audiophiles who are just getting the itch to upgrade

Hello, I am reaching out to the community of those audiophiles who are looking at this unprecedented time in our history to upgrade their components. Why? because we are now spending so much more time with our gear and looking for ways to improve it, because we can :-) My questions is this; if there was one component you could upgrade in my system, what would it be and why?
  • Linn Sonedek  LP 12 with Hercules board, Ittok II tonearm and Koetsu Black Cartridge
  •  Fritz Carbon 7 SE Speakers -
  • Audio Mirror Tubadour III NOS DAC with   Miflex KPUC caps(courtesy of Don Sachs) and the Z foil resistors
  • Cary Audio SL80- Signature 1 with VH audio Reference V-Cap CuTF output caps plus Cary volume IR upgrade and mains cap upgrades. Running Gold Lions KT88 matched tubes, Shuguang Treasure CV181Z - 6SN7 Pre-Driver/Phase Inverter tubes,  Sovtek NOS 6922 Input Buffer Preamp tubes and  WINGED "C" (SED) 5U4-G GREY PLATE tube
  • Manley Labs Chinook phono pre-amp
  • Cullen crossover series speaker cables and power cords
Well that's it and I know that are a lot of you in this community who have far more experience with matching systems and upgrades than I do. Thank you for your assistance and happy listening ! 
I almost forgot, 65% of my time is spent listening to albums, 20% to Tidal service via iPad direct connect to my DAC and 15% with CD player: Yamaha  CDX-1050 connected via UBS. Thanks !
The turntable. You could definitely get one that is more accurate these days at a reasonable price. 
I keep hearing about the Karousel bearing that just came out from Linn which is supposed to be quite nice. I have a Linn Sondek LP12 with the same Ittok arm. I have not upgraded the motor power supply. I plan to get the Lingo 4 power supply, the Karousel bearing and am thing of buying an aftermarket Green Street Audio cnc aluminum sub-base to remount the Ittok and Karousel bearing to. 

Can you be a a bit more specific about which sonic attributes you are trying to attain that you can’t quite get to with your current system?
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Definitely keep the speakers.  I’ve been researching Fritz speakers lately and the Carbon 7SE looks to be awesome.

I agree with treating the room.  I also recommend GIK. 
Maybe add a sub or two + active crossover to the Fritz.

Room tweaks always worth consideration but that all depends.

Maybe some inexpensive absorbing panels at first reflection points from speakers to listening position on the side walls and see what that does. 

Carpet in front of speakers if bare floors.
If that really is your "system" then boy do I have the upgrades for you!

In no particular order:
Synergistic HFT, ECT, PHT, Orange Fuses, Orange outlets
Cable Elevators
BDR Cones

And then there’s the really good stuff. But for that you have to PM and as Riddick would say ask me all sweet-like.

This btw is what your Koetsu will look like when you do: Look real close.

Agree with Masi...upgrade the bearing and power supply to the Linn. I personally would not switch over to VPI- they just don't boogie like a LP12,imo. Source first!
Ok. So in order; I do have definitive tech supercube 2000 with paradigm x30 high filter subwoofer control unit. Fits the bill. Love to consider GIK room treatment but system is in living room (wife doesn't want me living in my office / man cave) so that option is a resounding no. Agree Fritz speakers are a winner! But don't take my word for it ask Fritz...he is the real deal passionate about his craft and will lend you speakers for 30 days no strings attached. Masi, thanks for the insights on Linn upgrades. Millercarbon, can't compete with you on your journey. Thank you everyone. Anymore input always appreciate...Enjoy the WFH new normal in this new world.
oh and geoffkait, thanks for making me laugh. Well said. Some of us will justify the cost by cutting back on all those dinners and movies our significant others keep trying to take us out to.
I'm down with mapman with active xovers...go active room eq as well with a 'frosting' of GIK....
A sub 'cherry' for the 'bottom' and that'll do'er. ;)
The rest seems pretty smooth to me....a new TT can't hurt...*S*

Any 'significant' restaurant is shuttered around here.  Spouse is hooked on 'food porn' ....

"Chopped"....Seared....Wok'ed....Ironic name it, she's game to go.  'Smoothie' breakfast, optional lunch, but dinner...?  

"Indo/Norwegian Salmon with watermelon puree' with a side of marble potatoe....  Sounded good to me....."(she smiles...)

