Opinions please on a starter audiophile system?

I am in the process of completely revamping a long standing 2 channel stereo system consisting of older Polks, big box store sony cd / amp.
I suppose I could classified as a "newbie" to audiophile components but believe I can drastically upgrade with a desired budget of $4K.
Would love to hear opinions and thoughts on amp/cd/speaker components that fit that budget.
Have researched much, auditioned little, though trying to finally go hear, make a choice and get off the audio merry goround.
Musically we listen to a variety of stuff - jazz, folk, rock, jambands, lots of archive.org stuff. Logistically, the system will reside in the living room 14x 18 of a 9 foot ceiling'd post and beam house with open floor plan. HELP? Much thanks.
amp/intergrated http://www.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cls.pl?intatran&1278610295&/Plinius-8200-mkII-
speakers http://www.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cls.pl?spkrfull&1278337005&/Totem-Forest-Mint--Cherry
DAC http://www.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cls.pl?dgtlconv&1277163858&/MSB-link-lll-with-24/132k-upsa
CABLES http://www.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cls.pl?cablspkr&1279228691&/Analysis-Plus-Oval-9-black/yel
Tell us more about the kind of sound you like. What is important to you?
Getting off the merry-go-round implies being able to make some nice final choices. That requires listening to a bunch of different speaker/amp combinations to find out what gets you 'that feeling.' This means discovering the relationship between Peter_s' question and the amp/speaker combo. For me, it is efficient speakers which go low and tube amps. I would recommend listening to systems where you can to get a feeling of what kind of sound does it for you and THEN asking the same question.

For that price, for jazz/folk/rock/jambands, and an expectation to listen to the same system with no real change for the next 20 years, and a $4k budget, I would choose Altec Model 19 speakers, an integrated tube amp like a Manley Stingray or similar (or some DIY tube amp kits through Bottlehead - you can build them yourself but they also come up on Audiogon from time to time), and your choice of CDP/digital. Personally, I would go for a music server through a 'Buffalo DAC' (twistedpearaudio.com) but that would require some DIY for the DAC. Cables would be your choice or roll-your-own.
Keep Polks.
Buy used stuff. Adcom, Bryston..
Skip cables/ use cheap stuff.
You can get a lot of stereo for $4000. Keep in mind that it will sound very different at home than in a store. Don't be afraid to drag an amp and pre around to test speakers or even bring gear home to try on your speakers.
I'd revamp the entire system. Spend equally on each piece. Do you need dvd instead of cd? Most blue ray players make excellent cd players. Speakers have changed a lot in 20 years. Small satellites with or without a sub can be great. Don't get cheap on the stands though. Finally, do you want radio? You can always add a really cheap tuner but it may be much cleaner to be built into a pre.
Two suggestions. Check the budget minded systems to see what's possible. There are some great systems designed to suit a range of tastes in here.
Next suggestion is to make a few purchases from sellers with good feedback and see what you think. The experience of trial and error in your own environment is invaluable IMO. This method has worked for me. My system was put together within your budget but has a MSRP way above.
Make that three suggestions, enjoy the music.
$4,000 is plenty of money to puit together a VERY fine-sounding system.

1st, I'd settle on some speakers. I am (quite) biased here, Ifind my Gallo Reference 3.1s to be the best all-around speaker in its price category. They can be found here on A'gon for $1500 - 1800 per pair all the time.

Now, we need a good, "ballsy", high-current amp to drive the Gallos. I have had some very good experiences with the NAD brand. They have massive power supplies to provide a good measure of headroom and their high-current design will mate up quite well with the Gallos.

80 Watts/ch $169:

150 Watts/ch - $475:

Finally, you need a source. The Oppo 83 SE is getting stellar reviews from all who have heard it, and the price is quite reasnable for the sound and build quality of the unit. Purchase directly from OppoDigital.com for $499 for the "regular" edition and $899 for the SE version. The SE has the latest Sabre ESS DACS, supposed to be about the best in the world for 2-channel listening.


