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jonkinisu
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$30,000 challenge

Hi all,
I'm new to the world of hi-end audio (& stereophile.com) and desperately need assistance. I intend to buy a complete hi-fi system (power amp, pre-amp, CD/SACD player, floor standing speakers & cables) all in.

Kindly recommend equipment models (and costs) that could fit into this budget.

Thanks,
xpy

scottgardner
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Re: $30,000 challenge


Quote:
Hi all,
I'm new to the world of hi-end audio (& stereophile.com) and desperately need assistance. I intend to buy a complete hi-fi system (power amp, pre-amp, CD/SACD player, floor standing speakers & cables) all in.

Kindly recommend equipment models (and costs) that could fit into this budget.

Thanks,
xpy

Welcome aboard xpy,

You may need to don a flame suit (don't worry about me). But before that happens I have couple questions:

1. 30000 challenge, what do you mean? Do I get to keep the change?
2. Have you done any auditioning yet?

In general start with your ears and work towards the source:

Room-Speakers->Amp->Pre->CD/TT.

Speakers should be 25% to 50% of your budget.

rvance
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Re: $30,000 challenge

If this is a serious inquiry I suggest you head to your nearest reputable high end audio emporium. The economy and the industry needs a good infusion of cash right now.

scottgardner
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Re: $30,000 challenge

Did you mean $3,000?

judicata
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Re: $30,000 challenge

Listen to a bunch of stuff and take your sweet time. Others on here can give you more specific ideas in that price range (I don't have a single piece of equipment you would likely own in that system).

But, please, audition several items before you commit.

linden518
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Re: $30,000 challenge

Wow, with that budget, you can do so much. I'm sure you have at least one piece of gear that you're somehow drawn to. Maybe it's a pair of speakers, maybe it's some amplifier. I'd start there, and try to complement other pieces. This is where a dealer's know-how comes in handy; not that they're right all the time, but at least you can bounce your ideas off someone's expert opinions... this way, you minimize the risk. I don't think you want to roll the dice with your $30K. The general rule is to start with speakers, but there are many who went amplifier first, or source first. It's totally up to you. Make sure you save about $3K for ancillaries, like cables or some power conditioning you might need... you never know. Some would suggest spending more on such, but I think that's the kind of fine-tuning that you can deal with later in time. If I were you, I'd get the best possible gear first, and upgrade ancillaries later.

It's a bit difficult to suggest specific gears, because we don't know how big your listening room is, what kind of music you like to listen to, and what priorities you have when it comes to the sound, etc etc... With that kind of budget, though, you shouldn't have any problem at all realizing your desires. Have fun!

mrlowry
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Re: $30,000 challenge

I second the suggestion to find a knowledgeable local dealer. It

gkc
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Re: $30,000 challenge

Xpy, as I expected, you got a few flippant replies. Perhaps you are trolling, and you deserved them. I will respond, later, with specifics, but only after you publish your room size, your WAF (if there is one); the ten best, worst, and middling recordings that you admire for the music (and please include what kind of music you enjoy the most); how often you attend live concerts (and whether or not this is important to you); and, most important, how dominating a concern music is in your life, to make it, er, meaningful. Do you need a "display" system with which to impress your friends? Or do you live and die your tunes?

As the resident straw dog, I often get sick of being caricaturized as a person who simply throws money at musical whims. I go to live concerts at least 30 times a year, and I love what I hear. And I choose my components on the basis of what I remember of those live concerts, with the goal of getting as close to that memory as possible. This can be a complex selection process or a simple one, depending on how you sort out the variables. I own more than 2,000 LP's, and 2,500 CD's (including SACD's in the latter). They are of uneven quality, when it comes to sound, but they all MOVE me, in the musical sense, or I wouldn't still have them. This is the unquantifiable and unqualifiable variable. How does the software behave in your perfect system?

I can afford anything out there. And I am not the least embarrassed about it. I have lived a relatively frugal life. But I have enjoyed it. I have drunk and pissed out $2,000 bottles of Petrus, and I have gotten more enjoyment out of THAT than 200 bottles of $10 wine could EVER give me. I always place limit orders when I trade at the Comex, CBOT, or any exchange that brokers equities. I do NOT enjoy being screwed, in audio, trading, fucking (anybody out there who got screwed out of a good fuck will appreciate the apparent paradox), or any other of life's arenas. I am a careful buyer when it comes to audio. I have never gone into a dealer, plopped down 100 large, and said, "make me happy" in my life.

JIMV, the above is for you and your stereotypes. I am quite probably the most careful, discriminating shopper you could ever hope to meet. If you can't afford the best, do not whine at those of us who can. Some of us shop just as carefully as you do (if not more carefully...).

Xpy, I (having said all of that) think you can do very well for 30 large...but ONLY if you know what you want to hear from from the system, in real time and in the real world of software limitations.

