My frugal dream be merciless
I'm scrapping my HT. I'm newish to hi-fi stereo, and I'm really new to tubes. Past advice given to me by 'goners has been extremely useful, so I turn to you again, my friends, the weary audiophilic 'goners at work right now, and hopefully not too busy.
My current dream is somewhat of a heresy, I know, but hopefully some of you will know where I'm coming from.
I want a good looking system that sounds good, and costs me less than ohhh...let's say $2000-2500, not including a source. That's not a typo. I want a good looking system that sounds good and that costs less than a powercord. Is it doable?
The reason I'm interested in tubes is two-fold. I like the looks, and also I like the idea of a smooth, liquid mid-range. I like listening to late-night jazz and soft, beautiful vocals on my rig, and I think tubes are the way to go. If they're not, I'm willing to find out the hard way.
That said, I'll settle for a superb looking SS integrated. Phono-pre would be cool, but is not a requirement (same goes for a quality headphone out). I look at Consonance gear and weep at the beauty. Do they sound as good as they look? I hope so. Same with Pass labs X_50 series. Love 'em. Same goes for lots of other great looking gear out there that I've never heard. I want some ambience with my music. Again, I'm willing to consider SS amps as well, if there's something just tremendously good that I'm missing out on. If I go SS, though, I'll largely be doing it for good bass reproduction.
I have a rather large room, but I'm willing to move my stereo to a smaller room if need be.
Hopefully someone can recommend me a DAC that maybe isn't cutting edge anymore, but is certainly very good and affordable (to me, mind you).
I know I'm asking a lot, but with my student's budget, spending $2500 is a lot. A cubic ****load, to be exact.
If you have some time and so desire, I'm very interested in hearing opinions on this.
Thanks in advance, The Eternal Newbie
ps. I've really been considering GMA Europa speakers, the Eastern Electric Mini-Mas pre, and Consonance integrateds. Nothing is sacred with my picks, since I've heard none of them. I also understand that wanting audio gear to look good is probably like wanting a violin to double as a painting, but sometimes it can happen, I hope.
Now that I'm done asking for favors, I have to ask, who the hell is making some of this gear? Maybe I'm a lowly aesthete, but some of the equipment being sold for thousands of dollars looks like it was designed by wood-sprites or leprechauns or something. It's just too out there to be in my living room. Of course I have all the more respect for people that own and create this gear, because their priorities lie firmly planted in the auditory realm, which begs the question, is ugly gear some sort of badge of honor?