If it ain't broke,don't fix it. Sure, there's better stuff available now but why worry? If you're happy with the sound, be content. Stressing over this stuff makes music less enjoyable,IMHO.
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Over the last 10 years good inexpensive DAC's have become the norm. And they are MUCH better than anything before 2000, especially with CD's.
If money is constrained I would highly recommend yo listen to Schiit.
If you have a little more money, Mytek.
Just night and day for CD playback.
Everything else I think would probably be fine. I mean, you can find different now, but not better, and certainly not for free. :)
Technology has improved by leaps and bounds in those 30 years.
If you can use the Marantz as a transport, I would invest in a good DAC like an Ayre Codex or Schiit Gungnir or Yggy. Not too much money, but lots of quality performance. And, they offer updates when available.
Also, I wouldn't spend more than $2K for a DAC, as they have been improving so quickly, and that $2K can get you something that will sound as good as something more expensive.
I'd be Excited for your Old! Depends on what your trying to accomplish with "Any NEW??" I just Fired up all my Old.. too much to list, yet the Old Power Supplies are the BEST! -- I have a 1992 DAC from Howard Mandel who since passed - seperate power supply and compared to New DAC's and you have to spend 5K Plus to out preform that - his CD Transport too, Thiel Speakers, Maganapan's, old Kenwood reciever in wood case and so on.. MOST Important Clean, Blow Dust D irt out from Air vents on side, better yet take the top/side off and Blow out Good.
Clean all your RCA's and if they are the el cheapo's get good ones you will notice a difference.. Good Luck..
I’m still using a 1964 Sansui 1000a tube receiver with a modern dac and newer speakers. Sounds great. Just had it completed rebuilt. Should be good for another 20 yrs.. The worst thing is purchasing the 7591a power tubes which are expensive. I agree with other members and would look into a nice dac.
1984 Klipschorns, NAD 1600, Mc 275, Mcd 707 the Node 2i is the only thing new. Happy with all of it, solid old equipment beats the snot out of a lot of the expensive new stuff. There was much greater sales volume of HEA in the 70s and 80s, more volume = better profits = better r&d. Imo those solid old components can't be beat. I listened to a set of speakers the other day that darn near made my ears bleed, they cost as much as a house and had diamond tweeters, and sounded awful. Certain things just work, tubes,horns, solid engineering.
Like you said, it was one of the best in its' day, but that was more than 20 years ago. I think you'll find just about any DAC built recently will be a significant improvement.
I found a link to another forum (hopefully allowed) asking the same question:
I dont know those specific components well, but in general i agree with Eric and others. The preamp is probably fine the DAC likely can be vastly bettered ( and Schiit is a great place to start). I can't speak for the Marantz, but bear in mind that SPDIF is NOT, repeat NOT, a purely digital signal - no time to go into why, by you need a low jitter output.
A new DAC with USB and/or network in also lets you move toward the future, which is streaming.
I am constantly amazed that stuff that was great 30 years ago is often still great. But not digital.
Oh, one interesting caveat. We had a group listn to two old DACs - that were eye -popping whne they came out 20-25 years ago, and one new one, a schiit BiFrost Multibit. Long story short the 1994 Theta DSPro hung on with the Schiit - and was generally a little weightier. Still a top notch, musical product. Note Mike designed both.
Yes, I got the same take on those thread. So, maybe I'm wrong. The only way to tell is try and audition some more contemporary DAC's. Though I have to say DAC's from the 90's never contemplated the high resolution being offered today.
Re USB, a touchy subject...
For me, I loathe USB. Way too twitchy and dependent upon all the equipment around it. Just look at all the products offered to help clean up the USB signal.
I prefer optical. You just can't pinch it -(like Verizon did. It took 9 months for a tech to find the problem of my services dropping erratically).
I had my my Classe Audio preamp and amplifer since 1990 and only changed as I blew up the amplifier trying to adjust DC offset on amplifier. My Magnalab tuner has been going on 30 years. If you are happy with the sound no reason to change out. I do agree that digital has come a long way particularly in handling jitter. A reasonably priced DAC may be in order.
If money is constrained I would highly recommend yo listen to Schiit.That's the problem. The Schiit is plentiful. We need upgrades! :)
I have to applaud the music loving OP and a couple of other posters for getting a system you love and just...*loving it* for 20 & 30 years. It screams 'mentally stable'.
I know I'm not alone when I say there have been about a dozen amps in my life during that span. And PREAMPS. Christ, I can't even remember more than a handful of 'em.
Another option for the OP, if you love your stuff that much, perhaps you might think about 'modding' your pieces with some, if not all, of the caps replaced. Look at it like preventive maintenance, and it is. Old is magnificent, but caps do dry out.
So you can try out a Schiit Bitfrost MB directly from Schiit. If you don't hear a moving difference, bounce it back. They take returns.
And the mods, you can spend anywhere from a couple of hundred to a serious $600 or so. Depends on who, what, where.
I think where audio has improved the most since your last major gear purchases in two area's.
In both digital but really the most amazing growth is the outstanding sound you can get on a real budget and not an audiophile budget so to speak. Great sounding products for prices that have never offered this level of performance in the past.
I will hook you up - I just found these for you that will make a versatile, modern and seriously good system for money that just wasn't available in the past.
Use your current amp and cd player as a transport.
$330 - Elac UniFi UB-5 Book Shelf Speakers
$330 - Schiit Bifrost DAC D/A Converter; USB
If you can afford a little more money this below will be entire system re-fit for dirt cheap with some reviews for you to read also. Insane level of performance for dollar spend that just should not be possible but is.
