Starting from scratch and say $5000

my original post (written, edited, then lost to the cloud) was: "Will I regret selling my McIntosh gear"  I will let it remain in the netherworld and rephrase as above. Truth is I bought an MC2155, C33, and XRT 18 speakers about 15 years ago but because of moves and family stuff, never got a chance to deploy them until this last fall when we became an empty nesters (not the speakers; bad surrounds). Lugging the heavy McIntosh amp told me I needed to sell it because I expect to be moving again soon and it is just too much of a beast that I'm also afraid to damage. But now that it is playing I am enjoying it, even driving mediocre 90s Acoustic Research AR208 speakers I had previously dismissed until hearing them with the MC power. Anyway. contemplating a completely new system to be financed with the sale of the Mc gear and even though I know this is an absolutely unanswerable newbie question, I need the therapy of talking about it to get any sort of orientation in the hundreds of brands and technologies of today. So here goes: I would like to put together a pre+amp+speakers somewhere around $7000 and have no idea where to start.

thanks in advance and apologies for such a vague question. details can follow

ps I like the sound signature of the mc but don't really know anything better; curious about class D. used is fine but not so much vintage unless it is still a value/performance contender. I like diy and projects but hitting 60 next year and starting to value my time in early (unplanned) retirement 


There's a lot of excellent gear.  I believe the answer is yes.  I've owned and enjoyed McIntosh and now have some Moon gear - they sound different and I enjoy the change.

I recommend you listen to different equipment.  I think you have an amazing opportunity because you can keep the Mc gear if you wanted and theer's an excellent secondary market.

I put together my integrated amp+speaker from 2.5K. They are so much fun, if I had 7K, I wouldn't know where to begin. But I'd probably stick with the speakers I tried and liked (Dyna, Totem, Revel, Monitor Audio) and find matching amps.

I was thinking of trying some mono blocks but not entirely opposed to go with an integrated either. Not sure how long I will be in the lively 20x25 room or if we will have a party room in future space but assuming I'll end up with monitors on stands with possibly subs later (never used one, but I get it). I definitely don't like brightness and I'll take anemic but clean bass over boomy any day (prefer my 90s acoustic suspension small Infinity bookshelves to ported versions in same size)--which is why I would not be opposed to adding a sub one day. 

The ample power of the Mc has been eye-opening. But also intrigued by class D. Can't even decide if I want fish, meat, or just entrees! I'm that guy who can't decide on dinner then regrets choice....although anything suggested here on the forum will be a step up from my Sonos amps and vintage japanese stuff which is better than Pyle, but nowhere near a modern amp I would think. Or the Mc. I'm leaning towards cashing out on that but lost about what would be a worthy/economically responsible choice to replace it

Try the M700 mono blocks from PS Audio. On the used market they are less than $2000. I had them for a bit and liked them alot. Class D. 

it sounds like you are focusing on the amp first. Of course, it's the amp-preamp section, my bad!

I'm just looking for a starting point, really. Would love to spend less if it is doable, but had just finished perusing the speaker threads where speakers alone were over 10k (!). 

those m700s are a good place to start a list. thanks

If want try something totally different pick up a Lyngdorf 2170 or the bigger one. For the right speakers the room correction is a game changer. Without the room correction on it sounds basically like all other class d I’ve heard. Un involving boring and lacking dynamics with glassy treble. They have some great algorithms in that thing for room correction. It corrected my old Cerwin Vega DX9s and the number was like 80% correction! Crazy cause my Tektons were at like 18% correction. Damn if those Cerwins didn’t sound like multi K speakers with RC engaged.  

I have not heard a lot of pricey class d stuff so some of it may be amazing. 

I'll put the Yamaha on the list for sure. The speakers probably push the short-term size limits and serious dent in budget, but the speaker:amp ratio is noted.

well that Lyngdorf 2170 certainly looks interesting, since I have been streaming for a long time and moving more in that direction. I guess it also raises the whole DSP thing too. That's what is nice about starting from scratch, can explore newer tech

How about this combo?  I have SPL gear and there will be a review coming on the BMT speakers.  Didn't know if you needed a DAC but the SPL Director (peramp/dac) is not much more than the Elector preamp (no DAC).

Speakers (assembled in USA) 

BMT Towers $3,700    Stand mount $1900

Amp and preamp SPL Elector and S800 = $5K but try The Music Room for deals on them.  Here is a review

Enjoy the journey!  Love this stuff

there are lots of incredible speakers for under 3K, especially used. Don't let the threads misled you. People can be warped here about how much one needs to spend for good sound quality. You just need to decide what's important to you, in a speaker, there are so many variables. 

The Lyngdorfs are good but I would go with Hegel, Moonriver, Primare or Simaudio. Again you can double the value with used. 

Fun journey!


