I used to own an older Cambridge int. amp (A3i) and cdp (d500se). I thought they were really nice pieces for the money. The phono stage on the amp was particularly good for the price. If you're willing to buy used, your budget could take you a long way. I'm a big fan of Rega gear for a small system. I'd suggest looking into getting your hands on a used rega int. amp (mira or brio--400$), cdp (orig. planet--300$), turntable (a P3--300 w/o cart), and perhaps even speakers. Rega stuff is designed for small rooms, sounds great, and looks funky (in a good way). Have fun.
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Some other budget recommendations, in addition to the excellent ones you're already considering
- The Music Hall CD-25 sounds remarkable for the money, I don't know that it's better than the Rotel, though
- B&W DM303 speakers, at the same retail price as the EPOS'
- For a couple hundred dollars more, but in a whole different league, these Soliloquy 5.0 monitors
- If you go with the Rotel 1072 CD player, you could match it with a Rotel 1060 integrated amp for a nice-looking setup that uses just one remote
Don't get bogged down with cables. What people generally regard as "the good stuff" is at a price point that is not in the budget. Used cables can be an excellent value - in general they don't break or wear out. Lots of cables can be found on A'gon or E-bay. Stick with a reasonable brand like Kimber, Audioquest, Alpha-core, etc and you're likely to be satified. A couple hundred bucks max. You may also want to consider a DVD player to do double duty. It may not sound as good as a dedicated Rotel or Rega CD player but some are quite good. I have a Philips 963 SACD that does a nice job on DVD's and CD's (in it's upsampling mode) and plays SACD's as a bonus. You can find these new and used for less than $500. Not as good as my dedicated CD player, but awfully nice for the price.
One of the best bets for inexpensive speaker cable is Canare StarQuad 4s11 or 4s8, available from markertek.com, especially if you want to bi-wire a speaker like the Soliloquy's.
Click here and then click the links on the left
Markertek's pro audio cables with RCA ends make very good inexpensive interconnects at $26 a pair. Click here Order two, one red and one black.
At the next level up you could also consider DH-Labs least expensive speaker cable, the T-14, and their BL-1 interconnects.
Yes, the Soliloquys were a nice speaker at $1,100, at the closeout price of $495 they're an outrageous bargain. They'd be the basis for a system that might last you awhile.
$1500 is a good budget given that you're in law school... hopefully you'll actually have some time to listen to it!
Anyway, here's my suggestions--
Get an NAD C320BEE integrated amplifier. Virtually impossible to beat for the price. Yeah, you'll need to add a phono preamp, but the unit is rock solid. I would also suggest a C521i or C521BEE CD player (I own the former). The two together can be found online at good discounted prices from authorized dealers (dmc-electronics.com, yawaonline.com)
While the Sumiko Pro-Ject is an excellent turntable (I own one) for the price, try and find a deal on a (used) Rega P2. The RB-250 tonearm is simply excellent. That alone makes it worth your time to hunt down a deal.
EPOS speakers are an excellent choice. I heard them at CES and loved them.
For interconnects, go cheap. Really cheap. I would say Bluejeanscable for your interconnects, and signalcable for your speaker cables. Excellent products for the price.
Why not the NAD amp that includes the CD player? Then get the JM Reynaud Twin speakers. You could save money on ICs and put it into the speaker wire.
I think it is a waste at this price range to buy seperate components and then have to buy ICs which would be inferior to having the CD player hard wired to the amp like the NAD.
BTW the Reynauds are terrific speakers but seem to be unknown on Agon
all the best
Why not the NAD combo? Because everything I've read seems to point to the unit being trash. Not nearly as good as the separate units.
There's a lot more to building a unit than simply cutting down on the number of interconnects. Generally I love NAD's gear. I own it and use it. But that's one unit that I'd simply pass up on.
The suggestion of the Philips 963 DVD/CD player is a good one if you've also got any interest at all in video. I helped a coworker put together a system recently that she's very happy with, the 963, a pair of the Soliloquy 5.0's I recommended above and a Creek A50i integrated amp. She was equally interested in music and movies (but didn't care about 'home theater.')
Substitute any of the less expensive integrateds that have been recommended for the Creek and you'd be within your budget (except for the turntable, but you're going to be busy with law school and not have the time to track down vinyl, and except for the TV, but these are the kind of complications you're faced with when you ask opinionated strangers for advice.)
madmilkman, I was not addressing the question to you however it is interesting to hear your thoughts, I remember a TAS review on one of the NAD combo units and it was very positive. Maybe my memory is faulty? Also one remote has it's advantages.
I stand firm on the quality wire point and think any reasonable components with quality wire performs quite well bringing a presence to the sound that is lost with lesser wire.
Also I have to get up on my soapbox one more time for the Reynaud Twins. Reynaud speakers in general are very good at conveying the emotion and presence of live musicians and are easy to drive.
Jmurry16, best of luck with all these differing opinions!
Actually, the remote that comes with the 320BEE controls both NAD's CD players and tuners. It's an excellent remote compared to their older models.
I don't recall reading TAS review of the integrated unit. It may in fact be very good, but I really don't think that it can hold a candle to the separate boxes.