Hey everyone, as you can see I'm brand new here. I looked around the forum a bunch and I've learned a lot about what I need to put together a decent stereo and I was hoping you could help me make some decisions. I hope I'm posting in the right place. I'm looking to buy an integrated amp, turntable (and cartridge), and speakers for $1500-2000 total. I can get a Denon DP 300f turntable for around 120 (retail 350) and was wondering if this would be a good option. I also have listened to the marantz PM5004 and liked it, though it could have been the speakers. As for speakers, I'd like to spend most of my budget on them and I'm hoping for floor standing ones. If you've got any advice for the individual items or which combination I should buy please let me know. Any and all help would be appreciated.
There are different schools of thought on how to break down your budget and approach this. I personally would recommend against spending the lions share of your budget on speakers. Your speakers will show you exactly what you've invested (and how well) in the source and amplification components of your system. If you have cut corners there, that's exactly what you'll hear. Don't forget that unless you buy an amp with a phono section built in (not many of those anymore) you'll also need to budget for a phono preamp.
I'm not familiar with the Denon table you mention, but if you spend $120 on a table, you'll likely get a $120 table.....if you know what I mean. What do you ultimately want to get out of this ? If you're just looking for casual background music from time to time, $2000 will get you that. If you want something that you can sit down and enjoy music in a deeper way.....perhaps a more realistic presentation.....then you need to approach this differently. $2000 may still get you there, but you'll need to spend wisely.
So, what are your expectations of your stereo system ?
Chris, thanks for the response. I'm looking for a system that will be used often for background music while I'm doing other things, but will also be able to handle more serious listening from time to time. I'm a college student now so my budget is pretty firm, and it doesn't matter to me so much that I won't get the best components because I'll be able to upgrade in a few years once I have a stable living situation and a real job. Having said that, I would like to get something I will be able to have for at least 4 or 5 years and not be completely unhappy with it later on as my tastes evolve.
Probably too late but here's some thoughts. Used Unison Research Unico amp - about $800. This is an incredible integrated hybrid (tube/solid state) amp that you will enjoy for many years. I had to spend 3 times that new to find something better. Find a used Arcam CD-72 ($300 to $400 including shipping or I've got its big brother the Arcam CD-92 that I would sell including shipping for $500. Buy the $120 Denon but I think you'll end up playing mostly CDs for now. I'd wait on the phono until you can afford a better one and make sure the Unico has the added phono board. That leaves you $700 to $900 for speakers and there a many decent options in that range. I'd look at Audiogon and see what you can find in that range. If you can float your budget to around $2300, these are a very nice deal: