Newbie seeks feedback on research

I recently decided to get "a nice audio system" and embarked on what has become a six month research journey. I had no idea how many choices I would confront, and though I'm fairly confident in my decisions, I've decided to solicit some advice before doing anything irreversible.

What I want:
o A "very nice audio system" with which I can fill my home with music and enjoy on a regular basis.

What I don't want:
o To constantly fiddle, tweak, and worry that somewhere, someone is listening to something nicer than what I have.
o To spend more than about $2500, total.
o Anything that looks really ostentacious or takes over the room that it's in.
o To replace this purchase with anything for an amount of time on the order of 10 years.

So, given those criteria, and through research online, reading user and "professional" reviews, and through my own listening, I've tentatively decided on the following.

o Meadowlark Audio Kestrel speakers
o Audio Refinement Complete Integrated amplifier
o Nakamichi DR10 cassette tape deck
o Denon DCD-65 CD changer

Why am I writing to all of you? I want a little hand-holding. I want to hear from anyone who has an opinion: am I seriously off-base on any of these choices? Are any of the components seriously mismatched? Or, on the other hand, if you think I'm on the right track, please let me know. If you feel like you've been in the place that I am right now, and you know what's coming next, I'd like to hear that too. I don't want this to become an obsession, a passion, or even a significant hobby. Is this realistic? Can I do this on my own terms, or, in your collective experience, will I doom myself to years of neuroses by taking the first step down this path?

Anyhow, I suppose that's a good start, please feel free to share any ideas or reactions you may have.

Great name, Thelonius. Is that just a "handle", or did someone in your family really love Monk?

It's always a treat to welcome newbies, but be forewarned that you have chosen a dangerous hobby!!

You are definitely not off base with the components you've chosen. If I were to make any suggestions at all, it would be to question the purchase a cassette tape deck. Do you have a special reason for wanting one in your system?

If your objective is have some means to record music, then you might want to consider getting one of the recent generation audio CD burners. There are several brands to choose from, but the one I'd suggest you look at first is the new Sony CDR-W1. Recording onto a CD medium will give you MUCH better fidelity than cassette tape, even with a Nakamichi deck. The Sony CDR-W1 can be purchased from Audio-Video Direct in Florida for $350, and there is a current sales promo that includes a free 20-pack of audio CD-R's.

Welcome aboard the "A" train ("A"udiophile train, that is)!
Don't forget to save a little for cabeling. (interconnects,speaker wire etc..) It really makes a difference in the end. I have to be honest red flags go up when I see someone here saying this is going to be their one and only system. Sounds like something i'd tell the wife. (And have many times) The key is to try and buy great speakers and components the first time out. I think you'd have a better chance of enduring ten years with the same system if you laid out a few more greenbacks. Good luck enjoy :~)
My initial reaction to your component choices is pretty much the same as Sd's above, ie why a cassette deck? And I agree with the recommendation for a CD recorder rather than the cassette deck-- I have both and the CD-R really is a welcome advance in home recording.

It would be helpful if you'd attach some prices to the components you've listed. And of course you'll also need some decent ICs and spkr cables. BTW, only you can determine whether or not you'll get "hooked" by this affliction. Good Luck. Craig
You might consider a cd burner for your computer. Put the saved money into a better cd player, probably not a changer.
The real question will be if your chosen components match well with each other. That, you can only know by listening. If you can demo them before you buy, you will save time, money and stress. Be sure to listen to the music you like, not the audiophile discs that sound great. A system that impresses at first can become tiresome quickly after you get it home. Again, listen, listen ,listen.

I think the Kestrels are a great start in your price range.They were one of my first purchases and I loved them. I matched them with a Bryston B60. Excellent. They are fairly easy to match with a number of amps.
In regard to tape Vs CDR (stand alone Vs computer burner: I went with a stand alone CDR (burner) as it allows me to easily isolate it from vibration and to get better recordings. Another factor is that we seem to change computers every 2-3 years. I assume that you have a large cassette collection (as do we) and I am in the process of burning it to CD (well, I will start doing so within the next week or so). Many of the tapes that we own are "old" and will probably only make it through one decent playback as they have been in storage for many years. I was able to purchase a Pioneer PDR-W839 CDR, NIB and not a second, off of Ebay for $325.00 from a dealer that specializes in DJ gear. I was also pleased that after locating an IEC adapter (made by Harmonic Tech) and updating the CDR's power cord with one of the inexpensive Absolute power cords, that the playback quality has improved enough for us to use the CDR as a source (second duty) in a bedroom system (plus it is a 3 CD changer). Anyway, you would need a tape player to burn the cassettes to CD, but perhaps you already own a player or could borrow one if you decided to go this route. If your goal is to have "good" tapes for car use, then the added sound quality that you will get from a nice Nakamichi deck will be lost on most any standard automobile Hi-fi system. I have already gone through this 20 years ago and have owned two Nakamichi tape decks (the 550 and 600). If I wanted good sound I had to use the 550 deck in the car (it is a portable model). I also used the Advent 300 receiver as an amp/preamp and small Braun speakers (pre ADS) and sometimes Auratone studio mixing monitors. I figure that a quality (one that you are going to want to listen to as much as your CD source) cassette deck runs $600-$1200 on the used market, which makes the Pioneer CDR a good value. It can also be added at a later time and is not needed to get you started. Digital Audio CDR blanks (good ones) run approx. 75 cents each if you find them on sale.
Glen made a good comment above -- you also need to factor in some decent interconnects and speaker wire. Given your budget, I can't recommend a better line for both interconnects and speaker cable than Kimber. The 4VS and 4TC speaker wire is hard to beat at the price, and their PBJ interconnects are a fine buy (particularly if you can find them used). The other option for good interconnects is to buy the "Silver Solution" IC from HomeGrownAudio. If you are willing to do some soldering, you can get the kit, save some money, and have an excellent IC for the price.