what are your top "audio bargins" in your system history?

It is great to have all the money you need to have the best and endless upgrading.  But what about the components you've had that were inexpensive that turned out to be favorites of yours?


Townshend Rock mk2, also known as the Elite Rock. Bought for £500 in 1990. I’ve run a Rega 300 (with the damping trough) and a Naim Aro and now a Schröder Reference (without) since my Artemis is playing up again. The Rock is more resolving but maybe a bit more analytical with the Proteus, an SPU Royal N gets the combination swinging nicely though.

My Primaluna Integrated. Lovely tone. Fine imaging & 3D. As much slam as this classical music guy will ever require. Just spritz the volume and selector knobs with some Deoxit to quiet them down when they get glitchy. When a tube blows (which happens considerably less often than it happened in my previous tube amp adventures), you get hold of Upscale Audio and have them send you a new one.

If I consider a "bargain" as something that can be purchased at a relatively reasonable price, and that performs near or above similar gear that sells for a similar or higher price, then my list would include:

  • SMc Audio upgraded amplifiers and preamplifiers
  • Khozmo passive preamps and Hattor passive/active preamps
  • Mojo Audio Mystique v3 DAC (the rest of the line is very good but not the same level of bargain as the v3)
  • Sound Anchors Stands 

Vandersteen 2CE Sig II speakers

Schiit Freya Plus tube preamp

Schiit Bifrost II DAC

Line Magnetic 216i integrated tube amp (best addition overall)


@testrun  I remember my Spicas. They were quite excellent, but in time I went to Celestion SL600's, more than a little because the SL600's gave me near insane  3D. Anyway, when the SL600's eventually started going through one too many tweeter deaths, I ended up with NOLA Boxers. I've been happy ever since. True, they don't possess quite the 3D of the Celestions but their tone is a good deal more natural.

The original Rega Kyte bookshelf speakers that were £200 sometime in the early 1990s.

If it wasn't for their lack of bass I'd still be using them.

They had such natural timing and coherence that they made most others at the time sound somewhat messy and blurred in comparison.

@edcyn - I heard the SL600’s in Chicago.  It was the first system I heard with a sub.  At the time out of my price range but will never forget listening to them.  They were unbelievable.  Today I own Joseph Audio Perspectives and believe they are my end game speakers.  

As an audiophile who has focused on value this past decade, I feel I've acquired several examples. What stands above the rest in competitive sound quality I believe is my Hornshoppe Truth line stage.


@yeti42: Interesting nomination of the Townshend Rock table (a cult component if there ever was one). I got mine in ’91 from a U.S. dealer, paid $650. I use a Zeta arm on mine, a favorite combo with Rock aficionados. And a London (post-Decca) pickup, another excellent mate for the Rock. All made in England.


Other nominees:

- AR XA turntable. Bought mine in 1969 for 78 bucks!

- Fisher X-100-A integrated tube amp, bought used in ’69.

- Dynaco PAS-3 pre-amp and ST-70 power amp.

- Decca Blue pickup, $140 in 1972.

- Magneplanar Tympani T-I loudspeakers. $995/pr in 1972.

- VPI HW-19, used from Brooks Berdan in the late-80’s.

- Well Tempered Labs Tonearm.

- Eminent Technology LFT-8b.

- Rythmik subwoofers.

- Music Reference RM-9 Mk.2, RM-10 Mk.2, and RM-200 Mk.2, all used.

- Vicoustic Multifuser DC3.

- ASC Tube Traps (14 of them): 9", 11", 16", all $10/ea. used! (the seller didn’t know what they were. He found them in a house he bought).

- Used LP’s. ;-)

Technics SU-G700M2 (& matching SL-G700 SACD player)

Revival Audio Atalante 3 speakers

Darwin Cables

It's the combination of these three particular components and cabling that keeps my toes tapping, feet wagging and head swaying literally all the time.