Do stay in touch.

ncdrawl
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Re: $30,000 challenge


Quote:

I can afford anything out there. And I am not the least embarrassed about it. I have lived a relatively frugal life. But I have enjoyed it. I have drunk and pissed out $2,000 bottles of Petrus,[snip]

the above sums it all up, Clifton. Anyone that feels the need to broadcast wealth is a bit poor in other areas.
does anyone care how much you make? How is it relevant to the OP? jesus.

gkc
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Re: $30,000 challenge

And you didn't finish the sentence. How tacky. The point, in case are incapable of adding, subtracting, or dividing, is that I would rather have ONE of something that costs $2,000, and gives me unique pleasure, than TWO HUNDRED of something that costs $10 and leaves a flat taste in my mouth 200 times.

Broadcast wealth? I was probably poorer than you for at least a third of my life. In 1958 I worked for the Union Pacific Railroad, laying ties between Iron Mountain and Cedar City, for 35 cents an hour. I was grateful when word came down that we were behind miles, and we would have to work 12-16 hours instead of 8-10.

I became "rich" (no, not "RICH,") when I learned how to trade major secular cycles. That would be LEARNED. As in reading. Back-trading different systems. Losing money. Making mistakes. Learning the difference between Donchian momentum trades and contrarian approaches. If you are poor, it is because you haven't been going to the right school.

Tacky? If you want tacky, read your own post.

Still, in the name of music, happy tunes...

judicata
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Re: $30,000 challenge

No one should criticize another for enjoying one's "wealth" (whether that be $10 or $10,000, or $10M).

No, money will not MAKE you happy. As cliche as it is, it is a huge mistake to try to fill some emptiness by spending money. If you are happy though, you can take great pleasure in enjoying your "wealth" (again, even if it is a very small amount). Perhaps even as a celebration of your success. But if you are unhappy and just trying to make yourself happy by spending money, you're going to be very disappointed.

I wish I could afford to spend $30,000 on audio equipment. Perhaps I will someday.

No, people sholdn't gloat their wealth over others, but they shouldn't be embarassed either, unless they stole it. Money isn't evil - it is amoral.

linden518
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Re: $30,000 challenge

Personally, I don't think any adult has to justify anything that he does for his own pleasure, unless it goes against some public interest or ethics. Anyway, back to audio... OP: the room dimensions are important, as are the types of music you like. Our suggestions can't get specific without those things...

jonkinisu
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Re: $30,000 challenge

Thank you all; I greatly appreciate your sound advise thus far. I apologise for not being able to respond sooner - I didn't have frequent access to a computer (until now).

Just a point of clarification: this was not meant to be a thread in which I intended to display any measure of wealth or such like and I apologise for anyone who feels otherwise.

I went to a dealer yesterday by the name Modia (I'm in Houston, TX) who sells predominantly B&W speakers, classe audio and macintosh components. I requested to see their showroom to showcase their equipment. The dealer narrowed the equipment down to the following:

Speakers:
B&W 802D floorstanders speakers

Amps:
Classe OMEGA OMICRON MONO Power Amplifier
Classe CP-700 Preamplifier with TFT Touchscreen
Classe CDP-502 - Reference Disc Player

or
McIntosh Labs MC501 Monoblock Power Amplifier
McIntosh Labs C2200 Vacuum Tube Stereo Preamplifier
McIntosh Labs MCD201 SACD/CD Player

or
McIntosh Labs MC2102 Vacuum Tube Power Amplifier
McIntosh Labs C2200 Vacuum Tube Stereo Preamplifier
McIntosh Labs MCD201 SACD/CD Player

Based on these configurations, we're meeting this coming Saturday to test the components further with a selection of my CDs. Please provide your comments on whether this is within the ballpark - am I getting good equipment? What should I be looking out for?

In terms of my music needs, my place is sufficiently large to offer adequate acoustic symphony and harmony without dampening out the sound. The walls in the audio room are mostly glass but I do not intend on playing loud music. I listen mostly to smooth jazz (Brian Culbertson, Ken Navarro, Peter White) type of stuff. My music needs can be 'quantified' and likened to the scope of an ardent jazz listener who has to be able to hear and distinguish the individual composition of instruments with clarity and precision.

Hope this helps some towards the various queries asked. Once again, I am extremely grateful for the warm welcome received, the comments and advise. Please keep it coming. Yes, the budget is $30,000 and not $3,000.

gkc
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Re: $30,000 challenge

Obviously, you are hooked up with a great dealer. The list you posted has the capability of providing you with a system that could light your fire for 20 years, if not longer.

I only have one nit-pick. And it IS a nit-pick, not a major objection. You do NOT have to spend the entire 30 grand, here, in one shot. I would say, leave yourself some wiggle room. Speakers are tricky. You have to listen to them for at least a couple of months (realistically, a half year) before you can evaluate them. You have to go through mood swings. You have to play music you love through them, but music that is badly recorded. And then you have to deal with THAT disappointment. "Shouldn't this sound better, for 30 large?" No, not necessarily. You have to come to terms with unrealistic expectations from bad software, even though you love the music, and any SUSTAINED annoyances in terms of persistent colorations and/or room resonance problems that refuse to go away in your own listening environment.

So, that having been said, I would have to say you are on the right track. You have a great dealer with great equipment. I have always loved the B&W "sound." It is, generally, spacious (very important to me, since I attend many live concerts, and "live" IS "space"), relatively neutral in timbre, and fast and musical.

