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.
I would recommend the Denon CX3 Series. The build quality is exceptional. The player is a SACD and the matching receiver is a class D design. Depending on condition $1000 might be enough for both units. This leaves you enough for the Magnepan MMG, brand new! If your a rock/metal only guy look into Klipsch.
For used speakers in your budget, maybe PSB Stratus Golds or Hales R3's.

Probably suggest an integrated like Cambridge, Rega, or Musical Fidelity, or just get a new Emotiva.
Your budget and approach are similar my own. Here's what I came up with, including shipping:

Denon DL-103 lomc cartridge, $180 new on ebay
Denon AU-300 $237 transformer, $237, new on ebay
Denon DP 1200 turntable, $275, used on ebay
Hafler DH-110 preamp (for phono stage only), $195, used on ebay
Music Angel Chinese tube preamp, $183, new on ebay
Hafler DH-220 power amp, $190, used on ebay
Magneplanar MMG speakers, $650, from Magnepan factory
Hsu STF-2 subwoofer, $370, from

Total: $2279

An alternative to the Denon front end might be a Rega RP-1 ($450) plus a Dynavector 10x5 high-output moving coil ($450). Too bad the Denon DL-160 (another homc at $180) is discontinued. Some alternatives for the preamp(s) are other old classics like the Apt-Holman, Audire Legato, certain Adcoms, but beware - the phono section and preamp are crucial, and there is a lot of shlock out there, which can be hard to detect until it is replaced with something good. :) Research the reputations of particular models to find something nearly universally praised - good sound hasn't changed much from 50 years ago, really.

I also endorse other's recommendation to try the Magnepanar MMGs with the factory program. They are a budget reference standard for good reasons, and certainly worth hearing in your own home just for the education. Have fun! :)
I Just put together such a systemfor my media room:

Linn Wakonda Pre w/ phono $500.00
Linn LK85 Amp $400.00
Linn Kan Speakers $400.00
Denon 3930CI Universal Player $275.00
Pro-Ject Essential Turntable $300.00

Linn K20 Speaker wire $12.00/Meter
Audioquest Quartz IC $75/Meter Pair

The only real “compromise” was the turntable which, for me at least, is “good enough” for the secondary Media Room system. I’m in a condo, so I don’t really have the adequate space for a pair of Maggies, ymmv. A Linn LK140 is a better amp than the LK85, but can also be about $200.00 more expensive.

If you like the “Linn Sound” this will get you to a system within your $2K budget.