Best return for the money, system upgrade suggestions please.

I have managed to save some money that I do not intend to use to pay down student loans! I managed to save almost 2K and would like some advice as to where the money would be best spent. Here is my system below, thanks!

Amp - Integrated Krell Vanguard
Speakers - Sonus Faber Electa's
CDP - Cambridge AZURE 840C
SACD - Sony SCD C2000ES
DAC - Cambridge DacMagic Plus with BT dongle
Tuner - Luxman T117
Speaker Cable - Audioquest Type 4
IC's - Kimber Silver Streak throughout
Dedicated/Isolated 20 amp AC line with a PS Audio outlet
Hello again!
I accidentally failed to mention another component in my system, a Sunfire HRS series Sub-woofer.

Thank you again for any and all suggestions! 
Pay down your loans and enjoy what you have.
Yes, I have received that advice from many! However, just about all of the money I have earned or received as a gift has been either invested or used to pay down my loans, I would like to do something nice for myself. I am not necessarily looking to spend all of this savings, it's not burning a hole in my pocket, but maybe there is something out there for say, $200 I'm missing out on, that is why I am looking for some help.

I do thank you though for your thoughts.
Room acoustics, if you don't have that done, is your best place to start.

Otherwise your DAC.

The best one on your list is the dedicated AC line. But even then only if its DIY (otherwise, electrical, too expensive, poor value) and you're the homeowner AND you'll be there a while. 

Otherwise you want to look for things that will:
1. Be permanent. No obsolescence. Never wear out.
2. Be used your whole life regardless of equipment upgrades.
3. Actually be appreciated more and more as time goes by.

Everything on your list is a fail by these outstanding criteria.  

What does pass the test:
1. Pay down interest bearing debt.
2. Synergistic Research ECT and HFT.

There's a reason they're in that order. Don't be a slave to debt.
Pay down your debt! That's the number one thing you should always do with extra money. Later, you can spend on toys. Enjoy the system you have now.
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I recently added a second subwoofer.
A second M&K Mark 2       8” sub.    Discover Deep Base
I had one originally I purchased 17 yrs ago  had it wired to a separate 5.1 theatre.
Found another one on eBay $160 delivered ,swapped out a 10” from
my two channel set up. Swapped in the two 8” m&k.
Sounded good w one  10 “sub,  But fantastic with  the two M&K 8”.
Deeper Tight Base immediately noticed.
Midrange seemed much better also.
Best low  dollar, night / day difference low cost I’ve ever done.
Something about those original m&k subs makes them very good design
The  MK  8” subs replaced a much more expensive  10” subwoofer previously on the 2 channel ,10”,now in the 5.1 system

System details are in my virtual profile


Hi grm

This is where I would start. If you don't want to swing the whole $432.00 for the 10 pieces, get 5 RT Squares. I can show you placement.

Michael Green

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I like Michael Green’s suggestion.

A streamer plus a Tidal subscription is another good option.  So much music to explore for such a small investment.
Room acoustics can cost from $0.00 to $100k and up. I suggest zero for now, there is a lot that can be done with books, plants, moving furniture, curtains, rugs and carpets. I am getting tired of this stupid self-advertising by some.
I would upgrade speaker cables first and get couple of decent power cords, not necessarily spend all the amount you have. This would complete the amp/speakers/speaker cables unit for the time being..
Hi inna4,
Thanks for the suggestions! The only room acoustic problem I believe to  have at the moment is when the music is turned up, all of the pictures on the walls really rattle, it's caused by my Sub. All of my power cords are by Nordost and seem to do quite well.

What Speaker cables would you recommend?

P.S I have a premium subscription with TIDAL and I love it!

Thank you!
grm, I can't be sure but since you have Kimber interconnects you might want to try Kimber speaker cables first, unless you feel that you may not like your interconnects.
Besides, very long time ago I tried those Audioquests 4 and they were terrible.
How do you use the cambridge Dacmajic plus. Of your active components it seems to me that it is the weakest link. Does the Cambridge Azure CD player have digital inputs?
Hi and thank you for the response!
The Dacmajic plus is at the heart of my system and feeds my Krell from it's balanced outputs. I feel in terms of features and cost it is a great value and some say a giant killer. I run my CDP through it, my Wadia 171i through it, I stream TIDAL through it from my PC, and lastly having loaded the TIDAL app on my phone, I stream BT with the aptx interface. One more thing, since the unit also has SE outputs and balanced, I run the SE outputs directly to my headphone amp, sounds great. The only thing I feel missing is a remote that would let you select the features of the DAC. I agree this is the weakest link in my audio chain, but what can I get for around 2K with a similar feature set and much better SQ?? Thank you!
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I agree you should enjoy what you have, its a fine system.  Buy an Auralex Sub Dude for under the sub..... great accessory that's only $60 and makes a difference....
@grm - I've owned the Dacmagic and I think it is probably the place I would start the upgrade process.

I have also owned a Schiit Bifrost, and the latest version of this DAC is much better than the one I had and the latest multi-bit option is only $599 - so you can upgrade and pay off some of your debt

The Bifrost responds very nicely to good cables.

Hope that helps

Nice, room treatmenr/optimization. Single most cost effective way to get any system to really flaunt it's gitty up. Just saying.
Hello to all,

Thank you for sharing your wisdom and suggestions.

