$50k - $80k Budget…Opinions please.

Long story short, I sold my beloved 2-channel to reduce family debt. In about a year-ish, I’ll be in a position to rebuild with a hefty budget. I loved my Harbeth + Pass Labs combo. My REL sub died before I really got to integrate it, so opinions wanted there as well. I fully understand the diminishing margin of returns when moving into some arenas, but that’s ok, opinions are strongly encouraged.

I listen to a lot of Miles Davis/Coltrane, Radiohead, Tool, Pearl Jam, Brent Cobb. I’ve often preferred “organic” or neutral, not sure how technical that is.


Vinnie Rossi integrated  : Home theater Bypass you may use in your HT.   
( Solid State  and Tube  )

Piega Master Line Source 3  you may use in your HT 

Both : +- 80000$


With that kind of money, it makes sense to first go to a big audio show.  There are vast differences in sonic approaches and most of them are within your budget.  After you hear stuff that you liked, if you report your preferences, people here can provide informed opinions.

With a budget like that, if possible, seek a good dealer or three, and listen to complete systems, not just individual components hodge-podge. Then start narrowing down likes/dislikes, and whatever requirements you need for your system. Then, demo a few systems in your own home/room. 

This all may take longer, and more effort on your part, dealers certainly at this price range should have no problem(?) allowing in-home demo-at least I would make it a requirement to do so! Only you know what you like! And the main thing, have fun when you do it, enjoy the process as much as the result!

I agree with others.  This will require a lot of leg work, and that is part of the fun.  For that money you have to listen.  The upside is that you know what you like and have a trained ear so I think you will know it when you hear it.  You may likely be able to get an amazing system that you are very happy with for much less then your budget.  

think preferences thru before reviewing specific equipment:

1. tubes or SS: TUBES,

both preamp and amp, or integrated. 

2.  speakers: EFFICIENT, to keep power need down, heat down, size down, increase flexibility of placement, remember line of sight of any remote beam.

3. type of drivers:

Horns and Big Woofer, no ports;

no horns, lots/enough bass, no ports;

no horns, no ports, stereo pair of subs.

f. Features: many or purist. i.e. Stereo/Mono; Remote Balance; fletcher munson 'loudness' eq for very low listening; some defeatable tone controls; tape loop; dual output

g. Vintage or New or mix.

h. Phono, a big category, keep options and future options, and flexible gain/flexible impedance in mind. SS or Tubes? TUBES

i. Turntable: DD or belt or idler? Plinth size to fit Long Arm

j. Tonearms: Single, Two, Three {MC, MM, Mono ready to go back and forth in any listening session

Here's what I'd consider

Speakers: SF Olympica Nova 5 (~$20k)

Amplification: Moon 860Av2 (~$20k)

Preamp/Network combo: Moon 390 (~7k)..the new 791 (~$16k) could be interesting

Roon Nucleus with internal hard drive (~$2k)

If desired turntable with isolation platform (e.g. Rega P8 {~$5}  with HRS platform {$1,5k})

Speaker cables ($2k), interconnects ($2K) and power cables with power distributer ($3k) with circuit guard (Shunyata power, Nordost/Transparent/Kimber speaker cables & interconnects)

Audio rack (~$2k)

Stressless Recliner ($3k)

But that's me...


With that budget you should be able to go digital only and rival many analog systems.

I’d spend most of my time and budget on the finest pair of speakers that floats my boat and works with my room and whatever treatments it will have. Then would pursue proper amplification for them with the features you want. It’s too subjective and proprietary to your situation to make specific recommendations, but odds are good it’ll be brands that the main stream aren’t overly familiar with. I'm partial to good tube electronics and/or tube/SS hybrid bi-amp situations, and great midrange with clarity and convincing soundstage...your tastes may vary, but there's no reason to settle for anything you don't love. 

Select music sources and cabling that will play well with the speakers and amplification, and that you’ll be happy using.

You’re smart to be planning in advance.

