help me build a system for $1200

I am a medical student, and as such, already have tons of debt to begin with. That said, I've been wanting to upgrade my current system (cambridge audio CD player, squeezebox v3, a 10 year old NAD receiver, and a pair of minipod speakers that I received for free). I will probably keep the cambridge audio CD player for now.

So I've been perusing audiogon incessantly the last week or so...but can't seem to come up with a good integrated/speakers combo. I have thought about the following systems:

Onix sp-3 (for about 500-600 + onix ref 1/epos M5
musical fidelity ($700)+ quad 11L
jolida 502b + something in the 600-700 range

and this last crazy idea:

sonic impact super T amp ($150!) + an efficient speaker in the $1000 range (suggestion?)

I'd love to hear your comments.


p.s. This new system will be used almost exclusively for music. My current room is pretty small I'd say about 13x20 with 9 ft. ceiling. My musical taste is mostly indie rock...with the occasional jazz and "electronic" thrown in.
I am a medical student, and as such, already have tons of debt to begin with.

It won't make any difference then to add a little more. :-) Just kidding.

I would suggest you keep your cd player and receiver. Then buy the best speakers you can afford.

Only buy used speakers. Thanks to upgrade mania, very good speakers in very good conditions are routinely available at bargain prices. Stick with Audiogon market place.

At present there is a mint Quad 21L for $800, new 21L for $1000, and mint 22L for $1050. One could do a lot worse than these.

If you don't care about cosmetic nicks, the follwoing also seem like a steal to me:: Spendor 7/1 for $1250 and Spendor SP1/2 for $900.

Good luck.
Kep the NAD and CD player, get a Lite DAC-AH dac for under $200. and spend the rest on the speakers of your choice. I like your idea of M5 or Quad 11L w/ a sub, Vandersteen 2CI, Spendor SP3/1 w/ sub, new Omega 3 floorstander, Omega 6, Hawthorne Audio SOLO, Hemp Acoustics drivers and floor standing cabs($ for cabs, $210. for drivers prs) If you like any of the last 4 suggestions, they will work with your NAD, but you can buy a Sonic impact t amp also to try, get the $30. amp and mod it yourself. They are a lot more than mini system amps with the right speakers. These little amps embarass many expensive amps.
You're getting some great advice about keeping your current amplification. I believe that the effects of the speaker/room interface will swamp any changes amplification can make. And altering that interface is as free and easy as moving the speakers and/or listening position.
I think it is a good idea to keep the Cambridge Audio CD player for your "budget" system.

You didn't say whether you are unhappy with the NAD receiver, and if so, why. Your speakers are obviously not too much. In the absence of further information, I will suggest two strategies.

First, if you are not too happy with the receiver, I think that the best bang for the buck in a small amp is a Creek. They don't come up too often in the used market and often sell quickly. However, look for one in the $300-$500 range. It would probably be a 4000 series model, maybe a 5000 series one. I find themn to be very good relative to other small amps like NAD and Arcam, particularly in bass response. Since you listen to a lot of rock, it would be a good choice. That will then leaves you $500-$800 for speakers. Again, using bang for the buck as the criterion, my suggestion would be PSB. A variety of good models come up fairly frequently in the $500-$800 range, even floorstanders. Given that you like rock, you might find the lack of bass in a monitor to be disappointing. However, given what you are using now, it would still be a vast improvement. If you can find a small floorstander, it might be more satisfying to you than a monitor.

The second strategy assumes that you are happy with the receiver. If so, you can dump all the money into a better speaker. A monitor is fine; however, you will also be more likely to be able to afford to get a floorstanding speaker which will have deeper bass response for the rock music you listen too. Another advantage of this strategy is that the next time you upgrade, you will only have to change the receiver and/or CD player. The speakers may be good enough that they will support a future amp/CD player upgrade.

One of the previous posters mentioned a Totem Arro at a good price in the A'gon listings ($600). That's a good buy for a good speaker. There is also a Totem Model 1 in there. I think it's about $850. That would be a very good speaker too, although it is also a monitor. It comes with stands too. If you choose strategy number two above, I would look very hard at the Model 1 with the stands.

Please come back for advice after you finish med school and pay off your debts. Then we can really have some fun recommending things for you!