I ended up getting lucky, I contacted Cambridge regarding my failed AZUR 840C CDP. They accepted it as a trade-in and sent me a prepaid shipping label to send it back. Then they provided me with a code to purchase a brand new AZUR 851N Streamer/DAC for half of list price. It's on it's way from CA, really looking forward to hearing it as it has received many rave reviews! Being made overseas, I hope it works out of the box. This will replace my DacMagic Plus, a weak link in my system as pointed out to me in this forum, and was purchased way below my budget, the rest goes to paying off student loans and the DacMagic Plus will be going up for sale.

I would like to add that I have read many complaints about Cambridge Audio's extremely poor customer service. In my case, I found their support to be superb. Offering me a brand new completely different unit for a Jurassic period CDP went beyond my expectations. They were extremely helpful, quick to respond, answered all of my technical questions and were very professional.

Thanks again everybody - most appreciated!

Glad it worked out for you.
I suggest that you audition the new ADD-Powr ElectraClear or Symphony made by Coherence Systems. They are designed by the founder of Quantum Products and QRT from many years ago.
These amazing and affordable power conditioning/harmonizing devices will take your system's sound quality to new heights, I promise you. 
A second subwoofer or some kind of decorative room treatments and or bass traps.  With 2K you could do both! 
Unless your room is already done, 100% acoustic treatments! Check out GIK Acoustics stuff. No gear upgrade can match the sound per dollar spent on acoustics. Next would be speaker placement (free!)
I agree with previous posters- pay down your debt, but since you are intent on buying something (I've done the same thing long ago...), my 2c is to invest in room treatments like already suggested. I'm using Primacoustic and couldn't be happier. Remember, the room will give you 50% of what you will (or won't) hear. Best bang for the buck is room treatment.

OP:  Been there.  Here's what I would do: Take yourself and someone special out to dinner at the best restaurant in town and enjoy it with a great bottle of wine.  Use the remaining money to pay down your debt!
The Cambridge AZUR 851N has been in my system for two days now, all I can say is WOW! I had no idea how much music I was missing! Plus with all of it's Streaming abilities, including TIDAL, I could not be happier, so much fun to play with it's features, blows away my older Cambridge DACMAGIC Plus. I really love this Hobby/Passion for reproducing great sounding music, however the price for entry can be cost prohibitive. I hope I don't get the bug to do any enhancements/upgrades for quite some time. After completing my Internship and hopefully landing a good job, I'll crank on paying off my loans and maybe save some coin for future updates. Until then I am quite happy now!

Thanks again, everybody!


Congratulations on your new purchase! Even better to be so happy with it. Wonderful when that happens!
Since you mentioned an internship, curious what career you've chosen?

When your budget allows try the Kimber 8 or 12 VS speaker cable with the cost effective spades, it's killer for the price and will be an upgrade over the AQ4 speaker cable.
When you feel like another upgrade remember to experiment with ac isolation/conditioning. Best bang for buck is at the source. Something like “balanced power” like a Furnan or Equitech 2Q will be a permanent benefit whose value to your sound will increase over time as ac noise is constantly increasing and the balanced technology will never change, its basic to ac power. Perhaps check a website. Happy listening :)
Hi grm,

 it sounds like a lot of retired accounts have given you advice.  Lifes to short. Treat yourself on something you love. Its music. A dac would be my suggestion. Around 700.00 you'll find many to choose from. Hopefully you have a shop to listen and preview some gear.

Good luck 

Spend it on a streamer/DAC and then maybe add a schiit Multibit DAC for fun!

for your consideration 
Cambridge CNX
marantz Nd8006

Whoops looks like you already did this - good work!
Hello to everyone who posted suggestions, thank you!

OK, the most exciting news I have is my internship for the summer! I had a number of interviews, but the offer I accepted was from a company I knew little about. It came to me on behalf of the Society of Chemical Industry (SCI). The letter said they were pleased to inform me that I was selected as an SCI Scholar. I will be working for a Chemical company associated with DOW Chemical. I am receiving a very nice income and they are providing housing for me. I am a little nervous as it is two hours from home and I will be living on my own for the first time.

Now, considering my Audio System and where I ended up after receiving such great feedback.

1.  I replaced my Cambridge DACMAGIC Plus with a Cambridge AZURE 851N Network Streamer/DAC. I received it new from Cambridge for half of the retail price when I traded in my dead AZURE 850C CDP, I spent only $750 for it. I like it, I just hope it lasts!

2.  Speaker wire, the AQ type 4 sounded great in my system from the mid-range to the top end, sweet, open, airy, and detailed without being aggressive, but no extended Bass at all as well as not being able to play at higher volume from my Krell, my guess is it could not handle the current due to its small 15AWG. So with a budget of about $200 I bypassed many a great speaker cable from going up in the range of AQ and Kimber for example. So I researched and dove into Amazon where I tried four different cables from Beldin, Canare, Knukonceptz and Blue Jeans. All of these cables were 10AWG except for the Canare. It was a pain in the backside because all of them sounded very much alike with the exception of the Knukonceptz, where they had the deepest and most articulate bass, but, they were rolled off at the top, I just could not find a diamond in the rough for such low $$. So, I fond a solution that DID WORK, I bi-wired my Sonus Faber speakers! I connected the AQ type 4 to the tweeters and the 10AWG Knukonceptz to the woofers - sublime! I know I can do better with higher quality cables, (someday) but for now this works. I hope one day to try a higher end AQ, or Kimber, or something maybe from Audience, but right now they are just way out of my price range, especially as I need a 15' run.

Thanks again to everybody!!! Peace out!


Great choices.  Enjoy!
Congratulations on being selected for the internship position! Enjoy your music, and enjoy your new career.