What is the best system one can make under $5000

I am new to speakers in general and have a couple of decent headphones. What is the best system one can hope to create with a budget of $5000. It is ok to include second-hand components as well. It should allow a turntable and at least one optical input and headphone output.

The listening area is 13ft X 20ft.

Thanks in advance for your advice.

You'll get some good advice here. You might also get some sneers at a budget of $5000 (but not from me).

I think a lot of it depends on what your needs are and what you want to do with the system.

I think if I were starting over (with my needs) I would do a lot of research and find a good quality used system. I'm guessing the system I inherited was probably $20k when it was new, around 10 years or so ago. I bet you could pick it up for $5000 now, without a high end turntable though.

On the other hand, there is a US company that makes reasonably priced components that punch above their weight class. It is called Schiit. Even though it is probably considered mid-fi or even low-fi by those with $20k and up systems they seem to garner a certain amount of respect for their price vs quality ratio.

I can't help you with speakers except to say that I love my Aerial Acoustic 7B tower speakers and did not love comparable B&W tower speakers (the model number I have forgotten). 
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ClearAudio or MoFi Table
Ortofon Bronze
Parks Audio Puffin Phono
NAD 3020 D integrated amp w DAC
Vanersteen 1ci or Magnepans....
wire it all with Audioquest or Bluejeans cables..

pretty amazing sound...

Basis 1400
Ortofon Bronze ( new ) or a Grado Sonata 2
NAD 3020 V2 includes Phono
Vandersteen 2 signature w stands
Sonus Faber Toy Towers
....same wire....

You really need to let us know what aspects of sound reproduction are most important to you so you get recommendations more relevant to your specific preferences.
@soix, I am looking for a relatively fast speaker and will not be playing the loudspeakers necessarily loud. As for reproduction, I would like a system without much coloration. 

As for tube vs solid state, I would like to lean towards a system with least maintainance.
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It seems like exaggeration is the primary tool of a lot of would-be audiophile critics.
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"Pair of KH Neumann 310".

That’s 5 grand right there.

Dumb question: What is the difference between a monitor and a speaker/loudspeaker? Is it the same as a powered speaker?
Schitt saga - preamp
Schitt vidar - amp
Schitt modi multibit - DAC
Ohm walsh 2000 mains
Rythmik F18 sealed servo sub
Bluejeans cables
Chromecast audio - digital source, run fiber out to the modi

Can mono block the vidars and get balanced connections if you buy a second one (would need to upgrade to the Schitt Freya preamp, however)

Since you're looking for fairly neutral and uncolored sound, there's a pair of Revel F206 here for $2500 and a Hegel H160 (that has all the connections you're looking for) for $1400 that will likely sound fantastic and leave you with another $1100 for whatever else.  Best of luck. 
KEF LS50 Wireless ~$2500

Technics SL1200GR ~$1700

$800 left for a decent phono preamp

  •  Buy all from same dealer and maybe they'll throw in a good TT cartridge
or ask for typical 10 to 15% discount and put it toward a cart like the Ortofon 2M Bronze 

Such a system would likely embarrass some costing 3x more.

Use whatever cables you can get your hands on in addition to the manufacturer supplied cables. Best Buy RocketFish works perfectly fine. Don't waste money on esoteric cables or power conditioning, at least not at the start. 

How do you plan to use the system? If it’s for a combo music & TV/movie system then I’d lean towards big floorstanders that can deliver deep bass. If it’s for music only and your musical tastes don’t mind lacking a bit of bass and lower volumes, you might be better off with a highend bookshelf speaker. 

For the former, I’d go Goldenear Triton 2s, but there are lots of solid contenders including Kef R900s, PSB Imagine T2s or those Revel F206s. For the latter, Harbeths or DeVore Gibbon 3XLs are on my personal wishlist. Either way I’d spend $2500-3500 on the speakers since they affect system performance more than any other component and I’d try my best to listen to a pair before buying if at all possible. 

I’d then look for a good integrated amp with built-in phono input, DAC, and headphone output for somewhere around $1k...$1500 max if you were closer to the lower end of the price range on speakers. Peachtree nova150 comes to mind and one is available now for $999. The Hegel mentioned by soix would be an awesome choice but is listed as “local pickup only” so include the price of a trip to Minnesota in the budget if you can’t talk the seller into shipping it :). 

I’d definitely include a chrome cast audio as mentioned above...can’t be beat for $35   

Next I’d pick out a turntable somewhere in the $500-$1k range to leave just enough for budget cables, interconnects, and a surge protector (the latter to keep from it going up in smoke more than for any sound quality benefits). If you don’t mind lacking a dust cover I’d go VPI Cliffwood...if you do, Rega Planar 2 or 3 or something from the Pro-Ject lineup that works for the remaining budget. 

