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Someone had suggested used gear. If you are just looking for stereo perhaps checking Craigslist in your area. Craigslist is nice because you can go audition the equipment before you purchase. Garage sales are sometimes great too. You just have to make sure the gear was well taken care of and works as it should. Speakers can also be found for pennies on the dollar as well. Just make sure the speaker surrounds are not rotted and all the drivers work on each speaker. I have found high quality separates on Craigslist and I have put really nice systems together for around $150. For example, I have a pair of Altec Lansing Model Three speakers hooked up to a Harman Kardon Citation Eleven pre and a Citation Twelve Deluxe amp. I bought it all at a garage sale from an elderly gentleman who had it in a nice case. The amp and pre-amp are in the original optional wood case that was sold separately. He bought the stuff new and from the looks of it, really took good care of it. I paid $150 for it all and have had it for 4 years to run my turntable and cassette decks with. The controls are not scratchy and everything works. For way under your budget, you can go this route with a bit of hunting.

In any case I wish you the best of luck on whatever you choose. Your entering a fantastic place that may bring years of enjoyment. Bravo on asking the right questions as you may find some great advice from others who have taken the journey.

Good luck,

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