Looking for upgrade advice


As of right now I've got $1,000 bucks to use towards a system upgrade. Before I continue, I have to say my system has never sounded better but there I always room for improvement right?

About my system: Its in a large open living room but I only sit 8 feet or so from my speakers. The system is a combo stereo/HT. I'm only interested in upgrades concerning stereo/music listening at this time so I will stick to the pertinent details. The equipment is as follows:

Speakers: LSA1 Statement monitors on Q acoustics concept stands

Subs: Rythmik E series 15" sealed subs x 2

Preamp/DAC: NuPrime DAC10

Phono Pre: Eastern Electric Minimax

Power Amp: Emerald Physics 100.2SE

Turntable: Clearaudio Concept

Phono Cart: Clearaudio Concept MC v1 w/ needleclinic sapphire retip

Digital Source: Toshiba Laptop running Tidal or JRiver into the NuPrime DAC10

Cables: Audio Art IC3SE interconnects, Clear Day Double Shotgun speaker cables and jumpers, RAC power cables

Room Treatments: Bass traps on walls and in corners, large area rug on floor, diffuser behind the listening seat, heavy curtains, i think the room is about as good as it can get without dropping major bucks


What i hear from my system: Nicely detailed, good low end reach and punch, fantastic soundstage that is wide and deep, pretty good imaging, neutral. I'd like a little more meat on the bones, and some more dynamic head room, even more improvement on the things i already have, i'd like vinyl to be a little more detailed and dynamic to match my DAC (vinyl is still a little more organic sounding with good recordings but the NuPrime is no slouch).


So here is what I'm considering:

1. Add a Marchand xm66 variable crossover to take some of the low end stress off of the LSA speakers. The Rhythmiks fill in the low end nicely but I feel as though the dynamics might be improved this way.

2. Upgrade the speakers. The affordable option is a pair of Philharmonic BMR's which reach down in to the low 30HZ range and should provide more dynamic headroom in my large listening area or save up to go BIG with something like Tekton Double Impacts or Philharmonic Phil 3's, which may make my subs superfluous for most music but should be dynamically limitless.

3. Change the cart. Not sure how much of an upgrade this would be but i'm super curious about the Audio Technica Art-9 and some of the offerings from Charisma. I feel like my vinyl front end is smooth and detailed but could use a little fuller sound on some recordings and a bit more dynamic oomph in the low end. But let me say that it makes the differences in an original Pink Floyd The Wall and the recent reissue known plain as day. The reissue is syrupy as hell and the original is just right. Keep in mind my system isn't overly warm, bright recordings sound just that way.

4. I have been very happy with the NuPrime DAC10 as a DAC and pre but i'm very curious about the TDSS internal upgrades as I've heard nothing but good things about how they take something great and make it even better. They are said to improve the pre function as well as the DAC function. Only $500 and would leave cash over for a head start on another upgrade.

5. Trade the Emerald Physics power amp for the NuPrime ST10. This really isn't something i'm jonesing to do as i think the EP is really good and the NuPrime might be a sideways move though i'm sure there would be some fantastic system synergy there.

Or i could just do nothing for now.  

joegator81
Let me add concerning the LSA1 Statements. I feel like this is the best top end I have had in my system. The midrange is very good too. The also have quite the punch for bookshelf speakers, they aren't dainty by any means. But they can only do so much in terms of dynamics in a room like this. I also feel like the low end and upper base could be a little tighter and could use a little more detail. Again, this may be because they are in a large room. I use foam plugs to which help tighten the low end, allow me to raise the subs crossovers, and make for an easier smoother blend with the subs.
Schiit EITR if you use USB

then more listening before a new cartridge (or putting tuntable & pre-pre-am in a different room)
I forgot to mention I use the schiit decrapifyer or something like it that I run my usb into. 

As for isolation, I have cones under my preamp and cork footers as well. I also made some amp and turntable isolation stands. The floor is tile and concrete. I have the turntable in a spot that has little to no vibrations that I can feel. Regardless, there is no possibility of moving anything to another room
If you want more dynamics in a large room, you need bigger speakers.  Changing them will make the biggest difference, good or bad.  After that, more power unless you buy efficient speakers.
Thanks for the advice, if I decide to change speakers I'm definitely going bigger, the stand mount bmr is quiet large and is said to have the range and dynamics of a floor stander.

