I know that we gear heads are constantly wondering whether we have the best setup, etc. but I wanted to quickly give a shout out to my current setup that I really can't see replacing...ever. After experimenting with 5.1 and realizing that I prefer stereo, I set out to create a minimalist hifi that could operate in two different electrical voltage environments (I am a US citizen living in Switzerland...might stay, might return at some point).
At the heart of the design are two vintage ADS 710 speakers. They produce a wonderful sound; warm but clear (and highly detailed) with good bass (though two subs would certainly help at the lowest frequencies). These speakers operate best with some power behind them and favoring accuracy over distortion, I decided to go with a solid state amp. One of the few out there with the option to switch from 220v to 110v is the Parasound Halo series. I picked up their smallest model, the A23 which is rated at 125 w/ch. Very nice specs (http://www.parasound.com/halo/a23.php
) and pretty much no-nonsense. As a younger guy (I'm 31), I've dispensed with CDs, records, etc. for a fully computer based setup (though all of my audio files are hi-res). I use a PS3 for streaming Netflix, Blu-ray movies, gaming and audio from my Mac via Medialink. The PS3 is set to process and output only PCM 2 channel regardless of the source. From here, I selected the Benchmark Media DAC 1 HDR to convert digital to analog. In addition to being an essentially audibly transparent link in the chain, the Benchmark is a DAC and a pre-amp in one. It is controlled via remote and I was able to use balanced interconnects between it and the amp for a nice purist connection. If and when the new Benchmark DAC 2 HGC comes down in price, it would be a nice upgrade for its 12v trigger to the amp (I can be even lazier!) and its additional digital inputs. At the moment I have no idea whether the other improvements and new technologies will actually improve the accuracy of the signal, but I'm not losing sleep over it. Otherwise, the interconnects are all well made but relatively inexpensive. I certainly believe in paying money for quality construction but definitely not voodoo. The choice then for me was from Blue Jeans Cable (http://www.bluejeanscable.com/store/speaker/index.htm
) and I can highly recommend their simple and unpretentious approach.
The result is a highly accurate, ultimately transparent delivery system to a pair of detailed but charming speakers. The separate components were all purchased slightly used from audiophile fanatics who were swapping out gear with the exception of the speakers which were well taken care of for decades before I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time to purchase. All in all, the system cost $2500 making me a happy guy. If you have any questions or thoughts please don't hesitate to ask!