If you don’t have the option of hearing a lot of equipment in person, a decision about whether you prefer richness or resolution might be helpful in hitting your budget number…at least in terms of speakers. I’ve heard some really smart folks in hifi share that nothing matters more in the final listening experience than the box making the sound waves. Stand mounts vs towers. Narrow baffle vs wide baffles. These basic building blocks are good blank sheet of paper guides maybe?

I'd snag a slightly used Mcintosh MA5300 integrated. Manageable size and weight, one box solution minus the streamer. 100 non autoformer w/channel , very nice dac built in, low power, low it 24/7. For me Mcintosh makes you just enjoy the music and not analyze it at all. Certainly there is "better" equipment to be had, but not necessarily more enjoyable. 

This should leave a fair amount in the budget for speakers. Don't rule out high efficiency speakers like ZU Dirty Weekends or similar. Tons of great options but I'd push the plan up for that sub if you're going bookshelves. You can start off and get great sound from one sub.  

Good luck with your system, enjoy the heck out of whatever you end up with.

With you strongly considering monitors for the speakers, I would for sure check out the Revival Atalante3s.  They are insanely good (and well within your price point).


Lots of great choices on the pre/amp side of things.  I personally lean towards integrateds to keep things neat and simple, so something like a Rogue PharaohII or Rega Aethoes/Elicit/Elex are really fun combos with the above the speakers.  Or even a Marantz Model30.



$5k to $7k starting from scratch would be a lot of fun.

You will get a lot of suggestions.  You have many paths you could travel.

Do you need to also do Home Theatre with the same gear?

Room size and what kind of speakers first.  If the room can handle them I would try the Magnepan LRS+.  That leaves a lot of budget room for the rest of the gear.  I assume you are "downsizing", so stand-mount speakers may be more appropriate.

Do you like horns?  Maybe some little tube amps and high efficiency speakers?

Apartment?  Big sub-woofers may not be a good idea.

Warm or resolving?  Loud or quiet?  CD player, NAS, streamer, or vinyl?


Start with speakers . Build around speakers you love. Any other way you’ll be disappointed 

I would like to put together a pre+amp+speakers somewhere around $7000 and have no idea where to start.

I would start with an active speaker "system" that includes all of the above. Take a look at these 3 brands. Even though they are wireless you can also use cables:

Kef Active

Dynaudio Focus

JBL Powered Monitors



no HT for now and leaning to stand-mounts. still in single family home but approaching down-sizing so it will never be a huge room and unlikely an apartment either. I'm not a subwoofer type of listener so that would be way down the line. I'm thinking neutral to warm over resolving. I'm approaching 60 but still hear pretty well and even bothered by excessively noisy rooms/ restaurants/beaming. Definitely sensitive to brightness.

The Revivals are a good starting point to use as a reference. They aren't cheap but cutting edge, quality materials and got high marks from members here.

Somewhat pricier the Mofi SourcePoint, but also a lot of reviews here.

And then there is a long list of posts in the same subject: speakers wanted under 3-5K, one a week of so.

Those Revivals look nice. Not clear how to get one's hands on them since there is no dealer list for USA. I am near New Orleans. Plenty of home theater type places but limited for audio so far. I guess I just started looking, but that is the impression so far. and pretty typical/expected. I don't need a guy to install plasma tvs....

re Revivals  @nonoise has them, bought them in the US, I believe, He wrote several posts about it

Here is the list of retailers from the Revival Audio site and this is one of the US importers. Just scroll down to the bottom and he's on the right side. 

Not listed but carrying the line is Goldprint Audio who's commented on them here as well. He's in NC which is much closer to you than the one located near Palm Springs, Ca. Hope that helps.

All the best,

@kidcreole123  As nonoise noted above, I am a dealer for Revival.  Feel free to reach out with questions.  

thanks nonoise, but I had already done that search and my search like yours (at least my results) shows the us distributor but does not list the dealers. and the toneimports page did not show dealers either. but thanks for the link to them

toneimports is the dealer. You would have to contact them. Their web page is not great to say the least.

I am not inclined to make a specific recommendation at this time. That said:

In your position I would consider an integrated amplifier. There are many great ones available that would fit into a system supported by your budget. 

I also would consider exploring the speaker market prior to considering amplification. Consider speakers that are not difficult to drive, having a reasonable sensitivity and impedance curve across the frequency range. The choice of amplifier is often driven by the speakers under use.

