I'm new to this site and looking for a stereo system for my small aparment. I'm not interested in the over sold chunks of plastic and wires that I see in best buy or circuit city. I'm looking for off the wall great sounding system. All my internet searches have lead me to various sites which are great but expensive. I unfortunately need a system that is compact as I live in a small apartment. So I was looking for something like a bookshelf system or a integrated system. I listen to a variety of music, mostly beats. I had narrowed my choices down to Arcam Solo, Linn Classik and Teac 500 reference ...... but I'm still not sure.
I was hoping you could help me find anything else thats a little better and more bang for the buck, but heaven to the ears!!! $1000-2000 is the budget, including speakers .... I'll have to answer to my missus or her lawer if I get anything more expensive!!
The Arcam DVD/Receiver runs about $1600 and would leave only $300 or so (figuring the tax) for speakers given your budget. Also, speaker stands aren't free and almost always needed to get the most out of small box speakers so you are bumping up against your budget and having to compromise on arguably the most important aspect of an audio system...speakers.
Though not carved in stone, I think you could reasonably expect better performance if your budget break-down ran something closer to:
CD Player $500
Integrated Amp $700 W or W/O Tuner
Cables and wire $100
Shaving off a little from the Integrated to accomodate for speakers stands and perhaps a little from the others to accomodate for taxes and such would put you at the high end of your budget. Even if you wanted to stay closer to the lower end of your budget, I think adjusting the formula above in comparative amounts would provide a more satisfying system.
The obvious answer to your question is to encourage you to visit a high-end retailer and ask them to demo systems at both price points to see how much (or how little) you need to spend to put a grin on your face.
I read and hear a lot of people suggesting that just about any Cd player or even CD/DVD player at the front of a system isn't nearly as important as speakers. The same is often said about amplification. This is total BS...don't buy into it.
There are some nice sounding CD players starting around $300 and some nice integrateds starting around $300 as well. There are even some totally accomplished speakers starting around $200. However, a pair of $1000 speakers teamed up with a "big box retailer" receiver and combo DVD/CD player will likely sound like crap compared to a high-end $1000 system of audiophile equipment.
Speakers are way important and should be given as much of the budget that you can afford, but only after ensuring that you have quality electronics driving them.
I think the building a system for $1,000 or under can give you some good ideas as well.
I attempted something similar a couple of years ago and put together a Rotel receiver and Paradigm Ref Studio 20's, with stands (which were very important!) and a Pioneer Elite DV-45 universal disc player. If you want a lot of high volume, deep bass, this set up is not for you to be sure. You could always add a subwoofer later or upgrade speakers for more low end performance as you go. While this setup won't blow your mind, it is pretty clean sound for the $$, IMHO, particularly relative to big box retail gear. One additional way you could save a ton of $$ is to shop used gear at local dealers that have a trade-up policy or sell used/trade-in gear. And, there's always the internet...
Jolida JD 1701 tube/mosfet hybrid integrated amp with a pair of Epos M5's. You can start with any $50 DVD player for a source which will allow you to watch movies and play music, very musically. If you already have one you are in even better shape. When you free up some more green for CD audio look at the Onix 88 for $299 (AV123.com) or the new Music Hall CD 25.2. These can be modded later to take you to the next level. Planned obsolesence is a bad thing. Modding is cool and cost effective. You can find these at www.underwoodhifi.com and you could ask Walter about the cost adder for adding a sub woofer/preamp out to the jolida for adding a Epos sub later which will get you knocking at high end land for sure. Enjoy. If you have a few extra bucks look at the Epos ELS 303 towers for more bass.