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kaaikop
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Advise on upgrade?

Hello to all, this is my first post, forgive me if this is in the wrong section...

I am looking to upgrade my CD player, having a collection of over 1000 titles, I think it would be an investment.

My current system:

CD: Musical Fidelity A3.2
Integr. amp. A3.2
Speakers: Dynaudio Audience 72
X-Can V3 with Sennheiser HD650
Rega P3 with Grado Platinum

I have done all the tweaking possible with cables, dedicated power line, etc, etc.
Actually nothing wrong with this system, I think it is well balanced, and is giving me some pleasure, with "some" CD's.
Classical & Jazz are mostly fine, rock is 90% unbearable, but this is probably due to the way it was recorded. right/wrong?

I was thinking of upgrading to one of those (probably in my order of preference...):

Musical Fidelity A5.5
Esoteric SA-10
Ayre CX-7e
Marantz SA11-S2
I also fiddled with the idea of a separate DAC but I'm not too hot on that (extra cables, etc.)

Does that make sense, or would I waste my money?
Eventually, the Amp. would be the next upgrade, but not yet.
What do you guys think?

dbowker
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Re: Advise on upgrade?

Hi- I'd that's a very nice system you have there! Lucky you that you're sort of at a nice plateau for what you can achieve at this level! I'm pretty much at the same point with my system too. It takes a bit to STOP thinking about what's next. I'd say just enjoy-----

Upgrades from this point on will A)either be looking for a different "sound" or B) cost big bucks. Getting somehting even for twice the price of most of your equipment will yield smallish results. Maybe speakers would the thing to look at- you could get ones that go deeper and are more articulate, etc. But again- you're going to be in the $5k + region. I'd just sit back and enjoy. Or if you have the need to keep spending, work on a good home theater system!

jackfish
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Re: Advise on upgrade?

I would also look into the Shanling CD-T 1500. If you don't like the sound you can always use it to transport yourself to Alpha Centauri.

kaaikop
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Re: Advise on upgrade?

I am against anything made in China, but I have to say that thing is absolutely gorgeous!!!
You think it will fly? or is "teletransport"

dcstep
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Re: Advise on upgrade?

Why not consider a top quality universal player? I see you're into vinyl also, so you'll appreciate my point of view in my review of my modded Pioneer Elite DV-58AV over in the Digital section. SACD, DVD-A and other hi-rez digital formats are giving vinyl a run for the money now, so why not get a player that serves your CDs well and opens up other alternatives.

Dave

BillB
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Re: Advise on upgrade?


Quote:
... is giving me some pleasure, with "some" CD's.
Classical & Jazz are mostly fine, rock is 90% unbearable, but this is probably due to the way it was recorded. right/wrong?

Hmm. Sounds like a nice system and I don't know why 90% of rock sounds unbearable on it. The genre is not necessarily recorded worse than other genres - sometimes yes, but I have a ton of stuff which sounds great. Not "audiophile" labels either. I'm flummoxed as to why you're not getting good results. Yes, you could upgrade, but you already have a high quality, expensive system that should be giving you lots of pleasure, so I'm not sure if upgrading is the answer.
Let's see - can you play Feist's "The Reminder" or Grandaddy's "Just like the Fambly Cat", and see what you think? Those are "regular" recordings on CD that have good sound. (I researched this by going back a whole 24 hours and noting what I played on CD yesterday). If those don't sound good on your system - I dunno. Are you maybe playing it too loud? Or maybe your room is too reflective, that can make the sound harsh. Do things sound better on the headphones?

kaaikop
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Re: Advise on upgrade?

Sorry dude, I have no idea who Feist or Grandaddy is...
I am more of a Yes-Genesis-King Crimson generation...

I think the "room acoustics" are okay (not perfect), I worked hard before I got some satisfaction out my system. On well recorded music (Patricia Barber is one of my reference), actually sounds better through the speakers VS headphones.
Edit: Actually, rock music sounds better in the cans (in the speakers, too much treble, very annoying) could it be because of the tube stage in the X-CAN makes things a little smoother?

By searching here, I also found another thread on that whole subject of poorly recorded music, very interesting indeed.
But when I see someone buying certain CD's because "they sound good" instead of because "they like the music", then I think you are on the wrong track... but that's a whole debate in itself...

I do have a "universal" player (Denon DVD-2910), which I had got when I started a (stereo) home theater system, simply because my "best buy" DVD player sounded like crap. This was an upgrade I have not regretted, but musically speaking, the player does not come close to the A3.2.

This is why I am still thinking about maybe trying out the X-DAC V8, which has 3 switchable digital inputs, so I can actually try the A3.2, the Denon player would benefit from it, and the DVR (HD cable box/recorder) with probably sound a whole lot better. This would "upgrade" everything (but for how long...until the next gadget comes out)

I guess I should be working instead, LOL

dcstep
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Re: Advise on upgrade?


Quote:
I do have a "universal" player (Denon DVD-2910), which I had got when I started a (stereo) home theater system, simply because my "best buy" DVD player sounded like crap. This was an upgrade I have not regretted, but musically speaking, the player does not come close to the A3.2.


Check out:
http://www.tweakaudio.com/EVS-2/Modifications_to_SACDUniversal.html

BillB
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Re: Advise on upgrade?

That's cool, I've got Crimson, Yes, and Genesis in my collection too - but all on vinyl, so I don't know how the CD versions sound.

Yes, the tube stage on the X-Can may well help tame the treble.

