Thoughts on a system upgrade.

I have been following and enjoying the posts on Audiogon for about six months now and am posting for the first time looking for advise and ideas on what to do next with my system. I would consider myself a budget Audiophile although some of you may have a different opinion of my self assigned classification. 

I am looking for ideas on improving the weak link(s) in my system possibly with replacing one component and am looking to invest approximately another $2500. I also understand that I could use many smaller improvement tweaks and welcome all comments. 

My system is in a 14’ x 14’ room with a 12’ ceiling. My speakers are about 12’ apart and my primary listening position is centered at the 12’ point of the triangle from the speakers and consists of the following.

PS Audio Stellar Gain Cell Preamplifier/DAC

Music Hall MMF-5 Turntable with Hana EL MC Low Output Cartridge

Clearaudio Smart Phonostage V2

Bluesound Node 2i 

Nakamichi MB-10 CD Player

The Power Cables on the electronics above are a combination of Shunyata Yenom 3 and V14, and Audioquest NRG-Y2. Interconnect Cables are a combination of Pangea Premier and Premier SE. 

The electronics are housed on the wall to the right of the speaker wall on the top half of a very heavy two piece wall unit. I have no options to move them anywhere else.

The electrical outlets are on a dedicated line to the breaker box with standard household wiring. 

PS Audio Stellar S300 Power Amp positioned to the center of Vandersteen Treo speakers and connected with Bluejeans-Belden 12 AWG speaker cables. The Amp is connected to the Preamplifier with 22’ Bluejeans-Belden XLR Balanced Interconnects. The Amp is positioned on the bottom shelf of an end table with a Butcher Block Acoustics platform. I don’t have an option for a dedicated Amp Stand.

The Amp is connected to the wall outlet and a Furman 215A Conditioner with Audioquest NRG-4 Power Cables.

I listen to Classic Rock, Progressive Rock, and Americana for the most part and occasionally Jazz and Classical. Vinyl when in a serious listening mood and CD’s and Streaming for exploring and convenience.

I have been considering upgrading my TT to a Clearaudio Concept w/Satisfy Tonearm and a Hana Shibata MC Cartridge. I’m not actually sure if the TT is the weak link in my system so welcome comments. 

 I’ve read many times on this forum that your ears are the best test of what sounds good and mine are quite happy but I have the bug to keep improving and as a friend of mine says it’s a slippery slope.

With that said I welcome comments and I hope I have given enough detail as I will not be available real time to answer any question. Thanks to everyone.

Since you don't seem to really be displeased with anything then you get my standard recommendation, which is to elevate the whole system with tweaks. Since so many short sell tweaks you might want to take a look at my system and read the comments from those who have heard it. This system far outperforms anything anyone would expect given the component list. Its the BDR Cones and springs, Synergistic HFT, PHT, ECT, and Fuses, PPT TC and Mats. That's the difference. The beauty of these over buying another component is these are forever upgrades. These will benefit you now and forever. Long after whatever component you might otherwise have bought has come and gone.  

Some of the least likely ones turn out to be the most cost-effective. Cable Elevators, for example. Read my Moab thread, the last ones here heard the improvement easily. 

Another recommendation, also for the long term, is a DBA. Don't buy "a" sub, buy 4 of them. In your room especially, the smaller and worse the room the bigger and better the improvement from using a DBA. 

The bass you get from a DBA is so good you will probably be set for life. Depending on how you decide to go it could run you $2k to maybe close to $4k. If you're willing to do a little DIY then Audiokinesis has a kit you screw and glue together that is hard to beat. Or you could buy four used subs, of just about any type. It really doesn't matter, as you will see looking at my system there are 2 ported subs, 2 sealed, and one powered. So don't worry about which sub to buy. Stay focused on getting four and you will be fine.

If you do the tweaks your soundstage will open up, your speakers will disappear, clarity of detail and dynamics will massively improve. If you go the DBA route then soundstage detail won't improve as much, but you will feel a much greater sense of envelopment, of no longer being in your room but being in the recording hall instead. You can get more bass with one or two subs. With four you get this awesome feeling of envelopment.

So there you go. Take your pick. 
what do you wish were improved about how your system sounds?

your system is pretty nice and seems reasonably well balanced in terms of components 
Thank you to millercarbon for the response and advice. For a start I am going to look into adding the BDR Cones and Discs and Ceramic Cable Elevators in addition to some of the other tweaks that you have mentioned. Adding the sub-woofers is something that hadn't crossed my mind and I will be looking into that in the future. Thanks.
jjss49, Thanks for the response. I guess since I don't have anything to compare to on what could be improved in the sound of my system I am just searching for ideas from looking just at the hardware alone. 
I appreciate your comment and may just look to the tweaks mentioned above for now and see where it takes me. 
Not a single mention of ROOM ACOUSTICS,from OP or repliers...If the room acoustics isn't balanced no tweak or component upgrade will matter...
I had another response asking if I had tried connecting power from the Amp directly to the wall outlet and I did and did not notice any difference in the sound. Using the power conditioner is more of a concern about power surges as some of my neighbors had lost electronics from nearby lightning strikes. Not sure if it would help but it's there just in case and does not appear to degrade the sound.
Another comment was in reference to the Interconnect Cables and Speaker Cables and that they may be one of the weaker links in the system so I may look at some higher quality cables also. 
Thank you for the suggestions.

freedriver, thanks for the response. I agree that Room Acoustics could definitely help but they would need to be on the inconspicuous side as my system is in a room that is not always a dedicated audio room. 
I appreciate the suggestion. 
I strongly disagree with Millercarbon.
You're (square room) is the main problem. 

