Some questions about modern hi-fi systems 2017-03-27 22:58:25 First post here! Pardon me if i may make any mistakes, I'm still learning about this forum.I need some suggestions to re-build my stereo system. I won't let you decide it for me but I do need some information to further confirm my decision. Your input may or may not be accepted(I hope you take no offense, I have no intention to)but will surely be appreciated.What I have left with me now is a Bryston 3B ST(a power amp)and a pair of Bohlender & Graebener Z-7 loudspeakers. So I need :A.)A source(DAC+CD player. A player is important because I still use CDs)2.)A pre-ampI used to have a CD player and a pre-amp but I was broke since the global crisis in 2008-2009 and so I sold my CD player and pre-amp to survive. I didn't sell the amp and the speakers because I thought they would worth more in the future. But I can't live without a good stereo system so in about 5 years ago, I went into the headphone world, I bought myself an AKG K701 and Beyerdynamic DT880 pro 250 ohm(older models, but I did like their transparency and open-ness without being trebly and putting out "fake details"). However, as good as my headphones can be I find the sensation of listening on them are less satisfying than a pair of loudspeakers. They are allright for some progressive and rock and some jazz fusion records since such records usually doesn't capture the ambience of the recording room and doesn't require a high timbre accuracy(most of the performance are recorded/mastered with effects after all). But for symphony, opera and orchestra they are kind of weird to me. I really can't get the headphones to get "lost" in the presentation and I'm not very comfortable with that sensation. As I have some money recently, I decide to go back to a stereo system.I'm somehow confused because there's almost no hi-fi store here. Well, there is one nearby. But since the owner probably aware they are the only hifi store left in the town they simply increase the price of almost everything for about $200-300! For example, an amplifier that usually cost about $600 in any other store would cost $800-900 there. Also that strangely, they won't let me demo any unit cost lest than $1000 which pissed me off(excuse my language)but I succeed in forcing them to let me try at least two pair of new speakers(JBL 530 and Monitor Audio Bronze 2, I won't come back to that store again). There's one other place where I can order some units with a fair price but they are about 300 kilometres away from my house. If I get there I would probably have been too tired to make the right decisions(and my audiosonic perception may be ruined as well). So in short, I can't perform any audition.I've contacted the salesman at that store and ask him several questions. I asked him about how much should I spend on a source, pre-amp, etc. I also asked him about some products such as Marantz reference gears like Marantz SA8005(which could be very useful to me as it has a digital input so I can stream a digital signal from my computer)and PM8005. Interestingly, he said they are kind of overkill and he'd also explain that these days I would not have to spend that amount of money to enjoy a great sound. "High quality doesn't have to be high end" he say. So instead, he recommend me the Marantz PM6005 since he claim it has a built-in DAC which are noise-free and transparent and buy the cheapest disc player with a digital out that I can find. I told him I would prefer it to have an analog output or a pre-amp or some kind of line out because I'm going to use it with my power amp. Then he recommend me a Denon AVRX1300W receiver with a pre-amp and DAC for about a similar price with many more features I'm going to like. I asked him why then there are still $1000+CDP and amp around and he admitted they have better build quality and components but It won't really affect the sound quality. He did a great explanation but I'm a bit suspicious since he is, after all, a salesman. Who knows he might be just trying to sell the Denon and the Marantz for some reasons.So, my questions are :1.)Is it true that modern source and amps are all sounding more similar than different with each other?Well, I was looking into Marantz products because I remember they have a smooth, wet sound that are pleasing to me. I have fond memories of Marantz's esotec amps and Marantz 1060 integrated. I also once switch to a Luxman receiver and I really hear the difference. Quite drastic actually, the Luxman have better details, far less wet so I can hear the high freq far easier(if my phrases may seem confusing I may as well just say the Luxman had more "clarity" in their presentation, less bass, less full sound but that clarity alone is very exciting to me). I once compare them directly and the difference was there. I also had an experience with a Mcintosh amp and I didn't like it; they sounded like the Marantz but at the time I was expecting the kind of sound like Luxman in their price but with better texture, resolution and refinement and they didn't do it.But it was many many years ago. The salesman told me that today's audio products doesn't work like that anymore. They simply sound similar(the DAC especially)that I should focus more on features and budget rather than sound and he also said that I can hardly buy a unit with bad sound quality(although the reliability of each brand and each series may vary).2.)What's a good option for me then?1.A receiver as a preamp+DAC and some cheap player with a digital out.2.Sell the Bryston and get the Marantz PM6006 or buy Marantz HD-AMP1 instead, along with the cheap player as a transport(so I can also use the HD-AMP1 for my computer-based headphone system since it has an USB input)3.Get a DAC with analog(line)output(PM6006 clearly doesn't have one)or a CD player and a separate pre-amp.4.Sell the whole thing and build a new system instead(and how much should I spend?)I did like that JBL and Monitor Audio bookshelf speakers, I thought they provide better imaging and accuracy(less cabinet resonance, easier to get "lost" in the presentation). But I'm unsure about this conclusion since I wasn't in a comfortable condition when I test them.3.)Did the salesman tell the truth?Silly question, but I'm curious about this as well.4.)Does the pair of loudspeakers I have and those two pairs of bookshelf speakers not sound better than my headphones?If that is the case I'll choose the option 4 then. I need some recommendation for the speakers too.Pardon me for the long post(although I understand you may not even bother to read them all, hahaha). I'd hope I have provide enough information. Thank you.