i am sure everyone will ask,so, how much are you willing to spend? clearly there are many improvements available. what types of music? hometheater use?
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I was where you're at, about two years ago, when I decided I wanted to upgrade my late 80s Onyko/Boston Acoustic system. Chances are you won't find many (or any) reviews on a lot of equipment manufactered back then. Anyway, the first questions you ahould be asking yourself, is why do you feel the need to upgrade and what are you looking for in doing an upgrade, and how much are you budgeting for the upgrade, and are you going to do it "piece by piece" or take an "all at once" approach? Also, are you "buying new" or willing to "buy used"? My approach was "piece by piece", and my budget was (still is, for that matter) somewhat limited. So most of what I bought, I bought "used" here on Audiogon.
Basically, I evaluated my old system, and figured out what I liked and didn't like about it. And then started replacing components in order of what I felt was the "weakest link". One of the things that I wanted to accomplish was to go from solid state receiver to a tube base integrated amp, after that it was the replacing the speakers and then the CD player, with components that I felt brought out the best in the amp that I bought. Also, along the way, I upgraded speaker cables/ICs/power cable, replaces tubes, ect. And it took me about a year and half to accomplish my goal. One thing to keep in mind is what you finally want the system to be sounding like. Even though my system was put together "piece by piece", I still had a "good idea" from the beginning the steps I was going to take in getting my system to sound the way I wanted it. IOW, know where you want to go, and have some idea about how to get there.
One thing about taking the "piece by piece" approach is that each time you replace something, you can evaluate it's affect on the other components you have, who's qualities you know well and hopefully, learn what's the best "nest step" to take. btw, I've gotten quite a bit of good information, just be asking people on the Audiogon forums about different audio issues. No doubt, you'll find people here as helpful as I did. Anyway, good luck in your upgrade.
B&W DM110 were less than $200 new in the early 80's - so I dont think you can get much for them. You can certainly do much better than the warm sound of these speakers but you will need to start in the $500+ price range (new) to get equivalency.
You could probably find a $1000 speaker of that vintage in the local used market for less than $200...that would be an upgrade...Energy Pro 22's used to sell for just under $1000 new in the early 80's (a good sounding speaker used by CBC & others)
Whatever you do, DON'T get rid of those DM110 speakers! I used to have those in the 80s too and they are great speakers esp for what little money you would get for them now. I gave mine to a friend for her home gym and they are still firing away making good music. So if you decide to try another pair of more recent speakers save the DM110's for another system or a friend etc.
This is my first time on the list so I see how little information I supplied. My thinking is to replace my amp first? (guess that is correct) and then speakers. I am very confused by the reviews and since I live in a rural area we have to drive over 3 hours to find a dealer and then I am at their mercy. I listen to classical, Nora Jones,and mild rock. I am past middle age and my budget is around $2,000 total, less if possible. I do appreciate your kind responses and help. I have been away from the game too long to be current.
I would think that, given your listening preferences, you could make a significant upgrade for your budget. A simple system of a Rega integrated amp and Rega CD player, coupled with some monitors from someone like Dynaudio, Revel (M12s) or ProAc, while it wouldn't blow you out of your seat, would be very musical. That could be had used for less than $2K, including some decent but modest wires. Another speaker option would be something like the smallest Vandersteens if you're more into a floorstander. Happy Listening!
I would think you might want to consider an integrated tube amp and a pair of single driver speakers. They would be wonderful for the type of music you listen. Also, do you listen to LPs and/or CDs? CD players have improved quite a bit over the last 20 years so replacing your current player should be considered. If you play LPs, you need to be aware that a lot of preamps/integrated amps do not have a built-in phono preamp.
You sound a lot like me, little bit different taste in music, but still in the same ballpark (I enjoy bluegrass and acoutic blues) and like you, mostly listen at a low or moderate volume, and yes, I'm a bit past "middle aged". Chances are you might want to keep your speakers, as if you're like me you appreciate a warmer sounding speaker than a more analyical one. Of course, the only way you'll know is go out and listen to some different speakers, and don't be surprised that what you'll hear while sounding different might not necessarily sound better. One question though, what is your source component, CD or vinyl, and are you thinking about changing or upgrading that? I'm the sort of person who feels that the source is the most important component, as nothing down the line can improve upon what is orginally delivered. If you got a good source component , and you like the sound of your speakers, perhaps upgrading your amp, may be all you really need. Remember the most important thing, is that your system satisfied "your ears", and delivers "your music" the way you want to hear it, and the age of it really doesn't matter. I have many friends who's systems would be considered older or "vintage" and they're still getting quite a bit of enjoyment out of them. Nothing wrong with an older system if it sounds good.
