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Question Upgrade or replace?

M Lloyd

Active member
Jun 3, 2020
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I have some very old, but in their day, quality hifi units and I need advice on whether I should try and upgrade them or just replace them. Or even mix the 2 options? I have the following, a Technics SL150 with an SME arm and a Rega R100, an Arcam alpha 7 cd player, an Audiolab 8000c pre amp and a Quad 405-2 amp. Also if I upgrade how do I go about doing that? Thanks!
 

myrrhman

Well-known member
Apr 24, 2020
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I've got a mixed old / new system which works well for me - old amp, CD player and speakers, new record deck, phono stage and DAC.
The first upgrade I would try - if your CD has a digital output - is to buy a DAC. I bought an Arcam irDAC and found the sound of my old Mission PCM II CD player was significantly improved by routing the coaxial output through the DAC - I'm guessing this is one area where technology has advanced over the past few decades.
 

M Lloyd

Active member
Jun 3, 2020
9
1
25
I've got a mixed old / new system which works well for me - old amp, CD player and speakers, new record deck, phono stage and DAC.
The first upgrade I would try - if your CD has a digital output - is to buy a DAC. I bought an Arcam irDAC and found the sound of my old Mission PCM II CD player was significantly improved by routing the coaxial output through the DAC - I'm guessing this is one area where technology has advanced over the past few decades.
Thanks! I'll have to check. It's very old and probably doesn't have a digital output. But if it does I'll definitely heed your advice
 
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M Lloyd

Active member
Jun 3, 2020
9
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Thanks! I'll have to check. It's very old and probably doesn't have a digital output. But if it does I'll definitely heed your advice
Also if you don't mind me asking what record deck did you go for? I was thinking about the Rega planar 3 if I did replace
 

myrrhman

Well-known member
Apr 24, 2020
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Also if you don't mind me asking what record deck did you go for? I was thinking about the Rega planar 3 if I did replace
I went for a budget deck - Project Debut III with an Art Accessories ADC, with the intention of ripping my old LP collection to digital files. After making a few not very satisfactory recordings, I then realised how good vinyl sounded and what I'd been missing out on for years, and started collecting LPs again! A great and very cheap (about £60) upgrade was a Cambridge 551P phono stage, surprisingly it improved what I thought was a very decent MM input on my Creek amplifier. Don't think they make them any more, but there are plenty of other options (including Rega of course).
The Rega P3 gets very good reviews and has a loyal following, but I have no complaints about my Project, and if / when I upgrade the turntable I would be happy to stick with that brand - both have a minimalist approach which I like.
 

Gray

Well-known member
Nov 27, 2015
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I went for a budget deck - Project Debut III with an Art Accessories ADC, with the intention of ripping my old LP collection to digital files. After making a few not very satisfactory recordings, I then realised how good vinyl sounded and what I'd been missing out on for years, and started collecting LPs again! A great and very cheap (about £60) upgrade was a Cambridge 551P phono stage, surprisingly it improved what I thought was a very decent MM input on my Creek amplifier. Don't think they make them any more, but there are plenty of other options (including Rega of course).
The Rega P3 gets very good reviews and has a loyal following, but I have no complaints about my Project, and if / when I upgrade the turntable I would be happy to stick with that brand - both have a minimalist approach which I like.
I assume it's the Art Phono Plus you've got.
If so, have you compared it to the 551p?
I ask because I own both of those but have not got around to making a meaningful comparison.
I can tell you that the 551p, though not expensive, is not brilliant. I bought it to replace the phono stage I lost when selling a Marantz (PM66KI) integrated amp - that I wish I'd have kept, just for it's phono stage!
The point is, I think the 551p can quite easily be bettered - possibly even by the Art. See what you think.
 
Last edited:

myrrhman

Well-known member
Apr 24, 2020
48
31
70
I assume it's the Art Phono Plus you've got.
If so, have you compared it to the 551p?
I ask because I own both of those but have not got around to making a meaningful comparison.
I can tell you that the 551p, though not expensive, is not brilliant. I bought it to replace the phono stage I lost when selling a Marantz (PM66KI) integrated amp - that I wish I'd have kept, just for it's phono stage!
The point is, I think the 551p can quite easily be bettered.
I did compare them a while ago, and found the 551p to be way better than the Art (can't remember what model, I don't have it any more) as a phono stage. I've no doubt there are way better phono stages than the 551p, but it works well in my system, and to my ears opened out the sound considerably compared to my Creek amp or Art ADC - I was surprised it bettered the Creek, I'd mainly bought it because I needed to physically separate the deck from the amp. Where I think it is perhaps a little light is in bass reproduction - I've improved this with a stylus upgrade (which I've set to track 0.1g heavier than recommended optimum) but I'm sure a better phono stage would help this.
 
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shadders

Well-known member
Nov 19, 2009
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18,670
Hi,
Is there a reason you want to replace etc ?.

If you are happy with the sound, then stick with it. The Quad 405-2 can be sold for about £300+ as per e-bay entries. Not sure about the other equipment - the cartridge i expect will present the largest change in sound, so may be start there ?

Regards,
Shadders.
 

M Lloyd

Active member
Jun 3, 2020
9
1
25
I went for a budget deck - Project Debut III with an Art Accessories ADC, with the intention of ripping my old LP collection to digital files. After making a few not very satisfactory recordings, I then realised how good vinyl sounded and what I'd been missing out on for years, and started collecting LPs again! A great and very cheap (about £60) upgrade was a Cambridge 551P phono stage, surprisingly it improved what I thought was a very decent MM input on my Creek amplifier. Don't think they make them any more, but there are plenty of other options (including Rega of course).
The Rega P3 gets very good reviews and has a loyal following, but I have no complaints about my Project, and if / when I upgrade the turntable I would be happy to stick with that brand - both have a minimalist approach which I like.
Ok thanks for your advice. I haven't made my mind up yet so happy to consider anything.
 

