Introduction and a few initial questions

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jmurray61

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Introduction and a few initial questions
« on: 18 Jun 2024, 01:48 pm »
Hi all,

I am new to this circle, but an old fart vinyl lover looking to (slowly and surely) upgrade my system. Most recent purchase was a Pro-Ject X1 with Sumiko Oyster series cart, Olympia stylus, planning to move up to the Moonstone soon. Control and power are through a head-to-toe recapped 1980 NAD 3140 that never seems to quit and still sounds buttery, driving a pair of Definitive Technology DR7 towers with newly replaced drivers. CDs, streaming, and TV monitor audio are purely convenience experiences, i.e., entertaining guests, background during food prep, binging Station Eleven, etc. My personal and focused aural interests, and therefore investments, are in the analog domain with vinyl, alone in a decent acoustic space, at 75-90dB-SPL depending on sources. Okay, I won't lie, momentary peaks are probably a bit higher for stuff like MoFi's OG Crime of the Century or Steven Wilson's remix of Close to the Edge or Analogue Productions' Hugh Masekela's amazing Hope pressing. I also favor AP’s Bluenote reissues and UHQRs and the new Atlantic 75 series at 45 rpm. I am of modest means, so ultra high-end isn’t something I even fantasize about because it’s so far out of my reach. I’m also skeptical my 62 year old ears can discern the difference. Still, my listening sessions are with focused intent, which requires a bit of tinkering with volume while in the seated position to adjust for various mastering gain differences. Of course, the 3140 is sans remote, so I’m constantly getting up and sitting down. And, while the 3140 has a very-enjoyable-for-me sonic signature, it is old. The whole thing is a mess in need of some attending to, which leads me to joining this group.

Thank you for having me.

I’m confident I’ll learn more from you all in these threads than I’ve learned in 50 years of my love affair with reproducing outstanding music in the vinyl domain. I’m also confident there is a modern solution for control and amplification that fits my needs within my 2024 budget of under $2000, knowing there could be another investment round in 2025 or 2026.

Some initial questions that are more about system integrity than what a particular component sounds like: (1) Am I crazy to consider putting all the funds I have now into a new preamplifier (Vision SLR or Transcendence) that plugs straight into the amplifier section of the 3140? The idea is that such a combo could temporarily satisfy my listening experiences until I can save for another round of audio investment for proper amplification. Is that a serious mismatch? (2) Or, should I be thinking of just replacing the 3140 entirely and go for a new integrated (CA1 or SET with external phono stage) and call it a day?

I have many more thoughts and questions but will leave this initial post as is for now. I welcome your responses and look forward to engaging conversations.

Thanks again for your time.

Best,
John

Tone Depth

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Re: Introduction and a few initial questions
« Reply #1 on: 21 Jun 2024, 03:43 am »
Early on I built a tuner to supply an integrated amp, then built a preamp to replace the preamp section of my integrated amp. It is a perfectly logical way to upgrade your system in stages.

charmerci

Re: Introduction and a few initial questions
« Reply #2 on: 21 Jun 2024, 04:51 am »
As a lifelong AVA customer, I'd say just get CA1. You can find equipment that is better but you'd have to spend much more to do so. I think they're the best high end deal in sound.

ArthurDent

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Re: Introduction and a few initial questions
« Reply #3 on: 21 Jun 2024, 08:26 am »
Greetings & Welcome to AC John  :thumb:  While it is likely Frank will see your post, it couldn't hurt to give him a call for his thoughts. As you started your posting in the AVA circle you obviously have already done some research into what's out there, and the unquestionable quality & value of his gear. While I haven't heard either the CA1 or the SET I have no doubt you'd be happy with either, it's just a question of which may serve your long term plan. Though not a lifelong customer as charmerci is, I am a long time customer. I have 2 each of his preamps, and DACs, 3 of his amps. The oldest dating from '07, the newest a little over a year old now (DVA M225 monos). I enjoy all of them, rotating most in my primary system from time to time, only the Ultravalve anchors my 2nd system full time. Two of my preamps have his phono sections built-in, and I have a stand alone Vision unit as well.

While either would likely serve your needs the CA1 comes with a built-in phono, & remote per the website, while the SET would require a Vision Q+ stand alone phono unit as well. Good luck in your hunt, and keep spinning that vinyl.

