Where should I go next? Where are my weak links?

I am now running a much simpler system than I did in the past. I have a pair of Zu Audio Essence speakers coupled with a Mini-Method sub. They are driven by a pair of Manley Neo-Retro 300b amplifiers. I listen mostly to vinyl. My turntable is a slightly upgraded VPI Scout with the SDS drive, scoutmaster platter, ring clamp and VPI mini feet. The scout is loaded with a Benz Micro L2 wood cartridge. I use a Linn Linto phono stage and a Manley Shrimp preamplifier. I condition the power on my source components with a Furman Elite 15. All my interconnect cables are Zu Audio Missions and my power cords are Zu Boks. My speaker cables are Zu Libtecs. I really love the sound produced by my system. I did not really understand how dynamic my 300b amps could sound until I coupled them with a copacetic set of speakers. But, being as I am, I can't help looking to improve on what I have. I am aware that I am not the most knowledgeable or experienced audiophile, so I am hoping for some useful suggestions from all you savvy folk out there. I am not looking to revolutionize my system at this time, just to refine what I have. I wonder whether an improved phono stage might be in the cards.

Showing 8 responses by charles1dad

I agree with Onhwy61 in that you already have a very good system with a solid foundation. As a 300b SET amp owner I can tell you different driver and output tubes selection can make a significant impact. What 300b are you using?
I just put the Takatsuki-TA 300b in my amp and the improvement is honestly profound.
Hello Ivan,
Your answers and questions are very thoughtful,you`re certainly on the right track.I live in Orchard Lake(near West Bloomfield).If you would like to sample my Takasuki or my Shuguang Black Treasure 300b tubes in your Manley I`d be willing. Thanks for your kind comments regarding my system.

Ivan I know that Raulirugas means well but if you like the sound of your system that`s 'all' that matters. This talk about relying on measurements and liking 'plesant colorations' is the path to frustration, just trust your ears and you`ll be better off. I `ve heard too many components that are said to be 'accurate'(usally solid state) and measure great and sound nothing like music(my 2 cents worth)I hear at live unamplified events.

My advice is go with your gut reaction and emotional response to what you hear.It it moves you then you`ll know it`s right.
Best Regards,
"Of course mine is only an opinion and the most important one is the Iramirez and yours"
Yes at the end of the day that`s all it is.I`ll continue to trust my ears and you do what works best for you, we`ll both end up happy.
Hi Ivan,
I appreciate your respectful/tolerant response to Raul.I can`t count the number of times I or other tube amp owners(especially SET) have been lectured to(often condescendingly) about are 'misguided' preference for'coloration and distorted sound.SET amplifiers in 'my' experience simply comes closer to what I hear live then any other amplifier type. I realize everyone`s experience/conclusions are`nt the same and that`s perfectly fine. I`d never feel the urge to wag a finger at their SS amps, but that`s how it goes I guess.

Ivan you`re welcome to my home any time or perhaps I could bring my amps to you to hear in your system(you never no how components will mate).

I was a record spinner for many years(Well Tempered Classic TT,loved it!).i sold it to a friend and later got a used Linn LP-12(not as good IMO). My current fornt end with the Yamamoto-YDA DAC out pre forms the Linn TT, the PWT is a fabulous transport. JAzz redbook CDs sound so good with this combo,the CDs are cheap and plentiful(love Amazon). At this point I`ve no motivation to return to records.
You seem to assume no one else has owned or listened to 'low distortion,low output impedance' and so called 'accurate' SS amplifier and ultimately found them inferior. Just because you find these types of amplifiers more neutral and accurate is merely your conclusion and simply nothing more.You`re quite condescending considering those who don`t share your conclusions as "ignorant".

It`s good you`ve found with works best for you, don`t be so smug with your attitude that you know what`s best for everyone else.I`ve heard many of the highly praised SS amps with ultra low distortion measurements and most did`nt sound very good to me(yep, had to use my ears,imagine that). I much prefer my current amplifier as it sounds far more realistic and natural. It`s silly to discount what others 'hear' as pleasing colorations. I could just as easily point out the deficiencies(they`re there) of the SS amps you prefer,but what`s the point? If you like that presentation that`s all that matters. Your opinion is no more informed than any others posted here. You`ve been posting the same doctrine for many years on audiogon, perhaps it`s you who needs to reconsider your narrow, dogmatic and redundant posts.
Hi Ivan,
I`d look forward to that experience of hearing a different type of speaker. My email is [email protected]
If Ivan and I can work out the details it should be both fun and educational.With the Takatsuki 300b tubes in my amplifier I`m experiencing the most pure,natural and 'realism' of sound I`ve ever had in my system. I really look forward to hearing your Sophia RP tubes in my amplifier. I bet your Wavelength amps just sound wonderful.
Best Regards,
Isochronism you saw right through me.