With that budget you need to demo. If you want to buy new and could find a dealer that you could buy everything from I bet you could get a Substantial discount. 

Them prices I would be looking at Higher end Focals but that’s just my tastes. 

@toddcowles I never would have guessed that there’s another soul on this planet who loves both Radiohead and Brent Cobb…good luck w your system!

Heart of the System:

Vintage Tube Tuner Preamp McIntosh mx-110z.

No matter what budget, what system, if mine was stolen, I would order a  replacement immediately, send it to Audio Classics, have them get it back to specs (not upgrade), and have them replace all the old rca jacks with new gold plated ones like they did to mine. I'm a fan of original lighting, not new LED.

McIntosh Mode Switch gives versatility, Mono Mode, other functions I particularly need it for balancing my speakers that have L=Pads for mid horn and tweeter horn. 

here's one, all the text is in good shape front and rear. 


Wait for a great unit, no need to settle in your budget.

I would have seller pull it out of the case to see condition of parts and deck, to confirm not kept in damp location.

This is what convinced me to try it:


Most people have never heard a wonderful FM tuner. This one needs a strong signal, I have a dedicated antenna in the attic right above it, aimed at WBGO Jazz station. Everything they say about it is true, Richard Modaffari said there is NOTHING he could do to improve it.


MM Phone stage (2) sounds great, I use a SUT for MC into it. Tape LOOP, ....

I solved remote control volume with a more modern integrated amp.


You should start here or somewhere similar. Listen to systems and decide what speakers you want on your short list. After you make that decision you can do some additional listening. After that I would work on arranging some home demonstrations


my opinion is you do not need to spend nearly that much to get awesome sound in a home

You might consider a financial planner as being more of a priority than your next 80k luxury item.  I mean, to pay off family debt you get a fraction of your systems value, and a year later drop 80k on a luxury item.  That math does not add up.  Well, at least not the way I earn my money.

@curtdr ,

+1 agreed ….. I have what I consider great sound for around 4K currently but all used, would be over 20k new. 

but…. If I had budgeted 80k for a system and it would not effect me in a negative finanancial way I would be all over it. 



not me.  Even though I could, it would embarrass me to spend 80k on a sound system.  And, I already have a robust solar power system, so I don't need the $ for that, either, since that's done. 

But, that's me... other priorities...  

Be a real hero spend $10k and invest the rest just in case. I could have spent 10 times what I did on my system, but the what if’s always creep into my head. 

$80k of gear is going in a dedicated room with proper treatment?

Waste of money otherwise.





Kind of hard to recommend equipment when you said nothing about your room. If you don’t have a good room then you will be wasting your money. 
if you have a smallish room then it would be foolish to recommend a large floorstanding speaker and if you have a large room, you will want something bigger than a smallish stand mount speaker. 
Before going to a dealer, go to some audio shows to get a feeling of what type of sound you like

I will not have 80K in a year but I can post the same question for 180K. 

you just buy a bunch of super-expensive stuff

@beach2mtn Have both if those artists on my playlist right now actually, always afraid someones going to look at really close someday and think Im schizophrenic.

Your budget is good to get a great sounding system. Given your circumstances I would recommend starting from scratch… forget what you used to like. Use all the experience you gained on sound quality and components and start over.


I would start auditioning systems… locally first, then maybe a couple trips. Go listen to a Wilson system, a Sonus Faber system, Audio research, B&W, Magico, Conrad Johnson, Roland, Boulder… Magnaplanar. Don’t worry about cost. Find what connects to you.


Then start thinking about what to buy… speakers first.. but you have the advantage of getting all synergistic components at one time.


I found that carefully chosen component at each level sounds better than the last… so a $80K system will sound very significantly better than a $40K system and not nearly as good as a $160K.

I recommend buying the best you can and do not spend much on cables and interconnects (I buy DHLabs as really good quality budget wire), wait about six months or a year until all is broken in and you know what your system sounds like and then start working on optimizing your system with wire. You can then really compare speaker cables first, then power cord (amp)… then interconnects and finally interconnects for all your components. At the end of this… two or three years you can have an incredible system carefully customized to your own tastes.


