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Starting the upgrade journey...


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Okay, so firstly, hello everyone - it's been great reading all the advice and opinions offered in these forums - certainly helped clarify where I want to head on my hifi journey...

I am finally in a position (I think) where I can think about upgrading my gear. We have recently bought our forever house and I have a dedicated listening and reading room - not huge, but a kid-free zone...

Gear:

Yamaha R-N602 network receiver.

Thorens TD-295 mkIV (present from my wife...)

Ortofon 2M Red

Pro-ject Phono Box S2

Denon DV1940 as CD transport

Cambridge Audio DacMagic

Mission m74i speakers.

 

I listen to an even mix of vinyl, CDs and have started streaming Tidal HiFi. The Yamaha is great for streaming but I feel it is time to step up. I would like to upgrade the TT also, but it has sentimental value so restricted to upgrades only.

I would like to future proof my system, so looking at a good secondhand integrated, combined with a Node 2i on DAC/streaming duty, and eventually new speakers.

So, am I on the right track? Basically looking to improve the soundstage and timing.

Any advice appreciated.

 

 

 

 

 

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What’s the budget, room size, music tastes etc?

 

The speakers should be upgraded first as they are the most critical component that has the biggest effect on the sound quality, and gear can be found to match them in reverse to what you currently plan.

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1 hour ago, Al.M said:

The speakers should be upgraded first as they are the most critical component that has the biggest effect on the sound quality, and gear can be found to match them in reverse to what you currently plan.

 

Sound advice. Biggest improvement will probably come from a speaker change.

 

Based on budget, here is a good starting point to get an idea of options. There is a similar thread on amplifiers too that you can check later

 

 

Edited by anandpkumar
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Thanks guys - I'm looking to spend around ~3k on amp, similar on speakers, which will presumably be the bigger ticket items. Room is about 4.5m by 4m, and listen to a range of music but mainly alt-folk, vocal-driven pop, electronica and getting into prog as I get older! 

 

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I should add that I am comfortable with used equipment if it is heirloom quality. 

 

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:welcome:to the forum...

 

Agree that you should look at upgrading the speakers first. The challenge is that speakers are often a personal choice and it is not possible to audition second hand ones, unless they are nearby. Maybe a call out to fellow Tasmanian members to listen to their setup??

 

The other thing you may want to consider is simplifying things. For example, get the PowerNode 2i instead of a Node 2i plus integrated. Or you may go for a used NAD M10?  I do like BluOS, hence my suggestions...

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Thanks Snoopy8, being TAS does make it harder to access good gear, both new and used...

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Also, are floorstanding speakers overkill in a room this size? I'm not a basshead so don't need oodles of bass, so perhaps a standmount would be best?

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0291d0_f2b39e66b4e74d06b8c73a5f5f54ae4e~mv2.webp

Too many choices and too many variables. Osborn Eos Reference $3k are really good + optional subwoofer (maybe Rel T5i). 

+ NAD C 658 BluOS Streaming DAC, preamplifier

+ March Audio P252 stereo power amplifier

or 

Weston acoustics Topaz 6CA7.

+ Node 2i 

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4 hours ago, Adey74 said:

Also, are floorstanding speakers overkill in a room this size? I'm not a basshead so don't need oodles of bass, so perhaps a standmount would be best?

Many people here prefer floor standers but I prefer active stand mounts (on my 3rd set).  Here is a radical proposal, requiring a big leap in faith. Get a Buchardt A500 bundle.  It contains everything you need, at your $6K budget.  It includes shipping and all taxes and import duties.  They allow you to listen at home for 45 days and return it for less than $100, should you not like them.

 

Please have a look at this review

https://audiophilestyle.com/ca/reviews/review-buchardt-audio-a500-speaker-system-r962/
The reviewer replaced his Kii Three (which I have) with the Buchardt A500; he was looking for a more value for money system (I think he recently retired?).  

Edited by Snoopy8
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49 minutes ago, Irek said:

+ March Audio P252 stereo power amplifier

 

Interesting, Had never come across this brand and have just been reading up on them. Thank-you

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16 minutes ago, Snoopy8 said:

Many people here prefer floor standers but I prefer active stand mounts (on my 3rd set).  Here is a radical proposal, requiring a big leap in faith. Get a Burchardt A500 bundle.  It contains everything you need, at your $6K budget.  It includes shipping and all taxes and import duties.  They allow you to listen at home for 45 days and return it for less than $100, should you not like them.

