I would swap the Jolida. Not that it's not a worthy piece. The Slim is not going to change. Rotel you hardly use. The DAC is another candidate for change. The speakers would be another option...but you said you were satisfied with the power you have. So, if you are content with output power...change the DAC. If you want the same power performance, but would like the biggest overall change...change the Jolida to a SS integrated like the Exposure 2010S. There is one for sale here. A great piece . On the other hand, a 300B would work well with those omegas. If you are content with the overall system, but prefer a less overall impact, say a slight lean towards musical, change the DAC to a tubed one. The MHDT Paradisea for example. I'm trying to keep you in the same ballpark.
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i would identify specifically what is not "doing it for you" in your system so as to id the weak link in the chain and upgrade that only. Also are you sure you are not upgrading just for the sake of upgrading or because you are bored with your current sound and want something different? That's fine if that is the case but then you would at least know that's why you are doing it and that would open up the field to any of a number of your components that can be subbed out.
It would be nice to know where you want to go with things sonically, and your $$$ for it... as all in your system could be stepped up if you think about it.
More euphonic, more resolute, sppeed? Volume? Bass? just more music in the music?
That said, anything in the cottage system is suspect.
But for more order as to my own philosophy ...
I like power cords. Once you get them, you got them. When gear changes, you've still got the pcs. Just by moving about some of my own pcs, I can alter the presentation, sound, and tone to lesser degrees.
I like what can be done with tubes too. Rolling tubes can make for significant steps upward... or sideways... which isn't always a bad thing. Again, once you've gotten those other tubes... you've got them.
I'm also big on sources. Sources & preamps. Not that I have a lot of them, but feel and have found out just how key having the begining of the signal is, and keeping it intact thereafter.
That DAC seems the logical spot for change to me primarily. shortly after, try experimenting with a better digi IC & power cable.
Past those, another preamp. Both moves however should be upward steps and point to your intended goals.
Lastly I would exchange the amp if after rolling some tubes the sound doesn't suit me enough.
Along the way do consider what stepping up power cables can do for you... sometimes it can be an immense step up... I ususally see fit to address both ends of the rig with more of an investment, with the midddle (or preamp in my case) receiving a bit lesser pc attention.
I mention all of this as I get the imp you don't wish to swap out the squeakers yet. If squeakers are in play, aiming at certain ones will tell you which way to go with the amp choice. That amp to squeaker relationship is integral.
Remember whatever is lost upstream, can not be regained downstream.... consequently, sources are mighty important. In a pc based sound system, the DAC is as a source. Add in 90% of your playback is personal confuser oriented, start looking into DACs.
Knowing something of that amp, maybe just adding a small good sub is all you need now too.
Thanks All. I guess I gave you an open-ended question, yet was still provided with excellent suggestions. What I have that works for me: volume, tonality, even bass from these little speakers.
What I'd like more of is 'presence'. I want a very depict-able sound stage. My problem is, that especially where I live, I have nothing to compare to. Honestly, my closest neighbor bought a $250 Tivoli (splash resistant and rechargeable) after she heard the one in my bathroom. It's her primary music source and she is now close to the top of the sound pyramid within a 30-40 mile radius.
I'm listening to "Ça Ira (There Is Hope) (Disc 1) (2005) Roger Waters" right now and I can sense WHERE the stage actors are (musical) but is there a way to SHOW my without a doubt where they are? I'm guessing it's the DAC as suggested.
Please fire away with your thoughts and accept my greatest thanks.
Kphinney, dim the lights, close the door, grab a drink...sit down. Close your eyes, relax...and just listen. Dont try to locate where the information is coming from...let it find you. I promise you, if you let it happen...it will come. Jesus I sound like a hypnotist. Now, send all you belongings to P.O Box...........:)~
cool...now i think we have a bit more focused area to work on...i agree that one area to look into is upgrading the source, because presence is about decoding low level info buried in those 0s and 1s and the better the source, the more of that low level info in the signal will come through...the second place is amplification. Tubes generally are better transmitters of spatial info than SS. I know you have the Jolida 102B integrated tube amp but if you look at the Enjoy the Music review of that unit it gets average marks on soundstaging and imaging (good value for the money but not reference grade performance basically). So the question is what kind of budget are you playing with and do you have any local options (within 2-3 hrs driving) to audition equipment? If not, buing used with feedback from Agon, will be the way to experiment with minimal hit to the wallet.
