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Best use of $5K for vinyl setup?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by David Matthew Horn, Mar 5, 2021.

  1. David Matthew Horn

    David Matthew Horn Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Palo Alto ca
    I bought an entry-level system 10 years ago to listen to vinyl and after recently discovering audiophile quality pressings, its clear that I need an upgrade*. Would really appreciate your advice on what you would replace vs keep and what pieces would go farthest in this budget.

    Today's system:
    -Pro-ject Debut Carbon with Grado Silver 3 cartridge
    - Cambridge Audio Azure 551P phono pre-amp
    - Bose active speakers with subwoofer, not sure the model number (yes, embarrassed...I know Bose is a dirty word around here)
    - I also have a few Sonos that I use for streaming digital music. Would be very cool if new system could support that but not required.

    So what do you think? Should I just use all the money for new passive speakers and an amp? Or buy new everything? Thanks so much!

    *I played 'Folk Singer' by Muddy on 45RPM and there's a pretty loud hum noise that starts when I turn on the phono stage that detracts from the music a lot. I guess its always there but much more blatant because this record is so quiet. Do you think I have something setup incorrectly or is that normal? This is actually what made me realize I probably need to upgrade
     
  2. Uglyversal

    Uglyversal Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sydney
    You've said it, passive speakers and amp, that money should get you something nice.
     
    Leonthepro, heyMo, Guildx500 and 4 others like this.
  3. TarnishedEars

    TarnishedEars Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    Yup.
     
    heyMo likes this.
  4. E.Baba

    E.Baba Forum Resident

    Loud hum is not normal.
    Possibly an earthing issue.
     
    popol_vuh, fretter and Swann36 like this.
  5. David Matthew Horn

    David Matthew Horn Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Palo Alto ca
  6. NettleBed

    NettleBed Forum Resident

    Location:
    new york city
    If you are looking for something in that size, yes; if you aren't limited by size, no.
     
  7. Uglyversal

    Uglyversal Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sydney
    They are popular, not the thing I would go for. Unless not possible, you should try to listen to whatever you buy as you might be stuck with them for a long time.
    If you can't listen to them try to describe the type of sound you like and I am sure there would be no shortage of recommendations to follow.

    BTW: The humming issue is likely to remain, the problem is probably related to cabling or how you have the ground connected generally not too difficult to address unless there is a problem with the TT or the phono stage.
     
  8. Swann36

    Swann36 A widower finding solace in music

    Location:
    Lincoln, UK
    I'd echo what others have said in that passive speakers and an amp are the way to go....

    As we don't know about any size limitations you may have, and listening space ...... please let us all know that so we can help suggest more specifically, for example my vinyl listening room is actually the dining room its only 12' x 14' with a table in and 3 doors to other parts of the house, so not ideal but sitting at the head of the table about 9' from speakers that are 6' apart is the best i can do for now and it gives really good listening, my cd and streaming (only spotify from laptop) and tv is the lounge a 12' x12' room with TV and 3 seat sofa etc sitting about 8' from speakers that are only 4' apart again its not ideal but its still damm good currently i have the Klipsch on the vinyl rig and Tannoys on the tv cd set up .

    Generally a good larger speaker will out perform a good smaller speaker .... i have had the original KEF LS50s which i can say were great, however as my budget has dictated over the years i've graduated to some "pre-loved" bigger speakers Klipsch Quartets 1992 (a little smaller than the Forte) and Tannoy Berkeley 1974 (these have the 15" DCs) and the sound from both these even though they are decades old is far far beyond what i could of dreamed of from the brand new LS50s or any other little speaker.

    Amp wise again i'm in the pre-loved space with a few alternatives that i've built up over the last 5 years or so a Yamaha CA1000 integrated (1974) a pair of Cyrus Mono Xs (2004) and a Minute EL34 tube amp (this was only 6 mths old when i got it with only 10hrs use so almost new) ..i do rotate them from time to time but the tube amp is my favourite for vinyl.

