Helping a friend put together a sub-$1000 system

She's looking for a 2-channel setup with CD as the only source. Speakers will be monitors for a Manhattan apartment.

She listens primarily to more subdued rock and acoustic stuff, with a good amount of jazz and classical music.

She's OK with buying used. I suggested she listen to a NAD C320BEE with Vandersteen speakers as per the recommendations in this thread:

$1000 is the limit. Any suggestions?
sounds like you have made some good recommendations...I was one of the posters in that thread...why not just finish it off with a NAD cd player some cheap AQ interconnects & speaker cable & you'll be in under your $1000 mark. I have always thought NAD equipment was pretty good for the price as do many other far more experienced audiophiles as myself. She will also probably appreciate that the pieces match asthetically too.

just my 2c

Sounds like good recommendations from you and Ellery911, although the Vandy's, while a good match, are hardly what I'd call monitors. If she wants litle boxes, it's tough to recommend anything if it has to go up against a wall, but Epos and PSB speakers are nice in that price range, particularly if they can be put on stands away from the wall.
I would go with a used Music Hall CD25, used PSB Stratus Mini, and an NAD, Rotel, or entry-level Jolida integrated (used or new). Very high bang for the buck.

Good luck,

the vandersteen 1b/c's have a pretty small footprint, so I don't think that would be a real issue if they are going on the floor...if they are, don't forget...if you buy monitors you will also need stands...and then not only that, but most stands have spikes so you will then be spending another 50 bucks minimum for floor protectors if she has wood floors in her apt...If the spekers are going to be on a bookshelf or wall mounted...both of which will sacrifice some sound quality, be sure to look for a front ported design.

Thanks all for the good advice. I'll get on the phone with her tomorrow afternoon. If she insists on having monitors (which I can understand), I'll have to give it some more thought.
Looking at the kind of system one can build today for an affordable price.I try to look at what is out there for an affordable system that I could live with. There are a lot of options.
Another way to do it is to buy used,but get good speakers and electronics you can improve upon byhaving them modified.

Panny XR-50\JVC RF-X10 $250\$200
Ascend CBM-170 $328\Pr.
Pioneer 563A Universal DVDP $170
StereoVox Digital IC $80
Power Cord (Aftermarket) $60-100
NEAR OTA Hook-Up Cable $100 Front\RR\CC\IC
Sub $200-500 New\Used
Phonostage Hagerman Coronet $50-$130

Powercords to chose from:
Bob Crump DIY
Cardas C7

That is a system I could easily live with.

Affordable Speakers
KEF Coda 70
Paradigm Atoms
PSB Alpha
Ascend Acoustics
Acoustic Energy
Phase Tech
Celestion F-10
Wharfedale 7.2 $200
NHT Super 1
Gallo Nucleus Micro at $300/pair
Gallo A'diva at $450/pair

Infinity Primus (450 dollars)
Primus 360 (fronts)
Primus 150 (rears)
Primus C25 (center)

Infinity Alpha (530 dollars)
The Epos sound real good with the NAD 320BEE - I put a system together for a friend with these. A good front ported speaker that went well with the BEE is the Linn Tukan, but you'd be lucky to get them for $400. The work well close to walls.
Agree with MMF-25 as source used sub $400. Jolida makes a sweet little amp for a few hundred either the tube or believe it not thier small Solid State. NHT SB2s on sale or possibly used should be less than $300 very close in design to thier top SB3. The Cd player has to be decent.
I have been using a NAD C320BEE with a Music Hall MMF CD 25 for almost two years and the two components absolutely sing together. See my latest comments on my 2 channel HT system. I like the how the NAD sounds with sealed box/acoustic suspension speakers and so, I would opt for the NHT SB2's (I use a pair in a bedroom system with a vintage Marantz receiver). Because the NHT's are sealed box, they can be placed close to the wall and go on bookshelves. If you are buying new, the price will come in at $1200 or so ... so used would be definitely be under a grand. For IC's & speaker cables, you can go with Radio Shack Mega Cables; Signal Cable; or Better Cables (whose Silver Serpent IC sounded best to me).

Regards, Rich
Have her go down to J&R Music World and check out the Teac/NHT system. It's the rack system right in front of you when you get to the top of the stairs. Or Even the $600 top of the line Denon mini system which J&R sells. This has the separate CD player and bigger Mission speakers.
I would get the Teac Reference 500 integrated which is only $300 at J&R and go with some speakers slightly rolled off on top like KRK or Epos. The Teac gives truly high end sound but is a little rough on top.
Other suggestions:
Ascend CBM-170 for $328 and Arcam delta integrated.
B&W 303 or 601's with NAD integrated.
I wouldn't recommend that a non-audiophile buy anything with a tube in it. Nothing against tubes, but they're for dedicated hobbyists. Also, I know it's heresy around here, but don't rule out stereo receivers. An entry-level Denon receiver runs $250, and can hold its own with NAD when drivng the kinds of speakers your friend is likely to choose. Also, she gets a tuner for free, which is a good thing to have in Manhattan, where there are actually still some great radio stations.

I also wouldn't spend more than $150 for a CD player in a system like this. Stick to the major name brands, and you'll be on safe ground. (Not the ultimate, but safe, which is good enough in a $1000 system.)

That leaves $600 for speakers, possibly including stands. Speakers are very personal, so rather than come up with a short list for your friend, I recommend that you take her around to the various shops in NYC that will have her (there are some who won't), and have her listen to what's there. It's more important that she finds something she's sure she likes than that it meet with the approval of the audiophile community.
Hey everyone, thanks a lot for the advice. I thought I'd drop a line and let everyone know how her decision turned out.

True to her past form, my friend has decided to eschew everyone else's advice and spend more money than originally planned. It seems like she'll take to this hobby just fine.

She finally settled on a matched set of Cambridge Audio A640 int. amp and CD player hooked up to Epos speakers. I'm sure that the system will sound great once up and running.

Thanks again,
For an amp try one of the new Digital amps. People are raving about the JVC's and Panisonics. The JVC can be bought for as little as $180 I think.

Get a Philips 963 if you can.

Here is a system I put on paper awhile back.

JVC Digi AMp $180 J&R's
Ascend CBM-170 $328\Pr.
Pioneer 563A Universal DVDP $170
StereoVox Digital IC $80
Power Cord (Aftermarket& adaptor) $20
Sub Rocket ELT SW-10 $195

There are variables you can change.Need more power get seperates. There is a new sharp Digi amp rated at 150w for $180. I do not know how good it is ,but by all indications it might work well enough to replace some other $500+ amps given the performance some people are witnessing using the recievers. Who knows.

Just a suggestion!