How to upgrade system

admin_exported

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Aug 10, 2019
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Hi, First post on this forum, I've asked for similar advice on another forum so sorry for the repetition if you have read it elsewhare. I built my current system (Technics SU-VX600 amp, Sony CDP-XE530 CD player and AE Aegis Evo 3speakers) over the last 20 years and am feeling the desire to upgrade. On the way I tried a Sony STR-DB780 AV receiver but returnd to the Technics 2 channel amp for my audio only as I didn't get on with the Sony AV (how many of us have done that?). So my question is: On a rolling budget of of around £400 per component, how would be the best way to upgrade i.e. where will the best improvements come from? In general terms which components should I be looking at renewing? Moving on to specifics, I have been looking at both the Cabridge Azur 650A and Arcam FMJ A18 (a bit over budget but might be worth it) ranges to start with but I want to put a plan in place to make sure the components I choose compliment each other. Obviously I will audition items before buying, I'm just trying to put some ideas in place to reduce the legwork later on. I listen to guitar driven music in a large carpeted room. I don't really want huge volumes, rather a deep quality and richness. Thanks for the advice.
 

matthewpiano

Well-known member
Nov 23, 2007
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Audition the Arcam. Don't expect it to bowl you over with immediate flashiness. It just isn't that kind of amplifier. What it will do is keep you completely engaged over a long listening session without becoming tiring. It has plenty of attack when it is needed and all the hi-fi things like soundstaging, detail and timbre are exceptional for the money, but rather than throwing these things at you, the A18 is a more subtle experience. It took me a while to get used to mine, but now I love it. Build quality is a big step-up from cheaper amps like the Cambridge, Marantz, Yamaha, and Rotel models too. There is a good promotion on the A18 at present which means you can get it for £469.

In terms of partnering I'd be thinking in terms of an Arcam CD17, and for speakers I find Dali and Focal work particularly well with Arcam. Plastic Penguin is a big fan of Monitor Audio with Arcam amplification too, so I think that would be well worth exploring.

If you find the Arcam sound isn't for you, look at Rega. A Brio 3 with an Apollo CD player and RS1 or RS3 speakers would give you a gutsier, if less refined sound than the Arcam electronics and you may find that it could suit your tastes better.

The key is to audition to find out what suits you best.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Many thanks matthewpiano.

I was kind of hoping that the AE Aegis speakers I have would be not require replacing as they are the newest components within my system.

I think what I am saying is; will my current amp be totally outclassed by todays offerings? It sounds a bit woolly and not particularly inspiring and I'm thinking the amp needs upgrading. Maybe my post title should have been "which component to upgrade first"?

On a tanget...I'ts been suggested I try a DAC. If I upgrade my CDP to a current model will the onboard DAC make a separate one pointless?

Thanks.
 

jockey.wilson

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Jan 27, 2009
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Most people will tell you to upgrade source first, then amp followed by speakers. I have generally followed this priciple, although there comes a point where, if you have a very good source, it could be argued that you reverse this theory...

For you, I think a new amp would be best. I would devote most of my money to this, keeping the speakers and maybe adding a cheapish DAC (DacMagic?) to the Cd player if you feel its not giving you enough. Something like a Cyrus 6XP (or end of line 8VS2 maybe if you can find one) would be a big improvement in clarity and drive, making the most of the speakers.
 

matthewpiano

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Nov 23, 2007
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There is no reason why your excellent AE speakers shouldn't work very well with the Arcam amp. I think you would find the A18 a massive upgrade on the Technics. It will retain the smoothness that the Technics has but with more detail and space in the sound.

With regard to a DAC, you could then buy an Arcam rDAC, which would improve the sound from your Sony CD player and give you the option to add computer based music as a source as time goes on. The transport in your Sony is excellent so this would seem a sensible way to go.
 

plastic penguin

Well-known member
In agreement with Matthew - The Arcam is the way to go. Not only will it match the speakers you have, but the upgrade via bi-amping a power amp (should the need arise) is terrific. If the A18 is slightly over your intended budget then a s/hand A85 would be more than sufficient.
 

Blackdawn

Well-known member
May 7, 2010
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Hi Micromoose, another suggestion could be the Creek Evo 2 amp. Also a NAD C355 or similar NAD might go well with the AE speakers. It would be worth trying the Yamaha AS-500 as it has a really good review, is a lot cheaper but more powerful.

Matthewpiano, what source are you going for instead of the 650C?
 

plastic penguin

Well-known member
Blackdawn:

Hi Micromoose, another suggestion could be the Creek Evo 2 amp. Also a NAD C355 or similar NAD might go well with the AE speakers. It would be worth trying the Yamaha AS-500 as it has a really good review, is a lot cheaper but more powerful.

Matthewpiano, what source are you going for instead of the 650C?

I think the Creek is a great choice but maybe over budget, unless the OP goes for a s/hand MKI version.
 

matthewpiano

Well-known member
Nov 23, 2007
494
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Blackdawn:
Hi Micromoose, another suggestion could be the Creek Evo 2 amp. Also a NAD C355 or similar NAD might go well with the AE speakers. It would be worth trying the Yamaha AS-500 as it has a really good review, is a lot cheaper but more powerful.

Matthewpiano, what source are you going for instead of the 650C?

Hi Blackdawn. Arcam CD17. Nothing wrong with the 650C. It is very good for the price, but the CD17 is a good step-up in build and sound and matches the amp. The longer I have the A18, the more it feels like a really good long-term musical companion and I think the CD17 will be the same.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Thanks all for the advice.

