Most significant upgrade

Guy and gals, I know i'm leaving myself vulnerable here so be gentle. What would you feel my most significant real world upgrade would be,,,,,,,,,keep in mind I don't want to spend my son's entire college fund on this "upgrade" so keep it real,

Peace and Love
it would help if you listed your equipment generally speakers would be the best upgrade
i think source is the best upgrade.
Not so much a upgrade in my case, but a real thrill, the Daber Monitor 3 speakers, really nice. The Xantech BT6 bluetooth wireless dock. My ipod touch now has become my wireless music server. It sounds amazingly good and does not cost a semester of college tuition. It is way cool.
Table and tonearm.
Not for nothin', but as I see it your first two -- and most important -- components are Margot Timmons and the general ambient music in New Orleans. Ask me: relax and enjoy, you're doing it just right.
Room treatments!
I think Mezmo is right, your system looks pretty good as is . To get a real "upgrade" you are going to have to spend a bit of coin. The one thing that may not cost you much but give some good results would be to sell the speakers and get a pair of Vandersteen 2CE signatures in that system.
If you ask me I would get that Rega toy out of the system and bring Nottingham Spacedeck/Spacearm in. As for the cartridge, there are many choices, it depends.
#1 speakers (location, location, location)

#2 source/preamp

#3 amp

#4 cables
Audio Research CD7 mkII
I agree with the recommendation for Vandersteen 2Ce sigs.
That's what I would change in the system. If they are not to your taste then I would leave it alone.
Your system looks pretty darn good already. What will change the way your system sounds the most would be changing speakers - not even talking better or worse, but that a change of speakers and placement within the room will make the most significant change by far. Now if you love your speakers and are asking how to make the system better centered around your current speakers, that would be a different question - and I would probably start with the amp that really matches well with your speaker of choice. And your analog source would also make worthwhile improvement - some will argue between the importance of source versus amp/speaker, but they are all important. But like said, if you want to change the basic sound you are getting, speakers first IMHO.
cool system. i needed room treatment so thats why i went that way. made a big difference for me without spending a lot of money and it was fun to experiment and learn.
Logitech Duet or Touch! While not an upgrade, the ease and enjoyment of it (for the whole family) results in more music enjoyment!
New batts in the hearing aid!
If you ask me I would get that Rega toy out of the system and bring Nottingham Spacedeck/Spacearm in.

The Rega P5 although a budget deck is quite decent. The P1 and P2 are the ones that can be classified as a toy IMO.
I'm not a fan of your speakers so my suggestion would be with the Vandersteen 2CE sigs mentioned above. If you are set with the MLs, I would suggest a matching sub.
Next on the list is room treatments.
This probably isn't the type of answer you are looking for but I have to ask do you have dedicated 20 amp circuits powering your system and what type of AC outlets are you using?
I ask this because some audiophiles would be shocked at the difference in sound when they use dedicated circuits and quality outlets.
Just a thought.
Nice system by the way.
Just kiddn.. But they do help. This is tuff with out knowing your system I could not tell you what to upgrade. you upgrade your weakest link for what you listen to.
How much are you willing to spend?
I have been upgrading for the past two years. My experience upgrading requires that I provide you two answers. I submit speakers are the foundation of a system and you should build around them. I just added an Audio Research DAC7. I don't want to exaggerate, but it sounds like I have new speakers. The sound-stage has opened up and music is much more enjoyable. I don't know if the Rega Apollo is that bad or the Audio Research is that good. Adding the DAC has had the most significant impact on improving the sound "IN MY SYSTEM."
Would depend on your budget system room and listening tastes.
Beyond all doubt, room treatment.
I do think room treatment is very important, especially so with handling of bass, and can have an impact on imaging too if you deal with side reflections, etc, but I view room treatment as an IMPORTANT tweak to optimize performance, whereas changing speakers truly changes the basic sound signature of the system, room placement and treatment optimize what the speaker is capable of along with the right amp to do the job.

