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CheapEST budget system

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There's a similar thread on budget systems but I want to see what are the cheapest systems running that are worth a hoot. I've been on a quest for super cheap systems that sound great enough to involve others around me.



Raspberry Pi B+ - $35

IQAudioDAC+ - $45

Sony MDR-V6 headphones - $65


Another system along the same lines but has a step up:


Cubox -i4 - $140

Fiio E17 DAC - $125

Sony MDR-V6 headphones -$65


Taking a bigger step up into the world would be:


Raspberry Pi B+ - $35

HiFiBerry Digi+ $45

Schiit Modi - $100

Bottlehead Crack w/ Speedball Upgrade - $295 (on special)

Sennheiser HD598 - $165 refurbished


What is your super budget system?

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FWIW, I struggle with the notion of spending more on an amp than the transducer or source.


Win10 i9 9900KS/GTX1060 HQPlayer4>Win10 NAA

DSD>Pavel's DSC2.6>Bent Audio TAP>

Parasound JC1>"Naked" Quad ESL63/Tannoy PS350B subs<100Hz

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Great idea for a thread - should be very helpful for first timers or those wishing to set up a second system.


I recently installed Audirvana on an old disused MAC laptop and connected it via Dragonfly v1.2 DAC to a friends existing 20 year old NAD integrated AMP driving AR speakers. I spent some time tweaking iTunes settings as the database to ensure it was bit perfect and set up CD ripping to recorded lossless (AIFF) to an external 1TB external drive. Total cost = $300 and the sound was surprisingly good.


The point being you can easily combine the "new" technology of computer audio (as the source) with second hand gear from the past 25 years to produce excellent "total" systems. The masses do not want or trust second hand electronics and if you take the time to search through eBay, or audio shops that except 'trade ins", there are amazing bargains everywhere.


e.g. NAD C370 2 Channel Integrated Amplifier, 120W x 2, mint condition with remote = $399

Stereophile Review 2002 ...... NAD C370 integrated amplifier | Stereophile.com


e.g. Klipsch-Heresy-II-Floorstanding-Loudspeaker-1-pair-oak = $539 ... around 1990 manufacture and just replace grills to modernise


You could get even better quality sound by replacing the integrated with a power amp for the same price, however, the Klipsch are so sensitive (nearly 100db) that it would be a shame to loose the flexibility of the integrated (7 inputs and remote).


Add my CA system as outlined above and the total cost most likely exceeds what is considered "budget" by the OP, however, it is all relative as the sound from this system would be true audiophile quality with heaps of musicality and emotion etc etc.

LOUNGE: Mac Mini - Audirvana - Devialet 200 - ATOHM GT1 Speakers

OFFICE : Mac Mini - Audirvana - Benchmark DAC1HDR - ADAM A7 Active Monitors

TRAVEL : MacBook Air - Dragonfly V1.2 DAC - Sennheiser HD 650

BEACH : iPhone 6 - HRT iStreamer DAC - Akimate Micro + powered speakers

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I'd use the iFi iDSD Nano as DAC in the cheapest system without sacrificing quality or features.

Dedicated Line DSD/DXD | Audirvana+ | iFi iDSD Nano | SET Tube Amp | Totem Mites

Surround: VLC | M-Audio FastTrack Pro | Mac Opt | Panasonic SA-HE100 | Logitech Z623

DIY: SET Tube Amp | Low-Noise Linear Regulated Power Supply | USB, Power, Speaker Cables | Speaker Stands | Acoustic Panels

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I've also found that it is real easy to pick up Windows Vista era laptops for less than $100. Heck I've had people give them to me. Install a light weight Linux distro on them and an external DAC and it really makes a wonderful platform for a music server.


I have one old laptop that I put elementary OS on use it to specifically rip CD's using sound-juicer. Then drop and drag them over the network to my server.

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