Building a synergistic system. What to buy?

Yes,  another  "help me build a better system" post.

Using new or used items currently available on the site or other forums, what would you choose to build a synergistic system for a 12 x 15 foot apartment room?

(Speakers have to work close to wall, btw.)

Music will be done by Bluesound Node streamer that I already have so no phono stage is needed (but maybe better dac if $5k budget allows). I'm guessing an integrated is the best way to go and matching speakers that will fill the room properly without a sub while still getting decent low end extension that doesn't go too deep? And annoy my apartment neighbors. For now, ignore interconnects and wires. Just list the current items available to build an apartment system with integrated and speakers for $5,,000 or less. Thanks!


A good friend of mine is in the process of moving from a house to apartment, so doing pretty much what you're after.  He settled on a Musical Designs amp & preamp he got used for <1k total and is going to upgrade the caps in the pre.  He's getting ready to purchase some Fritz Carbon 6's and he already has some stands.  He's also going to downsize his VPI TT and keep his CDP.

There are definitely some deals to be had out there and it may take a bit of experimenting on your part to come up with a system you're satisfied with.

If I had to put together an apartment rig, I would prob opt for something like a Cary integrated and maybe Fritz spkrs.  Again, so many choices to make there is no correct answer.

Good luck!

My thoughts for now:

Look for stand mount speaker that is either front ported or closed box type to address the need to be against the front wall. Audio Advisor sells several stands, I have found the shorter stands (20") work best for me. 

Look for a line level integrated amplifier having ~50 wpc and doubles wattage into a 4ohm load, thus purchasing quality over quantity wpc. Keep digital components out out the analog chain. 

Allocate funds somewhat equally across both components. 

Explore the marketplace and come  back with with components under consideration. If lacking local dealers check out Audio Advisor, Crutchfield, Music Direct as legit online dealers.





@driver @mesch , thanks. Hard for me to blind the Fritz without hearing them, but those seem to be liked by people. Was the Cary amp you were thinking of the CAI solid state , or the SL80? I tube? I'd prefer to stay away from tubes and just get a quality solid state even if it's a 2 black salad state simply because I'd like to. Keep my equipment in a cabinet and tubes throw off a lot of heat. 

Also I'm not completely opposed to just doing an Active set of speakers like the Kef ls50 ii  wireless, But those are about 3 grand and I can probably build a better system for the same price. Don't you think?

If you are buying new, a set of Focal Aria 906 speakers paired with a Naim Nait 5si Integrated Amplifier will provide great synergy and sound close to your budget.

Fritz has a home audition program, although I have not used that.  My friend bought a pair years ago and I bought them from him.  Underwood Wally also has a home audition program.  Both of these folks will talk with you on the phone, although you may have to leave a message.

I was thinking about the Cary SLI-80 int actually, as I'm a fan of both 6SN7's & KT88's. For a SS setup, I had a few different integrated's in a 2nd system 25 years ago, but the only one in the main system was an older Primare 30.1 for several years.  Don't know how the newer ones compare sound wise but I still use a Primare DAC in my system.

Also, like mesch mentioned, those 3 companies have really good auditioning programs.  Another friend of mine prob listened to a total of 10 preamps & amps before buying a Rogue preamp from one of those companies and the Schitt mono-blocks.  He bought the Schitt direct from them, so only a 15 day time window but he liked them enough to keep.  Schitt makes preamps (and other components) too and a lot of folks really like them.

I would check all the forums I could about what people say, including the AA site.

Good luck in your search.



Yes, Fritz has a 30 day trial period. I purchased his latest Carbon 7s which I believe to be a top contender in the $2600 range. Also a very easy to drive speaker which allows for a lower wattage amplifier given @labguy 's room.  I am using it with my PassXA25 or Aric Audio tube amplifier. I was thinking that the Quicksilver tube integrated would work great with them. Labguy is interested in a SS  integrated amplifier however. 

Well, I am  passive speaker and amplifier kind of guy. I also like to keep my digital components separated from amplification. 

My suggestions will follow my bias, your room size, and your interest in a stand mount speaker (I am also biased on these for a small room). 

Two basic line level SS integrateds that come to mind that I would consider  are the Music Fidelity 2si ($1100) and the  AVA Vision SET 120 ($1300).  These are quality products that are line level only and would provide the power required for most stand mounts in your size room and allow funds for the purchase of a better DAC to be used with your Bluesound streamer. 

There are many stand mount speakers in the $1500 - $2500 range that would serve you well.  Hard to recommend due to the subjectivity of one's preferences. 

I own two stand mounts, the Fritz Carbon 7s and Esoteric MG-10s. They have different strengths, I like them both. The are easier to drive Fritz thus tube friendly, the MG-10 are more for SS amplification due to having impedance dip in the lower frequency. Both work well in medium bedroom sized rooms.

A very nice system can be put together for such a room within your budget.

Have fun and take your time.


Not a gear recommendation per se but if you want to try out gear in your room and also maximize buying power by going used, TMR (The Music Room) offers a return policy on most if not all gear they sell.

Not a "fan boy" but I've found them very professional and pleasant to deal with. 

Great ideas and suggestions. Thanks guys!

In room trial is appealing, yet even then, I'd like them both in the room at the same time to compare. That may prove difficult though.

Vandersteen VLR’s are designed to go in a bookshelf or close to the wall.  Stellar bookshelf with a carbon option.  

You could always try something like an Omega speaker with a First Watt SIT3 or F7.  If you're smart with the buying process, you could get these and likely a preamp for less than 5k.