You didn't mention what sources(s) you will be using. What are they?

got it. btw, the links to harbeth and spendor on your site need to be updated (dead end now)

just recently re-connected analog sources (cheap cd/turntable/tuner) but likely to stick to most common source of streaming currently handled by analog Sonos out. I have toyed with pc streamer idea, trying to consolidate gear for long term. I do miss and have enjoyed pulling out a cd but going through process of making sure they are all lossless ripped before I can the old iMac or use it as music server (that it has done fine with sonos for 15 years, but yeah, long in the tooth). I guess that enters the discussion too, how badly am I going to hang on to an FM tuner. I am lucky now to be able to pick up the digital signal of WWOZ New Orleans and the classical WWNO.

forgot to add that sonos had digital out and same for even the cheap cd transport so a dac may be in future, either in an audio component (pre-amp or direct-to-amp) or as part of pc rebuild. Even downgraded by the over air old radios and dacs in the sonos, Tidal or Radio Paradise hi rez audio sounds pretty darn good compared to old mp3 compression. 

Just to throw it out.... I would look at:

  • Magnepan .7s at ~$2000
  • D-Sonic  M3a-800S Stereo Amplifier (400x2 into 8 Ohms but stable down to 2) at ~$1475
  • MiniDSP SHD (Streamer, pre-amp, DAC, lots of DSP options for bass management) at ~$1299
  • SVS SB2000 Pro - ~$899

Total Price ~$5673.00

This is all priced as new and I think you'd have a very nice sounding system.  Add a subscription to Qobuz and a NAS with your own CD rips and you'd have tons of music at your fingertips.  

The issues with the above suggestion are:

  • MiniDSP SHD can be a great streamer/preamp, especially if you want to use custom crossovers for managing a single or dual subwoofers.  It even comes with DIRAC I think if you wanted to use room correction.  But it would not be as "plug and play" as a traditional preamp.
  • In addition, the MiniDSP SHD only has one analog input so you'd be limited on your sources.  You could add a turntable and just use that as well as streaming.  It does have a few digital inputs, though.
  • The MiniDSP SHD would probably convert a turntables analog signal into digital so if that bothers you, it's not a good choice.
  • You'd need a phono preamp to add a turntable, either built into the turntable or external.  Schiit makes one for about $150 I think.  
  • You'd need a room that has space to support the Magnepans.  Generally they sound best when you can bring them out into the room a few feet.  So if your listening room is shared with other things, maybe not the most convenient option?
  • You'd have to like Magnepan speakers.
  • You don't need the sub.  But, then again, you may want two.  Just depends on if the Maggies satisfy your bass requirements.
  • You'd have to like the DAC in the MiniDSP SHD.  It is apparently very good but some people feel strongly about their DACs
  • The MiniDSP SHD uses Volumio as the streaming software.  I've used SONOS and BlueOS but not Volumio so I can't give you any opinion on how user friendly that software is.

FYI, right now I'm using a SONOS Port into a Schiit Modi3 with each channel going into the input of an SVS sub and then running the output of the SVS sub into one of johntwo D-Sonic mono power amps into some Maggie MMGs.  Sounds good to me.  I do have some 1.7s on order and will probably replace the Port with that MiniDSP SHD in the near future.

Good luck!


is the recommendation of an integrated by a couple of you reflecting a little value by combining 2 into one box? as in some integrateds might outperform separates at the same price point? I get the convenience and maybe aesthetic value of that, just curious. I guess it is silly to worry about monoblocks if I still don't know the sensitivity for the eventual speakers. The AR208s playing now are certainly not horrible, especially now that they have the Mc power to drive the ported 8" woofer properly

@kidcreole123  Thx for catching that!  All fixed up now.

I personally like integrateds (especially at this price range) due to simplicity and performance.  With the price range you are considering, you will generally tend a get a little more bang for the buck with an integrated versus separates.

Streamer: Used Lumin U1 Mini ($1200)

DAC: R2R Ladder Schumann ($1400)

Integrated: Muzishare X7 KT88 Tube ($1500)

Speakers: KLH Model 5 ($2500) or many others...

Total: $6600. 

Remaining $400 buy better tubes or phono deck.

so I recall that @ghdprentice said that there is no point in buying monoblocks under (I forgot exactly) 5K? So that's why an integrated makes sense. Plus you can have monoblocks in integrated such as Musical Fidelity

that's reason enough for me @grislybutter . 1 reason I had the monos in mind was in case I stuck with more traditional i.e. heavy amps. The class D M700 pair mentioned above in thread piqued my interest.


just for amusement purposes, is there any reason to play with diy class D modules? or speaker kits? I get the impression one can save money and get pretty good but that is at the expense of time obviously and while i have diy'd my way through everything in life, not sure I really want to spend it tinkering when one can get polished and aesthetically pleasing results for somewhat reasonable prices. I have noticed the surrounds on the old ARs looking a little dry and crispy and blowing alot more air these days. I guess surround repair makes more sense than driver replacement but there's that.