All the best,

I recently purchased a Martin Logan Forte amp with ARC room correction market down from MSRP $599 to sale price of $199. I don't know how but i made my rear surround speakers which are wall mounted sound almost like big ML electrostatic in terms of soundstage, WOW. Quite the bargain.,

My biggest bargin and the start of much of my audio history/pleasure were the original large Advent speakers...........in walnut of course

Elac Adante AF-61 tower speakers (Andrew Jones designed) purchased new in early 2021 for $2500 a pair, half off their original retail price. These are extremely revealing speakers which pair very nicely with my McIntosh MA-6500 Integrated amp. My McIntosh Integrated was also purchased used in pristine condition for $2500 from Audio Classics. I have been very happy with the performance and value from this 5K combo.


+1 Advents were my first real speakers and it was hard to let them go. They cost me $200 and I had to spend $1400 to get something better sounding.

Used LP's at the Goodwill for $3.....many of them almost mint.  And a set of mint, original, clean and working perfectly Dahlquist DQ 10 for $375.

My Marantz SA7S1 super audio player was a game changer in my system. Got it as a floor model for less than half price and is still spinning discs and sounding beautiful.

I acquired an Audio Research VT130 as a "throw it in" (that would be for free) while acquiring an SP15.  Someone had "adjusted" the left channel tube bias and it was blowing screening resistors. Once that was rectified I was amazed by the depth of stage the old gal had. Free is a hard price to beat. 

Jolida 301 amp, older definitive technology BP series bipolar speakers almost 30 years ago, ESS speakers from the 70’s with the amt tweeter/midrange, rogue Cronus magnum 2 amp, ps audio ds jr (wish I still had for second system), and now the ps audio sprout 100 for a second system. 

I would have to say a Marantz 2265B reciever that someone gave me back in the early 80's  That was the beginning of my audiophile journey 

Recently l bought a used Spectron musical MK lll class D amp designed by John Ulrich and the old beast almost weighs 60lbs 

Years ago I purchased a VAC CLA1 MKII Pre, Counterpoint NPS-400, Clearfield Continental speakers with Synergistic Research cables for $300 and then spent $300 on tubes and a repair. I still have and use the VAC in my second system.

Bought a set of B&K Sonata monoblocks along with matching B&K Pro 10MC preamp for $450 about 10 years ago. Best bank for the buck I have ever come across. 

Wish I still had them.

New Large Advents $150

Klipsch Heresy "Decorators" $300

Infinity RS-II towers $400

ATI 1502 $150

I still have the Advents and the ATI amp.


New Large Advent Utilities, $148(?) at Tech Hifi in 1978 as a HS graduation present. Refoamed by Miller sound. Still in my secondary system

Ohm Walsh 2000s for $2800/pr in 2009. End game speakers for me.

A pair of Vandersteen 2Wq subwoofers bought used for around $800 each. Never will they leave my system.

Arion Audio S500 stereo power amp. Got a special price on this one, but even at it’s list price at the time, $2500, it does everything I want an amp to do, nothing I don’t, and I can carry it under one arm if I need to.

Highly modified Beresford DAC by K Works. Only goes up to 96/24 and lacks USB input, but outperforms modern DACs costing much more. I paid $500 used including power supply.

Custom Sound Anchor stands for the Ohm speakers. Solid, effective and affordable.



16 years ago I bought a used pair of McIntosh mono blocks and tube pre amp to drive my 3.6 Maggies.  I could sell them for what I paid tomorrow.  Bit then I would lose the magic, LOL.

The one and only NAD 3020A back in the 70's.  Was the start of you can get quality without all the fuss from NAD.


2 pieces I acquired on used market

A used McCormack DNA 1 amp cica 1995

Great piece that I intend to have upgraded at some point by the designer Steve McCormack 's company.

Also a used pair of Reference 3a L integre floor standers. I find my self listening to them more often than more expensive SSM 6 Salk Sound stand mounts which I bought new

Little Feat Time Loves a Hero test pressing with white label. 50 cents at a thrift store. I have over 2500 LPs and this is still the SQ champ. Runner-up is a set of Bowers & Wilkins DM 110i. $50 thrift store. These were cheap speakers to begin with so there's no way they should sound as good as they do. I think it has to do with the synergy I run them with Quicksilver and Prima Luna monoblocks

I was stationed in Germany where we could buy audio equipment at a substantial discount.  I bought a pair of Infinity RSIIb speakers that were simply superb.  Sadly, on a subsequent move in Germany—a decade later, they were destroyed when the  mover’s truck had a hole in the roof and they were soaked to the core.  I wanted another pair, but my lovely and very supportive of my audio addiction wife wanted something less dominating in the room, so I went for the Infinity Modulus satellite subwoofer system in 1992.  Just replaced them last year with Fyne F702s.

