What to upgrade on $3,000 budget


When improving my interconnects to Audioquest Diamondbacks, my system became too harsh. It's JM Labs Daline 3.1, Jolida 5t preamp with factory mod, Adcom GFA 545 II amp, Moon 100 D Dac and Airport Express. I'm using Audioquest CV-8 speaker cable. Should I consider upgrading the amp or speakers and with what? I listen to jazz, classical and vocals. I'd be grateful for any advice. Thanks.
hugo1
Don't spend anything. Go back to your old interconnects.
Sell the junky ones you just blew money on by mistake.
Thanks very much. I went back to the old interconnects which are less revealing. But I think I'm missing something significant because I was told the Audioquest Diamondback was neutral and transparent and that transparency is causing the harshness.
"I was told". I see a problem here. It's very common. It happens when someone has an eye on some more of your cash. It starts when someone questions how you could possibly enjoy your 'less than perfect sounding system' or encourages your own questions. They have a fix (cables usually), which often leads to an unpleasant change in the sound you've been enjoying. And on and on and on...
How can an 'Upgrade' or an 'improved' anything, cause a system to sound worst?? It's just beyond my ability to understand.
Cheers
Transparency does not cause harshness, transparency reveals harshness. It's like looking out a window, your old interconnects were less revealing, they covered up for the unpleasant view.

The new interconnects cleaned the window so now you have a clearer vision of an unpleasant view. There are two things that you can do here, either cover the window back up again or work on improving the view (system).
"The new interconnects cleaned the window so now you have a clearer vision of an unpleasant view. There are two things that you can do here, either cover the window back up again or work on improving the view (system)."

You should be in the Hall Of Fame!!!
I'd be thinking about working around the Airport Express and then maybe this

http://app.audiogon.com/listings/solid-state-ayre-v-5xe-fully-balanced-zero-feedback-2012-12-22-amplifiers-21703-frederick-md
12-28-12: Rok2id
How can an 'Upgrade' or an 'improved' anything, cause a system to sound worst?? It's just beyond my ability to understand.

No surprise here.

12-28-12: Rok2id

You should be in the Hall Of Fame!!!

Thank you. ;~}
Lol, Elizabeth hit the nail on the head! I think she should have added though, that next time you buy junk, keep it to yourself. It makes selling it alot easier if less people know it's junk. By the way, I've got a pair of audioquest rocket 44's that I think will be an upgrade for you. $40 for the pair!
Vicdamone has the best advice
People report hearing Adcom amps as harsh, edgy, etc. My experience was consistent with that. I'd guess you could best the Adcom for well less than 3k. For example, sticking to muscular SS designs, used Odyssey amps can be found at around 1k, and monoblocks with bells and whistles around 2k.

If you spent a grand on an amp, you'd have 2k to think about speakers (the component with the biggest impact on listening experience), and while I don't know your speakers, I'm betting 2k used can get you a noticable upgrade (esp. in this slow market).

But it looks like you enjoy tinkering, and since the Adcom is a likely culprit, I'd put my upgrade money in a more ambitious amp, and plan for a speaker upgrade down the road.

John
Get the best amp you can with that 3k it will be the heart of your system from here out. That adcom is your weak link in my opinion. Not that familiar with your preamp but it might be suspect as well. Mediocre amp and pre will always yield mediocre results no matter what your speakers. In fact an integrated amp might be the best bang for the buck at 3k
I agree with upgrading your pre/amp combo to a nice integrated amp.
I think Elizabeth is mistaken as Diamondbacks are excellent, well designed cables that sound amazing (I've had a LOT of cables over many years so they've been vetted) so that's not your problem. I suggest you try a factory upgraded Jolida 502p tube amp which in my experience delivers world class sound at a bargain price, and would provide some "brand synergy" with your preamp. The 3.1s are 89 db so should sound fine with this ballsy 60 watt amp. I fully expect Jolida to reward me for raving about this damn amp...aren't they listening? Come on! jeeze...
Please don't think anything is wrong with your choice of interconnects. Audioquest makes excellent interconnects, speaker cables and power cords. Wolf has a good idea with the Jolida synergy. Use the extra money for some good power cords and then bank the rest for future upgrades.
The Adcom amp is suspect.

For a lot less than 3K you could score a used VTL 85 integrated which would caress your jazz, classical and vocals. Plenty of power and dynamics with great detail and imaging. And the tubes are generic enough to not cost you a fortune to replace. Truly a great piece.
Im going to suggest a differant route that may save money...if you own your own house(property).. have you installed dedicated breakers(20 amp,10guage wire)?for 550.00 i got the best cable upgrade i could have ever done for my system,period.If its burnin a hole than that differant(imho)