Please Advise me on Building a System on a Budget

Hello everyone,

I am an aspiring audiophile who loves music but I have never had the money to buy any real nice equipment. I am looking to build a relatively nice system for the first time and I am on a budget. I am looking to spend only around $2000 on everything. I am looking to get everything used and I am willing to hunt on ebay and craigslist for bargains. I want to stretch this $2000 as far as I can. I have a few questions that I hope some of you experts could help me with.

Ideally, I need a pair of speakers, a preamp, an amp, a record player and some type of digital source like a cd player (or SACD player). I know that is an aweful lot to ask for on a $2000 budget but tell me what you think I could do.

One question I have been wondering is if it really makes sense in 2011 to spend big money on a cd player or SACD player. I don't quite understand people who are spending a thousand dollars on a top of the line NAD player or other unit. Wouldn't it make more sense to have a hard drive based unit or computer playing lossless audio files? Wouldn't that be able to produce the same quality audio but be more convenient?

My initial thoughts would be that I should have a PC with a solid DAC as my digital source (or hard drive based player) and then get a good record player. Does this sound reasonable? Or is there some reason why playing old fashioned CDs through a NAD or other device would sound superior? Also, would you recommend a SACD player? Of course, there are plenty of high resolution FLAC files that I could conceivably play from a hard drive unit as well.
Please advise on this.

What I was thinking of as far as budgeting was concerned is: Spend about $700-$800 on the best used speakers I can find. Spend about the same on the best Pre-amp/Power amp combination I can find. And spend the rest towards the rest, particularly the digital and vinyl sources.

The $2000 is not a hard and fast budget but I seriously do not have a lot of money and I want to get the best audio I can for a reasonable amount. I would rather spend more on the speakers and amps and maybe wait on a record player.

What can you suggest? Thanks. I look forward to hearing your suggestions.
The first thing you do when buiding a system on a budget is to increase your budget.
Another member posted a great note on developing better critical lisening skills. Critical listening skills can help you better interpret transient changes in music reproduction during high demands.

One interesting note is why some critical lisener's "occassionally" use subwoofers. During high music peaks, especially with lower ohm-rated speakers, amps can drop the balanced levels of less demanding instuments and voices. A good musical sub can reproduce the lower notes, removing the lowest frequency demands from the main speaker amps during highly demanding music.

Matching your main speaker's with a perfectly matched musical sub is something to consider, especially, if the levels of less dominant instuments and voices drop off during musical peaks.

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You can get an awful lot out of your computer if you know a geek. I don't know squat about computers, but I know a "geek". Although I have a Marantz transport feeding a DTI which goes into a DAC, I hardly ever use them. I use CODEX on the computer and transfer that to a playlist.

Maybe you could do without a CD player for awhile.