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 


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.