How much do you want to spend, and what do you listen to? With those questions answered, you may get a little bit of advice. Try the A5 integrated with the Sonus Fabers Cremona auditors.
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I agree with Seth (S7Horton) and Driver, the Musical Fidelity pieces are really nice, and go really well with either the Totem Mani-2's or Sonus Faber's. But you might check out a used MF Kw500 Integrated if you can afford it though, especially with the Mani-2's. It's one generation older than the A5, but a lot more powerful.
Another question is; how big is your room?
Match the system to room size.
After years of throwing money around I can honestly say the comination I now enjoy will be around for a long, long time.
IMO - music is music... a system should be able reproduce all types of music equally well. Otherwise why own it?
Musical tastes evolve over time.
I'd find the best speakers I could for the money and your room and then build my system around them. If the speakers are efficient then tube power. If inefficient then solid state or more expensive tube gear. I think the speakers are the most important part of the system so I'd figure that out first. Time to audition. It can be maddening :-)
Avalon Accents? ( Avalon's first 2-way) $2300-3000 used
Ayre V-3 amp $1300 or an MFA D-75 if you want tubes
Ayre preamp, pick-um
Well Tempered Turntable, your favorite cartridge
Best Cardas wire you can afford used
Most any CD player through a Reflection Audio modded Benchmark converter or an Ayre player.
This is the gear I wish I had started with. The most significant upgrade to my system were my Eidolons, yes, everything in the chain is important but it wasn't till the Eidolons arrived that my system instantly became musical at any volume level. I don't own any Ayre equipment but everyone who I've suggested it to is extremely happy with it.
With some,no a lot of searching around, listening to all sorts of amps, speakers, cd players, etc... I was able to put together an "awesome" system. DK integrated(MKII is great, and cheap used) Reimer Wind Rivers(see clearsound here at audiogon, the Consonance cd-120 cd player,and Reality cables, too. Everyone that has sat for a listen has been awed.Even the wife. No more complaints on the cost, so there! The custom Reimers with the 10" woofers are a dream come true. My audiophile friends have told me,"You did it!" and "I want those!" It is worth the time and effort if you are spending serious money for serious performance. Can I do better. Isuppose, but man am I a happy camper. Good luck with your quest!
Yes, you should probably begin with the speakers you love and work backward, but that doesn't mean you have to buy the speakers first and then the rest. I found the speaker range that I wanted first, and then I bought my amp. When I finally got the speakers, I was quite satisfied with the combination.
Just for something a little different - Jadis Reference Orchestra integrated - or if you require more power and SS, a Gryphon Callisto 2200; depending on your budget - Proac Reference 8 signatures, B&W 805Nautilus, Sonus Faber Guarneris, or Wilson Sophias - all with a REL sub, Strata or Storm; an entry level MBL CD (or an old ARC CD1).
Where are you? Have you taken the plunge?
I agree, start with good speakers, then source. Avalons are fantastic. I prefer the Eclipse- both for the $ and your room size which is close to mine. Tubes are a great/preferred match for the Eclipse. BAT VK60 are awsome, but can be tweaky. The Eclipse demand power, so keep that in mind. Ayre, BAT, Edge are candidates.
Please post an update so we can give you our advise. May not be the best, but it's free!
There'll be as many suggestions as there are posters I'm afraid.
If I could do it all again, I'd probably try buying a pair of mint, or easily restorable, clean JBL 4343, or 4345 pro Monitors, and a modern SS Amp, due to no worries about breakdown, re-capping-etc. Something like a Mac 402, or pair of 501's, MacCormack DNA 500, and live happily ever after. Mark