What are/were the best sounding cheap components you have ever had?

It is easy to like the best of the best, so to say.  However it is always satifying and memorable when an inexpensive product turns out to be very good to great. 

Some that come to mind from personal experience"

Large Advents (original)

Early Nakamichi SR receivers

Original Monster interconnects and speaker wire

Pioneer Pl-12 turntable

Shure M-95

Early Stax and Audio Technica headphones

MoFi "special" pressings

Magnum Dynalab Etude.  Yes some were better, but a real value

The Absolute Sound mag in the beginning 

Early Conrad-Johnson and Audio Research tube electronics

Early Classe integrated amps.

The original Sony Trinitrons

And there are others....but part of this hobby is enjoying the journey.

Have you had cost effective items that were successful for your enjoyment?



- Acoustic Research XA turntable, $78 retail (!) in 1969.

- Decca Blue pickup, $140 in 1972.

- SME 3009 Mk.2 Improved, $295 (iirc) in 1973.

- Townshend Audio Rock Elite turntable, $650 in the early-90’s.

- A couple of used Zeta arms, $600 and $800 iirc.

- Herron VTPH-1mm, direct from Keith for $1225.


Even better are the LP’s and CD’s I’ve acquired over the past 55 or so years (Music Millennium in Portland had it’s bi-annual sidewalk sale a week ago, thousands of VG+ to Mint condition LP’s for $2 apiece. My racks swelled by another 40 or so discs), the value of which is to me immeasurable. As Mazzy (Norman Mazlov) has been reminding us in his latest Vinyl Community YouTube Videos, "It’s about the music, stupid."


NAD 3020 bought new in 1978 for $200. Unfailingly musical and quite versatile with its pre/amp in/out jacks. A favorite recommendation of The Audio Critic.

Parasound Zamp3 is my number 1 answer, just love that little sucker.

Schiit Saga Pre, simply operation and transparent as can be.  

Fo.Q TA-102 tape stuck to the capacitors of my system.  Their positive impact far outweighed their cost

 I'm surprised Magnepan hasn't been mentioned yet (unless I missed it somewhere). I bought a pair of the LSR's for my son and a was simply amazed what those speakers could do at that price.