Where to start the upgrade process when new?

Discussion in 'Members' Systems' started by njvaldes, Dec 27, 2017.

  1. njvaldes

    njvaldes New Member

    Messages:
    10
    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    First, I hope this is the right forum to post in. As a relative audio neophyte, I'm interested in maximizing my system in my budget but struggle with where to start. I've long had a fairly large collection of vinyl, cd's and digital music that I've listed to through low end bose bookshelf speakers. After spending too much time with two friends who very nice sytems I've become convinced it's worth spending some time and money on my setup. In particular I have a friend whose system I particularly admire and while I know I won't reach it in my budget I do believe I can have a pleasant listening experience. His setup is Sansui XR-Q7 TT > Sansui G9700 receiver > two ADS L980 speakers on custom stands.

    As someone on a budget it's very hard to know where to start and without a way to demo things with my setup in my space it seems the best way to go is to get advice from y'all and just bite the bullet and spend time listening and finding something that my ears like, knowing that some flipping of gear will happen. Here is my current setup:

    Dual 1237 TT w/ Shure M95ED > Panasonic SA-700 ss receiver > Technics SB-CR33 speakers

    I listen primarily though my TT but also play cd's and digital music through an old mac mini that I use as a media server. I listen primarily to 70's and contemporary jazz, soul, hip hop, 'indi' rock and a selection of classic country. I spend the vast majority of my listening with jazz. While I do want a quality setup and am someone who likes to learn the intricacies of things I own (generally performing my own labor) I am not a gear head. I prefer to find something I really enjoy and spend time with it. Ultimately listening to music to me is far more enjoyable than shopping for new gear if that makes sense.

    Where in this setup do you think I would be best to upgrade first? Ideally I can throw $200 towards a new receiver in the coming months and I'd really like to replace the speakers with something more nuanced. The Technics are great given they're free -- they're loud but sound more like party speakers than anything that delivers something satisfying and detailed. Thanks ahead of time for info/opinions.
     

     

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  2. orsen

    orsen just another old cheapskate that likes audio Subscriber

    speakers first, then stylus
     
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  3. njvaldes

    njvaldes New Member

    Messages:
    10
    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    Stylus hasn't been on my radar but that does make sense. I'll start researching there. As far as speakers go, are there some good 'best bets' in the sub $200 range? I've been looking at Klipsch KG series as a potential starter set of speakers. In my price range I doubt I'll find anything unbelievable but I know most anything will be more nuanced than the Technics I currently have.
     
  4. xero-D-hero

    xero-D-hero Super Member

    Messages:
    2,161
    Speakers are definitely where I'd start...

    If you like how your friends ADS sound,then I'd suggest looking for a pair of that brand of speaker.
    Obviously you wont be looking as far up the ADS foodchain as your friend is currently at with your stated budget.
    Dont sweat that though,just expect to start out with something more affordable like some L400 2 ways instead.

    Also include Braun and Canton speakers in the search too.
    I say that as they're quite similar to ADS in most all respects.
    And a bonus there is they tend to fly under many folks radar.
    So there are often deals to be discovered with those two brands.

    The reciever seems to be capable enough for now,,,Panasonic/Technics is a resepectable brand by most accounts...

    Same with the Dual TT,but yeah there's almost always some sorta gains to be had in the numerous cart/stylus options out there.

    FWIW

    Bret P.
     
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  5. zenarrrow

    zenarrrow AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    737
    Location:
    Wyoming USA
    My opinion on this is, take your $200 put it away.
    Take the time to set up your system in a very good manner. Get your speaker placement in an ideal a position as you can. Clean up your receiver, deoxit the switches. Find the right listening volume and Enjoy what you have.
    Go through your lp's and cd's, clean them up too.
    Keep the $200 away, hit up some garage sales in the spring. Look for record collections, (first sign they have vintage gear in the basement) if not ask if they have any, so many people won't carry out a heavy box of vinyl, and then ask if they have any stereo equipment. You would be surprised at the amount of hi end gear I have bought for pennies on the dollar. I have bought a Marantz 6350Q TT for $32. A 6100 marantz for $5, sticker said it didn’t work. Looked inside found a deteriorated drive belt stuck to the platter. Saw a listing for a stereo system at a yard sale in the paper the night before, was first there, bought a Pioneer SX 980 for $20. Another sale, someone had a junky TT in there yard, so I ask if they had any lp's. Started talking to the fellow who didn't want to sell any of his gear or records. But he said he had some Altec Lansing speakers, I asked if I could just look at them, admire them. Sure, he had a pair of Model 14's a pioneer SX 980 again and a Pioneer TT and a box of lp's opened but still in the orig shrink. I said I will give you $500 for the speakers and tuner. He went upstairs and asked his wife. They were giddy about the $500. Threw in the lp's and TT. Moral of the story is, save your little scratch right now, enjoy your music now, go treasure hunting in the warm months, and ask people about audio gear as most people don't think of bringing up their box of lp's they had in the '70's.
    Just saying I know you aren't looking for a box of lp's, or have $500 to sway someone into selling what now are my dream speakers. I could sell the SX 980 for $500 if I so wanted to. And pretty much have my speakers for free.

    Be patient, if you want to buy a pair of mid grade speakers or even less, someone will gladly take your $200.
    Yeah your friendsmay have nicer gear now, but,
    Don't go mistaking paradise for that home across the road.
     
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  6. Djcoolray

    Djcoolray Addicted Member

    Messages:
    6,201
    Location:
    A rocks throw from JBLM !!!!
    Go online and register for notification of estate sales in your area. There are older people selling whatever they have without checking what it’s worth and you’ll be surprised what you find at a fraction everyone else is paying.

