Don't upgrade. Add a turntable.
32 responses Add your response
I do have a TT. I didn't mention it because I wanted to know if the digital chain is optimized. But, since you brought it up, here it is:
TT: Linn LP12 (purchased new in 1977) w/ Lingo power supply & trampolin base
Arm: LOCI by Psionic corporation
Cartridge: Clearaudio Virtuoso Wood
Pre-pre: ARC PH3-SE (of course, the SP3c also has a built in phono stage)
Interested in your recommendations for upgrades to either the analog or digital chain.
Preamp or CDP in my opinion. Of course the room is paramount over and above everything else. The preamp has a fair amount of room for improvements, but it will cost more than the amount you indicated would be acceptable for a DAC. I have not heard the Adagios, but have read very positive posts about them. Based on the posts, they don't seem like the week link to me.
Wow !! Thanks everyone for all your responses.
Sugarbrie, I have not done anything wrt AC power cables, conditioning, separating analog and digital (AC). Any cost effective suggestions would be appreciated.
Jaybo: What would you recommend for a speaker upgrade that would be cost effective ? Note, I traded a pair of Innersound Eros Mk II (active) for the Adagio's. Just couldn't live with the beamy radiation pattern of the Eros.
I agree that I need to work on room treatments.
may audio is liquidating their castle speakers at ridiculous prices. the harlech is going for 1050 a pair. even a their list price of over 2500 they were extremely underpriced for their performance. they play ir all like they were made for it, and i've owned a pair for over 10 years and i'm still in disbelief comparing them to speakers costing many times more....a couple of which i own. i have no affiliation with may....just a tip for anyone looking for a literal steal in todays sea of expensive yet ordinary products.
The Burr Brown module is just a digital chipset. It is what goes around it that matters. Great tubes will not make a dirt cheap amplifier into a Conrad Johnson Premier or ART. Putting the best Michelin tires on a Chevy Cobalt will not make it into a BMW M3.
A separate DAC is like a separate anything. If not, we might as well all buy an integrated receiver with a built in DVD player. (Which is available)
Those Castle Harlech's are pretty large..!!!.. See Link..
Actually gives me goosebumps.
Mabon, you say your system gives you goose bumps? Good God man! that is what is called "an emotionally involving system." That is what we all strive for and many do not achieve even having spent many thousands of dollars! You have what is called "synergy" with the components you've chosen. That my friend is worth holding on to. I would definitely keep the core of the system (amp /speakers) for sure. Your source would be the one area where you may want to focus. I'd suggest keeping the one you have (the Arcam) while auditioning other cdps head to head against it. Once you find a player that brings you more emotional involvement than the Arcam, then keep that and you're free to sell the Arcam if you choose. If you can afford to do this, then that's my advice. You're very fortunate to have put together the right components for the all important amp-speaker synergy. That's half the battle in my opinion.
People like Mabonn are coming here to AudiogoN for answers.
All you are doing is posing more questions that have nothing to do with the Mabonn's question.
All this does is focus the attention on you unjustifiably.
This is also what a politician does to make themselves look smart, when in fact they know very little.
Mabonn...your system, by your own admission, is already special!
I have to agree, in theory and experience, with the others here that have recommended tweaking your room and speaker placement. Often there is so much unrealized potential in our equipment due to simply overlooking the basics.
Once that is done...take all the money you've saved and buy lots of music and a bottle of your favorite beverage then ENJOY!!!
I am truly amazed by the responses this thread has generated. The question is, "if my system gives my goosebumps, why change it ?" My experience has been that you won't know the detail you are missing if you have never heard it. Like trading up from a Nikon to a Leica or a Hasselblad. If you have never seen a photo taken with the better optics, you might think the detail presented by the Nikon is "all there is". Can I improve the resolving power of my system ? If so, what upgrade would give me the best "bang for the buck" ?
Can I improve the resolving power of my system?
Suppose the real answer to your question was -- NO. Could you deal with it? Is it possible that without replacing virtually every component in your current setup that you won't be able to improve the resolution of your system? I don't know the answer to that question, but I do know you are doing a disservice if you don't at least consider the possibility of answering YES.
Have you tried a really good headset? This might give you the new experience which you seem to seek. The very best headsets show you how far loudspeakers have to go. Not the most convenient, but...
The other thing your system lacks is equalization for room effects. By now everyone knows that I like the Behringer DEQ2496, but its low cost ($350 including mic) may scare you away. So go for a PARC (but it doesn't have a RTA).
If you are amazed at the responses, then consider again what you said in your original post. An emotional connection with the music coming from your speakers is not always so easy to come by. If the sound of your music connects with you on an emotional level then that is really what most of us are about here. (having a system that moves us) I think my suggestion of focusing on your source is, pardon the pun, a "sound" one. If anything, the Arcam may likely be the weak link in your system. From most accounts, your speakers are excellent and ARC gear has a strong following. Take it from someone who has struggled for years attempting to get a system sounding right, you've achieved something significant already. Before you go mucking about with different cables etc., I would shuttle several digital sources through my system head to head against the Arcam (doing A/B comparisons). This is one of the easiest and simplest ways to take your system up a level without losing the synergy that you have now. If none of the players you try clearly outperforms the Arcam then at least you know that it is creating it's own magic in concert with your preamp/amp and speakers. Let me remind you, in system building, synergy can be very elusive. I know of a few guys who started making changes to their setup and the result was, they lost the magic and couldn't restore it. The source is the way to go.
Thanks again for all your responses. Here is my reaction to your comments so far:
Some say start at the front end, either a better CDP or an outboard DAC, followed by pre-amp. Audiofeil says no, upgrade the speakers. Say I can get $2500 for my Adagio's and kick in another $2k. Audiofeil, what would you recommend used for ~$4.5K that you think would best the Adagios ?
Others suggest room treatments (no doubt a good suggestion), AC power conditioning, power cords, and isolating the CDP from the AC to the other components. What specific recommendations would anyone recommend for AC conditioning, power cords, and isolating the CDP ??
Dave b suggests adding AV123 supertweeters. I am really intrigued by this suggestion. The Adagios have circular ribbon tweeters that are supposedly flat to 30KHz, and I am 56 yrs old. I think my hearing is pretty good, but I'd be surprized if I can hear beyond 16K. I'd like to hear more from you as to why you think adding a tweeter that extends thehf response from 30K to 50K would add to my listening experience ? The reason I ask is that this upgrade is relatively inexpensive, so it is certainly worth considering.
Mabonn, I have owned many 50K plus sytems over the years, both tube and solid state (my ears are pretty good). I recently added the AV123 supertweeters to my Krell Resolution 2 speakers (musical but not the last word in air and extension). What they do is add smoothness and better articulation across the frequency band, from the lowest lows to the upper most range. Sparkle and air are definately augmented but not in an overt manner..it just sucks you in to the point that trying to remove them causes great sadness! By the way, they use almost 0 volts and come with a superb set of interconnects (I tried to better them but to no avail). Also, if you use the 8ohm taps of your ARC amp directly, bypassing the autoformers, you will illuminate your soundstage and create far more focus...Hell, I used a VT100 on my Watt/Puppy 6's with no problems. The supertweeters were a low cost, completely refundable experiment that payed off big time!!