Up the budget to $200K, finance it, wait 12 months, then declare bankruptcy.

How someone spends their money is none of our business. Don't know why some people have to get on their soapbox :)

Anyways, I agree with the advice to find a good dealer and look for system synergy, instead of trying to piecemeal a system one component at a time. This is where good dealers are invaluable. Good luck!

I agree, how someone spend their money is none of our business. Investment is a never-ending cycle. If someone ask for 80k recommendation, should just give them that or not at all. 

I don't know anything about amps above 20k. But those dan'gostino amps look very nice. 

I've got some recommendations for you but I don't know if your budget can handle it so here goes the amplifier SIM audio north series 861 amplifier it's around $29,000 Canadian so I don't know how much they'll be charging for it in the US or their 860A ll which is also a superb amp and at around 20,000, same audio 850p preamp which is another 30,000 I believe, speakers you should try the monitor audio platinum 300 G3$18,000 US, very three-dimensional open airy spacious and natural sounding, cabling you should use the Neotech Sahara rectangular OCC single crystal wire and the interconnects not cheap but boy is it ever good, will beat anything OFC on the market at any price, for a separate dac I would try the Wyred4sound 10th anniversary dac$4,500 US but it beat up on dacs costing $15,000 and they give you a 30-day trial period if you don't like it send it back and you get all your money back. for transport I really can't give you any advice cuz I haven't really looked at transports in the last few years so I don't know what is good out there.



sorry to tell you that you don't know what you're talking about just because the system costs $160,000 doesn't mean it's going to sound better than an $80,000 system depends how good your ear is and how good the equipment is I've heard systems for $80,000 that absolutely blew away systems for $200,000 It's not just about money in fact I heard a million dollar system that I thought sounded bright and edgy it was terrible money doesn't always buy the best sound, and most of the time with the law of diminishing returns people that spend crazy amounts of money are being ripped off anyways but if you got more money than brains that's what you do lol

@op Try to hear a pair of Wilson Sabrina X's with some quality amplification and source (CD/Streaming/analogue of your choice) as a starting point.

If organic is your criterion but you need power for the kind of music you listen to, probably a transistor power amp that is at least partly biased into class A.

Budget for room treatment if the room is not already sorted.

Only suggestions as possible starting points because the possibilities are endless.


Room and system synergy are the main items to work on. If you don’t have a good dedicated room that you can place your speakers say 10’ out into the room if you need to and it’s treated, don’t waste your money. If you have to place your speakers up against the walls and next to furniture because of the WAF, nothing will sound their best. Buy the appropriate speakers that fit your room, then buy the amp(s) that will make your speakers sound their best.

I have gone to dozens of audio shows (ces, rmaf, Tampa, northwest audio to name a few) and there have been probably 100+ rooms with hundreds of thousands of $$$$ of gear that sounded like sh$t mainly because the wrong setup for the room.

But I also think you build a system with the correct synergy with the room and all the system components, the more money you spend will get you better sq, until the difference in sq isn’t worth the much more $$$$ you will be spending to achieve it.

While most of us have unique opinions, Miles Davis sounds like he is standing in front of me on my system. The room, I place the system in the corner but the walls are broken up with irregularities and lots of absorbing features, curtains, etc, and the back two walls broken up as well. The result is zero secondary reflections, one perfect spot with full 3d definition. 
in this strange room, Project turntable, McIntosh phono preamp, VTL 5.5, VTL S200, custom cables, feeding Totem Acoustic Element Metal speakers with Thunder Sub II as I listen to organ music and like the solid low end.  
My previous system was Quad 63ESL’s, Vandersteen's, driven by Mark Levinson and was fabulous with isolating vocalists.  My current system does the same, and my opinion is the room treatment is so critical to eliminate secondary reflections. 
One disappointment in searching is many high end dealers have crappy listening set ups. I wish the best for you, may your ears be blessed.