Look into investing in acoustical options. This investment will never let you down.


As @slaw said:

’I strongly disagree with Millercarbon.
You’re (square room) is the main problem.

Look into investing in acoustical options. This investment will never let you down.’

I agree too.

I normally wouldn’t suggest room treatments first but your room is similar to mine (13 x12 x 8) but with a higher ceiling. Yes, almost box shaped!

So I would also go with possible room treatments. At the least have a good listen for any issues with bass or excessive reflections/cancellations.

Perhaps you could look at a few simple room treatments. Maybe a wall hanging or bookshelf on your left hand wall etc? Or heavier curtains/ drapes etc?

Maybe try the speakers a little closer together perhaps. [unless the Treos are designed to be put in the corners]. Speaker placement is going to be crucial in your room I suspect so I’d recommend carefully marking the existing positions before any experimenting though, just in case moving makes things get worse.

Your system already seems well balanced, so you might want to look at improved feedback/ resonance isolation for your Music Hall MMF-5. Or maybe another turntable with good isolation properties.

Both the Technics SL1200G or even the GR should be a step up.

As ever turntable siting is important.

Sometimes more important than the deck itself.
I would have to agree that money spent on acoustic treatments would be the most effective use of your funds--especially given you are fundamentally happy with your gear.

Many of the manufacturers of acoustic treatments make products that are quite attractive.  The choice of fabrics is tremendous.

You mentioned a need for perhaps upgraded IC's.  I just made a pair of Helix IC's and they are great--a fun project as well

You have nice stuff. Before spending more money, have you spent any time playing with speaker placement? What aspect of the sound are you looking to improve? What is your target sound and in what ways are you not hitting the bullseye at present?  Have you heard another system that sounds more like what you are looking for?
’I strongly disagree with Millercarbon.
You’re (square room) is the main problem.

Right. That's the answer. Tear down the house and build a new one.

Sorry OP, people with no experience with a DBA so sure they know how it can't be the answer. Even though it is. 

Orwell said something to the effect you can tell all the stories (I think he said lies) you want it doesn't matter, the truth just stays there right where it was the whole time.

Oh and by the way guys its not a square room. Its a cube. Sound goes all 3 dimensions. Pity the poor misguided soul takes your advice.
I agree you system is nice and well balanced.  I think you could go after the Bluejeans and Pangea cables.  I have no experience with Pangea but I had Bluejeans XLR interconnects and while they are better than stock and a great value it was easy to hear what I was missing with Wireworld eclipse 7's.  I have moved on to mostly Wywire's for interconnects and power cords.  Using the digital power cords for digital does make a difference in resolution.
I have also gone nuts with PS Noise Harvesters, its crazy what a few of them can do to quiet the background.  But the interconnects and PC's used.
Thanks for all of the input on acoustic treatments and while I don't doubt I could get some improvement the layout of the room with a wall unit, windows (with shutters), and glass doors limits the amount of wall space that I have for hanging just about anything. With that said I do have a few spots where I could experiment with a few 12" x 36"- 48" panels and will see what I can find in that size range. 
cd318, thanks for the input on the turntables. I have a basic surround sound system in our family room and I have my old Technics SL-3200 on that system and it is still kicking and doesn't sound bad but gets very little use. I didn't realize Technics was still in the TT game and will look into them when researching TT's in the future when I'm ready to take that next step. I had mentioned that I was also looking at Clearaudio and can't say I have ever seen anyone on Audiogon promote them. 
You know how they say a supermodel works the runway?

Super audiophiles work the same way. They have the goods and know it because they learned how to work the room. They might actually end up saving a lot of money  if they learn to do it really well.
Tweaks are capable of bending the laws of physics and can turn square acoustics into rectangular ones. You just aren’t using the right mat or have enough subs. A well-placed cone can actually alter the speed of sound thereby improving acoustic reflections. Skip the room treatments and get a better fuse in your amp. This is so simple.
Your system is well balanced.  There isn't an immediate "weak link".
This will sound like a broken record, but go get a room consultation with GIK.  Potential improvement with proper acoustical treatment is greater with the kind of outlay you're looking at than with anything else (cartridge, cables, tweaks, etc.).
Thanks for the information on GIK. I will be curious to see what they have to say with the "Minimal Treatment" box checked.

With that said I like the idea of trying some of the smaller tweaks as I am a believer in the Theory of Continuous Improvement and that small improvements add up to the sum of their parts. You get closer to perfection with every step you take and as you get closer to your goal the steps become smaller and smaller. 

I gave Stevie Ray Vaughan's Texas Flood a spin this morning and to my ears it sounded pretty damn good but in my head I know it can get better so I will continue on.

Good thread. MY first observation, as a Vandersteen owner for over 20 years:

I religiously follow Richard V’s speaker placement instructions that came with the speakers in the owner’s manual. They have never let me down. FWIW.

My next step is room treatments, especially ASC Tube Traps to tame the bass loading. Still researching other options... one can sink a ton of dough into treatment goodies with small returns if not careful.
I agree. They make a great speaker with great support and they have answered all of the questions I've asked right away. I'm a big promoter of Vandersteen and have never doubted my decision to go with the Treo's.
Following up on a few suggestions on upgraded fuses which I never thought would make a difference but since it was mentioned by a few people in the know it has gotten my curiosity up. I checked out the Synergistic website and see they have a few options of Orange and Blue in the $125 price range. My Preamplifier is user serviceable for replacing fuses from the back panel of the unit but the Power Amp is not. I don't have an option without cracking into my Power Amp but in general which unit would one get the most impact from with upgraded fuses? Thanks.