The $5000 System

The management of SSI requested exhibiting manufacturers, distributors, and retailers to set up—in addition to whatever equipment they wanted to demonstrate—an entry-level system, with a total price of $5,000 or less. Some high-end audio manufacturers had nothing that would qualify, but others stepped up to the plate. Totem and Creek had a nifty little system (see photo below) that featured a pair of Totem Arros, Creek CD player and integrated amp, which have a combined price of $4,100, leaving $900 for cables, etc.

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mauidj's picture
$5000 entry level?

$5000 might be entry level to the 1% or the dedecated hobyists but to normal people it's a big chunk of cash. No wonder the industry is not growing!

MVBC's picture
Arte povera

Indeed this is why it is so critical to spend 5 grands on the right components and spend time on knowing what can be optimized, such as speakers with better drivers in proven configurations. $5,000 is about saving $200 a month for 2 years to get you a decent basic system, hardly a 1%er privilege... So there is nothing wrong in having to wait a bit to get what one wants without having to blame anyone for that.

John Atkinson's picture
Re; $5000 entry level

mauldji wrote:
$5000 might be entry level to the 1% or the dedecated hobyists but to normal people it's a big chunk of cash.

I am not saying $5000 is not a lot of money, but for context, the last reader survey we did 10 years ago revealed that the average amount Stereophile readers had invested in their systems was $15,000.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

SET Man's picture
10 years already


  The world have changed a lot the past 10 years. Maybe you should do a survey again and see if is still the same. It would be interesting.

   As for myself, my system haven't change much at all both in components and price wise.

MVBC's picture
And the others

And the others manufacturers who stepped up to the plate were?

John Atkinson's picture
Re: And the others

And the others manufacturers who stepped up to the plate were?

Covered in the stories following this one.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

MVBC's picture
Thank you

But a list would have also been welcome no?

Robert Deutsch's picture
No list

Yes, it would have been good to have a list of designated Sub-$5000 systems, but SSI did not provide one, so I had to keep looking for the little signs.

TiFramelock's picture
$5000 to spend? That's easy...

Its a great time to be a music lover/audiophile, lower priced gear is better than ever and its easy to put together a very good system for well under $5000. If one were already using their computer as a source for FLAC or other CD quality audio you'd simply need a DAC, preamp, amp and speakers. My office system uses the new Parasound Zdac ($475), Creek OBH-22 Passive Pre ($450), a Parasound A23 amp ($999) and at times the NHT Classic Three ($900) or Magnepan MMG ($599) speakers. If you leave out the headphone amps (Little Dot MKIII and Schiit Audio Lyr) and go with the Maggie MMG's that brings your cost to only $2523! $2500 isn't chicken feed but the level of sound quality that you'd have for that price is outstanding. Heck, if we have $5K to play with I'd go with the stellar Magnepan 1.7's ($1999) and we'd still be under budget at only $3923! 

volvic's picture
$5000 to spend? That's easy...

Well said TiFramelock....DAC's nowdays cost under 2K are magnificent and trump CD players that cost only 10k a few years back.  With the money I saved, I can finally buy that Subaru Forrester I have been long coveting.  

TiFramelock's picture
Money well spent.

Not only can you put together a terrific sounding system for well under $5k like I stated above but when you consider how long you'll be able to enjoy said system, its a bargain.

I bought a new Acurus A250 amp and a new pair of Magnepan 1.5QR speakers within a year of each other and sold both 15 years later and recouped $1000 for the pair AFTER using them daily for 15 years!

If I recall corectly the amp cost me $999 new and the Maggies were $1350 so getting nearly half the retail price back after all those years of enjoyment is incredible. Of course I simply put that money into new gear. Name me another elelctronic device/devices that you can use every day for a decade and a half and still get nearly half of your money back. 

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