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jacastro's picture
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Oct 29 2007 - 5:27am
Help get me re-started

Hey all,

THanks for having me on your boards!

I've read a few of these "how do I start" messages on the Entry Level, but I thought I'd add my own post - every case is different and perhaps my own post will address my unique needs (even though I probably don't know what they are!)

Here's my basics:

1) Love music. Love love love.

2) Had the same stereo system for years - until, piece by piece, the damn thing fell apart (I've been pretty poor for the last 10 years or so - freelance writer/theater director so not a lot of $$$ to spend on a good system).

3) I just got a great new job with some financial flexibility (thank god) so I can start to invest in a good system - nothing outrageous, but good quality.

4) I've migrated most of my music to my computer - and I'm tired of listening to it on my crappy pc speakers. I have a ton of vinyl that I'd like to rip too.

My interests: I guess I want a system that can get the most out of my mp3s, allow me to play other media (and rip) as necessary, and finally I'd like to understand a bit of the science behind the purchase - I'd like to know WHY what I'm buying is as good as it is so I can make informed decisions.

So - this is your chance to wax eloquent for a willing audience! I guess I'll start with the financials - I can reasonably spend/save $3000 - $4000. I have no components left, except an old pioneer amp/tuner that is useless, because I have no speakers!

Love to hear what you think,


jackfish's picture
Last seen: 4 years 1 week ago
Joined: Dec 19 2005 - 2:42pm
Re: Help get me re-started

Start with the loudspeakers. I'd suggest Vandersteen 2Ce Signatures. $2000 Best sounding speakers I've found for $2000 and under.
The Outlaw RR2150 Stereo Receiver has ample clean power and a USB port for streaming audio from a computer. $650
Turntable for your vinyl? The Rega P1 is very good with an upgrade to a Ortofon 30 stylus. $520
A good CD player is the Cambridge Audio Azur 640C. $600

z038's picture
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Oct 7 2007 - 12:30am
Re: Help get me re-started

I can't recommend any particular components because I'm rather new to all this too, but I will say from recent experience that finding a good audio store where you can listen to different setups in your price range will help you narrow down your choices. Not everything in the same approximate price range sounds the same.

Then when you do that, you might decide to defer the purchase of certain components of your system in order to buy higher quality in the ones that matter most to you.

For example, if you have a large collection of MP3's and that is mainly what you are listening too, then defer the purchase of the CD player for now and put that money into better speakers. If you are going to just rip your vinyl but don't intend to use the TT for playback and listening, consider buying a used but higher quality TT, rip your vinyl with it, then sell it when you're done. Maybe check audio stores to see if you can get a good price on a demo unit.

Be forewarned. If you go to an audio store (a store that specializes in stereo audio, not a generic consumer electronics store) and listen to different amps and speaker combos, you may find yourself preferring to concentrate most of your initial budget on speakers.

bobedaone's picture
Last seen: 3 years 8 months ago
Joined: Feb 1 2007 - 12:27am
Re: Help get me re-started

Well, first of all, don't bother with MP3s. They're really too low-fidelity to justify good equipment. Don't get me wrong-I have a lot of MP3s too, but they're not why I invest so much money in this hobby (And, believe me, I'm a college student and have to live with a tight budget and long saving periods. I don't have a pricey system, nor do I believe that it is difficult to assemble a very satisfying one for $3-4k).

Also, if you have a ton of vinyl, listen to it!
Unless you'll be ripping purely for backup, I think you'd get a lot more enjoyment out of a good turntable than a bunch of noisy digital files.

If you plan to import more music to your computer, be sure to tell your program to copy the data in an uncompressed or losslessly compresses format.

I'll build you a hypothetical system that falls in your price range, has tons of flexibility, and sounds awesome. If you write a little bit about your musical tastes, listening room, and desired/essential features, I (and others) can hone in on gear that would suit you perhaps even better.

-Outlaw Audio RR2150 "Retro Receiver" ($650, sold direct at

This baby has too many features to list, but you should definitely go to the site and check it out. serious boat-floating potential Note: I have not auditioned the RR2150, and recommend it based on reviews, "word on the street", and the extensive features list.

-Rega P3-24 turntable with Elys 2 cartridge ($1045)

This 'table is so good for the money, it's scary. It walks all over anything below it, and can frighten much more expensive rigs, as well. I know you didn't mention that you wanted a turntable, but take some records to your nearest Rega dealer, and you might change your mind.

-Oppo DV-980H universal DVD player ($170)

This box will play pretty much any disk you stick in it, and do so astonishingly well. For the somewhat-less-relevant-but-still-around CDs that you have, it's a solid choice.

-Logitech (formerly Slim Devices) Squeezebox streaming audio player ($300)

Connects to your home network and allows you to use your computer to beam just about any audio file to your stereo. It also features internet radio.

-Paradigm Reference Studio/60 v.4 ($1900)

Whatever you listen to, these are fantastic speakers. The rest of the Paradigm lineup is also excellent.

Total price: $4065

This is just one suggestion. Have fun and start listening to gear and figuring out what's important to you! If you do it right, it's hard to mess up in this price range.

As far as what you're paying for, that's primarily (a) better parts and (b) careful design. You're also paying a premium because "economies of scale" tends to be a relative term in the industry. None of these companies are moving product like Sony, Yamaha, etc.

bifcake's picture
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Nov 27 2005 - 2:27am
Re: Help get me re-started

Buy stuff used on Audiogon. Your 4k will go much further.

jacastro's picture
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Oct 29 2007 - 5:27am
Re: Help get me re-started

Thanks, everyone, for your replies...

My specs: Jazz (mostly from the 30s 40s and 50s but also after), Vintage Soul (Stax, Motown, Memphis...), any sort of juicy Rock (Zep thru Tom Waits thru Beefheart) with a dash of hip hop now and then.

My room is about 15 feet by 8, not much furniture besides a sofa and some bookshelves. one door on the smaller side, BIG archway on one of the 15 feet walls

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