Here is a collection of recent information provided to friends looking to buy stereo equipment. Maybe someone will find this useful.
Speaker selectors with volume controls:
A friend wanted to hook up two sets of speakers to his Sonos unit.
Niles is a quality brand with a circuit to protect your amp, but the Monoprice should be fine too for only $50.
Don’t be fooled by overpriced audio cables and speaker wire. Electrons are not picky. I buy cables at www.monoprice.com and use lamp cord from Lowes for speaker wire.
You can’t get much better than Dynaudio.
KEF makes great speakers, as does NHT.
A friend wanted white bookshelf speakers:
Usher S-520, $479 a pair. http://store.audioholics.com/product/2565/0/usher-audio-s-520-bookshelf-speakers–pair-white-. I have a pair of these. Very nice.
NHT Absolute Zero ($400 a pair) or N-2W ($600 a pair): http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=nht+speakers+white&x=0&y=0
Audioengine P4, $249 a pair. http://audioengineusa.com/Store/Audioengine-P4#buy-now
The Ushers have no mounting holes. The NHT and Audioengines have mounting holes.
I am partial to Klipsch for outdoor speakers.
In the reasonable category, Klipsch R-3650, $299 each; Klipsch R-3800, $349 each; Polk TC65i, $280 each; Polk 65RT, $249 each; PSB CW26, $450 a pair; PSB CW28, $499 a pair; NHT iW1, $199 a pair; NHT iW2, $299 a pair; NHT iW3, $399 a pair.
The Klipsch are probably the best bang for the buck. By the way, all of the brands carried by www.audioadvisor.com are good.
A friend wanted a simple compact system with a a received and a CD player.
It combines a CD player, AM/FM radio and amplifier in one small package. I have an Arcam integreted amp that I like a lot.
If you want separates, I like this for $828: http://www.wildwestelectronics.net/cambridge-audio-ar30-cd30.html
Going down in price, this would be fine for $400: http://www.audioadvisor.com/prodinfo.asp?number=NAC715
The lowest I would go is the Yamaha mini systems for $250: http://www.amazon.com/Yamaha-CRX-330BL-Component-Receiver-Player/dp/B001P05NGA/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1316716130&sr=8-7