Return to Audio: What Products to Consider?

Hi, I'm getting back into audio and I'm curious what amplification products this forum would recommend. For criteria, here's what I would list; very good sound (of course), warm rather than analytical, but not muddy or bright, of good, long-lasting quality, from a manufacturer with integrity, costing a few grand or less (I don't always equate quality with price), to be used with classical, folk, world, bluegrass, jazz, electronica music. Mostly low-level listening, with some higher volume (those first few watts should really count) with CD source. I want something to be proud of for me, not for my ego. I want to escape into the music, not hear the equipment. What would you recommend here? Thank you!
First and foremost... Budget first. (And don't forget about cables in the budget. Many beginners do.)
Room size / configuration second. The speakers should be appropriate to the room.
But the source components are the most important purchase!
Source components will sound good in any room. If they don't they are junk.
Likewise good speakers are good speakers. (What sounds good to you?)
I agree the cables are the least important but as stated earlier make sure they are part of the budget.
If you are married ascetics can be important when it comes to having your partner as a willing participant in the world of musical entertainment.
Is an equipment stand in the budget?
Here is my 2 cents Andrew...You are right, high price does not necessarily mean high quality and good sound. A good CD player is the Cambridge Audio D500SE, for about $300 used, this is a great buy. It can do 24/192. For speakers check out .They have a kit using a 6.5" Seas driver with the Raven R1 tweeter in an MTM configuration for a sensitivity of 93-db and overall impedence of 4 ohm. Range is about 42 Hz--30 KHz .For your Amp i would strongly recommend the Decware Zen84C-Select SET tube amp. This amp costs about $700 new, used maybe 400-500, but it's a GIANT killer and it has a volume control, so no need for potentiall coloration from another equipment (the pre-amp in this case). This combo, even with the audiophile cabinet from Zalytron will cost you, I am guessing here, probably $2500-$2700 TOTAL. But get ready to get your socks knocked off. We are talking natural, involving sound that will make you forget you are listening to reproduced music! Your equipment will be as transparent as possible without sounding bright at all and they will pull a disappearing act...Try it
If you're looking for new equipment, the LFD Mistral integrated amp has gotten nothing but positive feedback from very respected people. Musical Fidelity products also tend to have the characteristics you mention.

If you're looking for used gear, I would echo the McCormack suggestion for several reasons. First, the equipment is well made, sounds great and is available used online at ridiculously low prices.

Second, you wanted a manufacturer with integrity and Steve McCormack is as good as I've found. In my experience, he is very free with his time, knowledgeable, helpful, and always available via email or phone.

Third, his products allow you to easily upgrade for modest prices. He has several levels of revisions for his products. You can also simply upgrade by inexpensively adding another amp to your system and biamping.

Fourth, I don't think I've ever heard of anybody having a mechanical problem with McCormack gear. I'm sure it happens, since we're dealing with electronics, but I just never hear it unlike some other manufacturers.
If you have been out of the loop for a while, I think the most interesting new stuff is coming from TacT.