    What i can say for certain is, having had bose in the past, you have not heard yet what your TT and phono amp are capable of.

    I hope this will of been some help but depending on your listening space and limitations i might of missed the mark.
     
  9. vinylontubes

    vinylontubes Forum Resident

    Location:
    Katy, TX
    You could incorporate the Sonos Amp to power speakers that you've selected. But the big design flaw with the Sonos system is it's acceptance of analog inputs, as there is only a single input. Including switching to another analog source would make their system much more robust, but I don't think they make a device like that. Even connection to other digital devices outside of HDMI and ethernet are very limited. So, you'll have to look further into this. I would consult a local Sonos dealer for options they've employed.
     
  10. DavidR

    DavidR Forum Resident

    Location:
    Europe
    The main question is what is your room size and what do you listen to?

    One thing I can say, avoid KEF at all costs, very fatiguing to listen to for any length of time, with your budget you can do better.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2021
    avanti1960 likes this.
  11. Echoes Myron

    Echoes Myron Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    Speakers and amp. Consider buying used.

    If I were in the market I would 100% grab the LS50 Metas.
     
  12. DrGoon

    DrGoon Forum Resident

    Location:
    St. Petersburg, FL
    I would start by solving your turntable grounding problem. No amp or speakers are going to solve that. You also said that it was your driver for wanting an upgrade. It could be simpler and much cheaper if you deal with that. Then, if you're happy with the resultant sound, buy more records instead.
     
    morinix likes this.
  13. David Matthew Horn

    David Matthew Horn Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Palo Alto ca
    You all are so knowledgable. Really appreciate it.

    Seems like the top priority is to fix the grounding problem. Then look into passive speakers and amp (mixed opinion on the Kef). If I did go Kef, would LS50 wireless be a good option to also support streaming, or would I lose too much from the primary analogue use case? I am going to my hifi store in San Francisco this weekend to listen to a few options but they say they stopped carrying Kef. Will be interesting to learn why.

    This will be in my living room which is around 16ft x 16ft. Analogue I primarily listen to rock, jazz, and soul (a few favorite artists are Neil Young, Sonny Rollins, and Al Green).
     
  14. DrGoon

    DrGoon Forum Resident

    Location:
    St. Petersburg, FL
    You're going to have to listen, and resist the urge to splurge on the first thing that grabs you. Keep going back to favorites as you introduce new options - you're potentially spending thousands of bucks and this is why its worth spending on the high street rather than mail order. The extra money you will spend buys you real information - that you gather through your ears with your favorite records.

    Since you like some 'period' sounds, try out both tube and solid state amps. Mix up different sizes and sensitivities of speakers. There are so many compromises and personal preferences to play with. What engages you the most, and what makes you just want to keep listening? The objective is to arrive at a point where you spend the bulk of your play money on the music, not the way of playing it.
     
    David Matthew Horn likes this.
  15. rebellovw

    rebellovw Forum Resident

    Location:
    Prescott, AZ
    The Cambridge you have is very nice - I'm running the 640P version in my office setup - fabulous.

    I'd definitely go Speakers and Amplifier. Then re-assess.
     
  16. Guildx500

    Guildx500 Forum Resident

    Location:
    California
    Search the web for Grado hum and see if you can find a solution. Agree with everyone get speakers and amp first.
     
    rogertheshrubber and Swann36 like this.
  17. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident

    Location:
    Austin
    Hear as much as you can, of different types of systems, even those well beyond your present budget. Get audiophiles to have you over, once the plague passes.
    Buy most of the stuff used, from a reputable source, backed by a warranty and you will be able to up your game considerably.
    This can be an incremental process where you don't have everything at the same level all at once, but if the money is spent wisely, you won't be wasting it. It's a long game, particularly if you are young and don't have the wherewithal to write out a big check (which is kind of dumb anyway, you usually need to educate yourself and your taste and level of discrimination will change over time). Then you can spend all your money on records. (Used is sadly overpriced and overgraded but there's magic in them grooves).
     