So the starting point for me is, do you want to keep the speakers you have and build the system around them? Or do you want to find the best speaker for your taste (you might already have it) and start the improvements after that? OP, where do you stand on that?
I think resolving this conversation will depend on where your son goes to college...if he gets into Bates with no financial assistance you may have to sell everything and buy a small table radio...he goes to a local state school and it's HIFI BONANZA TIME!
agree with audiofeil.
Thanks for the wide variety of responses. One thing I should not is the room is set up quite differently than the pics show.......sorry for any confusion. I the ML's firing long ways in the room which is 14' x 19' with velvet curtains behind and room tune panels on the reflective surfaces adjacent via "Jim Smith's" flashlight technique. I also had no idea I had a "toy" for a turntable.......It's quite funny but I did listen to nearly every turntable and arm combo in the entire southeastern part of the US from Virginia down to Miami and for the money spent, the Rega P5 sounded pretty damn good............although the new VPI Classic 3 blew me away, but so did the price. I tend to agree with Mezmo as I am sitting back listening to Margo Timmons Live Trinity Sessions LP (after having heard them live in New Orleans) with a big freakin grin on my face.......greed can get the best of us, but I do appreciate all the comments/opinions. Both the good and the bad.

On a more specific question, I can't count on both hands how many folks have suggested the Vandy 2's, including the dealer I purchased the Rogue from. What about the Harbeth Compact 7s??

Inna: A toy?? Seriously???
The reason I suggested the 2CE sigs is because I am familiar with the sound of both your current speakers and the 2 CE sigs. For the type of music you listen to, and your integrated that you are using. The Vandersteen speakers have a frequency range of 29Hz to 29kHz, 6ohms nominal 4 ohm minimum. Your MLs are 40Hz to 20kHz, and drop down below 2 ohms in the upper frequency extremes, the Harbeths are 46Hz to 20kHz but I am not familiar with the sound of Harbeth speakers so I will not comment on that. So the Vandys will play lower than the other two. I also agree completely with the room treatment suggestions as well. BTW your Rega is not a toy.

Hi Jim,

Well i think that several items need to be addressed here.
1. Room treatment in it's scope is all very well but if you "tune" the room to your present collection of audio products then make a component change the sound will alter the playing field somewhat
2. If you start the dreaded "upgrade" path then the funds are sure to be depleted!...:-)

My advise is to MODESTLY equalize the capabilities of your sources, blending in what style of performance YOU ENJOY...
Then purchase the least expensive loom of cables that will neither enhance/subtract from the sound achieved and then purchase the software i.e. cd's,lp's or what have you.

This will save you time, money and hard audiophile lessons!


Yes, a toy. As I suggested, try Nottingham or one of those German tables - Acoustic Signature, Acoustic Solid etc. and you will agree. Yes, of course, it'll cost some money.
Well, at the very least you could upgrade to P7.
Speaking financially, serious analog starts at about $3000 new for table/arm. Plus cartridge.
You asked for significant upgarde, that's my opinion. You like your speakers so I said nothing about the possibility of upgrading them.
jake, thanks for the positive thoughts on tuning the room. I've been doing some extensive reading on the subject and have tried a few cheap diy versions with great success,,,,,,,great input brother, Thanks!
"Inna" bad mood? Funny, Some dudes that have been in the vinyl bizz for longer than I have been alive strongly recommend the P5 over the P7 as the increase in cost does not justify the return on performance, i.e. Michael Freemer and Art Dudely

I'm quite sure the Germans make a great table, hell, I work for a German company for Christ sake but to call something a toy? Come on dude, you can be more creative than that? Seriously I appreciate the opinion, just keep it peacefull man............It's just music for the soul.
More creative...I'll try. You don't seem to want to upgrade either front end or speakers. Or amp, or cables.
In a situation like that there is nothing that I could recommend. You could call my Audiolab integrated a toy too because it is though a pretty good one.
Jim, what brought the Harbeth to mind? Excellent speakers, but what are you thinking that makes you feel you might want to go in that direction? A very different speaker than the VS - also excellent. I think Inna's comments are a bit overstated (a lot?) but not atypical of the audiogon commentariat. What could be said of your TT is that is more than good enough to show improvements in tonearm and cartridges. But if significance is what you are looking for, it is speakers that will significantly change the sound you have now, though an SS amp would probably be better suited to drive you ML, not an easy load for a tube amp.
Just get an ear cleaning kit from the drug me.
Hi Jim

I looked at your system and the only thing I'd upgrade if anything was the CDP you have but then the name of your system is Screw Digital so I guess that Cambridge CDP will be there for quite some time getting dusty. I don't see where your system would need any upgrading but that is just me.

