Lions and Tigers and Bears..Oh MY............or...

Pre-amps and Turntables and arms.....OH MY!!!!!! Pardon the excitment but I wanted to get your attention.

After the new year I may be in a position to upgrade my system if need be.

As you can see below my system is listed.
I am very happy with my speakers (the Infinity RS 1-B's) and if I wanted to upgrade to a better speaker today, then I believe I would need to go in the 20-30K range. Besides, as I said, my speakers satisfy me immensely!
Where I might want to upgrade is at the analog/Pre-amp department. I am quite happy with my Rhea phono section and unless someone says that I am crazy and should sell it for a Manley Steelhead or Lamm LP2 or other, I'm staying put. With that said, here are my two choices: upgrade my ARC LS25 MK1 to an Aesthetix Calypso pre amp OR upgrade my analog turntable/arm/etc.??
My choice is easy for the pre-amp upgrade but much more difficult for the table/arm. Here's current turntable is a VPI Aries mk1 with 10.5 arm. I know the company and I am very happy with their service and support. I could go with a VPI HR-X with a 12.5 (6??) and use my SDS (which I already have) and save some bucks. I also like the idea of VTA on the fly. It's easy with the 10.5 and 12.5. I also love the ability to switch arm wands instantly!! Now the drawbacks....recently and in these pages as well there is not a great deal of high regard for the HR-X and especially the 10.5/12.5 arm. So my thoughts are flirting with an SME 20/2, Basis (not sure which one) Teres (260???) , Simon Yorke(????) or Brinkman. Here are the drawbacks. All are more expensive, except the Teres which I understand is a do it yourself table and you are looking at the worlds biggest non-techo person around!!!! I am all thumbs!!!
But I would like your thought on the table. In addition to the table s the arm. Here is where it gets a bit confusing. I have heard so many comments about the Schroder (I would probably go for a model 1...the second in the line). Perhaps, a Tri-planar, or SME or the great Graham Phantom or 2.2 arm??? Which on do you think is sonically satisfying and yet also easy to use and set up. For instance: does the Schroder or Tri-Planar or Graham have VTA on the fly?
Another though is to purchase the VPI HR-X (if I go that route rather then the Pre-amp Calypso upgrade) and install another arm rather then the VPI 12.5??? I believe some folks have done this. I ask...why? What was the benefit?
Alas.....I leave this long winded question for you to moll over and reply with your thought, suggestions and comments!

Thanks again for your time!

P.S. Manufactures/dealers/'Goners..please all reply.
What makes a king out of a slave? Courage!
What makes the flag on the mast to wave? Courage!
What makes the elephant charge his tusk in the misty mist, or the dusky dusk?
What makes the muskrat guard his musk? Courage!
What makes the sphinx the seventh wonder? Courage!
What makes the dawn come up like thunder? Courage!
What makes the Hottentot so hot?
What puts the "ape" in apricot?
What have they got that I ain't got?

.....and what makes an audiophile roll the dice on a new component?

Cwlondon....what a great response! You either have a wonderful memory for remembering all those lines, you were involved in original movie (doubt it) or the play or you have a copy of the movie?? (A great one at that).

Yes courage I have!! But what direction do I go??

Let me beg the pardon all everyone and say I may have been asking too many questions. So I will state my first question here and if no one responds I will re-list.

If you had my system where would you first upgrade? The pre-amp? And if a Calypso or something else?? Or on the analog end???
I can only comment on the SME 20/2A, which I purchased last year. I love it. It took me an evening to set up, and is provided with well written instructions, which were relatively simple to follow. It is a simple design, and pretty much fuss-free. By the way, it sounds really nice too.

As for which component to upgrade first, I have no idea, but do remember that a preamp upgrade will benefit your whole system, while a table upgrade will improve only your vinyl listening.
Only the great Oz can answer your question. We're off to see the wizard...
RWD, you have a very nice analog front-end working for you now, so I'm just going to ramble a bit with some thoughts to share... If you really like your Rhea, you will find similar sonic qualities in the Calypso, or better yet, the Callisto Signature. In my listening experience, the Aesthetix gear evolves from a different set of listening priorities than the ARC. For me, the preamp always has a huge impact on the overall character of the system. (And, if you were to make any move from your Rhea, I'd recommend you consider shifting to the Io Signature rather than any of the other phono stages mentioned. But I agree with your sense that moving from the Rhea is not the thing to do.)