 

Please have a look at this review

https://audiophilestyle.com/ca/reviews/review-buchardt-audio-a500-speaker-system-r962/
The reviewer replaced his Kii Three (which I have) with the Buchardt A500; he was looking for a more value for money system (I think he recently retired?).  


That option is very intriguing - with room correction and a multi-use hub it seems like it would do everything I need it to do, and Tidal Connect to come! Good write up.

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2 minutes ago, Adey74 said:


That option is very intriguing - with room correction and a multi-use hub it seems like it would do everything I need it to do, and Tidal Connect to come! Good write up.

Intriguing indeed.  I would have been tempted if I did not have my current setup.  There is this SNA thread as well

 

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That room size can still work for most floorstanders in the budget range. I have a 5 x 3.6m room and used about 80% of one would come across and can make it work such as VAF I-66 speakers, large three way 12 inch woofer speakers etc. 

 

Here is an amp list to start with https://www.stereo.net.au/forums/topic/325588-sna-amplifiers-and-preamps-audition-shortlist/

 

$3k amp budget I would go for under 10-15 year old separate preamp and power amp combo like a tube preamp (Schiit Freya, Stereo Coffee non tube, Audio Research, Conrad Johnson, Sonic Frontiers, Supratek etc) and some kind of gutsy power amp, which will poop all over most integrated amps except a good integrated tube amp unless you don’t have space for two box option. The difference will be incredible almost look no further preamp detail at the budget with good power amp drive (reliable solid state amps like Bryston, Electrocompaniet, Musical Fidelity, Parasound A21, Rotel etc)

 

 

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6 minutes ago, Al.M said:

That room size can still work for most floorstanders in the budget range. I have a 5 x 3.6m room and used about 80% of one would come across and can make it work such as VAF I-66 speakers, large three way 12 inch woofer speakers etc. 

 

Here is an amp list to start with https://www.stereo.net.au/forums/topic/325588-sna-amplifiers-and-preamps-audition-shortlist/

 

$3k amp budget I would go for under 10-15 year old separate preamp and power amp combo like a tube preamp (Schiit Freya, Stereo Coffee non tube, Audio Research, Conrad Johnson, Sonic Frontiers, Supratek etc) and some kind of gutsy power amp, which will poop all over most integrated amps except a good integrated tube amp unless you don’t have space for two box option. The difference will be incredible almost look no further preamp detail at the budget with good power amp drive (reliable solid state amps like Bryston, Electrocompaniet, Musical Fidelity, Parasound A21, Rotel etc)

 

 

Been doing some reading on tube amps, but integrateds only. Why a tube pre and SS power and not the other way around?

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1 hour ago, Adey74 said:

Been doing some reading on tube amps, but integrateds only. Why a tube pre and SS power and not the other way around?

Generally tube pre adds the sweetness and musicality at that end and is what many people are doing with some exceptions like the Stereo Coffee non tube preamp and others. If you google this and look at many peoples system here and elsewhere you will find this is a common preferred setup. Many also prefer a solid state preamp with less tube sound character and cleaner result.

Edited by Al.M
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As @Snoopy8 mentioned earlier going with active speakers (with DSP if possible) helps to greatly simplify the process - you get 3 boxes in one - the speakers, amplifier & DAC. The manufacturer has done the job of matching the speakers to the amplification. Just plug in a digital source and you are all set.

 

The Devialet Phantoms in a stereo pair fall within your budget - I think Snoop own(ed) these. Other options in your budget include the Buchardt speakers mentioned earlier. ATC's also have very good active speakers through they are a bit over your budget (you may be able to pick up a used SCM19A within your budget).

 

Alternatively, if you are willing to buy used, an older Meridian DSP speaker will also fall within your budget. I have the Meridian DSP5000 setup in a 6mx4m room and can highly recommend these. A used DSP5000 or DSP5500 will easily fall within your budget - though they don't come up on sale often.

 

Edited by anandpkumar
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1 hour ago, anandpkumar said:

As @Snoopy8 mentioned earlier going with active speakers (with DSP if possible) helps to greatly simplify the process - you get 3 boxes in one - the speakers, amplifier & DAC. The manufacturer has done the job of matching the speakers to the amplification. Just plug in a digital source and you are all set.

