Question Is it worth the upgrade/What?

Zeeman92

Well-known member
Nov 9, 2014
51
6
18,545
I've tried my best to keep this to the point despite having a few queries, any help will be much appreciated, thanks in advance.(y)

For stereo listening my current setup doesn't quite give me the enjoyment I would like. I quite honestly don't understand why Audiolab were so highly rated, either it's subjective, or something in my rig is a weak link, if so what? Ideally, I want something that has decent clarity and is exciting; warm and punchy whist sounding honest. I listen to many different genres which I guess makes upgrade choice somewhat difficult (see below).

Songs like Massive Attack's Angel sound pretty awesome or Santana's debut just to give an idea.

Streaming
Chromecast Audio --> Cambridge Audio DacMagic Plus --> Audiolab 8000PX and 8000Q --> Monitor Audio Silver 300.

TT
Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Esprit SB (standard Ortofon 2M Red cart) --> 8000A --> Pre-Power combo.

I stream with either Tidal or Amazon HD. I'm well aware that using a CC probably isn't ideal. Is there likely to be massive gains if I, a. purchased a streamer or b. plugged a PC into the DAC and streamed that way?

I tend to stream more than I use records so am not too bothered about getting a phone stage at the moment.

I loosely have my eyes on the Roksan Caspian M2, or something like a Musical Fidelity M6i, I assume both options will both be a substantial jump?

Acid/Rave
Afrobeat (Original stuff)
Big Band
Blues
Blues Rock
Breakbeat
Classical
Drum N Bass/Various EDM
Folk
Funk
Garage
Grime
Hard Rock
Hip Hop
Heavy Metal - Various Genre Offshoots
Indie
Jazz/Jazz Fusion
Punk/Post Punk
R&B - Original
Rap
Reggae
Rock
Rock N Roll
Ska
Techno
Trance
40s/50s/60s/70s - present
 
Last edited:
I've tried my best to keep this to the point despite having a few queries, any help will be much appreciated, thanks in advance.(y)

For stereo listening my current setup doesn't quite give me the enjoyment I would like. I quite honestly don't understand why Audiolab were so highly rated, either it's subjective, or something in my rig is a weak link, if so what? Ideally, I want something that has decent clarity and is exciting; warm and punchy whist sounding honest. I listen to many different genres which I guess makes upgrade choice somewhat difficult (see below).

Songs like Massive Attack's Angel sound pretty awesome or Santana's debut just to give an idea.

Streaming
Chromecast Audio --> Cambridge Audio DacMagic Plus --> Audiolab 8000PX and 8000Q --> Monitor Audio Silver 300.

TT
Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Esprit SB (standard Ortofon 2M Red cart) --> 8000A --> Pre-Power combo.

I stream with either Tidal or Amazon HD. I'm well aware that using a CC probably isn't ideal. Is there likely to be massive gains if I, a. purchased a streamer or b. plugged a PC into the DAC and streamed that way?

I tend to stream more than I use records so am not too bothered about getting a phone stage at the moment.

I loosely have my eyes on the Roksan Caspian M2, or something like a Musical Fidelity M6i, I assume both options will both be a substantial jump?

Acid/Rave
Afrobeat (Original stuff)
Big Band
Blues
Blues Rock
Breakbeat
Classical
Drum N Bass/Various EDM
Folk
Funk
Garage
Grime
Hard Rock
Hip Hop
Heavy Metal - Various Genre Offshoots
Indie
Jazz/Jazz Fusion
Punk/Post Punk
R&B - Original
Rap
Reggae
Rock
Rock N Roll
Ska
Techno
Trance
40s/50s/60s/70s - present
Why do you list a load of genres after your question.
Totally pointless as any decent speakers should handle everything
In fact I can't see exactly what questions you are posing, can you explain.
It would seem to me that source is everything, and it's not an issue with the amp.
 
