Hi, 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.
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).
You might start by listening to some speakers and get an idea of what you like and figure those first . Once you identify the type of speaker you're interested in it's easier to get some recomendations for other componets people use with that type of speaker .Another thing it is usually a little less expensive to look at integrated amps with a decent dac and phono stage you can always upgrade the dac and get a better phono later.
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.
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)
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.
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.