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Three years into vinyl, where to go from here.....

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Chester0711, Jul 10, 2019.

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  1. kannibal

    kannibal Forum Resident

    Northern VA
    Only one person mentioned it above, but if you’re moving away from an entry level sound, you need to move on from the entry level amp. Sure the 501 is a great amp to see what things sound like beyond the $300 HTR, but it’s time to move on. A better amp will make those speakers sound better, but I suspect they’ll be next on the chopping block.

    You’ll have to be prepared to spend more than $800 though. But that’s where you are, and what you want. If you don’t want to spend the money, then just enjoy what you have.

    Do what I did, I was using an AS-700 and found great deals on a couple of used, well cared for, highly regarded separates. They were $700 and $400 for the pre and power amp, but they were worth it, and I quickly forgot about the Yamaha integrated.
    AKA-Chuck G, Classicrock and Benzion like this.
  2. Helom

    Helom Forum member

    FWIW, I still own an A-S501 and owned the Lounge LCR III. I've heard the Elacs at length in a smallish room and owned similar cartridges. Your amp and speakers are not weak links IMO.

    You're really looking at a >$1K outlay to significantly better the 501, and that's if you buy pre-owned. If buying new, I'd budget at least $1500 if you want a definite improvement you won't be questioning as plecebo or straining to hear.

    The Elacs are very good for the money. I heard them with a Marantz amp (I think it was the 6006). I felt the treble needed some refinement and they were on the cooler side of neutral, but I had no way of discerning whether to lay blame at the speakers or ancillary gear.
    For $800, I'm confident you could do better in the used market, if you shop carefully. However, I wouldn't be surprised if any pair you purchased lacked one of the Elac's strengths. It would likely come down to finding speakers that better align with your preferences, whether that be midrange focus, imaging, tone, refinement etc.

    My inclination would be to replace the Lounge. It's a decent preamp in terms of dynamics and soundstage, but not very quiet and somewhat veiled. I have no experience with your turntable, though I have little doubt it outclasses the LCR. I have zero doubt that your cartridge, speakers, and amp can benefit from a better preamp. I suspect something along the lines of a Sutherland KC Vibe would be worthwhile.

    Otherwise, I think your system is very well-balanced.
  3. Uglyversal

    Uglyversal Forum Resident

    My vote to keep costs down goes on to either changing the speakers for something bigger or if you are happy with their sound just add a sub.
  4. timind

    timind phorum rezident

    I thought it was pretty funny.
  5. Benzion

    Benzion "Cogito, ergo sum" Forum Resident

    Brooklyn, NY
    BTW, OP, you mentioned doubts you could buy any decent tower speakers for $800 or less. Wharfedale Diamond 10.7 (what I use) are $699/pair still at MusicDirect. Remember - they're rear ported though. You could probably score a pair of used KEF Q900's somewhere for well under your budget. Or - Q950's are $899/pair brand new on Amazon - which means you can return them, if you have Prime membership and don't like them. Can't remember how they're ported, but one word of fore-warning, based on some reviews I've read, the KEF line is very different from Wahrfedale in sound signature. While W's are considered warmish, the KEF's have somewhat of a reputation for sounding very detailed, but fairly clinical.
    SandAndGlass and patient_ot like this.
  6. Chris Schoen

    Chris Schoen Rock 'n Roll !!!

    Maryland, U.S.A.
    Not doing needle-drops yet? - now the fun REALLY starts!! :agree::laugh::sigh:
    patient_ot likes this.
  7. tomd

    tomd Senior Member

    Power Conditioning.Really good power conditioning makes more difference than you might think.My recent purchases of Alan Maher’s
    Plug In DED filters that address the inductive properties of home electrical (improve power factor correction to a huge degree) improved EVERYTHING :highs,Bass,pace,smoothness,detail/resolution more than most component upgrades.
  8. ellingtonic

    ellingtonic Forum Resident

    As someone that spent way more than I intended to on audio equipment this year I would recommend hearing other people's systems that are a bit more high end and seeing (hearing) what is possible. Minneapolis is a big city and I'm sure there are a good number of forum members there that that would be happy to let you come listen. You may find that you're happy with what you have or discover what is lacking. Once you have a good idea of the sound you want start with the speakers and build around them (I did the opposite and could have saved some serious money, but such is life). As others have mentioned bigger speakers with more drivers can be more difficult to integrate into smaller rooms, but a 2 1/2 way monitor may be the best of both worlds - I ran Paradigm Signature 4 speakers for about 13 years and had changed everything in my system multiple times before hearing the DeVore 3XL at someone's house and deciding the Gibbon 88 was the perfect match for the music I listen to most often.
  9. Chester0711

