With this system, you can have it all: excellent-sounding tower speakers from an acclaimed audio designer, a receiver with a decent tuner and clean, ample power, CD and vinyl record playback, and Bluetooth audio streaming… all for less than you might spend on a pair of speakers that don’t sound as good as these Pioneers!
Pioneer SP-SF52 floorstanding speakers $260
Designed by acclaimed speaker designer Andrew Jones, these speakers perform far beyond their price point and are competitive with speakers costing twice as much. The sound is warm, sweet, natural, and non-fatiguing. You will get more realism from class-leading speakers selling for higher prices, but for $260 there is simply nothing better.
One advantage to buying floorstanding speakers is you do not need to buy stands. Sometimes when you factor in the cost of speaker stands, it makes more sense to just get the floorstanding speakers.
Prices are listed each, so you must buy two.
Onkyo TX-8020 stereo receiver $199
This is one of the few high-quality stereo receivers left that sells for under $500. The TX-8020 provides 50 watts per channel of clean, genuine power. Many receivers use marketing trickery, like rating the power at high distortion levels, to inflate the power rating. Not this receiver. It is rated at a clean .08% distortion level over the entire audible range of 20 Hz to 20 kHz. It includes a phono input and decent FM tuner. There is no better buy under $200, and you can use this receiver with confidence, knowing it isn’t holding your speakers back with noise or distortion.
Audio-Technica AT-LP60 turntable $119
This belt-drive turntable has automatic operation and a moving magnet cartridge that won’t hurt your records. The sound is clean, though it won’t show you how truly magical vinyl sound can be. It takes a lot more money to do that! At under $100 this turntable is a wonderful value and a great way to get started. It has a built-in phono preamp and all the cables you need to set it up. The list price is $199 but it can often be found for under $100.
For another $30 you can get the AT-LP60-USB, which also includes a USB port for transferring vinyl records to your computer.
NuForce BTR100 Bluetooth Hub receiver $69
This high quality Bluetooth receiver will allow you to stream audio from your computer and portable devices. Just connect the audio output to the receiver with the included miniplug-to-RCA cable.
Sony DVPSR510H Upscaling DVD/CD Player $39
This basic DVD player will also play CDs and has an analog audio connection. Most Blu-ray players lack an analog audio connection, which is why I am recommending a DVD player instead of a Blu-ray player here. It is also an upscaling player, so you can connect it to your TV via HDMI as well.
Amazon Basics 16-gauge speaker wire, 100 feet $11
No need to spend more than this on speaker wire. It’s only $2.00 more to get 100 feet instead of 50 feet, so you may as well get the extra as you will probably find use for it someday!
iMBA Price 3-foot stereo RCA-to-RCA cable $6 each
You can use the cable that comes with the DVD player, but this one is a bit heavier duty and likely won’t need replaced for years and years. The sound will be the same as the included cable, but for about $5.00 you may prefer to use this more durable choice.
When you get the urge to upgrade, the first step should be the turntable, then perhaps the DVD/CD player. The speakers and receiver will serve well until you are ready to spend $1,000 or more for the speakers, and perhaps $700 or more for the receiver. While there are better speakers between $260 and $1,000 and better amplification between $200 and $700, you want to make sure you make a meaningful upgrade, not an incremental one.