Which component to upgrade next? (Or is this a rabbit hole I need to escape)

Rnjderivs

Standard Member
Hi folks,

I'm enjoying my current set up, but will I get a significant & noticeable enhancement to my listening experience if I upgrade one component. And if so which out of the DAC, Streamer, Amp set up should I change. Or should I beware the rabbit hole and just stick with what i have?

Right now I have Elac Reference Debut 6.2 (dbr62) being driven the Niles SI-2100 power amplifier; the niles has a Sonos Connect plugged into it (using the analog output of the Sonos Connect hence using the Sonos DAC). The sonos connect has a volume control so acts as a sort of preamp also. I'm really happy with the practicality and reliability of the sonos connect, and I am solely streaming spotify 'very high quality'.

Which one of these options would be worthwhile (Please note I am only after a significant & noticeable enhancement to my listening experience):
a) get an external DAC and use the Sonos Connect digital output.
b) get a new streamer altogether
b) get a pre-amp to plug into the Niles Power Amp
c) get a new integrated amp and stop using the Niles.

I'm happy with the speakers so don't want suggestions there. The room set up is not perfect but pretty good (speakers about 4 feet apart pulled away from walls a little, with me in a slightly elongated triangle).

To be honest I am not sure what I am looking for. And maybe it's just FOMO and a rabbit hole. In which case I am open to that being pointed out also.

Thank you
 

Rnjderivs

Standard Member
...oh and my budget for the one component would be under $600 if possible. If there is a really good step up in the audio experience that's worth the extra money I could go up to $800. Please note i am not a audiophile and have untrained normal ears!
 

OstrichAndCobraWine

Active Member
Greetings friend.

Others far more knowledgeable than I will hopefully chime in on the merits or otherwise of your current/proposed kit but I thought I'd humbly offer my opinion that what you may currently be experiencing is the onset of 'upgradeitus', stimulated by 'GAS' (gear acquisition syndrome) and quite possibly (depending on your exact circumstances) the devil simply making work for idle hands.

I say this as I, like you, am quite content with my system (and have been since I put it all together in 2019) but for weeks now I have done nothing other than torture myself night and day with thoughts of new equipment, none of which when I'm thinking clearly is remotely necessary (and in some instances even practically feasible).

For example:

Room correction via DSP - even though I don't feel my sound is so broken as to to require it;
Dual subs - even though where I listen doesn't afford the space and the WAF and likely neighbour annoyance would mean it's a non-starter anyway;
CD transport plus external DAC - even though my CD player is no slouch either aesthetically or technically and is doing its job admirably;
'Super tweeters' (WTF?!) - even though my speakers are plenty bright and only because Z Reviews salivated over a set on a YouTube vid I stumbled across by accident when bored;
Larger speakers - even though I've yet to hear an equivalently priced standmount set which outdoes mine for speed and slam and only because I'm naively equating bigger with better (and perhaps even subconsciously looking to compensate for other real or imagined 'inadequacies' in my life - full disclosure, I'm not ruling it out, anyway...);

and so on and so forth.

Now I know exactly what's happening with me. I've been away from my system for 6 months due to working abroad and I've just gone and forgotten how good it sounds (to my ears, anyway). I was seriously pining for it one day and I nagged my wife into powering it up (she won't go near it ordinarily) and sending me a video of it playing one of my favourite tunes. That 40 second clip was obviously horribly shaky and low res but even as ropey as it was there was enough in it to remind me of my system's abundant qualities. Now when I can sense that I'm about to start going 'hunting' again I make a point of watching that short video beforehand and even when listening to it on my crappy phone the urge is instantly put in check.

In addition the job I'm doing right now is neither stimulating nor effort intensive and so I have way too much time on my hands to pore over internet forums, which depressingly only ever end up making you feel like there's significantly better out there and that what you have is not up to snuff.

To my shame, the point at which I realised I had to have a word with myself was when I found myself looking with a straight face at the Russ Andrews, Shunyata and Nordost 'snake-oilery' websites. These are hours of my life I'll never get back and I thoroughly despise myself for it, quite frankly.

So in your present predicament and using your terminology I'm calling this a 'FOMO' driven sentiment which has you teetering perilously on the brink of a potentially pocket-emptying 'rabbit hole'. You concede that you enjoy your sound as it currently is. Your speakers (the component in the system chain with the most significant impact on sound, in my opinion) are both objectively (i.e. via measurements) and subjectively (i.e. by listening) already well regarded. To some all DACs and amps sound the same and so you might end up spending more on these but realising no major audible benefit (or at least none that isn't actually the result of expectation bias).

So my advice would be to save your money. Or spend it on music. And remember it's the music that's supposed to be listened to, not the equipment.