Last edited:

aversaurus

Well-known member
Jan 11, 2016
279
71
10,970
I don't really understand why you want to change the amp I think you need to change the streamer .
Do you own a cd player if so play it through the DAC and see how a good streamer should sound
 

Zeeman92

Well-known member
Nov 9, 2014
51
6
18,545
I don't really understand why you want to change the amp I think you need to change the streamer .
Do you own a cd player
Not sure tbh, I assumed the amp since some records sound uninteresting. Though that could be that I don't have a dedicated phonostage. No CD player so can't test.

So what's a better option, a decent streamer or a PC plugged into the DAC ?
 

Zeeman92

Well-known member
Nov 9, 2014
51
6
18,545
Would I be correct in thinking It'd likely be leaps above than using my current method (Chromecast into the DAC)?
 
Last edited:

Zeeman92

Well-known member
Nov 9, 2014
51
6
18,545
The chrome cast is your weak link followed by the dacmagic depending what gen it is
I've just found the below article as well as many other articles kind of debunking the idea that an expensive streamer will be a big leap. Maybe the DAC might improve things somewhat but surely other than room improvements, that leads back to the amp for bigger gains?

https://www.reddit.com/r/audiophile/comments/p0wryr View: https://www.reddit.com/r/audiophile/comments/p0wryr/high_quality_streamer_vs_chromecast_audio_in/
 

aversaurus

Well-known member
Jan 11, 2016
279
71
10,970
Your best idea is to audition a new amp and see if it makes the difference your looking for .
a change to any one part of your set up will change the sound .the question is will it change to the sound your looking for .
but you need to start somewhere and if can audition some new kit it will save you time and money
 

twinkletoes

Well-known member
Nov 16, 2021
200
134
970
@Zeeman92 Get a blue sound node 2i and it will cut your box count in half and is better at doing the dac thing as well its a little more energetic and sure foorted

If your don't like, it send it back within the 14-30day returns period. Buy from amazon or some such just make sure they have a good retunes policy you can audition at home then, with your other peaces
 
  • Like
Reactions: Zeeman92

twinkletoes

Well-known member
Nov 16, 2021
200
134
970
I've just found the below article as well as many other articles kind of debunking the idea that an expensive streamer will be a big leap. Maybe the DAC might improve things somewhat but surely other than room improvements, that leads back to the amp for bigger gains?

https://www.reddit.com/r/audiophile/comments/p0wryr View: https://www.reddit.com/r/audiophile/comments/p0wryr/high_quality_streamer_vs_chromecast_audio_in/

Yep, its a good device that people don't want to believe is of the same quality of as many streamers on the market costing multiple hundreds if not thousands more, there is a reason they now fetch a small fortune on ebay. But they do have their down sides as well.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Zeeman92

skinnypuppy71

Well-known member
Aug 10, 2021
275
157
1,070
I think maybe your system is kind of telling you how it is, you say Massive attack and Santana sound pretty awesome, well recorded music, I'd start looking at the recordings before the system, try some well noted mastered material, even if it's not your cuppa, Stevie Ray Vaughan's tin pan alley, Nils Lhofgren, kieth don't go, Anne Bisson September in Montreal and just about anything from pink Floyd from Dark side of the moon and onwards.....see how that goes and if that's not doing it for you then I'd start looking at the system, oh and If you want to change stuff I'd start with the chromecast and 2m red.
 

plastic penguin

Well-known member
I've tried my best to keep this to the point despite having a few queries, any help will be much appreciated, thanks in advance.(y)

For stereo listening my current setup doesn't quite give me the enjoyment I would like. I quite honestly don't understand why Audiolab were so highly rated, either it's subjective, or something in my rig is a weak link, if so what? Ideally, I want something that has decent clarity and is exciting; warm and punchy whist sounding honest. I listen to many different genres which I guess makes upgrade choice somewhat difficult (see below).

Songs like Massive Attack's Angel sound pretty awesome or Santana's debut just to give an idea.

Streaming
Chromecast Audio --> Cambridge Audio DacMagic Plus --> Audiolab 8000PX and 8000Q --> Monitor Audio Silver 300.

