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What Gear Would You Choose to Build a $5,000 System?

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Home-theater-225x140.jpgWe've said it many times on the pages of this website: Your hard-earned dollar has never gone further than it does in today's home theater market. Whether we're talking about speakers, electronics, or displays, a high level of AV performance is attainable for far less money, compared with 10 or 20 years ago. To put this idea to the test in real-world terms, we asked the HomeTheaterReview.com writers this question: What gear would you choose to build a $5,000 system? The only requirement was that the system needed to include speakers, electronics, and sources.

Their answers are presented below, and they cover a variety of setups. Naturally, our audiophiles focused on two-channel audio systems. Some writers put together a complete multichannel AV system (even a little Atmos!), but they pre-supposed the existence of a TV or display, which gives more wiggle room on the audio gear. A few brave souls factored a display into the $5,000 budget, which certainly ups the challenge for the other pieces in the system. Our totals are based on current street prices, and we did give a little leeway on the $5,000 price point ... but not much.

Jerry Del Colliano
Two-Channel Audio System
• Speakers: Tekton Design Pendragon Tower Speaker ($2,000/pair)
• Subwoofer: SVS SB-1000 Subwoofer in Gloss Black ($600)
• Electronics: ELAC Element Digital Integrated Amplifier ($699)
• Source: ELAC DS-S101-G Discovery Music Server ($1,099) with Apple iPad Mini ($400) for Roon Interface
• Accessories: GIK Acoustics Room Treatment ($200)
Total price, $4,998

Dennis Burger
5.1-Channel AV System
• Speakers and Subwoofer: RSL CG3 5.1 Home Theater Speaker System ($999)
• Electronics: Anthem MRX 520 AV Receiver ($1,399) 
• Display: Sony XBR-65X930D 65-inch UHD TV ($2,200)
• Source: Sony PlayStation 4 Pro Gaming Console/Video Player ($400)
Total price: $4,998

Two-Channel Audio System
• Speakers: GoldenEar Triton Three+ Tower Speaker ($2,500/pair)
• Electronics: Peachtree Audio nova150 Integrated Amplifier ($1,799)
• Sources: Onkyo DP-X1 High-resolution Portable Digital Music Player ($600) and Amazon Echo Dot ($50)
Total price: $4,949

Myron Ho
5.1-Channel AV System
• Speakers: Polk Signature Series S60 Tower Speaker ($700/pair), S35 Center Speaker ($250), and S20 Surround Speaker ($250/pair)
• Subwoofer: SVS SB-1000 Subwoofer in Black Ash ($500)
• Electronics: Outlaw Audio 975 AV Preamp ($549) and Outlaw Audio Model 5000 Amplifier ($599)
• Display: Epson Home Cinema 3700 Projector ($1,299) and Elite Screens M120UWH2 Manual Pulldown 120-inch Screen ($145)
• Source: OPPO Digital UDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player ($550)
Total price: $4,842

Steven Stone
Two-Channel Audio System
• Speakers: Spatial M3 Turbo S Tower Speaker ($2,795/pair)
• Electronics: Cambridge Audio CXA80 Integrated Amplifier ($1,000)
• Source: ELAC DS-S101-G Discovery Music Server ($1,099)
Total price: $4,894

Ben Shyman
Two-Channel Audio System
• Speakers: Paradigm Prestige 15B Bookshelf Speaker ($1,598/pair)
• Subwoofer: GoldenEar ForceField 5 Subwoofer ($999)
• Electronics and Source: OPPO Sonica DAC/Music Streamer ($799) and Red Dragon MkII 500 Mono Amplifier (two for $1,498/pair)
Total price $4,894

Greg Handy
5.1-Channel AV System
• Speakers: ELAC Uni-Fi UF5 Tower Speaker ($998/pair), ELAC Uni-Fi UC5 Center Speaker ($349), ELAC Debut B4 Surround Speaker ($180/pair)
• Subwoofer: SVS SB-1000 Subwoofer in Black Ash ($500)
• Electronics: Emotiva XMC-1 AV Preamp ($1,999) and Emotiva A-700 Seven-Channel Amplifier ($599)
• Source: Sony UBP-X800 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player ($298)
Total price: $4,923

Bob Barrett
5.1.2-Channel AV System
• Speakers: GoldenEar Triton Seven Tower Speaker ($1,400/pair), GoldenEar SuperCenter X Center Speaker ($600), GoldenEar SuperSat 3 Surround Speaker ($500/pair), GoldenEar Invisa 525 In-Ceiling Speaker for Height ($500/pair)
• Subwoofer: GoldenEar ForceField 3 Subwoofer ($500)
• Electronics: Denon AVR-X3300W AV Receiver ($999)
• Source: OPPO Digital UDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player ($550)
Total price: $5,049

Terry London
Two-Channel Audio System
• Speakers: Tekton Design Double Impact Tower Speaker ($3,000/pair)
• Electronics/Source: Lumin M1 DAC/Digital Audio Player/Preamp/Amplifier ($2,000)
Total price: $5,000

Scott Schumer
5.1.2-Channel AV System
• Speakers: Definitive Technology DT6.5LCR In-wall Speaker for Front ($199 each x3), Definitive Technology SR9040 In-wall Speaker for Surrounds ($500/pair), Definitive Technology DT6.5R In-ceiling Speaker for Height ($358/pair)
• Subwoofer: Definitive Technology IW Sub 10/10 In-wall Subwoofer ($949) and SubAmp 600 Amplifier ($699)
• Electronics: Onkyo TX-NR656 AV Receiver ($349)
• Display: Samsung UN70KU6300 70-inch UHD TV ($1,500)
• Source: Streaming services through Onkyo AVR and Samsung TV
Total price: $4,952

Adrienne Maxwell
5.1-Channel AV System
• Speakers and Subwoofer: SVS Prime Satellite 5.1 Speaker System in Black Ash ($1,000)
• Electronics: Pioneer VSX-531 AV Receiver ($249)
• Display: LG OLED65C6P 65-inch OLED TV ($3,500)
• Source: Sony UBP-X800 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player ($298)
Total price: $5,047

Additional Resources
What Is the Right Price for AV Gear? at HomeTheaterReview.com
The Year in Review ... and a Look Ahead at HomeTheaterReview.com
Our Reviewers' Guide to Having More Fun with Your AV System at HomeTheaterReview.com.

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