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  1. #1
    Slowly Growing Deaf salad 419's Avatar
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    System Update Time?????

    I'm not sure if I have any pre-determined adjectives to describe what sound I'm searching for, but I'd probably say laid back. I'm just getting a bit bored by the current set up. I think it's time to replace something in the chain.

    I like the "warmth" of the CD changer, but it may be a bit too fuzzy. I think I like the presentation of the NAD, but it seems a bit under powered when pushed.

    If you had my budget system, what would you change??? Keep in mind, the budget on this upgrade is going to be fairly cheap and will be used equipment.

    I was thinking of a "new" CD player (older NAD?), or maybe a new Amp (Quad 909?), or maybe a Tube Pre-Amp (Quad 24?)???

    Heck, I don't know. I need some suggestions. I just know I wanna do something, but don't want to totally leave the warmer/laid back/fuzzy with a sterile straight forward sound. Am I getting close to describing this?

    Unfortunately, I have NO experience listening to any decent audio components so I can't generalize in sound textures like you folks do. (the next best sounding system around here is my brother's Onkyo reciever and Cerwin Vega's. YES, I'm serious, and NO, I don't think that it sounds good) I work 6 days a week, so a trip to a few high end audio stores are out.

    I'm counting on you guys for suggestions. Thanks.
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  2. #2
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    If you are using a changer a better CDP is definitely in order. What budget would you have? If your changer has a digital output you could add a DAC. Arcam has a new one out that is budget priced, Cambridge Audio has one. Then you have players like the Marantz 5003 or the Emotiva ERC-1 that are about the same price that perform very good for the money.

  3. #3
    Forum Regular harley .guy07's Avatar
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    Yeah Mr Peabody is right, I sold audio for years and I never found a cd changer out there that could match a single player matched with a good outboard dac. I know I myself found musical glory with a outboard dac and single disk player.

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  4. #4
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    Hello

    [QUOTE=salad 419]

    If you had my budget system, what would you change??? Keep in mind, the budget on this upgrade is going to be fairly cheap and will be used equipment.

    Heck, I don't know. I need some suggestions. I just know I wanna do something, but don't want to totally leave the warmer/laid back/fuzzy with a sterile straight forward sound. [QUOTE=salad 419]

    I used to have the NAD 521 CDP and gifted it to a member of my family. Subsequent to that bit of gift giving I then bought a Musical Fidelity VDAC thinking it could improve upon the M.F. XRAY and while the VDAC did not improve upon the XRAY it did significantly improve the musical presentation when connected to the NAD CDP.

    If $300 bucks is too much $$ for an upgrade then maybe simply changing your cabling might change the sound to you liking but of course it would be best to test out some cables before buying IF you had the opportunity to do so.

  5. #5
    Slowly Growing Deaf salad 419's Avatar
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    Thanks for the replies. At this point, I'm leaning towards the Cambridge as I've read several posts/reviews on the Azure CD players that make it seem as though I'd like the presentation. I can only imagine that the CD4/CD6 (which purportedly has the same DAC as the DAC Magic) would sound even better. Plus, the USB feature is nice because on occasion I do hook up the laptop to the stereo since it has larger storage when I don't feel like changing discs all day and get a bit more variety on random, but it always sounds horrid. An external DAC would have to help the sound on that for sure.

    I also have a few DVD players that I could use as transports with the DAC which may track a bit better (Let's not turn this into the 1's and 0's debate, please )

    But, while doing a bit of sleuth work on the DAC's you mentioned, I accidentally found myself looking at Tube Buffers. Do you guys know of a similarly priced DAC that includes a Tube output for the analog outs? Or do you think I'm adding too many changes and muddying up the signal too much????? I can always add a separate tube buffer at a later date if I feel that I need "something more".
    -------------------------
    Quad CDP-2
    Quad 99 Pre
    Quad 909 Amp
    Quad 21L Mains
    Quad L 2 Sub (used on occasion for 2.1)
    JW Audio Cryo Nova, Nebula and Jumpers

  6. #6
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    I would personally take it one step at a time. You could look for a tube DAC with same features although I don't know of any off the top of my head. Shanling also has a DAC in the same price as the Cambridge. Music Hall is a brand that is reported to have a very warm sound. I believe upgrading the DAC will give you enough improvement in sound quality to keep your ears satisfied for a while.

  7. #7
    Man of the People Forums Moderator bobsticks's Avatar
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    As usual, my contrarian point of view...

    Let's take just a second here, boys, and not delve into audiophile cliché...let's ask a few questions before we have ol' Salad running out and spending his hard-earned with potentially dubious results.




    Quote Originally Posted by salad 419
    Heck, I don't know. I need some suggestions. I just know I wanna do something, but don't want to totally leave the warmer/laid back/fuzzy with a sterile straight forward sound. Am I getting close to describing this?
    I think you're doing a fine job articulating.

