Modest/Simple System Building Help Wanted...


I am looking for some advice on building a modest, simple system. Preferable using a good integrated amp with a digital front end...preferably a universal player for the occasional movie viewing. I listen to a wide variety of music from rock to blues, classical, jazz and acoustic. I lean toward a warmer presentation and find the Thiel sound fatiguing to my ear. In the end I am budgeting (all from AudiogoN of course!) ~ $800-1200 for the amp, ~ $500-800 for the front end & ~ $1000-$1500 for speakers. Cabling can get crazy in a hurry but of course a necessary part of the system. I can see spending ~ $1000 for a pair of good speaker cables and interconnects. That puts the budget in the $3500 - $4500 range. To my way of thinking this should be enough to put together a musically satisfying system without getting a second mortgage.

Thanks for your time and interest...Steve
Musical Fidelity (A3cr or A3.2cr) amp and pre or integrated.

Denon DVD 5900 or 5910 universal player

Von Schweirkert VR-2 speakers. 4Jr's if your budget allows. Maybe spend less on cable to start.

Omega Super 8 Alnico XRS floorstanders. - $3500 new
Glow Amp-1 (new version) with modifications by "X" - $650 new + $350 mods.
Use you PC for source. Also, inexpensive analog rig would be nice - Rega makes nice entry price turntables as well as Technics and Music Hall.

or you can wait for upcoming affordable RWA integrated with USB DAC.

I recently built a second system which I enjoy very much. If you find Thiels to be annoying at the high end, this kind of system cures that because it is a bit rolled off (I'll be working to fix that over the next several months on my system after I do some other stuff). I think it is fabulous bang for buck.

Speakers - I bought Altec Model 19s for $1200 delivered a few hundred miles away. Love'em.
Integrated Amp - I use an EAR 859 (bot mine for ~$1600). Several nice tube integrated available on Audiogon at $1000-1500.
CDP - I use a Sony SCD 777ES (<$1k used).
Cables - I use some old stuff lying around for cheap but expect to make my own soon.

If I were to build a system from scratch, using the top end of your range, it would be Altec Model 19s (~$1k+), a Jadis Orchestra Reference integrated ($1800?), a DIY TwistedPearAudio Buffalo DAC - probably $700-750 including custom-self-designed enclosure from (the next time TPA gets stock in on the Buffalo)). That would get me to $3500. I would spend $200 on used Anti-cables/Anti-ICs, $50 on materials for some DIY bass traps, and then the remainder on a used Mac Mini, an external HDD, USB cable, and an Apple TV. That should all be doable for under $4500. I expect you could play DVDs on the MacMini. If you really wanted a one-box universal player, you could exchange the DAC+PC for a modded Denon 3910 or 5900, which used would probably run you $1200-1400 (leaving you enough for the cables/traps).

Separately, if you are a DIYer or want to work on something over several weekends, you could do worse than Bottlehead or Hagerman kits with some highly efficient speakers. A pair of monoblocks and a pre will get you to $2k plus your time, and a USB DAC (Hagerman has one already, Bottlehead will have a DAC in a few/several? months, or use a Benchmark or a one-box universal), plus some DIY cables or anti-cables still gets in at ~$4500.
Could you elaborate a bit: Glow Amp One modifications by "X"? Who or what is "X"? Thanks!
"X" - Bob Backert of RHB Sound Dezign

Just finished mods on Glow Amp-1
Thanks Mrjstark!
Way under your budget, but should easily contend...

Naim NAIT 5i integrated - $850ish used

NAIM or CHORD RCA-DIN interconnects - $80 to $150ish

Naim NACA5 speaker cable, 3.5 meter - $150ish used.

Denon DVD 5900 Universal - $400ish used

Speakers - look at Totem, Proac, Spendor...

Pink Fish Media Forum and The Naim Forum discuss classic Naim-speaker combos at length.

Good luck!
as far as cables go, I just bought a set of nordost blue heaven ic's from a fellow a'goner for $100.00 and they really opened up the sound of my system.
My recommendation for a $4500 killer system:

Wadia 830 $1600
Wright Sound 2A3 Mono Blocks $900
High efficiency single driver speakers ~1,000
Auralex diffusors $700
Bass Traps DIY $200
Cables DIY $100

Yes the Wadia is a bit pricey, but a bargin high-end CDP.

Google Chris VenHaus for DIY cable recipes. I especially like the CAT5 speaker cables.

The diffusors could also be DIY. See the Decware web site for plans and excellent white papers on acoustic treatments.

Enjoy the audio journey.
I second the Naim/Denon suggestion. For Speakers check out the Epos M16i, Quad 21L2 or 22L2.