What do you update first for better music?

doggy

Active Member
So assuming you have a separates system and you fancied a change, what do you replace first, and how much more money would you need to spend to see a decent improvement over your current system?

Cheers.
 

Rambles

Distinguished Member
How long is a piece of string?? Impossible question to answer. The room acoustics, speakers, amplification, pre-amp, DAC and source are all equally important.

If anything in the system causes the sound to change to something you don't like, then everything is compromised.

Improving how a system sounds is not always about spending more money.
 

mushii

Well-known Member
As above, its like asking what is the best way to make a car better? Many things interact with one another and changing one may change another un-intendedly.

I think that my first question is (assuming your source is not low bit Rate MP3s or low bit rate streaming service)
(If your answer to the source is yes for either I would start with better source material, that often makes a huge improvement for very little cost)

What is it you dont like about your current system?
Second question is how much do you want to throw at it?

HiFi is often a function of time (to listen to new equipment, system and environment changes) and money (how esoteric do you want to go). Many audio problems (except for degraded hearing) can be fixed with the latter, which may not necessarily be changing your hifi components, it could be buying somewhere new to listen to it, it could be room treatments, it maybe any one of hundreds of snake oil products that you may just believe improve the sound of your hifi, just because you believe that they do or it could be as simple as moving your speakers, your listening position or the soft furnishings.
 
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Derek S-H

Distinguished Member
Agree with the other respondents - your query is too vague and all-encompassing to answer definitively.

There's a synergy with Hi-Fi that can't just be measured by data alone, basically because us humans are subjective beings and have personal preferences. It's like asking which is the best musical genre!

Having said that, all things being equal, I think it's generally accepted that speakers are the final link in the chain and tend to see the biggest change. Not necessarily improvement, though, just a difference.

Of course, others may disagree with this and state that your source is the most important component. But having worked through various set ups over the years, in my opinion, I've heard:

Noticeable differences between turntables (though different arms and cartridges play their part here)
Some differences between CD players
Negligible differences between tape decks
Some differences between amps
Negligible differences between interconnects and speaker cables
Significant differences between speakers
Significant differences between headphones

Of course, my room, my hearing and my budget have all played their part in the above, and what works for me may send someone else screaming from the room! I suppose, ultimately, we have systems that suit us and our musical preferences.
 
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gibbsy

Moderator
I think @Derek S-H has covered it very well in his post above. Many on here have taken years, maybe decades to build to a system that finally suits them. Budget plays a huge part and many will still tinker around the edges for a life time. No doubt we would all like a specialist room filled with exquisite speakers, amps and players but that's very unlikely with the vast majority.

The simple answer is that you build a system that you like. You are the one that will enjoy it the most and as mentioned it's almost an impossible question for other to answer.
 

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
Generally the answer is Speakers. The difference between speakers in more noticeable. The difference between electronic components is subtle.

But as indicated your question is a bit too vague. If you want a broad and general answer, it is Speakers. If you want an answer that is specific to you, then we need more information.

Though some would disagree, my general break down of a Stereo System goes like this -

1x - 1.5x = Turntable
1x = Network Player
1x = Physical Media Player (like a CD)
1x = Amp/Receiver
2x = Speaker Pair


Note you want the most money in speakers. Though on the extreme ends of the price spectrum this breaks down. But it is still useful as a starting guideline.

Again the most general answer is that changing the Speaker will bring the most noticeable difference.

Things we need to know -

- Room Dimensions?
- Equipment you have now?
- Types of Music you like to listen to?
- Format you most often listen in - CD, Vinyl, Streaming, Other?
- Other uses for the system - Streaming, Computer, TV/Movies, other?
- The amount of MONEY you have to spend for the upgrade?


Steve/bluewizard
 

doggy

Active Member
I'm not wanting to upgrade, well I am but I've no money.

Reading through the forums and watching reviews etc just made me wonder what makes the biggest difference in hifi upgrades, and it appears to be the speakers.

I have a Yamaha as 301 and a CDs 300 with Kef q300s.

Like most people with beginners kit you look up the range and salivate. However if I could only afford to go up one model I probably wouldn't notice a big improvement.

So how many models up would be needed to see a big improvement?

Thanks
 

gibbsy

Moderator
I think it's better saving your money and going for a substantial upgrade rather than a little increment or worse a side ways move. Q300s are not a shabby speaker by any means and are well suited to the Yamaha. I doubt you would do very much better than that combination.