Be enthusiastic, or risk a dessert of iced ground glass...👀🤪

(Honestly, I can't complain...the shows give me something to parody....)

"Chopped; Off-World Delicacies"
"OK, chefs!  Open your baskets!"
(Chef #2 hardly has time to react as the tentacles seize him by the head and neck, dragging him into the basket....)
"Well, it looks like Chef Floyd will Be his entree' for this round..."
I still have my LP12 after 30 yrs, and the single biggest upgrade I did was the Keel subchassis. Sounded like a new TT. Recently I had the Karousel installed as well. Still using Ekos II and Akita cart. Karousel is a noticeable improvement but not like the Keel. I have the Lingo 2 and my dealer says the Radikal is what I should do next. Maybe once the stock market recovers. 
I'm looking to going back to an integrated amp---tired of separates. Staying at home has given me time to do some research. So far I've narrowed it down to the Yamaha A-S2100 and the Luxman 505uxii. Maybe the McIntosh MA5300? But the Yamaha looks like a winner at its price point. If anyone has any input, I'd greatly appreciate it. I can't leave the house here in VA until 6/10. 
Plenty of simple things to do:

1) with the modifications already performed was an AC filter choke added to any component?

2) the CV181 tubes are nice tubes but I would try something different.  I swapped mine out for tung-sol 6SN7 black glass round plates (expensive now) and then I just converted the preamp to use 6SL7 since the tung-sol 6SL7 tubes are cheaper - requires changing the bias settings.  6SL7s have a higher gain so a little more punch and dynamics are added.  Same for the electro tubes try something different there also.

3) Since you are using copper V-Caps try the Audio Note non-magnetic resistors copper or silver or even the basic Audio Note resistors (see parts connexion website).  Just updating a few in critical places can add more clarity, bigger soundstage, and more dynamics with cleaner/clarity.

Last - I would rather see you update the phono stage then the TT.  Since I build components, my TT is a el cheapo JC Penny!  It was actually made by CEC back in the day.  People are floored by the sound but that is because the phono is reference quality.

Happy Listening.

I added a Keel and Chris Harban plinth and Radikal motor to my Cirkus bearing table. Previous to this new Karousel, the consensus on the Linn forums were that the Radikal made the most difference followed by the Keel. Since I added all three simultaneously I can't confirm this myself. However, my table plays extremely well on a variety of components that I have tried it on. Very Quiet too!!  Linn upgrades are not cheep, but they do produce some very sweet music. I don't know how the Harban plinth compares to a Green St. Audio, but I do know keeping resonances controlled is paramount. The Tangerine Stiletto Plinth is another CNC plinth/top plate which you may want to consider. Just make sure that the table is set up correctly by someone with a good track record. Mine was assembled in my home by a real pro. I ended up moving a short distance 2 yrs. later and it still runs great. I am thrilled with my upgrades.
Best of luck, and stay home and healthy.

I'm on team L, but never had the chance to listen to the Yammies or any Mc gear in ages.

I'm very happy by the extension on the bottom and top, and a liquid, tube like midrange to treble, no noise, and excellent tone controls.

If you don't already have a dealer, send me an instant message and I may be able to connect you to one who may help. :)


I would suggest a front end upgrade first. As has been mentioned, the new Karousel bearing would be a nice start. If funds allow, a Radikal, Keel or Kore and then a new tonearm. Front end is where you typically get your biggest bang for the $.
In a mind to notch it up a bit myself.  A lower price range likely than many but the goal of improving is always the same. 

Speakers are Paradigm Prestige 75 or KEF R100 on quiet days

Parasound P3 pre-amp

Arcam FMJ P35 amps

Mac computer for source most of the time

Arcam tunner T61 secondary source 10 percent of the time when wife is using or I am working 

Cambridge Audio Azur 540C CD player third source 5 percent of the time 

Yamaha YP 211 tt 5 percent when feeling nostalgic 

Room is main living room so acoustic treatment is limited. 