    Chester0711 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    So, and this might complicate things, but I have a small room that sort of opens into another room of similar to slightly bigger size. Think a 4 season porch that is 12x12 that used to have a large sliding door (it was removed) that led to a den/family room TV room area. The opening is about an 8x10 opening to the den family room. So while to room the system sits in is 12x12, it opens or is connected to a another room that is 12x15. It create a bit more space for the sound to travel. That said ceilings are no higher than 8.5 feet.

    Taking that into consideration, If I was to get a set of floor standers with an $800 max give me some ideas in the used market that I should test drive.....looking for some starting points or concepts to center my search around....or what do I stay away from?
  10. timind

    timind phorum rezident

    If you're open to used, which is what I'd recommend, look at Vandersteen 1C in whichever iteration meets your budget.
    WapatoWolf and Helom like this.
  11. captwillard

    captwillard Forum Resident

    I'd try and go listen to some. Deals can be had on new and used floorstanders from B&W, Revel, Klipsch, Paradigm, Golden Ear, etc.
  12. AKA-Chuck G

    AKA-Chuck G Forum Resident

    Washington NC
    You have an over 2k turntable with $400 speakers, a $400 integrated amp and a $350 cartridge. IMO, your TT is by far strongest part of your system. The amp and speakers are the weakest. And that TT could use a much better cart. Your system is just not matched up very well.

    What is your budget? The amp and speakers need upgrading or you are just wasting the turntables capability.
  13. Chester0711

    Chester0711 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    What i am thinking, and what I am hearing, is that the speakers need the upgrade, then to build from there. In order to utilize Floor standing speakers and place them properly (not bury them in a corner) I will need to move some furniture around.

    Either way,
    The TT was something I was able to purchase on a deal at a good used price. It was a floor model that I paid half price for and would not have bought it if it was $2500, which was retail at the time. "wasting the turntables capabilities" sounds like a sales pitch used to get me to buy more expensive gear by a stereo salesman. Is it not true that there are some components out there that are half the price of their "higher end" brethren but sound equally as good? or match possibly better?
  14. AKA-Chuck G

    AKA-Chuck G Forum Resident

    Washington NC
    I looked his equipment up and TT, arm and Cart are not the weak links. That is by far the strongest part of his system.

    Its the amp and speakers he needs to work on.

    The below used speaker package will blow away his current setup.


    And an integrated amp such as the Rotel A12 used for $500.

    Rotel A12

    Review for Rotel.

    Rotel A12 Integrated Amplifier Review

    Of course there are dozens of different combo's that would greatly enhance you entire set. This is just one example.

    And if you don't want the sub look for speakers that at least go down to 50hz, preferably 8ohms high sensitivity 90db or so.
  15. AKA-Chuck G

    AKA-Chuck G Forum Resident

    Washington NC
    Well chester this is BS since I was just trying to help. What, you think I will get a commission. :sigh:

    And the answer is NO to your last 2 questions unless you go used. Don't expect a $400 amp to sound as good as a used $500 amp that uses better parts, has a hefty AB amp section and a well know reputation.

    And let me add I don't care if you spend one red cent. :shrug: Find deals on an amp and speakers like you did the turntable. Does that not compute?
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2019

    ANALOGUE OR DEATH Forum Resident

    I think my post was more in the spirit of exasperation from what I hear from many others on this forum when it comes to upgrades,not so much the op's current set up.
  17. troggy

    troggy Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow

    Benton, Illinois
    I've been a collector for 30 years, have had and played records pretty much my entire life and probably wouldn't enjoy it at all, if I was constantly thinking about my next upgrade. My system is pretty much pieced together from a bunch of cheap stuff that's still hanging around after years of use. I still have the same CD player I bought new in 1990. I bought a new turntable four years ago, only because the one I'd used for 24 years finally gave out on me.