If you went for a substantial better speaker for the 301, let's go for the obvious KEF R3s, then those speakers are going to show up the failings of the 301. At the moment your kit is well balanced. You would though working your way up by a few hundred pounds is perhaps to find a speaker that may suit you better but there is going to be a price point where the speakers will surpass the ability of the amp.

It's a difficult balancing act at times but I would say with the kit you currently have then a better amp may come before the speakers. Sorry to turn your question on it's head.
 

mushii

Well-known Member
My friend it doesnt exist. You are chasing the ever elusive 'that next upgrade will be the one. Whatever you buy, in 6 - 12 months time you will want something newer and shinier and it still wont bring you the happiness that you seek. Its no different than a heroin addiction, 'I'll quit after this one last fix'.
My spend is relatively modest, my friend Rob is probably 10k into his system. It sounds beautiful, but he still cant stay away from the hifi peddlers.

If you are skint, stop reading what all the e-peeners are spending their money on and start enjoying music. I listened to Toyah - Anthem tonight, I havent listened to it in years and it lit my face up, I have a grin from ear to ear. I am listening on my office hifi, which is a bitsa system. In hifi terms its just spare parts, bitsa this bitsa that. But the sheer joy I got, going back to my teens with that album was priceless.

Hifi is just a means to an end for listening to music. That maybe heresy in some circles, but its the music that matters, not the kit.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
It's called upgradiatus, it's a dreadful disease. If you have a wife or girlfriend ask her to hit you on the head with a frying pan to bring you to your senses. I've just ordered my second SACD players. Whoops she must have missed with the frying pan. ;)
 

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
....

I have a Yamaha as 301 and a CDs 300 with Kef q300s.
The Yamaha is a decent amp for the money with 60w/ch and should drive most common consumer speakers.

So how many models up would be needed to see a big improvement?

Thanks
Generally, in speakers there is a noticeable difference going from one Series to the next. For example, you can hear a real difference when going from the Monitor Audio Bronze to the Silver to the Gold and to the Platinum. You just have to determine whether the difference is justified by the money.

Generally there is some difference moving up a given series. The Bronze 1 is a 5" with limited bass, the Bronze 2 is a 6.5" with more bass and it moves about twice as much air. The Bronze 5 is 2x5" in a floorstanding, the Bronze 6 is 3x6.5" so clearly deeper bass and more impact from more air moved. Tonally all the Bronze Series are going to sound similar, but you get the advantage of moving more air and having deeper bass with each model as you move up the line.

Same with the Monitor Audio Silver and the Gold, within a Series, all models are tonally the same, but you gain other advantages as you move up through the Series.

You can a clear audible upgrade in sound as you move from a lower Series to a Higher Series. In you case as an example, you would hear a substantial improvement in moving from the Q-Series to the R-Series, you would then simply have to justify whether the improvement was worth the money. I recently heard the KEF R3 bookshelf which has the Concentric Mid/High, but an additional Low-Bass driver ...really impressive, clear Mid/High with good presence and sound stage, and really impressive bass for a somewhat small speaker.

But the price is a bit steep - £1299/pr -


I think the Kef Q350 is the current equivalent of the previous Q300, but at £500/pr, as I said, there is a considerable difference in price.


Then we need to consider what it is you want to improve. If you don't like the general tonal characteristics of the speakers, then perhaps simply switching to a similar model in a different brand is all you need.

If you are looking for more bass and more impact, then you want to consider a larger speaker in the same Series or in a different brand -



Here is something else to consider, I have Wharfedale Diamond 9.6 (2x8" ea), I absolutely love them for music, very sweet and easy to listen to, but because they are a more laid back mellow speaker, for movies, they are a bit soft in the Mid/High for movie listening. Fortunately I have a work around for that, but that's not relevant to this discussion.

In electronics, you will find subtle difference between brands, and which you like or don't like is up to you. Much like speakers though, not that much difference in a given series. For example, not much difference is sound between the Yamaha AS301 and the AS501 except the AS501 brings you 85w/ch which is not nothing. To a limited extent, each model up might bring you a degree of better build quality and component selection.

To really hear a difference, you have to jump up to the top of the consumer line in the AS801 or you have to jump up into the Yamaha Audiophile line which is a very massive jump in price.

Then you have to consider what you want the amp to do. For a fixed amount of money you can get a very basic minimalist amp or you can get an amp packed with features like the Yamaha RN602 Network Receiver -


Network Streaming, double DAC inputs, Bluetooth, 80w/ch, ....

Now if you don't have any use for all those features, then it doesn't make sense to buy this amp. It probably makes more sense to buy the similarly price Yamaha AS501 Amp with DAC -


So, in choosing new electronics, you need to think about the specifics of what you want the amp to do, what features and how much power you need.

