What Is The Playback System Upgrade Path?

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lenjack
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Re: What Is The Playback System Upgrade Path?

Post by lenjack » 10 Jul 2018 21:50

I will give in slightly. Front end-back end are most important. I still believe, at a certain level, upgrading speakers, is the best path to better sound.

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Re: What Is The Playback System Upgrade Path?

Post by Ghaasl » 10 Jul 2018 22:43

I say if you’re happy with the sound you have, you don’t need to upgrade. In my humble system, I’ve upgraded (in this order) the cartridge and the receiver. I bought my TT with a new Ortofon OM5E cartridge on it. It sounded okay for what it was, but it was a bit dry and sterile for my tastes. Very CD like. So, I upgraded to a Nagaoka MP-110. Excellent cartridge for the money. I was getting the vintage analogue sound I craved, almost. Then I upgraded my receiver from a Kenwood AV receiver with a phono input built in the mid 90s to a Pioneer SX3700 built when analogue playback was still top dog. Now I have my analogue sonic bliss. I’ll likely never upgrade anything again. I’ll just replace the stylus when needed and buy more records.

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Re: What Is The Playback System Upgrade Path?

Post by ginniegatrit » 11 Jul 2018 00:30

I'm pretty satisfied with my middle of the road system (NAD 7045/Dual 504/2M Red or Nagaoka MP110 and an okay phono pre-amp). But I'm contantly on the lookout for speakers. Never seem to be completely satisfied with my speakers. But last week a friend was throwing out some Paradigm mini monitors. I grabbed them, refoamed the woofers and man, they sound so good I just might be able to stop looking .

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Re: What Is The Playback System Upgrade Path?

Post by cats squirrel » 11 Jul 2018 11:32

it is a shame, but people on here fall into either the music lover group or the audiophile group. I probably have a foot in each group. Upgrading should be a way of improving musical enjoyment, but for some it's about pride of ownership. :x

If you are happy with what you have, why change? If you are not happy, what is it that you are not happy with?

Cost of hifi kit is not a measure of hifi sound quality. About ten years ago I started getting back into listening to hifi sounds again. I bought a modest cd-based system (about $1300), and I was quite happy with it. Then I decided I needed more bass, so I bought some bigger speakers (about $1500), then another amplifier (total about $800). But I still wasn't totally happy. So I decided to design my own stuff, and I am getting to somewhere where I just listen to glorious music. Total cost of present amplifiers and loudspeakers is about $72!

The point I am labouring to make is that good sound need not cost a lot of money. You will see by my sig. that I am using the same pickup cartridge as you say you have. A very good start. I had to spend over $150 to improve upon it.

And upgrades, the biggest upgrade in sound I have heard is replacing the stub and counterweight on my Rega tone arm. Loudspeakers and cartridges can sound different, and some are 'better' than others, but frequency response is not the be all and end all of it. :D

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Re: What Is The Playback System Upgrade Path?

Post by raphaelmabo » 11 Jul 2018 12:55

Good speakers can not compensate for a shabby front-end. The better speakers you get, the more errors and faults will you discover in the chain from the source all the way to the speakers.

Now, as for money. I bought my turntable, cartridge and phono pre new. But my amplifier was a demo ex sitting on the shelf so I got some rebate, and the speakers are from the early 90's that I got for a low price, and I bought my wonderful Marantz CD 63 KI Signature used. A classic.

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Re: What Is The Playback System Upgrade Path?

Post by ginniegatrit » 11 Jul 2018 18:09

Ghaasl wrote:I say if you’re happy with the sound you have, you don’t need to upgrade. In my humble system, I’ve upgraded (in this order) the cartridge and the receiver. I bought my TT with a new Ortofon OM5E cartridge on it. It sounded okay for what it was, but it was a bit dry and sterile for my tastes. Very CD like. So, I upgraded to a Nagaoka MP-110. Excellent cartridge for the money. I was getting the vintage analogue sound I craved, almost. Then I upgraded my receiver from a Kenwood AV receiver with a phono input built in the mid 90s to a Pioneer SX3700 built when analogue playback was still top dog. Now I have my analogue sonic bliss. I’ll likely never upgrade anything again. I’ll just replace the stylus when needed and buy more records.

since I'm on a tight budget I'm constantly on the lookout for cheap, but good performing components. My NAD 7045 receiver cost me $20. My Dual 504, $13. My Paradigm Mini Moniters just the cost of refoaming which was $6. That's just $40 for the core of my main system! An aftermarket stylus to go with the Shure 95 was $16. I did however buy a Nagaoka MP110 ($120) and Ortofon 2M Red ($100) later on.
My other systems cost similiar expenses. It's a lot of fun trying to find good deals on stereo equipment, but nowadays the prices have jumped dramatically.

