Upgrade Clearaudio Performance DC or move up to Ovation?


Currently considering upgrading my Performance DC with Tracer tonearm to an Ovation. I can trade in the Performance DC for an Ovation for a good price from the dealer I originally got the Performance DC from. I plan on keeping the Tracer arm so it is basically table for table. I would transfer my Hana ML cartridge to the Ovation if I upgraded.

Context:
I auditioned an Ovation (in my system) with a tracer and the Hana ML some time ago and felt it was a clear step up in detail and refinement, although not night and day above the Performance DC. At that time it seemed worth it but I didn’t pull the trigger. At that time my Performance DC had a Clarify tonearm on it and the Hana, so what was hard to tell is how much of the upgrade was the tonearm and how much was the table

Fast forward and I have added the Tracer tonearm to the Performance DC and it was a really nice step up. A lot of research led me to the conclusion that the Clarify with the magnetic bearing tonearm was a real dog and the swap to the Tracer proved that out in my setup. I am also (now) running a linear power supply on the table, Grand Prix Apex footers, and a Stillpoints record weight. Only the Apex footers were present at the time I auditioned the Ovation.

My dilemma is how much is the Ovation table itself going to get me? It has the Panzerholz plinth and the optical speed control which should be better, but to what degree is hard to tell? Maybe a cartridge upgrade is a better path? What I would like is more refinement, detail and openness. Maybe my bottleneck is the Hana?

I have searched a lot for forum chatter on the Performance DC and it is one of those tables that for whatever reason is not that talked about, or the discussion out there doesn’t seem all that valuable for upgrade purposes.

Anyone with experience getting the most out of the Performance DC or upgrading to Ovation?


Ag insider logo xs@2xmekong56
You have done a lot of work there.  At some point it is either a leap of faith and spring for it, or simply decide to live with it.   Ovation does have a good reputation, which is something to consider.  Fundamentally, it will have to be your decision based on your studies.
I like the Ovation, but yeah -- it’s going to be hard to say that a focus on cartridge, phono stage, and/or isolation wouldn’t net you more gains per $ for now (though Hana ML should be a pretty solid match already). You also already made a GREAT move dumping that Clarify for a Tracer!

Perhaps set sights on a bigger upgrade (e.g. Innovation Compact) for a longer/later timeline. Your dealer might even temp you with a nicely priced demo model at some point? Jumping up one step at a time isn’t as fun as it seems -- the Clearaudio lineup has a LOT of small-ish steps all the way up, the upside being that more people can initially find the "right" table for their budget, but the downside being that navigating upgrades can be nebulous, as you’ve found out.
spatial king-

Duly noted, and I’m at that point. Sometimes I just need help getting off the dime!
mulveling-

Great advice, and honestly this is what my gut has been telling me (that the Ovation might not be enough of a jump). My dealer did tell me that he didn’t feel the Innovation Compact Basic would be any better than the Ovation, just a different form factor. A move further up the line may require more patience but likely more rewarding in the end.

And yes, it is nebulous, as are many things in this hobby :)
@mekong56 what did you decide on? I'm considering the Performance DC Wood or the Ovation coming from my Concept Wood. I don't think the Ovation value is there at almost twice as much as the DC Wood.
j-wall -

I ended up sticking with the Performance DC. I may try upgrading the cartridge but I'm pretty happy as it is. I did add an Origin Live "Gravity One" record weight and that elevated things over the Stillpoints LPI weight. I just don't know as it is enough to go to the Ovation for the price of admission. I would guess the Performance Wood will give you a bit more warmth over the standard DC. I did think the Ovation was a bit warmer than the DC (which I liked), and I attributed that to the panzerholz wood plinth.

I may audition the Ovation one more time, as my local dealer will let me take their demo home but at this point I am not really itching to do that.
I went from a Concept Wood (w/ Satisfy arm) to Ovation w/ Tracer.  The Ovation performs flawlessly, and presents a fuller, yet more nuanced sound, with a complete "black" background.  It's a perfect table for me, and brings me joy.  That said, I'm not sure the move to DC to Ovation would be worth the cost.  Concept to Ovation, sure.