Like everything else, it depends. When I had my Naim gear, moving up the line in preamps really made a big difference and I know Transparent Cable owners are always saying how much better each upgrade was. But speakers are different, IMO. Sometimes a smaller, less expensive speaker sounds better to my ear than a larger one within a line. For example, I loved the Rockport Mira speakers, but I was never crazy about their larger ones. You really need to demo this stuff at a dealer and see what you prefer.
I am of two minds...
- If I were to upgrade my phono stage I would stay with Simaudio products. My Moon LP5.3 is extremely good and Simaudio’s other phono stages are exemplary - they have earned my trust & respect
- But for anything else - I will trust my ears and upgrade to components that provides a marked improvement in sound quality regardless of brand.
Having said that there is the approach of staying with a brand for the sake of compatibility between components if you do not want to be bothered with endless auditions to see if a components "meshes" nicely with your other components. However you may find that going this route will not provide "the best" value or sound quality - but it will be very good.
As an example - many companies started by specializing in a specific product (e.g. turntables) and branched out into Phono stages, followed by amps and then speakers.
But no one company can get everything "exactly right" and so some of their other products are not quite as good as their competitors.
If I were to upgrade my amp I will probably go with a Simaudio products, because they sound exceptional - but my Bluesound streamer will be staying
So it can be a bit of a double edged sword.
My Advice - trust your ears and try to get an audition of the component connected to your main system components.
e.g. when I bought my speakers - I took my amp and speaker cables to the store and had them hook them up to the speakers and a source
Hope that helps - Steve
I have upgraded speakers from Vandersteen,Spendor and Harbeth and prefered the lesser priced ones better! You can never tell how a speaker will sound until you try it out in your own room with the gear you use with it!
@yogiboy , "I have upgraded speakers from Vandersteen,Spendor and Harbeth and
prefered the lesser priced ones better! You can never tell how a speaker
will sound until you try it out in your own room with the gear you use
That's some of the best advice around here you'll EVER encounter. Very often with loudspeakers, and normally the case with amplifiers. As the spend increases for bigger and more complicated, not only can reliability decrease, but even so much more often, sound quality
I guess I'm gonna be the outlier here!
I bought my Vandersteen 2Cs about 25 years ago at a local stereo shop. Had many satisfied years listening through them. Then RV brought out the Model 3s. Met RV at the Stereoshoppe in Selinsgrove, PA as he launched his newest design. I was seduced by the considerable jump in dynamics with the 3s and bought them. After several years, RV came out with the 3A and away my speakers went to Hanford, CA for the upgrade. Richard significantly tamed the high end in that incarnation of the model 3. Several more years passed and then the 3A Signature was offered. Another trip for the 3s to Hanford. I enjoyed the 3A Sigs. until June of 2016. After reading much about the new Treos and then the Treo CT I decided to take the leap to the Treo CTs sight unseen and unheard.
Why? Our neck of the woods, which at one time had three fine dealerships now had none at all. None. Because of my 30+ years with Vandersteen speakers, and the experience with the upgrades to the model 3s, seeing where RV priced the Treo CTs at in the totality of his line I had a pretty solid sense of what they would sound like.
Fortunately for me, after making a necessary change in speaker cables to accommodate the sound of the Treos, I am hearing a refinement to music that I really didn't know was possible before.
As so often happens, once you realize an improvement on that scale you begin to wonder how much better it could get if you ....
In many speaker vendors lines, you can upgrade by going to the next model. For me this has occurred with my ushers, and in the past with totem and others.
But upgrading to the next up the chain speaker might involve upgrading your equipment. For my totem model 1’s, I used a nice 200 watt classes or McIntosh amp. When I moved up to the Mani 2’s, the best sound came from teaming these up with McIntosh 1000 watt monoblocks.
same goes moving up the chain with ushers and revel. You need in many cases more power with a larger speaker
I purchased a VAC Phi 110 because I liked my VAC PA 100 amp and Renaissance pre so much. I thought moving up the line would be a big improvement. It didn't work out that way. Luckily I still had the PA 100 which I still own today. Just goes to show you, there are no guarantees.
for companies that keep relatively stable and defined key principles then yes a move up the line ( assuming you can drive them and or the room is OK acoustic wise in the case of speakers )
so for example Ayre, Vandersteen, ARC, Aesthetix, Basis....
the designers have a pretty strict set of design principles they believe STRONGLY in and as you move up the line it is generally scale and quality of execution - as was pointed out in the story of upgrading within the Vandersteen Line...