If you add all this up:




This leaves you PLENTY OF money left over to get some nice cables and perhaps even a nice rack. I can absolutely guarantee that either of these systems will knock your socks off with their sound quality and ease of setup and placement of the speakers.

Best Wishes,

All of my suggestions below is for new equipment available at *DMC Electronics(link above).You get peace of mind knowing that you have a warranty and the option(in most cases) of sending them back if they don't work for you.You might want to check into some of their "B" stock gear also for more savings.Give them a call,they can answer all of your questions.This is a system that will give you many years of listening pleasure.So here we go......

Speakers..........PSB Image T65 Sierra $799.00/pair
Source............NAD C565BEE CD Player $799.00
Power.............NAD C375BEE Integrated Amp $1299.00
Throw in a few hundred for decent cables.....$300.00
Throw in a few hundred for a decent rack.....$300.00
Shipping might be negotiable.

*Disclaimer...I have no affiliation with DMC Electronics.I think they sell great gear at great prices.
Two suggestions. Check the budget minded systems to see what's possible. There are some great systems designed to suit a range of tastes in here.
Next suggestion is to make a few purchases from sellers with good feedback and see what you think. The experience of trial and error in your own environment is invaluable IMO. This method has worked for me. My system was put together within your budget but has a MSRP way above.
Make that three suggestions, enjoy the music.
Not sure how that happened???
Get the all new BOSE acoustic wave music system series two and put a better ac plug like a wattgate on the end of the bose's ac power cord....you just saved a lot of money now!
I'm pretty sure this will fit in $4K:

Zu Soul loudspeakers - $1800/pr. Call up Zu and beg to be grandfathered in on the promotion that gets you the Superfly Edition for the regular price. But if they just can't, you'll be good to go with the regular model.

Jasmine Piano EL34 integrated amp - you'll have to check with cruzefirstaudio.com about the price but I think it's about $1300.00. Everything Jasmine makes sounds exceptional, and truly sensational for the price.

Oppo BDP83SE universal disc player - $899.00

If you can scrape up a bit more, get a set of Yeil Spike Sound Will magnetic levitation footers for the Oppo. You'll need the 10-20kg capacity set. Under the stock feet at each corner, these seriously upgrade the Oppo's sound and it's not the least bit subtle.

Use stock power cords and ICs, and feel free to use 16 or 14 ga. zipcord for speaker cable until you can peel off some cash for upgrades there. This system will yield beautiful music indefinitely, and will in fact improve for about the first three years as it is played in.

my suggestion to you is what I have for my 3rd system.

Magneplanar mmg OR 1.6 speakers...around 500 to 1100to1500 used, respectfully
Monarchy audio SM70pro mono amps (Class A)...about 1000 a pair
Jolida jd-100 tube cd player around 600 used.
Cables (either make your own or go for any inexpensive brand
Audible Illusion pre (L1 with vol control) used around 1000

you will be good to go 4 sure:)~
You should be able to do well for 4 large. Your room, if you can arrange to suit should work out well, too.
That being said, I'd say that all the Real Nice people giving you help spending your money aren't helping as much as possible.

Get somewhere to hear some systems. Talk to a real sales guy but NOT at the local big box multi-mart. Find a REAL audio store.

For the kind of money your looking at, an overnite in the nearest place where you can visit some stores would be in order. Spend the day. Call in advance, so you know they'll be open and have a system or 2 ready to audition. Bring some of your favorite music on CD. Bring an SACD if you own one.