    CBackley and David Matthew Horn like this.
  18. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago metro, USA
    i am going to suggest bigger efficient speakers that have synergy combined with a super smooth high quality amp based on your room size. i am also going to suggest a cartridge upgrade because your new system will reveal the short commings of the grado. i had the grado gold and it was not very good.
    you will also need a turntable to handle the new cartridge.

    Marantz - PM8006 Integrated Amplifier
    https://www.psbspeakers.com/product/imagine-x2t-tower-speaker/
    Technics - SL-1500C Direct Drive Turntable
    Audio-Technica VM760SLC cartridge

    still under budget and nothing is skimped on.
     
  19. russk

    russk Forum Resident

    Location:
    Syracuse NY
    It depends on how much you’re willing to put into cartridge because what you hit over a grand a good percentage of that has to be expendable.

    But for 5K I like the 1200GR, Dynavector xx2, and a Parasound JC3 jr

    Though preamp choice will be influenced by your amp. Just saying that is one of my favorite combos.

    If your looking at a whole system. Then used speakers that work for your room. Rotel or Audiolab or Marantz $1000 integrated. 1200GR with Dynavector 10x5. That will leave you around 1600 for speakers and a phono pre if you go with an amp without a decent one built in.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2021
  20. Brucedgoose

    Brucedgoose Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hawaii
    I own KEF LS50s and think they’re great. I think you’ll like the Metas, and in any small or medium size room they’ll do well with a good amp.
    I also suspect that one reason why some shops have stopped carry these is that there is just too much competition, especially with online sellers.
    I also own big PSB Imagine T2 speakers, which I use to fill a very big living/dining area with music. They do a very good job in a big space, but other than in the deep bass, the KEFs are superior, in my opinion.
    Good luck!
     
  21. fretter

    fretter Forum Resident

    Location:
    PA
  22. BayouTiger

    BayouTiger Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Orleans
    Step One...RUN and get this TT from local listing!He says obo but even at $700 (you should be able to do better than that by a good bit, but this one does look pretty cherry) this will blow away any new table under $1500. (Assuming all is good with it!)
    https://sfbay.craigslist.org/nby/ele/d/san-rafael-denon-dp-60l-direct-drive/7286950225.html

    Thiel CS1.5 Speakers
    https://sfbay.craigslist.org/eby/ele/d/oakland-thiel-cs15-speakers/7286929285.html

    There are several nice integrated’s on the SF site. This one catches my eye as it is a classic, but you may want to go more modern.
    https://sfbay.craigslist.org/eby/ele/d/emeryville-scott-299b-stereo-integrated/7273034326.html

    There is a Moon 200i that would be nice. Used leaves you with plenty for a cart and a good phono stage.
     
    David Matthew Horn likes this.
  23. Aereoplain

    Aereoplain Forum Resident

    Location:
    charlotte nc usa
     
  24. Tony Plachy

    Tony Plachy Forum Resident

    Location:
    Pleasantville, NY
    This may seem silly to ask but I have experienced what I am about to ask myself. Is the hum that you hear coming from your speakers ( an electrical grounding problem ) or from the phono preamp box itself ( a mechanical hum usually coming from the power supply transformer in the box ). In general the electrical grounding hum is louder than the mechanical hum. Do you have a ground wire connecting your TT and the phono preamp? If not get one, if so check it to be sure it is still connected.
     
  25. David Matthew Horn

    David Matthew Horn Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Palo Alto ca
    it’s coming from speakers. I took a look and no grounding between tt and pre amp, I think it got lost in moving. So I am going to get one right away.

    for others who have suggested sweet used gear: are there online dealers you would trust to buy used? I will check with some local stores but am reluctant to buy from Craigslist as I’ve had bad experience there before. I think it’s great advice to upgrade piece by piece and listen to the sound before buying. I am not set on spending this full budget at once, could do so over time or spend less on equipment and more on records.
     

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