Vinyl rig upgrades

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by sailingsinkingships, Dec 3, 2017.

  1. sailingsinkingships

    sailingsinkingships Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Raleigh, NC
    Interested in upgrading my vinyl setup. I currently use a rega rp3 with Elys II cartridge. I use a vintage pioneer sx-838 receiver and utilize the phono stage located within. My speakers are vintage pioneer hpm-900s.

    I have thought about upgrading the cartridge to the rega Ania with the accompanying rega fono. I have thought about selling the rp3 to go towards the purchase of the new p6 and the Ania cart. Other options include going with a new receiver but I tried the previous Rega Brio and preferred the sound of the vintage pioneer receiver. I could also upgrade the speakers and sell the old hpm 900s which seem to fetch a decent amount these days.

    With about 1500 dollars, where would I see the biggest gains by upgrading?
     
  2. varyat

    varyat Forum Resident

    Location:
    wheaton,IL,USA
    The new P6 will be your best vfm,imo. Save up for a new phono stage to realize the full gains to be had...
    ATB,
    Mark
     
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  3. KT88

    KT88 Forum Resident

    You can get the planar 6 with the exact cartridge and connect that directly to the pioneer amp. That would be a nice upgrade and retain the charm and function of the old amp. While I think that the phono sections in the rega products should be nicer, the line section is very transparent and does not permit adjustment via tone controls. The ania and fono MC will bring similar clarity to the system but again, it may not be the warm sound that you seek. The exact will offer more detail but retain the rega and pioneer mm house sound and warmth. The planar 6 offers better sound as well and also will not otherwise alter the synergy that you are experiencing now. The hpm speakers might be expensive to replace, but once you do, then you might have a different vantage point on the rega amps!
    -Bill
     
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  4. costerdock

    costerdock Forum Resident

    Location:
    Prescott, AZ, USA
    I'd likely replace the vintage pioneer. My old sx650 is no match for my current setup and is in dire need of a recap. Perhaps start with a nice inexpensive Phono pre.
     
  5. sailingsinkingships

    sailingsinkingships Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Raleigh, NC
    Yeah. I tried a cheap NAD and realized how much it eliminated surface noise or forced it into the background but I lost some of the lushness of the pioneer receiver. Do you have a recommendation for a preamp that works well for your sx650?
     
  6. costerdock

    costerdock Forum Resident

    Location:
    Prescott, AZ, USA
    I'm very happy with my Cambridge Audio 640p - very reasonably priced - hugely popular when it came out.

    It is really tough to recommend something for you since as you said in your first post that you tried a Brio and preferred the Pioneer sound to me that tells me you should probably stay where you are. I for sure would do an external phono pre - and NOT spend too much on it - find a popular one for @300 and keep the rest of your cash until you have had a long time listening to the new phono pre.

    I'm surprised you didn't care for the Brio as many members here say good things about it.

    I'm not sure how a P6 would be a noticeable upgrade as the RP3 is pretty decent.

    Forgetting all the above I just mentioned - if I were you - I'd take that 1500 and go with a tube setup (ex Integrated amp + phono) and see if you like the tube sound over the vintage Pioneer. Or I'd go with speakers... I think you have to ask yourself what do you want to play with next?

    Thanks,
     
  7. costerdock

    costerdock Forum Resident

    Location:
    Prescott, AZ, USA
    I'd get out and audition some speakers - listen to some perhaps 2K paradigms towers and others - that is where I'd go - I think for sure that would be your biggest bang for buck.

    Best of luck.
     
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  8. GoldprintAudio

    GoldprintAudio Forum Resident

    Location:
    Lexington, NC
    You're just down the road from me! The p6/ania/fono mc would likely be a good choice for you.
     
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  9. jupiterboy

    jupiterboy Forum Residue

    Location:
    Buffalo, NY
    x2. NSMT is near you. Erol Ricketts is an interesting and overlooked speaker designer. I'd love to see his shop while he's still working.
     
