I wouldnt consider it an upgrade. Pretty much a sideways move or a downgrade.
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The M3a is a lot better than people give it credit for being. It has been around a while but offers a high level of performance that I personally think is untouchable for the money used. It is a definite "Classic" for good reason. It is still being manufactured for a list of $2795. You can certainly spend a lot more and get a lot less.
I had the M3A but was significantly bettered by the Modwright 9.0SE in that same price range. It even beat out the CJ 17LS I owned as well, which I never expected. The 17LS was very pleasant, but the Modwright is much more resolving, dynamic, and the soundstaging wider and deeper. The M3A also is hard on tubes, and if you ever need service, you can kiss it goodbye for at least 2-3 months. (I had to have the attenuator changed because of noise)
I'd suggest a used VTL Ultimate which is a better preamp than the Audible Illusions. The VTL can be fitted with an excellent tubed phono stage for not a of money if you find a used linestage.
Tube upgrading in the VTL is easy unlike the Audible Ill as the AI runs its tubes "hot" and can be difficult to upgrade to NOS tubes in. In fact, you should only use tubes supplied by a professional that knows they are going in the AI.
The AI also has an independent power supply. It is attached to the preamp with a non detachable cable and this cable is not that long.
A used Airtight ATC1 is an excellent choice, too, and has an excellent phono stage (for high output cartridges, low output require stepup).
Beware of used Convergent Audio Technology preamps. The manufacturer, Ken Stevens, does NOT want owners doing independent service/upgrades. All the caps are affixed to the PC board very, very well. Ken was not interested at all in telling us how to remove them. He was happy for us to send it back so he can service it. I sold the thing immediately.
Ive owned serveral Audible illusions preamps all the way to the latest m3a. I was a jbl nut also. Spend your money else ware. The stepped attens on those are a joke, the sound is great, You know a great speaker is the L150 my son. That will be a big diffrence. Keep your preamp. Use the money elseware. L150's. Its too easy to upgrade electronics people should do more speakers.
you have a great system. those jbl's are better suited for classic rock than pretty much anything out there. they(along with their sibling the 4312)are still considered classics. they were used to master more music during the our lifetime then all other monitors combined. the 4312 is still sold in japan and retails for nearly 2000 u.s. dollars. even at that price its a bargain.
Thanks Jay! The I love my 4311's and would be hard pressed to part with them. The may not be "high end," but, as you mention, for what I listen to, they're best for me.
I met Richard Vandersteen (of Vandersteen speaker fame) at an audio store where he was demonstrating his newest line, and got to talking with him about my favorite albums and artists. It was he who suggested the 4311's to me in the first place because of their use in mastering all those great classic rock recordings.
I have a TAD-150 playing through a McCormack DNA-1 into Vandersteen 2CE sigs. I have never heard the JBL's but, if you really want to see what the TAD-150 can do get yourself speakers that image real well like the Vandys. I listen to classic rock also and the Vandys, McCormack, TAD combo really space the music out. Also, read the reviews on both the TAD-150 and the signature.