M0s or an "Epic Midi" (the smaller one) from Factory Outlet is about 1100-1150. Not a bad deal! I think your friend will have a very direct question to answer: does he prefer to have an adequately good complete system now ("Epic Midi" more than qualifies for "adequately good" for most people) or does he want to eventually get to a more high-end system piece by piece.

In my opinion, the in-betweens are secondary to that first question.

E = ((2M100 + VP180 + 4QS10)/(EP800 + EP500))^(ADA1500 x D2v)