Have you taken a look at Buchardt's offerings? Their speakers and their integrated amp have been well-reviewed and are well-liked in the audio community. The S400 bookshelf speakers are supposed to have the warmer tone you prefer (while still offering up good bass for a bookshelf speaker). The amp's built-in room correction is supposed to be very effective and may help if you find yourself with a less-than-ideal room in the future. The amp is a little over $2500 USD and the speakers are about $2200. Prices include shipping from Denmark. There's also a trial period to audition them.

the Buchardt passive speakers got rave reviews from a lot of audiophile youtubers. They often keep them around for reference. Best looking speaker stands

Look at these QLN monitors in great shape and at a nice discount from new.  QLN speakers sound very natural and maybe with a slight touch of warmth that you seem to like.  Pair them with the Yamaha integrated I mentioned earlier and you’d have a very nice sounding setup with the sound characteristics you’re looking for.

Given the additional information:

I would look into the latest Bluesound Node as a streamer. $600. Start with the built in DAC and once familiar with the new system consider adding an outboard DAC.






Post removed 

lots of really good help/info here; thanks. I might have to spend some more time in the speaker section of the forum because it looks like the surrounds on the old ARs are definitely failing, so maybe I should stick with the consensus and start with some speakers that go well enough with the Mc gear and then go from there when the downsizing gets more official. Still like the idea of "start from scratch" though because it will force me to decide on inputs, etc. 

I guess it is a silly question in the amps/pre-amps area, but how many people really use the active speaker route? seems ok short term and good for people minimizing gear, but bit of a tradeoff in flexibility and long term issues

active speakers - according to the youtubers - are the future (from yesterday).

Well, not for tweakers which is most of audiophiles. They can sound great, it take the matching out the equation,  but then where is the fun, the cables, the shiny gear?

Your budget means doing some serious value - oriented shopping. And that means finding a decent Preamp/DAC/Power Amp + 2 sets of interconnects  combination with a reasonable WAF for under $3K. Tough shopping there. So I'd look at integrated amps:

Marantz Model 40 - $2495 

 80 W/Ch 8 Ohms/ 120 W/Ch 4 Ohms


 Phono Preamp

Monitor Audio Silver 300 7G  $2850

 2X6" Woofer  6" Mid  1"Tweet

Half a dozen 'Best of ...' Awards in the US and Worldwide. Absolute Sound Editor's Choice, StoundStage Recommended reference Component, etc, etc, 

No bigger foot print than a standmount 

Gorgeous Finish 

That leaves you around $2K for a second/third source (Marantz CD 60 @ $999) For Vinyl, I'd go with a Rega Planar 3 or the really awesome Audio Technica AT-LP2022  For the WOW!, To keep the price down a bit, the Audio Technica AT-LP7 or Pro-Ject Debut Pro Turntable are not exactly peasant fare.

A pair of speaker cables and you're done. If you went to a single source for all this I'll bet you'd could geta pretty sweet system price to boot, easily under $7k - with tax. You could even hold off on the CD and Turntable and bring it home for around $5K if you just wanted to stream. 

And you would have a very serious mid-priced system with none of the service concerns you'd have with smaller boutique brands.

@panzrwagn you make some good points. tough shopping indeed. The trend is definitely towards integrated and interesting that some electronics big brands (Technics, Yamaha, Marantz) have made the list. Nice that this has been a really productive discussion for me so far, bringing into focus what decisions have to come first. exactly what I had hoped. hard part still ahead. thanks to all

I would write out a budget and buy used equipment.

- Speakers $2500

- Integrated amp $2000

- Streamer $1500

- Cables $500

- Stands for equipment and speakers $500

- Total $7000

I agree with you regarding a thread in the speaker topics. ask for recommendations in the ~$2000 range.  Keeping in mind that the easier to drive speakers are often more expensive however save on the cost of amplification. 


One stand mount speaker manufacturer that produces easy to drive speakers is Fritz. Fritz speakers have a very flat 8ohm impedance across the frequency range. He has stand mount models ranging in price from $2600 - $4000. I own his Carbon 7 se MKII speakers ($2800). Can be driven with 20wpc. Allows one to get more sonic value from an amplifier as you are paying for more quality power than quantity power..  Look Fritz up online. He is easy to talk with on the phone as well. 

There are many fine stand mount speakers. Not many that I would call easy to drive in that they rarely have a flat impedance across the frequency range.  Thus requiring and amplifier able to drive low impedances.  

Any money saved when finding the right amp speaker combination can them be used to improve the sources to bring about a well balanced system.

Good luck and I look forward to hearing what you come up with.

Soon I'll be selling: 

Audio Research VSi60

Sonus Faber Signums with factory stands

Lumin D1 DAC / server with Sbooster PSU


Quality interconnects / cables if interested. 

I've always been a 'budget' enthusiast but in 20 years of buying selling my way up the ladder, this is my zenith, and I love the sound. All items have factory boxes / packing and came from reputable dealers. (I loved and learned from interacting from hobbyists originally, but the scammers eventually took the fun out of that) 

PM me if interested.