Upgrade Path - what is the best first step?

My current system currently comprises:
Roksan Caspian DualMonoPreamplifier M Series - 1
Roksan 4 x Caspian Mono Power Amplifiers M Series -1 (bi-amp, bi-wire)
Roksan Caspian Integrated CD player M Series -1
Cambridge Audio CXN streamer
Polk Audio Rti-A9 speakers
SVS Ultra-13 Sub.

I listen to a very wide range in music from jazz to my favourite band (Led Zeppelin).

I am considering my next upgrade path and I was contemplating replacing the Mono blocks with 2 x PS Audio M700s monos.

My question is - am I better in the short term to first change the speakers which I feel are the weak link and then do the M700s or to do the power amplification first? If I do change the amplification should I reach for the M1200s - or will the M700s give me the kicker I am looking for compared to the Roksan’s I currently have.

If I may also squeeze in a supplementary request for guidance - would my current setup gain materially from a regenerative power source. I have a PhD in power engineering and the topic intrigues me but I just worry if my level of system would noticably benefit from a power source upgrade.

My first post - please treat me gently :slight_smile:

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Welcome to the forum! While we get into some good dialogue here, it is by far one of the friendliest and most welcoming audio hangouts.

I will let others jump in. What I would ask - what areas would you like to hear improvements (eg soundstage, tone, high/mid/bass)? It would be great to hear from you what you think you value most.

Cheers,
Mike

Mike, good question. Sound stage and high/mid. I currently enjoy the bottom end given the sub support which is tight.

Welcome to the PSA forum. My vote would be to upgrade the speakers first if you can. My son has the Polks and they are nice but maybe at the lower end of “audiophile” (loose term) speakers.
Next I would try out the M1200’s if they fit your price range. I have M700’s and newly acquired BHK 300’s. The M700’s are very nice amps and of course the 300’s are top tier stuff. If I had not already have started with the BHK300 amp purchase before the M1200’s were released I most likely would have bought the M1200’s (or at least tried them out) and I may still try out a set to see how they match up to the 300’s in my setup.
I am not familiar with the Roksan components so no experience or opinion on them. Enjoy your journey.

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Welcome to the forum and hold on tight to your wallet!
I would start with a regenerator. With the foundation of clean, reliable power, everything in your system benefits. And then go from there.

A regenerator is a great idea. You can add it to your existing system and move on from there.

Really interesting replies on the regenerator - on the face of it it feels like less bang for the buck - but message received loud and clear. Do you have one in your system?

I have a P20. The improvement in sound quality was dramatic.

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I do - I have a P10 I purchased used. I was somewhat skeptical myself at first, but was open and tried it with an option of returning within 30 days. What I found immediately actually surprised me. Deeper and tighter bass, blacker background which provided a much deeper soundstage and allowed more pinpoint imaging. Needless to say, I never returned the P10.

I don’t have terrible noise on my inbound power (relative to some others in big cities), yet it was one of the biggest upgrades I’ve made next to my power amps. YMMV. Here’s a quick pic of my typical before/after:

You mention that you suspect your speakers are the weakest link. Do they have a particular deficiency that you’d like to improve on? Have you been able go to audio shows or dealers to hear a variety of different speakers (and systems) to get a good sense of what the market offers in terms of prices and technologies? I ask because I’ve been involved in audio for fifty years and wasted way too much time and money in the beginning making parallel moves that only made things different instead of better. I wish I’d spent more time traveling to dealers (or audio shows) to educate myself as to the possibilities at any given price point.

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The “free” option here is speaker placement. Optimize the listening environment and spend time on getting the speakers in their optimum room position.

Next, your DAC is the CXN? What are your sources? From reviews, I’ve not heard it, the CXN is very colored. Although, again from reviews I’ve read, pleasantly colored. Upgrading your digital streaming environment should be on your list at some point. This can dramatically change the soundstage and presentation in combination with speaker placement. Even taking the output of the CXN into a standalone DAC may provide an improvement in the right direction.

As others have said, and even PS Audio will suggest, the things vibrating the air in the room and generating the sound waves… the speakers… will be the most immediate / dramatic difference to any set-up. Others in this thread have experience with your current pair so if you’re able to move in this direction it sounds like (pun intended) the right path to follow. But, don’t discount the free option of speaker placement. Identifying and understanding how speakers interact with your room will be beneficial knowledge now matter which speaker pair you ultimately end-up with.

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If you are planning on buying speakers, don’t buy amps first. The speakers may change what amps you get.

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Fantastic pragmatic advice thank you. I think at the moment I am relying to much on “reviews” but I notice similar language and phrases being trotted out - makes me wonder sometimes how specific and real the review really is. Much more value from actual users IMHO.

Speakers are the most important thing to get correct. Find speakers you love and build around them.

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From my perspective, being an audio critic is a pretty difficult job. When I go and listen to systems at an audio show or my audio club meetings, I often ask myself how I’d describe what I’m hearing and how I’d verbally differentiate its performance from market competitors. IMO, the range of different nuances and characteristics along the performance continuum of audio equipment is a lot broader and deeper than the rather limited range of adjectives we have available to describe them. So it doesn’t surprise me that writers keep falling back on the same pat phraseology to describe what they hear. The witty simile “writing about music is like dancing about architecture” could be applied to audio equipment criticism as well.

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The greatest impact you can make to the sonic performance, is to get yourself a regenerator. Before power cables, before fuses, before interconnects…

A regenerator, was my biggest upgrade sonically

In my experience speakers determine amplification, so I’d start there if your intent is a speaker upgrade.

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I am gonna jump on the Speakers first bandwagon. Find a pair of speakers you like and build from there. Think about the sound you like, and get the best speaker you can afford that does it. Then as @badbeef suggests, get amps and sources that best mate with it. While I am all for regenerators, I don’t believe they should be first ahead of speakers, just my opinion ymmv.

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I would start with speakers. In the field of audio equipment for music reproduction, there is almost universal agreement that listeners can hear important sonic differences between speakers and between different rooms. So start by choosing really good speakers that sound good to you in the room you want to put them in - or at least in a room that can be modified to sound good with the speakers you choose.

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