Re: best system for senior classical music listener
Your best bet is to find a good audio store and go visit them. Take along a couple of your favorite LPs and a couple of CDs, too. Maybe phone them up first to set up a convenient time.
Now, here's the thing. A really good hi-fi dealership will have components from modest prices right up to very very expensive. They will also work with you to find the right system for you within your price range without pushing you to spend thousands more. They will know which amplifiers work well with which speakers, and so on. This helps narrow down the choices to a sensible shortlist.
You may find what you're looking for right away, or you may want to visit a couple more times before deciding. Your final, final decision should be made after listening at home, if possible. Stay focused on sound quality, and don't let yourself be swayed by huge discounts on this or that item. Remember, it's only a heck of a deal if you love listening to it year in and year out. If you want to brag about what a great deal you got on price, go to Costco!
OK, here comes the lecture: An audio system is a chain made up of links (such as CD player, amplifier, speakers and all the connecting cables and speaker wires). A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. The "source" component, i.e. the turntable or CD player is usually the weakest link. Don't be afraid to allocate a substantial portion of your budget to the source components. Starting with a fancy, pricey pair of speakers and working backwards will not, repeat NOT, get the most musical enjoyment into your ears. In fact, it could well be the other way around. I consider the Linn LP12 turntable as the cornerstone of a great-sounding system.
As you are a classical music lover you will undoubtedly appreciate the open, natural sound of planar speakers such as Magnepans. Check out their entry-level models on up, but stay under $1999 a pair. Electrostatic loudspeakers may be even nicer but are probably not within your price range. In conventional box-shaped speakers, a longtime favorite brand is B&W from England, which are known for their smooth unexaggerated sound. There are, of course, many other good ones. You might check these brands' websites to see if they have a dealer within striking distance of where you live.