TT
Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Esprit SB (standard Ortofon 2M Red cart) --> 8000A --> Pre-Power combo.

I stream with either Tidal or Amazon HD. I'm well aware that using a CC probably isn't ideal. Is there likely to be massive gains if I, a. purchased a streamer or b. plugged a PC into the DAC and streamed that way?

I tend to stream more than I use records so am not too bothered about getting a phone stage at the moment.

I loosely have my eyes on the Roksan Caspian M2, or something like a Musical Fidelity M6i, I assume both options will both be a substantial jump?

Acid/Rave
Afrobeat (Original stuff)
Big Band
Blues
Blues Rock
Breakbeat
Classical
Drum N Bass/Various EDM
Folk
Funk
Garage
Grime
Hard Rock
Hip Hop
Heavy Metal - Various Genre Offshoots
Indie
Jazz/Jazz Fusion
Punk/Post Punk
R&B - Original
Rap
Reggae
Rock
Rock N Roll
Ska
Techno
Trance
40s/50s/60s/70s - present
Looking at your kit there seems to be imbalance with components: Audiolab and MA Silver are not a good combination; the DacMagic I owned for a short period - didn't like it. What I change? We all have our personal choices. The best advice is to demo. Not major surgery or a wholesale change but I would start with the Audiolabs - the older models really aren't my bag.

Depending on budget I would look at a quality integrated, such as a Arcam, Creek, Roksan and see if that improves matters.

Or if you really want to cut down on box count, suggest you demo a Leema Quasar. It doesn't have a phono stage but as a digital device it should be great, especially with MA Silvers
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Zeeman92

nopiano

Well-known member
I’d expect to prefer a Roksan or Musical Fidelity amp to the Audiolab, but I’m not fait with your speakers. I also prefer a purpose-built streamer to Chromecast plus DAC, or a computer alternative. But if you’ve strong views on the streamer, I’d just suggest trying one at a dealer.

Auditioning a few amp and speaker combos will soon give you an idea how much the presentation you currently enjoy is fine for you, or where it could be bettered.
 

Zeeman92

Well-known member
Nov 9, 2014
51
6
18,545
@Zeeman92 Get a blue sound node 2i and it will cut your box count in half and is better at doing the dac thing as well its a little more energetic and sure foorted

If your don't like, it send it back within the 14-30day returns period. Buy from amazon or some such just make sure they have a good retunes policy you can audition at home then, with your other peaces
Thanks for the input, I hadn't thought of that, I might just do that!
 

Zeeman92

Well-known member
Nov 9, 2014
51
6
18,545
I’d expect to prefer a Roksan or Musical Fidelity amp to the Audiolab, but I’m not fait with your speakers. I also prefer a purpose-built streamer to Chromecast plus DAC, or a computer alternative. But if you’ve strong views on the streamer, I’d just suggest trying one at a dealer.

Auditioning a few amp and speaker combos will soon give you an idea how much the presentation you currently enjoy is fine for you, or where it could be bettered.
Thanks. From my understanding, Musical Fidelity sits a bit more on the warm side than Audiolab which is described as flat/sitting in the clinical tick box. However, having spoken to a well known reputable dealer today, who has worked for MF, they suggested that Audiolab and MF sit in the same box sonically. Do you have experience of MF? I was thinking of something like a M6i.

I think the ideal option is to change the speakers, however, I have HT so I don't really have the budget to be swapping five speakers out so therefore think buying a used, but warmer, amp as you suggest might hopefully be more what I'm after. The chap suggested Arcam and CA, I will also look at Roksan too as this would be the most obvious since MA own them.

I only wish to buy used with a budget of £1000 which should buy something from tenish years ago that would have been fairly decent, any specific suggestions? It's difficult given that the con of buying used is that I can't exactly demo it.
 

Zeeman92

Well-known member
Nov 9, 2014
51
6
18,545
Looking at your kit there seems to be imbalance with components: Audiolab and MA Silver are not a good combination; the DacMagic I owned for a short period - didn't like it. What I change? We all have our personal choices. The best advice is to demo. Not major surgery or a wholesale change but I would start with the Audiolabs - the older models really aren't my bag.

