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 


Like many, I'd encourage you to listen around & choose your speakers first.  I do have a suggestion for a moderately priced, versatile all-rounder integrated, though.  Admittedly, I have no experience with this specific model, but I have a lot of faith in the Parasound company.  All of their gear offers good SQ/$ ratio, is well designed, cost effective, & dependable.

Their budget NewClassic 200 Integrated is the 200 Preamp with a Pascal class D amp included.  110wpc, includes an MM/MC phono section, DAC, tone controls, subwoofer out, HT bypass, remote control, headphone amp...  They go for $1400 new; saw a used one recently at $999.

That would give you a lot of versatility & enough power to work with most speakers, without seriously denting your budget.  You'd have plenty $$$ left over for the speakers (maybe a streamer, too!).

The big advantage of an integrated is you get all the pieces at once, and they're compatible functionally & offer a consistent level of quality throughout.  It is possible to then upgrade piece by piece to all separates if you're so inclined.  Alternatively, you can just kick back & enjoy the music.  It's sort of the middle road, with separates at one end and active speakers at the other.  Active speakers may possibly give you the best SQ/$, but with no ability to upgrade amp or speakers other than replacing them both at the same time.

I think you want a sit and forget option. I’ll say again the Lyngdorf Integrated. Let me know and I’ll personal message you a guy that I’m pretty sure will give you 20% off. It’s really a get off the merry go round piece. Makes any damn speakers sound like gold unless super inefficient. The 3400 for more power. It’s pretty impressive. I’m into vinyl right now otherwise that would be my dude.

really appreciate the continued suggestions, thanks to everyone. Feel like a kid in a candy shop, so many good choices.

curious @mofojo  why being into vinyl gets an "otherwise" for the Lyngdorf?

Demoing speakers yourself is best. I’ve demoed many speakers before purchasing recently.

That being said, generally safe choices (based on common very popular reviews):

  • +1 Hegel - both the H360 and H390 get great reviews, and the (optional?) DAC is very good also. Buy used to save $
  • +1 Mofi SourcePoint 10 was designed by Andrew Jones, a well-respected veteran loudspeaker engineer with highly regarded models from KEF, Infinity, Pioneer, TAD, and ELAC in his resumé. This bigger budget plus a blank slate gave AJ the opportunity to better use his creative talent so iirc 3 years he came up with this speaker. Fantastic reviews, excellent sound and imaging, satisfying bass. I don’t need but I’ll probably purchase a pair someday.
  • GoldenEar Triton speakers - many positive reviews, images well (3D), narrow/slim profile
  • Monitor Audio - Silver, Gold - many positive reviews
  • Tekton - sonic bargain, but large - not a good downsize choice
  • Audio Alchemy and later Elac Alchemy - are very good high value pre+amp designed by seasoned Peter Madnick. The DAC is very good also. Check out used.

If streaming, you'll need to account/budget for a streamer.   Also, upgrade the stock cabling.

also add:

  • Odyssey Audio Khartago amplifiers - cutting edge top of the foodchain Magico speaker designer Alon Wolf occasionally uses it. An extremely rare sonic bargain