Best Value System

A lot of stuff has been written about how great this or that piece of hifi gear was and we are all familiar with such talk. Yes, we can talk about THE very best system available but how many can afford that very best system?
So, I think we should talk about the best value systems available. Yes, there are many such systems as well and maybe you good folks out there can make some suggestions so that the not so experienced players like me can benefit.
Even though I am relatively inexperienced, I am not new to hifi. I have listened to systems ranging from a couple of thousand to about a hundred K.
After going through this humbling experience, I found what I thought was my best value system and that is:
Any reasonable quality cdp with a volume control and this can be had for less than $1000 used. You can then run it straight to the ATC SCM 100 ASL (New $14000, used-between 8-10K. You only need 1 pr of interconnect. So, for between 10-15K, you can have a world class system. From there on you can slowly upgrade the front end (and maybe, add a supratek pre) You can spend many times more and you may not even get this sound quality.
I hope this doesn't bore you. After all, I believe this forum is all about value.
Thf, I believe the best value system has far less to do with costs, components, and/or room acoustics than anyone (except perhaps me) would care to admit.

To qualify that statement I'll jump right in stating there are six requirements that I believe will make most any well-heeled system's sonics pale in significance. They are:

1. Properly executed AC power treatment that includes dedicated circuits/lines, cryo-treated outlets, plugs, connectors, and proper line conditioning.

2. Properly executed vibration control for components and speakers.

3. A magical amplifier. This may be the single most important ingredient. IMO, the amp is by far the most under-rated component and finding the right amp is like finding a needle in a haystack.

4. Decent quality or better full-range speakers.

5. Proper speaker placement. Proper placement can cover a multitude of sins in a room with less than desirable acoustics.

6. Proper ics and speaker cables should take any system with the first 4 ingredients over the top.

In my opinion, if a system falls short in just one of these 6 foundational categories, it probably ain't worth listening to.

On the other hand, if each of these categories has been properly addressed, there's probably but a few systems that could approach it's sonic pleasure.

You could do the same thing you are suggesting with other companies as well. The problem, however, is that people listen to other sources. Me, I have cd, tuner, and dvd running through my integrated. So, really, there is only value to be had if you had interest in only cd playback. All the vinyl players are left out. On top of that, Meridian makes a system under 10K that gives you a fantastic cd player and a pair of powered speakers.
Maybe I use a wrong choice of words. What I really meant was to ask you folks to suggest systems that seem to give great values, be it vinyl, cd, sacd, dvd or whatever.
I would have to value any system in the 10 to 15k range. Hell, I got into my first house for less than that.
Grado SR-80's or below. an older cd player with a good volume control(denon or sony etc..) stock power cables as cheap and a great system too. i use this for my bedroom system. less than $200.00
You could get a great sounding system for $5,000 or less. I have had the following equipment and sounded great and on the used market is good value. I have substantially more expensive equipment now and the difference is either non existent (Krell Amplification compared to aragon for the Thiels)or little (accuphase transport & Krell D to A - $14,000 new retail, dedicated power & conditioner. I'm sure there are many systems in the $5,000 range that could be compreable or better but I liked this system.

Preamp - Audio Research LS2B - $800 used
Thiel 3.6 used $1,500 or less
Amplification Aragon 8008 Balanced - $1,200
Almost any decent CD player $1,000
Cables $500

I agree with "Gary17" listed above, you ought to be able to put together a great sounding system for about $5K, and in many cases, a lot less than that. The "core" of my present system falls into that range (the speaker system, amp, preamp, tuner and cables......... and for about two years after putting that system together, I used a DVD Player as a CD Player........ a Pioneer Elite DV-37). But over the last two years, I fully tricked my system out (I added a Meridian 508.24 CD Player (it costed $3,995.00 when it was brand new, but got it used last year for about $1,600.00), and a VPI Scoutmaster/JMW Memorial 9 Arm/Grado Sonata Reference Cartridge LP Playback System with the VPI SDS System ($4,000.00 with everything) plugged into a maxed out Phono Stage (a Monolithic PS-1 Phono Stage with the matching HC-1 Power Supply)), and it was the components mentioned after the core of the system was assembled that has put the price tag of my system over the top. The core components of my system ran around $5,000.00 all by itself. So, it's been proven over and over again, you can put togeter a great sounding system from around $5,000.00 to about $15,000.00.