Depending on budget I would look at a quality integrated, such as a Arcam, Creek, Roksan and see if that improves matters.

Or if you really want to cut down on box count, suggest you demo a Leema Quasar. It doesn't have a phono stage but as a digital device it should be great, especially with MA Silvers
Budget for a used amp is £1000, any specific suggestions?
 

record_spot

Well-known member
May 30, 2015
152
70
18,670
Seems like you're asking for two slightly different things - excitement and clarity (I'm not quite sure what you mean by excitement though - good bass? Music "bouncing"? Which seems like you might be after a slight exaggeration in certain areas to give you this, but then you want warmth too. That to me sounds like the polar opposite of clarity - a softening of tones rather than clarity.

Equally, if you just mean you don't want a harsh treble sound, then just call it that.

As for your current setup, a good system will handle all music types well. Some might disagree and prefer to pick a system with strengths in a given few areas. I think you need something that handles that range of genres well.

However, before you start splashing the cash on a new amp, try shifting your speakers around a little. Forward, back, to the left or right, angle the toe-in (or -out) a little. See how that changes things. Do the Monitor Audios have port bungs? Try those too. It can be time consuming, but it can save you plenty.

If that doesn't work, I'd look at three things:-

- try a slightly better streamer - I use an Arylic S10 (£60 or so) which I think is excellent (for my needs) - that might give you some idea of what streaming is capable of, though I use mine as much for internet radio as I do music (via Spotify). I have to say, I think the S10 is one of the best bargains in hifi in the last 20 years, bar none

- Change the Monitor Audio speakers - I hear they're pretty bright, the Audiolabs of yesteryear could, with the wrong gear, sometimes sound a little lean - not good if you want a bit of thump

- Lose the 2M Red cartridge. Something like Audio Technica's AT-95ML / E / C will reap rewards. People rave about the ML, so you'll get great clarity and detail, but in your current setup, that might not be ideal. I've had all three and have to say that while the ML (microline stylus) is fantastic for the money (approx £150) the 95C is, to my mind, the real star. You only get half the shelf life with it - maybe just 500 hours playing time, but at less than £40 for the cartridge, you can afford to buy a couple and still have money in the pocket, as well as exceeding the 95ML's 900 hour life. The other thing is I think it'll give you what you're looking for - personally, I was astonished by how good it was (and that was with a £500 Clearaudio phono stage at the time).

In from left field suggestion - do some research and consider active speakers at some point in the future. I did, went active back in 2015 and never looked back.

I hope all that's of (some) help - it can be a real pain to try and work out where things aren't quite gelling. Do try the speaker positioning first though. Best tweak you'll get - and it's free!
 

Zeeman92

Well-known member
Nov 9, 2014
51
6
18,545
I'm not quite sure what you mean by excitement though - good bass? Music "bouncing"?

Yes, it may be opposing, and maybe not possible, but I do want honesty, but I don't want it so honest that its boring. This is what I meant by excitement = a bit of warmth. If I'm playing Bonobo, then these are great, however, I would appreciate a warmer and exciting sound when playing Jazz. I haven't heard any systems other than mine so I've described it the best I can.

However, before you start splashing the cash on a new amp, try shifting your speakers around a little.

Is there an art to this, or simply move them about? They're currently about a foot from the rear wall and toed in. Can't move them L/R as the RHS is by a door and they'd also be getting too close to the wall. Currently the sides are about 3ft from wall.
 

plastic penguin

Well-known member
Same as @nopiano haven't heard a MF for many years, therefore will have no benefit for the OP. For a more balanced sound, and if going used I'd look at the following:

Arcam A39
Creek Evo 50 or 100
Roksan Kandy K2
Marantz Pearlite or PM 8003
Leema Pulse MK1.

These all work well with Monitor Audio Silvers.
 

ASK THE COMMUNITY

TRENDING THREADS