Al ears

Moderator
Hi,
Is there a reason you want to replace etc ?.

If you are happy with the sound, then stick with it. The Quad 405-2 can be sold for about £300+ as per e-bay entries. Not sure about the other equipment - the cartridge i expect will present the largest change in sound, so may be start there ?

Regards,
Shadders.
I'd agree the cartridge is old and probably on its last legs.
Personally I would keep the Quad and look for a matching Quad 44 preamp.
There's a good one on eBay at the moment, this has inbuilt phono stage
I would sell the Arcam CD player, should get £50-80 for that.
 

M Lloyd

Active member
Jun 3, 2020
9
1
25
I'd agree the cartridge is old and probably on its last legs.
Personally I would keep the Quad and look for a matching Quad 44 preamp.
There's a good one on eBay at the moment, this has inbuilt phono stage
I would sell the Arcam CD player, should get £50-80 for that.
Thanks for the input. Reason is that the equipment isn't functioning properly and something needs doing. I'm more interested in trying to establish if upgrading/repairing would provide a better result musically than spending perhaps more money on new. And the 8000c was recommended as a better pre amp match for the 405-2 than the 44.
 

shadders

Well-known member
Nov 19, 2009
152
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18,670
Thanks for the input. Reason is that the equipment isn't functioning properly and something needs doing. I'm more interested in trying to establish if upgrading/repairing would provide a better result musically than spending perhaps more money on new. And the 8000c was recommended as a better pre amp match for the 405-2 than the 44.
Hi,
Which part of the equipment is failing ?? or intermittently being an issue ?

How much money do you have to spend ?

Regards,
Shadders.
 

M Lloyd

Active member
Jun 3, 2020
9
1
25
Hi,
Which part of the equipment is failing ?? or intermittently being an issue ?

How much money do you have to spend ?

Regards,
Shadders.
Not being very tech savy, it's hard to be sure without taking it somewhere to be tested, think that it's probably the pre amp (plus the turntable isn't working). As for funds, I'm looking to not spend more than £2k tops, less if possible. Would definitely like to try to hang on to the Quad if getting a better amp would be expensive.
 

myrrhman

Well-known member
Apr 24, 2020
48
31
70
Not being very tech savy, it's hard to be sure without taking it somewhere to be tested, think that it's probably the pre amp (plus the turntable isn't working). As for funds, I'm looking to not spend more than £2k tops, less if possible. Would definitely like to try to hang on to the Quad if getting a better amp would be expensive.
If its your pre-amp that's giving you trouble, I'll repeat the same excellent advice that was given to me when I joined the forum a few weeks ago - buy Servisol Super 10 switch cleaning lubricant from Amazon, take the top off your amp and spray the switches.
I had an intermittent fault with one channel, which now seems to be cured. What it doesn't cure is the urge to upgrade to see what newer / higher end gear would sound like in your system, although so far I've managed to restrain myself to a stylus upgrade!
If this worked, it would leave you free to spend your cash on a really decent turntable / cartridge / phono stage upgrade.
 
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shadders

Well-known member
Nov 19, 2009
152
88
18,670
Hi,
Is it possible to describe what the problem is - does one input work, but another does not ?. Noisy inputs on the pre-amp - crackling sound ?. Distorted sound ?

Regards,
Shadders.
 

Al ears

Moderator
Well, duh. No kidding. It's still the right answer though isn't it?
Whilst it may very well be the correct answer, and it may be possible to do where DomCheetham lives, it currently isn't possible in the UK unless you post it to them.
Yes it's the way to go after you have tried all other suggestions yourself and the problem still remains. However the costs involved in doing that often negates the reasons to keep the item in question, so replace becomes the only option.
 

Pueblo_Boy

Well-known member
Jul 18, 2013
11
2
18,525
Given your budget of £2k, I would start with your source - the record deck. Spend your money on a good front end - say a basic Rega deck with a Funk Rage upgrade, that will turn it into a super deck quality front end. Add a decent cartridge - there are many out there to choose from - and you're halfway to (audio!) heaven.
 

M Lloyd

Active member
Jun 3, 2020
9
1
25
If its your pre-amp that's giving you trouble, I'll repeat the same excellent advice that was given to me when I joined the forum a few weeks ago - buy Servisol Super 10 switch cleaning lubricant from Amazon, take the top off your amp and spray the switches.
I had an intermittent fault with one channel, which now seems to be cured. What it doesn't cure is the urge to upgrade to see what newer / higher end gear would sound like in your system, although so far I've managed to restrain myself to a stylus upgrade!
If this worked, it would leave you free to spend your cash on a really decent turntable / cartridge / phono stage upgrade.
Many thanks for the advice, my issue does appear to be with one channel so your advice seemed perfect, however to try and prove it was the pre amp I have just switched the speaker cables around and have been astonished to find that the problem seems to be the speaker! As the problem stayed with the same speaker instead of swapping. Was not expecting that as they are top quality B&Ws that are not that old. Can speakers be repaired? Guess I need to contact B&W.
 

M Lloyd

Active member
Jun 3, 2020
9
1
25
Speakers can be repaired, but whilst the lock down continues that may difficult.
Thanks! I tried contacting B&W but they don't seem to want you to as no phone number or email given on their website. So not quite sure how to go about it. Going to try my nearest hifi shop (Audio T) to see if they can help.
 

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