For $80k I’d do Magnepan 3.7i with 1k GR-Research crossover upgrade. Bryston 28b cubed monoblocks with Audio Magic Masterpiece fuses. Chord DAVE DAC with silver lvl 2 Farad power upgrade, and Chord Mscaler with dual Shunyata Omega 75 ohm BNC cables. Mutec REF 10SE120 Master Clock with 2 Shunyata Omega word clock cables to Aurender W20SE Network Player, and Jay’s Audio CDT3-MK3 CD transport. Shunyata Everest and Omega power cables to power everything. Cardas Clear Beyond XLR’s and Speaker Cables. SR Master fuses in Word Clock, Streamer, and CD. 80k ultimate system imo.

Harbeth 40.2 XD

Kubala Sosna Sensation XLR and Speaker Cables

kubala sosna XPander power distribution and a kubala sosna Elation power cable for that and your amp.

Audionet Watt Integrated Amp…It’s much bette than Passlabs.or if you can wait until October the new Gryphon Diablo 333 integrated.

These new level of amps are as good as separates. Audionet will have a better synergy with Harbeth and are made in Germany.

If you want an even better speaker I would get the Sonus Faber Amati G5 and same electronics but they are $34,000.

I would get a Lampizator Baltic 4 DAC to get in some tubes.

Streamer would be new Auralic Ares G3.

With that budget, you might be able to build a dedicated listening room.  Depending on many factors, of course (such as the amount of work you do yourself and your existing floor plan). 

Accuphase Integrated.  I’d look at E5000.  Add Phono card.

Thorens 1601 TT with the avail MC cart.  Semi-Auto.

HiFi Rose DAC/Streamer: Get the 150.

Fyne Audio Speakers.  They have great Floor Standers and Stand Mounts.

Above average power conditioner and cables.

A bit of room treatment.



Yup. Diminishing returns.

Go to some listening rooms at a show or two, or at some decent shops. check out systems at 15k, 20k, 25k, 30k. Maybe a tad higher? But set a limit - no more than half of what you receive. Remember decent $$$$ down for treatment as that should be considered part of your system. See if there’s that much difference between them, but you may find yourself pretty darned happy with one not much more extravagant than what you had.

Invest the rest of your money and enjoy your peace of mind along with the music.


Like many threads, so many people coming from so many places. What I got from this thread is that it is best not to judge/advise others on financial matters. The primacy of a good acoustically treated/treatable listening space is a very important consideration. I would add to that, clean power is a thing of design/action and is critical to success, but every installation is unique. Don’t skimp on clean power. Previous posts suggest that it is wise to chose a speaker/amplifier combination that you can audition. There is much to criticize regarding auditioning equipment, but it beats reviews. Lastly, there are posters above that have decades of quality audio gear and lots of practical experience. One in particular has passed through the OPs budget and has compared equipment that I will never be able to afford, but the point is that this person is a valuable resource that has the experience to contrast different levels of system expense. In this case, it is a given that the differences are heard because of the listeners expertise and as mentioned in another post, is not simply because of the level of expenditure. I can’t say that I made all the right choices when building my system, but the best parts of my system resulted from me finding a couple of people that were rock solid with their advice.  Perhaps, having a couple of golden ear advisors that you trust and understand your tastes and room/financial constraints just might be the most important part of the selection process.  Good luck and use your next year listening and comparing.

@toddcowles ,

How fun, to build a new system and have a good budget!

 I’m not sure where you live, but go to every hifi store in your area and ask every question you can think of.  Also, if you can, try to go to a bigger hifi show and see all the new bells and whistles. One final thing, save out some of the budget for room treatments.

All the best.

Start with the room.  This defines what speakers you can fit and work with.  How big is it?  How is current damping?  Can you treat it, etc...  Once that is defined I suggest selecting a speaker as your choice will be a function of the room and your taste both visually and sonically. 

