Upgrading... the painful, necessary evil [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums


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09-08-2009, 08:02 AM
What is the most painful in the wallet about getting my DynAudio speakers years back is that those became my strongest component, and the rest could not bring the best out of them. I had to rebuild to the DynAudio standard. The upgrades of cables, and amp really made a difference. To provide sufficient power to the speakers is incredibly important (yes I know you more experienced experts have switched off on this bit lol). In a way I'm glad I stung myself in this way because it's forced me to move up to the next level.

Will I ever end up with 10k, 20k components in my lifetime ? geez back to the diminishing returns ? Because of my income, that's just not feasible, similarly with most people we don't have unlimited money otherwise we'd get all the high end stuff.

I think the readers who have been blessed owning/owned some of the higher end components over the years have learnt to appreciate what difference they make to the overall listening experience. Whether it's 2 or multi channel.

I guess it's unfortunate that some upgrades come with an unpleasant price tag. However your feedback as to "cost effective" options, best bang for your buck is highly appreciated.

I live in Australia, which limits the options I'd have in comparison to Europe and the USA.
I guess I should be grateful as it will save me money haha.

I've seen ridiculous prices for even cables. It's more painful that the buck has to stop here (at the $x limit). I mean you can set proportions of your overall budget such as :

25% for the amp
25% speakers (imaging)
25% source (for music playback)
10% cabling
5% power regulation and surge protection
10% for other components as other types of sources (or cabinet)

PCs, cars, HiFi, Home Theater, pretty much all the same. New technology will bring us to the next level, we will always still have that choice whether to upgrade or wait. Thank the powers that be, for new music to grace our planet on a daily basis. It is an absolute pleasure to find new music to add to the collection.

I welcome you to add, what you hate the most about upgrading. Is it the time to research it all, the time it takes to audition the components ? the painful choice of deciding between 2 or 3 brands ? The fact you found a component which would make the perfect addition to your system, but extremely out of your price range.

Maybe some pleasant accidents you found in your upgrading experience. For example, not being overly impressed with the component even after the run-in period, however after another upgrade, you were glad you stuck with it, as the system appears to be more "complete".

Do you fear that your tastes over the years have made your ears very fussy and expensive ? too used to the finer things in life ?

I was listening to an mp3 played back on a 70K system, no way in 10,000 years I could hear anything in my own home anywhere as crystal clear, crisp, alive, reached out and grabbed me. Yeah some systems are just put together so nicely. I never thought I would ever admit an mp3 could sound so good. Yeah the recording, source really does make a difference.

09-08-2009, 09:33 AM
Nice post!

I too bought Danes several years back having loved them every time I went to my local shop Soundex. My older Hafler 980 amp was just not doing it and I knew they could perform much better.

So I ordered an Odyssey Stratos after reading lots of info. I also upgraded many cables to Tara Labs and XLO. What a nice improvement. Next up I replaced an old CDP with a Marantz 67SE and an Audio Alchemy DAC from Audio Adviser. Another great improvement.

Next up, I kept reading about how a Tube Pre with a SS amp was a great combo. So I ordered a Sound Valves 101i for $600 which again turned out to be a great bang for the buck.

The Marantz acted up after several years and I replaced it with a Rotel CDP. I love it but had problems out of the box and it had to get repaired. I'm not 100% sure it was the best move but not bad for $600.

So after loving my setup for several years and not realizing it's pitfalls and downsides, I purchased a whole system from my neighbor. It was not all in working condition when I got it so I used some of the pieces. I swapped my Tara Labs cables out for Synergistic Research and swapped out my Sound Valves Pre for a VAC CLA 1.

Wow, did this sound good. The VAC was $6500 when new and although it is a great piece, it does not sound 10x better than the SV101i. (thats for your diminishing returns question)

I got the Counterpoint Amp fixed and finally dropped it in place of the Stratus. Wow, now I had soundstage like never before along with detail and the most glorious midrange. It came with a slight lack of low end but all the notes are there and clear. The Counterpoint was $4500 new and the Stratos was $1200. This one was worth the difference.

Next I swapped out the Danes for the Clearfield Continentals by Von Schwiekert that came with the system. These guys were only $3500 when new compared to $2500 for my Audience 82s. Another huge leap in clarity, soundstage and midrange.