I think as audiophiles we will always have the urge to upgrade some part of our system regardless of external circumstances, that never changes. I also think that given the current threat you will see some extraordinary deals come up because some one lost their job and will need the cash. Then some of us work at home where there is no significant loss. I hope this virus gets under control asap as it is destroying the economy.
I hope for everyone's sake or we may all be selling our gear. Thanks for all the responses. So for final question, because funds are limited what TT upgrade to the Linn Sonedek lp12 would make the greatest positive difference; karousel, keel chassis or Lingo 2 power supply. Thank you 
@phill55 You are asking about upgrades to the Linn that have quite varied price points. A Lingo 2 power supply used is about the same price as the Karousel bearing, whereas the Keel chassis is about three times the price of those two ( if new). 
Since you already have a power supply upgrade ( the Herc board) although not that great, it is better than the stock power supply. Therefore, to my mind the most potential for better SQ comes with the bearing...and that is the Karousel upgrade. A lot less $$ than the Keel and a major part of any LP12. I am going to look into the Karousel myself, and i just updated my LP12 with a brand new Cirkus a couple of years ago! The Cirkus upgrade was very easily heard and a BIG uptick in SQ. 
@phill55 Just noticed that the new Karousel bearing probably will not work with your Herc power supply. It certainly won’t work with Valhalla and I strongly suspect that the same issue will apply with your Hercules!
Before making a purchase commitment to Karousel, I would check this out with your vendor. If the new bearing won’t work with Hercules ( now pretty sure it will not!), then the next step would be to look at a power supply upgrade...meaning take a look at Lingo 4...or Lingo 3 and then go to Karousel.
Thanks for all of your input daveyf. So help me understand why I wouldn't look at other turntables; used VPI or SME, etc.? I am into the Linn LP12 for $1,900 (bought used) with Koetsu black cartridge ($1,200 used). If I buy a Lingo 2 or 3 used @ $900, then Karousel bearing @ $1K then look buy used Linn Kore @ $850, I am into the turntable for $4,650 - $5850 including the cartridge. At this price point, I have to believe there are other TT's out there at this price range used that would be as good if not better than Linn? Any comments to the community? 
I’m a long time LP12 owner (since the 90’s); I really like my table, and it’s had updates over the years- I started with the Basik power supply, Rega arm and a Linn K9; now I have a Lingo power supply, Kore chassis, Ekos II arm, and Arkiv B cartridge, plus, a Trampolin and Silver T cable. I know there are other great tables available, but I’m not changing as I feel I’m deep into my LP12, and a Karousel is likely on the horizon. However, if I were not deep into an LP12, or didn’t have an LP12 at all, I might look and listen to a VPI Scout. I heard one  a couple of times, with a Grado cartridge, and I was mighty impressed by what I heard. 
LP12 is the classic bottomless money pit piece of kit to be found in the whole of audio.  

Basically an Ariston RD11 / Thorens TD150 endlessly milked thereafter. Once you're in deep it's damn difficult to cut your losses and get back out - but not impossible. The sheer cost of the upgrades is truly bewildering to anyone outside Linn marketing plc. They've been spewing the same old spiel for decades and decades.

For sure there are numerous high end turntables out there to chose from. I heard the Thorens TD1600 last year and was very impressed by the scale and authority of the sound, plus the impressive low noise floor.

However, it would be remiss not to consider other contenders from the Funk Firm, Rega, Garrard (restored), and particularly the extremely fuss free Technics decks with their astonishing specifications.

