Before I gave up on the Altecs, I'd want to try them with a more powerful tube amp of at least 20 to 30Wpc. No offense but with only 6 watts/channel that Decware amp is probably running out of gas in the bass (maybe highs too).
Good to hear about your foray into vinyl. Your first purchase should be a Record Cleaning Machine like a VPI 16.5 and something to keep your sylus clean. Protect those nice inherited LPs. My system is also part vintage and part new.
I doubt the Laguna are the weak part of the system. A friend's Altec A7's are IMO still one of the best speakers I heard to date and that includes many modern hornspeakers, such as the Avantgarde and others.
You may want to look into modifying and rewiring the crossovers of the Altecs. Otherwise the amp may not be an ideal match, try some different SET amps if you can.
Finally the SME arm is a little lightweight for the low compliance Shelter cartridge and not an ideal match which will show in the bass most. The Shelter is a nice cartridge and the SME arm is nice too, but the match is far from ideal with respect to arm- cartridge resonance. I would consider a different cartridge for the SME arm.
Dear Edtyre: Other that what already posted I think that you could improve the quality performance on your system through a better Phonolinepreamplifier that is the audio item/link that handle the delicate cartridge signal and where that critical signal " suffer " a heavy process where that signal can be highly degraded .
Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul, that PS Audio GCPH is an excellent sounding unit so I don't think that's the problem. But Restock's point about a possible arm/cartridge mismatch may be valid.
I owned the Shelter 501 at one time and it did not sound that optimal in my Wilson Benesch Act 0.5 arm. I like the Benz cartridges much better. Perhaps a new Glider or Gullwing Benz would work better. But the GCPH will be noisy with low-output MC cartridges under about 0.4mV, so keep that in mind as well.
Dear Plato: I'm not saying that the PS Audio is not a good unit I'm only saying that he can get a better quality performance with a better phono stage unit and I already posted that " other what already posted "....
The 502 deserve that and through those Altec he can enjoy it, other advantage is that a better phonolinepreamp can/could give him the alternative that in the future he could change its cartridge for one of the " stellar " ones with out change in the Phonolinepreamp but where he can from today enjoy that quality sound performance, well at least this is my advise.
Rgeards and enjoy the music.
add if you wish to, but don't sell anything.
No the first answer is absolutley true. I can... drive La scalas with the 1.5 watt amplifier to loud levels but you will never ever hear how good the speaker is until you put some real power into.
Don't sell your speakers. Those are unique. However, they, like most Altec home furniture cabinets, suffer from a choked bass and a clipped upper end. The cabinets are just too small for the 15 inch bass drivers. And there are two of them in each of these cabinets. You could swap the 803A (I'm assuming it's an A) for 416s through, which might help the bottom end. Great Plains Audio sells them.
There are lots of great compression drivers that go much higher than Altec compression drivers, too, but I don't think that's your problem. My guess is old capacitors and inductors with a low crossover point. FWIW, I use BMS compression drivers in my Valencias (a truly underachieving cabinet design), along with a modded crossover and much more substantial internal cabinet bracing. I've no problems, but then a lot of Altec fans would burn me at the stake for what I've done. On the other hand, my speakers sound great with my turntable.
As mentioned, you're going to need some power to push those drivers and the crossover. Perhaps you could spend a little money and try biamping with an active crossover?
My suggestion is to keep the items. Replace the amp, or borrow a tube amp with more power, listen fo a while.
Stick with the vinyl, you're a lucky guy.
Thanks everyone for your valued suggestions.
Plato & Restock: I am not getting rid of the speakers or TT
I am going to try a more powerful amp first. Any you can recommend?
Raul: Yes, i am interested in a better phono amp w/tubes
any suggestions? I agree that eventually i will move to a better unit so why not enjoy the better quality for now.
About the Shelter cart....It is a NON-forgiving cart,
only really well recorded and pressed LP's
sound really good and other users have noted the very good
midrange and weaker bass. I don't really know which upgrade
path to take here, could use suggestions on which would be
a better match for my arm.
First thing i did before i played one vinyl was buy a RCM.
A Nitty Gritty manual one. Works fine, had one 15 years ago
I agree that trying out different items in my system until
i find the right combination is the way to go. I am not selling anything and i am really enjoying the set-up and playing lots of records every night. Just want to improve
on what i have.
I will first see if the turntable is setup properly with the tonearm and cartridge -- vertical/horizontal position of the tonearm, cartridge position, and tracking force/anti-skating. Also, I will think of having some isolation device.
Assuming your cartridge is a decent MC, I would make sure whether the needle is either worn out or bent.
Your preamp seems to be decent enough, so as others suggested, I will think of upgrading to a more powerful amp.
Dear Edtyre: For a tube Phonolinepreamp I can say: Atmasphere.
Rgeards and enjoy the music.
Does your SME have a removable headshell or not? The removable one has a slightly higher effective mass and may work borderline with the Shelter.
I don't have any personal experience with low mass arms and thus have only limited recommendations - I think Raul might even have some better recommendations for high compliance cartridges.
Worth trying would be the Shure V 15 VxMR, Cartridge Man Music Maker,
Audio Technica AT440ML...At least for a start!
Restock:Mine has a removable headshell.
The first cart i tryed was the AT440ML. The Shelter has much better sound its like night & day.
The 3009 with removable headshell is borderline ok. Given the effective arm mass or 9.5g and specs of the Shelter (8.1g, 9cu compliance) you get a resonance frequency of about 12.5Hz just a little outside the ideal range.
The Shure V 15 VxMR is very often matched to your arm (and difficult to get), but the Shelter is a very good cartridge and even with a poor match may be better than many MM cartridges.
Just my 2 cents, I would focus on the source first before anything else. Of course if the amp is weak than that should be taken care of, other than that, one will never know what the system is capable of until the source is optimized.
From my experience, I didn't know what my speakers were capable of until I got my vinyl rig greatly improved!
Recently purchased a Shure SME 3009 II IMP
with Incognito wiring from another Agoner.
This 500.00 upgrade has done wonders for the overall sound.
Have been listening for a while now, what a difference from
the other SME arm and 1973 wiring.
Still looking for improvement, will audition a few more powerful tube amps next. The speakers are staying, but i'm
not so sure about the TT,arm and cart... i think to get to the next level i might have to go with a more modern set-up.