How do you decide what your next upgrade will be?

As "audiophiles" or "audio enthusiasts", I think most of us are constantly on the hunt for our next upgrade to take their system to the "next level". How do you prioritize what your next upgrade will be?

I typically focus on what my weakest link in my system at the time is and choose my next upgrade based on that. But I know some people may upgrade based on "best bang for buck" or maybe other ways. How do you decide?

I have found myself at a crossroads trying to figure out my next upgrade. Right now I believe my DAC is my weakest link (by a long shot). I currently stream from my computer through tidal into a dragonfly cobalt into a Raven nighthawk. My phono preamp is also lacking. I have a VPI scout Aries with a Soundsmith MIMC star going into a Vincent pho-701. I recently purchased two Rythmik f12se subwoofers and I have no speaker isolation at all (isolation could be a potential upgrade). I have also thought about how fun it would be to roll some tubes through my Raven Nighthawk. There are so many possibilities. 

With all the upgrades we have to choose from how do you decide what would be most beneficial to your system?


For fun, maybe post your most recent upgrade and why you decided to go the route you did. Thanks!

In my experience most people cannot guess where is the weakest link without looking at the price of the component or about his reviews...


It is especially hard when all pieces of gear are on the same price scale...

It is even harder if they are not on the same price scale..

.Price scale , save for astronomical differences, does not say anything about POTENTIAL S.Q. of a piece of gear...

But the true reason is they never listened to their gear working at his best optimal potential...

We must decrease noise electrical floor of the house and decresasing the negative impact of vibrations and especially adapt the room acoustic settings to the specific speakers we use...


If no, how do we know what your system can do at his best? How can you decide and spot the weakest link without a look at their price instead of their real optimal working S.Q. ? A fact which is unbeknownst to us most of the times without the right embeddings controls especially in acoustic ...


Most people upgrade because they never do it the right way first and before...Myself included...

My "weakest link" is my costlier and a very good piece of gear : the Sansui AU 7700.. I am proud of it...

i will never had concluded that the Sansui is the weakest link now , before my embeddings controls installed in the last months...

I would had erroneously change my low cost marvellous dac instead of the Sansui... It would have been an error and a waste of money ....



Insatisfaction is not a good master...

Acoustic is the best master...In audio....


By the way i can live STILL with the Sansui...It is a more than good amplifier...

But if a rich donator give me the Berning ZOTL, it will improve my system very greatly ...I know why...

Thanks in advance....




I believe that the room and the speakers are the biggest bang for buck areas.

If I have a speaker with 1% distortion, then contemplating moving from an amp with 0.01% THD+N to 0.001% THD+N is not going to be easily heard.

But usually I just get stuff that maximizes social signalling point scores.🙂


For fun, maybe post your most recent upgrade and why you decided to go the route you did. Thanks!

Lyngdorf MP-50.

Mostly so we can route TV/NetFlix, and the room correction might address a problem area.

Post removed 

what catches my eye on a-gon or usam 😆

...and then we can only hope its an upgrade... 

Having a Nighthawk makes this easy. Call Dave Thompson, chat him up about what tubes he recommends. The guy is some kind of tube genius. 


As far as system upgrades, the key is to understand it is in fact a system. Things such as the springs a component is on, the wires that connect them together and the room they are all in are every bit as important as the components themselves.


This is a hard one to get. A lot of audiophiles still don't get it. Put your Nighthawk on Nobsound springs, or even better Townshend Pods, I bet you get it then. Put a QSA Violet or SR Purple fuse in it. 


Then you will see. By the time you have done this a few times you will have learned so much by experience you won't even need to come asking what to do next. Congratulations in advance.

STONES. Don't forget those 

Marvelous QSA stones! :-)))

Funds dependent.

Depends on availability as well, living in a remote 240v country.


I have a list of things I want to purchase.

Slowly progress on these.

i.e. A modded HiFi router is on it.





Although when looking at big changes?

Dac first, then speakers, then power cables, then interconnects.


It came down to what changes woud make the most improvements to my system.

Instead of thinking about upgrading equipment, think in terms of how to improve what you already have. Think in terms of room treatments, reducing micro-vibrations, and cleaning up your AC power. Done right, these things will get you off of the equipment merry-go-round.


My best advice is to make big changes not incremental steps. Stretch the budget and jump up another step from just one level up. 

It can be tough to know which way to head. One way is to get really familiar with your gear, then try to isolating parts of the chain and compare/experiment with it. Not always an easy task, but it can help. Otherwise, it’s often a shot in the dark.

Joining up with some other audio buffs can help gain access to other gear you don't own.


That's a tough one.  No easy answer. 

When I see an insult or a "ho hum" aimed at one of the components in my system. "Well...for an entry level component it's okay, but you'd really be doing yourself a big favor if..." Trouble is, I like my system just fine.

When it comes to upgrades, apart from seeking out the best possible mastering, it's always loudspeakers for me.

For sure, as I get older/lazier/busier/less obsessed etc I'm looking for an easier life and may want to add streaming/ Bluetooth options but for sonic improvements I don't bother looking past transducers.

If I was to hear a clearly better CD player than my Marantz CD6000ki or a better amplifier than my Creek Destiny, I might reconsider, but as of yet this hasn't happened.

I've done enought chopping and changing of components in my time to finally accept that there's very little of gain to be found down those particular avenues.

Of course things might change, and if some of the things mentioned by Edgar Choueiri in his recent Audioholics interview come to pass then things will be different.

His insistence that the spatial aspect of sound is by far the most important aspect when it comes to realism in audio is one that has made me reconsider my opinions.

I think he's right.



Wow! thanks for this video...

This scientist seems to confirm my intuition and experience about " seeing sounds and seeing music"


His insistence that the spatial aspect of sound is by far the most important aspect when it comes to realism in audio is one that has made me reconsider my opinions.

I think he’s right.

OP if you’ve addressed the first 50% of the issue, the ROOM and the electricle grid.

The other 50%, is Gear, speakers, cables, and isolation. The least expensive for the return is isolation and decoupling speaker enclosures, from the rooms floors, ceilings, and walls..

You can hear a difference because of clarity, not through a fog so to speak.

When thing don’t sound right to my ears I try to change the different tones to compensate, when in reality cleaning up smeared multi bass signals was the issue all along.. Clarity and Definition coupled with the imperfect perfections of valve harmonics.. Different story, ay?

Room (low expense)

Electricle and cable routing (low expense)

Decoupling (low expense)


Speakers (EXPENSIVE)

Wisdom (priceless)


For me it has been a combination of what type room I am setting my system up for (now or in the future) and if my music genre preferences have shifted. My previous systems started to struggle due to either room volume/shape as a resulting of moving or if I started listening to different types of music. When that starts happening I start making "improvements".

I have found myself at a crossroads trying to figure out my next upgrade.

^Sounds^ like the opening to, "And I sold my soul".


Right now I believe my DAC is my weakest link (by a long shot)

How would you go from belief to proof, or some reasoning that could convince others?


The whole "System" talk implies that things are multiplied together.
But it is probably more like a chain analogy,

If there is no fuse in the amp, you have a bit of a problem making sound.

And a $1000 fuse is not going to make a $5 speaker sound 1000x better than a $1 fuse.

That changing cords/fuses/interconnects is mostly just "blind making work". If the Phono amp is not good, just get a good one... putting a "magic tube" in as better phono amp, will likely be more magical than putting it into a phono amp that is flawed (if your’s even is... I really dunno.)