Weak Link in chain as I upgrade from mid-fi?

This is a long post but want to be thorough in giving my setup and thoughts on it. Any feedback or thoughts welcome:

I finally caved and started to invest in a stereo setup after years dedicated to head-fi. Currently it's a 'starter' 2 way system focused entirely on digital and I'm pretty happy with it but want to sort of map out a good upgrade path, and am curious what if any 'obvious' weaker links I have in my chain...if theres something I could make a singular upgrade for and notice improvements without having to change a whole lot at once


SF Sonetto i
Arcam SA-20 for amp + dac
Bluesound Node 2i for streaming/Roon
Marantz CD-5005 for transport

I love the SF...maybe Id endgame at Olympica Nova or Electa amator standmounts or Sonetto V floors. I generally subscribe to the thought of affording the most full range in a 2.0 possible before getting standalone subs but if theres a sub that would blend well with my current Sonetto i's musically id be interested to know about it.

The Arcam is a purchase Im also very happy with for now. I do want a bit more convenience of the sort the Sa30 would provide, Roon endpoint, wireless etc, but when I do upgrade amp might opt for standalone dac/streamer and better analog int amp.

The CD5005 I like enough but curious how much more Id need to spend to get noticeable improvement, especially given the other gear I have. I only use it as transport currently. I can't even tell what Im missing...beyond knowing just how much better a system could be overall from my local hifishop listening.

If it matters, I want to stick with integrated as I upgrade, and maybe endgame with a Luxman 505 or something all analog, which would mean a proper dac as well (maybe replace blue sound as well to get a nice dac/streamer?)

I will not anytime in the foreseeable future have a 'listening room'...it will for a long time be combined living room/tv/stereo setup.

Open to any feedback or thoughts! 



Way back in the day, Arcam made some good CDPs and their Brit-integrateds were competitive.  But then they went off into class H, and that model and subsequent never seemed to get any traction, at least in the US.  There are literally dozens of excellent integrateds in the 3K-10K range, and there are a lot of threads about them on this site.

i think the op is knowledgeable enough to parse through the myriad of comments and ’advice’ posted thus far, separate good advice target to his situation and needs, from the garbage

i would only add a few add’l points here for his benefit

1 - don’t underestimate hegel... they know what they are doing, their gear is really excellent

2 - i agree that arcams’ sound has left me cold for a good long while (cool, shrill sound, little heft or body to the music), but i have not tried their more recent stuff (last 3-4 years) - the nice warmth in his s-f speakers are likely compensating for this presently

3 - op’s sonus fabers should scale up decently for a few upgrade moves, the most significant of which is to integrate in a decent sub (or two)... that would be the most transformative equipment improvement imo (assumes his room and setup are decent)

Get decently efficient speakers (high sensitivity and moderate impedance/phase angles) that will allow use of a wide range of amplifiers. Then upgrade the rest from there. Good examples are the DeVore Orangutan 0/93 or 0/96, or Spendor D7.2. 

Don’t run out and buy B&W 800s or Wilsons. Not only will they not pair well with your current amp, they will highly limit your amplifier choices going forward. 

Don’t run out and buy B&W 800s or Wilsons. Not only will they not pair well with your current amp, they will highly limit your amplifier choices going forward.

The flip side of this is that going with high-efficiency speakers will greatly limit options there.  Always trade offs. 

There are some parallels to where you’re starting from and where I started. I used an Arcam AV40 and PA240, both of which I still have. It was good for what it is and both still remain although the AV40 is purely for AVR duties.


I now have a fully separate 2 channel system and there is no comparison with the Arcam. Lumin U1 -> Denafrips Terminator Plus dac -> Pass Labs XP22 -> PA240 -> Focal Kanta 3s. It's my first foray into 'hi-fi' and I'm glad I've upgraded piece by piece because you learn a lot about how every item in the chain matters. 


Just adding the XP22 alone was night and day over the Arcam as a pre-amplifier, not to mention the other components that replaced the AV40 on the streamer/dac side. But it all comes at significantly higher cost so it’s all relative. The amp is the last item in the chain I will be upgrading.