Are you in Boston with an interest in FM and classical music? Well, welcome to the club – it is a paradise city from FM perspective.
Regarding the rest: two things.
First is your emphasis of budget electronics. I think it is incorrect. Intellectually targeting just budget electronics is to embrace the notion that price is a factor of performance. It might be the case bit it might not be the case. If your objective are the actual performance of electronics then targeting just budget electronics is as mistake as juts targeting only super-expensive electronics, presume that it would some kind of assurance of quality. I usually presume do not take price of audio into consideration at all. After all you are in a search not a purchase but rather a primer and success patterns…
Second: the discussion ways to approach audio elements. This is complicated as it has a lot of to do with a person. My ways to deal with audio derive from the way how I use audio, for many people it would be different nothing wrong with it – and you need to learn about yours to discover what are your expectation from audio. I know very much what I need from audio and what I use it for. So, my “primer” is very much organically derives from my practice. To simplify the thing it would look like this: I develop an interest in a specific composition, period of composer/musician life or the circumstances of performing events. I listen the available music, think about the music, learn information about the music and the surrounding events…. The most important is thinking about the music, sometimes in context of a given program and sometimes abstractedly, correlating the composite consciousness of realized and performed awareness with my own. At a certain point of familiarity and collaboration with a given music (or most precisely to say with the “decoded” of “modulated” composing/performing intentions) I feel a certain personal responsibility for a given music is goring up with me – something that I call the “recomposition awareness”. Observing how my own inner-me and my own thoughts about the music’s program “talk” with the given performed music is where all illusionary, hallucinogenic and in many instances masochistic fan lives. Well, how audio is a picture among all of it? Audio is an expressive tool – it might be juts delivery mechanism but might be a collaborator. Applying audio methods it is possible to shape listening reaction to reproduced music. So, the primer in my view would be how good a playback joins forces with originals composed/performing objectives in order to serve the interest of my intentions.
So, If you just started serious audio and since audio elements have no self-contained values retouched from their applied purpose I would advise at this point do not worry about the audio elements but rather work on breeding and evolving own relationship with perceived musicality. The audio will follow it…
Rgs, Romy the Cat
"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche