advice for my clear audio analogue upgrade path


Ok, I ready to "tighten up" and finalize my analogue front end.  Current set up.
1. Clear Audio Performance DC w/Clarify arm
2. Sound Smith Boheme Moving Iron high out put cart
3. Clear audio Basic + phono stage 

My path is to at some point move to Clear Audio Ovation table, Clear audio Balance + phono and a Sound Smith "The Voice" cart.  
If I do all this one step at a time I'm wondering what you all would knock off in order and WHY.

Cost:
1. Table up grade $3400
2. Phono stage $2100
3. Cart $1800-$2000

GO!
4a925e74 8fb2 45ed b8cd 2c8b701edbecdhpeck
Ok, so here's my thought.  My Performance DC has some room to enjoy improvements and starting with my new cart and or phono stage wouldn't be "overkill" for this table and both of these upgrades would be transferred over to new table. 

What do you think?
DH - there is no way your path can lead to satisfaction....only a depleted wallet.   Wait until you can afford what you want and then forget upgrading.....just enjoy.
@dhpeck - I have to ask....

What do you think you are missing out on?
- or do you just have the upgrade bug :-)

What do you think the  Clear audio Balance + phono will enhance

What do you think the  Clear Audio Ovation table will enhance

The upgrades above look like they would be "incremental" so I am not sure how much benefit they would provide

RE: the cartridge....

I have a Soundsmith modified Denon 103 with their O.C. Contact line stylus. It required VERY precise setup using a Best Mint protractor and a powerful loupe - and a much younger pair of eyes. We also used a digital camera to verify the setup was precise.

If you have not completed setup to the highest precision I would recommend starting there with the existing cartridge - it really paid off in my case.

Otherwise - the upgrade I would complete first is the cartridge.

BTW - nice choices :-)

Hope that makes sense - Steve
@williewonka great questions to consider and challenge me on.  I'm thinking jumping quite a bit up the chain to the new Cart would lend a wider, more open detailed sound.  As for the phono stage, I can't say what I'd notice to be honest, with the exception that I would be adding a balanced connection on the new phono stage.  Lastly the table, I am constantly reading that TT should be "speed" controlled which the Ovation would do.  Again in truth, perhaps I'm looking for my last table and feel the level of the Ovation would accomplish that and not leave me wondering.  Does that make sense?  I know there are many other TT brands, but based on what my dealer sells and sets up for me, Clear Audio is the one I'm most impressed with.
@williewonka I'll have to ask how my guy at the dealer sets up the carts
@stringreen are you suggesting that my path based on my choice of upgrade levels are so incremental therefore not worth the hassle cost, or are you saying that at some point we all have to sit back and enjoy?  To the latter, I couldn't agree more and perhaps have an "upgrade" bug.
I just recently compared the Performance DC, which I own, with the Ovation and the Ovation was dramatically better in every way. If I could afford it I would definitely buy one. Should you go that way I expect you would be very happy for a long time. I have never heard your cartridge though or your phono stage. My test was using the AMG Teatro cartridge and the Aesthetix Rhea phonostage. YMMV. Good Luck!
@joey54 interesting.  Did you compare with the same arm/cart also?  If I jump to the ovation, I'll still have my clarify arm and existing sound smith cart (which I have no issues with) on the Ovation.  

It makes sense to solidify the "table" aspect first.
Yes it was the Clarify Arm and AMG Teatro cartridge on both. I own the AMG cartridge also.
@dhpeck RE:

I’ll have to ask how my guy at the dealer sets up the carts
That would be good to know

The Boheme comes with the contact-line shaped stylus, so setup of either cartridge would also be critical.

The soundsmith cartridges do sound very good using a standard paper protractor, but they sound amazing as the precision of the setup is perfected

Have a read of http://mintlp.com/best.htm

Once I saw just how far out my initial setup was and heard the resulting improvements it made me a believer.

Why does it seem that as the audio world advances - life gets more difficult? :-)

RE:
I’m looking for my last table and feel the level of the Ovation would accomplish that and not leave me wondering
You’d better scratch that itch then :-)

@joey54 give it the thumbs up - can’t get better feedback than that

Good luck with whatever upgrade you choose.

Cheers - Steve




@williewonka good stuff thanks for the advice!  I'm betting my guy isn't using anything more than the clear audio template for cart set up.
@joey54  thanks for the review and also making my first step the most expensive. :0.  I'm thinking my sound smith Boheme would be able to "pedal along" with the ovation.  Even so, I wonder if my clear audio basic + stage would mute the sound.......
Sorry about that! Good Luck with whatever you do. You might want to talk to Garth Leerer at Musical Surroundings. I find him to offer great advice and he might be more objective about this than me.
So after much consideration, I've decided to upgrade the Cart to Soundsmith "The Voice" and then the phono stage.  I believe I can still grab more from the table.
My question for you dhpeck would be what about your current set up that you don't like?  Is there one component in that analogue path that you like the least and why?  Is your cartridge set-up to reap the maximum reward of what it is capable of?  Soundsmith does make good cartridges and if I just had to pick something in your set up, I would probably say the phono preamp. 

 I enjoy having one with more choices (phono preamp) in set up if you can.  A lot of people believe that their cartridge is set up well because a dealer set it up, or because they think they got it right (not saying that you don't) but truth be told items like the Fozgometer do go a long way to help with Azimuth, also tools like the Pro-ject Align it if you don't want to spend a ton has the mirror, which can help with azimuth as well as the two point nul system and pivot to spindle distance (which shouldn't be a problem for you). 

 If the cartridge set up is off a little, especially azimuth, it can make a huge difference with distortion.  I wish you look in your upgrade of the cartridge.
Correction, don't use the Pro-ject Align it unless you have a Pro-ject turn table and I wouldn't use it then, kind of confusing with the numbers instead of defined nul points.  I use the Dr. Feickert with great success.