I didn't want to spend crazy money for a system, but I wanted something pretty decent, so I asked my dad for advice. I ended up buying a similar system to his (he's a SUPER picky audiophile, BTW), and I didn't spend too much cash on it.
The whole thing started because a high school friend reached out to me asking if my dad had any interest in buying a Carver (model M 1.5t) amp. I got in touch with my dad, and he said he didn't have any use for an additional amp. This is when I chimed in and asked if *I* should buy it. I looked up some prices online and made an offer for it (150$) and I had myself a very good quality amp. Carver made some really good products, and used amps and pre-amps by this company still fetch fairly high prices online.
An amp alone, however, is useless. All it is, is basically a power box. It literally just has a power cord, and input jacks on the back. To actually use it you need a pre-amp. This is the main control that you plug your CD player, DVD player, and other electronics into. The pre-amp has all the controls (on/off, volume, etc) on it, and all the jacks at the back. Basically for those not too tech savvy, the chain would go like this:
Source (ex: CD player) -> Pre-Amp -> Amp -> Speakers
So since I had an amp now, and it was a Carver, I wanted a matching Carver pre-amp. This isn't hard to do, since a lot of them kept the same style, however, there are about half a dozen models, and some are better than others. Without going into too much detail, I ended up buying a very nice looking Carver C-1 pre-amp off eBay.
Here's the problem though (and the reason I'm writing this post in the first place): the pre-amp has a small problem where the left channel (ie: the left speaker) cuts off 90% of the time. It works sometimes, but most of the time it just cuts off completely and I have sound only in the right speaker. Dad and I tested several things, and we know the problem is not with the amp, so it's definitely the pre-amp. The left channel comes back on if I play a lot with the volume knob, but because the power surging through this system is so high, this is extremely dangerous for the speakers and I could blow one EXTREMELY easily. Basically your ears would start bleeding if the volume knob went much farther than half way, but it wouldn't kick back on until it was closer to 75%-90%, etc.
All that said, I kind of just left the system alone for the past year or so, and I was planning to just get the pre-amp repaired when I had money.
Fast forward to this week. Apparently my Dad's current (new) receiver is having problems, and since it's still under warranty, he needs to bring it to a repair shop in Ottawa. At the same time, he asked the shop if they repair Carver gear* and apparently they do, so he offered to bring it up to Ottawa and pay for the repairs! I'm not sure how much the repairs will be, but I was very happy for this news. My Dad has actually been looking for a backup pre-amp for me as well (since he wants me to be able to enjoy the system), so this was just as good. He picked it up yesterday, is bringing it to Ottawa tomorrow, and I should get it back in 2 weeks, I think.
* Carver gear is kind of specialized because he used a lot of specialty circuitry (or something along those lines) and generally it's preferred to only bring it for repair to authorized Carver repair shops/dealers. The company, however, no longer exists, but this shop in Ottawa used to be an authorized dealer and they still have all the technical manuals and schematics for them.
For anyone interested in even more details, the speakers I bought were new, and they are by Canadian brand "Energy". They are Connoisseur CF-50, and I got those on sale from Future Shop. I think they were 50% off, so I saved something like 500-600$ (?) I think they were regular 500$ each, and I paid 500$ for the pair. It might sound slightly expensive, but you have to remember that some audiophile speakers can cost upwards of 50,000$ per speaker. There are some seriously insane prices on speakers. I think I spent under 1000$ on the entire system so far.
When I did have it working, it sounded AWESOME! Dad has a few special test CDs that really show off the different kinds of things that good systems and speakers can do. Things like hearing noises in specific places (like behind you to the left, ahead of you 10 feet, or up near the ceiling - things normal speakers can't normally do). It's a system that's meant more for quality than for just blasting rock music.
Anyhow, this is more than long enough. I'll report back with photos once I have it setup again and hopefully working.