I decided a few weeks back to start investigating getting my first real (albeit entry level) stereo system, and the past few weeks have been a whole new world of terminology and equipment I never knew existed. I think I've got the basics down, but if you guys could help me with a few points, your knowledge can probably save me hours of additional internet searches.
Background: I'm in my mid-20s, so (and I know many of you will shake your heads at this) ALL my music is digital. The stuff I care about - mostly jazz and classical, but some other odds and ends ranging from prog rock to house - is either lossless (FLAC) or high quality mp3 (320 kbps) though, so hopefully that's one issue I can set aside for now. I'm not in a rush to build the system, so I'll probably be able to devote around $2000-$2500 to it. Before getting into specifics of brands, room size, etc., am I on the right track regarding what equipment I'll need?
-An amplifier (this is the point I'm most confused on - what comes between DAC and speakers: amp? Receiver? If both are an option, what are the factors that will push me towards one over the other?)
-Sub-woofer (there seems to be a dearth of sub-woofer coverage out there...if your speakers are good enough, it seems to be assumed you'll be okay. Is this a really "necessary" part of the entry level system, or more a nice add-on if it doesn't break the budget?)
-Cables to connect all this stuff together
I'd be extremely grateful for any opinions, or even links to others' opinions. Be warned: I'm sure for every answer you give me I'll have another dumb question.