Next weekend I'm travelling to Chicago to do my first hi-fi equipment auditioning and I'm looking for some advice to make sure I end up with components that will mesh well with what I've already got.
Right now I'm living with a setup that I bought about 9 years ago, a Denon DRA-295 receiver and Klipsch RB-3 speakers. It's served me well enough, but a few months ago I picked up a Rega RP1 and now I've got the vinyl/hi-fi bug.
The first piece I know I want to swap out is my receiver for an integrated amp with a built-in phono stage or 2 separates ($1000 for either option is my target). I don't have much reference to work with since this is the only stereo I've had, but I think it's a safe bet that the phono stage on the Denon is a weak spot. I'm going to stick with the speakers for now and think about an upgrade in the future.
So, some questions:
1) Without actually hauling my speakers with me, how can I reconcile the fact that they will be an extra variable when I'm testing amps? Will this be enough of a factor that I ought to consider taking my speakers? Can anyone comment on peculiarities of RB-3s that I ought to consider when listening/buying?
2) My plan is to really hone in on the sound of 4-5 tracks on my stereo this week and take them with me to audition. Any other suggestions for how to prepare my ears for an audition? Again, since I have no frame of reference for what a hi-fi "should" sound like, my goal is to go in with as clear an idea as possible of what I've got right now.
Any other equipment auditioning advice or resources would be gladly welcome.