Do you have any power conditioners, audiophile outlets etc etc in your system? Are any parts of your system on dedicated lines? Maybe that would be a significant upgrade?
I couldn't find the name of the cartridge your using and you seem satisfied with your table so I'll say upgrade the cartridge.
Pubul57, I heard a pair of the Harbeth Compact 7's with my wife at my local dealer in New Orleans and we were both very impressed. Now keep in mind, it was being driven by top notch ARC gear, but none the less I was shocked at the sound coming from those relatively small speakers. I love the sound of the Vandy's but they are so damn big! ha ha, I know that is shallow, but I do agree with you 100% the Rogue or tubes of any kind bring out the 2CE like nothing I have ever heard.

Inna, Regarding the so called "refusal" to upgrade my TT, totally not the case. Why do you think I started this thread? I just don't appreciate childish mudd slinging at any product line no matter who it is. Has no reason that I have a TT that you feel is sub par, that is fine, and may be true, I just respect opinions that include more imperical data and less opinion. Maybe it's a Southern Thang?? Either way, I felt my biggest issue was the wacky impedence curve of the ML's (they dip to around 1.7 ohms @ 20k) With that said, I spoke at lenght to Mark at Rogue, and he assured me it would not be a problem and in fact they had some ML's running at their factory for sh1ts and giggles and were all running into the room to hear what speakers were playing, when they saw it was the supposed hard to drive ML's, they were quite surprised. However, it's just bugging me knowing how low these things dip, but it's all mental cause they sound pretty damn good. But I love variety, but through this thread I'm finding it may be a damn good time to sit back, have a glass of vino and enjoy what sounds very healthy so far.

Regarding the cart I have on my "toy", it's an Ortofon 2M Black suggested by the guys at Needle Dr, due to the rigid arm of the Rega P5/RB700, this was suggested over the Sumiko Blackbird. That coupled with the phonostage on the Rogue being better suited for the higer output of the Ortofon.
I too love the Harbeth sound, and if you take the manufacturer's word for it, and a large number of users, it sounds pretty darn good with a wide variety of amplifiers. It seems you have some pretty large group of devotees in the Harbeth, Vandersteen, and Merlin camps - and Maggies too (though WAF might be lower than VS). Like I said, everything is important, but the speakers are the basis of the overall sound of a system IMHO, and I think many others think the same way on system building hierachy - though in a vinyl front end, I do think there is a lot of importance and differences to be had with the quality of TT.tonearm, cartridge combinations - less so with digital in my experience.
Given your tastes in music I think the Harbeth's compact 7's are a winner. They are not the last work in bass response or dynamics but they have a nice forward mid range that is clean and clear of colorations. A little laid back in the upper mids ( you can hear this on horns ) but in a nutshell this is an EXCELLENT choice and it is without doubt the "ideal" speaker for a many folks who appreciate vocals and a good mid range!
Hey I didn't call it a toy, it seems cartridges can always be interchanged for different presentations.
Samhar, I was not directing the toy comment to you. Many apologies if you took it that way, it was directed to another contributor that called my TT a "toy". Your comments are more than respected and appreciated.
Shadorne has a very accurate take on the Harbeth. If I were not "addicted" to my Merlin, it is the speaker I would most highly consider, probably HL5. I suspect I would also like Maggies very much, but my amps are just not well suited to drive them.
Jimbojrjb, you know that I am right. Glad I could help. And I did it the way we do things in Texas. Not exactly French style, true.
Inna, are you suggesting Texan's are straightforward, or that their opinions oversized?
Straightforward but usually polite enough. Sometimes oversized too; it happens.
Yall are so much fun and oversized!! Just kiddin........seriously I'm not taking any comments/suggestions personally, I just don't like product bashing of anykind, that's all folks. :)

We may not be oversized or bigger than Texas, but down in the "Big Sleazy", the birthplace of Jazz, Louis Armstrong, and some of the best free street musicians on the planet, we love our music.....audiophile?? Not so much............Music O phile for life.

Pubul57, I would give my quarterly bonus to have a pair of Merlins, but my CFO/Wife would kill are lucky indeed my friend!!!
If you beg for mercy she might not or at least do it in style.