I got to hear a lot of mega buck systems at Soundex upwards of 100 to 300k, but these systems are no way a thousand times better than mine. If ya have the cash to drop, go for it but it aint worth it.

I did lots of research on the system I bought from my neighbor and had every intention of selling it all. Now it's my main rig. It was all just dumb luck as well as finding reputable repair in my own neighborhood.

So, after that ramble, I went through similar pains after buying the Danes and then needing the right gear to drive them. All worth it in the end.

09-08-2009, 11:30 AM
I find that since purchasing the Krell S-300i and enjoying it I am thinking about new speakers. Now that I have the power to drive larger speakers that is what I want. The upgrade bug is biting.

09-08-2009, 12:25 PM
I find that since purchasing the Krell S-300i and enjoying it I am thinking about new speakers. Now that I have the power to drive larger speakers that is what I want. The upgrade bug is biting.

I knew it. I knew that you wouldn't stop with that amp.:17:

Jack in Wilmington
09-09-2009, 04:56 PM
I find that since purchasing the Krell S-300i and enjoying it I am thinking about new speakers. Now that I have the power to drive larger speakers that is what I want. The upgrade bug is biting.

All right JM, what kind of time frame are you talking about? Any speakers that are on your have to audition list? With the S-300i power won't be a concern.

09-10-2009, 04:18 AM
Hi, well after the painstaking money out of the wallet, plus the auditioning, and time to set it all up (on occasion much rewiring)... it's supposed to be all worth it right ?

It was the case when I got my new Xindak Power Amp. It's just a horrible feeling to not listen to music and sound through my speakers now lol, the headphones no longer do the music justice. Still there's a pair of Seinheiser HD800 which is 1000 pounds. Supposed to be equivalent (according to the hi-fi+ review) to a 30,000 pounds, pair of speakers).

Hmmm I can think of a lot of things to buy for 30K :P hmmm... sadly most of those thoughts focus on other hi fi components :22:

I'm nearly itching not to upgrade my PC in order to get that new CD player. If I was George from Seinfeld, I'd be saying ... "George is losin it !!! he's got that itch again !!".

09-10-2009, 11:21 PM
upgrading is no pain, wish I could do it more often.
Cant remember the last time I got a new piece of gear:1:

09-11-2009, 04:50 AM
upgrading is no pain, wish I could do it more often.
Cant remember the last time I got a new piece of gear:1:

I'm with you there, Pix.

Happy Camper
09-11-2009, 05:45 AM
Previous upgrades were about every ten to fifteen years. I'm due this year but I'm going to stand pat until TV tech. gives us a better (stable) product (current new not that much better). Sound wise, HT is fine and two channel is acceptable. I'd like to integrate a music sub to the system but it isn't worth the investment/gain. Headphone system is due a DAC and I am waiting to see more I2S/computer interface pre/DACs in the working man's budget.

Painful yes, gratifying yes, necessary when current formats obsolete

09-11-2009, 11:23 PM
Sub hey ?

Hmmm always wondered what my system would sound like adding one of those, how different the acoustics would be whilst watching blu ray movies.

I could get a matching centre Dyn Audio Contours. That at least would be nice. Yeah, I still think 2-channel is my top priority. Anyway getting my new Xindak power amp, it's definitely confirmed that statement.

My receiver still way behind HDMI, and out of date. Still can take in 6.1 so... centre and sub are not out of the question.

So many choices, so little money :(

New PC has to be top of my list. It's been 7 years since an upgrade :(

Happy Camper
09-12-2009, 05:38 AM
I use a Velodyne HGS 15" now. It's just too massive for the delicacy of music. It will crush soda cans when doing HT duty though.

09-12-2009, 06:59 AM
Haha, well I wouldn't need any more equipment to rip bigger cracks into the walls of my house. It has enough already. I would say some people like myself would find clarity, authenticity of music and sound paramount over any other feature.

For that home theater is not required. I don't have the physical space to place any rear speakers or surrounds. I seriously doubt I have even space for a sub. Other people may be under the same bad predicament. However maybe one day my situation will change where I can have a home theater room, and a separate music room, would be two sets of equipment, but it would be nice to upgrade it all properly. Can only dream, it helps me sleep better :p

I can't wait to get a new CD player. It's so good to have a decent source. But we all need good speakers and good amplification. It's worth auditioning equipment you cannot afford, so you can experience how good music and movies can reach out and grab you.