There are many things that the VPI turntables do very well and I can join you in your respect for Harry's work. A number of people whose listening accumen I respect have said that they actually prefer the TNT Mk.6 to the HR-X, and a member of our local audio group just made the choice to go with the TNT6/JMW12.5 after a lot of consideration between the two. (The TNT is reported to have a somewhat fuller, slightly warmer sound than the HR-X with a more fully fleshed out harmonic structure versus a leaner, somewhat more direct presentation from the HR-X.) With your Aries, consider what can be gained from some updates (bearing, platter, 300rpm motor), including the new wiring update for the tonearm. And consider the TNT Mk.6 with JMW 12.5 as an alternative to the HR-X. Also consider moving from the SDS to the Walker Audio motor controller for a futher improvement.

As you look at options for improving the sound of your system, don't lose sight of your cartridge. The Benz is a good cartridge, but incorporating a cartridge at the performance level of the Magic Diamond, Dynavector XV-1s and a few others might well make more of a difference in your enjoyment of your system than any other change you've mentioned.

Consider whether you've fully extracted from your current system all that it can deliver. Over 35 years, I've often lost sight of this as I've gotten interested in seeking out that next great piece of gear that will move my system to the next level of performance, only to again be amazed at how much improvement I achieve when I've focused on the small things that incrementally combine to make huge improvements. So, let's just assume you've already done all of the small things we talk about such as: applying Extreme-SST at all connections, installing dedicated circuits, using top quality receptacles (like Walker Audio/Jena Labs/Porter Ports), resonance control, room acoustics, etc...

Good luck in your deliberations!
Hi Rwd,

I recently added a Calypso specifically to mate it with my Rhea that I've had for over a year. At first I was not that impressed and did not feel the Calypso was bettering my BAT vk50se. Then I rolled in some telefunkens and got everything the BAT offered and a bit more. The ability to roll tubes is a big benefit for my tastes. I'm not familiar with your ARC so I can't comment on the differences between that pre and the Calypso. I do think you will like the sound from the Rhea/Calypso combo, more details and not lose any stage depth. I agree with Rushton concerning your table. You maybe surprised how much more you hear from your Aries with the new pre and some quality tubeage.

I have heard a pair of the RS 1-B's and I must say I'm jealous!
Why not be different (at least a little)?

I am very happy with my non-tweaky set up. Right around the $10K mark.

JC Verdier Platine
Ikeda IT407 12-inch arm (removable headshell)
Benz Ruby 3H Open Air
Boston Audio Graphite Mat
LYS Stroboscope/Clamp
Benz PP1 Phono Stage
Dear RWD: +++++ " For me, the preamp always has a huge impact on the overall character of the system. " +++++

+++++ " , but do remember that a preamp upgrade will benefit your whole system, while a table upgrade will improve only your vinyl listening. " +++++

I agree with these statements posted by Rushton and Esoxhntr and agree too with Rushton about thinking in a better cartridge before the TT.

Regards and enjoy the music.
I wish to thank you all for your thoughtful and kind comments. I will keep you posted on my journey.

BTY..if anyone of my ASL Hurricanes went down. Off it went to Lyrci Hi-Fi where I purchased it. It should be ready (as long as it is not a major repair) soon. I will also keep you posted on this as well.
Hi All,

I have the Aries with the JMW 10 arm. Similar to what rwd has. I am toying with the idea of an SME 20/2 and the SME IV.v arm. For anyone that owns the arm, what tools are supplied to setup the cartridge in the arm?

I looked at the SME owners manual on the Sumiko website and I see pictures of templates made out of paper to set overhang. Is this correct?

BTW. I am very very happy with my VPI Aries/JMW 10/Benz Ruby 2H/Aesthetix Io setup. Makes great music that pulls me in and does not let me go.