What would you recommend that a budding audiophile pick up as his or her first serious source component for less than $1000? Explain.

What would you recommend that a budding audiophile pick up as his or her first serious source component for less than $1000? Explain.
A turntable
15% (29 votes)
A disc player
36% (71 votes)
A music server/computer
34% (67 votes)
An iPod
6% (12 votes)
10% (20 votes)
Total votes: 199

With all the bargains in value-priced turntables and disc players available right now, what would you recommend that a budding audiophile pick up as his or her first serious source component for less than $1000? Explain.

Greg Edwards's picture

There is very little in the high-end market that costs less than $1000. I would consider a Rega P3-24 with tonearm for $895. For about $100 on eBay, a Shure M97XE, or Grado Prestige Red Phono Cartridge can be found.

John P.'s picture

I would not recommend that a budding audio nut spend $1K on just one source component unless he has the very lucky means to buy more than one at that price. One thousand dollars can buy two worthwhile sources, or even three, for someone who needs to experience a variety of source material in order to learn about component matching, the characteristics of different audio media, and which musical treasures in which media deeply touch his ears, heart and brain. Pick any two or three of the above sources, and buy one or two items used instead of new. Don't forget the possibility of including a FM or AM/FM tuner, or a tuner/preamp. How about a DVD player from one of the better mass market names with adequate upsampling of CDs for $200 or so, or a pair of good used above-entry-level interconnects as part of the package? Our new hifi recruit has plenty of time to experiment, and then emphasize one source medium over others after becoming able to make an informed decision.

David L.  Wyatt jr.'s picture

A good quality reciever capable of driving 4 Ohm speakers. Harmon Kardon and Onkyo make them. Or maybe that Outlaw audio unit if they have the bucks. It's like this, nobody who isn't rich starts out with $1K components. It's better to think a $1K system. So maybe you pick up a pair of PSBs or Paradigms, because they can put that reciever with their DVD player (or iPod) and a decent pair of entry level speakers and get a taste of the real thing. You must whet their appetite before people dive in.

Yellowsub's picture

Rega Planar with a good cartridge.

JK's picture

Remember the first time you heard a Linn Sondek LP 12 with SME tonearm and a MC cartridge? Enough said. Digital never sounds "right."

LeRoy in Helotes,TX's picture

Rotel RCD 1072. I prefer this player over the Rega Apollo, Nad 542, or Music Hall CD25.2. There is something about the bas relief audio effect of the Rotel player that makes me just sit down and love to listen to whatever music the player is spinning.

JR's picture

Sonos. $1000 gets you a controller, a non-powered zone to connect to your system and a powered zone for a second room. Load your collection onto your computer in FLAC and you are set to go. A great sounding, flexible, terrific system.

Eric Shook's picture

A budding "audiophile" already owns CDs, most of which are in storage and he/she's been listening to the ripped MP3s for several years now. Buying a solid CD player and some nice interconnects could really set the gears turning on what he/she has been missing from their own music collection. Also it allows one to enjoy the "album" experience more so than bouncing around an OSD music server's seemingly endless supply of tracks. I never thought I would say that a CD could confine a listener to an album, but I do now.

OvenMaster's picture

A used Marantz 5000 or 6000 CD player, and spend the rest on music. Ebay is your friend.

Rimas's picture

Rega Apollo CD player.

richard p's picture

Marantz 8001

Dave's picture

As much as I love vinyl, I would suggest a disc player. It is the easiest to start with. Let them learn to enjoy this hobby and move on at their own pace.

John Ops's picture

Because it will make you listen to more music, and listening to more music will make you want to hear your music better. If you buy a source component that creates perfect reproduction, but won't let you easily hear a great variety of music, you'll never get into the enjoyment of it.

R.  Stewart's picture

I've come to agree with the philosophy of Gordon Rankin of Wavelength Audio, who says a relatively cheap computer with a good DAC is as good or better than a $10,000 CD player.

Andy Leveton's picture

Turntables are complicated to maintain at a level that gives optimal playback, and the source material can be expensive if bought new, and availability, other than in used condition, is sparce. Vinyl requires constant claeaning, styluses always seem dusty. Also, in this price range, CD payers should give the owner tremendous sound, and with lots of varity to chose from, both new and used.

audio-sleuth@comcast.net's picture

Get a Rega 2 with a Dynavector cartridge. That will be your best source and what you want to build your system around. Records you buy now you'll still be enjoying 40 years from now. The CDs will be used as coasters.

Jelle's picture


Morris Smith's picture

Brand new NAD C542 CD Player for $500 or a used NAD C540 which I have for $250 or less. These will make you forget about sleeping and you will rekindle the love affair with your music.

Jim M's picture

A good CD player. With the music servers and iPod you also need a good DAC. With a turntable you need earplugs.

Todd Giencke's picture

Benchmark DAC1 D/A Converter $975. Used with a cheap DVD player or the optical digital audio output of a Mac.

Brad E.  Oren, M.D.'s picture

Wadia iTransport and iPod.

Darren Andrews's picture

There is something emotive about placing a large black disk onto the turntable, taking the time to slowly lower the arm onto the black magic disk and listening to the resulting music. This magic is something that is lost when using CD's or any other digital format. There are lots of good quality vinyl disks being produced today all with great album artwork. It makes opening & listening to an LP more of an experience.

Rich in SF's picture

Cambridge Audio 740c CD player. Also has DAC inputs for future digital components or to connect computer.

Todd Giencke's picture

MSB Technology Link DAC III ( www.sound4sale.com/products/link3.php ) and a Mac mini. MSRP $974. Fill the HD (& external HDs) with lossless encoded material. Connect the Mini to the DAC through the Toslink. This is the foundation of a modern audiophile music server.

Chris's picture

Buy an Oppo and save yourself a ton of scratch.

kirill zolotov's picture

A no brainer. CD's are cheap to buy, maintain, and create.

daryl croft's picture

Most have many CDs and I think that a good disc player like a Arcam or Marantz SACD player would be the most reasonable choice.

rhgreen@aol.com's picture


Ray's picture

When I sent my "reference" CD player in for a update/tuneup, I picked up a Denon "universal" disc player, SACD, DVD-a, MP3, the works, it has a very good sound, and it was only $369, that leaves room for a very good set of interconnects, say Harmonic Technology, or AudioQuest, or Cardas. Now you have a versatile and good-sounding system, as long as it all complements your amp and speakers.

Rich, Chicago's picture

An iMac computer can provide outstanding audio when properly connected to a quality amplifier. It can also serve as the core of a HT set-up for movies. The component disc player has real competition from computers now.