Everything in my system is as good as I can afford/appreciate except (maybe) a more expensive (better?) cartridge at some point, but I'm not particularly even jonesing for that right now!
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Well, my Reference 3A MM DeCapos have been in my system longer than any other component and I don't actively look at speaker ads with any kind of intent, so I guess they qualify.
I was luck enough to buy a perfect pair about 3 years ago for $1000. I just can't imagine finding a better deal on another pair of speakers, so I've basically quit looking.
Now, when I move into my new home in a year and have a much larger listening room, all bets are off!
Poweramps: Antique Sound Labs Explorer 805 DTs, 50-Watt Single-Ended Triodes that sound fabulous driving my...
Speakers: Quad 989s. Full-range, point-source electrostatics that define coherency.
Preamp, 6-channel: Audio Refinenments Pre 5. All analog, no processors. VERY clean and big sounding.
Speaker cable: Audioquest silver-conductor, DBS-type KE-6 and KE-4. Six pairs of 4-nines solid silver in 5 different gages, netting 10-1/2 gage. These used to be a double-biwire set but now they're simply in parallel driving the Quads. Best I've ever heard, but I don't get around much.
Denon DVD-2900 DVD player. Such an improvement over my entry-level Pioneer universal player my jaw dropped.
The power-and preamp have been recapped, and I'm about to do that to my Denon DVD-2900 DVD player.
I don't know when I'll stop making upgrades but for the time being I'm going to stick with my Ayre V-1x & VR4 GenIII's.
I'd also like to mention I've had Luminous Audio cables in my system for the last three years, which is 2 yrs. & 9 mo. before I started working there. I also have a Chris VH Gold Flavor4 to the amp & TG Audio 688 to the CDP. No plans on changing any of these either.
Looking to upgrade both the pre this year & whenever on the CDP.
vinyl has let me stop looking for better digital. digital just doesn't compare to good analog in my book. so for me my EVS Millennium DAC I will probably be the final digital (Redbook) source I buy for a long time.
I already have most of my "final" system. I just need a better TT/arm/cart, phonostage, another pair of tube amps to biamp with (yeah, four monoblocs!), an active crossover for the maggies, get the maggies rebuilt, and I am set. That should hold me for a while.
out of everything ive ever tried my mcintosh xrt 22 speakers are the end of the line for me in speakers,while most of my rig changes by the month every single time i listen the xrt 22's draw me in & keep me amazed at how good a truly great speaker can sound.
im still on the hunt for the best sounding "everything else" but as far as speakers go the search is over.
I recently had my McCormack DNA-225 upgraded to Platinum Edition status by Steve McCormack (SMcAudio.com). Amplification is now one aspect of my system that will remain unchanged for quite some time - literally years. While of small consequence in geologic time, it is of epoch proportions to audiophiles! :-)
Amp: Fully modded Berning ZH270 (tubed)
Interconnect/spkr cables: Stereovox
Power Cords: Electraglide Epiphany
Digital Sources: hmmmmmm - no "final" consensus. Audio Aero Capitiole MK II SE is certainly amongst the better choices (but probably not better than the Rimyo CDP, DCS or EMM Labs separates)
Preamp: also no final consensus
Only 2x in 25 years have I ever stopped looking. Each time I didn't make a change for 5 years. Both systems were based around tube amps. First system I had for 5 yrs was a Mac MC225 amp, Music Reference RM5 mkII pre and ProAc Studio 1 speakers...Second system was a Korneff 6bq5 SE int amp with Klipsch KG3.5 speakers. I got rid of the Korneff for a Custom Conn PP6bg6 triode amp that I had for another 2.5 years...low powered tube gear is best w/Klipsch...
I agree with the original poster regarding Green Mountain Audio and Roy Johnson. I have the third pair of Diamantes that Roy made for sale. They have gone through three upgrades. What an incredible product! I suspect that if I listened to some of GMA's later efforts, I would undoubtedly fall in love with them. However, I am still so happy with my "old" Diamantes that I don't see the point. At the time of my purchase, I listened to so many relatively high-end contenders. Selecting the Diamantes, considered one of my great decisions, was second only to selecting my wife. And, yes, there were a few auditions for the latter role.
Jadis JP80MC preamp stopped me from upgrading for over 10 years, and then the replacement was the next model up in the line, the JP200MC preamp, which I don't believe I'll ever give up till I start losing my hearing completely. Same can be said for my Forsell CD transport (until it breaks down and can't be repaired), which has been in my system for 10 years plus, and the Audio Logic DAC, which has been in my system that long as well (though it has been upgraded a few times). Also, the Day Sequerra FM Reference came into my system over 12 years ago and won't be leaving it (again, had some upgrades done rexcently, well worth it sonically) until there are no FM broadcasts to be received, and then I will probably keep it as a museum piece. Finally, the Basis Ovation turntable, a great design that I've owned about 15 years and don't have any plans to replace (again, it was upgraded to incorporate the Debut's bearing, platter and vacuum hold-down system).
In a word "PLINIUS, sa series" 2 102s xlr monoblocks,fronts- 100mk3 surrounds,p-8 for center using splitter off of transparent ultra rca from ht processor to plinius m8 preamp, combined with mirage-YES-mirage om6s fronts ,om10s surrounds, mc2 -BIG- center ,bps 400 .1 effects bipolar sub, 2 bagend infrasubs in stereo out of plinius m8 preamp rca dual outs,all subs dialed in low using internal "ELF"[bagends seemless crossover] and nice even response in 2 channel and over the top in movie mode, lovan classic equipment racks flanking pioneers 730 hdmi 64 inch monitor, adona series amp. stands- silver 102/100mk3; has silver amp stand with white marble and my black 102 has black stand with blue pearl,kora hermes tubed dac 24/192 w/nos CV2492 cryo 1975 mullards and 1964 mullards matched pairs<: killer good,magnum dynalabs 102 triode tuner w/ remote,all transparent ultra interconnects and superbicable speakercable [fronts] along with plus bicables on center and surrounds, all feature current mm technology. various sony jukeboxes through monarchy dips and current design line cond. sequential power up ,am looking to add hydra or similar. classes ssp 300 surround processor will be FINAL component.Maybe you were looking for short easy answer but in my mutichannel/two channel world theyre just isnt one. Regards Tim W.
big joe....you owe it to yourself to find a c22 II in mint condition....i found it to be the sweetest and quietest tube pre of all(even besting the c2200). great phono section, and still the sharpest full feature pre ever made. even better than the original c22.....it would be the icing on the cake for your system. i will also take some greif for this next comment, but there isn't a tremendous amount of difference in digital front ends. having worked in the music and dvd business for the last 20 years, the biggest improvements have been in the software. my advise is just get one that you like that has the 'cool factor. your system has got that already in spades.