A Gustard R26 I paid full retail for ($1600) last year was the best bang for buck I've yet experienced in my system.

About 5 years ago I had a search bot app for Craigslist.

I had it watching for Magnepans.

After about 6 months the right deal came along... a pair of mint, SMG's with magnariser stands for $250.

Although the app had done it's job, I left it to continue searching. 2 months later a pair of mint 1.7's had popped up, so I grabbed them for $500. The owner had gotten a promotion that required he move to Chicago immediately. He was selling a spacious house and moving into a tiny, expensive condo in downtown Chicago.... no place to put the Maggies.

Mine wasn’t a component at all, it was the about the $98 or so I spent buying a fiber transmitter receiver and cable to install in the Ethernet line just before my bluesound node. Wow what a difference! If I’d spent 5 times that much it’d still be a bargain. Now I’ve upgraded to an Esoteric Network Player and still use the fiber. Still wow, just a bigger wow! 

I found a Pioneer Elite CD player at my local Goodwill store for 5 bucks, sure I spent 11 dollars on a remote on EBay but it’s still a great deal, thing is built like a tank

I would have to say my entire system except my DAC. Everything was acquired selectively used so I have great quality components for much less than retail price.

Krell Duo 300 XD found on Offer Up for $3,000.  Guy purchased a random pallet and just wanted to make his money back.  It was on its way back from the factory for an update.  The amp retails for $13K.  That re-kicked off my audiophile journey.  Got some open box Forte IV's from Safe and Sound for $3K ($5K retail).  Freya + for $600 ($900 retail), an SVS PB4000 sub for $700 ($1,800 retail), package deal for various Shunyata Research cables and Danafrips Ares II at well below retail from OfferUp.

Aerial 10t speakers purchased for $1000 in 2005. Still keep these. They're champions

Thorens TD125 all original turntable in the og box $150 at church yard sale



Mad Scientist Audio's Graphene Contact Enhancer

Audiolab CDT6000 and Tweak Audio EVS 1200 power amp. Beast of an amp based on dual mono IcePower AS1 1200 modules and lots of tweaks. He made less than 20. What a bargain @ $2700.
Audio Alchemy DDP-1 + PS 5. Dac/Pre + outboard PS. I bought the DDP-1 used sans PS 5, and searched for 5 month for the power supply to no avail. Finally I contacted the manufacturer who had one left. The improvement was/is well worth the $600 he charged me
All 3 pieces have anchored a lot of ancillary improvements for 3+ years. The AA comes up occasionally make sure it comes with the PS

All the Dunlavy speakers through the years and most recently the Doge Dac 7 Mk II. This DAC is nowhere close to broken in but is already the best I've ever heard.


Reference 3A MM deCapo i speakers. After decades of a parade of speakers from ProAc, Thiel, Merlin, DeVore and others, the de Capos are the ones that most often surprise me with what I’m hearing. And, a Nelson Pass designed Amp Camp Amp in my office system. Remarkable sound at a silly cheap price and a weekend of fun building it.


In my admittedly small amount of gear over the past ten years or so I would have to say the near new Maggie LRS I picked up for $550 a few years ago.  Even at retail they are a fantastic deal IMO.  

Audio Research Classic 60 (2 years old), ARC 3 meter litz speakers cable. ARC 1 meter RCA IC and ARC 1/2 meter RCA IC. All for $1600 in 1992.

ARC Classic 60 amps (30 years old) sell for this today.

Empire 698 turntable (store demo) for $150.

Bryston 4B3 (store demo) for $2750.

Klipsch La Scalla II (as new) for $5000 + free shipping.

The one that got away: Box full of assorted Black Diamond Racing cones, squares, gizmos. Easily 20 pieces. $100.


