A Thousand Dollars
Stephen has challenged me to build a system with just $1000.
I need to think fast. My requirements for the system are loudspeakers, preamp/power amp, phono stage, turntable, CD player... Shit. $1000! That's it? I'll use the 2008 Buyer's Guide data and see what I can do...
Pro-ject Debut III: $299. Check out that blue finish!
Vincent PHO-111: $150
Sony PlayStation SCPH-1001: $40 (average price as observed from eBay). The PlayStation isn't just for playing Tony Hawk, although you could.
Cambridge 340A: $329
Paradigm Atom v.5: $250
Total Price: $1068. Not too shabby. Let's see what else we can do.
Music Hall MMF-2.2: $400
Bellari VP29: $76
Oppo DV-970HD: $149
Tangent AMP-50: $259
Epos ELS-3: $329
Total Price: $1213. Another source option would be the KAB Transcriber Turntable at $489. This player includes an internal phono stage, but I think that if you want to stay completely away from that $1000 marker, you have to remove a source. Let's try a purely analog system.
Rega P1: $350
Music Hall MPP: $120
Trends TA-10.1: $149
Infinity Primus P252: $229. Floorstanding speakers with relatively higher voltage sensitivity and lower recommended power, which is perfect for the Trends amp.
Total Price: $848. If you want a CD player, just switch out the Rega and Music Hall MPP with an Original A8s CD Player at $400, and now your total price is $778!
Apple G5.5 30G iPod: $249
Red Wine Audio iMod: $249
22G Cryo iMod Cable: $110
Audioengine A5: $349. The key to this whole system is the Audioengine A5s. You can use the CryoDock cable to plug it in directly to the 1/8" audio input on the back of the speaker, or you can buy the more expensive $380 RCA iMod cable, but we're trying to stay in budget. Also, the A5 is powered and has a front panel volume control, so we don't need a preamp. Plus, when your iPod starts getting low on battery, you can charge it with the A5s.
Total Price: $957
Headroom Total Airhead: $99
Apple 30G iPod + Red Wine Audio iMod upgrade + Cryo iMod Cable = $608 (see above)
Grado SR125: $149. Considered one of the best values in hi-fi, use these cans at home through the Total Airhead.
Etymotic ER-6i: $149. Use these when you can't carry around the Airhead. Also, the 125's open-back design makes it hard to listen in public without your fellow commuters hearing your music as well. Made specifically for use with the iPod, the ER-6i has enhanced bass and increased sensitivity. They also isolate the noise so that you can listen to your hi-fi even in the noisiest places.
Total Price: $1005