Personally I'd get the SL1200 for an end stop and an easy life and consider a future speaker upgrade - but that's a really tricky one which will involve a considerable amount of auditioning. 
@phill55. I think that a Linn with the spec that you mention, even after the upgrade cost, will be, at least imo, superior to other tables at the same price point. You may get a different flavor at this price point with, for example an SME,but I don’t think it will be superior sounding. OTOH, if you want to spend a lot more, then yes, there are other options available that would beat out this spec’ed Linn.
Nonetheless, all of this is my opinion, you would need to hear what your money buys for you with for example a VPI or other options...Rega? All else will be mere speculation on your behalf otherwise.
Your 6922 and 5U4G rectifier and output tubes are your 2 of you weakest links.
I’d start there.
If you want to change direction, you might want to check out some Fritz Carrera BE’s.  They might be the upgrade you are looking for. 
So I pulled the trigger. Traded in my Linn for VPI CLASSIC 3. Kept the Koetsu black cartridge. Chazzy 007, made a mistake,  I have E88CC TUNGSRAM tubes not.6922 and winged C 54u-g Grey plates. Is it still weak link? As for the Fritz Carrera BE, Fritz was kind enough to pair to try but I found new beryllium tweeters a little too forward. I believe he had run out of the revelator tweeters for the pair he made..bit LOVE FRITZ in point, I have over $13k in my system alone not including his speakers.  I could easily afford more expensive bookshelf speakers...but I just really enjoy the quality and natural sound of his speakers at a.price that no one has been able to match.
Congrats. I am in a similar position and considering a table upgrade to the LP12 or VPI Classic. Please share your thoughts and comparisons on how your new VPI table compares to your old LP12. Also, if you don’t mind please share the details of the trade you worked out.
I scratched my upgrade itch recently and bought a used VPI Classic 2 with a Classic 3 arm.  I have no experience with the LP 12, but I'm very happy with the Classic 2.  It has a much fuller sound than any turntable I've owned and the isolation is excellent.  I've always had issues with vibration control with every other turntable as space limitations force my speakers and one subwoofer to be fairly close to my rack.  I can turn the volume up as loud as I can stand with the Classic 2 with no woofer pumping.  
Let me share a few quick thoughts and then I will reply back with more detail after I have listened to the VPI Classic a little longer. My first thoughts after listening to it last night. It presents a more detailed soundstage than the Linn. Some may say its to analytical, but in my system, the most noticeable difference is the speed and accuracy of the music and the details of the instruments themselves. The Linn may have what some call a romantic or musical sound..and it does. But when comparing sounds, the Linn is a little muddy in the mid range and lower bass wheras the VPI is not. But, to be fair a used Linn Sonedek LP12 can be bought for around $1,600-2,000 whereas this VPI Classic 3 is between $3,700-$4,500 depending on the arm (that is with an inexpensive but reliable cartridge included). This is also my 3rd turntable in the last 15 years, and depending on your budget there are some great TT's in the $1500-2K range that are new. But I am not the expert there, there are other more qualified people in this community and other threads as to the better TT's for the money. I did come awfully close to picking up a new Mobile Fidelity for $2K. Hope this helps
@phill55  I think that your comparison between your old Linn and the new VPI is valid, BUT I also think that IF you had updated your Linn to a higher spec and replaced the Ittok, your findings would have swayed again to the Linn. Everything you describe in reference to the differences can be laid basically at the feet of the Ittok arm vs the VPI arm...IMHO.
Good to hear that you’re happy with the Carbon 7 se!

I have a pair of the Carrera BE’s on loan right now and don’t feel they are forward at all, actually somewhat laid back in regards to the soundstage.  Interesting that you had a different experience. 
 The rest of your system looks great.  I have Cullen Crossover Series pc’s with Analysis Plus Oval 8 speaker cables.  I wonder if your silver plated speaker cables are accentuating the highs a bit; thats been my experience with silver speaker cables.   I feel like the crossover series powercords do accentuate highs a little bit as well.

I’m going to try to get ears on the Carbon 7’s here soon and hopefully some Rev 5 se’s as well.  

@snatex - after having played close to 20 albums comprised of Jazz, rock, blues, both simple and complex arrangements over the past week, theses are my immediate thoughts on the difference between my Linn LP12 and the VPI 3 Classic using the same Koestsu black cartridge. 1. I have a  FUNK FIRM - Achromat Platter Mat which came with the TT which may alter my review 2. The VPI is just quicker - the action of the cymbal is crisp and on time, the bass notes are clean and taught, the timing for the mid range appears to be much more in focus. Because of this quickness in the way the music is represented, my ears are able to sort out the different instruments in both simple and complex arrangements. The simple arrangements have a little more extra that is extracted from the voice or the sax - you can hear the resonance after the note. 3. There is a noticeable problem, well documented with the capacitor; when you go to turn the TT on or off, you have to either switch your input or turn down the volume - otherwise you will hear a very loud pop from your speakers. 4. The unipivot arm - it is not as easy to calibrate as other tonearms, people either love them or hate them - but I had mine set up for me with the cartridge and have had no problems. As for pricing - Linn TT in my condition with few upgrades is worth about $1700 - 1,900. You can find VPI Classic 3 in good shape for around $3,600-$4,000. So my net investment was around $2K - which was less than it would have cost me to upgrade my Linn TT with new sub chassis and Karousel bearings (around $3,500) not to include a potential additional Lingo 2 or higher power supply ($600-$1K extra). So I hope this helps  @snatex . Enjoy and keep on listening :-)