Starting out Audiophile separates?

I'm 16 years old and starting to get into High End Audio. I'm looking for a Pre/Pro combination for a 5.1/5.2 home theater system I'm working on.Like I said, I'm new to this and just starting out, and I'm only 16, So I don't have a crazy budget. If you could recommend sub $500ea Pres and Pros, that would be of great help. Thank you.
It may be a better option for you to get a good quality receiver to start off with. Pretty much all of them have pre amp outs for all of the channels, so later on you can add separate power amps and still use the receiver as a preamp. If you go to and look at their HT receivers, they have an NAD T758 on sale for $1000 and a Marantz S5009 for $900. If it were my choice, I would go for the NAD. They focus on high build quality and best possible sound for the money. While it's possible to go with separates, at your price point there just aren't that many choices. If you want to upgrade at a later point, then it would make sense to go with separates.
If you are willing to purchase used, I think you can put something together for the $1000. Watch the classifieds here an AG and don’t be afraid to ask questions of the sellers. Pay attention to their feedback. You will need a processor and 5 channels of amplification. Since the video feed can be routed from video player to TV/Projector directly, I would view the audio side of the processor to be most important. Older processors have not held their value and can be had at a fraction of original price, however can still function nicely. For amplification I would try and find a 2 channel and a 3 channel amp.

You might start out with the processor and a 2 channel amp and build from there. I have found 2 channel to work fine for video.

Good luck and keep us posted as to your progress.
At 16, you are probably ahead of many of us with technology. You will want a set-up that streams from the internet (no wires, correct) or will play blu-rays. My suggestions are either an emotiva pre-amp processor (UMC 200) with a nice used 5 channel amp (you can find tons of great amps for a steal) or, you could just go with an Oppo 103 for $500 which will have built in streaming, plays blu-rays, has a nice volume control and you can hook that straight into an amp. 1 less piece and all you lose is a radio tuner. The other option to the emotiva is an outlaw???
Just my 2 cents. Keep in mind that it's distortion that blows speakers, not too much power. Keep you remote away from your buddies.
I'd also recommend a straight up 2 channel rig. They work fine for video and you are going to be able to get a higher quality sound. You will only need 2 speakers instead of 5, you will also only need 2 pair of speaker cables instead of 5... get the idea? if you have $500 for speakers, you can get 2 nice speakers, or 5 mediocre speakers...

if set up properly, which I bet you will do, when sitting in the middle you won't need a center channel speaker anyway because the voices should come from the center anyways. Someone once told me that the best center channel is no center channel, and I tend to agree.

Even though I currently have a Peachtree Nova Pre/220 combo (bought local for $900)I'm not a huge supporter of Peachtree but... some place is selling the new Nova 125 SE in Rosewood for $1100 or $1199 and that may not be a bad place to start.

Think about resale also. Buy components that you can get your money back out of easily so that if you don't like it, or want to upgrade, you can :)

Another option would be a Parasound Halo A21 here on audiogon for $500, a schiit bifrost uber with usb, and a schitt passive volume control.

I'd go with Blue Jeans interconnects and speaker cables; great bang for the buck and not expensive.

Good Luck!
Well said LIMO, I 2nd!
Congrats on your HEA journey! Don't let any setbacks discourage you, remember it's about the music. If you like a variety of music the Magnepan MMG is your best starting point. The best(sounding) extreme budget amp(I know) is the NAD S300. There not that easy to find but with some patience a near mint(make sure it's spec) unit can be had for <$750. The Denon CX3 series should be easier to find, don't let the micro size fool you these are serious entry level components. The DCD-CX3 is the strongest of the 2 units, no problem with matching the CX3 with the Denon. With cables buy the best Signal Cables, these will survive several future upgrades.
Hey B_limo, where did you see a used Parasound Halo A21 for $500?? Sign me up! That piece seems to be selling for $1400 at the low end.
As a followup to my previous post let me ask a couple questions.

What are going to use as a source(s) and for viewing.

Do you have a dedicated room for the home theater? I ask this question because it has been my experience that many who try a multichannel system in a ‘living’ room find that they go back to a 2.1 system. It proves more difficult to get the result desires and at a greater cost. When dealing with a room dedicated to HT the game changes.
The Emotiva UMC-200 would be an excellent preprocessor choice for you. It lists for $699 but if you join their E-Club for $50 they'll knock 25% off the price.

They also have a terrific 7.1 channel receiver for only $499, the Flex 8100. It has 65 watts/channel ALL channels driven simultaneously. It also comes with a sophisticated room correction system which will tailor your speakers' sound to the room, a very nice feature indeed. In addition, it has an 11-band parametric equalizer which will allow you to finely tune the sound, you are not limited to just Bass and Treble controls.

It comes with a 3 year warranty and a 30 day in-home trial so that you can listen to it in your room to make sure it's right for you.


This is the way I'd go if I were you. Mate this receiver with some good quality speakers - Tekton, GoldenEar, or the much lauded Andrew Jones designed Pioneer speakers. You could put together a *killer* 5.1 system for less than $1200 if you shop wisely.

Subwoofer($105 incl. shipping, used - like new):

Front L/R speakers($105 ea. incl. shipping, used - like new):

Center channel speaker ($97 with free shipping!):

Rear speakers ($87/pr. used!!!):

So, that's about $510 for the speakers/subwoofer and $500 for the receiver - all delivered to your door!! This will give you a VERY good sounding 5.1 multi-channel system for right around a grand. Find a nice Oppo BDP-103 universal player for $400 and you would have one hell of a good system for less than $1500.

Oppo BDP-103 ($400):

It don't get much better than that, pardner!!

If you want to do this then you should know that certain manufacturers amplification components work best with certain manufactures speakers . Learn that this is a 'system' , these components need to work 'together' .

Many speaker manufacturers use one particular manufacturers amplification components when designing their speakers and the same is true for the amplification manufacturers .

I like the Oppo idea , it will give you many choices . I have been contemplating this myself !

Good luck

Chanceshaw-You can do better then Emotiva for less money! As for synergy Magnepan speakers seem to work well with Class D amplifiers(Denon DRA-CX3) maybe it's the high damping factor? With the NAD S300 it sounded great with various speakers-Linn/ML/Vandersteen and VA, so why not Magnepan? Another option I missed(if the MMG is too large) is the complete Denon CX3 Series including the CX303 speakers. This is the best complete budget system(I know) that offers very good sound and build quality. Add quality speaker stands and the best Signal Cable(Silver Resolution) and you will get many years of enjoyment!
lol, correction, A23...

A21 on Denver craigs though, &1250 and I bet he'd take $1100...ready set go!