Just my 2 cents...
 

Rnjderivs

Standard Member
Greetings friend.

Others far more knowledgeable than I will hopefully chime in on the merits or otherwise of your current/proposed kit but I thought I'd humbly offer my opinion that what you may currently be experiencing is the onset of 'upgradeitus', stimulated by 'GAS' (gear acquisition syndrome) and quite possibly (depending on your exact circumstances) the devil simply making work for idle hands.

I say this as I, like you, am quite content with my system (and have been since I put it all together in 2019) but for weeks now I have done nothing other than torture myself night and day with thoughts of new equipment, none of which when I'm thinking clearly is remotely necessary (and in some instances even practically feasible).

For example:

Room correction via DSP - even though I don't feel my sound is so broken as to to require it;
Dual subs - even though where I listen doesn't afford the space and the WAF and likely neighbour annoyance would mean it's a non-starter anyway;
CD transport plus external DAC - even though my CD player is no slouch either aesthetically or technically and is doing its job admirably;
'Super tweeters' (WTF?!) - even though my speakers are plenty bright and only because Z Reviews salivated over a set on a YouTube vid I stumbled across by accident when bored;
Larger speakers - even though I've yet to hear an equivalently priced standmount set which outdoes mine for speed and slam and only because I'm naively equating bigger with better (and perhaps even subconsciously looking to compensate for other real or imagined 'inadequacies' in my life - full disclosure, I'm not ruling it out, anyway...);

and so on and so forth.

Now I know exactly what's happening with me. I've been away from my system for 6 months due to working abroad and I've just gone and forgotten how good it sounds (to my ears, anyway). I was seriously pining for it one day and I nagged my wife into powering it up (she won't go near it ordinarily) and sending me a video of it playing one of my favourite tunes. That 40 second clip was obviously horribly shaky and low res but even as ropey as it was there was enough in it to remind me of my system's abundant qualities. Now when I can sense that I'm about to start going 'hunting' again I make a point of watching that short video beforehand and even when listening to it on my crappy phone the urge is instantly put in check.

In addition the job I'm doing right now is neither stimulating nor effort intensive and so I have way too much time on my hands to pore over internet forums, which depressingly only ever end up making you feel like there's significantly better out there and that what you have is not up to snuff.

To my shame, the point at which I realised I had to have a word with myself was when I found myself looking with a straight face at the Russ Andrews, Shunyata and Nordost 'snake-oilery' websites. These are hours of my life I'll never get back and I thoroughly despise myself for it, quite frankly.

So in your present predicament and using your terminology I'm calling this a 'FOMO' driven sentiment which has you teetering perilously on the brink of a potentially pocket-emptying 'rabbit hole'. You concede that you enjoy your sound as it currently is. Your speakers (the component in the system chain with the most significant impact on sound, in my opinion) are both objectively (i.e. via measurements) and subjectively (i.e. by listening) already well regarded. To some all DACs and amps sound the same and so you might end up spending more on these but realising no major audible benefit (or at least none that isn't actually the result of expectation bias).

So my advice would be to save your money. Or spend it on music. And remember it's the music that's supposed to be listened to, not the equipment.

Just my 2 cents...
Ha thanks for the honest reply. Yes I definitely feel GAS coming on...
 

Flobs

Active Member
Sit back listen to some music and wait till something doesn't work 'correctly'. Then panic run round testing all connections and cursing thinking sh*t what do I need to change.
Come on here and ask for help! and invariably get told you need new speakers even though it's your CD transport that isn't working! ;)
 

acgingersnaps

Well-known Member
Hey. A cheap upgrade would be a lossless streaming service, like Qobuz for example. You could take advantage of trial period and see if you hear a difference.
As an aside, I used a Sonos Connect into an amp for a while. Good sounding thing.

From a hardware point of view, adding room correction could be worthwhile.
 

sha66y

Active Member
...oh and my budget for the one component would be under $600 if possible. If there is a really good step up in the audio experience that's worth the extra money I could go up to $800. Please note i am not a audiophile and have untrained normal ears!
I doubt anyone has trained ears, so normal is good!
 

Rnjderivs

Standard Member
Hey. A cheap upgrade would be a lossless streaming service, like Qobuz for example. You could take advantage of trial period and see if you hear a difference.
As an aside, I used a Sonos Connect into an amp for a while. Good sounding thing.

From a hardware point of view, adding room correction could be worthwhile.
Thanks. I tried Amazon HD and compared the same songs and even listened to the same segments to see if I could tell a difference. I could tell zero difference between the top level of Spotify and Amazon HD. I was trying a handful of tracks that were recorded at high quality.
 

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