• 07-08-2008, 04:14 AM
    Which component(s) made the biggest difference when replacing older ones?
    Most of us here have had numerous different amps, speakers, turntables, etc., all purchased in that pursuit of the elusive "perfect" combination to produce better and better sound. Some of my purchases over the years provided little or no differences, but others were all but staggering.

    Perhaps the single biggest audible difference occurred when I abandoned my Lafayette/Criterion based quad system and went gung-ho high-end. I replaced a Lafayette LR-5000 quad receiver and four ESS-manufactured Lafayette/Criterion speakers with a pair of Dahlquist DQ-10's (the same ones still in use today!) and a Luxman L-100 integrated amp. That my older system and the newer one could each be called "stereos" seemed downright wrong, since the new stuff sounded that much better. In all the previous years, whenever I bought a new component, I often asked friends and relatives if they could hear the difference. Most politely said, "Yes, I think so," only to shut me up. Now, all said they'd never heard such an enormous difference between the older equipment and the newer. I had crossed a threshold I'd never go back from.

    In terms of a single product, that's a tossup. It's either the original AR turntable I purchased in 1964 to replace a crummy Garrard AT-6 record changer, or my most recent purchase of the Marantz SA-8001 SACD player. The AR turntable is a legend in this industry, and at its original list price of only $58, the best bargain ever. It completely eliminated the loud and annoying rumble I was getting from the Garrard changer, and added a new clarity to everything, even while using the same cartridge. (And, you could hit the turntable platform with a hammer and not have the arm skip!)

    The Marantz SA-8001 has also provided a huge difference over my previous Adcom GCD-600/GDA-600 combination, and continues to get better and better sounding every day. As it's an SACD player, listening to SACD's has also provided an all new sonic experience for me. I would say that the difference between it and the older Adcom stuff is far greater than that between the AR turntable and the Garrard changer, but it also costs $900 as opposed to the $68 the AR turntable was selling for when I bought it.

    There were also enormous differences when replacing phono cartridges, but the two scenarios listed above probably fit the bill as those that made the most difference.
  • 07-08-2008, 05:15 AM
    The thing that made the biggest difference for me by far was when we changed houses.
  • 07-08-2008, 05:24 AM
    A revelation

    Originally Posted by emaidel
    Most of us here have had numerous different amps, speakers, turntables, etc., all purchased in that pursuit of the elusive "perfect" combination to produce better and better sound. Some of my purchases over the years provided little or no differences, but others were all but staggering.


    Avoiding the old "which is the most critical component?" debate, I must say I had a moment of revelation when I compared a pair of Monarchy SM-70 Pro amps with the NAD C270 I was using. It was a learning experience because I had not expected to hear such an improvement resolution & transparency from any amplifier versus the ones I had previously used.

    emaidel, sounds like your Adcom to SA8001 experience might have been like that. For my part, as yet I have not hear such improvements from any other compenent upgrades except speakers, but I'm up for the experience.

    In the old days when I gave a poop about vinyl, I could get pretty big differences swapping phono cartridges, but of course I expected to hear significant changes in this case as with speakers.
  • 07-08-2008, 01:11 PM
    I'm going to pick a small nit and distinguish between "biggest difference" and "biggest improvement."

    The biggest differences have always come through speaker changes. Since I tend to like so many different sonic signatures, I have a number of different speakers, and I can't honestly say any single one has improved more than any other. I do keep cycling upward though.:wink5:

    Coupling that with rooms and their different characteristics and the way speakers interact with them, there's no doubt that these are the biggest difference.

    Moving on to biggest improvement, I'd have to say it was the discovery of MOSFET-based amps. This has been an uphill climb, too, as MOSFET implementation improved over the years. My favorites right now are the recently discontinued Hafler MOSFET/JFET Trans•ana designs. Their bulletproof design,output voltage and impedance selectability, bridging capability, wide bandwidth, and unfettered power are bonuses to their impeccable sound.
  • 07-09-2008, 04:10 AM

    Originally Posted by filecat13
    , I'd have to say it was the discovery of MOSFET-based amps. .

    My Adcom GFA-5800 is a MOSFET design, by Nelson Pass. Maybe that's why it sounds so good!
  • 07-09-2008, 10:18 AM
    Speakers and sub
    The biggest improvements were made when I went from Klipsch Towers (not reference line) to Mirage Omnisats v2's. I love the huge soundstage that the mirage have. They do need a sub but that is what I prefer. I then replaced my Polk Audio sub with a DIY sub using an Infinity Kappa Perfect 12VQ driver and the difference was huge with the DIY able to hit real deep and loud while being very clean from distortion. This driver is great for any DIY project. When I made a jump from a Sony reviever to Onkyo was also an improvement.
  • 07-10-2008, 03:48 PM
    When I upgraded from my B&W DM601 S3's to my present DM603 S3's as my mains. Another big leap was from my older NAD 541 CD player to my present Rotel RCD-1072 CD player. Huge difference in sound.
  • 07-10-2008, 04:49 PM
    In 2007 i made 2 big upgrades to my system, both had a large effect on my system. I was using a Cambridge Audio receiver that i was happy with but i knew things could get better. I told my dealer i was looking for an "oh my god" type of improvement and asked for suggestions, he sent me home with an Anthem AVM-30 pre-pro to add to my receiver, wow, found what i was looking for, the sound quality blew me away even still using the amp section of the Cambridge. A massive difference.
    A couple of months later i added a Sim Audio dvd player, superb sound quality and outstanding video presentation this is a true high-end disc player that also is a top notch cd player. Together, the two have taken my system to a whole other level.

  • 07-10-2008, 05:40 PM
    The Onkyo A-9555 integrated amp made such a huge improvement over the Cambridge Audio 640A integrated amp. All the reviews about the A-9555 being transparent are correct. The A-9555 has lower levels of noise and grain. I am enjoying much better seperation between instruments and more focus to the soundstge. No frequencies were emphasized with the Onkyo where the bass with the CA was thicker and the highs lacked clarity. The Onkyo was the same cost to me as the Cambridge Audio but a much better sounding product.
  • 07-10-2008, 06:26 PM
    In the words of the Stick Man..."Res Ipsa Loquitur"

    Seriously...mebbe the Polk 7C's. Classic, smooth, clear, muscular....Oh, yeah: they is fun! BTW: These ain't mine. Some other bloke's....