Looking to improve my system


I have been a member for a while and check the forum listings daily. My first posting. Looking for some advice on tweaking / improving my system which I started a couple of years ago

Before this I had a Denon amp, CD player and some JBL 4412 speakers inherited from my father-in-law, RIP.

My current system is


Primaluna EVO 400 and  Arcam A49

Q-Acoustic Concept 500 speakers

LKS MH-DA004 DAC

Bluesound Node 2i

Pro-ject Carbon Espirt SB turntable


QED XT40 speaker cables.

Blue Jean coax and RCA

Audioquest Yukon XLR

Signal Power Cable on the amp (can't remember which one but cost about $100)

The other components are using original power cables.  

Furman PL-Plus-C

GIK acoustic panels (bass traps in back corners. 7 other panels in the room)


The room is 12 X 19. 8 foot high ceilings. I sit on the long wall so I’m about 8 feet from the speakers. The speakers are an equal distance from the side walls. Today they are about 7.5 feet apart and toed in slightly. 15 inches from the wall


Mostly listen to the Bluesound either streaming through Amazon or Neil Young Archives and a hard drive or Network drive which contains my many CDs ripped to FLAC files through EAC. Very little vinyl.

My musical tastes vary

Classic jazz - MIles Davis, Art Blakey, Bill Evans but also Joshua Redman and Diana Krall

Classic and Grunge Rock - Stones, Beatles, Pink FLoyd, Led Zeppelin, Talking Heads, DIre Straits, Pearl Jam, Alixce in Chains

Acoustic music - David Grisman / Jerry Garcia Bob Dylan, Bluegrass, Neil Young.

Indie Music - Ryan Adams, Bon Iver, Lord Huron


So what is the problem? Not really sure. There are moments that are really good, but to be honest it seems never as good as a live performance.  (Not sure if you can really  reproduce the live experience and I have been to poor sounding live shows )  I would  say it does depend on the recording. Talking Heads -Stop Making Sense Psycho KIller and David Grisman / Jerry Garcia The Thrill is gone recordings are great. Miles Davis- Kinda Blue and BIll Evans -Sunday and the VIllage Vanguard are really good. But much of the rock music and indie stuff (except maybe for Bon Iver) can be lacking.


What is the problem? Not always sure but maybe a separation of instruments, or that some instruments get lost and others are too prominent. In the Miles Davis song “So What” I  love to listen to the bass, drums and piano in the background while the sax and trumpet are playing. Sometimes, even in that song, those background instruments get lost, especially the drums. Rock music is worse, Seems like no separation. Just generalizing here.  I would almost rather listen to this music in my car.

Also some music can sound harsh, at times. What I want is to not be thinking about the system but just enjoy the music and feel like I’m being enveloped by the sound. To not just hear the sound but feel it.


I feel I am set with my amps. I want the Concept 500 speakers to work but also looking at the Klipsch Forte III. (I think the Cornwall IV are too big?) Or maybe something else? Also not sure if I would change the DAC or streamer. Have looked at the Furman Elite15 PC but not sure if I want to go that way. I plan on adding a dedicated 20 amp circuit. Not sure about adding higher end cables. I don’t want to re-ignite a battle. While I can’t wrap my head around some of those cable upgrades it is more from lack of experience. I wish I could compare speaker wire, connectors and power cables, just not sure how. There was a suggestion from GIK to add some additional panels to the ceiling and more bass traps high on the back wall .


Sorry for the long post, I know there are a lot of you out there with so much experience and knowledge and I will take all suggestions openly. If there is anything I have taken from reading the posts in this forum, it's that people are passionate about their music.



stalajkowski
I have Forte III's and they are very good speakers.  Very good bass & dynamics with only a 20 Wpc amp.  I wouldn't worry about your cables at this point.  I use power cords, and some interconnects from Signal Cable and they are very good.  I also use Mogami 3104 single bi wire speaker cables along with Mogami 2549 interconnects.  I think the majority of your problems stem from lack of quality streaming (Amazon) as well as some of the music you prefer comes from an era where a lot of the recordings are very compressed.  Instrumentation will sound cluttered in the poorest of these recordings.  And since you are now stepping into better equipment your new system will reveal poor recordings even more than before,  Conversely, high quality recordings will sound beautiful.  If you decide to move to a more sensitive speaker like the Forte III's your system will become even more sensitive to recording quality.  There is a reason why I don't stream.  It is largely because most services can't even compare to a standard Redbook quality CD as far as resolution and sound quality.  I believe you need to get your source quality in check before you start looking for a possible weak link in your equipment.  I wish you the best of luck in this amazing but sometimes frustrating hobby of ours.

Keith 

Current system:  Klipsch Forte III, First Watt F7 power amp, LTA MicroZotl preamp, Border Patrol SEi DAC, Mcintosh MCT450 transport, Torus TOT Max power conditioner, power cords by Signal Cable, Digital interconnect & silver reference interconnects by Signal Cable, Mogami 2549 interconnects, Mogami 3104 Single Bi wire speaker cables by Take Five Audio.
you need to try a r2r dac, ideally with tube output



Hi Stalajkowski,
Separately from the other suggestions, (and barely disguised advertisements), you mentioned that at times or mostly, you listen to flac files on a network drive. Is this via a NAS or PC over Ethernet or wireless?
There is nothing wrong with the Node2i despite there being better. What streaming service do you use?
Similarly, the turntable isn’t the best but shouldn’t stop the music from popping.
A subwoofer is a good suggestion from 3_e_p. See if you can borrow or trial one first. There is plenty of info on subwoofers placement on this forum.
Don't spend the money until you can isolate the issue otherwise you could be sorry. Your room and furnishings are different from the other posters. And your hearing and musical appreciation also different. This post is the start of your research!  🇦🇺
My source is a DAC/streamer too, so what I have to say in response to your post is a result of many of the same issues and experiences.

- some of the musical genres you like are plagued by poor recordings, go for high rez files when possible
- your source is the weak link compared to the rest of your gear, I bought a PS Audio Directstream DAC/streamer that is pretty analog-ish sounding, just a suggestion as there are LOTS of good ones out there
- power cables make a difference
- speaker placement tweaks are free

Try not to spend too much money, unless you have money and the journey is fun for you, and never forget to enjoy the music first and your rig second.
Your walking down the street and all of a sudden you hear in a house nearby music . Inmediately you know something just by hearing the music from a distance . You know that the music playing is not recorded , you know instantly that someone is playing a musical instrument be it a piano , guitar , sax or drums .

What is it that live music has that we can instantly recognize it as live music . There are many reasons that this is so . One of them is dynamic shifts . Tonality is another one but they alone can't explain why our brain can recognize live from recorded . 

I am not sure why but I am sure someone with.more knowledge can explain this phenomena with more credibility . If I can't explain it why bring it up ? Because there is a speaker system that consistently has been able to fool me into believing I am hearing live instruments instead of a recording .

Of course there are so.many viariables in recording techniques that it depends on the recording but even then I could be hearing a so and so recording and all of a sudden a particular instrument stands out above the others that makes me say " that sounds right " 

The speaker in question are Magnepan . In my life I have never heard a speaker fool.me so many times into believing I am hearing the real thing then Maggies .And they don't have to be the expensive model . Sometimes I hear a sound believing it to come from the system but when I pay more atention the sound is really coming from the street . They are uncanny in this regard .

I've had many speaker in my life and always enjoy music threw them . Thats why I bought them to begin with . From Proac , Spicas , Martin Logans and others . Some do this or that to a very high degree giving me musical pleasure . But of all of them the speakers that have fooled me into believing I am hearing a live performance more consistently are Magnepans .