Reluctant Upgrading?

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ajzepp

Reluctant Upgrading?
« on: 25 Dec 2020, 03:37 pm »
I love these little .7s so much that Ive been in upgrade mode lately. I added an NAD DAC/Music server, a Black Ice Audio F360 Preamp, and now I have a dilemma that is kind of weird...

A while back, my 15 y.o Butler Audio amp started acting up a bit. It wasnt a great time to replace it, so I bought an SDS-470 amp from Class D Audio as a temporary measure. It puts out 600wpc into 4ohm, and it was under $1000. The model one step below this amp  took a beating on a couple audio of sites for some not-so-great measurements on the bench, so chsnces are this one doesnt measure much better. I happen to really like it, but given the other upgrades Ive made, its now the weak link in the system.

Has anyone ever been in the position where you felt like you probably SHOULD upgrade in order to best pair the rest of your rig with an amp that is a bit more on par, but youre generally happy with the performance currently?

I tend to keep my gear many years and am relatively immune from the perpetual "chase the dragon" upgrade bug. But part of me is wondering if im holding my system back by settling for an amp that is sub-par, even though I enjoy it.

Id be interested in hearing your experiences.

Elizabeth

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Re: Reluctant Upgrading?
« Reply #1 on: 25 Dec 2020, 04:19 pm »
Crisis of confidence. you like the amp and are happy with it. But... what do others think?
Definitely buy a fancy really expensive big audiophile brand amp  :thumb: One that costs a much as a new car. Then you will need all the other electronics to go with it. Add another two new cars spent. then naturally your speakers will have to go. and another more expensive new car cost to the money pit/garage full you soon will have, then discover you are dissatisfied. But everyone you know who is an audiophile is oohing and ahhing your gear.
An alternative is the tell yourself you actually DO have the best amp around. And just are keeping it a secret.

ajzepp

Re: Reluctant Upgrading?
« Reply #2 on: 25 Dec 2020, 04:26 pm »
Mmmkay, thanks.

Saturn94

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Re: Reluctant Upgrading?
« Reply #3 on: 25 Dec 2020, 04:47 pm »
If you enjoy it, keep it!  :thumb:

Letitroll98

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Re: Reluctant Upgrading?
« Reply #4 on: 25 Dec 2020, 04:51 pm »
I have to agree with Elizabeth.  I believe you when you say you're not usually an upgraditis victim, but you are now.  You have an amp you really like, but have convinced yourself that it can't be good enough because it's too cheap.  One of the finest inexpensive amps out there is the Adcom GFA 535II but no one thinks so because it can be had used for $100 or less.  The only cure is do what JLM did and get an all in one unit, streamer, DAC, amp all in one, I believe his is a NAD, where there is no component upgrade path.  The other option is embrace the illness and get a couple amps to compare, dealers and mail order outlets will always support home trial with minimal cost.

My experience?  Put off buying a new DAC because the old, no, ancient, one was good enough.  Until it fried itself, can't believe I waited this long, best upgrade in years.

ajzepp

Re: Reluctant Upgrading?
« Reply #5 on: 25 Dec 2020, 04:53 pm »
Saturn: Yeah, i think thats the practical way to go, im just trying to decide if Im leaving gains on the table so to speak given the other upgrades I made. I was just using a Schiit Saga preapmp and a $150 Topping DAC, with a usb output from my phone. So the two upgrades have really made a significant improvement with the Maggies.

ajzepp

Re: Reluctant Upgrading?
« Reply #6 on: 25 Dec 2020, 05:02 pm »
I have to agree with Elizabeth.  I believe you when you say you're not usually an upgraditis victim, but you are now.  You have an amp you really like, but have convinced yourself that it can't be good enough because it's too cheap.  One of the finest inexpensive amps out there is the Adcom GFA 535II but no one thinks so because it can be had used for $100 or less.  The only cure is do what JLM did and get an all in one unit, streamer, DAC, amp all in one, I believe his is a NAD, where there is no component upgrade path.  The other option is embrace the illness and get a couple amps to compare, dealers and mail order outlets will always support home trial with minimal cost.

My experience?  Put off buying a new DAC because the old, no, ancient, one was good enough.  Until it fried itself, can't believe I waited this long, best upgrade in years.

Perhaps my post reads differently than my intent, but theres no illness and no upgrade-itis victimization going on. Its simply a line of thought and an effort to get other opinions.

Case in point: I know a guy who has $1800 Buchardt speakers, a Hegel preamp, and fancy cables. But he was running bluetooth as his source. He liked it just fine, but the comments on his youtube channel were all but begging him to add a cd quality source or streamer. Once he did, he realized the degree to which he was not taking advantage of his equipment. Thats the sort of thing im getting at with my post.

I.Greyhound Fan

Re: Reluctant Upgrading?
« Reply #7 on: 25 Dec 2020, 06:00 pm »
If you like your amp keep it.  But if you are curious then by all means upgrade.  Buy  an amp with a good return policy like AVA or from audio advisor.  I own a Class D audio amp and it is just ok, mid-fi at best.  I used a Parasound A21 with my maggies and thought it sounded great until I upgraded to a Pass Labs X250 amp and I was blown away by the improvement.  Same goes for the AVA amps that I reviewed for Frank Van Alstine.  They sounded way better than the Parasound and Class D amp. 

You already upgraded the rest of your system so upgrading the amp to put all your gear on equal ground. Maggies really respond to upgrades.  They will tell you the weak link in a system.

