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what gives the biggest upgrade ?

U

unknown

Guest
what in your experience has given you the biggest sound quality upgrade ?

upgrading to a better/more expensive cd player, amplifier or speakers ?

does the old rule spend most on source, middle on amp and least on the speakers still apply ?

this rule is based on the fact that better speakers can not improve on the signal being sent to them "upstream" hence better speakers will simply give you a better reproduction of a poor signal if an inferior cd player/amplifier is used to produce this "signal".

has anybody heard a £500 cd player /amplifier combination used with say £5000 speakers ?

are modern £1000 units as good as £5000 models from say 10 years ago ? does hi fi improve like pc computers have?

i once read that modern day, top quality cd players/amplifiers (2013 models) can produce such a high quality "signal" that much costlier speakers can be used with no problem, hence the above old rule is no longer true.

thanks in advance foe any replies.
 

basshound

Well-known member
Sep 23, 2007
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I would say the rule is reversed now,spend most of the budget on the speakers,IME changing speakers has certainly given the greatest improvement.
 

CnoEvil

New member
Aug 21, 2009
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If you are looking for a simple answer, imo there isn't one.

With a TT, you have to spend a greater proportion of the budget.

IME. CDPs take up less of the overall budget than TTs, and decent streamers take up less than CDPs.

Good arguments can be made for both amp and speakers, as being the more important.

Personally, I firstly like to pin down whether the amp is Solid State or Valves and which Class to go for. It is vital that it can properly handle the speakers it is paired with. This means I would spend around the same on the amp (or a little more), than on the speakers.

Finally, never underestimate the importance of synergy, where you can get "a whole", which is greater than the sum of its parts.
 

plastic penguin

Well-known member
Apr 28, 2008
1,635
83
19,770
Depends if there is a weak aspect to a system. I found one of the biggest upgrades, apart from the amp, to be the source (Naim CD5), and more recently, the speakers.

If I was to nail my colours to the sticking post, I'd say speakers.
 

bluedroog

New member
Mar 4, 2010
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Generally I’d say speakers first but it isn’t that simple. Actually the single biggest influence is probably the room acoustics, something most people overlook. Speakers then are usually the biggest single component to consider. The influence on the amp will depend on the speakers, it is about efficiency and synergy, if the amp has the current to properly drive your speakers with decent headroom and upgrade will yield less significant results, if your amp is underpowered for the job then you could take your speakers up several levels. While to old adage of crap in crap out holds true the technology has matured to a level where you can get a competent source for very little money these days and as such I would go spending too much on CDPs or DACs if budget is tight as this area will feel the law of diminishing returns more than most.

If I had a £1,500 to spend for example I’d look at something like the Kef LS50 at £800, Spend around £500 on an amp and £200 on a DAC.
 

Electro

Well-known member
Mar 30, 2011
43
2
18,545
Rule number one , there are no rules :)

But in my opinion speakers and amplifiers are of equal importance and should be chosen to compliment each other regardless of price .

Most digital sources are pretty good even quite cheap ones, but the most important thing IMO is the quality of the analogue output stage and this is where the money should be spent on more costly equipment and makes the real difference .

With vinyl it is different the more you spend the better it gets ( in theory ) , and the sky is the limit :)
 
J

jcbrum

Guest
New expensive CD players are a waste of money.

Since you are posting on this forum one might suppose you have a computer. Use that as a source instead, and rip your CDs.

Put your money into streaming into active speakers.

I use iTunes, Airport Express, and AVI speakers.

JC
 

tino

Well-known member
Sep 29, 2011
135
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It's a little bit more complicated these days than the standard 3 box approach. Today, how much distribute your spending depends as much on what technology choices you make and where the source / amplification / speakers are located i.e. sperately or combined in a single unit. You could spend a small amount on a digital streamer and loads on an active speaker setup for example, or a massive amount on a top quality analogue turntable relative to the rest of the system.

