I spend most of my time listening to analog and digital sources for music. I’d give it a 70-30 split between music and movies, respectively.
Here is a list of components I’m using:
- PSB Imagine X2T speakers
- Yamaha Aventage RX-A3080 receiver
- Emotiva XPA-3 amp
- Pro-ject 1 Xpression Carbon Classic with Ortofon 2M Blue
- Graham Slee Amp2 phono stage
- Quality speaker cables and interconnects
My digital music is often played using the Yamaha MusicCast app. The Yamaha sounds great, as does the Emotiva, but I want to make a decent step-up sonically. I’ve spent significant time and money building DIY acoustic panels and bass traps so my current room is pretty well treated. It’ more ‘dead’ than ‘live’ but I actually prefer that.
As for speakers, I think they sound really good. I’ve done A/B tests with them against some more expensive pairs and the PSBs blew me away. It’s hard to beat its dynamics, clarity and soundstage, especially for its price.
What do you guys think - what would you upgrade next? I’m looking for more fulfilling sound overall - greater dynamics, clarity, precision and of course, soundstage.
@Elk thank you very much!
The PSB line of speakers are fine speakers. Heard them recently, Imagine T3, and was impressed at what they provide at the price. What is your budget, and from what you hear what is the weak link in your system?
My budget is around 5k to 10k CAD. I am moving to a bigger house in a few months so I definitely want to keep that in consideration before yielding for a signal chain upgrade.
I’m thinking perhaps upgrading the network streaming capabilities of my system will be a step up. I’m sure my Yamaha is great but once again, it’s an AVR. I listen to music on Tidal exclusively, apart from analog.
Just a thought, as you are at a PS Audio forum, I’d recommend the following:
Trade in your Emotiva and Yamaha for the Stellar line of preamp and amps. Consider upgrading your PSB speakers, move up the line if you are happy with their house sound. For streaming without breaking the bank I suggest the BlueSound Node 2i. Great app, and great sound at the price.
PS Audio offers generous trade in allowance toward new gear. Reach out to James as he can assist you.
Stellar M700 Mono amps
BlueSound Node 2i
Step up in the PSB Line, I was going to suggest the PSB Imagine T2 but it’s discontinued.
FWIW, I have the Stellar Gain Cell DAC/Preamp, a pair of the M700 monoblocks and the Bluesound Node 2i for streaming Tidal and Qobuz, and I’m supremely happy with the setup.
Refresh my memory, what speakers are you listening to?
Magnepan .7s with a Hsu sub. It’s a modest sized room - 14’ x 17’ x 8’-8” (ceiling ht)
Sweet, I wonder how your system would work with the Maggie LRS?
I was tempted, but the long wait and 20 prior years with MG1s made the decision to go a little bigger than the LRS easy for me. Especially after auditioning the .7s, which were so much better than my old MG1s.
Oh boy. Being a vinyl fanatic, any time I’m asked by a friend who spins vinyl too my first impulse is upgrade that analog front end. Seriously though, my philosophy when considering how to spend X dollars, if there is satisfaction with the speakers as you indicate, is concentrate on upgrading those source components. Why? Quite simply because your amplification and speakers can never be better than the SQ of the source. GIGO (for those who are familiar with the acronym). Trust me over the long term you’ll never be cured of the upgrade bug (in other words you will be spending more than your current budget in the future as your system gets better, that’s the way of the audiophile world). But if I had your budget now I’d pour it all into analog and digital front end upgrades. The input end of your system will so much improved you can really take advantage of what better amplification can provide as a future upgrade. I’m not a Graham Slee fan myself, so I think you could do better with your analog front end with a phono pre upgrade. The Musical Surroundings Nova III has astounding configurability at it’s price, is a very highly refined Michael Yee design, and can be further upgraded in the future with a LPS. Bet you could negotiate a sweet price for it post holidays too. Dispensing with the GS Amp2, you are no longer restricted to MM cartridges and you can think about an affordable MC. Along the lines of a Hana SL (dealers like Music Direct will accept cartridge trades). I would also consider upgrading from your AVR to a true, dedicated streamer. Something along the lines of the Bel Canto e.One.
Anyway, you get the gist of what I think of first when upgrading. Focus on maximizing the performance of those sources, especially if you’re satisfied with your speaker solution.
I just received m 700 amps and so far so good. I suggest trying them if budget permits.
My LAST upgrade (but I am looking at some Bluesound node2i’s for streaming AmazonHD Bitperfect into my DSSr.)
Never had a Tube Amp before. Preamp is all Tubes as well. As is the STAX Headphone Amplifier. I’ll never go back to Transistors.