Are my speakers now the "weak link"?


Hi All, I have been upgrading my system over the last year or so. I am now wondering whether my Sophia series 1 speakers are limiting the performance of the system. That being said, I have no complaints and really enjoy the sound I have. However, the speakers are now 10 years old. The rest of the system: VPI Scoutmaster/SDS/Soundsmith Paua/Transparent Reference phono cables/Herron VTPH-2 phono stage/Musical Fidelity TriVista DAC/Musical Fidelity A3.2 CD/Musical Fidelity NuVista 800 Integrated amp/Transparent reference cables and power cables/Transparent Powerbank 8.
I listen to vinyl primarily, but I also really enjoy the sound of my CDs on this system.
Thanks for your opinions.
arsh
No. There are much better turntables.
and there are much better amps and much better.....the thing is that if you love the sound of your speakers, then upgrade other components and see if you can coax the most out of your speakers. So many folks don't realize how important pre amps and then amps are. Go listen and notice the differences. What have you done to your room to make it sound better? Those can be inexpensive things like wall hangings for even record racks on the rear wall to diffuse. You can always change your sound, but is it really better? I actually like the Sophia's and I was never a Wilson guy. Do you have a local dealer who carries Wilsons and can guide you through what you are looking for?
No. There are much better turntables and amps.
If you enjoy CDs not vinyl not as much then the phono setup is surely the weak link. Could just mean a tuneup of what you already have. I'd assure what you have is set up optimally fist. Lots of ways to go wrong there with phonos. Getting best possible sound our of a phono is very tricky stuff. much harder than with digital. If there are any experts you trust, I would ask them to assess what you have and offer suggestions. Have them explain what is wrong with what you have first before agreeing to change anything, then make sure the change addresses the specific issue(s). Otherwise might just be playing phono roulette until you happen to find teh right setup/combo.

Maybe some phono experts here familiar wqith your gear (I am not)can assess your setup and tell you what specifically might be improved and why.
>> What have you done to your room to make it sound better? <<

Bingo!! You already have a very nice system. Now it's time to make sure that the room is optimally tuned to take advantage of your equipment. A thousand bucks or so judiciously spent on room treatments will yield MUCH better results than another $10,000 on equipment....

-RW-
Your speakers still have much more to reveal if fed by different gear.PT
look to improve your room acoustics and then and only then start upgrading your system.
no, cd, amp and phono first.
he likes the digital but not the phono.

figure it out....
Actually, I love the phono. It is my primary source. I also enjoy the CDs, but listen to vinyl much more. As I said, I don't feel that anything is "wrong" at the moment. Just trying to upgrade commensurately. Sorry if I was not clear on that. Have you all heard the NuVista 800 yourselves? It replaced the KW500, which I also liked quite well. Thanks for all your comments.
Also, while i have not had the room analyzed by a pro, I don't have any obvious problems with the room acoustics. It is 15x 21 x 9. The walls are asymmetrically lined with shelves and a fireplace, and openings into adjacent rooms and hallway.
Any other opinions? Thanks.
Never been impressed too much by Sophia. I think they are a step down in resolution and coherence compared to comparable generation WP. I would replace with a Sasha 1 if possible.
You don't really have to change anything. On paper your system seems fundamentally well balanced. I mentioned that there are better turntables, but your VPI is a high quality unit and there's nothing weak about it. My thinking is that if vinyl is your primary source, then maximize it.
amp... def. then a current generation cd player...and you will then get a new table.
Thanks. To Cerrot, ctsooner, syntax: have you listened to the NuVista 800? I am just curious as to your personal experience with it. As for the turntable, it was my late father's TT, and I want to keep it for sentimental reasons. However, I have upgraded it with SDS, the Paua cartridge, and upgraded record clamp, as well as the Transparent Reference MM2 phono cables. I appreciate everyone's opinions. Any other comments would also be welcome. Thanks.
Would anyone else like to comment? Does anyone have experience with a system similar to mine? Thanks.
I"ve heard the NuVista 800 once. I only heard it in balanced mode and it was powerful to say the least, but I went with the Ayre AX5/20 integrated instead. I felt it was much more natural with a deeper soundstage and a much lower noise floor which opens up everything else. I base my Ayre comments on the non 20 version as mine is in the que for upgrade to 20 status. I liked the Ayre over the MF integrated straight up and the 20 version will be much better.
I did spend a lot of time with the version 3 Sophias, Sashas and Alexandria's with the Ayre gear and they all sounded different which threw me off. I felt the Sophia's may have been the most musical. I like a more neutral and musical presentation that what I was getting the the Wilson line although I did like what I heard in specific areas. I need a coherent speaker that is clean sounding with no smearing. That's why I like Vandy's or Avalons or even some of the Verity line of speakers.
Thanks Ctsooner. I previously had the KW500, which I love. I was looking for something with an overall similar presentation, but better and still able to drive any speaker easily. I keep my gear typically for a long time; I don't like frequently swapping things out.
Yes Arsh-
consider selling the integrated and invest in separates for openers. An ARC pre-amp w/ a Bryston power is/are a very nice sonic match for your Wilson speakers.