Once you hear some real systems, than you can decide if the used market is for you. Playing 'equipement roulette' is not my idea of fun, though many enjoy the heck out of it.
My advice would normally be go with used gear, but considering everyone don't take the same amount of care in equipment, there's a small risk involved. I would check out Emotiva. Their products seem to offer the best bang for the bucks. Their products comes with a pretty generous 5 yr warranty, as well as a in home 30 day no question asked return policy if you're not satisfied. I would start off with the ERC 1 CDP $400 and the USP1 PREAMP $400. You can save $50 on each one by buying the demo units, comes with same warranty. You still have $3200 to invest in a nice Used Amp and some speakers. that's my 2 cents. Oh, and by the way I own both pieces.
Advise-set a budget. Select a source(s) CD, Tuner or LPs.
Listen to new at a hi end parlor.
Then buy the brand you like used.
My suggestions would be a NAD integrated/Sony CD/BW speaker
let your ears be your guide
And I have none of the brands suggested
thanks for all the replies.....auditioning tonight - we'll see.
Loudspeakers are the last thing you should buy. They are too arbitrary. I like this speaker someone else likes that one. They are also musical dependent; those Polks will do fine for now.
there's no right or wrong on this subject, of course, but if i had $4k i'd start with the speakers and then match amp/source. given your room size/budget, perhaps a nice floorstander like psb imagine/totem hawk/revel f12?
Talking used, for speakers I'd think about Triangle floorstanders or vandersteen 2ce sigs at under $1K. Add a good integrated like a VAC Avatar or a Cary SL80 for $2K. That leaves you about $1200 or so for a CDP and cables. At that price point I would seriously consider the used Cary 303/200 but there are LOTS of choices. You'll only need 1 pair of i/cs and a pair of speaker cables, but used for $100 each there are tons of very good choices.
I agree with those who say the speakers should come first. If you don't like the sound of your speakers, you won't like the sound of your system, no matter how good the rest of it is.
The sound of the speakers change every time you change electronics. Those Polks will sound fine with some good electronics. Most dealers will allow you to audition electronics. He can see for himself.
Speakers first, then amplification.
The sound of the system ends with the speakers, it does not begin with the speakers. If anyone is going to start new they should begin at the beginning of the audio chain.
Dealers will allow you to audition electronics in your home before you buy. That way you can evaluate the changes in sound with known speakers and note each improvement. If anyone thinks speakers first, they should give a rational reason WHY?
Seems pretty simple to most of us, Orpheus - the speakers have by far the greatest effect on the sound of the system, along with their interaction with the room they are in. Even in these sorts of friendly arguments, I don't recall anyone trying to deny this fact. So I repeat, if you don't like the sound of your speakers, you won't like the sound of your system no matter how good the rest of the components are. If you disagree with that statement, I would sure like to hear WHY? :)
Listen to as many different speakers as you can. It is really about your taste in sound not what others tastes happen to be. Be careful though check the amp/preamp driving the speakers. Tube units will color the sound, some like this some don't, just be sure you are hearing the speaker and not the coloration. Spend a lot of time doing this - box speakers, actives, planars, and, if you can find them - horns. Once you are convinced that you like a given set of speakers and they are indeed an improvement over what you have, only then start looking for the electronics. Your speaker choice will drive your options for the amplifier. Worry about your source last and the only real choices there are digital vs analog and then if you choose digital - standalone cdp vs pc based with DAC. If you choose digital, particularly a standalone cdp there is no reason to spend much of your budget here. Do not spend any significant amount of money on cables. Blue Jean cable is a good choice for interconnects speaker cables etc. Mogami is also a good source for speaker cables. Any power cord will do. Realize that your room acoustics will also play a large part in the sound so be prepared to make adjustments there.
If you start with speakers, you are adding a huge unknown quantity at great expense. When you add new unknown electronics, you have absolutely no idea which component is contributing what, to your overall sound.
His present speakers are a very well known quantity. He can evaluate, each time he adds something new. How would a reviewer be able to make a valid statement about any component, if he threw in a basket of new components?
Without a lot more feed back from the originator of this thread; we are passing gas in a high wind. This is quite irrelevant.
Its your money your opinion that counts!!
The best electronics I have heard for the money and competitive with most anything I have heard is the combination of the Lightspeed Attenuator ($450) with the Music Reference RM10 MKII ($1,950). If the 35 watts is enough to drive a speaker you like, you will not do better at anywhere near the price point (those are new prices).
Choose quality over simple power, and don't underpower for your listening space.