    But I’d say It’s about how you set up your equipment.....as in grounding your turntable to your receiver, then grounding your receiver to a metal pipe that runs underground...like a water or gas pipe.

    Then on the back of your receiver you have jumpers that go from pre-amp to amp...replace those with short RCA cables of good quality and you’ll get a much better sound from your receiver without spending much money.

    Also buy yourself an 1/8 inch cork platter mat to cancel out vibration coming from the turntable, it’ll make the sound from vinyl more defined.

    Good luck....
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2017
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  7. savatage1973

    savatage1973 Addicted Member

    Messages:
    5,395
    Location:
    NW Pennsylvania snow belt
    Sound advice--wait a bit, maybe build up your warchest/budget a bit. People are busy over the holidays and aren't taking the time to list stuff for sale. Wait until after the first of the year (at least)--but just not too long--when tax returns start rolling in, there is more money in the market to compete with.
     
  8. njvaldes

    njvaldes New Member

    Messages:
    10
    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    Thanks Zen and others. This is sound advice. I think more than anything getting the current system as clean and tidy as possible is most important to me. I was able to get the TT really well grounded and it's quieter than it's ever been. I am going to look into grounding the receiver to a pipe when I'm back home.

    After some consideration I did decide to buy some new speakers and found a pair of DCM CX-17 speakers for sale locally for $15 more than I was offered for the Technics. They work well and are in good condition. I'll pick them up tomorrow evening. The Technics were great for free but other than power (which I don't need) they didn't offer much else. I think that's a good start. I'll take some of this time off from work this weekend to work on cleaning up the receiver and trying to get the most out of it I can. It really is a nice looking unit and perhaps would make a good second unit down the road.
     
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  9. Drugolf

    Drugolf AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,076
    Location:
    Boise
    Well as far as a first upgrade, you did pretty good.
    While it can be hard to make much of an impact with $200, it can be done. I have come into many great deals over the past several years for that amount or less, particularly on speakers.
    The key is being patient yet diligent as you keep a close eye on local Craigslist, estate and garage sales in the spring and summer etc. Relationships with others in the hobby can often pay off as well so add your location under your avatar so that if there are others on here in your area, maybe they can help.

    If the music is the most important thing to you, you may want to go with something new for the receiver. Also consider an integrated amp instead if a tuner isn't your thing. Vintage electronics can get expensive quickly and can come with issues unless it has been thoroughly restored already. And if it has, it isnt likely going to be cheap. There is a difference between vintage speakers and vintage electronics as the former is something that you can fix and repair without knowing a lot about electronics.

    You didn't mention one so keep your eyes open for a decent DAC to put between your Mac mini and receiver. Deals on these can be found in Bartertown quite often as others upgrade in search of higher specifications.

    Your turntable right now is not a weak link, but it eventually will be.
     
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  10. BobHol

    BobHol Old fart Subscriber

    Messages:
    619
    Location:
    Fort wayne IN
    The best and cheapest difference you can make is by working on Speaker Placement.
     
  11. zenarrrow

    zenarrrow AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    737
    Location:
    Wyoming USA
    Another thing free to do is align your overhang on your stylus get the tracking force correct, and level your TT. Not only will these things improve the performance of your gear, but it will also instill a love for the process and greater understanding of your equipment.

    So when you do upgrade your gear it isn't going to sound 2nd rate because your speakers are not positioned right, or your cartridge isn't going to be tracking correctly. But if you learn and practice these things on your gear now, then when you get your new gear you can make sure everything is just right.

    Cheers, and good luck.

    (Also, I am not assuming you haven't done this yet.)
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2017
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  12. njvaldes

    njvaldes New Member

    Messages:
    10
    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    These are all good pieces of advice. I'm always up to first maximize what I can with the gear I have. I'm very happy I bought the DCM speakers. I got them for $15 net and they are so much clearer than the technics at the levels of listening.

    I'll need to toy with speaker placement. Unfortunately I don't have the luxury of a listening room or studio. I share a home and have a small bedroom and a visual art studio space. My studio space is small and not ideal acoustically (glass windows all around -- but a beautiful wooded view with natural light) but is all I have and is ideal for all my other aspirations. I'll continue to play around and experiment with ideal setup.

    Zen, I think your advice of learning how to set my table up correctly is spot on. That will be the next item I tackle. If there are particular tutorials you've found most useful/informative please pass along.
     
  13. zenarrrow

    zenarrrow AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    737
    Location:
    Wyoming USA
    I am not too familiar with the Dual 1237, but if you check the cartridge you are using you can find out what the recommended tracking force.

    Any literature you might need you can find at vinyl engine or is it hi-fi engine. .? All for free , all you have to do is register.
    But search this forum for adjusting tracking force, and adjusting your stylus overhang. The main thing to do is find out your cartridge and you can go from there. The manufacturer has recommendations for the tracking. Then we will go from there.
     
  14. zenarrrow

    zenarrrow AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    737
    Location:
    Wyoming USA
  15. njvaldes

    njvaldes New Member

    Messages:
    10
    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    That's the one. I'll grab some of the tools and get back to it tonight or tomorrow and report back. I've been very happy with the $0 net investment for the CX-17's and think I'll keep this setup and invest my time in setting up the table and cleaning out the Panasonic using the lengthy deoxit tutorial on these forums. Should be a good neophyte project.
     
  16. doctor fuse

    doctor fuse AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,105
    Location:
    Victoria, BC, CANADA
    Sounds like a very decent turntable. How did fiddling with setup work out?

    Have you tried putting your speakers on low or medium high stands? I find that makes a HUGE difference.
     

     

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