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 


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