Put together a high end 2 channel audio system for me, $12,000 or below...

Blackstone

Member
Messages
231
Seriously check out Ayre Acoustics (Brains or lack thereof behind Neil Young’s Pono).

The Ayre EX-8 hub would perfect for you and would probably outperform most other high end integrated amps with onboard dac. No vinyl required. Onbord headamp as well.

I have the AX-5 Twenty Integrated, QX-5 Twenty Dac, all Transparent Audio cabling and B&W 802D speakers. Sublime performance, but expensive. You can get a good measure or that performance with a much more reasonable budget, but not all of it. That rabbit goes way deep, but it is worth it if you know how to select gear.

You of course need speakers. The B&W 805D3 would be my choice. A less expensive but somewhat compromised alternative is the 702S2 floor-stander, which incredibly refined performance for the price.

You can’t do a full range speaker that does everything well at this price point. You are better off going with a speaker with a more refined midrange and tweeter.

Sadly, you need to spend quite a bit more to reach the true grail (or as we say, “Reference level”).

You also can’t have a LOT of really exceptional power at this price point. Better off sticking to something around 100-125 watts but with refinement.

I think Ayre is the most bang for the buck and has the best DACs to offer.
 

Rusty Dutch

Supporting Member
Messages
721
Get a pair of Hypex NCore amp modules and you’ll have $10k budget to spend on the preamp and digital source.
 

m_b

Member
Messages
179
I just don't see any possible path for that statement to be true.
Why?

Though that's not what the OP was looking for and I veered off topic, it is true nonetheless that some $100 DACs have stellar performance and near perfect measurements, i.e. imperfections are so small as to be inaudible (as measured at the Audio Science Review website: check them out; and no, such DACs aren't anything by Schitt Audio).

Add to that some of the JBL or Yamaha excellent, bargain priced actives, maybe also a sub, and a properly configured computer at the source (a good music player; maybe some room correction filters). In all you'd have an excellent system that's likely 90% or more of the way "there" for a very reasonable cost. This has been proven and written about, over and over by people way more qualified than I am.

I think it's valuable information for anyone out there who doesn't have a huge budget for audio gear. Today's low-budget quality of sound wasn't accessible when I was young, I don't know about you. Rationality gets twisted sometimes in the audio world. I have a friend who was willing to spend $4,000 on a "power conditioner" simply because a salesman was able to convince him it would "add dimensionality" to his speakers.
 

amigo30

Supporting Member
Messages
7,299
Why?

Though that's not what the OP was looking for and I veered off topic, it is true nonetheless that some $100 DACs have stellar performance and near perfect measurements, i.e. imperfections are so small as to be inaudible (as measured at the Audio Science Review website: check them out; and no, such DACs aren't anything by Schitt Audio).

Add to that some of the JBL or Yamaha excellent, bargain priced actives, maybe also a sub, and a properly configured computer at the source (a good music player; maybe some room correction filters). In all you'd have an excellent system that's likely 90% or more of the way "there" for a very reasonable cost. This has been proven and written about, over and over by people way more qualified than I am.

I think it's valuable information for anyone out there who doesn't have a huge budget for audio gear. Today's low-budget quality of sound wasn't accessible when I was young, I don't know about you. Rationality gets twisted sometimes in the audio world. I have a friend who was willing to spend $4,000 on a "power conditioner" simply because a salesman was able to convince him it would "add dimensionality" to his speakers.
Why? Simple. Personal experience.

I spend about 50-60 hours a week completely immersed in the audio world. I do this every week, every year, for over 30 years. I do this on a very high-end level. I touch many millions of dollars of audio equipment each year. I speak to audio company presidents, and their engineers. They know my name and take my calls (and call me). I've visited major audio corporations factories and test facilities world-wide. I do subjective listening tests, direct comparisons of products, and I do them with hundreds of people each year.

I've just designed and installed a $450,000 theater/audio system this month and sat in the room when it was finished listening to it. I've done this many times. It was a fantastic experience, but I've installed and heard system that even go far beyond that.

The difference between that $450,000 system and what could be done for a $1000.00 is the equivalent of riding a large tortoise from California to New York versus an F35 fighter jet.

You simply can't achieve anywhere even remotely near those levels of performance for a $1000.00 bucks - no matter what the test results you read online or your personal theories tell you.

It's literally a ludicrous statement to say that you can get a "near-perfect system" for $1, 000. That statement is so far off it's really not worth discussing as if it had merit of any kind.
 
