There were a few systems on display that genuinely retailed for less than $5000. Here are three of the standouts.
Radio St-Hubert had a nifty NAD, Monitor Audio, and AudioQuest system up and running for an honest $3393. The actual breakdown of this system was: NAD C 356BEE amplifier at $800, AudioQuest Dragonfly DAC at $249, Monitor Audio RX6 speakers for $1849, AudioQuest NRG-2 power cable ($150), AudioQuest Golden Gate 3.5 RCA interconnects ($75), and AudioQuest Type 4 speaker cables ($270).
This system was seriously high-value, in the nuts-on, gotta-have-it, we-mean-business way that lets all assembled know that these are the goods. With $1800 left over for whatever sins you care to indulge in, the Monitor-NAD-AudioQuest system slammed out serious bass, extended highs that sounded far more expensive than the price suggests, and imaging that played the kind of location tricks usually reserved for mega-buck setups. Can you tell that I liked it?
Downstairs in the basement of this top-floor hypermart that is the Hilton Bonaventure, Dynaudio and T+A shared a good-sized room that featured three complete systems within our self-imposed budget. First off there was that $2200 USD T+A Cala netceiver I wrote about earlier. It's a full-fledged stereo command center that you can hook up any which way. With the accompanying $900 USD CS Mini speakers, you've got a thoroughbred German system that can competently perform any task you'd care to throw at it. I've asked for a review sample of the Cala, and I'm looking forward to giving you the inside scoop.
Offset 90 degrees from the Cala were the bookshelf and floorstanding Dynaudio Xeo speakers. Now we've reported on these products in the past, but I'd like to drive home the point that all you really need is a pair of these speakers and a computer. That's it. Your entire system. Two speakers that you only have to plug into AC outlets. You don't even need speaker cables. The smaller Xeo 3 retails for a reasonable $2300 per pair, while the larger Xeo 5 still comes in under the 5k mark at $4500/pair.
Contributor, The SoundStage! Network