Kphinney...i just went to Omega's website and didn't realize how sensitive your speakers are. These are a match made in heaven for low powered SET amps. So that is one option to explore. Also, Stereophile's coverage of the Festival Son & Image (FSI) for 2007/8 shows that Omega was showcasing there speakers with Red Wine amplification. And Stereomojo gave them a best of show award at the 2007 FSI with that setup (here's the link...just scroll down 2/3 to the bottom: http://www.stereomojo.com/FSIreport2007.htm). If you check out Red Wine's web site, they have a pre-amp with DAC (I believe it's called the Isabelina) that has received very good reviews. Pare that up with their 30 wpc stereo power amp and you may have a winning combo on your hands...just a thought...enjoy
Have you seriously worked optimal speaker placement? makes a huge difference in SQ between done wrong and right.
I spent a week doing it (but I'm on the extreme side of the anal bell curve), from Master Set then tweaking based on my particular room, using a laser level for toe in and rake angle. Huge improvement in all areas. All it costs is time.
Tholt - the listening room was built with 2 channel audio in mind, from the acoustic ceiling paint and a few angled absorbent ports, to the no-standing-wave angles. The speakers and fat leather chair are set using the Cardas Golden Ratio or Fibonacci numbers from their excellently informative website.
The room and treatment is the single biggest improvement I feel anyone could make to any system.
Cmalak - I've toyed with the idea of Red Wine products and appreciate your pointing the articles out. I'll have to move them up in my list and make it a point to find a demo/demo location. They (Red Wine) seem very boutique-ish. One of those companies that everyone knows of, and have a friend of a friend who heard them once.... but no one ever seems to own them.
As a Squeezebox owner their forums rave about the Red Wine mods.
I think I will focus on the DAC and the Isabella may be the way to go. The amp/speaker combo has what I want. Perhaps a new streaming transport with a nice built in DAC will be a route also: Squeezebox is now owned by Logitech. While the sound is super with the DAC, I feel I should try other transports that aren't made by a mouse and webcam company.
You haven't mentioned PCs. I'd suggest trying a few. I like Kaplan Cables, and you should be able to try before you buy. The copper Kaplans will open up the soundstage.
Your ICs are ok, but you might consider trying some better ones at some point. They can have a huge impact on the soundstage.
I have a VDA*2 and it's a great DAC. It throws a very good soundstage. I didn't find it to be overly sensitive to transports. I use a Pure Note Alluvion coax for it. I don't think the DAC is the weak link.
Try the system without the power conditioner.
Thanks Mooglie. I really like the VDA2 with outboard PS. When comparing the $1600 Squeezebox Transporter to the $300 Squeezebox 3 plus VDA & PS, we found the SB3 + CI Audio setup to be an impressive pair with a much more dynamic response and more full sound stage.
I admit I haven't invested too much in power cables - I'm just skeptical. I'll look into the Kaplan's -- especially if they have a try before you buy.
As for the power conditioner, without it I go thru tubes like no ones business. I should mention that the power conditioner is actually plugged into a APC 1500VA uninterruptible power supply. The pair gives me about 30 minutes of full power run time in a blackout -- not that I'd try it. The cabin is subject to massive brown-outs.
Yeah, the VDA*2 is a great little DAC. I'd think you would have to spend some serious $ to get better performance, and then you might just get a different "flavored" sound.
Lookup Tweekgeek on this web site. You should be able to arrange a demo of the Kaplan Cables. The copper ended Kaplan should give you a more layered soundstage and fuller bottom end.
The reason I mentioned the power conditioner is that the receptacles on it might affect the sound. I prefer all brass outlets to get a richer mid-range.
You could also kick things up a notch by trying another digital cable. The Zu Ash and LAT DI-30 are both very good, and not too expensive. I really like the Pure Note Alluvion, but it's a little more neutral, and pricier.
Mooglie - I'm sitting here at my dad's for the weekend with a full electronics and engineering shop and thinking "How can I DIY my own PCs that will prove or disprove their relevance in a hifi audio setting?" Or a mid-fi in my case. What do the manufacturers claim they do to their PCs that make them better? I have pure copper, even pure Ti at $625/ft, though I can't go crazy.
Regardless, I do have experience with both the Zu Ash and the Lat DI- 30. My preference was typically with the Zu, but they seem to be ignoring my emails lately and loosing that personal touch. Perhaps it's petty, but perhaps I'll take a new objective look at both companies.