    Could I use some better equipment? Probably. But you know what? I enjoy the hell out of playing records anyway. I spun a bunch of old 45s last night, just like I do a lot of nights. I may even have danced around the room a little.
  18. Benzion

    Benzion "Cogito, ergo sum" Forum Resident

    Brooklyn, NY
    This will be way over your budget, but, if you're loath to move furniture around and are willing to wait a bit to put money aside, there's a brand of speakers out of Sweden that is made for corner placement - Larsen. They get all sorts of awards and accolades, not one word to the opposite. Larsen 6 (or even 4) might be your ticket, for the future:

    Larsen - That sounds beautiful
    Chester0711 likes this.
  19. Ski Bum

    Ski Bum Happy Audiophile

    Vail, CO

    IMO, you've gone through far too much gear in the past three years. If you think the best part of the audio hobby is constantly changing gear, you will ultimately become frustrated and dissatisfied. What you have now is a fairly well-balanced system in terms of cost and quality. To materially improve it -- not just change it -- will require a fairly serious expenditure.

    I suggest buying more music or just saving your money for a while. The best part of the audio hobby is making the gear that you have sound better. That means a lot of tweaking (in the broadest sense of the word). Trying adjusting placement, room treatment, vibration isolation, turntable setup (VTF, VTA, etc), AC quality, etc. Sometimes substantial gains can be achieved at low cost with a bit of ingenuity and perseverance, and those gains are far more satisfying than paying a lot of money for an upgrade.

    I have an expensive system, but I've been putting it together for almost 50 years. My personal rule is not to upgrade unless I am sure that I have already extracted the best sound quality possible from my existing gear.
    Fruff76, Big Blue and Chester0711 like this.
  20. Chester0711

    Chester0711 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I mean, I have gone about a year without buying any gear. But I see your point.

    I decided to go listen to some equipment at a local store today that has a decent reputation and has been around a while. I got an interesting vibe....it was as though I wouldn't see any difference in a speaker that wasn't at least 2.5k from what I currently have. Maybe the guy was right, maybe not. They also did not have a "test" policy, anything I wanted to try I had to pay for and take home. They would accept a return if you didn't like the item, so I guess that's the same thing?

    Thanks for all the help everybody. Audio Equipment is a black hole. I understand the various biases that exist as everyone's ear is different. I got some great ideas.
    sturgus and timind like this.
  21. Fruff76

    Fruff76 L100 Classic - Fan Club President

    It can definitely be a black hole, OCD, or addiction. I’m grateful after 30 years I was finally able to put it behind me.
    AKA-Chuck G, Eigenvector and timind like this.
  22. captwillard

    captwillard Forum Resident

    The Elac's are nice speakers. There is a reason they have wone so many awards. You may look at a subwoofer as an upgrade.
    bever70 and Clonesteak like this.
  23. Fruff76

    Fruff76 L100 Classic - Fan Club President

    Also, just throwing this out there, and maybe a lot of you will disagree, but you could possibly be spending too much of your budget on music. It looks like you’re averaging over 1 record per day, and assuming they are $15 each, that’s $5,475.00 per year. If you took half of that and added it to your speaker budget, you could get some pretty sweet speakers. Just buy 1 album every other day.
  24. TheVinylAddict

    TheVinylAddict ___The Enforcer___

    It can also be fun too as a hobby for others ---- not everyone who buys audio gear has a medical disorder, affliction or regrets it!!! So many people paint gear buying with a negative connotation? I get the impression some view it that way because maybe they have regrets for some reason --- maybe they spent too much (or more than they could truly afford), made some bad choices along the way, or.......

    Why does it always have to be negative? The statement "I am grateful after 30 years I was finally able to put it behind me" doesn't sound like you enjoyed your quest for gear.......
    AKA-Chuck G, timind and IRG like this.
  25. Fruff76

    Fruff76 L100 Classic - Fan Club President

    I don’t miss wasting half of my listening session messing with positioning, wondering if more power would be better, if an equipment upgrade would give me better SQ, plastering room treatments everywhere Etc etc. lots of wasted time instead of listening. Now I just listen.
    grbluen and Eigenvector like this.
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