where do i go from here?

thinking about upgrading again and was wondering where people thought i should go, i.e., what's my weakest link and what upgrade would give me the most sound difference for the buck? thanks in advance. this is my first post but i've been reading for a while and find most of the comments posted extrememly helpful.

I've been upgrading via used equipment for a while (everything at this point except the cd player i picked up used) so i'm looking to go that route again.

Components i've been looking at include the Talon Khorus' in a speaker, the Electrocompaniet or Meridian 508.24 in cd players and the Bel Canto's in a bridged monoblock setup but i'm still not sure what makes the most sense. any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

i'm currently using:

Thiel 3.6
Conrad Johnson MF 2300
Conrad Johnson PV12
Meridian 506.20

At this point, for my ears, the biggest weakness in the system is the lack of bass which makes the thiels a little forward sounding in the upper ranges.
Think about getting a Rel Strata III subwoofer. It has a
highly configurable crossover system with tight, tuneful
bass and more than adequate power for all but the largest
rooms. I'm using one with Magenpan speakers which are
historically very difficult to integrate with a subwoofer,
and the combo sounds terrific.
thanks jvogt. haven't heard a subwoofer yet that to my ears doesn't sound muddy but i haven't heard the rel strata's nor had i thought about adding a subwoofer as a possible upgrade solution. thanks for the food for thought.

dan karan
What kind of cables? I have a pair of Thiel 3.6 also. Have you tried moving the speakers closer to the back wall?
You might try changing the speakers first and see you get the result you want. The CJ equipment shouldn't be forward at all (well, a little, but it should be warm enough to compensate nicely) and in just about every system I've heard with your Thiel's, I thought they were on the bright side, but not at all shy on bass. It could be that in your setup, the bass is getting diffused somehow, or that you have them poorly placed to bring out the bottom end. I agree with glen that some repositioning might be in order before you take the plunge into new equipment.

As for recommendations, I can't be of too much help with the specific equipment you mentioned, although I'm certain that you'll find more bottom end slam with the Bel Cantos than with the CJ amp. However, you'll also find that the timbre of the sound will change as well, so you might want to try them side by side (if possible) before you make any firm decisions.

-- Ken
thanks glen and ken for your suggestions.

unfortunately, i have no flexiblility when it to speaker placement due to the room (my "listening room" is also my living room). The speakers are already close to the wall so not much more i can do on that front.

As for cables, i know i don't have great stuff so maybe your suggestions make sense before i start upgrading equipment. currently i am using a kimber cable speaker cable (forget which one but the cable itself is black and grey if that helps). From the amp to the pre-amp i'm using an MIT Terminator 5 and for the pre-amp to cd i think it's an interconnect (or is that interlink?) -- again forget which ones but if i remember they were under $100. Still think upgrading the cables is worth a shot? if so, i'd love some suggestions as this is one area i'm still fairly ignorant about.

thanks again for all of the help.
I hope you realize I'm going out on a limb here. As does anyone who makes cable suggestions at this web-site.

So much bashing going on it's pathetic, but here goes. I am a believer in MIT cabling through the whole system. IMO MITs line of quality cabling doesn’t even start until you get to their 330 interconnects and 750CVT speaker cables. This is where the MIT adventure begins. Where it ends, only you can decide.

If you are willing to take the plunge this is where you need to start. You have to commit to MIT pretty much through the whole system. The only place cheating is allowed is possibly your digital cable between transport and dac. If you can go balanced through out DO IT!

Now for some good news you can find 330 rca interconnects for around $100.00 per pair if you search them out. 750cvt speaker cables can be had as low as $200.00 used but $300.00 is not bad in a pinch. MIT Shotgun is a little better for a little more money. After that all bets are off and the world of MIT is much like entering the twilight zone.

(Submitted for your approval, here's what I run in my system)

Currently I have an MIT reference AES/EBU digital cable, two sets of 350 twin-balanced reference interconnects and one pair of 770 twin speaker cables. That's basically a matched MIT cabling system. It took me a while to find all those cables at good prices but the end result was worth it.

One last thing you probably already know about Thiel speakers. (but I'll mention it anyway) They need a lot of juice. Even for low level listening. I give mine 300 watts into 8 ohms and they thank me for it every chance they get.

No matter which brand you go with, it's time to get dead serious about your cabling. I would invest in some good matching cables before I started swapping out components. Good luck :~)
I used to have a set up just like yours except different CD player, I tried different ICs. and speaker cables but nothing helps the Thiels current can drop very low so I suspected the MF-2300 is not a good match for them and at the time I don't have the budget to upgrade better and more powerful amp therefore I changed speakers with easier current 6-8 ohm
from then on my system sings the soundstage open up wider, deeper, more details, better bass, better everything hope my tip helps, good luck.
Dan - I have only a bit of experience with MIT (I have a pair of T2's connecting my phono preamp and tuner to my preamp), so you might want to consider what Glen says regarding the homogeneity of cabling when using MIT. However, the only time I found that interconnects created a dramatic change in the sound was when I pulled the cheap Radio Shack cables and replaced them with the MIT T2's. The sound was simply awful with the cheap cables (extended deep bass, recessed mid bass, accentuated high mid's with a roll off in the upper highs - nice, huh) and smoothed out completely with MIT's. Since then, I've moved from the MIT's to a combination of Nordost Blue Heaven and HomeGrown silver cables and enjoy the sound a bit more. However, in this change I really just "tweaked" the sound (increased the high end a bit, tightened the bottom, and improved the resolution) but didn't dramatically alter it. All of the cables are reasonable quality and while sounding a little different, each still provides a quality sound.

