I'm somewhat new to the audiophile world, so I could use some basic advice on upgrading: I have a decent pair of speakers and decent amplification, but my universal player and receiver are low level. Which one should I upgrade first? Which upgrade would have the greatest benefit? I am reluctant to invest in a new player with the sacd/dvda format war still going on and the hddvd/blueray war looming on the horizon...So, am I better off getting first a good preamp/processor, or what?
It would help to know the specific equipment you are currently using and how much money you are willing to part with.
With all the used gear available, there is no reason not to consider replacing several components if they aren't up to par with what your ears like.
Yeah, I think you are on the right track with what you already are thinking. Your system is just begging for an upgrade in the front-end. Most Hi-Fi shops will let you take home equipment for trial if they realize you are serious about a purchase.
I would also suggest that an upgrade in your pre-amp is needed, though I would first go for the player and see how much difference it makes. Both can seriously hold back otherwise good amplification and speakers.
If it were me, I would try to identify what is wrong with the system and go after that. Personally I would try to seperate your 2 channel from the HT first. Maybe even in completely different rooms.
I suggest to upgrade the receiver first. Nowadays, the price/performance ratio of source components works on a log scale so you won't get much better quality unless you are willing to spend a lot more money.
OTOH, the best receiver is no receiver so definitely go the preamp/processor and separate multichannel amp way first.
Do you want to upgrade to improve your two-channel system, or do you hope to continue dual use and expect to be able to appreciate some level of improvement in the Home Theater application?
Like you, I have my two channel system and such audio support as I provide for video in the same room, but they are completely separate systems. My significant investments are in the two-channel system, and that which accompanies the video is deliberately pretty ordinary. If you choose that route, the front end you have will do nicely for the HT stuff. Why not give the HTsetup some new speakers (nothing special - perhaps little sub/sattelites that can be easily hidden) and focus your upgrades on the main music system?
You mention 'decent amplification' then 'low level receiver'. Receiver normally means Tuner and Amplifier in one package. What do you have? Then I can help.
Ist you shd obtain ac power conditioning and digital isolation. You may be very pleased and find satisfaction with your present gear. I offer on extension cord for sale on Audiogon made from an MIT Z Cord ll which will allow you to experiment as your receiver has an attached ac cord.. It worked very well for me but I have now upgraded to MIT's finest ($$) Oracle cords.
i really think power conditioners and power wires are the very last (if ever) methods to obtain any improvements.
are your 803's 803s's or 803d's??? big difference. i say get a seperate preamp first. that was the biggest improvement so far i think
Your digital player is sending a ton of noise back to your receiver. You won't know the benefit of getting some isolation between them till you try it. Many dealers are very receptive to allowing you to home try an isolation device. You're comments reveal your inexperience-just give things a try. The power conditioner for your receiver will take a burden off the limited power supply and voila! dynamics improve along with other things. I am sure your system can sound vastly better & hopefully you won't feel the need to spend. Happy listening.
What have you tried?
On a scale of 1 to 10, your speakers probably rate a 7, and your Pioneer gear about a 2!! What a sad mismatch; like using a Ferrari to haul fertilizer.
I would consider a good integrated amp from NAD or Creek or Cambridge at $400-$800) and the Marantz SACD/CD player at $1100 (forget the model number; check the Marantz website).
In general, most people make the same mistake I made for many years; good speakers and feeding them garbage from mediocre or BAD electronics.
In contrast to what some articles might tell you, a relatively modest speaker will do fairly well with good electronics. If you spend $2000-3000 CAREFULLY on GOOD electronics you can have some very fine sound from speakers for $500 or so. Reverse that, and you will have speakers that do a marvelous job of reproducing the distortion and grunge they are being fed. Garbage in; Garbage out!!!