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Upgrading hi-fi stuff

Discussion in 'Home Audio (Stereo Systems)' started by Bryan T, Jul 31, 2020.

  1. Bryan T

    Bryan T guitar owner Silver Supporting Member

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    We moved recently, so now I have the urge to upgrade my hi-fi setup. Currently, I have B&W 685 speakers and a NAD D3020 amp. Sources are either a Mac Mini or a Rega turntable with a Hana SL (?) cartridge and a phono preamp. The NAD and speakers are the “weakest” link, though I think it sounds really good. But I’ve definitely heard better. I’m chasing a listening experience with some $$$ Dynaudios and McIntosh amps. That had height, depth, width, ... just fantastic.

    Hilariously, I’m not really sure how to pick upgrades. I’ll likely replace the amp first, but I don’t want to box myself in for the speaker upgrade. I’d like something tried and true, not a flavor of the week.

    Any tips? What would you put together for $3k? $5k? $7k? Thanks!
     
  2. Rex Anderson

    Rex Anderson Member

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    Try the AVS Forum for info.

    https://www.avsforum.com/threads/how-to-choose-a-loudspeaker-what-the-science-shows.3038828/

    Dr. Floyd Toole's research shows most people prefer speakers with neutral on and off axis response. Revel and some JBL speakers were designed based on his research.

    https://www.revelspeakers.com/

    You should choose speakers first, your NAD amp doesn't have enough power to drive most speakers well but there are plenty of good integrated amps.

    Some people like Dynaudio, I tried them and they didn't work for me. I love my Revel F208's. FWIW, I was a professional recording engineer for 32 years.

    McIntosh is a high end brand that sounds good, but overpriced in my opinion.
     
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  3. paulg

    paulg Silver Supporting Member

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    I’d look elsewhere for mid/high end audio recommendations. Audiogon is a pretty good place to gather experience based opinions.
     
  4. Bryan T

    Bryan T guitar owner Silver Supporting Member

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    I’m not an audiophile, so I try to avoid those forums. Given the option, I’ll almost always elect to buy more CDs/records instead of buying playback equipment. But it makes it hard to sort out the good from the snakeoil.
     
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  5. jnovac1

    jnovac1 Supporting Member

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    i’ve had really good success with a quad 909 amp and 99 preamp. nice built in phono section. i also scored a pair of thiel cs2s for 200 bucks. there is lots of high class gear out there on the used market that will get that spooky cool spatial sound that you like. i have a few systems, that quad thiel setup is very satisfying and set me back about 1200 bucks, not counting source components. haven’t heard the revels that rex is fond of, but i wouldn’t bet against ‘em.
     
  6. johntoste

    johntoste Member

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    Bryan, are you still in the LA area?
    If so, go to Brooks Berdan Ltd and take their advice.
    https://brooksberdanltd.com/
    I've never been there and have no affiliation, but they have a great rep in the specialty audio community and have been in biz for a long time.
    It's in their best interest to make you a happy customer.
     
  7. Bryan T

    Bryan T guitar owner Silver Supporting Member

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    We are still in L.A. I’ve never been to that shop, but it looks cool. I suspect they’d chuckle at my budget given some of the stuff on their website.
     
  8. johntoste

    johntoste Member

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    As we all know, everyone has to start somewhere.
    Some of what they offer is in your stated budget.
    If they suggest used, you should consider it. Some audiofiends change gear on a whim.
    Worth a visit.
    Best of luck.
     
    Bryan T likes this.
  9. Steeltoe

    Steeltoe Supporting Member

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    https://upscaleaudio.com/
    Upscale Audio in La Verne is another good source. Kevin Deal has a lot of great videos to demonstrate and explain different products.
    However, I bought my system before I knew of them. I have a bit less than 7k into mine, but I bought my speakers used (but mint). Everything else new. I am pretty
    happy with this: Yamaha A S2200 integrated amp. Yamaha CD S2100 cd/dac, and Klipsch Chorus II speakers (1995). I listen to either cd or Tidal streaming. I am an admitted Klipschaholic for their Heritage line. Have mercy!
     
  10. ddog

    ddog Silver Supporting Member

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    Youre budget is more than adequate to put together great system...suggestion of used stuff (speakers /mint/) Good move...No snake oil,quality stuff always performs...setup well/synergy is key.Some well informed decisions can be heard/realized with some reading.Us audiomart is good place to mull over the market.
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2020
  11. 57gold

    57gold Silver Supporting Member

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    Have a @$16K system, speakers and amps 20 years old, DAC is recent. Been thinking about replacing amp and speakers. These days you can get great sound within your budget. A couple of suggestions:
    • Amp - https://www.nordacoustics.co.uk/product-page/nord-three-se-1et400a-dual-mono-stereo-amp Cool running, state of the art digital amp that can drive any speaker with extremely dynamic and possibly the lowest distortion levels available.
    • DAC - Two choices, the first I'd buy because I don't play vinyl and its $1,000 cheaper than what I have, which has an phono preamp built in: https://www.rme-usa.com/adi-2-dac.html The second is this one, which I own and enjoy: https://mytekdigital.com/hifi/products/brooklyn A couple of considerations: a) if you record, the RME has a version with a studio quality analog to digital converter; or b) if you intend to source music from TIDAL or ROON (the way of the future), Mytek produces the Brooklyn Bridge version with built in streaming, though one can still stream music from the Mac to the DAC, though folks say you get better sonics if you hook DAC up to Ethernet, the Bridge also adds WiFi connectivity.
    • Speakers - To me, this is the hard choice and I do not have any strong recommendations, but again there are some lower priced ones that reach the sonics of what used to be only available to those who could spend $25K+ on speakers. Room size is important, as well, monitors or towers? I would check the ones reviewed here out:https://www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/2019-editors-choice-awards-loudspeakers-1500-3000/
    BTW, look for closeout, year end, demo sales...My amp and speakers listed for $7K each and found them during "demo/inventory reduction/year end sales" from authorized dealers at $5K, they were new in the box. The DACs I listed are made by "pro audio/studio" companies, so places like Vintage King and Sweetwater...sell them and have sales/coupons/open box units...

    And, if you are wary of spending $1,200 to $2,500 on DAC with the rapid pace of digital innovation, another alternative, one which has the best measurements (low distortion, jitter) and high dynamics, the Topping D90 (a Chinese product with state of the art chipset and functionality in terms of hi rez formats like DSD) at $700 feeding the Nord, driving the Monitor Audio or Harbeth speakers would be mind blowing good sound!
    https://soundnews.net/sources/dacs/topping-d90-review-a-genre-master/
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2020

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