$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.


@95dyna It is good to see your timeline 'over the past few years', that is a good advisory. It would be good to hear of, how much foot work you put in, prior to committing to a device to be purchased.

It is also good to see your List of Interface Umbilical's. How the devices are interconnected is a critical consideration. My experiences are set in stone, this area is an evolving and ongoing trial, there is always room to extract a little more that is in line with a end users unique preferences for a sonics presentation. I have heard good things about Wireworld and will be trying out a Cable and loaning it out for further assessment in the not too distant future.

The OP will be well advised if they take up on the suggestion that a parallel experience worthwhile of encountering is to learn how changing the Umbilical Interfaces can effect the overall sonic of the system being built and that a Budget to be solely dedicated to this is best proportioned in as an early in the ventures considerations.

Footwork and Experiences $???? - Devices $?? ??? - Interface Umbilical's (Interconnects + Power) $???'s - ????'s - Supporting Structures $???'s - ????'s 

It is not too difficult to spend into the $100's and even into the $1000's creating Electrical and Mechanical Interfaces.

@ghdprentice The experience is a passion, I come to learn this many years past. I also found I was quite happy to participate in this passion with likeminded individuals, which resulted in myself developing a social side to the hobby. I am today with a numerous amounts of home visits behind me and vice - versa. I have supported many events put on for enthusiasts only (demo's being non commercial) and I am a member of a Local HiFi Group, where I met two of the founders at a forum event 200 miles away from my home, it is this group that is my most enjoyed part of HiFi over recent years, there is humour, food and there have been really good meetings put on with a opportunity to encounter selection of New Devices being made available regularly as Home Demo' Loans from a member, who is a proprietor of a HiFi Company, then there is the New Acquisitions made by Group Members and then the trickle of DIY Builds. The Group has a resident Two Generation Valve Collector, who has inherited collections from within the family, (this individual kindly loans selections of Pairs and Quad Matched Valves for Tube Rolling Experiences), who would not want to be present at a day when this is occurring. Nearly all valves in my devices today are selected as a result of this kind offer, other Group members share the same outcome as my own in relation to chosen Valves.  

@toddcowles lots of envy of your stated budget in the comments as usual, ignore that and spend what you want. The best advice as a few wise souls have mentioned comes from your original post - Harbeth and Pass is what you had and liked, the safest bet is to stick with that combo. Extrapolating from that combo’s sonic profile, if you want vinyl playback get a Linn LP12 TT and Lampizator phonostage, and if you want digital playback get an Aurender server and Lampizator DAC.

A left-field choice for something with fewer boxes would be to get the new Gryphon 333 integrated with DAC and phonostage options and their new EOS speakers. All you’d need is the TT and the Aurender and a loom of Gryphon cables and you’d have a balls-to-the-wall system for about $80K.

I mention this combo because I heard those EOS speakers with my Diablo 300 and its DAC fed by an Aurender with a loom of Gryphon cables, and the sonic fireworks had drool coming out of my mouth. Particularly noteworthy tracks were AC/DC’s "It’s A Long Way to the Top if You Wanna Rock ’n Roll" and Leonard Cohen’s "The Night of Santiago". The combo makes poor recordings listenable and good recordings great.

If you have a good Gryphon dealer in your area you’d be able to demo the whole system as any good Gryphon dealer will also carry either Aurender or Lumin, and most likely Linn or something similar.

Speakers: Acapella Atlas (Horn mid, 3xbass, PlasmaTweeters, used35K);

matched strong Amp: Symphonic Line RG7 MK5 Reference Edition (used12K);

Source server/streamer/network player/24TB music files/digital volume control: Antipodes K50 (used9K);

DAC Tube based, including RC analog volume control / external PSU3: Nagra Tube DAC (used19K);

Silver cables all around (6K used);

Rack and bases (2K used);

Room treatment Basotect (2-3K used)

really well positioned speakers in the room (free);

above is my audio Nirvana.

can be extended by a tube preamp / phono stage and TT at any time if you need.

Good luck🤞

Greetings from Germany 🇩🇪 


Begin with acoustically treating the room and where you want speakers, long wall, short wall. Find the seating - chairs, sofa, loveseat, and determine where you're going to place equipment, then have at least one, maybe two 20A circuits installed. . Buy a pair of Sonos speakers or even Amazon Echo Studios. For less than $500 you'll have something to listen to and minimize any rush to buy anything major until you have all the pieces figured out. Now, start shopping for gear. 

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

I'm not going to suggest what to buy as you've had lots of those. Room acoustics has been mentioned and rightly so. I agree with the above, to start with the room but not with what follows.

The room needs to be considered as a separate issue and not according to your choice of speaker. This is akin to telling a musician friend to please bring his violin to play and not his double bass because your room is too small. Huh?  It is paramount that you get your room acoustically tamed before you audition anything because you may select a component based on what it sounds like in an untreated room only to find when you add another component that you are now unhappy with both.

Treating a room can be handed over to the pro's who will endeavour to get the decay time down to a certain time, usually about 300 to 400ms. This will include absorbers, diffusers and bass traps. All this in the interest of achieving a smooth in-room frequency response. Without treatment the long decay of sound will smear and confuse the detail resulting in a congested sound.

Further smoothing can be obtained by using multiple subs. These subs can be considered as tuning devices and make, along with the room treatment, a really huge difference. I can not overstate what this brings to the party!  Needs to be heard, and you certainly have the funds to do it 😎

Now ponder this:  Take a properly treated room with multi-subs, check out 'audiokinesis' for info on his SWARM, and you have all the bass performance you need. Now a number of speaker manufacturers have a model or two below their flagship speaker that cuts cost by using fewer bass drivers, but mids and tops are identical to the megabuck flagship. This path will not only save you money but will, I say again will, outperform the flagship model simply because the subs are smoothing the bass which two fullrange speakers, hampered by their position in the room can not do.

Your speaker choice does not need to be a function of the room. The acoustic treatment will take that out of the equation to the point where you no longer have your room intruding but get to hear the acoustics of the venue. 

I did not intend to recommend any component but in this looong post the speaker brand Volti came to mind.