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  10. Davey

    Davey very clever with maracas

    Location:
    SF Bay Area, USA
    Seems like you've got a decent front end and amp right now, I tend to agree with costerdock, I would first concentrate on the speakers, unless you are completely smitten with the old Pioneers. If you wanna go the speaker route, maybe re-outline the question with more details about your listening environment and preferences, and people can help work up a list of good candidates that would work in your current setup, and could move with you to the next one too. There are some great deals around now on the Monitor Audio silver series since it has been updated (for example, new Silver 8 speakers for around $1300). Same with many other speaker companies. We like looking at pictures too :)
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2017
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  11. Bingo Bongo

    Bingo Bongo No music, no Life

    $1500 worth of LPs will do wonders to your system. You may be never satisfied moving up in $$$
     
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  12. sailingsinkingships

    sailingsinkingships Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Raleigh, NC
    It’s possible that my time was spent with a Brio that had not properly burned in since it was a store demo and I only had it for the weekend. I may have to try one out for a longer period of time. I have heard even greater things about the new iteration.
     
  13. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Location:
    Uppsala Sweden
    I would say the greatest upgrade to make is the amp stages. A new Pre amp like a Tube Box S or better and an amplifier more minimalistic in design. Volume and input knobs only with no phono stage.

    Depending on what kind of sound you want you could switch carts or add a sub as well. Since you can buy more expensive and carry those things over you dont lose anything if you decide to change tables like a P6 like you said.
     
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  14. sailingsinkingships

    sailingsinkingships Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Raleigh, NC
    I spent some of that budget recently when amazon was doing its buy one lp get another half off sale.
     
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  15. Bingo Bongo

    Bingo Bongo No music, no Life

    it's amazing how Amazon, Ebay or Discogs can make a man happy!!!! ;)
     
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  16. Fishoutofwater

    Fishoutofwater Forum Resident

    beware of the rabbit hole:biglaugh:
     
  17. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Location:
    Uppsala Sweden
    The worst part is you will never find the bottom.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  18. jeffmackwood

    jeffmackwood Forum Resident

    Location:
    Ottawa
    I'd be inclined to not break up that "classic" receiver / speaker combo. I'll assume both are in like-new performance condition; if not I'd use the first tranche of the $1500 to have them professionally refurbished.

    The biggest gains are going to come from changes to transducers and the room. Since I don't know anything about your latter I'll assume everything's great in that regard. And since I've already suggested keeping the receiver / speakers, no change to the speakers. However, nothing says that you can't add another transducer; in this case a sub. I'd suggest something by PSA or SVS. Use their "try it, return it" to your advantage. You'll need something with speaker-level inputs / outputs and use the sub's internal crossover. By having the sub handle everything from say 60 Hz on down (but play around with the setting and let your ear decide) you'll make life easier for both the receiver and the speakers. It's one way to effectively increase your receiver's output (ie. by having your speakers draw less from the receiver.) Play around with sub placement.

    Given that you are talking about a vinyl-based system, you need not spend the whole $1500 on the sub, looking for the deepest possible bass extension. And given the limitations of both the receiver and the speakers you are not talking about extreme SPL capabilities either. Just something that takes you solidly down to 25-30 Hz, or so, probably in the $700-800 range, will be just great.

    Sonically I think, to answer your question, that's where you will see the biggest gain. Again I am starting from the "don't break up the classic combo" premise. If I didn't, then, getting back to transducers, replacing the speakers with a $1500 pair of something else would give the biggest gains. But that's a whole other matter with many more options.

    One of my 2.1 systems uses a "classic" '70s amp (Hitachi HMA-8300) and speakers (Koss CM/1020) paired with the much newer SVS 20-39 PC+. So I'm speaking from (at least a bit of) experience when I suggested the addition of a sub. In my case it was neither because of lack of power, or power handling, or max SPLs. Rather, because that 2.1 system is fed from much more than a vinyl source, I wanted much lower extension (than the CM/1020's already very solid bass performance) and much higher SPL capability (from a sub - again to match the CM/1020's capability in that regard). I have other 2.1 systems where a much less capable sub than that SVS is in play. But in every case, the addition of the sub gave big gains.

    Just my $1500 (or less) worth of advice.