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amigo30

Supporting Member
Messages
7,299
Why?
I have a friend who was willing to spend $4,000 on a "power conditioner" simply because a salesman was able to convince him it would "add dimensionality" to his speakers.
Have you ever listened to what a $4000.00 power conditioner does to the sound of a system? Or a $7000 power conditioner? Or a $12,000 power conditioner?

I have. I've even done direct comparisons to them.

While it's fun to oversimplify and say things like "It will add dimensionality" as if it's all a big con game... the truth is that in the real world of people who purchase
systems of the quality-level that makes sense for adding a $4000.00 power condition, they hear a difference. A BIG difference. Repeatedly. And value that difference enough
to spend $4000.00 to get it.

To people who own and purchase gear of that level - it's not "Theory" with no empirical evidence based on logic and typing in a few Google searches, it's an experience that they
percieve when they listen to music. And many tens of thousands of people worldwide each year agree that it is real after listening. They're not fools. And they have the advantage
over internet scoffers that they've actually bothered to listen and experience before making an opinion.
 

captwillard

Member
Messages
1,314
Have you ever listened to what a $4000.00 power conditioner does to the sound of a system? Or a $7000 power conditioner? Or a $12,000 power conditioner?

I have. I've even done direct comparisons to them.

While it's fun to oversimplify and say things like "It will add dimensionality" as if it's all a big con game... the truth is that in the real world of people who purchase
systems of the quality-level that makes sense for adding a $4000.00 power condition, they hear a difference. A BIG difference. Repeatedly. And value that difference enough
to spend $4000.00 to get it.

To people who own and purchase gear of that level - it's not "Theory" with no empirical evidence based on logic and typing in a few Google searches, it's an experience that they
percieve when they listen to music. And many tens of thousands of people worldwide each year agree that it is real after listening. They're not fools. And they have the advantage
over internet scoffers that they've actually bothered to listen and experience before making an opinion.
There is a good chance that the owner if a $12,000 power conditioner has an amp that was designed to be run without a power conditioner. The need for a power conditioner is dependent on the power where the stereo is. I think folks are fooled into investing in power management when they don't really need it...or need it at the level that they are being sold.
 

amigo30

Supporting Member
Messages
7,299
There is a good chance that the owner if a $12,000 power conditioner has an amp that was designed to be run without a power conditioner. The need for a power conditioner is dependent on the power where the stereo is. I think folks are fooled into investing in power management when they don't really need it...or need it at the level that they are being sold.
You're exactly right, in that many of those higher-end amps recommend not running them through a power-conditioner. McIntosh is a prime example. The engineers want direct, fast, huge power reserves without anything between their design and the power grid. That said - a lot of clients in lightening prone areas are very concerned about having no protection between their $100,000 audio rig and a power grid that is notorious for blowing up their stuff. All other gear than power amps it's highly recommended to put a high-quality conditioner on.
 

captwillard

Member
Messages
1,314
You're exactly right, in that many of those higher-end amps recommend not running them through a power-conditioner. McIntosh is a prime example. The engineers want direct, fast, huge power reserves without anything between their design and the power grid. That said - a lot of clients in lightening prone areas are very concerned about having no protection between their $100,000 audio rig and a power grid that is notorious for blowing up their stuff. All other gear than power amps it's highly recommended to put a high-quality conditioner on.
That's the thing. It isn't universal that a power conditioner will help/hurt your system. There are so many factors that play into it. I agree that they can help protect connected gear and most folks would like that extra protection. There is just no guarantee that a high end unit will provide sonic benefits over a lower cost one. It all depends on the quality of the power at the location.
 

m_b

Member
Messages
179
Why? Simple. Personal experience.

I spend about 50-60 hours a week completely immersed in the audio world. I do this every week, every year, for over 30 years. I do this on a very high-end level. I touch many millions of dollars of audio equipment each year. I speak to audio company presidents, and their engineers. They know my name and take my calls (and call me). I've visited major audio corporations factories and test facilities world-wide. I do subjective listening tests, direct comparisons of products, and I do them with hundreds of people each year.

I've just designed and installed a $450,000 theater/audio system this month and sat in the room when it was finished listening to it. I've done this many times. It was a fantastic experience, but I've installed and heard system that even go far beyond that.

The difference between that $450,000 system and what could be done for a $1000.00 is the equivalent of riding a large tortoise from California to New York versus an F35 fighter jet.

You simply can't achieve anywhere even remotely near those levels of performance for a $1000.00 bucks - no matter what the test results you read online or your personal theories tell you.

