When I replaced my Luxman $500.00 player with CEC 5100Z belt drive.Huge difference.
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Great question, however, I suggest modifying it to biggest sonic improvement per cost. Costliest: Switch from Dual 1241/Shure V15 to Linn LP12/Ittok/Troika turntable. I discovered information (detail) on very familiar recordings I never knew was there! Cheapest: Vibrapods under Linn Tukan speakers. Tighten bass, opened up soundstage and pace. Not bad for $6 ea.
When I hooked up a 2 dollar yard sale B.S.R.turntable that had a dirty old Shure cartridge on it.I had to super glue the cantilever on it as it was flopping around.The first second I knew my Digital days were over.Beat the HELL out of my old Denon DCM 440 0r 460 (forgot model #) I havent looked back since and now have a Rega-25 and Grado woody.ANALOG!!!!!!!
A phono step device/and cartridge from my mass market Sony tt and (yes) into a reciever's phono input.The step up & cartridge were bought used.the brand?? The still highly rgarded Fidelity Research.I played records,non stop till I dropped.That was 21 years ago.I have spent tons of dough,re,& re discovering what else was in those gruves.that was the biggest-for -the least
A phono step device/and cartridge for my mass market Sony tt and (yes) into a reciever's phono input.The step up & cartridge were bought used.the brand?? The still highly regarded Fidelity Research.I played records,non stop till I dropped.That was 21 years ago.I have spent tons of dough,re,& re discovering what else was in those gruves.that was the biggest-for -the least.Kids,and DIY ers,proper alignment is the key.Pay to have it done well.
My Biggest Sonic Improvement was when I moved up my speakers from Energy to Martin Logan. Even though there were a lot of other things that help me improve my sound but nothing compare to a brand new pair of speaker. The Bass was more on the Energy but now with Martin Logan the bass is actually more cleaner and tigher. So for me was a new paif of speaker.
Living in a condo, with horrible power, I've found a Chang Lightspeed 9600 ISO was a HUGE upgrade for a little investment. The noise was completely gone, bass was tighter and more abundant, soundstage opened up, hell I love it so much I bought a 9900 amp for the high draw components in my home theater! (I'm still waiting to get a Ps audio for the low draw- I just can't see the ~$4000 they say I'd need for my system at this time) NOTE: "at this time"! I do love this hobby!
I had to hear for myself what SACD sounds like, so I drove an hour to a dealer. It took less than 5 minutes to realize that SACD represents the biggest sonic improvement I've ever heard from a single change or am ever likely to hear--short of virtual reality. Over time, as the quality of SACD mastering improves, just as it did with 16/44.1 standard, we can expect wonders to be everyday occurances. Many early adopters describe their good fortune on audioreview.com. In my own system, it would have to be going from stock cords to custom powercords--proving that cords are components too.
LISTEN UP, B&W OWNERS: you bought some really nice 801's or 802's, and you love the way they sound. Now, if you want to hear how good they can really sound, go to the web site of North Creek Music and buy their replacement crossovers. You don't know how much better your speakers can sound, but I do, because I just bought some for my 802's. WOW! Rest of my system: Cal ICON MkII Power Boss, CD player, Bryston BP-25 preamp, BAT VK-200 power amp, lots of expensive wire. The music is trapped inside those crappy B&W Xovers, just waiting to get out. Set the music free with North Creek Music mods. Simply incredible.
When I switched my speaker cables from Kimber 4TC to 1999 MIT Shotgun High End series cables. The sound opened up dramatically in all areas ! Depth and width of soundstage improved greatly . The 4TC was flat in comparison. Detail ,bass,treble and mids opened up tremendously.Day and night comparison !