Where should I spend my $2000?


I've been struggling about where to spend the money I have allocated for my system. Common sense tells me to get different, new or used, speakers, but I've been thinking about replacing my PrimaLuna Prologue One with a Rogue Cronus standard or Magnum. As an alternative, I was thinking of grabbing a Rogue Metis preamp so that I can use my Rotel RB 976-MKII for 150 wpc in bridged mode...and for the phono section in the Metis. I realize that probably won't make a big difference in sound quality, but I'm looking for any advice that might help me narrow the field, so to speak.

Honestly, I'm pretty happy with how everything sounds now, but I know, from what I've actually heard, that I have a long way to go. I'm using the Oppo in bypass mode so I need to adjust the volume manually. A volume remote would be nice...also a reason for looking at the Rogue pre and integrated. Yes, I've also thought about getting the Rogue Atlas and using the HA-1 as a pre with volume control. That's definitely an option.

Here's what I have hooked up now:

Sony DVP-S7700 > Oppo HA-1 > Primaluna Prologue One > Def Tech BP8B

I also have a Simaudio 100D DAC that I just picked up and the previously mentioned Rotel. I have a 480 sq ft space with 10' ceilings and concrete floors. Also there's a 10'x10' window wall that's normally covered with heavy curtains. My cables are Kimber PBJ and AQ Forest with big, but probably crappy, Monster Z series speaker cables. I also have a Pro-Ject Debut Carbon with an ART Audio phono pre that I use sparingly. I mostly listen to digital but I do like to spin records now and then. Guess I should mention that I have tried my Usher S-520s with the PrimaLuna and Rotel (Rotel through the HA-1) but they don't have enough low frequency for my taste. They sounded better with the PrimaLuna - just seemed to have a bit more impact/heft in the mid-bass. Jazz and vocals sound good with the Ushers but the Def Techs do a better job when I get the volume turning. With the volume at 9 o'clock on the PrimaLuna, it fills the space pretty well with the Def Techs.

So, if you had $2000 burning a hole in your pocket, where would you spend it? If your advice is to just keep what I have, that's great too.

Thanks in advance for your time.
chuke076
This is strictly my opinion, but I've never been a fan of
the Definitive Technology speakers...at all.

If it was my system, I'd look at new speakers. Golden Ear
has a couple of models in the price range.

There are actually a lot of choices within your budget.

I would also upgrade the speaker cable.
01-27-15: Mofimadness
".... This is strictly my opinion, but I've never been a fan of
the Definitive Technology speakers...at all.If it was my system, I'd look at new speakers....I would also upgrade the speaker cables..."
+++++++++++++++

+1 on both points
Do you have any room treatments ? Adding bass traps helps considerably .
Allows for tighter bass at all volumes of playback . Reduces stress on amps and
speakers by not having to crank volume to fill bass energy in a room . Diffusers
will make for an airy sound and improve imaging.
I wouldn't do anything until you listen to some equipment. You're all over the place here. Without some focus and direction, you're just going to make an expensive mistake.
Thanks for the input. Yeah, I'm definitely "all over the place." I've auditioned a few pairs of speakers in the last few months; however, I wasn't serious enough to ask for an in-home demo... Sonus Faber Venere 1.5, KEF LS50 and Q700. To me, they sounded great with hi-end sources and amplification. I was able to hear the KEFs with modest amplification and I liked them both. Tough choice between the two KEFs for me... Though hard not to be biased with all the glowing reviews for the LS50, I think my preference was for the increased low end of the 700s.

I'm going to listen to the Sonus Fabers again this weekend. The dealer also has Dynaudio. I've checked out the Golden Ears online but have never heard them.

Thanks for the advice so far.
[quote]So, if you had $2000 burning a hole in your pocket, where would you spend it? If your advice is to just keep what I have, that's great too.

[/quote]
I'd go to Vegas.
VEGAS.

and then you had none.
Yes on room treatments. THEN evaluate your system!
" Tough choice between the two KEFs for me... Though hard not to be biased with all the glowing reviews for the LS50, I think my preference was for the increased low end of the 700s."