Make sure you develop a relationship with this dealer that allows you to change, over time, without losing a good deal of your original investment. And you probably WILL change, over time.

Good luck, and happy tunes.

linden518
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Re: $30,000 challenge

They are great components. The only thing, though, - and I'm speaking here very personally & subjectively - is that if you go with the dealer's recommendations all the way, it would rob you of much of the pleasures to be had in you PERSONALLY building a system to specifically cater to your preferences. B&W speakers and Classe components will have no problem with synergy, especially as they basically are developed together, distributed together, advertised together. Same goes for all-McIntosh system.

But I don't know. That kind of a system might impress, but I'm going to go as far as to suggest that it won't inspire. Again, this is a personal opinion. I think the best way is to actually go to the dealer and listen, but don't buy in on the package. See what you like, what you dislike. Ask questions, both at the dealer's and elsewhere, in these forums, too. I'd like to think of a system as a reflection of one's musical thinking & growth, too, and the B&W/Classe or omni-McIntosh options seem too well packaged. Maybe too blandly shiny and easy and safe. Do make sure to ask the dealer to have other components on the ready to swap in place of certain components; if he tries to influence your decision-making with his chatter of sales pitch, block him out & just listen. Good dealers let you listen on your own for a while.

I say you at least have one decision that you can make right away at the dealer, though. Determine whether you'd like to go with solid state or tube amplification, and that will definitely narrow down your speaker search. But most important of all: have fun! And please take your time & not rush into a decision.

jackfish
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Re: $30,000 challenge


Quote:
B&W 802D


For that price I'd certainly listen to the Vandersteen 5As. They blow the B&Ws out of the water for me.

I'd love to audition the Vandersteen 5As with the Jolida 3000B preamp, a pair of Jolida 3000B monoblocks, and the Shanling SCD-T200 CD/SACD player. All for just $25,600. Add two pairs of Pure Note Vanguard 1m interconnects and two pairs of Pure Note Vanguard 3m speaker wire for $5000. Man, that would be sweet.

gkc
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Re: $30,000 challenge

Jackfish and Selfdivider bring up great points. My first response would be to Jackfish. There is no greater advocate of tubes than me. I love 'em.

But for a first plunge? I just don't know. This is a personal thing. There is no doubt that tubes require more fuss and maintenance than the current iterations of transistors. Tubes are listening and a hobby, from my point of view. I couldn't argue against Jackfish on this point. My only caveat would be from the longevity and maintenance angles. Any new system needs break-in. And breaking in a system with tubes is a waste of money. If one decides to go all tubes, especially at the initial plunge, he should (my opinion) buy a cheap transistor amp (integrated is okay) for the break-in period. Then, you can just leave the system on all the time for a couple of weeks and not burn precious tube life.

McIntosh tubes are wonderful. Depending on who you are and how you listen, they may or may not be the best you can buy, but they are certainly close enough.

I would say, go transistors at first. Understand that I am operating in the dark, here. I just don't know your "hobby" instincts or your "tweaking" threshold. But the transistor gear you mention, McIntosh and Simaudio, is outstanding, and will give you a good opening look into what a home music system can provide, in terms of upgrading your outlook on life. In my casual auditioning of the two brands, Simaudio tends to be a bit more neutral and laid-back (sorry about the audio cliche), perhaps putting you 10 rows back in the concert hall, while McIntosh tends to project a sound that is more immediate and "up front." Also, McIntosh (which I have owned many times over many years) tends to highlight the upper mid-range a wee bit. This is not a bad thing. It is exactly what you hear in many concert halls. It is an "alive" sound, and I love it. But that is merely I. You are the one who has to draw these conclusions.

Selfdivider is right. The Vandersteen 5 is one of the great speaker systems out there. You definitely should audition it. You will hear (predicting, again, from my own listening) a much different midrange-upper-midrange presentation. The nice thing about the Vandersteen is the flexibility it offers in terms of adjusting the bass to your room. Do audition it. Compared to the B&W's, you will either love it or hate it. That is your call.

Good luck. And, more importantly, enjoy the music.

jonkinisu
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Re: $30,000 challenge

Thanks Clifton, Self-divider and Jackfish. Today is the day of reckoning, I'm headed to the dealership in half an hour to test the suggested component combination. I'll find some time to search and showcase the Vandersteen 5 - no idea where to get them in H-town (while google later in the day).

Clifton: I don't have much experience with tweaking; I'm graduating from a Technics component system that I've owned for the last 10 years - and for all it's flaws, it's served me well but doesn't offer any musical soundscape nor the experience that I desire.

The question of tubes versus transistor amps seems quite pertinent and I'll be taking this up with the dealer. The choice of speakers also seems quite divided. My experience has been limited to the B&W and Wharfdale models, which for a long time have been the best I've known. I'm bound to explore the various models with time.

I'll be back with my experience from the dealership.

rmeyer52
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Re: $30,000 challenge

I have assembled, based upon research and listening my dream system. I had a chance to listen to it for almost 2 hours at an audio dealer 75 miles from my home and it amazed me. Here is the link to my dream system for $30K

http://www.hifirotation.com/page8/page24/page24.html

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