As to things like CD Player, the Yamaha CD-S700 is a considerably better CD Player than the low cost CD-S300. Better components, better build quality, and likely slightly better sound. But most of what you are buying is durability. The CD-S300 is very low cost and you know they has to cut some corners to reach that low price point. Though within a given budget it can still be a good CD Player.

I would say there is nothing wrong with your system as it stand, decent entry level amp, decent entry level CD Player, decent speakers. If you are going to upgrade, work out your priorities. What is it you really need. Perhaps you don't need better speakers, perhaps what you really want or need is Network Streaming from local storage and from the Internet -



Rather than focus on what is better in general, think about what best serves you and your specific needs.

Though I don't know your circumstances, I would say the two areas where you system could be improved would be Bigger Speakers and adding Network Streaming. But that's just my opinion. It is up to you to assess and set your own priorities.

Obviously everything needs to be upgraded, but that is generally true no matter what you have or how expensive it was. We can all find something we feel needs upgrading. However, realistically with a limited budget, your system is fine. I went for decades with a 45w/ch Pioneer Amp. So, you are not lacking for power. As long as your CD Player is working, it is fine. As to the Speaker, what do you like and what don't you like, and how much are you willing to spend to offset your dislikes.

Also, if you feel the speaker are lacking in bass, you could simply add a Subwoofer to the system, a bit trick to integrate, but not really that hard.

What you upgrade hinges on YOU specifically and what you think you need from your system.

Overall, you have a pretty good reasonably balanced system. Myself I would like bigger speakers, but then I always want bigger speakers, that's just me.

Steve/bluewizard
 
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doggy

Active Member
I'm honestly delighted with my system, I can't really described the sound like you guys can but compared to my marantz cr2020 and my bw601s my Yamaha is miles ahead in detail.



I also just bought a teufel to add streaming and I'm very impressed with it, I also have a CCA for the marantz.

I think I paid 250 for the kefs and about 180 or less each for the amp and cd player, I got them in sales.

So for about 600 quid I'm happy, I'm just wondering what 2k budget would sound like.....
 

Paul7777x

Well-known Member
Best to stay that way sir.

Always about the music...

It’s reasonable to buy the very best hifi you can to make your music sound the very best it can, but once you’re happy with the hifi, it’s best to leave alone unless really silly money comes your way.

About, say, £2500 would see a noticeable and appreciable improvement new, a bit less used (sometimes a good bit less); around £1500 for amp and speakers.

As an example,


A mighty, lauded pair of 1500 speakers (new) at nearly half price.


And a good saving on a top class amp.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
If you're happy then stay with it. It's taken my years to build up my kit, just as it has many others, by improving bit by bit. It can be a hobby and sometimes an obsession, always chasing a 5% improvement with a 50% addition to cost and has been pointed out you can lose the fun of just listening to music by listen to the kit.

Saying that...……….:devil:
 

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
The KEF R500 are an older model but at an outstanding price. The bass is just a bit better than a good bookshelf, but it is going to move considerably more air. A real bargain if you can justify it and if it will fit in you space.

The Tannoy Revolution XT-6F are also a real bargain, about HALF PRICE, so a deal hard to beat.

The current KEF R5, the equivalent of the R500, should also be very good ...but... the price tag is closer to £2000/pr.

If you want a slight upgrade in quality, combined with a considerable upgrade in size, then consider the Q550.



It the newest version of the Series you have, but with more bass. Though they bass is still modest. It appears to have THREE 5.25" bass driver but in reality it is one 5.25" Bass drivers, and TWO 5.25" ABR, which are passive radiators that replace a bass port. They do enhance the bass.

Again, it is about your goals and objectives. Do you simply want more bass and more weight, or do you want more clarity? Moving up in the same series can give you a slight boost in clarity, but more so in bass and air moved. Moving up to a higher series will bring you more clarity and detail, but not necessarily in a larger speaker.

If you really want to go larger, then the KEF Q750 (£1100/pr) with 6.5" bass drivers are a considerable step up in size and bass.



Again, this more about YOU than your system. How far do you want to take it? How much space do you have to place the speakers? How much money to you have to spend?

I think speakers are the first best upgrade ..but again... how far do you want to take it?

The Tannoy XT-6F (£470/pr, £1000 retail) have 2x6" bass drivers. The Kef R500 (£800/pr, £1500 retail) have 2x5.25" Bass driver. The Kef Q550 ($800/pr) have 1x5.25" and 2x5.25" ABR.