As you can see, I don't change kit often and I want to invest now in something that will give me pleasure for a long time. I will audition the Arcam FMJ A18, CS 650A and the Rega Brio and make a choice. I know the price points are quite varied but I think it's worth giving them all a listen.

A bit later on I'll look into a DAC, I wasn't aware the Sony CDP had a good transport (the benefit of visiting forums!) or see about upgrading the CDP. I assume the HK 980 or a similar CDP from Arcam would make a DAC redundant and therefore only beneficial if I stream music files or hook up to another digital source?
 

plastic penguin

Well-known member
micromoose:

Thanks all for the advice.

As you can see, I don't change kit often and I want to invest now in something that will give me pleasure for a long time. I will audition the Arcam FMJ A18, CS 650A and the Rega Brio and make a choice. I know the price points are quite varied but I think it's worth giving them all a listen.

A bit later on I'll look into a DAC, I wasn't aware the Sony CDP had a good transport (the benefit of visiting forums!) or see about upgrading the CDP. I assume the HK 980 or a similar CDP from Arcam would make a DAC redundant and therefore only beneficial if I stream music files or hook up to another digital source?

The choices you've short-listed the Arcam won't really impress on a short listen. They are great for long listening sessions, but for an "instant impact" others will do it better. Like all Arcams the A18 is lashed with inputs including a fantastic TT phono socket.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
The Nait 5i is another thought. A lot more expensive (but the sales are soon to be with you) but will give you better performance than the CA (not as forward) and the Brio (a bit fuller and richer). I haven't heard the Arcam.

I'd keep the Sony CD player as others have mentioned. The HK 980 you mention, assuming you mean the CD player, isn't particularly good. It sounds a trifle recessed to my ears and not that dynamic.

By the way, the Technics amps I've heard have all tended tend to be rich, full and warm, so I'd audition those mentioned in your setup before deciding. You'll find some of them a lot more dynamic than the Technics, and you may find them a fatiguing listen in comparison.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Grottyash:
The Nait 5i is another thought. A lot more expensive (but the sales are soon to be with you) but will give you better performance than the CA (not as forward) and the Brio (a bit fuller and richer). I haven't heard the Arcam.

I'd keep the Sony CD player as others have mentioned. The HK 980 you mention, assuming you mean the CD player, isn't particularly good. It sounds a trifle recessed to my ears and not that dynamic.

By the way, the Technics amps I've heard have all tended tend to be rich, full and warm, so I'd audition those mentioned in your setup before deciding. You'll find some of them a lot more dynamic than the Technics, and you may find them a fatiguing listen in comparison.

I'd second the comment about the Technics. Just a word of caution I wouldn't be to hasty about changing the amp, they made bomb proof excellent sounding amps did Technics in the 80's. The above mentioned non fatiguing listen is a very good character. Whatever you choose to upgrade see if yo can try it out at home. Furthermore you will have no problem selling the amp if you choose to and give you some cash towards an Arcam or similar as Matthew mentioned above.

If it were me and if the Sony has a digital out I would try something like the new Arcam DAC......or Beresford Caiman.....or Something first.

Regards
 
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Anonymous

Guest
brittondave:Grottyash:

I'd second the comment about the Technics. Just a word of caution I wouldn't be to hasty about changing the amp, they made bomb proof excellent sounding amps did Technics in the 80's.

This is an interesting comment. I seem to remember the amp being reasonably expensive for me when I bought it (c.£500 in the early 90's) and don't want to junk it unnecessarily. I must admit though, I think it should be outclassed by newer equipment and almost all of the advice I've received backs this up. The acid test will be audtioning but I'll not be able to listen to new kit with my AE Evo 3 speakers.

Was the Technics amp well regarded at the time? Or was it an ok budget amp in it's day?

Thanks.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
The big question is:

Why do you want to 'upgrade'?

If your gear works, I can see only two reasonable causes for buying new components:

1, you don't like the sound and want to change it.

2, you want new functionality.

The last one is simple: For £400 you can get e decent DAC and a big hard drive, so you can enter the vast world of computer based music storage and playback.You'll get access to a lot more music, less expensive and way more convenient that with a CD player. You'll get a choice between formats, from modest sound quality Internet radio and streaming, via 'almost CD quality at moderate prices' ACC files and streaming, to 'beyond CD quality at CD price' downloads.

The first one is more complex.

The one chain in the link that affect sound quality the most, are the speakers. Change speakers, and you're bound to hear a difference. Change anything else, and whether you hear a difference or not depends on the speakers.

It's not necessarily the speakers themselves, but the way they interact with your room and with your amp. Some speakers are more sensitive to room conditions, some speakers are more demanding on the amplifier.

Your speakers have a relatively high senistivity, but their 3 ways, so they probably need some power to work properly.

Your amp is rated at 2x70W, which is not overwhelming. More power might make your speakers sound better, simply because more power means more dynamics with less distortion.

Replacing your amp with another amp with equal or less power (like the Naim), will certainly not be a good idea. Both technical facts/measurements and blind tests shows that the actual differences in 'sound quality' between amps are hardly significant. What counts is whether they can handle the speakers. (The results of subjective tests, like those done by most hi-fi magazines, and all customers looking for new gear, is of course different. But then such 'tests' are subjective, and depending on taste and mood people might actually think that clipping sounds nicer than undistorted sound; the first being interpreted as 'warmer'.)

I doubt you'll find an amp with much more power than the Technics within your budget though. A separate power amp to use with the Technics (provided it has a pre-out) might be your best bet.

So my suggestion will be: Keep what you've got until you can afford a more powerful amp. If you want to spend your £400 now, buy the equipment needed for a conversion to computer based playback.
 

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