    How far away from the walls are your speakers? The 22s, while a fine speaker, are not issue free. You would not be the first person to have had problems with sonics due to room interaction, especially given the rear port. Try moving them at least three to four feet out into the room. Not only will this improve soundstaging/imaging but might alleviate some of lower mid mush.

    A disc changer is far from optimal but on a limited budget the goal is to get the most improvement from each change or modification in gear. IMO, check your room, it'll make a difference (though it remains to be seen if it's the kind of difference you want). Also, IMO, within the context of system synergy, I suspect that there's more issues between amp and speaker than meets the ear...
    So, I broke into the palace
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    She said : "Eh, I know you, and you cannot sing"
    I said : "That's nothing - you should hear me play piano"

  8. #8
    Forum Regular pixelthis's Avatar
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    Cool

    THE most improvement(and most expensive, unfortunately) is speakers.
    THE LEAST "bang for your buck" is CD player. Not much difference in transports,
    mostly its the dacs, and you can buy an external one that is pretty good.
    CHANGERS get short shift, but with a decent external DAC, a five disc changer can
    be both convienent and good sounding, not to mention economical.
    MOST important, ignore the least important thing...mainly HYPE.
    You situation sounds close to mine(poor fellow) so you need to buy "smart", not pretty.
    Lots of stuff out there that sounds great, but lacks audiophile pretensions.
    And don't even compare your modest but decent system with CERWIN VEGAS.
    At least you're trying.
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  9. #9
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    Nothing at all wrong with making sure your system is set optimum for the room, good advice, but you know my practice, if your CD player isn't able to get the info off the disc and convey it to the next link then nothing you will do down stream will allow you to hear that missing info.

  10. #10
    Man of the People Forums Moderator bobsticks's Avatar
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    I agree with your GIGO interpretation, Meestah Pea, but I didn't read anything about a lack of detail...simply a fuzziness and incoherence due to power issues. That the Quad has a nominal impedence of 6 ohms, a mild dip at 1.4kHz, and limited bass due to size constraints coupled with the NAD's 50 watt output suggest to me the larger issue is current.

    A new cdp might well be in order but I suspect that some speaker adjustment and more generous power allocation will open up a new world of sounds and get the greater improvement for dollars spent.
    So, I broke into the palace
    With a sponge and a rusty spanner
    She said : "Eh, I know you, and you cannot sing"
    I said : "That's nothing - you should hear me play piano"

  11. #11
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    The path least traveled, yet probably the second most important (and variable) factor in any audio system is the room acoustics. Along with the speakers, the room acoustics have the biggest impact on the overall character of your system. The variations are clearly audible, they come up very clearly in measurements. This is an example of an "obvious" or "night and day" difference.

    Fortunately, measure to address room acoustics issues can be as simple as repositioning your system, deadening the floors and/or walls, and moving furniture around. If you want to take a more systematic approach, then you can buy acoustic panels and/or bass traps. Equalization is another approach.

    This is not always a frequently recommended option in the audio business because it's easier (and more profitable) to sell consumers on the idea of buying components and accessories than something more complex (and cheaper) like addressing room issues.

    IMO, differences between digital source components are far more subtle (and costly to obtain meaningful improvements), and should never be a first upgrade unless you have already addressed the speakers and the room acoustics.
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  12. #12
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    The 2100 amp is bridgeable, finding another identical amp and bridging one per channel to increase power could be an option as well.

  13. #13
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    Speaker upgrades will always make the greatest difference in a system and if you go the easy kit route they can be very inexpensive ( Parts Express Tritrix @ $199 is just one fine proven example ). For even less money you could try the addictive open baffle sound of the Betsys at Wild Burro Audio. http://www.wildburroaudio.com/

    I recently bought an Audio GD-NFB-12. With it's dual Wolfson chips this DAC ( $250 shipped ) is stupid good.

  14. #14
    Slowly Growing Deaf salad 419's Avatar
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    Isn't funny how things change in the course of a few days?????

    My CD changer carousel belt broke the day after my 22L tweeters blew (yeah, drunken misuse of YouTube as a source. I know, I know. No lecture needed.)

    I fixed the drive belt on the Changer, so that's back in the mix. $6 and about 1/2 hour of my time isn't too bad.

    I have a set of Quad 21L's on their way to fill in while I'm waiting for the 22L tweeters.

    I also will be getting a Quad 909 power amp. After reading a bunch of "what amp should I use for my 22L's" posts, it seems that the 909 might be worth checking out. A few of the others were substantially more cash, so I chose the least expensive of the 'recommended" amps. If I don't like it, I can sell it. Also, I can't find a second NAD 2100 for a price that I'm willing to pay. Plus, I've read a few reviews that said the NAD was not in the same league as the Quad 909.