Once the speakers are selected, you then need to wisely select components to feed those speakers to achieve your perfect sound. 

There is an infinite number of items available and if you just buy expensive stuff without thinking of synergy, you might get lucky or you can end up with a sad system.  I have heard some very sad expensive systems and some modestly priced systems that are jaw dropping.  Key is synergy.  

Going to listening rooms is fun and can give you ideas but more than anything, the speaker needs to fit the room.  

Since you mentioned "organic" as your main criterion, you should audition both darTZeel and Gryphon integrated amps (both in $25K range). I heard both through Wilson Sabrinas. Having auditioned both, I went with darTZeel based on what I considered to be the most organic (I listened mostly to acoustic music and vocals). 

I realize that 50-75k is a moderately expensive system, these days, but it's STILL a huge chunk of money! I'd put 5k aside as a travel budget and go to several dealers (don't forget manufacturers who have in-house systems or who sell direct (PS Audio, Magnapan, etc). Listen and choose based on YOUR preferences and tastes. Remember reliability and brand history!

At that price a dealer should offer home set-up and/or exchanges. Choose 1 source at first, listen and judge, again, by YOUR taste. Keep 10k aside for longer term changes.

If you're not sure your ear is discerning enough, you shouldn't be spending this kind of cash until you are!

if any of you click on his system photos: he has a room.

He also had a zillion shiny boxes, I am not sure how he can start from scratch - mentally

 50-75k is a moderately expensive system

that's not how I see it, but we are all sitting on vastly different bank accounts

I have never encouraged anybody, friend or associate,  to spend on HiFi in using great sums of monies, but if an individual is set in the mind and want to indulge themselves, I will assist with suggesting options to consider if prompted.

As a first suggestion, Start receiving demo's of New Model devices of Interest or complete set ups, that will cost in today's money $120 000+.

When the funds materialise the shortlist put together might be able to be found for very close to your budget.  

As an alternative suggestion, an investigation into and receiving demo's of used equipment in the range of similar monies referred to above, could be presenting devices that have had much more substantial retail prices and have a few reviews on them to be found, that might be valuable and worthwhile reading, especially learning how the devices might have worked in conjunction with other devices.

80K being touted as a budget to become available will win one quite a few friends, cautious steps will be needed.

With that size of budget it will be easy to be tempted by quantity, range of sources.

IME you should first ruthlessly analyses your priorities re sources. I am a big fan of FM radio. I have a Magnum Dynalab 109 tuner with upgraded Phillips 6922 Nos valves and a sizeable roof mounted FM aerial, But, I have the joys of BBC Radio 3 FM broadcasting. Without that I am not sure I could justify it. So depends on whether you have access to good quality FM broadcasts

Similar considerations apply to AV amps/home theatre,digtal and analogue sources.

Once you have determined your priorities only then should you start trying to decide which manufactures products best suit your tastes and the only way to do that is to listen to as many of them as possible preferably in home settings. The next hurdle is finding the right synergy between different brands.

Explore the used market. Even on the best brands depreciation from new is hefty and with due diligence you can make big savings on well cared for used gear.

I like my Vitus 030 integrated amplifier, YG Acoustics speakers apart from the PeaK series and my J Sikora turntable/tonearm and Goldnote PH1000 phono stage and PSU.. Can recommend them all wholeheartedly for their balance between musicality, neutrality and transparency, but they represent my personal tastes and others have different tastes.

I hope that is helpful and I wish you well in your search which you should take your time on and avoid rushing to conclusions









I second the room as first priority. After that Rockport speakers and Boulder amps! Good luck and have fun! 

@magnuman … “sorry to tell you that you don't know what you're talking about just because the system costs $160,000 doesn't mean it's going to sound better than an $80,000 system ”

Sorry you did not read my post. I did not say you can randomly pick components at a price point and have them out perform components at another price point. You must carefully choose them an make sure they are synergistic and compatible. Did you just fall off the turnip truck? You are clearly trying to act superior… try to be helpful and humble instead.