The more junk you have in one box, the more that tends to be compromised. A receiver will have an amp, pre-amp and tuner all in one box for a good price and should be simple. However, you have a few downfalls here: First of all, they all share one power supply. Secondly, things tend to be less isolated which can affect sound negatively. The final reason for separates is for flexibility. It's much easier to upgrade one piece at a time.
Also, to squeeze everything into one box will also cause compromises in both size, sound and quality.
unfortunately there is no easy answers to your questions.
nowadays for me,when it comes to building a system [for friends for eg] these are the steps I follow:
1.start by installing a dedicated cuircuit and receptacles.Use Non-nickel plated receptacles,always;the brands are not important.
Treat the room.minimum requirements would be bass traps at the corners and between speakers.
3.Get a good stand.I almost always recommend Finite elemente stuff;their benefits are just too great to ignore.
4.decide on a pair of loudspeakers:these depends on;
a.the kind of music you listen to
b.your room dimensions.A lot of time all you need is a good set of monitor speakers..
5.Choose your amps.The chpoice of your Sp will determine the type of amps you need.For me,If you have less trhan 10 K to spend on amp,it is better to stick with a well made intergrated from specialists company[Neodio,Lavardin'Gamut Etc]
6.Choose your source.As a starter I would suggest you stick with one,Digital or vinyls.
7.Control the resonance of your Speakers and electronics.This is a must for me...Again I like finite elemente stuff a lot.
8.Get a power conditioner.
9.Sort out your cablings.To me at least ,most money should go to ICs.
Sit and Listen to the Music!!!
Unlike most integrated amps, separates give you the option of trying different preamps or power amp combinations to reach the desired sound. I have had a few integrated amps and was not completely satified with them. However integrated amps are space savers and it is one less pair of interconnects to worry about. I'm sure if you throw enough money at it, you could come up with an integrated amp that challenges separates.
It depends how loud you listen to music. If not very loud then integrated might be simplier choice - like Ultrasound Otello ($600,000) but if you like it loud then go with Goldmund 3kW monoblocks ($375,000). Goldmund is cheaper but needs preamp (another $375,000 or so).
Do you need speakers? There is a lot of nice speakers within $500,000 - we can find something. Let me know
Jeez, you guys are tough!!
FIRST, SET A BUDGET!!!
Use a set amount of $$$ for power(integrated or seperates), and do the same for speakers and one or two sources. If you are new to this your tastes may not be discriminating enough to warrant a $10k cd player. You can find great cd players for $1500(the Cambridge Azur 840C for $1499, the Rega Apollo for $995, or the Sim Audio CD-1 for $1500); and a VPI scout turntable and tonearm combo with a Lyra Dorian cartridge can be had for around $2500. Add a Lehmann black cube as a phono stage--sometimes called a phono amp or a phono pre amp--and you have two really good sources for lesst than $4000 retail!
For speakers--you may want to start in the $4k-$5k range. Again, try Focal, B&W, Revel, Vienna Acoustics, Totem, and Dali for a traditional cone speaker. You may want to give a listen to planar or electrostatic speakers such as Martin Logan or Magneplanar as well. All of the above manufacturers have speakers that fall well within the $4-$5k range.
The power can also be had for $4-$6k--integrated or seperates. Check out McIntosh for a solid state integrated or Audio Research for a vacuum tube integrated.
Try Acoustic Zen or Nordost for cables as they are popular and may be sold easily if you want to try something different.
You should should be able to build a good starter system including seakers, power, cd, turntable/cartridge, and interconnect(cables) for $12-$15k.
I am using these prices as a starting point as you are new to this and again probably do not need a $500,000 audio rig(at least not yet!!)
Start slowly and buy some more popular brands while you are learning as they will be a little easier to sell on the used market when you decide to upgrade as you learn more about your listening preferences and tastes.
I am now on my "last and final" set of monoblock amps---yeah right!!
Go visit a few local dealers and talk to them and spend some time listening to different set ups.
Don't forget to ENJOY what you are buying and listening to.
Hope this helps a little,
Separates are in theory better then single box amps. But also cost a lost more. With some brands half or even more of the production costs go into the box. A well constructed box for an amp is nice but CNC machining a piece of aluminum is not cheap. Also with separates there are cable isseus, matching issues, the requier a lot of space espacialy if you go mono amp/bi amp with sperrate power supply way.
First of all listen to different speakers, to determine what kind of sound you like. Go to a shop where they have a proper SS set on wich you can try many different speakers. If you have found a brand/sound you like remove the shop set and start looking for an amp that can make the most of the sound that you like. I would advise some nice monitors with an intergrated amp. In a room like that.
Sonus Faber Guarneri Memento or Totem Mani 2 sig with Symphonic line RG10 mk4 reference it all depends on budget.
Then when you have you system setup in your room start to think about some cables.
I would strongly advice to stay away from to many separate boxes and tube power amps.