    Jeff
     
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  19. jeffmackwood

    jeffmackwood Forum Resident

    Location:
    Ottawa
    ps. I may be picking nits, but yes I do recognize that I am using the term "2.1" very very loosely here. Strictly speaking, the addition of a sub to such a 2.0 system only yields... a 2.0 system. To earn 2.1 status, you really should have a separate ".1" channel from the source - which is of course not the case with a vinyl-based system. (And yes, I realize there were 4.0 "quad" systems that were vinyl-based as well - just trying to keep it simple AND technically accurate.) I'd note that even the likes of Outlaw Audio bills their RR 2160 as a Stereo Receiver" even though it has internal bass management and a dedicated subwoofer output. All this to say sorry to anyone who picked up on this on my post above and whose spidey senses started tingling at the mention of 2.1.

    ps. I myself find myself taking issue at those who incorporate multiple subs into 5.1 or 7.1 systems and then refer to them as 5.2 or 7.4 HT systems or some other thing when they are still 5.1 and 7.1 systems.
     
  20. sailingsinkingships

    sailingsinkingships Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Raleigh, NC
    I had never really thought to add a sub for a Music only system. I would have thought that matching with the speakers is important and with them being so old they would not have a natural partner in the area of subwoofer.

    My listening environment for now is a smaller living room with lots of soft surfaces (carpet and big plush couch). This could change though as I am looking to purchase a new home and unsure of the setup.
     
  21. sailingsinkingships

    sailingsinkingships Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Raleigh, NC
    This image is perfect. Just received the new Tom Waits remaster of Alice.
     
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  22. sailingsinkingships

    sailingsinkingships Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Raleigh, NC
    I want to thank everyone for their input. Lots of great options going forward and even those I had never thought of before. It sounds like there are some endless options.

    In the realm of speakers, does anyone have some experience with matching some newer speakers with a vintage amp like the pioneer? I am not big on home theater but have those cheap pioneer Andrew Jones towers and bookshelves with matching sub hooked up to an older Yamaha av amp. It plays lots of Apple Music and the sound is surprisingly good. Doesn’t match the vinyl setup but makes me wonder if a newer amp and newer speakers might be the way to go.

    I think I might audition a few different sets of speakers with the vintage pioneer over the holiday break from classes.
     
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  23. jeffmackwood

    jeffmackwood Forum Resident

    Location:
    Ottawa
    Yes I have such experience. And there is no issue.

    For just about any solid state amplifier section going back decades, so long as it is operating within its original specs (many will need some refurb work by now), it will sound no different, and have no problem driving any normal run of the mill consumer speaker of today. The same caveats that were in place decades ago (adequate power; not driving the amp into clipping; ensuring the amp could handle a lower impedance speaker (if that's what's being presented) etc.) apply today. That 50 W/ch Pioneer receiver will be just fine with a brand new pair of Energys, or Totems, or Paradigms, or... you name it. Yesterday's quiet, low distortion, full bandwidth, power amp section will sound the same as today's - all else being equal.

    But again, vintage gear really should see a tech's bench, if it hasn't already. My own just-refurbished Pioneer SX-750 was a good case in point. It needed a cap-kit, full cleaning of all the contacts, etc. Prior to the refurb there were audible issues. Afterwards it's simply like any amp, vintage or otherwise, should be: clean and quiet.

    Jeff

    ps. The converse is also true: a vintage speaker won't know the different between a '70s watt and today's. Again, all the usual caveats apply. (Funny how things have not really changed all that much!)

    ps. Of course there are outliers; both amps and speakers. To repeat, I'm talking regular consumer receivers (solid state amps) and speakers.

    ps. I'm not commenting on tube amps since I have zero personal experience with them.
     
  24. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Location:
    Uppsala Sweden
    This!

    And to quickly comment on tubes, I dont have any myself, but I hear they somewhat taint the sound in favor of a softer experience. If you have a problem with a lot of records having sharp sounds like S's or cymbals or you experience a lot of unpleasent sibilance or distortion the tubes can mediate the listening experience. Dont quote me on this but personally it would be a hard trade off for me. I prefer hearing my records exactly like they sound in order to asess their true quality. If I wanted a tainted sound I would get an amp with bass, treble and balance knobs too.
     
  25. GoldprintAudio

    GoldprintAudio Forum Resident

    Location:
    Lexington, NC
    Completely off topic, but are you at NC State? (or perhaps you teach...)
     

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