    Anyway, we'll see how the power change goes. Although, I'm slightly confused by the wattage ratings. The 140 Watt Quad says it can deliver up to 11 amps per channel. My 50 watt NAD says it has a peak of 30 amps. To me, it seems that the NAD has more headroom. We'll see.
    I've noticed the changes in speaker placement. It's almost amazing how simple room treatments and placement can totally change the character of the sound. I've seen a way too much mid-range placement. No bottom or top end, loss of soundstage, etc. etc. It took quite some time to get everything placed properly.

    The next upgrade will be speaker cables.What are some excellent budget (under $100) speaker cables?

    After the cables, I'm pretty sure it's going to be an outboard DAC.

    I don't think I'll be changing speakers anytime soon. I'm fairly sure I like the Quads.

    Unfortunately, I agree with all of the "points of view". I agree about GIGO, agree that speakers make the most noticable change, lack of power can cause issues, cables make a difference, etc. etc. etc. Picking the proper upgrade path is not fun. Sometimes, it's just easier to go with the pick what's available at the time approach.

    Thanks for the help. I'll try to report back with any findings.
    -------------------------
    Quad CDP-2
    Quad 99 Pre
    Quad 909 Amp
    Quad 21L Mains
    Quad L 2 Sub (used on occasion for 2.1)
    JW Audio Cryo Nova, Nebula and Jumpers

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    I haven't heard Quad, so let us know how it works out.

  16. #16
    Forum Regular pixelthis's Avatar
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    Cool

    Quote Originally Posted by salad 419
    Isn't funny how things change in the course of a few days?????

    My CD changer carousel belt broke the day after my 22L tweeters blew (yeah, drunken misuse of YouTube as a source. I know, I know. No lecture needed.)

    I fixed the drive belt on the Changer, so that's back in the mix. $6 and about 1/2 hour of my time isn't too bad.

    I have a set of Quad 21L's on their way to fill in while I'm waiting for the 22L tweeters.

    I also will be getting a Quad 909 power amp. After reading a bunch of "what amp should I use for my 22L's" posts, it seems that the 909 might be worth checking out. A few of the others were substantially more cash, so I chose the least expensive of the 'recommended" amps. If I don't like it, I can sell it. Also, I can't find a second NAD 2100 for a price that I'm willing to pay. Plus, I've read a few reviews that said the NAD was not in the same league as the Quad 909.

    Anyway, we'll see how the power change goes. Although, I'm slightly confused by the wattage ratings. The 140 Watt Quad says it can deliver up to 11 amps per channel. My 50 watt NAD says it has a peak of 30 amps. To me, it seems that the NAD has more headroom. We'll see.
    I've noticed the changes in speaker placement. It's almost amazing how simple room treatments and placement can totally change the character of the sound. I've seen a way too much mid-range placement. No bottom or top end, loss of soundstage, etc. etc. It took quite some time to get everything placed properly.

    The next upgrade will be speaker cables.What are some excellent budget (under $100) speaker cables?

    After the cables, I'm pretty sure it's going to be an outboard DAC.

    I don't think I'll be changing speakers anytime soon. I'm fairly sure I like the Quads.

    Unfortunately, I agree with all of the "points of view". I agree about GIGO, agree that speakers make the most noticable change, lack of power can cause issues, cables make a difference, etc. etc. etc. Picking the proper upgrade path is not fun. Sometimes, it's just easier to go with the pick what's available at the time approach.

    Thanks for the help. I'll try to report back with any findings.
    Keep the speakers, if they make you happy, which is the one requirement of speakers.
    DON'T WORRY about wattage ratings. NAD is known for being more honest than most.
    Whats important about an amp is that it drives a speaker without making it clip.
    THE DRAW on an amp in a decent room is seldom more than five watts or so, anyhoo.
    ANY COMBO of what you have stated would be fine.
    Good luck.
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  17. #17
    Slowly Growing Deaf salad 419's Avatar
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    Well, I hooked up the 21L's with the current system. The bottom end was definitely not nearly pronounced as it was with the 22L's, which could be expected. I listed for about 3 hours with the NAD 2100. Soundstage was back about 2.5 to 3 feet back from the speakers. Switched out the NAD with the Quad 909 and (excuse my Asian tone) HO-LEE-****......Amps actually make a difference. The soundstage was even with the speakers (maybe a few inches taller, but I'm not sure if I'm imagining that or not, so I'll let it be) and a LOT clearer.

    This should keep me happy for awhile. I might have to put the sub into the mix with the 21L's. They're a bit light in the bottom registers.

    I can't wait until I get my replacement tweeters for the 22L's to compare them to the 21L's.

    Overall, anyone contemplating a QUAD 909 purchase that already has NAD gear. I say go for it. (Should I already be making this claim?)
    -------------------------
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    Quad 99 Pre
    Quad 909 Amp
    Quad 21L Mains
    Quad L 2 Sub (used on occasion for 2.1)
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  18. #18
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    Glad to see you are happy with your upgrade and it worked out.

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