From my experience, here's what I would spend my $5,000.00 on:

Speaker System: Vandersteen 2Ce -- $1,000.00 (used)
Power Amplifier: McCormack Power-Drive DNA-0.5 (Special Edition) -- $900.00 (used)
Preamplifier: McCormack TLC-1 -- $500.00 (used)
Compact Disc Player: Meridian 506.24 -- $1,000.00 (used)
Cables: Pick Your Own...... But don't spend any more than $500.00

I listened to this system (sans the CD Player....... the CD Player used years ago was a Pioneer Elite PD-65) years ago, and I remember it sounding so right to my years back then. Had I gotten it brand new that year, it would've costed substantially more than the $5K I would pay for it today, but boy (???), what a system. If I don't say so myself, this system rocked back then, and I have every reason to believe it would still rock the house today.

My $0.02 worth.......

As you can undoubtibly tell by reading posts here the best value system is not always the absolute outcome of high quality components or money spent,regardless of the amount. There are many contributors here who have systems that cost many times that which any of us could hope to spend and who own products that are considered outstanding both for their quality and their performance. Yet, they are unhappy with the results. The same can be said of others who have thankfully spent much less on products that are still considered very capable, and who have produced systems that would make any audio magazine reviewer proud. They just are not getting what they wanted. You can read about this every day right here. This is what I love about this site. All the evidence of individual experience, and all of it reinforcing -again and again, that value is something that ultimately comes from within, regardless of what we are told or would really like to believe. The people who have acheived sucess here seems to be the ones have included themselves in the equation of what works, and this not appear to follow any of the best of or price point equations given here as the best approach.
The sound of any system is room dependent, especially with planar speakers. This is my "budget" system for planar speakers:
Magnepan 1.6 QR ($750 used)
luxman R-117 receiver ($285 used)
sony CDP 75es 5 disc CD player ($100-150 used)
McCormack DAC deluxe ($285 used)
nordost superflatline shotgun cable 3M ($50 used)
Sonicwave 280 strand glass toslink 1M ($23 new)
Belden 89259 interconnects ($15 used)
powervar 12 line conditioner ($99 used)
Shipping costs approx $150
Thf, perhaps I wasn't clear either. What I was trying to say is that in my opinion and experience, there is no such thing as a 'best system' unless those ingredients I listed above have been properly addressed.

Metaphorically, you are a house builder and you are asking for specifics on how to build the best house possible. Yet you don't want to discuss what type of foundation in which to build on. Or perhaps you are simply unaware of it's signifiance.

I've heard way too many systems retailing for well over $100k that sounded no better than a $5k system. Simply because their configurations had no regard for the basic building blocks.

Stehno nailed it. Timf it is: Power, Resonance Control, and Acoustics. Assuming you have quality components, the cost isn't really anything to get hung up on. Buy whatever you can afford that sounds good to you (with your music, in your room). :-)

It can cost anywhere from $2k to $12k. But you can certainly spend more. But I would be sure to address the "big three" before you plunk down the big bucks (goes without saying around here - so I'm preaching to the choir).
Stehno, I understood what you were trying to say. Supposing you have addressed all those issues as listed by you, what would you suggest as your best value system? Maybe, a system that you can live happily with for the next 5-10 years.
I don't think you do understand. If you did, then you would realize that when the right foundation is in place, there are many more systems that could potentially be deemed a best value.

Nevertheless, since my own system has remained nearly unchanged for over two years and it's easily the best I've heard, I could point you toward my own system.

But that wouldn't go over very well, now would it?

