Despite the waves SACD and DVD-A made a few years ago, it never really gained mainstream adoption like the conventional redbook CD. Outside of a small group of audiophiles, very few people listen to multi-channel music, and the slim offerings make it even more evident. Nevertheless, people still listen to music the old fashioned way, in stereo.
For many, listening to music is done passively. It’s something they do on their daily commute with an ipod, or as background music. For others, listening to music is an active endeavor. They want to sit down and actively listen to the music. High resolution and lossless audio like FLAC no doubt renewed the interest in actively listening to music. With more detailed music, you are almost left with no choice other than to sit down and listen.
The problem is that many people feel that getting a quality two channel rig is expensive. No doubt about it, it can be. However, the definition of an audiophile is someone who loves music, not someone with the deepest pockets. You can still enjoy quality stereo playback without spending a fortune.
First you need speakers. If you want to assemble a quality two channel rig, then I would recommend tower speakers over monitor or bookshelves. Bookshelves will struggle on lower frequencies and bass response. Now, it’s not an issue across the board with monitor or bookshelf speakers, but we are going for affordable and bang for the buck here. Monitor and bookshelf speakers that have great lower frequency response also have the high price figures to match. Like the superb sounding, but astronomically priced Sonus Faber Guarneri Memento.
The Polk Audio AM6202-A TSI 400 is a great bang for the buck speaker that should be more than enough for those on a limited budget.
Next you need a receiver. Generally speaking, most audiophiles prefer to have a separate pre-amplifier and amplifier than just a receiver because they offer more flexibility, but we are looking to build something affordable, so in this application, a stereo receiver will suffice.
I really like the Harman Kardon HK 3490 Stereo Receiver. Apart from the fact that it has an ample 120 Watts per channel, it also has a phono input so you should be able to add a turntable if you desire. Many modern receivers have completely abandoned phono inputs. Any product with a phono input is always a plus.
Finally you need your source components like a CD player and a turntable if you want to include vinyl playback. A CD player like the Denon DCM290 5-Disc CD Changer Player would be a great addition on a budget.
The Music Hall MMF2.2 turntable is an excellent entry-level turntable that is sure to provide hours of satisfaction.
There you have it. An entry level two channel system that will not break the bank. You don’t need to spend an exorbitant amount to enjoy high quality sound.