Make a list of qualities that are important to you and go listen to them again. Bring some music that you know well. When listening, concentrate on just one of the items on your list at a time. Focusing on individual areas will be a big help in figuring out what is going on. When done, consider the results that you come up with from your listening, and go with them over the reviews. If you're not sure you really like the speaker, don't buy it. Also, if you feel frustrated or negative in any way, when you are trying to make a decision, don't buy anything. Sometimes people, especially when they are fairly new to audio, may get frustrated, nervous, uneasy, or whatever... That usually means that you're hearing something that you don't like, but don't have knowledge and/or listening experience to put your finger on what the problem is. If this happens, trust your instincts and hold off.
I'd try out some other more tube amp friendly speakers first and compare in-house to what you have. Selling what you have + $2000 opens up a lot of possibilities, especially if acquired used.

Some suggestions I can offer would be Triangle, Ref3A, Tekton, Zu, Klipsh, Coincident, Decware.

Or if you go with smaller high quality monitors and a powered sub or two, almost any line will do. Using powered subs to offload power-demanding bass will take a lot of strain off your tube amp.
I agree completely with the advice to focus on finding speakers you really like. That should give you the most bang for your 2,000 bucks.

I owned the Rogue Cronus amp for awhile and my opinion is that replacing the Primaluna with it would be a lateral move at best.

You've received good suggestions about speakers to check out and I would add Nola Boxers to that list. The upgraded S1 version would leave you some change from your $2,000 budget.

The Simaudio 100D is a very nice DAC. You definitely should test it as an alternative to the internal DAC of the Oppo.
YEs, I have heard Nola Boxers run off low power tube amp (Jolida FX 10) and they shocked me how well they performed with just a few tube watts even.
Another vote for speakers 1st... cables are respectable, but definite improvements are available.
Thanks to everyone for the input. I've spent the last several days auditioning speakers and I have it narrowed down to these in order of preference:

Revel M106
Sonus Faber Venere 1.5
KEF LS50
Dynaudio X-14

All are right around $1500 with the Revels being a great deal at $1500 with the stands included (mint demos). Regular price is $2500. I believe any of these will be a nice upgrade. I tried to stick to brands I could audition and buy locally. I wanted to hear the Golden Ears but couldn't get out to the dealer this week. I can get the LS50s and the Revels for an in-home audition but no go on the Dynaudios and Sonus Fabers.

Definitely leaning toward the Revels at the price but the stands they charge $500 for are lightweight resin. Unimpressed. The SF stands are great and the Dynaudios seem to be solid too. Of course, no stands included with the LS50s but I have a pair of older Target stands that I filled with lead shot.

Yeah, I realize this should probably be in the speakers forum now...any other opinions appreciated...
None of the last three are probably great matches to the prima luna tube amp Maybe the sonus faber or revel not sure offhand but not the kefs or dynaudios. Ss amploficatipn only for those . I have noticed a pattern of those choosing non tube amp friendly speakers for prima luna soon regretting it.
Yeah the dealer carries Primaluna and said the Revels are a good, common match that they usually sell together. Thanks for that info.
IMHO, you need to listen to the GoldenEars before you make a decision.

The Model Sevens are $1395 a pair and the new Model Fives are $1995 a pair. Both are rated at 89db-90db, so they would work great with your PrimaLuna. I was surprised to see the Revels are 87db. On paper, that doesn't seem to be the best match?

The GoldenEars are going to give you a lot "more" speaker for your money. They aren't as pretty, but sound very good. I heard the new model Fives at CES and they are indeed incredible.

Try to get over to the dealer to listen to them.
Full range speakers big enough to move more air while maintaining fidelity. And I'd definitely buy them second hand.
Locate the weak link(s) in your system. IMO the cables are the weak link. What power cords are being used? Have not heard Def Techs(any models)in over 10+ years but can only assume these should also be replaced. Selling the Rotel and both speakers would be a good starting point. Do some research on room acoustics, power conditioning and vibration control. A little(cost) goes a long way with these tweaks. Another modest investment of $300? can get you a dedicated line with an upgraded receptacle. This should remove another veil(more engagement) and clean up the treble. Then you can work on amp-speaker-speaker cable synergy, then everything will start to fall in place.
$2000 burning a hole in my pocket, where would I spend it? Hawaii. Sorry, I need a vacation with pay.

I noticed you said that you were happy with your system. So, to me. Leave it alone and enjoy the sound and system until "you" determine that something is actually missing or lacking.

If you smile and enjoy your system and sound. do so.

If, in the future, you hear a system or equipment that transforms you, or listen to your favorite music on something else, and is sound sooo much better that the upgrade itch comes, then that would be the time (after saving up so funds) to upgrade.

I wouldn't do anything at the moment.

enjoy
Spend it at Mapman's Hifi Audio Super Shop, opening soon!!!

