get very well intended advice but that reflects the personal tastes of those posting. By the way, when I put together my system about 5 years ago, I found the process of going to audition different pieces and reading about them in the various audio mags/websites to be a lot of fun. Also it makes you a better/more critical listener. Just a suggestion. Good luck.
Cmalak (and most others), thanks for the good advise, the journey is half the fun. I talked to Walter Lieberman, he recommends the Emerald Physics 2.3 and a Wyred 4 Sound amp,
and the Apogee Ensemble system. Any imput ????
Yes, by all means, follow Walt's advice. His advice is way better than any other you will find.
thanks all for good advise. Talked to Walt and will order his system consisting of:
Emerald Physics 2.7 speakers
Spacial Computer Prism Ortheus system
Wyred 4 Sound ST 1000 bass amp.
Modwright KWA 100 midrange/tweeter amp
PS Audio PP2000 Regenerator
Mac computer and Ipad
should have it all within 3 to 4 weeks... will post an update if there is any interest.
Sure. Let us know how it's sounding once you have it all set up and broken it in some. Thx
ATC speakers (40s, 50s or 100s), buy the "active" amped ones, use a Benchmark Pre DAC/pre-amp, linked to a Wadia 170/iPod, a nice mid-priced turntable and cartridge, and a Oppo multiplayer system.
Now that you have had some time w your emerald physics/spatial set up, do you mind sharing your experience?
About a year ago I was visiting thrift shops from Miami to Palm Beach and put together a system for less than $50.00 Yes that's right $50.00 At a Salvation Army Thrift Store found a Yamaha CR820 Receiver for $15.00 and at the same store a pair of Realistic Minimus 7 speakers for $5.00. Later that day at a Goodwill found a Sony 5 disc carousel CD Player for $10.00. In Ft.Lauderdale found at a St Vincent dePaul Thrift Store a Microseiki Turntable MB14 with a usable Audio Technica AT 96 cartridge for $15.00. So for a paltry sum of $45.00 had a complete system. Got it home and put it all together and was amazed at what can be had at a paltry sum. There is gear out there, but it takes leg work and luck to find it and with the state of the economy as it is now, a lot more of this type of gear is showing up in thrift stores. This was a fun excercise for me and I gave the entire system away to a school teacher that taught music and needed something like this. A year later nothing has failed and it is still going strong.
Very cool story. It is not about the rig, but the enjoyment of music.