$689 - Tower Speakers
$799 - Stereo Amp, Preamp, DAC for CD and PC Audio
You don't need to research or look into anything else.
Use your CD player for a transport and your desk top PC for Tidal - Roon and have access to thousands of albums on your smartphone with a level of sound that your current system could not dream of for a sum of money that is very reasonable.
Sure your system now is fine but this stuff will leverage the growth in performance for dollar spent better then maybe anything else you could find after months and months and research and I did it all for you in 5 minutes,
Your welcome :)
Whilst I appreciate your advice @fsmithjack I personally far prefer going to my vinyl and CD shelves than turning on a computer or hard drive. Call me old fashioned. There’s something immensely pleasurable about simply handling those records and CDs that are associated with many personal memories. I could never get used to using a hard drive or streaming as it wouldn’t feel right. (I do listen to music on an iPhone when I travel on the train though!)
I’m also very comfortable with my other kit and those are the bits I have changed over the years. I think I’ve been through at least four turntables, three power amps and five pairs of speakers over the years - I only mentioned the old bits I hadn’t seen fit to change as I’ve been very happy with them.
I guess following all the advice, it’s the DAC that I’m now focusing on...
Oh great, that makes sense now. I thought all was of that not changed or updated vintage. So you have a turntable, amp and speakers you are happy with. Nice, that makes it much easier for you to really get a nice bump in sound quality..
I don't know what your cash limit is I totally understand how you appreciate using physical medial with CD and Records. That is great and good for you.
I think as far as bang for buck if you can afford this below it will be great add for you.
Read about it but it really will provide a level of performance that is state of the art and in the last year or they have dropped a lot in price to make it an amazing performance per dollar spend.
I owned one for a while before I switched to PS Audio DirectStream DAC and then to Bricasti M1SE DAC and honestly this DAC legit competed with those world class SOTA Dacs and for $1,500 bucks I don't think anything can touch it. You will use your CD player now as the transport and just need to make sure you also get a good solid little cable to attach your CD player transport to this DAC
Auralic Vega D/A Converter $1500
Stereophile Class A
" Summing Up
I am tempted to declare that, at $3499, the Auralic Vega is a bargain. For just over 5% of the price of the dCS Vivaldi three-piece DAC, the Vega got remarkably close in sound quality,
Read more at https://www.stereophile.com/content/auralic-vega-da-processor-page-2#4AMhi0EvyLraFYcS.99
If this DAC is too much money then grab one of these below but if you can afford the $1500 you will love it.
A couple less expensive options below For using with your CD player I think the Benchmark is better. An older but very fine unit.
Benchmark DAC-1 $350
Schiit Bifrost DAC D/A Converter; USB $335
My B&W DM 14's are 38. My 803 Series II are 22. My Acoustats are 33. My Audire amps are (Forte) 38 and 22; and 35? (Parlando). My two turntables are 40 (DD) and 35 (Bele) with 3040 year old arms from Grace, Formul 4, and Signet. My tuners are 40, 40, 40, (Kenwood 1979) and 22 (B&K). My subs cabinets are 25 with newer, Peerless drivers at about 15+, plus some others with older drivers from 1970's DM16's. My Audire preamps, Diffet 2, 3, and 3, plus POCO head amp, are 30+, 38, and 20+. My CD player is the newest at 10. The only thing needing repair is two caps on a preamp power supply, and Stereo needles.
Buy good stuff, and it lasts. No, I have not just sat back. I have owned to audition Classe with much more power, NAD, Mark Levinson, Adcom, Sumo, GAS, and a lot more Classe. Only JC labeled (John Curl) Mark Levinson was good enough, with Classe being at least very interesting, but I kept all Audire electronics.
I listened to Dizzy's All Star while typing this. Now for some Yo Yo! Then, maybe Violent Femmes or Portugal. TM.
Ha! Nice one @danvignau
I’m with you. The focus is on whether I should update my Aragon D2A DAC cos it’s 28 years old, and it’s the one digital component I have and so the one that should benefit most from an update. I’ve been a sucker for Aragon ever since I heard a 4004 power amp in 1990. Bought it and loved it for 27 years, and that lead me into the 24k pre-amp with phono stage (love my vinyl) and the D2A DAC to accompany the Marantz CD80 used as transport.
So far the jury is still out. The Aragon DAC has a separate power supply and is still very highly regarded it seems. Not sure I want to risk swapping it for a soul-less new box of silicon chips.
@vinyloidStick to your current dac. There is always something better out there. But you have avoided the merry-go-round for a really long time. Keep doing it!
I myself am a CD nut as well. I get so much joy buying new and 2nd hand. Totally great. I advise you to focus on the music, not upgrading. Because if you bought that Schiit, why stop there? Why not buy something even better? Of buy a better CD transport! Not to mention synergy problems....
Don’t get suckered in
I am really all for getting older equipment that sounds good, BUT no matter how you slice it, wherever there are electrolytic capacitors, their days are numbered. Mostly, at the 20+ year mark, they may not be living up to their specifications. Maybe only a little bit down, maybe more. There isn't any way around it. Fortunately, most capacitors are relatively inexpensive, and the newer ones have better /tighter specifications as well. Sometimes, I replace the old RCA connectors too. This is much like finding a classic car. Don't screw it up, but do maintain it with maybe new shocks, plugs, etc. to get it performing to at least as good as new.