I'm interested to know whether spending a bit more (or less) to have some control over the audio chain is worthwhile. From simple tone/loudness controls to room correction/audio processing could help to make the most of the components you have.
 

d_a_n1979

New member
Sep 6, 2007
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Get your ears cleaned!

I know it sounds daft but you'd be amazed at what difference it can make!!!

8)
 

knaithrover

Moderator
Nov 24, 2013
161
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10,670
jcbrum said:
New expensive CD players are a waste of money.

Since you are posting on this forum one might suppose you have a computer. Use that as a source instead, and rip your CDs.

Put your money into streaming into active speakers.

I use iTunes, Airport Express, and AVI speakers.

JC
I don't know about anybody else but i like having an amp....
 

Daveperc

New member
Oct 20, 2013
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d_a_n1979 said:
Get your ears cleaned!

I know it sounds daft but you'd be amazed at what difference it can make!!!

8)
Have to agree! I went one stage further and got hearing aids - amazing how good my old kit suddenly sounds!!

Hasn't stopped me following an upgrade path for the amp and speakers though - looking to spend roughly equal on speakers and on amp.

Dave
 

Sospri

New member
Mar 23, 2011
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knaithrover said:
jcbrum said:
New expensive CD players are a waste of money.

Since you are posting on this forum one might suppose you have a computer. Use that as a source instead, and rip your CDs.

Put your money into streaming into active speakers.

I use iTunes, Airport Express, and AVI speakers.

JC
I don't know about anybody else but i like having an amp....
Totally concur...............
 

altruistic.lemon

New member
Jul 25, 2011
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jcbrum said:
New expensive CD players are a waste of money.

Since you are posting on this forum one might suppose you have a computer. Use that as a source instead, and rip your CDs.

Put your money into streaming into active speakers.

I use iTunes, Airport Express, and AVI speakers.

JC
Not your most subtle one, JCB. You'd assume that from the computer forum, this is the HiFi one, therefore there's every reason to want a better CD player. I know it goes against the gospel, but some people don't like streaming and (shock, horror!) don't want to rip their CDs.

Also, some people don't like all-in-one systems like yours, they prefer more flexibility.
 

davedotco

New member
Apr 24, 2013
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Some fairly predictable answers, with most people going for the speakers.

Changing speakers really does make a big difference, as indeed does changing their position and setup, everyone can hear that.

But that was not the question, which was asking about the biggest upgrade, totally different.

Speakers (in roughly the same price range) mostly change the presentation, not the quality of the reproduction.

Tedious though it is for those seeking the simple answer, it is about the system and the way it is matched and build. In another thread I have said that a certain £200 speaker can easily be partnered with a £700 amplifier and sound fantastic, not a popular view......... ;)

As has been pointed out above, a speaker can only play the music sent to it and if the sound quality is poor in the first instance, then the better speaker will give you a more 'accurate' reproduction of a poor sound and quite possibly sound worse....... :?

Put simply, a good budget speaker will play the music better with better components upstream, a really good model will take a lot of upgrades and keep ketting better and better, giving you more and more from the music. Changing the speaker, particularly if the other components are quite inexpensive (in the modern manner) simply changes the presentation but does not improve the reproduction of the music.

We used to demonstrate this on a regular basis, sometimes going to quite absurd lengths to prove the point, unless you are quite sure about the musical ability of the rest of the sysyem you have no real idea of what the speaker is doing or what it can do.
 
J

jcbrum

Guest
> lemon,

There is nothing that plays digital files better than a computer, it's not possible.

CDs are merely plastic holders( designed to go on lorries ) for a digital file. Much better to store it on a hard disk, or SSD chips.

I like amplifiers too, lemon, particularly the four of them in my ADM9s.

Compared to a legacy CDP, and legacy HiFi, there is nothing more flexible than a computer based music system.

JC
 

alienmango

New member
May 29, 2013
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DDC I'm not disagreeing with you but the THD figures on speakers/subwoofers are far higher than amps.