Rocket

Re: Introduction and a few initial questions
« Reply #4 on: 21 Jun 2024, 10:32 am »
Hi,

I'd forget about the Nad and just sell it. I've had them many years ago and they are fine entry level for audio but nothing more. I'd second Frank's new integrated.

Cheers Ro

avahifi

Re: Introduction and a few initial questions
« Reply #5 on: 21 Jun 2024, 02:50 pm »
Definitely the CA1.

unsurpassed transparency!

Frank

floresjc

Re: Introduction and a few initial questions
« Reply #6 on: 21 Jun 2024, 03:34 pm »
Drop the NAD. CA-1 will be fantastic. I say this as an owner of the new NP-1 amp and franks phono stage.

TomBo

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Re: Introduction and a few initial questions
« Reply #7 on: 21 Jun 2024, 04:23 pm »
Go CA1 and never look back ...

RickAndrew

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Re: Introduction and a few initial questions
« Reply #8 on: 21 Jun 2024, 06:12 pm »
About 15 months ago I bought a new Vision SET 120 Control amp from AVA. In sound quality, it absolutely trounced the Exposure 2010s2 integrated that had been in my system for the previous 12 years. The Vision SET 120 is very fine amp.
Then 2 weeks ago my CA1 was delivered. This thing is in a whole other league compared to the Vision. 

WGH

Re: Introduction and a few initial questions
« Reply #9 on: 21 Jun 2024, 09:16 pm »
Some initial questions that are more about system integrity than what a particular component sounds like:

(1) Am I crazy to consider putting all the funds I have now into a new preamplifier (Vision SLR or Transcendence) that plugs straight into the amplifier section of the 3140? The idea is that such a combo could temporarily satisfy my listening experiences until I can save for another round of audio investment for proper amplification. Is that a serious mismatch?

(2) Or, should I be thinking of just replacing the 3140 entirely and go for a new integrated (CA1 or SET with external phono stage) and call it a day?

In 1985 bought a new NAD 7155 integrated amp, it was a great piece of electronics at the time. I used the heck out of it. Eventually the preamp section died I used the amp section with another pre-amp. I discovered the NAD pre-amp was the weak link in the receiver. The amp section was fantastic and a true classic.

That said, the NAD sound with and without the premap was always warm, highs were rolled off, dynamics were so-so, soundstage and imaging was non-existent. The NAD 7155 worked perfectly with the Klipsch Quartet speakers and compensated for the peaky, in-your-face Klipsch sound. The combo was the perfect woodshop stereo.

Give the NAD to a deserving person and get the AVA CA1. I have owned AVA electronics since 2008 (and keep upgrading) and every piece has sounded better than the NAD.

jmurray61

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Re: Introduction and a few initial questions
« Reply #10 on: 21 Jun 2024, 09:36 pm »
Hi all,

Thank you for your thoughts and input. Very helpful.

Wow! A resounding chorus of assertive recommendations for the CA1. I do quite like the simplicity and beauty of it and the refreshing dialogue supporting its choice.

For what it's worth, and for the record, I've been auditioning currently new IAs for some time now and still have yet to find anything that outperforms my recapped, but admittedly tired at 44 years of age, NAD 3140 circa 1980. Maybe I just got a good one, but this thing is built like a tank for its day and price. The earlier NAD debut 3020 is legendary, but I think the 3140 is overlooked when it's finely tuned into a sweet spot for an owner. I've been shopping all the usual suspects (no need to name them here) in the under $2000 hi-fi category and to date I mostly hear presentations that - to me - are too forward in the upper mids or too lean in the upper bass. Sometimes a combination of the two. Everything seems so clinical. No soul. No butter.

And, as a side note, one integrated had a digital control circuit for volume that, with the phono stage engaged, would not provide an output of more than 88dB-SPL in the room! The knob has no marking to indicate where in the travel path of volume the user might be at any given time. I just kept turning and turning and turning, but clearly the digital circuit had max'ed out even though the source was only accessing a fraction of the potential rated power output of the amplifier section. My Sumiko Oyster Olympia has an output of 4.0mV and the Def Tech DR7s I'm using are measured at 90dB sensitivity. It shouldn't be that hard to get to party volume!! What has happened in modern design to what used to be killer hi-fi brands? Ugh! Frustrating. I'm embarrassed to only be finding out about AVA just now!

Anyway, with all of your stellar reviews and commentary, I'm certain none of this will be a problem with the CA1.

Best,
John