Bazinga!  If you are ok with running an active speaker system, know for a fact that the speaker drivers, and amplification have been tweaked to play well with each other.  As Snoopy8 said, the Buchard is a good option, has the bonus of DSP room correction as well.  And all you have to do is play aorund with your source pairings...done!  

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But then how do you upgrade!.....

I guess this option is not for those that like to tinker.....

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45 minutes ago, Adey74 said:

But then how do you upgrade!.....

I guess this option is not for those that like to tinker.....

True, but do know that the manufacturer has already done all the tweaking to make the components work best with each other. One of the advantages of having DSP is that you can fine tune the speakers to behave better in your room (enhancing or reduce bass/treble etc. for different room boundary situations)

 

If you want to tinker, there are still countless options - sources, power cables, digital cables, isolation platforms and what not.

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On 03/02/2021 at 3:52 PM, Adey74 said:

But then how do you upgrade!.....

I guess this option is not for those that like to tinker.....

That is up to you to decide whether you want stop or not.  For some here, the quest for the next upgrade is part of the joy of the hobby. But for me, my frustration grew and that triggered the simplification quest...

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For what it's worth, if I were starting over again with my reference system I would give the Buchardt A500 a go. I dislike fiddling with and obsessing over myriad components. (Others live for it, which is also cool!) 

 

If you don't like them, either return them for a fair price (I don't know what they charge but it struck me as fair), or sell them here on SNA. Lots of folks are lusting after them (myself included, I guess), so you should be able to recoup a large portion of your initial outlay, and without having the hassle of having to unload 6 separate components to 6 different buyers. 

 

Plus, free shipping to TAS! I bet the company groans every time they get an order from TAS. It must be one of the world's most expensive places to ship to, barring the interior of sub-Saharan Africa, Canada above the Arctic Circle, etc.   

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1 hour ago, Bill_F said:

For what it's worth, if I were starting over again with my reference system I would give the Buchardt A500 a go. I dislike fiddling with and obsessing over myriad components. (Others live for it, which is also cool!)

I agree!  But you can make that decision to go the A500 based on the experience you have gained to date. 

 

It is not so easy for someone starting out, not having gone through the process and pain. Being new here, it is difficult to judge whose advice to take, whose music taste matches one's own, what to look for, how to listen to music etc...

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On 30/01/2021 at 12:53 AM, Adey74 said:

Been doing some reading on tube amps, but integrateds only. Why a tube pre and SS power and not the other way around?

I'm going to throw in a suggestion. I was round a friends place end of Jan, and he had his 'second system' in the main area... I cam honestly say I was VERY surprised at what I listened to. Music server, Tube pre amp, (was re tubed, recapped and attenuators installed), and matched (very well imo) to a pair of  these. They are active speakers (I believe it's internally bi-amped) and the sound was WAY above their size for bass and image.

  Tube pre is usually used to 'smooth/holographic image?/reduce digital 'sharpness' in many recordings.. Pre amp tubes make the biggest difference to the sound presentation compared to output tubes.

JBL Professional 308P MkII 8" Powered Studio Monitors (Pair)

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9 minutes ago, Snoopy8 said:

Suggest not buying based on "no listening" ASR reviews.... 

 ?

 

JBL 308P MKII Listening Tests
Ah, what a joy this speaker is to listen to. It has plenty of warm and impactful bass, yet is almost perfectly neutral. I say if I had to listen to it for a long time, I might take down the highs just a bit but that is it.

Gradually turn up the volume with deep bass though and at first, everything sounds wonderful. When you get to pretty loud levels, the sound gets muddy at first before reaching quite distorted levels. It is not distortion you are used to due to limiter. But it is there. Suspecting it was very low frequencies that was giving it trouble, I dialed in this quick filter:

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19 hours ago, Snoopy8 said:

Suggest not buying based on "no listening" ASR reviews.... 

Absolutely agree, but a bit limited in Tassie. I've noticed that it seems most members, and most kit up for sale, are in Victoria. So more hifi heads than NSW, or just more with upgraditis? 😁

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1 hour ago, Adey74 said:

Absolutely agree, but a bit limited in Tassie. I've noticed that it seems most members, and most kit up for sale, are in Victoria. So more hifi heads than NSW, or just more with upgraditis? 😁

I think Melbourne is the Hifi capital of Australia!  😝 But I suspect others will soon be complaining about the bloody Mexicans, south of the border,  talking nonsense ... 🤣 

 

It is not too bad on the hip pockets if you test gear from the Classifieds and resell if not up to your standard.  That, to some extent, makes up for being in Tassie...

