Does the NAD C541 have a IEC power cord socket? If you are using the stock cord that came with the player, try something like a Blue Circle BC61 power cord ($83 shipped), before you spend more on another CD player.
This is a no brainer, because you will want a better power cord, even if you end up getting a CD player in the end.
A better cord for the amplifier would not hurt either.
I say all this because your system looks well balanced. While you will notice an improvement from a better CD player, you would probably also need a better amplifier to fully take advantage of the upgrade.
Try something simple before getting on the never ending upgrade roller coaster.
I like the NAD CD player for the money. I am not a fan of this integrated amp, which doesn't provide much detail to my ears. I think you would see more improvment with separate amp/pre-amp from another vendor than you would with a new CD player. If you are considering buying from a dealer, haul your CD player and integrated into them, and A/B your integrated against a separates setup in your price range.
I think you would have to spend a lot of money to get a significantly better cdp, and then you might not be able to appreciate the upgrade. Your speakers are your weakest link, not your cdp, and not your amp. Their bass through mid-midrange are affected by some coloration resulting from the material the woofer is made from. The tweeter and the woofer are not really well integrated off axis, either. If you don't play them real loud (harmonic distortion will increase with spls), you might experiment with their placement in your room and make sure you're listening on-axis.
I've spoken with a dealer handling both NAD and Arcam and she states the Arcam 62 for $100 is significantly better than the NAD. You can go from there.
Thanks for the advice so far...
First of all, the power cords are fixed on the C541 and the C370.
Second...I am open to a amp upgrade, if that is certainly the weakest link. Actually, I am open to upgrading any component (CDP, Amp, Speakers).
But in the spirit of not jumping on the never-ending upgrade wagon, how would you prioritize upgrades and could anyone recommend specific units for each (CDP, Amp, Speakers). I think I'd like to tackle them one at a time and spread them out (say, over a year...)
For example: CDP, Amp, then Speakers - 1) Arcam CD72, 2) Arcam A75, 3) B&W CDM1NT.
To really upgrade your CD player as it is a really nice 24/96 set up with the trademark NAD power output section, a tube amplified AMC CD player probably would give more open, natural and more musical results as the whole CD format is digital, not warm and rich (analog) as in LP's. The next step digitally really is an SACD player but at what cost? Speakers are subjective to a listener's ear and how loud or defined you like your sound is another issue as well. In what type of room you listen and to what musical genres you like also has some weight in your decision. Any CD player is trying to mimic what a great turntable can achieve if you read many reviews of CD players in the Audio Mags. So, that being the case, wouldn't a more warm and rich sounding amplifier be the place to start? The NAD C370 is a pretty flat, pretty tame and undynamic sounding piece of audio equipment as are the older NAD C340, and the C350. Not bad, but not really a musical amplifier. I found them to be lacking in warmth, depth and in punch. If you can, try to hear the hybrid AMC 3030as tube amplifier. At under $1000.00/$400.00 used it's a nice sounding "upgrade." Or, just enjoy your stereo as is and spend your money on CD's.
May be a synergy issue:
I use an NAD C541 with a C350 into Tannoy System 8 (92dB/w) sudio monitors and get great results for jazz, blues, .... I tried this cdp into my AES/Cary tube pre and amp into Merlin VSM-Ms (which I use for classical) and thought it sounded very dull and lifeless. My guess is that you need to decide how attached you are to the B&Ws as compared to the NAD equipment. Try the NAD electronics with different speakers and the B&Ws with different electronics.
Correction: My Tannoy System 8s are 94dB/w.
Not sure if you have the most recent 541i, which I just inserted into my system a few weeks ago. Anyway, I am running a NAD C370 and the NAD C270 in bi-amp configuration with the C370 driving the highs and mids and the C270 driving the lows in a pair of KEF Q5's. Interconnects are the same as you. I've been very pleased to date.
Unless you're willing to spend more on a separate pre and amp, the C370 is a great bang for the buck. Adding the C270 in order to bi-amp allows for greater detail, dynamics and richness in the sound.
The Q5's have great tonal balance, BIG sweet spot (meaning placement is less critical), wonderful detail and are musical.
For what it's worth, the NAD 541i was chosen as a Product of the Year by What Hi-Fi? magazine last November and beat six other players in a comparison by the same magazine. The reviewers preferred it overall to players from Arcam (the CD62T), Rotel (RCD02), Roksan (Kandy CD1), Exposure (2010), a Sony and a Marantz. Having read the review/comparison, I listened to the 541i and was impressed.
My advice, if you have the 541i, or the previous 541 with a 24/96 DAC chip, add the C270 and/or think about changing speakers.
All the best!
I was reading What Hi-Fi? the other day, and saw that they recommended this Rotel combination with the B&W DM602S3s. Has anybody tried this combination?
Also, in listening to my system in the last couple of weeks, I've also been somewhat disappointed with the soundstage for my speakers, which seems very small. The sound is just not filling the room as much as I'd like...which leads me to considering speakers like the CDM1NT or Nautilus 805. But perhaps its the placement. Can anyone recommend a website on speaker placement? I'd draw a diagram of my room and ask for suggestions, but I'm not sure how I could attach it to my response...
I am also considering the 541i or C270 upgrade, thanks. Although from most posts I've seen, bi-amping doesn't seem like a popular combination...would an amp of equivalent price to a bi-amped config be more effective?
Sorry...I just noticed the Rotel combination didn't come out from the subject...it was the RA-02 Integrated with the RCD-02 CDP.
I think I have optimized my room layout...but the bed is killing the highs (in addition to the carpet).
Any comments would be greatly appreciated, thanks.
A friend of mine bought the NAD C541i receantly and it really sounds damn good, especially regarding the price. He has compared NAD and ROTEL amps side by side and the ROTEL clearly has Won the "Contest" (are also a bit pricier). So it may be a minor sonic compatibility issue with NAD amps and B&W speakers. By the way, he has B&W DM602s2 speakers. And please give these speakers room to breathe - at least half to one meter space between them and the back wall. Perhaps a bit of cable "rolling" can help before selling and buying new...
Be sure to get rid of those crap stock pre out/main in links that come with the C370. Tara labs has some link upgrades (missing links) or audioquest. You may get what you're looking for with this cheap upgrade.
deffinitely try what james_harrington2 suggested before you throw in bigger money!