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Re: What Is The Playback System Upgrade Path?

Post by Thunderbox » 11 Jul 2018 19:27

ginniegatrit wrote:
Ghaasl wrote:I say if you’re happy with the sound you have, you don’t need to upgrade. In my humble system, I’ve upgraded (in this order) the cartridge and the receiver. I bought my TT with a new Ortofon OM5E cartridge on it. It sounded okay for what it was, but it was a bit dry and sterile for my tastes. Very CD like. So, I upgraded to a Nagaoka MP-110. Excellent cartridge for the money. I was getting the vintage analogue sound I craved, almost. Then I upgraded my receiver from a Kenwood AV receiver with a phono input built in the mid 90s to a Pioneer SX3700 built when analogue playback was still top dog. Now I have my analogue sonic bliss. I’ll likely never upgrade anything again. I’ll just replace the stylus when needed and buy more records.

since I'm on a tight budget I'm constantly on the lookout for cheap, but good performing components. My NAD 7045 receiver cost me $20. My Dual 504, $13. My Paradigm Mini Moniters just the cost of refoaming which was $6. That's just $40 for the core of my main system! An aftermarket stylus to go with the Shure 95 was $16. I did however buy a Nagaoka MP110 ($120) and Ortofon 2M Red ($100) later on.
My other systems cost similiar expenses. It's a lot of fun trying to find good deals on stereo equipment, but nowadays the prices have jumped dramatically.
You must be capable of refoaming your self because nobody does it for $6.

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Re: What Is The Playback System Upgrade Path?

Post by JRob1125 » 11 Jul 2018 20:58

If you like the sound of your speakers, keep them. They're the most important, but in my opinion they're also the most subjective part of your system.

Other than that

Preamp > Amp/receiver > stylus > cartridge > turntable > cables

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Re: What Is The Playback System Upgrade Path?

Post by cats squirrel » 11 Jul 2018 22:33

ginniegatrit wrote: since I'm on a tight budget I'm constantly on the lookout for cheap, but good performing components. My NAD 7045 receiver cost me $20. My Dual 504, $13. My Paradigm Mini Monitors just the cost of refoaming which was $6. That's just $40 for the core of my main system! An aftermarket stylus to go with the Shure 95 was $16. I did however buy a Nagaoka MP110 ($120) and Ortofon 2M Red ($100) later on.
My other systems cost similar expenses. It's a lot of fun trying to find good deals on stereo equipment, but nowadays the prices have jumped dramatically.
your cartridge purchases remind me of the guy who put a Ferrari engine in his family saloon, thinking it would turn it into a Ferrari. Of course, it didn't.

Putting an expensive cartridge into a cheap arm/turntable is not going to work too well.I would always suggest going for a better arm before going for a better cartridge. If you can't change the arm, then you are limited to so-so cartridges.

The secret to building a system is choose kit of the same quality. It's little use putting a high quality bit of kit into a generally low quality system, expecting the high quality bit of kit to improve the rest of the system, it will not. :(

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Re: What Is The Playback System Upgrade Path?

Post by raphaelmabo » 12 Jul 2018 08:25

The Dual 504 is a nice vintage turntable, some of the plastic components are prone to fail but it looks nice and it is a suspended chassi design. The low mass tonearms works best with high compliance cartridges or cartridges or medium compliance cartridges that are close to high compliance. Ortofon 2M Serie would work well. Neither the 2M Red nor the Nag MP110 are Ferrari's. :) They are solid buys a step above the low end/budget AT92/AT95 and similar ones.

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Re: What Is The Playback System Upgrade Path?

Post by Agrippa » 12 Jul 2018 08:38

In my experience there's no simple, single rule as what's the most important upgrade in a system without also being intimately familiar with the system in question. Having experience with one or more of the components counts for very little; you need to know how it all functions together.

