Go out and listen! There is all sorts of theory, favorites, opinions but only one set of your ears, With that sort of budget you can surely attempt an in home demo and I would atleast look into that, I can say you may be steered in better direction by listing room size, size of speaker preference, your location so clsoe dealers can be factored in for the lines they carry among other ideas.
I agree with Chadliz, but you must also decide what you want from a system. Do you want a turntable, do you mind lots of components or do you prefer to keep it simple. if it was up to me, I would devide my money like this more or less.
Speakers $8k to $10k
amp $5k to $7k
CD $1k to $3k
cabels $0 to $2k
It get more complicated if you want a turntable as well. But just buying components won't make up for a good system. I would start with speakers. Listen to cheap and expenive speakers, from bookshelf to floorstanding. Figure out what kind of sound you like. Then start to listen to speakers that have that sound within you price range. Next find an amp that can drive those speakers without making them sound bad. Next buy a CD player. I think the CD player is the least impotand step. Sure there are differances between playes but not so much as between speakers.
I own a CEC TL51x with Wadia 12 DAC. I think this combo would no sound bad in a $20k system.
With the amount of money you want to spend ($20,000) you should be able to built quite a nice system. If it was me with that much money and wanting to know where to start, I find a good, well-established, hi-end dealer with a good reputation for sales and service, and between the two of you build a system that meets you listening wants and needs. Granted it will cost more to go this route, than buying used, but then again you're paying for the dealer's experience and expertise, and a good hi-end dealer can help you avoid many expensive mistakes in putting together a good system. Of course, this advice is considered somewhat "heresy" over here on Audiogon, as many of the people here are seriously into the "buy/sell" game, and would like nothing better than getting another "player" into the game. One more piece of advice, remember in the final analysis, it's about the music, and not so much the gear. The gear itself is just a tool to get you to the music. Unfortunately, there seems to be many that have forgotten that fact.
Where are you located? My friend was able to audition most if not all of his gear in his own home from a local dealer who is also a member of the AudiogoN Guild. I would recommend starting at least there - the Guild that is.
for starters, just because you can spend 20K is no reason to feel like you will not be satisfied with a less $ set up. listen to more modest systems at any number of dealers. classical rock recordings in original formats are generally not that well recorded and really accurate and pricey systems will reveal this. if you announce your budget you will gladly be serviced to leave you with $1.47 as you leave the shop. take along your favorite albums or cd's and try not to listen to anything but the MUSIC and if that is the way you want to hear it replayed. lotsa folks want to feel like they are golden eared audiophies but in my experience it is an ego trip for most. the law of diminshing returns is a major thing to consider in this marketplace of goods. lastly, your listening room is ultimately the determining factor so do not overlook acoustic treatments for this space. have fun.
Good advice from Veroman - don't lead with the chin. I would add, start with the speakers. Narrow your speaker selection to a few models. I would not limit myself at the outset here - consider floorstanders, monitors (maybe with a sub) - also give a listen to the traditional passive boxes, actives (speaker and amp matched in one box), planars, etc. Then look at the amount of power you will need to drive the different models that you have narrowed to, at the listening levels that you want, in the room you are going to be listening in; that will be your biggest initial concern as to an amp - preamp / integrated. Sources I would look at last. Amounts to spend are kind of fluid, but with a 20k budget, somwhere under 10k for the speakers would be a starting point. Also, quality vs price do not necessarily go hand in hand, especially with speakers which will depend a lot on your personal tastes. You may find that you will be able to put together a system that you are happy with for much less than 20k as opposed to a more expensive system. Probably the best advice I could offer is 'patience' - take your time.
thanks everyone for the advice as i am new to this hobby and dreatly appriciate the input
I'd start by listening to speakers. Find a speaker you like, then find out how to power it, and the rest just falls in line.
I just spent a little less than $15K on my new system. I did pretty much exactly what these people suggest. I listened and listened and listened. On the fist day alone, I think I went thru about 10 pairs of speakers and about 5 amps in just about every combination of them.
The difference was greatest in the speakers and that's where I spent most of my budget, $6.5K. I didn't want many components and went with an integrated at $2.8K. So you can see, I followed Mordante's advice and spent the bulk on the speakers.
The rest was spent on a CD/DVD player, cables, stands, and a power regenerator.
With your budget, you should be able to buy a highly musical system that will play classic rock like a champ!
Consider a horn system for rock about as good as you can get, check out Audiokenesis. KCS loudspeakers, Edgar horns. Bet they can help you select amps etc to go with the horn systems plus some of these guys will do some custom work custom finish, designs etc.
A system should be built around a pair of speakers and a compatible amplifier.
After that, the world is your oyster.
mpg2971,, btw, there are some myths out there regarding musical genres and spkr design. be your own guide or you might fall into this trap. not bashing peoples opinions but as you sound new to it i just wanted to give you a heads up. choose the spkr you like with your cd or lp playing. you gotta live with it, not the salesman. i listened to some $$ thiels once and was not that impressed and the salesman acted as if i was wrong to state i found them not very satisfying. there is no right or wrong in subjective perceptual experiences.
I would say that you could spend about half that amount and still get something that sounds fantastic - then you have alot more money left over for records, CD's, and live concert tickets.
I would spend most of my money on the speakers. Without good speakers everything else is a dead end.
thanks everyone great ideas,mike
You can build a world class system for much less.
I would look at:
ATC speakers (they come in active or passive configurations)
I would recommend their active series--you get a class A amp that is perfectly balanced)
Can now connect to a balanced CD player
If you wish to go analogue, add a pre-amp, phono stage and a simple turntable. EAR, Bryston and Rega make excellent products here.
There is a substantial 'source first' crowd.
But I'd spend money on concert tickets even before that.
Where do you live? Can you get to some LIVE stuff?
Do this before auditioning anything.
Than, the key will be finding a dealer to work with and getting the room straightened out.