I don't know if you have tone controls on the amp or speakers, but if you do, lower the treble and/or midrange and see if that helps. Or try some "toe-out" on the speakers and see if that helps. For "diagnostic" purposes, you could try temporarily hanging some cloth or something over the tweeter/midrange and see if that tames an aggressive treble.

Other than that, I'm out of ideas. I agree mightily that it's about the music, so I wish you were getting more enjoyment from the cd's without regard to relative recording quality. Let us know how it comes out.

Monty
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Re: Advise on upgrade?

I think you have several issues that probably all contribute toward the spike
in the 2-6Khz range. You are correct to assume that a lot of the problem is
already in the discs themselves. Popular music, including many remasters of the
classic rock era are terrible in this regard.

Absorbing these frequencies as much as possible with room treatments that prevent
the reflections from bouncing around will help, as will toeing out the speakers (usually,
though not always) and properly placing the speakers in the room to maximize the
chance of not having frequency peaks and nulls that make the problem worse.

Using a tube buffer between your CD player and your integrated would probably
be worthwhile and they are pretty inexpensive these days. You mentioned having tried
cables, and I think there are several that would help you reduce the blistering, like
Tara Labs Reference Gen. II, Cardas Cross or the really inexpensive Audioquest Type 4.
The Tara Ref Gen. II is the mellowist cable I've ever heard. Excellent texture and fullness
without a hint of zip.

In the end, you have to identify what is contributing the most to your problem. For people
who like all kinds of music, the bottom line is do you want your system to sound good
with the music you listen to the most at the expense of fidelity with well recorded
material or experiment with compromises that you can live with in each? The compromises
are what keeps people chasing their tails to find the right balance.

KBK
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Re: Advise on upgrade?

The biggest bang for the buck, that manufacturers of new don't like to talk about:

Modification.

Consider having the CD player modified. New output section or modifications...and a clocking mod.

Best bang for the buck - period.

Spend the rest on something else! Maybe something new......

Edit: just looked. $1500 in 2002.

Good enough to modify, most definitely.

I'd say that an approx $500-600 modification package should scare the living bejesus out of you, sonic improvement wise.

kaaikop
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Re: Advise on upgrade?

Thanks for all the input. That gives me a few roads to explore.
I wish I had found out this place long time ago!

I realize I have gotten "attached" to my components, and not really ready to part with my beloved Musical Fidelity set...
So I have decided to give the X-DACv8 a try (it's not a major investment).

It's already way ahead of the DAC in the A3.2, and with the tube stage hopefully could buffer out some of the crispiness in rock music. I am absolutely convinced it will help out other components (DVD player, cable box), and actually could be alot of fun to play with. After all, isn't that what a hobby is supposed to be: having fun?

In the worst case, I just pull the "intruder" out of the equation. I could find other uses for that thing (computer).

Buying a brand new high-end CD player these days, is fine, if you don't already have one... things might (and probably will) change very fast in the next couple of years... I think the format is here to stay, but the machine is subject to further refinements.

Oh BTW (excuse my ignorance...) do I need special cable for connecting "digitally", or any regular 75ohm coax. interconnect will do? I just hate burning-in cables...

dbowker
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Re: Advise on upgrade?

You'll get wildly varying answers to your digital cable question but this stuff rocked in my transport to DAC setup. In any case you need digital cable in that it has wider bandwidth than standard interconnect wire.

All the Stereovox cables are great IMO but their digital is the most cost effective. It did not need burn in time.

http://www.tweekgeek.com/product.asp?pf_id=StereoVoxXV2

kaaikop
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UPDATE

Some pleasant surprises here...

First off, the DAC-V8 is staying, it definately does squeeze more music out of my CD`s, I am hearing things I had never heard before (in a good way...), and somehow I feel the "tubes" are adding a nice little warm touch (the purists will call it "coloration", I dont care, it's just more pleasant to listen to music), that was a nice little upgrade without parting with my A3.2 combo which was definately doing something right.
Thanks Dbowker for waking me up from an upgrade bug which, you were right, probably wouldnt have brought much more for all that money.

Then comes something totally unexpected... I followed the suggestion of Monty, to try something with the speaker cables...
I just received a pair of Audioquest Type 4's today, put them in, in place of the old Monster Z's...
Holy COW!!!!! That is what I call a noticeable change! Seriously, I had tried playing around with all kinds of cables, speakers, interconnect, power cords... honestly have to say I could never really hear a difference...

But this is really SIGNIFICANT!!! Man, all of a sudden the music is very pleasant, I just cannot get off my chair anymore, to try another CD, I just want to leave it there and listen to the CD till the end, and tap my foot like hell.
This is what it was meant to be, listen to music, not to constantly analyse what I am hearing.
I am very pleased to say that the initial problem I had (harshness in the treble, specially with rock music) is solved. Certain recordings which were poorly produced will remain bad, but at least I can listen to them without getting an instant headache...

Thanks guys for all the good advise,
this audiophile here is very happy!

KBK
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Re: UPDATE

yeeeeahh..it's like that.

Once you find the 'audio heroin' button in yer bean..it's all over for your wallet abuse.

Until you get used to that particular level of satisfaction.

Then you start the next round of searching for new buttons to press even harder. It may not happen today. It may not happen tomorrow. But it will.

Monty
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Re: UPDATE

I'm glad you didn't make the mistake of getting on the component swapping
merry-go-round and was able to find a grin on the cheap. More money isn't
always the answer. Well, at least "silly" money, anyway.

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