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I cannot tell you what the best next upgrade you should make is. After saying that I have found one of the most cost effective improvements is getting reasonably high quality ac power cables from my wall to my component and fuses for my components power supply. Paying attention to your quality of power to your components can dramatically improve your sound pretty much evenly across the board. Maybe that gives you something to think about.
just my two cents...there will be many..
#1 Room treatment ! ( i use gik ) massive changes (this is a game changer!) Remember me when ya do it : )
Imo...one of the best intermediate interconnect and spkr cables are Acoustic Zen. You can score a set of shotgun satori used here .( i like getting used interconnects there broke in and if they dont mate well you can resell them.( i would buy them here ) changing my interconnects top to bottom to Matrix Ref 2 AZ was not sublte in any way .They were blind tests swapped to cheaper cables and the openess and bass changed dramatically.( tt to phono and to pre ,dac to pre etc ) all silver interconnects
I also run all AZ ac cables except for my mf nuvista ,i run the Revalation Audio Labs (psu etc for my nuvista outboard power supply and the precept 2 reference ac cable)
Again a used score will set you back a few hundred for AZ Tsunami 's
The interconnects will change the sound of your set up good or bad but it will change.
I have fought the fuse thing ,but i am getting the urge to try the black in my setup slowly lol
There are other things like recepticles like furutech and power treatment devices that have helped me but i am in a unique setup( fully offgrid) .check you ac in power (whats it at? does it vary? ) the tweeks and mods will drive ya mad lol
As for apple i have no idea i rarely play anything but vinyl, although i did play a cple cd's the other night.I switched back to vinyl ; )
First thing, since you’re using iTunes to rip your CDs, I would highly recommend that you make sure you are using the "Apple Losseless Codec" when importing direct from CD. Otherwise, you’re losing a lot of resolution that you would never get back with upgraded equipment.
The others have good ideas for improvement: room treatment, interconnects, power cords, fuses. All those definitely will help.
In my opinion, your weak link is the AppleTV, as you have indicated. The Bluesound may be an improvement because you can use it’s toslink digital output to drive the Azure DAC.
Another way to go is to look at something like an Oppo BDP-103 (or the newer 203 when it comes out). It will likely be a much better transport for reading in the streaming audio data and converting that to straight PCM (including clock timing) and being able to use the coax digital output (which is generally better than toslink). The Oppo supports integration with Tidal. It will also play ALAC files if you want to keep using that. Then maybe look into JRiver software on your Mac as a DLNA server for the Oppo. Cost of the Oppo is about $499 or so (or less if used). You can also play straight from a CD or even USB stick/drive.
Thanks for the feedback, guys. Really appreciate it.
I'm also seriously considering Acoustic Zen Santori. Quite a number of members at audiogon (whose opinion I value very highly) have also recommended AZ Santori.
As for Apple TV, I was almost ready to pull the plug on a Bluesound Node, but then I read another thread on agon where the users were really not able to tell much of a difference. So, now I'm even more confused :)
@hifiman5 My components are placed on a regular TV console (glass surface). Do you think taking care of this situation will lead to better results than, say swapping out the speaker wires with something better?
My dilemma is that I'm trying to make just one purchase for at least 12 months and want to make sure I get the biggest improvement out of all the other possibilities.
@erik_squires I completely agree with you on this one. And usually this is the first (and best) piece of advise I always get. Unfortunately, my audio room is also the main living room, so I'm severely constrained in this aspect of my setup - furniture, WAF, wood floor, cats ... did I say WAF? lol!
I wish I could have a dedicated room where I can indulge in room treatments, but until then my choices are kind of limited.
However, having said that, I'd like to know if there are any inexpensive, inconspicuous treatments that I might consider? I can't do rugs - either on the floor or walls. Also I cannot move the furniture around much.
Gik buddy they can print any design on the panel take some pics and fill out gik form ....
Acoustic zen and mr lee are top notch . I run all az including adagios . I also run satori they are excellent ! And they are available here used often . It's were i bought mine , the interconnects are a little more challenging to find used . I run matrix 2 . The wows are good for the cash if ya wanna be more budget minded ( i didnt pick the names 😁)
again good ac
" isolation " I highly recommend star sound but not really budget oriented.
Basically in order imo
@arafiq - Oh, I did say that Oppo support Tidal. However, I just figured out that it requires an IOS/Android device to stream Tidal. So, you would need to use your iPhone / iPad / Android table or phone to connect to tidal and then use that to stream the audio to the Oppo player. Just something to keep in mind.