if you were to throw a ton of dead presidents at just about anything one can or should be able to come up with a high quality strong performing top notch, result.

but what if your angle is to squeeze the most out of coins and cupons and piggy bank savings. just how far might you get with real world budget constraints holding the whip of accountability in the pastime of audioland?

using your system building experience, noteable auditions, and or imagination, let’s jot down on ‘paper’ what you think, or indeed have put together that should be or is, an enjoyable, engaging, stereo rig for the least investment.

For simplicity sake, please use just one source. analog. Digital. Streaming.

although there is no real dollar amount being targeted merely try to provide good ideas on minimally invested rigs which likely or do exceed entry level outfits audio performance.

naturally, show your component choices and their overall cost.

Looking forward to reading about your various 2 channel outfit builds either practical or imagined which adhere to pedestrian rather than provocative investments yet possess the attribute:

“its hard to turn it off, once its turned on”.

thanks to all.
I consider my system #2 a poor-ish man's system. Though some normal friends have said it is expensive.

Benchmark: HPA4 + DAC3B + AHB2 x 2. 

This is not a system for rose colored glasses view of the music. It is neutral but not fatiguing. The headphone section on the HPA4 is phenomenal.

Some other options for money in pockets systems.

The NAD Master M33 sounds interesting with the Purifi module. Not sure if the DAC in it is great, but most DAC are good enough nowadays. It would be a one and done component. The Hegel 390 integrated is also a one and done component. The older Hegel 360 was a component I thought about buying after hearing it.

Don't get mad if these are considered expensive options. I have a rich wife.
TMR has a pair of Hales T3s for $1300. IME, I am not sure one can get a better sounding "full-range" for the money.

thanks so much for these insights thus far.

the thrust of this thread is to examine and illustrate the actual real world facts of high end audio, and that is most high end audio arrangements begin quite modestly for many people.

its an acquisition  of this and that at first and then we see the grass being greener now and then and begin updating and or upgrading this or that with replacement gear as desire, time, and $$$ permit.

more to this point, the last two Florida Expo audio shows I’ve attended have shown several rigs which were not uber priced deals but did impress. substantially. I heard systems ranging from $7K to $14K and all new gear to boot which at that time I felt were true keeper rigs!

i previously owned via Agon, a main rig whose value was north of $40K in total MSRP. some pieces were bought brand new, some were acquired in the used mkt.

untoward and unexpected circumstances blew that outfit away and an eye to the future then began to dwell  on if or even when I’d be able to be a player once more in the audio  past time. 

that period is just about here. weeks perhaps, though by year’s end to be sure as  the process is now favorably completed and only some loose ends and $$ transfers are left to occur.

originally and of course from prior experiences I thought to drop an investment this time of around $70k to $90K, initially though other accessories would be needed! looking in fact for a ’turn key’ system  predominately made the most sense to me then. 

then something happend. likely from being off the audioland traedmill for years and losing that ever present push to upgrade & update & replace with things new to myself at least, I became less a fan, and lost the audionervosa bug.

hearing what rigs from raven Audio, Sound Smith, Project, and others such as the Luxman & Hagle  amongst other likewise INTs, and many others which in total could be joined for an outlay under $15K for sure, really got my attention. and, it still does! 

Consequently, allowing   senseibility  to hold the wheel, but enabling performance to have as much a say so, pondering satisfying musical systems which are quite atainable by the majority of audio enthusiasts has a strong attraction.

speaking plainly the issue facing me is that I could easily ignore this vastly more prudent direction and still drop a large wad on components without harming myself very much if at all. 

it follows then posting and developing a thread which aims squarely at hobbyist’s systems whose finaincial outlay is or was more modest seems appropriate for a number of reasons. in such outfits synergy rather than investment is crucial to overall performance.   

likely this latest exploration and or new build will be  as intriguing as was my very first assortment, especially given how SOTA has continued to escalate performance across the board with so many componnents. 

so for a bit, my focus will be on assembling a high value hopefully ‘giant killing’ rig which is as satisfying as it is interesting, but does not demand inordinate outlays of $$$.

thanks to all for your experiences and thoughts herein. I appreciate them immensely and those which may follow. as well.