In order to give good information regarding upgrading your system, it would be helpful to know the size of the listening room and if you want bookshelf, floor standing or wall mounted speakers. What sort of room do you ha ve behind the speakers if they are floor located and what is the distance to your listening position? After all this is worked out, you can decide if you want box or planar speakers and then you can decide on the other components. If you want to make incremental changes I'd start with a modern digital source as the 1980's cd players tended to be harsh.
I would start with a nice little tube integrated amp...and a new source (if you need one?...you didn't mention vinyl or cd as your source).
You should be able to add these two new upgrades for around $1,000-$1,200 (used)...50-75watts are all you need.
(The speakers)...you can decide on an upgrade there (or not)...after you have a good long listen.
You may want to move to a pair of speakers with just a tad more bass than the little B&W's provide...or (if you like your speakers a lot) maybe just a small subwoofer add on?
Try a primaluna prologue one integrated tube for $750 used here on audiogon. That will leave you $1200 or so for speakers/cables. I would upgrade the cables from the 80s as well. BTW, buying here will provide you with much less expensive equipment allowing you a jump up in quality for your budget. Also, if you do your homework and you choose quality you will be able to flip any equipment should it not meet your taste. However, you don't get good audition time in a store. MHO.
Hi, Again I appreciate the help. Several questions I wanted to answer: size of room 14w X 30 l X 8h. I mainly listen to cds and FM for NPR. I do not have a record player currently I did have an old AR years ago. I still have a large collecion of LP's so may go back to that as a source. My B&W speakers are on stands at the end of the room away from the electronics.
Again very good suggestions and now on to research where to locate items for listening. As stated before not much in the area.
What kind of CD player do you have? And please feel free to ignore the "buy this, buy that" and "if you don't like it sale it" crowd around here, as I feel you're the kind of guy that wants to do a decent upgrade and then enjoy it for a while, so take your time and find what you want, and that meets your listening expectations.
Anyway, first step if it was me, and since I now know you're a FM listener, is figuring out do you go to a Integrated Amp + Tuner combination, or do you go to another Receiver? Now I guessing you're the type of a person who believes in the K.I.S.S. approach "which is "keep it simple", as long as it sounds good. If that's the case, then I might go with a well taken care of tube based vintage Receiver such as a 60/70s era Receiver such as Fisher, McIntosh or Marantz, especially if the owners has had it serviced recently and it meets orginal specs. You know a lot of those old receivers will still beat "the pants off " of modern day receivers in both sound and overall performance. Btw, I love good vintage gear, and "down the road" I might pick up "am oldie, but goodie" receiver.
If you browse over to the sales pages you can find several examples at a fairly reasonable price. After that I would live with what I got for a while before taking the next step which may be replacing the speakers (although your B&Ws still have a good reputation, of course, if you like B&Ws you might want to check out their new 600 series, lots of good comments about them) or maybe even upgrading your CD player (again applying the "weakest link" principal). After you got that all in plece, you might then want to play around with upgrading your IC's or speakers cables. Once again, don't fall for the over-expensive hype, as there are many quality manufactors who make cables at a ressonable and affordable price. Btw, where are you located? Perhaps some of us, might be able to help you find a dealer somewhere near "your neck of the woods".
My response to Cleaneduphippy on my cd player. It is a Magnavox CD 725 5 disc player my wife bought me for my birthday years ago.
I was curious about the Outlaw receiver. I will take a look at the older units for sale as you suggested.
I live in South Dakota north of Sioux Falls about 60 miles, moving recently from the southwest.
Your absolutely right there is not a lot of dealers in your neck of the woods. Anyway here's a link to one dealer in the Sioux Falls - a store called Home Audio Architect - http://www.homeaudioarchitects.com/. Looks like he carries Denon, Klipsch, and Boston Acoustic. Which are all decent brands.
Another on-line place you might want to check out is Audio Advisor - http://www.audioadvisor.com/ Audio Advisor as a pretty extensive line of audio equipment at various price points and just as important, a great reputation for customer service. btw, I have no relationship with anybody at Audio Advisor, but do know people who have used them and are pretty happy with the components and service they received from them.