Trading my DQ-10’s for a pair of Acoustat Model X’s.  I also was able to sell my Hafler DH-220’s!  Still have the Model X’s, but I don’t listen to was much as I should.

Oh Boy, Nearly Everything

I'm 74, Then and Now, spurring some great memories:

1. Inherited

a. Fisher President II from Uncle Johnnie (1958 components, free firewood)

b. Speaker Drivers currently in new enclosures

c. Fisher Mono Amps 80az for many years (Sold to Steve at VAS)

d. Viking Tape Deck, 2 track stereo, used for years, downstairs somewhere

e. Fisher 500C from Henry, still loan to friends when their equip in shop

f. Thorens TD124 TT with SME 3009II, from Henry, fixed, used for years

f. 4,000lps from Rod

2. GIFTS (mostly from clients whose offices I designed)

a. McIntosh MC 2250 Amp (CBS)

b. McIntosh C28 Preamp (CBS)

c. 8 Track, Columbia House (CBS)

d. Velodyne Sub (JP Stevens)

d. TT in Drawer, Linear Programmable Pioneer (wife's twin sister))

e. Sony Blu-Ray Player (niece)

f. DAT recorder (Sony)


a. Fisher 800C for Mitsubishi Vertical TT, LT-5V

b. Thorens TD124 for Fisher 500C

4. BARGAINS bought

a. Harvey's Used Shelf (tips from Wayne)

1. Tandberg 2080 Receiver

2. Technics SP-15

3. Nakamichi Dragon Cassette Deck 

4. Carver AM/FM Tuner

5. Carver m-200T amp

b.. Leonard Radio (tips from Phil)

1. JSE Infinite Slope Model 2 Speakers

c. eBay/marts/ads

1. Tube Testers, Accurate 157 & 257

2. Fisher 800C (component and free firewood)

3. TT in Drawer with Shibata Cartridge (Sony)

4. TT Linear Programmable. Microline (Technics SL-33)

5. Yamaha CR-1040 Receiver

6. Teac Reel to Reel X2000r, (only needed cleaning and belts)

7. Three ARM Turntable, $5.600 total for:

JVC 2 arm plinth CL-P2

JVC TT 81 (plus120/110 v transformer)

Fidelity Research SUT with 3 Inputs

Three Tonearms

Three custom Phono Cables

Three Cartridges

5. Bargains, except for shipping costs

a. 2 pairs of Speakers, AR-2Ax

6. Store Closings

a. 6th Ave Electronics, DBX Soundfield 100 Speakers for Video Use

b. J&R: Stereo Rack

c. Crazy Eddie: Super Audio VHS

d. Tech Hifi (match any price, closing, a few things)

e. The WIZ (match any price, closing, a few things) 

7. Near Full Retail:

a. Luxman Tube Amp for my office

b. CD Player, Sony xa5400 (used price same as ancient original price)




My Gustard R26. Now that I have owned this for 4 months I would still be pleased if I had paid $6000 for it! $1600 makes me feel like I stole something or am missing something!

as a forever loser - at least in the buying and selling stuff, how about the opposite:

bought new LSA speakers for $1400, and sold them at $500 a few months later - nobody wanted them for a penny more. 

Silverline Boleros. Bought about 10 years ago and have used them exclusively since. Excellent combination of clarity/resolution and musicality. Easy to drive, perfect for tubes. Unfortunately (for others) they are rarely for sale used and a tad expensive new. They replaced a slew of panels/electrostats, and boxes. And, FWIW, they actually look quite nice (for boxes).

Seems like the best stuff I naturally no longer own. 

-SpeakerLab K's- Corner horn kit- built all-in for $450 in 1973

-Oppo BDP93 $17 with remote from Goodwill 2020

-Audible Illusions L Preamp brand new $2,000 2018

But I do still own:

-Fritz Carrera 7BE Speakers $2,200  in 2022

-SolidSteel tables $350 in 2023

-Innuos Zen Mk3 Streamer,Ripper,Storer $2,200 new in 2019.

-Pass Labs INT25 $5,300 3 months old in  2020.