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 Post subject: Upgrade path advice...
PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 9:19 am 
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Joined: Sat Sep 11, 2010 11:54 am
Posts: 148
Location: Montreal, QC, CA
Hi all,

Mulling over a potential spending spree on an upgrade for my system. Here's what I'm running:

- Rega P3-24 w/ Dynavector 20x
- Bottlehead Seduction (w/ C4S upgrade) phono pre
- Pass B1 buffer/preamp
- McCormack DNA-1 power amp
- Energy 22 Reference Connoisseur loudspeakers

My intuition is to either upgrade the phono stage or the loudspeakers. I feel that a loudspeaker upgrade would certainly be the most appreciable change (in that the differences will be surely noticed), but I don't have many issues with the Energys that I can't also blame on my (poor) room. The phono stage is the most "budget" component in my system, but I wonder how appreciable an upgrade would be. I am looking to spend around $1200-1500. I could maybe stretch to the $2k mark.

I will likely buy something second hand. For the phono stage I am considering K&K Audio's Trio Phono. Not much info about this one but Kevin, the company's founder and designer, has done some amazing work in the past I am confident this is a top-shelf unit. For speakers I am thinking of trying to find a pair of Energy Veritas 2.4. I quite like the overall balance of the Energys I'm running at the moment, but if I could find something with better imaging and more controlled low end I would enjoy that I think. I enjoy thoroughly the low distortion of my current Energy speakers. Other speakers I am considering (after having had a look at the local market) are Thiel SCS4T or the Tannoy Revolution XT8F. I've not done much research on these. I'm wondering if the tradeoffs of a concentric speaker design are ones I can live with.

Anyway, sorry for the slight rambling. If it were you, what would you upgrade?

Cheers!


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 10:35 am 
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Joined: Sun Jun 16, 2013 11:17 am
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Location: St. John's, NL, CA
Based on what you've said, I think you need to be clearer about a couple of things before you spend your "hard earned" cash (ever notice how cash is always "hard earned" :roll: ). What's the short-comings of your present system? What do you want out of your system, and how is your present system failing to achieve that? It sounds like you're not sure if the biggest problem (whatever that might be) rests with your gear or your room. You should try and figure that out. It might be something of a waste of cash to buy a bunch of new gear, only to discover that the problem is the room! Perhaps you should be spending your money on room tunes, vicoustic panels, and/or bass traps rather than speakers and pre-amps. You already own what many consider to be Energy's best speaker ever, so moving to a different Energy might be a step backwards. What about something by Reference 3A (Grand Veena?) -- should be a nice match with your amp and I would think an improvement over the Energys. I'm sure you will get no shortage of speaker recommendations from this crowd. Good luck and enjoy the ride.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 10:57 am 
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Location: Montreal, QC, CA
Thanks for the reply EL34. Admittedly, my position is definitely not a bad one.

I am fairly certain that a lot of my low-end qualms come from the room. The short dimension, and the floor-to-ceiling dimension do create some resonances in the mid-bass areas, 120-180hz ish. I've mitigated it as best as I can given the fact that a) I rent, and b) I can't turn the room into a dedicated listening space. I've already fitted it as discretely as I can with bass traps and absorptive panels to reduce the effect of the resonances. Thankfully along the length the room the walls are not parallel, so it could be much worse. Just to qualify the above I will state that I work professionally in audio and recording and am very familiar with studio construction and acoustics.

Perhaps all of my complaints come down to the room. Perhaps they could be improved with a speaker that has a leaner, or more controlled low end. I would like a bigger sound stage from the speakers and slightly more control of the low end, but otherwise I am a fan of a neutral-to-warm, low distortion sound.

My phono stage I don't believe is quite as refined as I would like. It sounds good, but I feel it smears over many details, especially in the mid-range. There's very little definition, and a touch too much warmth, in my opinion.

Hope this helps narrow it down a bit. I appreciate everyone's comments!

P.S. had a quick google for the Grand Veena, there's even a pair for sale in Ottawa. However, at $4k used they seem well beyond my budget.


Last edited by tiller on Fri Nov 04, 2016 11:01 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 11:01 am 
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Location: Peterborough, ON, CA
Do you have a dedicated "sweet spot" for listening? A small room is (IMHO) more suited to near-field listening...a different speaker (as you have described) might be a place to start...

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 11:04 am 
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Hi, yes, I have a dedicated listening spot that is strategically placed to mitigate some of the resonances in the room. The room is small but not so small as to require nearfields, in my opinion. I sit roughly 3m back from the loudspeakers. Nearfields in my experience are much more effective in the 1m range, on the meter bridge of a console for example.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 11:22 am 
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Right :D

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 11:47 am 
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Location: Delta, BC, CA
From what you have, I would suggest speakers, I like the amp, it does a great job, biggest return will be speakers.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 11:57 am 
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Joined: Mon Nov 29, 2004 9:43 am
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Location: Ottawa, ON, CA
I upgraded from the Bottlelhead Seduction to the Eros a few years ago. I was a very nice and worthwhile improvement.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 12:03 pm 
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crgolfer, what did you notice as an improvement? The Eros has been on my radar since building the Seduction.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 12:09 pm 
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Location: Kingston, ON, CA
Your Energy 22 speakers are pretty decent. You'd have to spend quite a lot more to hear a noticeable improvement. Here's a suggestion though: invest in upgrading their crossovers? That is usually the best bang for the buck upgrade (for me, anyway).

Your phono stage and preamp appear to be your weakest points.

For $2,000 you have a lot of choices in the used marketplace. In the end though, regardless of price, it all comes down to system synergy. Audition as many different units as you can in your system. Only then will you know for sure how it will sound.

Have fun!

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 12:21 pm 
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Thanks for the advice!

The preamp I don't feel needs changing. It, in theory, should be entirely transparent. It simply acts as a active buffer and passive volume control to make sure the McCormack sees the correct load. The Pass designs are top notch.

I think I would tend to agree that the phono pre is the weakest link in the chain at the moment. I'm just so tempted to get some new loudspeakers as new loudspeakers would be a much more obvious change. (Note I did not say improvement, hehe)

Choices, choices...


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 12:27 pm 
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Location: North York, ON, CA
i would upgrade the speakers. there are plenty of fine speakers on the used market for under $3000.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 12:32 pm 
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For those of you voting for the speaker upgrade, are you familiar with the Energy 22's? If yes, do you have any recommendations for something in a similar house sound?


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 12:49 pm 
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Well, if you think you've narrowed it down to your phone stage, and you've got in the area of $2k, take a look at this:
http://www.canuckaudiomart.com/details/ ... ono-stage/


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 12:52 pm 
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Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 2:10 pm
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Location: Morris, MB, CA
I have heard Energy speakers, but all that I have heard have been with the Connoisseur line that was out in the early 2000's. They had metal dome tweeters, and I'm sure had a different sound signature than your 22s.

Hate to be the one to suggest it, but when changing pairings, the best thing to do is demo speakers. If possible, even find a seller that will let you demo in home, as we we know a speaker that sounds great in one place with one source, may sound completely different in another.

Personally demoed a bunch of newer mid-market speakers lately, and would suggest that if you are not opposed to metal tweeters, you could do a lot worse than the offerings for Monitor Audio or Paradigm (Signature Collection). Should be good used offerings of both in your price range.

I've not been a huge metal tweeter fan in the past, but have a set of the MA Silver RX1s. My jaw literally dropped the first time I listened to them, as they resolved an incredible amount of detail without being harsh or fatiguing. In your price range, you can likely even scoop a nice pair of the GX series towers with the ribbon tweeter in them.


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