How little can you spend on a system and still get a glimpse of the High End? (In US dollars)

How little can you spend on a system and still get a glimpse of the High End? (In US dollars)
Less than $500
3% (10 votes)
Around $1000
10% (37 votes)
Around $1500
16% (57 votes)
Around $2000
13% (45 votes)
Around $2500
10% (36 votes)
Around $3000
17% (62 votes)
Around $4000
8% (27 votes)
Around $5000
17% (60 votes)
Around $10,000
4% (16 votes)
More than $10,000
3% (9 votes)
Total votes: 359

It is often claimed that high-end audio is a rich person's pursuit, while others feel that prices are secondary to careful selection and the right attitude.

Anonymous's picture

You've got to shop around for some used high-end gear. a nice used integrated amp, some pricey, used interconnects decent speakers, and a decent cd player

Sergio PL's picture

This figure is for a "complete" system.

Stephen Schwinn's picture

It depends, of course, on the number of sources. I assume only one. Given this, you can do it for around the $2K mark.

Lee Hirsch, HiFi Centre, Canada's picture

I can't answer because, first, we have to establish what high-end audio is. Is it simply expensive equipment? Is high-end audio defined by the perceived cachet of the manufaturer? Is high-end equipment defined by a lack of more consumer-oriented features? Recently, Shareef Abdul-Rahim of the NBA Vancouver Grizzlies purchased a $13,000 surround-sound system from the local Future Shop. Is this necessarily a high-end system? It's amazing how much Sherwood electronics and Cerwin-Vega speakers you can buy for that kind of money.

Terry's picture

There's lots of good used gear out there that sounds great. And it helps to learn how to solder.

Gabe Jimenez's picture

$2000 is the point of entry into the High End. At this price, a system can be assembled that can at least approximate detail, depth, and life. Below this point, sacrifices must be made that cannot be ignored.

Kam's picture

There's a lot more great budget gear available today than ever before.

Jonathan Holder's picture

My idea of a high end system is a well balanced system incorporating at least balanced cables along with reputable source equipment that compliments the chain all the way to a speaker system such as the PSB Stratus Gold i(s).

John Saint's picture

I put together a system for under $1500 that provides me with hours of listening pleasure (albeit euphonically colored, I'm sure you would retort). I purchased a Scott tube preamp and power amp for around $600, a Thorens TD125 Mk.II for $225 w/Sumiko Pearl cartridge, a pair of Spica speakers for $500, stands for $75, and I hand-built all my cables and interconnects for less than $75. I have worked hard to find these components, and I have done little to support the retail stereo stores in my town, but I've got one hell of a tube/vinyl-lover's system! By the way, I've probably spent about the same amount of money on new and used vinyl, at an average of $10 per album. So for $3k I have a system and software that come damn close to anything you could get for 10 times the price if you want a new CD-based retail system.

U D S's picture

I spend around $3000 for my first audio system and I had been very happy with them for quite a while...

Chris Groppi's picture

B&W 302 Rotel integrated amp Marantz CD67 CD player Kimber PBJ+4TC

Mario Cassar's picture

This is based on a single source system, dividing the budget in say $2000 on speakers, $3000 on source, $3000 on amplification and, say $2000 on cables and connections. The room and speaker placement, are imperative to get maximum benefit. These latter factors can degrade the systems' potential but a huge factor.

Ren ('s picture

$5000 is the absolute minimum, in my opinion. But keep in mind that it should be bought with a focus on future upgrades being possible without throwing everything out and starting from scratch. For example, can the CD player be used as a transport only when upgrading to a better DAC?

Yuri's picture

Closer to $5000 than $10,000 will be enough for a solid look into the high-end market. However, spending any more than $10,000 is just a waste, as all the claimed improvements to the sound can only be heard in a laboratory! The human ear is one of the poorest on the planet, so once you reach a certain point you just cannot distinguish the difference. There is proof: the Rockport turntable that costs $50,000 . . . are they serious?.

Matt Nakapan's picture

Try this combination: B&W DM302 Creek 4330 Sony S500D DVD Nordost Flatline interconnect & speaker cable Good speaker stand Enjoy !!!!

Predrag Drljaca's picture

Careful selection and bealiving your ears not magazine tests.

Robert Hujo's picture

See Previous Comments.

Fagen's picture

We al started somwere, dident we. We heard somting , and it was good.

Christopher Ratz's picture

For a "glimpse" . . . Denon DCM-360, $320; Music Hall MMF-2, $300; Musical Fidelity E10, $500; B&W DM302, $250; AudioQuest Topaz, 0.5m, $65; AudioQuest Type 6, 6', $95.

Matt Reid's picture

I would like to know what is you basis for High End?

brad's picture

If you go with kit speakers and afforable solid state (Adcom, Rotel, etc.) you can easily achieve it for under $2000

Hooked and In Debt's picture

$10,000 will get you started, but once you hit that point, there's no turning back! Did someone say Ultra-high-end?

Gary Sanderson's picture

$1k. How about a CD changer and receiver from Marantz or NAD, and a pair of Mission 731i speakers? You'd still have money left for some decent cables and a few CDs.

Mike's picture

The saving grace of the Hi Fi is that one can spend relatively little to get good sound. The point of diminishing returns sets in quickly.

C.  Vaughan's picture

Let's see . . . on a recent trip through several pawnshops in south Florida, I saw the following gems: a nice vintage Dual 'table for $50, a pair of Mission speakers for $80, a Miller & Kreisl subwoofer for $125, a tube Dynaco preamp for $50 (I had to get that one), and a Perreaux power amp for $100 ( I had to get that one too). That's a grand total of $405. Throw in a new Rotel CD player and a couple of interconnects, and you've got some decent sound for about $1000.

Daniel Tremblay's picture

Anything higher is just overkill and only nice to have or " hear"

ystein S.  Krogtoft's picture

With a decent used turntable/cartridge and a Creek OBH-9 RIAA/MC step-up, you have a front-end that could give you a glimpse of high-end heaven, if properly set up. Match the front carefully with one of the new breed of good-sounding integrated amplifiers (like the Primare A20) and speakers suited to your listening conditions and taste. A pair of ProAc Response One speakers are capable of giving you true high-end sound on a budget, but you have to find a used pair to fit my proposed $3000 system.

Mark Atwell's picture

For $1500, you'd have to settle for smaller speakers, but careful shopping for a CD player and integrated amp could get you that "glimpse of heaven."

Dave Brown's picture

The ONLY answer has to be: whatever it takes to get you emotionally involved in the musical experience.

Guy Rousseau's picture

Take a look at Energy's Take 5 and ES-8 sub