I Need an Upgrade Path...Help Please

I know that there are some very knowledgable folks out there and I need your help in determining an intelligent upgrade path.

I have been an audiophile since I was quite young. At the ripe old age of 11, I convinced my Dad to buy himself some new speakers for Xmas and give me his old pair (Ohm Walsh 4's) as my Xmas gift. He included an old Marantz receiver that he had been hanging on to (in case quadraphonic made a comeback?) and bought me a modest CD player(I believe it was a Scott).

Anyway, I've dabbled in the hobby ever since, but only recently have I begun to become FULLY addicted like many of you. I have assembled a modest system by making purchases here on the Audiogon, but I don't feel like I had a very intelligent "plan" for my purchases.

What I'm looking for is a logical upgrade path so that I can "plan my work and work my plan" as a former employer used to say.

Here's what I have:

CD Player - Rega Planet (not 2000)
Interconnect - MIT Terminator 3
Pre-amp - Classe DR5
Interconnect - MIT Terminator 3
Amplifier - Classe DR9 (I think this is the strongest component in my system??)
Speaker Cables - Monster M1(?) Bi-wire
Speakers - Hales Concept 2's

For the most part I'm pretty pleased with my system, however, I find that recordings which are less than outstanding sound VERY harsh (dare I say shrill), so much that I find myself listening to less of my music collection (bad). I didn't begin to experience this problem until I purchased the Hales. Now I'm not sure if the Hales are so good that they're revealing some weaknesses in the rest of my system, or if they're not as good as the speakers that they replaced (Platinum Audio Solo's).

Now I feel like I've made some bad decisions and want to avoid just randomly replacing things until I get it "right". I need your advice. Where should I start? Specific product recommendations are welcomed. And just so you know, money IS an issue, so I'd like to keep things in the same ballpark as what I've got...don't tell me that I need an Accuphase SACD player and Levinson Monoblocks with a Goldmund Preamp and Valhalla interconnects and cables!!!!

Thanks in advance for your assistance!
Hi Dan,

I can tell you one great up-grade right off the bat. Try taking your MIT cables up a notch and adding some MIT speaker cables into your system. I recommend some 330 interconnect with 750 speaker cables. You should here a noticeable improvement right away. I just tweaked my cables up to Reference 350 twins with matching 770 twin speaker cables WOW! A very noticeable improvement to say the least.
I have a couple of suggestions which may or may not be popular here. The first and obvious suggestion is to change your speakers. The problem didn't exsist before the Hales, so you're right to suspect them. I'm not saying they are good or bad, just that if you don't like them, change them!

Now for the possibly controversial part. Please don't use cables as tone controls. All cables are supposed to do is transfer the signal from one component to the next. If you need an EQ, buy an EQ. Here's a great one:


A good EQ gives you versatility and flexibility. Versatility because you can correct for room modes as well as dial in the sound you want. Flexibility because you can adjust the sound for each recording to suit your taste.
I would recommend changing your speakers and especially getting the MIT cables out of your system and going with acoustic zen. Then moving on to a more resolving cd or sacd player.
First, I would upgrade Rega with CAL Ikon or CAL separate components. Also Micromega 3 can get you much close to the music.

Then I would change Monster M1 for AQ Midnight or JPS Ultraconductor.

If the enthusiasm continues, add an entry-level analogue setup he..he..
where's your power conditioner/filter?
Buy a Tice solo or similier.. immediate improvement.
Try out some cardas cables...
Ditto, better cables and power conditioning.
I own a DR-8 and Thirty preamp, nice gear. A turntable is required here. Systemdek, Rega, Revolver, or a Thorens are all reasonably priced. I think your preamp has a phono stage, add a decent cartridge like a Blue Point Special or a Grado and you're good to go. Sit back and enjoy the MUSIC