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On 29/01/2021 at 4:47 PM, Adey74 said:

Okay, so firstly, hello everyone - it's been great reading all the advice and opinions offered in these forums - certainly helped clarify where I want to head on my hifi journey...

I am finally in a position (I think) where I can think about upgrading my gear. We have recently bought our forever house and I have a dedicated listening and reading room - not huge, but a kid-free zone...

Gear:

Yamaha R-N602 network receiver.

Thorens TD-295 mkIV (present from my wife...)

Ortofon 2M Red

Pro-ject Phono Box S2

Denon DV1940 as CD transport

Cambridge Audio DacMagic

Mission m74i speakers.

 

I listen to an even mix of vinyl, CDs and have started streaming Tidal HiFi. The Yamaha is great for streaming but I feel it is time to step up. I would like to upgrade the TT also, but it has sentimental value so restricted to upgrades only.

I would like to future proof my system, so looking at a good secondhand integrated, combined with a Node 2i on DAC/streaming duty, and eventually new speakers.

So, am I on the right track? Basically looking to improve the soundstage and timing.

Any advice appreciated.

 

 

 

 

 

Lots of good advice in my humble opinion.  Anyway here is my two cents worth.  Sorry to be prosaic but MONEY.  One of the best ways to save dosh is to go to ONE source.  Streaming (personally yuck) or Disc spinner or vinyl.  The reality is that digital sources (streaming or disc spinner) are overwhelmingly cheaper than vinyl.  The digital sources (CD player, Universal player, Computer and DAC, streamer) are all good and (allow me an oxymoron) all above average.  So spend your dosh on amplification and speakers. The default is to go for speakers.  I concur with the majority that speakers make the most difference.  My take however is that the  power amplification and shoudl be seen as one.  So if you want to upgrade the speakers please do not do that without consideration of the (power) amplification.

 

Please see this as a journey, not a a once-in-a-lifetime decision that you must get right.

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Tend to agree on the multiple sources rationalisation. Had the intention of taking up a vinyl habit but so expensive! So I am restricting vinyl as a 'special occassion' purchase. I had been feeling a bit down as I had lost my hard drive with all my music files in the move to Tassie, but on second thought all these files were compressed anyway - no real loss. So the focus is streaming - CD quality initially, and then perhaps hi-res when my equipment can handle it.

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On 29/01/2021 at 4:51 PM, Adey74 said:

Also, are floorstanding speakers overkill in a room this size? I'm not a basshead so don't need oodles of bass, so perhaps a standmount would be best?

So the thing is that standmounts require stands,  Smaller floorstanders can be a better bet, if you think of them as a standmount with the stand built in, and you don't have to worry about getting the "right" stand either...
 

Also, you don't have to be a basshead to appreciate a system with deeper bass (lower frequencies) done well. If a floorstander goes down a few Hz lower, it's probably a bonus - as long as it doesn't boom.

If you're placing your standmounts on furniture (don't forget some sort of isolation if you do!) and don't need the stands, of course, that is a different matter.

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On 29/01/2021 at 1:33 PM, Adey74 said:

Thanks guys - I'm looking to spend around ~3k on amp, similar on speakers, which will presumably be the bigger ticket items. Room is about 4.5m by 4m, and listen to a range of music but mainly alt-folk, vocal-driven pop, electronica and getting into prog as I get older! 

 

 

Something that might be harder to do, but it will make a larger difference than some of the equipment: room dimensions...

 

A square room has some serious bass and frequency response issues that will wreck havoc on your listening experience. And even if you spend a ton on good quality speakers, they may not perform to their best if the room nodes kill the listening experience.

 May I suggest you consider expanding the room or cutting the size down a wee bit so it's more rectangular in shape?

 

I have a room which is almost similar in dimensions and I had to go through a lot to fix it. 

 

Also, I would say, a good set of bookshelf speakers will be pretty nice unless you're a bass fiend :) Much easier bass management, and my mains go down to the 30s... so I don't really feel that bass is an issue. On days I'm using the HT side of things, I just fire up the two JL Audios... 

 

You can see what I use in my signature... 

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