Thoughts on my current system


Good evening all,

I am in the process of moving in the next couple of months and might be making some changes to my current system.  Any thoughts and or recommendations would be greatly appreciated.  

System is as follows:

Amp: Aragon 8008 mk 2.....I do have an Parasound Halo A21 that is sitting in a closet.  Basically brand new
Pre amp: Audio Research LS17 se 
Source: Cary CDP 1 cd player
Speakers: Sonus Faber Venere 3.0
Wattgate 381 outlet
Speaker cables: Acoustic Zen Satori Shotgun
Interconnects: Acoustic Zen Matrix Ref mk.ii XLR 
Shunyata PS8/Defender with Zitron Alpha HC 20amp
Shunyata Zitron Viper for source
JPS Labs Pac Black for Amp & Pre amp

Everything is plugged into the PS8 including the Amp. 

Thank you in advance. 
  


adiorio
Sort of an impossible question to,answer, as is.

do you have any complaints regarding your present system? What will your listening room be like in your new place? What’s your budget?
I am in the process of moving in the next couple of months and might be making some changes to my current system.
agree with zavato - why are you making changes to your system after your move?
Thank you both for your reply.  My system sounds pretty good, although sometimes I feel it might be a bit soft.  I have thought about upgrading to the new Sonus Faber Venere S or perhaps something from Revel.  I just had the Aragon checked and its in perfect condition.  I sometimes put in the A21 as well.  In addition I would like to purchase something to take advantage of hi rez downloads. When I do move I will be in a larger room with 9 foot ceilings vs 8 foot I have currently.  It might be hard wood rather than carpet so that might have an impact too.         
Since you asked: Dig out your old LPs, spend some cash on a decent analog rig, get some soul power, and begin enjoying high resolution sound.  In any case, your Cary CDP is getting sort of long in the tooth, and that might be the weak link.

You might also try a quality subwoofer to get back some of the the primal grunt you missed when you went for those pretty and svelte Sonus Fabers.

When it comes to audio boredom (you sound bored), the B-52s had it right in "Private Idaho": "get out of that state, get out of that state you're in!"

Best of luck.
Definitely change the carpet.
So before you do anything...exactly why is there a Parasound amp sitting in the closet?  Get that thing out, hook it up and tell us how it sounds relative to the existing system.  Sometimes the desired goal is close at hand.
Thanks topten. So your saying hardwood over carpet then?
I think the Parasound a21 and Aragon 8008 is a sideways move.  Somethings one does better than the other and vice versa.  Here on AG the general feel is the A21 is better.  I bought it and have not used it much.  It probably has 50 hours on it so not totally broken in yet.         
Is this Cary a tube cd player? If it is it might be soft.
No the Cary is a solid state cd player.  My preamp is tube.  Audio Research LS17se.    
I would make the move first. Then after listening to your system in the new room, after system positioning and room treatment as applicable,
then make changes. Explore the newer file servers and DACs in the meantime for the hi-rez needs.  
That's good advice.  Thank you mesch.   
Make the move first....  You will hate the sound of your system.   It will take months of didling to get it better.  Then determine what the issues are and adjust accordingly.  When I moved it took me at least a year to get it right (still isn't...)
Your are welcome!
plug the amp into the wall socket
preamp too