All that said, I didn’t build my <$5000 system that way at all. It’s:
KEF LS50s ($1000)
Creek Evo100a w/ Ruby DAC module (~$2500)
Chromecast Audio ($35)
VPI Nomad Turntable ($600 on sale)
Pioneer CD/DVD player I already had ($?)
Furman power conditioner/surge protector ($200) 
Entry-level Audioquest cabling and interconnects (couple hundred dollars tops for all of them)

.... and it sounds fantastic to me. 
Belles Aria Integrated (includes MM phono stage), Nuforce STA200 (on closeout) and Odyssey Khartago amps, Magnepan .7 and Salk SongTower speakers
jl35, I don't think we can say the STA200 is on a closeout price anymore.  I would guess that the unit is still being manufactured and Nuforce has decided that the $499 is the fair market value.
don't know.  are they still making them? can't imagine they will make them much longer
according to Audio Advisor, it's a clearance item, and no more can be ordered.  whether or not that's a marketing ploy...
It is still shown as current on the Optima/Nuforce products webpage.  I remember Audio Advisor was out of them and then had more to sell.  I like mine but only have tube amps (Dynaco st70s) to compare it to.
though the Belles Aria Integrated is also excellent and may be an even better overall value since the OP wants phono
Nice catch on the Hegel @ethos123. Here’s a link to another H160 for $2k but may be somewhat negotiable and still under budget with the Revels.



To the OP, in a prior post you listed a turntable and phono preamp in your current system. Are you looking to replace them too within this budget or just have an input for them? I’m a little confused here.
Take a look at the PS Audio Sprout100 (integrated amp -w- MM phono/DAC/BT and headphone output) available direct for $600.

Very positive online user and pro reviews.

This will allow you to increase your TT & speaker budget.

You could get Eminent Technology LFT-8 planar mag speakers ($2500 new) and a NuPrim IDA 16 integrated amp/dac ($2k new).

Add a Lounge LCR phono preamp ($300 to $650 new) and your choice of turntable (I'd go vintage plus a good cartridge).

Might go a wee bit over (or a lot if you go for something like a Koetsu cart, Kuzma table, plus a Sutherland pre). Drop to the NuPrime IDA-8 for $1k if it's a firm budget, then.




In a 13 ft. x 20 ft. room, and I would be doing music and movies in the same room. So I would be doing the following….


. Vandersteen 2Ce — $800.00 to $1,500.00 (used)

. Schiit Vidar Power Amplifier (2)* — $450.00 (used)

. Schiit Fenya + Preamplifier — $550.00 (used)

. Schiit Mani Phono Preampifier — $129.00 (new)

. Technics SL-1210 M5G Quartz-Locked Direct-Drive Turntable (Already Own)

. Pioneer Elite or Sony ES Series CD/DVD Player — TBD

. Audio Technica VM740ML or Nagaoka MP-200 Phono Cartridge — $400.00

System Total: $3030.00* — but keep in mind that in order for this system to REALLY sing in a 13 ft. x 20 ft. room, and keep the price of the system down now and provide an upgrade path later on, I would start with a single Schiit Audio Vidar Power Amplifier now, but there is room in a $5000.00 budget to add a second Schiit Vidar Power Amplifier later on down the line (even allowing for inflation later on down the line), so I would start there, then afterwards, buy either the Audio Technica or Nagaoka MP-200 Phono Cartridge, then as an option, look around for a used Pioneer Elite or Sony ES CD/DVD Player, then that would be it after that.


Interconnects and Speaker Cables are extra.


Happy Viewing and Listening.



OR for around the same price, I would put this setup together.

It would be for music listening only, it’s something easy and simple to put together, so you won’t have a room full of equipment that dominates your room.  And it includes an integrated amplifier and a music streamer in one (nothing extra to buy), and you’ll get a phono input, so you can still add a turntable.  So in a way, it’s like having both, your cake and eating it too.

And because the speakers selected for this system are much smaller than the speakers I selected for the previous system, if bass is wanted or needed from this system, then a subwoofer is necessary.  But that would be left up to you at this point.  The speakers I have selected for this system are the Wharfedale EVO 4.2’s

Same turntable is included in this system as well.

And this system is as follows….

“And FINALLY, a high quality and simplified (space saving) high-end audio system for my condo (SOMEDAY).

And come to think of it, I don’t even need a CD Player or a CD Collection anymore (consumes too much room space and shelf space).

NOW, all I need is THIS thing (a Marantz PM7000N Integrated Amplifier/Network Streamer).  Which means I don’t need an FM Tuner either.  A network streamer performs the same way a radio tuner performs, but is better two ways.

.  I can select, play, and listen to exactly what I want to listen to.

.  Without the DJ chatter and talk.

.  All I need is an Internet Connection.

And there’s more.

I can still listen to records too.  I do have a turntable now (a Technics SL-1210 M5G with a Nagaoka MP-200 Phono Cartridge).  All I got to do is plug it in.  Plug-N-Play (TOTALLY).

And I can even plug in my TV into this thing.

And there are no other components that I will need to buy either.

Basically, a TOTAL AND COMPLETE High Fidelity Audio System IN ONE.

All I have to do is add speakers, THAT’S IT.

And there I have it, a TOTAL AND COMPLETE home entertainment system….  FOR LESS THAN $3,000.00!!!

I think I may have to go to an audio dealer and audtion this component.  It may be the last component I’ll ever buy (speakers aside).

Pictured with what would also be my supporting pieces below.

Price:  $1,200.00.


System Price:  $3,000.00 + Stands + Interconnects/Speaker Cables.


Yes, and the OP never responded regarding what was done. 

To anyone interested in this topic, I believe a very fine system can be put together for $5000. 

@ “mesch”:

I totally agree, and believe likewise.


I done put two together, starting with basics and provided an upgrade path to boot, without going over $5,000.00, with money left over in both cases and that is with what is assumingly entry-level interconnects and speaker cables.


And while harder with a $5,000.00 budget than it is with say, a $20,000.00 to $30,000.00 budget, it is possible to put together a musically satisfying system with just $5,000.00 if components and accessories are chosen carefully.