It's literally a ludicrous statement to say that you can get a "near-perfect system" for $1, 000. That statement is so far off it's really not worth discussing as if it had merit of any kind.
Not buying any of this, sorry. Have a look at the engineering pedigree and professional experience of some of guys who post at Audio Science Review. Their reference amp so far, a Benchmark, probably one of the world's best currently in production, costs $ 3,000, not $ 300,000.
 

amigo30

Supporting Member
Messages
7,299
Not buying any of this, sorry.
No worries. It looks like we'll just approach this from different angles and come up with different conclusions.

You read Audio Science Review, and I'll play with high-end audio gear all day! :p
 

ddog

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
386
money and pride of owner ship is one thing and really gets people all contentious about whats right and wrong,you got the money have at it...real world experiences are the only way for one to know if its worth the $ "to them"...I guess I consider myself audio cheapskate...am i missing something not spending 10k on a new amp,meh probably...some well researched reading and you can pull off a great sounding system for the $...I did let go of my 2k shunyata after moving out of area were power was sketchy...one less thing to pony up for...;)
 

Tony Foran

Supporting Member
Messages
7,501
Go all in with analog. Much more satisfying . I heard a 30K streaming setup the other day and it was meh.
 

57gold

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,732
There are mass market audio products that can fulfill the listening need of casual music listeners, like Elac speakers, Cambridge Audio intgrated/DAC..., pleasant and musical background tunes.

Then there are audiophile products designed with cost as no object, like Constellation or Pass mono blocks that cost what an S Class Mercedes retails for, Wilson Alexandrias at $200k/pair and dCS Vivaldi DAC at $36K...with server, cables and power conditioning that "optimizes" system performance, easily at $400K area system. Guys get these like others buy a weekend home, hunting lodge, fishing boat, Bentley...they can and it's their thing.

For musicians, or amateurs like many of us TGPers who love music, there is an place where beautifully rendered musical performance can be presented in great detail, energy and swing, like real music and that is attainable for the OP's budget. I don't buy stuff without listening (or playing or tasting it), so professional reviews are a starting point for me. But Stereophile editors award "products of the year" and in 2018 the DACs they selected included the $36K one mentioned above and a $2K by Benchmark (a company also mentioned above). They get it. That $2K DAC or one of the several I mentioned above, connected to a PC/Mac, a nice amp like an Odyssey or a Wyred4Sound and some well-selected $5-6K speakers (too many to choose) with $1K in cables and 98% of the TGPers would be pleased beyond words with how great their music collections will sound through a system like this.

No need for audio jewelry, hundreds of K sized investments, unless you got it to spend and will enjoy the quest for the best in audio...
 
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Chris Piekutowski

clpski
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
58
There is not enough information for a true recommendation. For instance, I had a similar budget of about $15,000. I had restrictions, I had to go with bookshelf speakers. I started my search by finding the most accurate bookshelf’s I could find, to my ear that was Falcon LS3s. I knew I wanted tube amplification, it is much warmer then anything solid state can offer, I had a Naim system and liked it but knew there was better. I went into it thinking I’d get McIntosh, everyone loves the blue display with the needles, but Line Magnetic killed it, to my ear. I went with a Line Magnetic amp and DAC and a Blu Sound digital interface. I admittedly went cheap on the DAC, but digital changes so much it’s hard to invest a lot there. All this to say it is a very personal decision. It’s like asking I want to get married, blonde, brunette or red head. That is up to your tastes. My system kills it for my needs, but others may think I wasted money. You have to do the research. My best advice is to start with the speakers, and find an amp that feeds them well.
 

jnovac1

Supporting Member
Messages
6,111
You're exactly right, in that many of those higher-end amps recommend not running them through a power-conditioner. McIntosh is a prime example. The engineers want direct, fast, huge power reserves without anything between their design and the power grid. That said - a lot of clients in lightening prone areas are very concerned about having no protection between their $100,000 audio rig and a power grid that is notorious for blowing up their stuff. All other gear than power amps it's highly recommended to put a high-quality conditioner on.
i do have a soft spot for the battery power off grid crowd. eliminates that whole “dirty ac” question.
 

innocent_bystander

Supporting Member
Messages
2,191
I would buy a used/new

VPI Scout turntable (used) - $1500
Ortofon Bronze or Black (new) - $450 - $760
Rogue Cronus Magnum II Integrated Amp (used) - $1600
Cambridge Audio CXN Network Player (new or refurb cheaper) - $999
Cambridge Audio CXC CD Transport (New) - $449
Tannoy XT8F Floorstanders (New at upscaleaudio.com, damaged box) - $1699 for the pair.
Bluejean Cables interconnects and speakers.

these are well reviewed/recommended products.
 




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