Keep me posted & Happy Listening!
I would say the "two" weak links are the MF integrated AND the Sophias. I briefly owned Sophias and just couldn't like them, no matter how hard I tried.

Shakey
That's interesting Shakey. I really love the Sophias and actually have struggled with the idea of parting with them. I very much enjoy the sound that I have. What other equipment were you using with the Sophias when you had them? Have you had any experience with the Nu Vista 800 amplifier? Thanks for your suggestions.
I had a VTL ST-150 and a transformer volume control preamp. Source was a Nott Spacedeck/Benz Micro L2 at the time, and a Tube Research Labs modified sony cd spinner.

No experience with the Nu Vista amp.

My thoughts on the Sophia were that they imaged very well and were very dynamic. However, the midrange was smooth and lacking in detail, not very expressive at all. I had three speakers in house at the time, the Wilsons, Piega P-10s and Green Mountain Audio C3 HDs. I kept the C3s and sold the others.
Most of these responses are just snide cracks. What do you not like about your system... lets take it from there.
Yes upgrade big time ASAP!!
Why all the disrespect for the MF amp?
Hi Stringreen, thanks for your comment. Honestly, there is nothing that I don't like about the system. I am simply considering the speaker upgrade because the speakers are now 10 years old, and I have made a number of other upgrades to the rest of the system in the past year or so. Those upgrades have significantly improved the quality of my analog playback system in particular, and the new integrated amp should be a significant improvement over my old KW 500--which I love; but it also is over 10 years old. I think what I am after is something that is similar to what I have but which performs at the "next level." I like the "front row" and live, immediate presentation that I have. I have kept my Sophia's for more than 10 years. I would be looking for another speaker that I can keep for at least that long.
Like I said, Sasha 1. Not sure why you ignored my earlier comment. I like musical fidelity and I think they make good gear.
I recently auditioned the Wilsons with the Ayre reg AX5 which I purchased and it will be in the que to be upgraded. I liked the mk 3 version and thought it was much more musical and detailed than previous versions, however I'm going with new Vandersteen Quatro's. For me Richards use of carbon just makes these things sing as well as being detailed and flat. I can listen all day and once you listen for a few weeks you realize it just sounds right. That's to my ear, but you owe it to yourself to check them out if you possibly can. There are a few others in your price range that will give you most of what you are looking for. I needed the Vandy's for their adjustable bass too...
Thanks Ctsooner. Sounds like Ayre works better with Vandersteens than with Wilsons. I appreciate your insights.
I don't think Ctsooner said that, as he thought the Ayres sounded musical and detailed with the Sophias. He just said he prefers the Vandersteen sound over the Wilson sound. I'd suggest that you listen to Vandersteens and see if you like them more than Wilsons yourself, as you do like the Wilson house sound. Both are excellent speakers, but definitely different sounding.
Yes Rcprince said it correctly. I have Ayre over all the others as I love the sound. Neither tube, nor SS. Just musical and detailed. The local Wilson dealer LOVES the ref Ayre gear with their Wilsons or anything else in the store.

My Vandy dealer where I got mine (Audio Connection) uses Ayre, AR and Aesthetix gear to audition their Vandy's. All are pretty darn awesome. There are many good lines out there and synergy is most important. I've yet to hear the Ayre gear not sound great and I have taken my integrated into dealers with me to audition speakers when I was looking. Even dealers who didn't sell the Ayre gear were amazed. To me that said a lot. It also made me take notice as to HOW BIG a deal it is to no just get a high powered amp and to get one that sounds right. I often felt that pre amp and then amp are not taken as seriously when putting a system together. Way too often people just buy a big name they know or a high powered amp when they could change their whole system with the right pre/amp. All components are huge when putting together a system. Not just speakers and source. Everything matters in between.

That said, look at your system to figure out WHAT you feel you are missing. The newer components available allow designers to get much more detail etc. out of their products than they could just ten years ago. That's why new components usually are better than vintage. (at least for companies who know what they are doing).
Thanks everyone, and sorry Joey. I wasn't ignoring your comment. I like the Wilson sound and the Sasha is great. I also love the Musical Fidelity gear I have. I have heard Ayre, but not with Wilsons, that I can recall. Joey, what MuFi gear have you used? Do you have Wilson speakers?