Do system upgrades make a difference?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by jdsher, Sep 13, 2018.

  1. jdsher

    jdsher Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Plano, Texas, USA
    I know the answer is in most cases is "absolutely", but I thought I would try a little experiment with some needledrops I made last night.
    In the last several months I have upgraded the following parts of my analogue system:
    Rogue Audio Ares-tube set upgrade
    Preamp-from ARC LS2BMkII to ARC LS27
    Phono cables-went from VPI phono cable to Voodoo Copper Litz
    Preamp to amp cables-went from Morrow MA2 XLR to Synergistic Research Core UEF Level 2 XLR
    I had a recording of Van Morrison Into the Mystic from the remastered Moondance album that I made back in May of this year about 2 weeks before the first upgrade. I made another recording last night just to see if I could tell a difference. I think I can easily tell a difference, but I thought I would let you guys tell me if I am insane or not. I've normalized both on Audacity and the first few seconds of silence have had noise reduction, but the rest of the track is untouched. I've included about 45 seconds of each.
    Into the Mystic before upgrades
    Into the Mystic after upgrades
  2. ukrules

    ukrules Professional Appreciator

    Union, Kentucky
    Hmmmm...there may be a "difference"...but is there an "improvement"? :shrug:
    Bingo Bongo and PhxJohn like this.
  3. PhxJohn

    PhxJohn Forum Resident

    Phoenix, AZ
    I have gotten to the point after 50 decades... if I like how my stereos sound....I leave them as is.
  4. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident

    Takes a very, very long time for some to get there. :D
    billnunan, seed_drill, Paully and 5 others like this.
  5. jeffmackwood

    jeffmackwood Forum Resident


    I like the sound of my main HT - and the separate stereo system within it.

    I like the sound of my family room HT.

    I like the sound of both stereo systems that are in my living room.

    I like the sound of my back yard stereo system.

    I like the sound of my garage stereo system.

    I like the sound of my front porch stereo system.

    I even like the sound of my late-'70s stereo system that's currently in storage.

    I think I'm at the point where I'm content to leave them as is. At least I think I think so. Pretty much. For now.
    Helom likes this.
  6. Otlset

    Otlset free-range audiophile

    Temecula, CA
    It only took me two decades! :laugh:
    Helom likes this.
  7. Dream On

    Dream On Forum Resident

    After 500 years I'll probably stop fussing as well.

    Actually, I think it's a great point. If it sounds great then trying to make changes has more of a chance of not working out than it does of making things sound better. Tough lesson to learn.
    Paully, Steve0 and Shoalcove like this.
  8. Shoalcove

    Shoalcove Forum Resident

    That’s quite a commitment lol! How long before it seemed like the harpsichord was in the room?
    Just kidding of course, but it did make me chuckle. I do envy you reaching the point where you can just enjoy it without thinking about what could be improved.
    Paully and PhxJohn like this.
  9. Musical Maxis

    Musical Maxis Digalog... What's That?

    Yes they do make a difference. Not to get off subject here but when I saw the title of this thread I automatically thought of Bill Engvall and I don't know why? o_O
    jdsher likes this.
  10. Gibsonian

    Gibsonian Forum Resident

    Iowa, USA
    Depends on whether the change was a:

    1. Upgrade
    2. Side move
    3. Downgrade
    TarnishedEars likes this.
  11. jfine

    jfine Forum Resident

    Yep, and I wish many times I would've never f'd with it.
  12. Mitsuman

    Mitsuman Forum Resident

    Man, you're old. :laugh:
  13. TarnishedEars

    TarnishedEars Forum Resident

    Seattle, WA
    "Upgrades" often do make a difference. But my experience has been that these are not always for the better.

    If I have learned only one thing in my >35 years in this hobby, it would be this: Finding a synergistic combination of equipment is the single biggest key to achieving great sound. Once you have achieved this, "upgrades" become much more challenging because changing one piece of the puzzle can often upset that synergy which you had previously achieved, leading to either a sideway move, or even a move backwards in terms of musical satisfaction.

    So my advice on upgrading is: If it is at all possible, always keep your existing equipment until you have finished evaluating your new gear. Once you are certain that it represents a move in the correct direction for you, then sell the old piece. Otherwise, you may find yourself getting pulled into a never-ending upgrades, until you finally achieve a similar level of synergy once again.
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2018
  14. chervokas

    chervokas Forum Resident

    I haven't had a chance to listen to the clips yet, but just looking at your list of changes, you didn't make any substantial changes. The big change was the preamp and you went from one hybrid preamp from the same manufacture to another. I'm not sure that enormous differences would be something I'd expect from that set of changes.
    TarnishedEars likes this.
  15. Bingo Bongo

    Bingo Bongo No music, no Life

    Funny thing is, I went back to a 1974 Marantz Receiver and have never been happier....
  16. PhxJohn

    PhxJohn Forum Resident

    Phoenix, AZ
    Retired, working on expired. LOL.
  17. PhxJohn

    PhxJohn Forum Resident

    Phoenix, AZ
    I do love the 3D imaging from my 'big' stereo. The 'little' stereo in my office....I listen with my back to it, so no imaging. LOL
    Shoalcove likes this.
  18. c-eling

    c-eling Forum Resident

    2nd sample seems 'brighter'
    I enjoyed sample 1
  19. I can definitely hear a noticeable difference between the before and after.

    Now I'm wondering how much of that change is the new tubes in the Ares and how much is the new preamp and how much is the other changes.

    The after sample has wider soundstage, more midrange clarity, and the midrange also got more forward. All noticeable differences. I'm listening on headphones. Perceptions of soundstage width and depth and forwardness can be different on headphones than speakers. I'm not sure how those impressions will translate to speakers.
  20. missan

    missan Forum Resident

    There is a noticeable imbalance between channels, and they are pretty bright to my taste. Other than that the second sample is a little more forward. but the dynamics are good. Can´t say I prefer one over the other. Took a listen to my original record, much less bright and no channel imbalance.

    Last edited: Sep 14, 2018
  21. Chris Schoen

    Chris Schoen Rock 'n Roll !!!

    Maryland, U.S.A.
    Cartridge, pre-amp or speakers (from my experience,) result in the biggest "difference", as far as upgrading.
    ZenMango likes this.
  22. Chris Schoen

    Chris Schoen Rock 'n Roll !!!

    Maryland, U.S.A.
    Ya, sometimes it's not "better", just "different"...
  23. ayrehead

    ayrehead It was like that when I found it...

    Germantown, Tn
    Confucius once said: “If you like the sound of your system, change it.” :confused:
  24. ukrules

    ukrules Professional Appreciator

    Union, Kentucky
    Sometimes we audio nerds cannot help but to tinker.
  25. jdsher

    jdsher Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Plano, Texas, USA
    Yes, I've noticed that imbalance as well and I assume it is cartridge alignment. I wish I was better at TT setup.

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