Let me see. If you're buying used, it greatly depends on what you find and what kind of deal you get, but for $6k you should be able to assemble a fine-sounding system. (1) If you can find them, the Meitner PA-6/6i preamp and MTR-101 monoblocs offer superb sound for the money (circa $1500/new circa $6k). (2) The Sony SCD-777ES now costs more used than just a couple of months ago. Used to be around $1500, now closer to $2k (new $2500). You get superb CD and SACD sound. Reviewers caution 300+ hours break-in time. (3) Speakers. Here I think personal taste and preferred music, if any, count for more than in the first two categories. I personally have long thought that Tannoy DMT studio monitors blow away everything else for the money. The System 15 DMT II doesn't come up that often on the used market, but prices seem to be around $2k (list around $4k). Or you can get System 12 for under $1k. There are many other possible speaker choices, though. And I hesitate to preach in this area for precisely the reasons mentioned above. Beside their unforgiving accuracy, superb resolution, fabulous dynamic range and transient response, the Tannoys, at 98 dB for the 15s and about 93 dB for the 12s, are sensitive enough that you could easily power them with tubes if you ever wanted to. Word is that Tannoy finds the DMT cabinets too expensive to build and will be switching to something more economical, so now's a good time. (4) Now this system, lacking admittedly a tuner and turntable, would total around $5500. (5) For another $500, you could easily pick up a used Thorens TD-125-II or TD-126-II/III with a quality arm plus a new quality MM cartridge like the Audio Technica AT-440ML or Reson Reca. (6) For cables and interconnects you could spend another couple of grand and go way over your budget, but I'd advise against it. Fiddle with cables after you've bought some delightful new music to enjoy on your system. For now get Markertek or someone to make up interconnects from Canare StarQuad microphone cable and Neutrik ProFi RCA connectors. For speaker cables, there's some good DIY options out there, but StarQuad speaker cables would do you well until you've recovered from the other expenses. Or you could wait to find some Museatex cryogenic interconnects and cables. They seem to come up on eBay fairly cheap, fairly regularly. Biwire the Tannoys, though. (7) Anyway, this used $6k system will basically give you a $20-30k system that will be very hard to beat. (8) For what it's worth, this is the direction I've gone in, after 25 years of enjoying hi fi. Best of luck and happy listening. dr.joe.
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