So why is the amp so important?
 

FennerMachine

New member
Feb 5, 2011
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Put an awkward load on an amp that's not capable of handling it correctly and the frequency response will not be flat. This means that the THD figures do not give the whole picture.
 
T

the record spot

Guest
jcbrum said:
> lemon,

There is nothing that plays digital files better than a computer, it's not possible.

CDs are merely plastic holders( designed to go on lorries ) for a digital file. Much better to store it on a hard disk, or SSD chips.

I like amplifiers too, lemon, particularly the four of them in my ADM9s.

Compared to a legacy CDP, and legacy HiFi, there is nothing more flexible than a computer based music system.

JC
Depends on your idea of flexibility JC. Not something I want to do when I want to listen to my music. Happier to send to an external hard drive, or use my currnt CDP. And my computer would be a pain in the backside when it came to streaming music, films or accessing all of those entertainment sources I tyopically use. My amp, my CDP, my TV and my internet provider do that. Flexibility and capability provided that suit my needs better than just rhough a laptop...
 

JamesMellor

New member
Jul 19, 2013
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IMHO The bigger your hammer the easier it is to drive your nail <S>

Spending more on your amp first would give you the best from your current speakers and allow you greater choice of speakers later on . If you are on an upgrade path it would even work out cheaper to drop that money up front rather than chop and change amps later on. Speakers may make the biggest differance but only if the amp can supply them.

James
 

James7

New member
Jun 1, 2011
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0
It seems to me that it's the interaction between the different elements of a system that is most important, rather than the elements themselves, and that there are two key interactions to get right - between amp and speakers and between speakers and room: get both of these right and things are unlikely to go too far wrong (though of course a poor source could be revealed all too clearly by a really well-matched amp/speakers/room combination). The common element here is the speakers and this is why speaker choice is probably the one that requires most care, and certainly to do this right home demos are crucial.

This doesn't answer the question though, as it is possible to achieve true synergy between cheap speakers and an expensive amp, but also the other way round (although I would say this is budget dependent, and the latter is more difficult with a true budget amp - I have heard £200 speakers sound really good on the end of a £1000 plus amp but doubt this would be easily achievable the other way round, but further up the scale a good £1500 amp could certainly be well matched to a £4000 set of speakers).

The answer to your question, then, is that it depends on your system and room and budget, although I would suggest that in the majority of budget systems - where, say, £200 has been spent on each of the source, amp and speakers - upgrading the speakers may not be the best way to go, whereas with a mid-priced system and upwards - £1000 on each, say - upgrading the speakers might well make for the most significant upgrade.
 

davedotco

New member
Apr 24, 2013
20
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0
alienmango said:
DDC I'm not disagreeing with you but the THD figures on speakers/subwoofers are far higher than amps.

So why is the amp so important?
Several reasons, the most important being control.

Try a simple experiment. Take one of your speakers, any passive system will do, and disconnect it from the amplifier.

Carefully, with your fingers placed symetrically around the cone, push the cone in (and let it come out) and feel the resistance of the cone and coil to the movement.

Then link the positive and negative terminals on the back of the speaker with a length of wire and try again.

For those of you not brave enough to try it for yourselves, you will now find it much harder to move the cone in and out, the resistance to the movement is huge. In this situation the link is like the amplifier, holding the voice coil and the attached cone rigid and under control, so not only does the cone move when a signal is applied but stops immediately the signal is removed.

If the amplifier is not optimum then not only does the cone not move quickly but it does not stop quickly enough either, compromising transient response and producing overhang, two of the primary reasons the cheap amplifier concept is flawed from the beginning.

I could also talk about dynamic compression, amplfiers unable to cope with awkward phase angles at the crossover point, impedence variations around the bass resonance and the effect of back EMF from out of control bass drivers.

Just some of the issues that amplifiers have when driving real world loudspeakers.
 

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