Stehno, I don't have time to go into an argument. It will be a waste of everybody's time. Anyway, thanks for your great advice.
In audio equipment the best value is in the ear of the beholder. If you think it sounds good than buy it and be satisfied with what you have. Like all hobbies it can be a bottomless money pit.I have Van Alstine equipment and you can forget all the HYPE about the other stuff out there. At one time i got so caught up in what was the best equipment i can buy that i forgot what my main goal was. Just listining to the music. Check out Welborne Labs for a no hype power conditiner.
If you are looking for high quality sound in a small package - I suggest the Linn Classik. Mine sounds great. I am using the Kan 4's with them - you hardly need a subwoofer.
1) Toshiba 9200 dvd ($300 ebay)
2) Panasonic sa-xr70 ($370 on the web)
or Korsun amp (
3) Vifa kits on the web (>$500)
4) DIY Belden cables (google search for them) ($120)
5) DIY room treatments (John Risch sight) ($200)

This sub $2000 system sounds liquid enough to enjoy many music - not all, but a lot.

Recommended as gifts to your parents, kids, friends, etc or for your 2nd system in the basement gym, bedroom, etc.
I am a traditional thinker in this regard. I agree with tmf and the others that suggest that the only thing that counts is what you expect. I have experimented with all manner of equipment seeking the holy grail for my style of listening in my space. I have spent a fortune on dedicated circuits regarding power and see little value in it. I have not even noticed any room issues until recently which was remedied moving the speakers. If you have a princess with a pea in the matress problem that is another matter. If there is something you don't like like then that is easier to address. Taste is all that can put a system together for you.
•Sony SCD-775 SACD/CD changer - $120 new
*NAD 3125 Integrated Amp - $140 used
*Vandersteen IB - $200 used
*Monster Cable Interlink 4 interconnects - used/free from dealer
*AudioQuest FMS Gray speaker cables - used/$40

I bought this system for my son a few years back, and for $500 it is literally unbelievable. It is unceasingly musical with everything that is played on it. 1/80th the cost of my system, which I love, but hardly 1/80th the system.

If "best value" is the most accurate CD sound reproduction at the lowest cost for a large room, then I have to agree with your suggestion.

Any professional who works in a recording studio will confirm that the ATC SCM 100A is one of the long time respected work horses of the industry. These speakers are very well known for accuracy and producing both low and extremely high SPL's with consistency, at extremely low distortion levels. There are also other pro speakers used in studios that you might consider.

You have only one drawback in your bare bones choice: The inability to tweak treble or base to adjust for your room.

However, if "best value" is reasonably good sound reproduction at a reasonable price then I think you can do extremely well for less than $3K, as several have pointed out on these boards. Contrary to other posts, however, I believe that in the digital IC world of today, it is by far the speaker that remains the most critical component and where well over half of my budget would go in any system at any price. You seem to be prepared to spend a lot on the speakers - to me this is a good sign.

See this presentation is from a pragmatic professional

The professional's advice (not mine) is:
Buy CD players, amplifiers, and other electronics based on their feature set
Speakers improve markedly up to around $1500/pair
Spend time setting up your listening environment for best results
Use 12-gauge to hook up your speakers
Use good co-ax for interconnect
Avoid tweak items such as rubber feet, cones, black boxes, esoteric cables, power cords, and line filters
Thf, I myself, I try to put a good musical system,
without getting second mortgage.This is only my
own opinion,If I spend S7500, If it sounds like $21k
then, I will consider it best value.My second system
consist of Oddyssey stratos extreme monoblock,$2500
Diapason Adamantes I $1900, AH NJOE Tjoeb with upsampler 1K,
Preamp used Art audio $900,speaker cable SPeltZ $80
ic PS $50, pc model 11 $150 each,VD audition used $145
PS audio ultimate outlet $299,TG audio 688 2pair $150 each.
This system cost at least $7500. I compare this system
to 20K, my system is at least as good.IMHO.Thanks
Mind boggling !!.

You all have lots of money to spend. I admire this dedication to perfection. Till rcently I did not even know 80% of the things that are talked about here. Well now I know a little bit. I recently spent $500 on a HK 3480 Stereo receiver +2 Klipsch SB-2 Bookshelf speakers. Extremely happy with what I am hearing out of them. Will be in 7th heaven if I can rip all my CDs, store it in HDD, and play it out with the same audio quality. Am working on that with a budget of $500.

