Thanks to some great advice and resources on this forum, I'm close to finalizing the plan for my ~$1000 starter setup, and would love critiques/comments on the plan.
Some background from my original post:
I will be in a relatively small apartment and don’t tend to blast my music, so I don’t need anything super powerful. I want compatibility with the following sources: CDs, PC, iPhone, and possibly FM radio. I would like future compatibility with phono and a blu-ray player, which I will buy later when I have the cash.
I listen to lots of acoustic/Americana/bluegrass, folk, traditional country, jazz, world music. I like a natural sound that captures the wood and air of the acoustic instruments that I tend to listen to.
Here's the current plan:
Speakers: Wharefedale Diamond 10.1 ($350)
Amplifier/Receiver: HK 3490 ($400 - includes FM tuner, digital inputs, and phono stage)
CD Player: Sony PS1 (~40 on eBay)
Airport Express, with Airfoil software, via optical out to receiver for playing lossless music from PC and iPhone (~$95 total)
This comes to a very reasonable total of $885.
Plan B would be to get a better-sounding amplifier (NAD316BEE, Marantz PM5004 , Music Hall a15.3, etc) which would require an external DAC to run the Airport Express through, and possibly an external phono preamp. I would also not have an FM receiver, which would be ok since I can stream the little radio I listen to via my iPhone/PC.
If I get the $350 Schiit Biifrost, for example, and a $200 entry-level phono preamp, that brings my total to a much-higher $1400.
So my questions are:
1. Would plan B give me improved enough sound quality to warrant the extra $500+, and if so, what amplifiers and DACs should I consider?
2. If plan A is my better option in terms of cost-benefit, does it look good as is or would you recommend I check out different components?
Thanks in advance for your help!