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$4,000 Two-Channel Stereo Recommended System

by May 22, 2014

Did you read our $10,000 two channel system recommendations? Was your reaction “well that’s great, but how about you guys put together a system I can afford?” Not to worry, the Audioholics have you covered. If you’ve got $4,000 in your pocket, it’s possible to build an impressive two channel setup with careful selection. Yes, there will be sacrifices: dual SB13-Ultras would pretty much kill the budget I’m afraid. However, the cuts don’t have to extend as deep as you might imagine:

Loudspeakers: Aperion Verus Grand Towers

MSRP: $999/pair | Aperion Verus Grand Review

This one was a pretty easy choice for us: winner of an Audioholics 2010 Product of the Year Award, as well as featured in our 2014 A/V Gear Guide E-Book, the Aperion Verus Grand’s have a large balance of strengths and few real weaknesses. Starting with the exterior, the Aperion boasts top notch build quality and fit and finish. In terms of sound quality, we’ve been continually impressed by the Verus Grand’s imaging and soundstaging abilities, not to mention its dynamic range courtesy of dual 5” midrange drivers and dual 6” woofers. On the technical side, the Aperions also benefit from a relatively high sensitivity of 92dB, and coupled with their 6 ohm nominal impedance should mean they present a relatively easy load for a partnering amplifier.

Aperion Verus Grand Gloss Black

Unfortunately, you can’t quite have everything for $2,000. In the case of the Verus Grands, the tradeoff is that the low end doesn’t exactly extend to subterranean depths. Output is rated down to 45Hz (-3dB) / 35Hz (-6dB), which is sufficient for most music (especially with the reinforcement most speakers see in room). However, folks looking for a deeper low end and willing to give up a bit of sensitivity and midrange dynamic capability should consider our alternative choices, the SVS Ultra Tower and the NHT Classic 4 Tower, both of which feature built in subwoofers.

Alternatives: SVS Ultra Tower | NHT Classic 4 Tower

Integrated Amplifier: Onkyo A-9070

MSRP: $1,200

The Onkyo A-9070 isn’t your average integrated amplifier. While most manufacturers seem to be in a race to see who can make the least functional hi-fidelity equipment, Onkyo outfitted the A-9070 with a pair of Wolfson 192kHz/24 bit DACs. Digital inputs include a pair of coaxial digital jacks and an optical input; while that doesn’t sound like much if you’re used to dealing with A/V receivers, it’s a big deal in the land of integrated amplifiers.

Onkyo A-9070

Of course the A-9070’s 40 pound bulk suggests it is no slouch in the output department either. Power is rated at 75W into an 8 ohm load, and a the A-9070 nearly doubles down into 4 ohms, delivering a whopping 140W (both figures rated at 20Hz-20kHz, 0.05% THD, 2ch driven). These numbers indicate that the Onkyo should have no difficulty making our tower selections sing.

CD/SACD Player: OPPO BDP-103

MSRP: $499 | OPPO BDP-103 Review

What’s this, a Blu-ray player in a two channel system? What can we say? OPPO’s BDP-103 delivers a heck of a lot for its modest price tag. Nominally a Blu-ray player with the ability to upscale to 4K, the BDP-103 can also handle CD and SACD playback, and it has a network input for streaming A/V content. The OPPO even features a pair of HDMI inputs, allowing further system expansion. If you’re firmly living in the digital age, the BDP-103 is truly a source device that can do it all.  Don't have a HDTV in this system?  No problem, use your iPad to navigate around if you decide to hoop up an external HD to stream your music from.