The numbers that are talked around here are bone chilling. I do not think I will ever have that kind of money to spend on Music.

Are you all very very rich people ? (I guess so, very knowledgeable too !!), How do you all make your money.

Very curious.

Shadorne, if that's what the 'pragmatic professional' is suggesting, then perhaps it's time to seek out another more realistic professional who just may be slightly more knowledgeable.

Most of those suggestions by the 'pragmatic professional' are simply non-sensical.

I cant believe that an amp was called the most important peice, its the speakers, and the room they are in being treated, then the actual CDP, Tuner, and so on next is your amp after that get into isolation, cables, and finally power. What the hell good is an amp if everything else is wrong? The speakers have to come first because they dictate what the room is going to need to sound its best. After that is correct it can be NAD, or Krell, or Levinson or any number of SS or Tube units. The amp will simply do what it is supposed to do and if you dont do other things first you are simply Amplifing the problem.
Boni, actually, it's not advertised, but this site is also for those who are beneficiaries of large estates. Nothing under $1m. So, this is all of our way of letting loose a bit, since it's very taxing managing the accounts/holdings which support our leisurely lifestyle.
Some of the members of our illustrious club are quite modest. They don't list the actual components they own. You need to learn the code which will reveal the truth about their systems.
For instance, if an audiogon member lists his amp as a Rotel, you can be sure it is actually a Jeff Roland. Or, if you see a pair of Polk speakers, the owner actually has Wilson X2's. Owners will even post pictures of their lower class friend's systems or pics from ebay, so as to disguise their disgustingly ostentatious systems.
It's all a matter of discression and taste.
Oh, and watch out for the pretenders. When you do see a picture of a humongous system and specialty rooms, these are all rented spaces and equipment. They pay a fee to bring the equipment home, put up treatments, and set up the equipment so pictures can be taken. In this way it appears they have super-sytems. NO ONE really does that kind of thing in real life.
Boni, if you want to be truely amazed at what discrecionary funds can buy look here: It's where Doug's friends sneek off to over lunch.

As to the best value system. In my room, mine pretty much wins. I've heard much better for a LOT more money and i've heard some pretty spendy systems (>$50k retail)that I wouldn't trade mine for.

Dunlavy Athena about $3,000 to $3,500 though i've seen em cheaper. Cantatas are about the same and as low as $2500

ARC CD-2 about $1,200- 1,500
VTL 5.5 pre About $2,000
VTL MB 185 mono blocks About $4,000

Chang lighspeed 9600 conditioner $about $400
Harmonic tech cabling, poly crystal amp stands, home brew component stand probably around $1000

total complete cost for used gear would be about $11,000 to $12,500 depending on your shopping luck. I spent about $15 when i built the system and don't regret a dime of it. What's better is there is nothing nagging at me to upgrade except tweaking the room some

Interesting viewpoint. I am sure many, perhaps even the majority of people on Audiogon, will share your point of view....that a pragmatic approach used by professionals is non-sensical way to think about buying high-end audio equipment.

Indeed "best value" has no place in high-end audio.....after all, it is all about the hardship of saving up, the continual fun of upgrading, tweaking, changing, comparing the improvements, and digging out those old CD's and enjoying them again!
Actually, Shadorne, there is no 'best value' system without properly addressing a few fundatmental and universal issues.

And just because some to many may deny or ignore these fundamental and foundational issues does not mean that their effects and influences do not exist.

What I find rather humorous are those that fumble forever seeking 'best values' and better sonics when the proper foundation was never laid. And then defend their insignificance whilest chasing their tail around the expensive mulberry bush.

If you don't have a great speaker,it's impossible to hear the
great amp.If John thought this one over again,he would change
his order. Garbage In Garbage out Is true,but If you send
clean detailed sound to a lousy speaker,how can you possibly hear the magic of that clean detailed sound. As far as best
value system,this IMHO,would depend on personal tastes and funds.What is ones pride and joy,might be another's third
Garbage in, garbage out' was coined by Linn back in the day when it was beleived that the source was the most crucial item in the hi-fi chain and the speaker was last after the amp.
The best value system is one that one can live with,IMO.