Larry

SteveFord

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Re: Reluctant Upgrading?
« Reply #8 on: 25 Dec 2020, 06:02 pm »
Once this pandemic is behind us are there some audio stores you can hit?

For many years I was always in the x amount of power + y amount of distortion = z sound quality.
Boy, was I ever wrong!

One fine day I was thinking about guitar amplifiers and how the only ones I've ever had that were worth owning were tube amplifiers.  All the solid state ones I tried just didn't quite do it for me.
So how come I've never had tube amplifiers with my stereos?  I wonder if that would be worth doing?  Maybe I should stop thinking about it and find out.

Turns out that was the missing ingredient.


Early B.

Re: Reluctant Upgrading?
« Reply #9 on: 25 Dec 2020, 06:02 pm »
Get rid of the damn amp!!!!

You said two things:

1. I bought it as a temporary measure
2. it's now the weakest link in my system

You decided when you bought the amp that you were gonna replace it, so stop flip-flopping and follow through on what you promised yourself you would eventually do.

ajzepp

Re: Reluctant Upgrading?
« Reply #10 on: 25 Dec 2020, 06:05 pm »
Get rid of the damn amp!!!!

You said two things:

1. I bought it as a temporary measure
2. it's now the weakest link in my system

You decided when you bought the amp that you were gonna replace it, so stop flip-flopping and follow through on what you promised yourself you would eventually do.

LOL...well alright!

ajzepp

Re: Reluctant Upgrading?
« Reply #11 on: 25 Dec 2020, 06:07 pm »
Once this pandemic is behind us are there some audio stores you can hit?

For many years I was always in the x amount of power + y amount of distortion = z sound quality.
Boy, was I ever wrong!

One fine day I was thinking about guitar amplifiers and how the only ones I've ever had that were worth owning were tube amplifiers.  All the solid state ones I tried just didn't quite do it for me.
So how come I've never had tube amplifiers with my stereos?  I wonder if that would be worth doing?  Maybe I should stop thinking about it and find out.

Turns out that was the missing ingredient.

Right on. Ultimately that will likely be the answer...just finding a way to get some auditions going

ajzepp

Re: Reluctant Upgrading?
« Reply #12 on: 25 Dec 2020, 06:08 pm »
If you like your amp keep it.  But if you are curious then by all means upgrade.  Buy  an amp with a good return policy like AVA or from audio advisor.  I own a Class D audio amp and it is just ok, mid-fi at best.  I used a Parasound A21 with my maggies and thought it sounded great until I upgraded to a Pass Labs X250 amp and I was blown away by the improvement.  Same goes for the AVA amps that I reviewed for Frank Van Alstine.  They sounded way better than the Parasound and Class D amp. 

You already upgraded the rest of your system so upgrading the amp to put all your gear on equal ground. Maggies really respond to upgrades.  They will tell you the weak link in a system.

Larry

Thanks Larry. Seems like Pass Labs comes up often around these parts.

SteveFord

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Re: Reluctant Upgrading?
« Reply #13 on: 25 Dec 2020, 06:11 pm »
That ClassD amp is small enough you can drag it along with you for an A/B demo if need be.

ajzepp

Re: Reluctant Upgrading?
« Reply #14 on: 25 Dec 2020, 06:17 pm »
That ClassD amp is small enough you can drag it along with you for an A/B demo if need be.

Thats one of the reasons I was looking at the bel Canto reference 600 monos. Or even the ref 500 stereo. Ive had a few discussions with people who paired them with Maggie and very happy. Wont break the bank, and I do tend to like tube or tube hybrid pres with class D amps.  :scratch:

I.Greyhound Fan

Re: Reluctant Upgrading?
« Reply #15 on: 25 Dec 2020, 06:50 pm »
Thats one of the reasons I was looking at the bel Canto reference 600 monos. Or even the ref 500 stereo. Ive had a few discussions with people who paired them with Maggie and very happy. Wont break the bank, and I do tend to like tube or tube hybrid pres with class D amps.  :scratch:

Good choice on the Bel Canto amps.  I have heard them paired with Maggies and an ARC tube preamp at my local dealer.  The sound was sublime.

ajzepp

Re: Reluctant Upgrading?
« Reply #16 on: 25 Dec 2020, 06:59 pm »
Good choice on the Bel Canto amps.  I have heard them paired with Maggies and an ARC tube preamp at my local dealer.  The sound was sublime.

Very nice. They definitely appeal to me, so will keep a spot open on the short list. I think I misread your eadlier post: You have a class D amp, or you have an amp from Class D audio the company? Its interesting you also mentioned the A21. My local Maggie dealer said he really likes the upgraded A21+ with his 3.7s.  Did you feel the Bel Canto you heard bested the A21? Or too much apples and oranges?

I.Greyhound Fan

Re: Reluctant Upgrading?
« Reply #17 on: 25 Dec 2020, 07:50 pm »
I have a Class D Audio amp.  The Canto's sound better than the A21.  The A21+ is supposed to sound better than the A21.

Also consider PS Audio Stellar 700's.  They are better than the A21. 

uncola

Re: Reluctant Upgrading?
« Reply #18 on: 26 Dec 2020, 11:09 am »
Yeah I’d say definitely upgrade..  high current amps for magnepan

ajzepp

Re: Reluctant Upgrading?
« Reply #19 on: 26 Dec 2020, 12:53 pm »
I have a Class D Audio amp.  The Canto's sound better than the A21.  The A21+ is supposed to sound better than the A21.

Also consider PS Audio Stellar 700's.  They are better than the A21.

Those PS Audio monos look great!