Make sure you have at least one if not two dedicated 20 amp power runs from your electrical box going to some nice outlets (I use Porter Ports).  Use a wiremold power strip L10320 for everything to plug into, including preamp, into one plug outlet and amp into second outlet directly if one line.  Also you might try some Volex power cables 17504 10 B1 that are not shielded.  My Mogami RCAs have minimal shielding and my Mogami speaker cables have none.  I might try some Clear Day RCAs that are not shielded one of these days.  Check out my system info and let me know if you have any questions.  I think my system has a tube-like sound to it but it is not soft, and my SS Audio Refinement / YBA gear sounded more tube-like than a Rouge Cronus Magnum or a Vista Audio i34.
Thank for your the detail.  I'm in a shared residence/apartment so I have not been able to introduce a dedicated line.  One of the reasons I use the Shunyata PS8 along with defender because of the garbage on the lines.  Where I'm moving to I will not have this issue and will have dedicated 20 amp lines.         
It really helps to bypass that power conditioner (trust me, I’ve tried) and with minimal / no shielding it gets better. Those Volex power cables I recommend are cheap also.
Thanks sbrownnw.  Have you tried the Shunyata products?  Any experience with the Amps that I own? 
Sorry, no to both.  I have tried PS Audio Conditioners.  The Audio Refinement (YBA) line gets high praise here.
I too find that power conditioners ruin the sound of my system.....also, not a Cary fan.
Once you move and have installed the dedicated lines, I agree that you should try bypassing the power conditioner.  
I see a few say "plug the power amp into the wall outlet", and one suggested "the power and pre amps" into the wall outlet??? What is the difference/purpose of the wall vs the conditioner??? Just outta curiosity. Thanks  Joe E.
the conditioner effects the sound and can limit power available to the amp, matter of preference, equipment, local power...
You sport high end equipment! Read the list! Power conditioners do just that , condition ! But like a water filter in a sense they restrict unempedided flow! Amperage! Amperage is more important to sound reproduction than voltage! My piont: Buy a good power cord for high power amp.! Most conditioners and power regenterators ( my case Ps audio p 10) incapable of power surge requirements for proper big amp needs! My halo A51 is direct receptical with wireworld silver power cord to 20 amp receptical ! Just my suggestion!
Thanks pennsy for your detail.  I live in an area where the ac lines are not very good as it's a shared living complex.  When I move I will install dedicated 20 amp lines and be in a nice spot.  Both the Aragon 8008 & A21 are high current designs and would benefit from that I'm sure.       
i would wait until you setup your gear in your new room to see what you want to change if anything. Not sure about plugging your system directly into the wall, i think it depends on where you live. We get some good lightning storms with power fluctuations or even outages. I use 2 different power conditioners, 1 for the amp and the other for all the source equipment. I have 3 dedicated 20 amp circuits since i custom built the dedicated room. 
If you want to get into hi res music, look at a dedicated music server. I switched to a Auralic Aries a few months ago and it was a good move. 
Nice set up...if you wanted to try a different "sound" at the same quality level of gear you have, I'd try a Bryston 3Bsst2 or 4Bsst2 with your set-up. I can't tell you if you'll like it or not, but I'm pretty sure (based on my own Byston experience) it would change things up for you. It might liven up your tweeters a bit.
Adiorio, 
 I agree with what most every one is saying here. I cannot stress enough the importance of starting from a Strong Foundation to build on. It took me a long time to wrap my mind around this concept and I wasted tens of thousands of dollars through the years figuring it out.  In order to get the most bang for your buck you want to make sage changes that move you forward not side ways. It will take a while.

Keep the components you have, set up in the new room. Start by Investing with Power, Power, Power. Think of your power distribution as the main component in your system. You want to maximize the performance of all of your components together through a maximized power delivery system. Get a great power distributor, not conditioner. There is a Weizhi on Agon now, they do not come up often. Oyaide makes an excellent one as well. Look to Oyaide R1 receptacles rather than Wattgate. There is also a pair of Thales Speaker Cables also rare on Agon. Their Interconnects are best in the industry for the price. Take advantage when ever possible.  JPS, makes good power cords which you have,  Analysis plus Oval 2 also very good, Regular Ovals even better.  

Once you get the power sorted out then look to methodically change up your components.  Educate yourself on the companies that build the components, speakers etc. You want companies that are dedicated to building great products that you are spending thousands on. Start with your CDP. Exogal, the old Wadia team is doing some interesting things. Sonus Faber speakers today are not the same company they were years ago. Older models are  better. Also Check out Devore, there are a pair of Silverbacks also up on Agon.  Your ARC Pre Amp is better than most builds today, but Rogue Audio has great products, maybe a better option when you are ready. 

When you get the components that you are happy with, then start on your tweaks.  Good Luck


Thank you ggc for the detail.  It's good stuff and I agree.  Some of the items you mentioned I need to become familiar with.  Some of the products I currently own I feel are worth hanging on to and building around them.  Others probably not like you said.  Have you had any experience with either of the amps that I own?    
your amps are both very good, but a matter of preference...I do not like the A21, but many find it outstanding...
Just curious jl35.  What didn't you like about the A21?  Have you heard the Aragon 8008bb?
I heard the Aragon in an unfamiliar system. In a system I knew well, I much preferred the Odyssey Khartago and Stratos amps to the A21, which were also less expensive.
the amps were filling in for a Pass X250.5 which was in for repair. I found the Odysseys to be a great bargain...
how about a jl audio fathom f112 or f113 to add some punch to the lower end

Adiorio, 

I do not have extensive experience with the amps you have. When Mondial first producing the Aragon, I did consider getting it. I liked the build quality and the look. I ended up falling into a fantastic deal on some Conrad Johnson Units that I could not walk away from at that time.   