That said, in an absolutely general sense I would have to agree that the amplifier is the single most important component in any system. Speakers are certainly the component which supplies more of the character of the system than any other, but unless the amplifier is good enough to extract every last ounce of musical prowess possible from them, how will you know how good or bad your speakers are?

The sad fact is that most people never get to know what their speakers can sound like, because they pair them with an amplifier which isn't even close to being able to make them perform at their best.

Many years ago my (then) speakers blew their tweeters and had to be sent away for repair. Since it was going to take a while I picked up a cheap pair (£150 on sale) of Athena stand mounts to use while I waited. A couple of friends and I listened to them in a shop listening room, hooked up to a ~£500 Marantz amplifier, and thought they sounded "not bad".

I took them home, hooked them up to my (then) Classè pre/power combo (~£6000) and the improvement over what we had heard in the shop was simply huge. The sound stage, the bass extension, the resolution - everything was now in an entirely different league. In the following months I had a number of friends drop by with various old and new speakers, all of them on the cheap end of the scale, in order to find out how good they actually were, and to a (wo)man they all had their preconceptions crushed. Said preconception being that you should spend roughly the same on amplifier and speakers.

No doubt many cheap speakers exist which aren't deserving of amplifiers better than themselves, but my contention is that any cheap speaker produced by a reputable and competent maker needs to be hooked up to a really competent amplifier if you want to find out what it's actually capable of.

So yes, when in doubt my vote is for upgrading the amplifier first.

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Re: What Is The Playback System Upgrade Path?

Post by cats squirrel » 12 Jul 2018 12:52

Agrippa wrote:
...No doubt many cheap speakers exist which aren't deserving of amplifiers better than themselves, but my contention is that any cheap speaker produced by a reputable and competent maker needs to be hooked up to a really competent amplifier if you want to find out what it's actually capable of.

So yes, when in doubt my vote is for upgrading the amplifier first.
I'm in no doubt this is contention is very sensible. A loudspeaker (however good or indifferent) is affected by the amplifier driving it. Simply using a very good loudspeaker with a so-so amplifier does not guarantee a good sound. So it is with cartridges and arms. A good arm will allow a cartridge to work at its best. And my experience is that the better the arm, the less the difference there is between cartridges of different quality. So, for example, an AT92ECD in a Rega arm (with s/s stub and counterweight) will sound better than an Ortofon Red in a Dual arm. As you can see from my sig, I run the former, and I have no wish to change to an Ortofon Red in a lesser arm.

I am putting together a cheapo system, and I have spent 30% of the total system costs (cart/arm/turntable/phono/preamp/power amps/speakers) on the tone arm :D , as I have experience of how the arm affects the sound so much. Carts (only one in the cost analysis) include AT3600/AT91, AT92ECD, AT95E, AT95EX and AT100E. :D

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Re: What Is The Playback System Upgrade Path?

Post by lenjack » 12 Jul 2018 16:43

I respectfully disagree that the amp is the most important. Certainly it is important, and under some circumstances it can make a significant difference, but most times, any reasonably well designed amp, will make the least amount of difference.

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Re: What Is The Playback System Upgrade Path?

Post by raphaelmabo » 12 Jul 2018 17:44

Dual ULM tonearms were really made for Ortofon OM and not 2M (or the Ortofon OM were made for Dual ULM, Dual’s stock cartridge was an Ortofon OM). So it’s also about finding the right cartridge and tonearm combination.

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Re: What Is The Playback System Upgrade Path?

Post by Thunderbox » 12 Jul 2018 17:53

lenjack wrote:I respectfully disagree that the amp is the most important. Certainly it is important, and under some circumstances it can make a significant difference, but most times, any reasonably well designed amp, will make the least amount of difference.
I used to think that way until I tried a better amp. I knew I wasn't happy with the vintage equipment had because I never got the enjoyment I had earlier in life. I am the first to admit I never did upgrades or recaps to any of my vintage stuff so that could have been part of the problem. Buying a new and decent integrated amplifier has improved the system more than any thing I ever done in the past. It also depends on what is in your system. If you already have a great amp, spending a lot of money to get a different one will net you very little improvement.
So it depends what your baseline is but go out and try other equipment at the audio store and don't forget to bring along your favorite music source. (CD Player, turntable or what have you)