OPPO BDP-103

Cables: Blue Jeans Cables (~$100)

Blue Jeans is our go to cable vendor for a simple reason: they offer high quality products at affordable prices, and unlike so many other cable companies, they hold the BS. They offer raw 12AWG speaker wire starting at $0.52/foot, though they also sell terminated cables for a bit extra. Blue Jeans also sells no-nonsense interconnects (including balanced XLR cables) and subwoofer cables. Prices will of course vary based on the lengths that you need; however, the total seen above is based on the following:

    Pair of banana terminated, 15’ Belden 5000UE speaker wires: $15.60
    3.5’ Belden 1694A digital coaxial cable from BDP-103 to Onkyo A-9070: $75.50

Blue Jeans

Surge Protection: Panamax SP8-AV

MSRP: $70

The Panamax SP8-AV is a fairly basic device. It offers 1125 joules of surge protection for 8 outlets, as well as a modicum of EMI/RFI noise rejection. In the event of a catastrophic surge, the SP8-AV's circuitry will disconnect your equipment from the line, helping to ensure its safety. Considering the modest price tag, we consider it cheap insurance to keep your equipment reasonably safe. Take our word for it when we say it’s never fun to see pricey components fry.

SP8-AV

Summary

Speakers Aperion Verus Grand Towers
$1,998
 Integrated Amplifier
Onkyo A-9070
$1,200
 CD/SACD Player
OPPO BDP-103
 $499
Cables  Blue Jeans Cable
 $100
 Surge Protection
 Panamax SP8-AV
 $70
 Total   $3,867

 

As compared with our $10,000 stereo system, there’s no question sacrifices were made to reach a $4,000 budget. However, we’d daresay that the sum of the parts above still equals one heck of a two channel system. Starting with the Aperion Verus Grands as your base, you’ll have a dynamic presentation with precise imaging. If you’d like to give up a little dynamic capability for low end, consider either the NHT Classic 4 Towers or SVS Ultra Towers, both of which feature built in subwoofers and extension down to deliver low end power below 30Hz. All three of these speaker choices are solid and among the best values offered from ID Speaker Companies. Regardless of which choice you make, we expect you’ll be more than pleased with the results.

Confused about what AV Gear to buy or how to set it up? Join our Exclusive Audioholics E-Book Membership Program!

 

About the author:

Steve Munz is a “different” addition to Audioholics’ stable of contributors in that he is neither an engineer like Gene, nor has he worked in the industry like Cliff. In fact, Steve’s day job is network administration and accounting.

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Recent Forum Posts:

ematthews posts on May 23, 2014 20:43
zieglj01, post: 1033782
On a $4000 budget - it would be nice to see an alternative to tower speakers - some people will
not desire, or would be restricted (placement and/or WAF) to bookshelf speakers and a sub. >>
Also some may not desire towers with built-in subwoofers.

Also on that type of budget, some people may find it difficult to spend/justify $1200 on a Amp.
Something like the Outlaw receiver with built-in bass management, would be a good option.
RR2150 Stereo Receiver

I like that idea too. You could get the Rythmik/SVS sub and Ascend Sierra 1 speakers
AcuDefTechGuy posts on May 23, 2014 20:36
TheHills44060, post: 1033737
Haha fair enough. Sorry if I sound like a broken record all the time but yes I'd prefer the Denon, Parasound or Onkyo. The KEF's are nice though.

I sound like a broken record too.
zieglj01 posts on May 23, 2014 17:25
On a $4000 budget - it would be nice to see an alternative to tower speakers - some people will
not desire, or would be restricted (placement and/or WAF) to bookshelf speakers and a sub. >>
Also some may not desire towers with built-in subwoofers.

Also on that type of budget, some people may find it difficult to spend/justify $1200 on a Amp.
Something like the Outlaw receiver with built-in bass management, would be a good option.
RR2150 Stereo Receiver
TheHills44060 posts on May 23, 2014 11:54
AcuDefTechGuy, post: 1033695
What if the $10K system had the Revel F208 + Denon X4000 + ATI or Parasound 200WPC amp, instead of any Emotiva stuff?
Haha fair enough. Sorry if I sound like a broken record all the time but yes I'd prefer the Denon, Parasound or Onkyo. The KEF's are nice though.
gene posts on May 23, 2014 11:40
zieglj01, post: 1033706
So after 4 years of going to shows, doing reviews and previews - there is nothing
out there that can compete with the likes of the Aperion Verus?

Nobody said that. It was a good choice for the money based on reviewers experience here. NHT and SVS offer very good alternatives with more bass output. WE want to mix stuff up and not just promote one brand all the time in these systems. I'd love to promote the new Monitor Audio speaker line but without one of us hearing it in person, we simply can't do it.
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