All that said, its always worth trying out new cables and seeing what happens to the sound in your system. The T5's might be a bit of a weak link in your system given the quality of the components you're using. There are many good cables available used on Agon for under $100 (Nordost, HomeGrown, MIT, Better Cables, etc) that should provide better performance than the T5's. Also, there are a number of DIY cable recipes out there and companies that sell the components necessary to build them if you want to take on a weekend project (www.diycable.com and www.takefiveaudio.com are two I know about. DIY cables should run between $20 and $60 depending on the recipe and the quality of the connectors you use). I'm planning to build a digital cable next weekend and so far the total cost in parts is $18, so there's something to be said for a little free time and elbow grease.

For the record, I'm using CJ electronics with ProAc speakers, which isn't terribly far off from your system sonically. In my room however, I'm suffering from the opposite problem that you have - I have far too much bottom end and it muddies the sound a bit. The change from copper to silver cables helped to reduce the thickness of the bottom end a bit, but I'm still working to find a more complete solution. It probably doesn't help that I have the warmest electronics on the planet, but until the stock market perks up again, I'm not yet ready to make any serious changes.

Anyway, cables can and will make a difference in the sound, but unless you have incredibly poor cables to start with (as I did), expect the changes to be enjoyable, but not earth shattering.

-- Ken
Mit is the biggest mistake you can make.Put in the EMC-1 Cd player.Its a no brainer.
What a wqste of time it would be waasting money on MIT product.
Do the CD thing and your laughing.
DK - Changing cables is a good move and will help in soundstage mostly but will not fix your lack of bass. The CJ 2300 amp is rated 240 wpc @8ohms and is made specifically for tough loads ie Theil (see CJ website) Therefore i doubt your amp is the problem.

I believe the Meridian 506-20 is similar to sound quality to my Theta Miles cdp which is noted for its excellent bass response. BTW the Theta Miles resolved my bass problem. Also you should check reviews on Theta Miles & Meridian 506-20 to verify similarities. Theta might have been compared to the 508-20.

I am not familiar enough with the Theils to make a judgement except that they are power hungry, but your amp should be sufficient. Therefore for a sure thing add the subwoofer. The 508-24 might get you the bass you are looking for, but it's a gamble.

For the record, I too have equipment similar to yours, CJ MF-2200 & PFR pre, Theta Miles cdp Homegrown Silver Lace ic's, MIT T-2 speaker cable and Silverline Sonatas. There are times when I think about adding a subwoofer. The thought usually only occurs when I,m playing a thin sounding rock cd. Is this the same for you?
I have a 508.24 and a 506, and I don't think there is a significant difference in the quantity of bass output between the two. The difference is in the upper midrange and higher frequencies. One result is that the bass will sound tighter, more tuneful and perhaps have more of an impact, but not realy louder. I will say, however, that the 508.24 or the EMC would be a meaningful upgrade. I did it and certainly dont regret spending the money on the 508.

If you like your speakers, I would look into room placement and treatment. Your speakers may sound too bright and forward because of the room. You could also talk to someone who knows tubes about the ones in your preamp.
I would think that speaker positioning and new speaker cables should be first things you look at. The Kimber you're using sounds like it's 4VS, not nearly enough cable in this application. This would most certainly restrict the bass, as well as probably being responsible for the "forward"-ness of the upper midrange/lower treble (this being different from the "brightness" the 3.6's are sometimes accused of - not something I would expect in your system if you sit 8 feet or more away), through an false emphasis caused by congestion in this range. The cables aren't up to the power demands, and nothing else in the system seems like it could cause the combination of weak bass and peakiness. Try to go for speaker cabling that would sell new in the over $500 range - I use Cardas Cross between my C-J and Thiels, but there are many good choices that will improve the situation. I would spring for the best you can afford here before dropping the big bucks on new speakers, which will require the new cabling if you get them eventually anyway. You will want to follow this at some point with a comensurate upgrade of your interconnect, particularly between the pre and the amp (again, this is something you would need to do anyway if you you were to upgrade the electronics). I know you don't have much flexibility on the speaker placement, but do make sure that the bass drivers and passive radiators are not positioned close to equal distances from the walls next to and behind either speaker, as this can produce cancellation effects. Also, try to avoid having either of those measurements equal the distance from the drivers to the floor. Even a little movement away from equidistant spacing here could bring some bass improvement. Good luck and happy listening!
Listening to anyone who bashes MIT *is* the biggest mistake that you can make. Glen knows what he's talking about above; no need for any further elaboration here.
thanks everyone? o.k. if i go with cables as a first shot,
what do people think. i've heard rec's for the Cardas and the MIT's for the Thiels. What do you all think? further suggestions greatly apprecieated and i will post back to let people know what works and what doesn't. thanks again

dan karan
Sorry - I must have been writing in my sleep when I posted the above about speaker placement. I just re-read it, and I've got to correct myself. Not that my recommendations are wrong per se, but they don't have anything to do with bass response problems. Bass will be reinforced by moving the bass drivers closer to room boundaries, period. Cancellations can occur higher in frequency, however, in the lower and middle midrange, which should be distributed accross the range by unequal separations rather than concentrated by similar separations. I stand by my cable statements, though! Over and out . . . .