The other option was implementing a crossover like the Marchand. This would ease the load on the amp and the speakers. Any opinions there?
No question, invest in an ultrasonic record cleaner using the solution suggested by pbnaudio in the following thread
https://forum.audiogon.com/discussions/audio-desk-pro-vs-clear-audio-double-matrix/post?postid=14465...
I'll look into that. I'm using the record doctor now
Cries out for AudioArt S-5e speaker cables /
I've thought about those but the clear days are pretty darn good, probably would be a sideways move. I'm looking for a noticeable improvement
You already have a very nicely balanced system Joe, so the only thing I would suggest is to try Teo Audio liquid metal ICs (called the Game Changer).

They offer a money-back guarantee so all you’d be out is postage if you didn’t like them.

Since I live in the same city as Teo Audio, I figured I had nothing to lose by trying them. To say I was impressed was an understatement. I now have 3 pair in my system.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained.... ;^)
joe, I have clear day shotgun and jumpers I used on my Totem Signature 1’s . Replaced the clear day shotguns with AudioArt SC-5se and there was a noticeable improvement ! Deeper and clearer bass and better harmonics all around .As we all know, clear days are very good, I still use their jumpers but the SC-5es put the meat on the table .
I'm also using IC-3se's , two pairs with the Shadow connectors and one with the DH lab ones .
DH are fine but the Shadows are "da bomb ! Rob told me connectors are the most expensive and critical things on an IC, as always , he did not lie .
That definitely gives me something to think about. I really like the ic3se cables, have some dhlabs and some xhadows. I like both. The dhlabs have a more burnished tone and the xhadows a bit of sparkle. I'll consider giving the sc5se cables a go. 
Any opinions on the Philharmonic BMR vs the LSA Statement, the concept MC vs AT Art9 or Charisma, or the Marchand? 
@randy-11......"  putting tuntable & pre-pre-am in a different room "

you suggest this many times in the forums and realize that this isnt always an option with members due to having families where other rooms could be a bedroom , living room, etc.....
Joe,
You have a very fine system, obviously put together with much care and thought.
It looks like you have two paths for upgrade, one for the overall system, the other for your analog.
Questions you may want to answer.
What is the percentage of listening of digital vs. analog?
So do you ultimately want to improve things incrementally, or more dramatically?
Incremental improvements might include cables, both IC and power.
However, a more dramatic upgrade might necessitate a few more bucks toward speakers? Not familiar with your speakers, nor your ultimate preferences, I wouldn't want to recommend any specific brand. However, if you are looking for more headroom and dynamics, I might suggest you move to more efficient, larger driver speaker - maybe even with horn tweeters?
That might mean you'll have to wait until the additional funds are available?
I've been in this hobby for over 3 decades, and I've "waisted" my time and money on incremental tweaks. Only to be fully satisfied when I took the plunge into a great amp-speaker combo. The 100 watts of your EP should be plenty of power for an efficient speaker in the 92+ plus range? Just IMHO.
All the best,
Dave

Thank you for the advice Dave, I've been making incremental improvements for a while now and some sideways moves but I can't say I'm unhappy just mulling it over. 

The DAC is so much better than what I had before that other than the TDSS mods I'm sticking with it for a long time, especially since it features such a pre section. 

I go through analog a log and digital phases. My listening used to be mostly vinyl until the Nuprime came through my door. I really need to sit and listen to vinyl some more since I've been in a digital phase lately. It's not really that one is better than the other in all things. With the DAC I don't feel like I'm missing any details, it is dynamic and not at all hard on the ears but it is slightly less organic than the analog. The turntable presents rounder slightly larger images but with less space between due to the higher noise floor and the slightly less detailed edges. 

I can also say that I don't have a digital recording that can crush the equivalent vinyl but I do have vinyl that crushes some digital (bad recording, not dac). And some recordings sound bad no matter what you play them on, ;). But I do have plenty of digital that I like better than the vinyl at times but not by a large margin usually. 

So, incremental improvements: 
marchand xm66
tdss upgrade

ill stick with the cables I have for now

Bigger improvements: 

I really need some opinions on the carts I mentioned vs what I have and the Philharmonic BMR vs LSA because that is doable now. 

My advice is to get tickets to some live concerts.....just what I would do.
Not much time for that with two kids. Also, I'm not a huge classical fan, I appreciate it but my stable is filled with mostly rock, pop, jazz, electronic.