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 


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