I had two very positive experiences moving within manufacturer’s lines:
I had Thiel 1.2, followed by 2 2, and then 3.6. All had similar signature and each move brought great improvements across the board....still miss the 3.6’s.
likewise, I had Audio Research LS3, SP16 and then LS26. All three were more alike than different and each change was a terrific move forward.
So, similar products within product lines have been good for me. That doesn’t mean I would necessarily enjoy Audio Research’s Class D hybrid amps, for example, because I like their line stages, a completely different product line, of course.
I agree that an in-home audition is the only way to know for sure, but having prior experience with a manufacturer, knowing the house sound and design ideals, is very helpful to me in choosing new equipment.
do you still own and listen to Thiel speakers? If so, join us over on the "Thiel Owners" thread. I am interested in reading about your Audio journey over the years. Musical selections/genres as well.
I can attest to Transparent Audio cabling. As one moves up the MM2 series chain, you will be musically rewarded. I suspect other cable companies work this way as well.
I am lucky to have a best friend that sells and installs audiophile and videophile systems for happily wealthy. That has allowed me to not only listen to some of the finest equipment out there, but also buy some amazing lightly used items, I went through (up the line) some amazing Dahlquist speakers long ago. various Mac Pre Amps, Nak Decks, and buying Amps that were 'blessed' by Nelson Pass. So I am a Pass PreA and Amp guy. I have been up the line with B&W speakers till my 802 D's and stopped. I have done the same with Bel Canto DACs till the 3.75 and stopped ( although the new Black intrigues the heck out of me ) ( Love my Wadia 521 DAC too ) . I'm a Kimber Kable guy and have gone up the line with them too and never a bad result from Coax,to IC's to 8TC bi-wired speaker cables.. . If anything I am loyal to certain brands and engineers because I have never been disappointed in their products or their service. Live the dream and trust your favorites ( until they sell out to someone else ala Classe' , etc. )
I like co.s that have been in business a long time and have good customer support.
e.g. Magneplanar, Vandersteen, Bryston, Audio Research and many others
I've had very nice components where the small, innovative co. was wiped out and then had trouble getting them repaired.
A vision pursued over decades, honing the SQ every several years counts too (see above)
I have moved up the line with Thiel loudspeakers starting with the SCS 4, then 1.7, then 2.7 speakers. I could definitely hear good improvements everytime I moved up the line. The more expensive speaker always had sweeter and more refined highs, as well as punchier and more extended bottom end.
If I could afford too I would. but I cant so I dont. So there!
Once I find a company where I love their philosophical approach, reliability, customer service, and most importantly "signature sound" meaning what they value most in reproduction - then I am inclined to up the chain for me that has been loudspeakers Von Schweikert, amps Nuforce/NuPrime and source Ayon
Once I find a company where I love their philosophical approach, reliability, customer service, and most importantly "signature sound" meaning what they value most in reproduction - then I am inclined to up the chain for me that has been loudspeakers....
In my case I upgraded from Golden Ear Triton One to Golden Ear Triton Reference speakers.
please join us over on the Thiel Owners thread. I want to read more about your system featuring the CS 2.7 and thoughts/impression on musical selections.
Did that with Magico was very happy did that with ARC was happy as well.
Audio Note products are designed around this idea, especially their speakers. The various models of the E range from around $4000 to $200000+. They all use the same cabinet & design, and look the same. As you move up the line, you get better quality drivers, wire and crossover parts, and they are built & matched to closer tolerances.
I have 3 pairs of Zu speakers:
Omen Dirty Weekend MkII
The Omen DW's are the most recent acquisition, really bought for fun more than anything. I was kind of amazed how good they sound in comparison to my other pairs. You really get a lot of the Zu sound at the entry level.
I'd say at least in this case moving up the line allows you to fine tune your system a bit. Maybe you want more resolution, more attack, better treble handling, smoother frequency response... maybe all of the above. There is a speaker up the Zu line that can do those things. What you have to be careful of is the models higher up the line will sometimes require more careful amplifier matching. I have amps that will sound great with some my Zus and not so great with others.