I will have some very nice custom made wires, magnets and special fuses that you will have to hear to believe. That should take care of the $2000 no problem. ;^)
First , I would get some throw rugs and cover up that concrete ! At least between you and the speakers .
Second , you didn't mention it but have you rolled any tubes ? My Prologue II sounded quite solid state-ish with the stock small tubes . Made quite a difference to me .
Third , I would try some different speaker cables . The Monster cables , that I tried , were quite bright sounding . Just as an experiment , try some of the copper speaker cables that Home Depot sells . Something in the 10 gauge size . A cheap experiment .
All of this should come in under $200 and give you a better idea of what you actually have going for you .

Good luck .
Mapman-Not all tweaks are snake oil. "Always do what your afraid to do".(Emerson)
Chuke076 wrote: "Common sense tells me to get different, new or used, speakers"

Your common sense is sound. Don't let anyone convince you that it isn't. There's nothing else in your system that your $2000 can be better spent on.
New Parasound integ will be a phenominal unit, will be out in March
So, the finalists are Harbeth P3, ProAc Tablette and, as a great deal on a demo pair ($1500), the Revel M106s. I increased my budget to $2500 after I heard the Harbeths and ProAcs. The Rogue Cronus does a great job with the Harbeths, IMO. I'm going to audition the Rogue with the ProAcs tonight or tomorrow. Hopefully, I'll be able to make a decision soon.
Chuke076-If you increased your budget to $2500 you must consider(used) the SF Venere 3.0 or Focal 826W. I would give the edge to the SF, because IMO you will get rewarded with future upgrades in electronics. The Focal is more forgiving when regarding electronics which makes a great 2nd system speaker in the future(no need to sell). Have you considered the Onkyo Reference series?
Interesting thread.
I look forward to reading how you spend your funds to improve your sonics.
Enjoy the journey, its part of the fun.
Get a nice power cord ASAP!!
I don't know if this is too late or not, but I needed to put a 2nd system together for a house I rented and I listened to the Revel you are considering and I thought they were OK. A while back, I had your Def Tec's as part of a small theater. For the application, they were pretty good. When auditioning the Revels, I wasn't sure if they were for me, along with the rest of the speakers I heard. I wasn't planning on getting floor standers, but the Dealer sold Vandersteen's as well. I'm a big Vandersteen fan, but I always overlooked the Model 1's. I never bothered to listen to them until that day. You'll need to listen for yourself, but I thought they were in a completely different league than the Revel. They're also very easy to drive so you can use your tube amp with no problems.
Not including Vandersteen is to sell yourself short on performance.
In one of my Home systems I run a small pair of tube mono blocks.
Choosing speakers for the room 12x14 over 3 months became frustrating with many pairs of semi expensive box speakers placed on stands sounding nasal,bright,splashy,bumped up wow mid bass or decent mids but not enough extension bass.
After many hours of attempts and knowing what Johnny Cash's voice sound's like I discovered the 1Ci under my nose the whole time. Bass is the foundation of the music its where the emotion of the music is and in order to have decent mid range its vital to have an even per-portioned in room bass response. The 1CIs Transmission loading spreads bass into 4 parts of the room = smoother in room response vs Front or rear porting
once you experience Phase and Time correct boxless design at this level you cant go back and I saved some money in doing so.
JohnnyR audio dealer 25 years
Thanks again for all the help. I auditioned the Totem Rainmaker yesterday and I think that's going to be my choice. They seemed to combine the attributes of Harbeth and ProAc with the weight of the Revels and Dynaudios that I heard. I also had a chance to listen to the Golden Ear Triton 7's and the Aon 2 and 3. I liked the Aon2 best of those. Great tweeter but a little unnatural sounding in the mid-bass.
Send me you Rogue preamp and I will make that much better than any speaker you can find in your price range.

Happy Listening.
Chuke076, IMO you must have a fine ear,I'd say you were exactly correct in all your speaker conmments.
Thanks, Schubert. :-)

Now it's time to see how the Rainmakers match up with the PrimaLuna. I'm traveling this week, so I can't pick them up until Friday or Saturday. The dealer said the PrimaLuna should pair well; however, the Musical Fidelity integrated (can't remember the model) that was pushing the Totems sounded like a REALLY good match. Since the Totems were just $1200, I still have some money lying around.

Also forgot to mention that I sold the Oppo HA-1 and Monster Cables and picked up some Analysis Plus Oval 12s. If I don't like the PrimaLuna pairing, I might be back to the original question!

Thanks again for all the help.