What I have come to realize over the years is that it is more about how you match the electronics together and how you get there to accomplish your goals.  The Aragon you have has a dual mono amp configuration with a very solid frequency response. I suspect that there is not enough power getting to the amp to realize its full potential. It's like having a mid century muscle car that you only use to go to the grocery store. It's built to go
120 mph, when your only going 35.

Like you, years ago, after the CJ's - I had an amp that I was generally happy with but was considering getting a larger amp to get more.. everything.  Every Audio buddy/salesman was telling me yeah get this or that. Spend More $$$ ( a sideways move)  - I was fortunate enough to meet some one who explained to me, its not the amp, its the power.

I always knew I had to address the power issue, but had only done a half ass job of it because honestly who wants to invest that kind of money into something you can't see. How sexy is a power cord compared to an Amp.
To prove his point he loaned me one power chord that cost as much as my mono block Amps. I plugged it into the wall socket and then into my power distributor. I could hear the difference in the first 30 seconds. It took over the entire sound stage and opened up everything!!!

Instead of spending more $$$ on new amps I got new power cords, interconnects, speaker cables and power distributor. I have spent as much on power distribution as I have on components and speakers.  Eight years later I still have the same amps and speakers. That's not to say I have not considered up grading, but now I know for sure that any component or speaker that I consider I will get a true reading on. 
I concur- ggc

power cords are essential- one has to find its inner synergy to mate w/ the other gear in your system.

I will put my vote in to replace your Wattgate outlets.  The Wattgate product are decent for what you pay (low cost), but they are made from brass.  I have found that brass has a really negative affect on the sound -- it imparts a very shouty sterile type of sound.  I took a quick look at the Shunyata outlet -- it's made from brass as well!! ugh.

One user here recommends the Oyaide R1.  This may be a good choice as it's made from beryllium copper.  However, it uses platinum and palladium plating - which I cannot guess as to the sonic character.

I have found the Furutech FPX-Cu un-plated copper outlets are very nice and neutral in sound.  The gold plated and rhodium plated both introduce their own character to the sound, which you may like or not like.

Whatever you choose it up to you, but I do agree that the Wattgate outlets have go to go! lol.

another vote to try without the power conditioner.  your not really hearing the real sound of your equipment. 

Yes, another vote.  At least connect the amp directly to the wall outlet.  The amps need a LOT of current and that is restricted by the power conditioner.  Also, amplifiers are less sensitive to conditioning, when compared to preamps and sources.  They have an enormous transformer and capacitor bank to help with filtering.

I looked over your equipment list and I see that every single piece has Class A circuits (CD, preamp and amp).  That's a LOT of Class A in the signal chain, in my opinion.  Do you feel that you want more clarity in the sound?  Generally, in my experience, too much Class A in the signal chain will start to remove clarity and crispness in the sound.  Sure, the music will become fuller with more bass/midbass, but it can start to get muddy and "separation of instruments" will begin to suffer. 

I like to have just one/two Class A devices in my audio chain, usually just a Class A preamp.  Then the amp and source should be standard circuits (not Class A).  The Parasound is biased high into Class A (I don't know how much) like the 8008.  I believe the 8008 had a bias of 26 watts into Class A.

Oh, just figured out that the JPS Labs Pac Black  power cords are using the Wattgate brass A/C and IEC connectors as well.  You will probably want to replace these connectors with something like the Furutech connectors.  Use unplated copper for the AC male and gold-plated for the IEC.
Yes that is true.  The Aragon 8008bb is class A to 26 watts and a larger power supply than the A21.  You might be right about the class A theory.  
I never heard this about the Wattgate connectors but I will look into it and check out some other options.  Thank you.  

I don’t know if you would find anything on the net about brass connectors. I just happened to discover it after some different combinations. I actually had Hubbell brass plugs and Hubbell brass outlets on my main home theater system for the longest time. On a completely different system, I had just happen to put in a power cord with the Wattgate brass plugs and all of a sudden I said "hey, this is the same type of sound I’m getting in my home theater" -- it was not a good sound. That’s how I discovered the effects of brass components.

Here’s a link to some of my impressions on Furutech/Neotech connectors:


https://forum.audiogon.com/discussions/furutech-vs-neotech-gold-plated-schuko-sound-quality

Only power products I have ever used that DO NOT screw up the sound and actually lower the noise floor of your system is Transparent.  Transparent and MIT power cables are also superior to others....they let the beauty through and leave the grunge at the outlet!