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Thoughts on upgrade paths

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Razamanaz View Drop Down
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    Posted: 10 May 2017 at 1:12pm
Decisions, decisions... Potentially annoying newbie questions to follow!

I've been lurking on this forum on and off since I first introduced myself about 6 months ago.
Someone over at the New Member's Corner then reassured me it would be ok (as in not against forum rules/etiquette) to mention what components I have in my current setup as I'm looking for some advice on future upgrade paths.

Here's my current, very humble system:

Lenco L75 (basically bog standard, but with some adjustments made and fully serviced by yours truly) equipped with an Audio Technica AT95E cartridge.
TCC TC-750 phono pre (was bought as a temporary solution and should have been replaced a long time ago).
NAD C315BEE integrated amp.
Dali Lektor 2 speakers on stands.
Connected to the amp is also a CD player (NAD C515), streamer (Raspberry Pi with HiFiBerry DAC running Volumio) and Sony Bravia TV (connected via a cheap no-name DAC). The TV in turn has a set-top box for IP-TV (Motorola VIP), blu-ray player (Philips BD-"something") and video game (Nintendo Wii U) connected to it with audio passing through the TV.

There are some obvious upgrade possibilities here, right? Wink
But I don't have the funds to chuck it all out and replace everything in one go, so I need a long term strategy.

I'm thinking I should replace the phono pre first, followed by the cart (thinking along the lines of a Nagaoka MP-110 or something similarly priced, though I could pay more if I find something that suits the funny arm of the Lenco). These two upgrades could definitely be done in the near future.
Down the road I'll be looking at replacing the amp and speakers. I don't really have a budget set for that, so not sure what I'll be looking for, but when I go for it I'll want it to be a substantial upgrade.

Based on my current setup, would you agree that the phono pre should go first?

I've been eyeing up the Era Gold V and the Reflex M - I've read everything about them I could get my hands on and I guess either of those would "outlive" all my other components and keep up with some considerable upgrades both upstream and downstream. Am I right? 
Now, I know about the loaner program (great service btw!) but I wonder if my current system would be able to reveal the differences between the two? Therefore, I don't know if there is any point in trying to compare them in my system. What do you think?

Similarly, I doubt my current system would tell me much about the differences between the power supply options(?).

Any guidance here would be most welcome.

Oh, perhaps I should mention that I mostly listen to various types of "rock" (anything from Pink Floyd to Black Sabbath to Frank Zappa to Nick Cave to modern heavy metal), but with the occasional excursion into soul or jazz or electronic stuff. Anything goes, really. Big smile

Looking forward to any recommendations on upgrade paths.Smile
Simon

"And some people say it's just rock n' roll
Oh, but it gets you right down to your soul"

(Push The Sky Away, Nick Cave)
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Wiscos View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Wiscos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 May 2017 at 5:17pm
Wow, that's a complex set of opportunities to resolve!
I always try to start with the amp / speakers first as this is an important marriage. To my probably out of date thinking good sources should follow as the target is for these to do as little damage to the overall sound.
My experience of the Majestic Dac is that this would give you a terrific Dac / preamp and is perfect for adding phono pre's to... The Maj does a great job with tv / digital sources and has plenty of inputs. The fact it can take a proper analogue input gives it a great quality / price point. And it will work a treat with GSP phono goodies, as well as the power amps.
Budget is obviously important, but this approach gives you some flexibility in how you implement.
Good luck...
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Aussie Mick View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Aussie Mick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 May 2017 at 10:20pm
What a terrific journey to take! So many tasty things to choose from...I agree that being happy with your speakers first and finding and Amp to drive them well is first priority. Speakers are the biggest influence on your system sound. However, if you're generally happy with the speakers, then I agree that the Majestic preamp-DAC is a really terrific digital hub, especially if your NAD Amp can function as a power amp. I use my Majestic to run cd transport, laptop, tv, bluray and sometimes digital radio, and I use a reflex m into it's only analogue input. You'll be surprised at what a big upgrade it is for all of your digital sources.

Fortunately, the loans scheme awaits!
Good luck,
Mick.
Rega RP8/Ortofon 2M Black - Reflex M - C.E.C. TL5 CD Transport - MacBook Pro/JRiver - Majestic DAC - Proprius - on the hunt for speakers!
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Wiscos View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Wiscos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 May 2017 at 11:37pm
Yes, do take advantage of the loan scheme. And even better if you can combine a couple of goodies to try 'em out at the same time. It will really help you determine the best upgrade path.
I realise my advice was a bit daft, suggesting speakers and amp, and then ignoring the speakers.
However, the great thing about the dac / preamp is that you can hear what that would do at the heart of your system while considering the path and budget impact going forward.
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itsmanhattan View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote itsmanhattan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 May 2017 at 12:16am
I'm certainly in the minority here, but I'm a big believer in updating your cart and needle. Depending on the set-up, a solid needle upgrade or change of cartridge can make a system come alive. 
Manhattan
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Razamanaz View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Razamanaz Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 May 2017 at 10:18am

Thanks for your input, guys!

Mick and Wiscos both seem to suggest starting at the other end. I can see how it makes sense. Obviously, a new amp and speakers is a much bigger investment than a phono pre and/or new cartridge. Finding the right stuff is also a pretty daunting task to me (especially speakers - I have listened to so many different ones and they differ a great deal).

I have of course read about the Majestic and Proprius as well. Reading about the Proprius I am (like many others) surprised to see how people describe it as something of a power house (given it’s specs), but that is perhaps a different discussion and I do believe I should hear it myself.

Sadly, my NAD amp does not have the possibility to run as pre or power amp independently, so any upgrade in that department would have to include both power and pre amplification.

Regarding my speakers, I think they are good at the price I paid for them. I have certainly enjoyed them over the years. At the time when I bought the amp + speakers I was a student and got a good discount at the local hifi dealer. The thing is, since then I have heard so many more systems and now have a better grasp of what music could sound like in my own living room. Based on that, the Lektors will need to go. (in fact, the plan is to eventually pass the NAD and Lektors on to my son – it would be a great set-up for his room)

To be honest, I have an itch that needs scratching (hehe) and I do suspect the phono pre is the weakest link in my system. Perhaps I’ll see if it would be possible to get a loan of a Reflex M, Majestic and Proprius at the same time. That way I could do some comparative listening and see where to go from there. Thanks for helping me sort my thoughts out – it’s easy to get carried away when you start dreaming. Big smile

Manhattan, thanks also for your input. A cart upgrade will happen as well. Do you have any advice on something that’s not too compliant (the Lenco arm is somewhat on the hefty side)?



Edited by Razamanaz - 11 May 2017 at 10:19am
Simon

"And some people say it's just rock n' roll
Oh, but it gets you right down to your soul"

(Push The Sky Away, Nick Cave)
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tg View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote tg Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 May 2017 at 11:14am
I am not familiar with the Lenco arm, but many folk have enjoyed the Denon DL-110 HOMC which is not seriously expensive and reasonably stiff in the suspension - certainly more so than the AT95.

Tony G
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