Component upgrade recommendations

Hi. I am new to the forum and was wondering if folks here could recommend upgrades to my existing setup.

Bang & Olufsen Beogram RX 2 turntable (not used much as I listen to digital sources mainly)
Arcam CD72 CD player
Rega DAC
Rotel RC1070 preamp
Rotel RB1080 poweramp
Focal-JM Lab 826V speakers

Listening to the these speakers paired with the Rotel’s can be fatiguing sometimes i.e. in the upper frequencies. Was wondering if replacing the Rotels with the Stellar S300 or the M700’s with the Gain Cell DAC would improve the sound.

Any guidance would be greatly appreciated.

For you and those willing to offer guidance, do you have a budget in mind? If you don’t establish your spending limits upfront, this will turn into a big gigantic opinion pool full of recommendations with little to no relevancy to your situation - only because they are beyond what you are willing to spend.

My opinion is to take your time. Spend more on that ONE component. Let it set in your system for a bit so you can appreciate the change, if any. Then, when ready and able to spend a chunk more, get that second “no compromise” piece. So, rather than budget for maybe several components at once, where you may have to compromise in features/quality, do it slowly and spend more for the better piece (i.e. the DirectStream DAC, BHK’s, etc.)

If you find the Focal’s to be fatiguing then I would start there as none of your other gear is known to be forward. Focal’s are one of those speakers that you either love their tweeter choices or don’t. I don’t so there is that. I find the Sopra’s forward and they are reputed to be the least forward speaker in their lineup. If you have a speaker that fatigues you with Class AB amps changing to a Class D amp won’t solve the problem.

How is everything plugged in ?

Where is your wireless router? This is a source of noise, harsh noise.

My budget is limited to $3000. The intention is to spend it where it would have the most impact. I mentioned the amplifiers specifically because there was mention on other forums on the internet that the Rotels are too harsh in the upper frequencies and can exacerbate the situation when paired with the Focals.

Marantz amps are quite warm and musical definitely not harsh. I upgraded from Marantz to M700’s and I’m very happy. M700’s are not “regular” class D amps. Try to get in-home audition.

I used to own the same Focal speakers and had the same listening fatigue issue. For me it was the “box coloration” that limited my enjoyment. I switched to a smaller, quicker, more transparent design from KEF and I’ve never looked back. Check out Harbeth, KEF, Stirling and Spendor. They all have models in your price range, which I think would match nicely with your Arcam/Rega/Rotel set-up. My two cents…

Any issues with your speaker’s base chracteristics aside, I suggest you make sure your room and speakers are as “dialed in” as best as possible before “upgrading” your speakers or components.

I don’t know your room or have any experience with most of your listed equipment, but it is conceivable that the best, next expenditure would be addressing room treatment and room set up consideractions (including speaker/equipment location, seating, diffusion, absorpton, etc.).

$3,000 could go a long way with some purposeful shopping, in this regard.

Good luck with your quest.

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yes I think I would look to upgrade the speakers first. Have had Rotel pre+power amp combo (including the RB1080) and would not think of that as the cause of fatigue. Perhaps if you tried and heard some other loudspeaker choices in that region you’d find a set that is a bit more “amicable” and less strident.

Best of luck

I seem to be very sensitive to the same sound “distortions” as you are. I traded my Arcam cd 192 and Counterpoint amp for a PWT player , Stellar GS dac and Stellar M700’s and couldn’t be happier. Of the changes I made I think the most important was the transport DAC trade. My KEF LS 50 in a small office are very revealing and lay bad digital bare. I tried various cd players and a CAL Delta transport to an OPPO HA-1 as a DAC. Nothing made CD’s very listenable (especially older CD’s). I used to focus on the speaker as the primary sound shaper, now I am not so sure. If the bits are mishandled nothing down stream can really cure it. The PS Audio people are great to work with regarding trades.

I may do just that.

The wireless router is in my study where the audio equipment is setup as well. I have my music in Flac format on a NAS which is wired to the router. In turn the router is hardwired to a Sonos Connect which allows streaming. Everything else is connected via RCA cables.

@jgiese The ‘trade’ factor is very appealing.
@efete @xianharris @dawkinsj Auditioning some other speakers might be a good idea.

If the speakers are what are bothering you I would start there first. Swapping out gear to “fix” the tone of a pair of speakers can be frustrating and expensive. Once you find the speakers you can live with then good gear to drive them is far easier. If you were to look at new speakers what is your top end budget and are you o.k. with used? Stand mount only or floorstander? Size of room?

To be honest I wouldn’t say that the speakers bother me all the time. It’s just that at times they can be fatiguing. I have focal chorus 706s bookshelf speakers in my living room that are run by a NAD integrated amp. They do seem to sound less harsh even though the tweeter design is the same for both speakers.
I may try some room treatments as @scotte1 mentioned prior to buying more gear.

Appreciate all the comments here. Thank you.

When you say harsh, are they harsh when you stand right next to them?

The Tritons up close are extremely smooth.

It has been more than a month now that I traded in the Rotel’s for the Stellar M700 GCD combo. Couldn’t be more happier. More focused sound, tight bass, good separation of instruments. Along the way, I have also spent quite some time on speaker placement including isolating them from the floor.
Next step is to do some room treatment especially on the front wall i.e. the wall that I face when listening to music.

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I second KEF to tame any unruly high frequency and they manage to tame digital sources very well as far as brightness goes. My recommendation would be the KEF R300 with the Stellar GCD and S300 combo. Totally musical. I have M700s but run those with much bigger speakers.

Room treatment is the single best investment I’ve ever made and it had the greatest impact. If your room is bad you never really know what your gear sounds like. Check out Dennis Foley’s site for info: His room treatments are real expensive but they are very good. You can find cheaper alternatives. Which I did from Decware… The site is filled with great info. I just finished installing diffusers on my back wall - starting to work on front wall now along with absorption on my side ways. Soundstaging (layering - depth)Focus - Congestion etc improved dramatically. More than any component or cable I’ve ever added. It’s amazing how many people spend 10’s of thousands on equipment and pay no attention to room treatment.

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