If the existing speaker are clear enough, then you could consider adding a Subwoofer to enhance the bass. That could cost in the range of £240 to £340. We can discuss the best way to integrate the Sub, if that options is of interest to you. The Sub will have its own Volume Control to you can have it as intense or as mild as your personal taste and circumstances dictate.

BK Electronics - Subwoofers -



There are lots of options, but they all hinge more on YOU and your circumstances than on your equipment.

But then ... that's just my opinion.

Steve/bluewizard
 
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BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
Let me say that for myself, being habitually broke, it is frequently the BARGAIN that makes the decisions. I got my very nice Wharfedale Diamond 9.6 (2x8"ea) which typically sold for £1000/pr for about £450/pr with free shipping and factory registration and warranty. For that price I couldn't pass it up.

Again, depending on how much money you have, the Tannoy XT-6F and the KEF R500 are next to impossible to beat for quality and price.

Like I said, somethings the bargain makes the choice for you.

But ...again... you have to ask yourself what it is that you are trying to accomplish?

Steve/bluewizard
 

HHGTTG

Active Member
Don't bother unless you're listening to decent music where nuances of timbre and spacial awareness can be observed ie Classical music, generally speaking. Most others are distorted synthesised noise. IMHO of course. :D
 

gibbsy

Moderator
ie Classical music
Ah, Jethro Tull. The Steve Wilson remixes are wonderful. Some 'classic' modern music can easily reach the complex orchestration and fidelity that classical music can.
 

Hixs

Distinguished Member
Don't bother unless you're listening to decent music where nuances of timbre and spacial awareness can be observed ie Classical music, generally speaking. Most others are distorted synthesised noise. IMHO of course. :D
Jazz, Swing, Blues..... ;)
 

UPTHEOWLS

Active Member
Ah, Jethro Tull. The Steve Wilson remixes are wonderful. Some 'classic' modern music can easily reach the complex orchestration and fidelity that classical music can.
Who mentioned Steven Wilson..... :D one of my favorite artists :thumbsup:
 

Mark.Yudkin

Distinguished Member
Not everybody suffers from "upgraditis", some of us get to a point where we just won't get any real benefit from an upgrade within financial constraints and therefore don't spend money for no real improvement. One way of telling is take my wife along and ask her. If she can't hear an improvement, there is none (and I'm being serious).

Our limit (speakers) was reached with the Quad ESL-63's, only replaced because of defects / service costs. The replacement (Spires) are 8 years old. Electronics are easier: performance limits are reached fairly economically.

All that's left is upgrade replacement due to technology changes: e.g. most recently by buying a UHD player to handle the latest format.
 

dannnielll

Well-known Member
Not everybody suffers from "upgraditis", some of us get to a point where we just won't get any real benefit from an upgrade within financial constraints and therefore don't spend money for no real improvement. One way of telling is take my wife along and ask her. If she can't hear an improvement, there is none (and I'm being serious).

Our limit (speakers) was reached with the Quad ESL-63's, only replaced because of defects / service costs. The replacement (Spires) are 8 years old. Electronics are easier: performance limits are reached fairly economically.

All that's left is upgrade replacement due to technology changes: e.g. most recently by buying a UHD player to handle the latest format.
Well if ESLs were what floated your boat, you were not easily satisfied.
 

mushii

Well-known Member
Your satisfaction point was an £8000 pair of speakers (Martin Logan Spires?). There isn’t really much further to go though is there?
 

Derek S-H

Distinguished Member
Your satisfaction point was an £8000 pair of speakers (Martin Logan Spires?). There isn’t really much further to go though is there?
Agree - and even then it's probably incremental unless you spend a ridiculous amount of money.

There was a recent query on here about upgrading the Monitor Audio PL 300, but the trouble is that those speakers are so crushingly competent in all areas that they're compared to speakers 3 x the price.

Same with the Q Acoustics Concept 500 (which has actually dropped in price from its initial £5000 to an almost-bargain £3600) which is often compared to speakers at twice the price.

I'm NOT saying that either speakers are perfect, just that the price/performance ratio is extremely high and if you bought either and like them, you'll have to spend significantly more to better them (according to the reviews).
 

Mark.Yudkin

Distinguished Member
Your satisfaction point was an £8000 pair of speakers (Martin Logan Spires). There isn’t really much further to go though is there?
That's my point - save up, get a decent solution, and keep it as long as it lasts. It's actually cheaper in the longer term than permanently upgrading in the hopes of achieving some incremental improvement, only to find it wasn't really enough.
 

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