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How should I upgrade?

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
Right now, my system consists of:

Technics cheapie CD changer -> Acoustic research pro series IC -> Corda HA-1 -> Sennheiser HD600 w/ stock cables.

I'm finding that the sound is a _tad_ too dark for my tastes. When listening to a violin concerto with thick orchestration, the lower instruments tend drown out the poor soloist. Even when listening to just solo violin stuff (noticed my bias yet? ) it somehow lacks "bite"; it's a little _too_ smooth for my liking.

Now, just to experiment, I switched back to the RS cheapie cables I used to use before I got the AR. (This is RS's cheap gold plated kind.. not the Gold Series or whatever). The soundstage totally collapsed and the bass disappeared, but I got the kind of bite I was looking for.

So, who is at fault here? My IC? The source? Should I look into getting a Clou? I'm pretty sure it's not the amp, because many people feel the Corda is on the brighter side. I don't plan to change the headphones; I'm happy generally happy with the sound, but want to "fine-tune" it a bit.

Any suggestions?
post #2 of 23
Thread Starter 
Never mind! Don't move this thread anymore! thanks!
post #3 of 23
Brighter cables. I use DH Labs Silver Sonic BL-1 series II for my speaker system (they don't sound bright at all, rather quite nuetral), but I couldn't stand them when used in my headphone rig (not overly bright, just serious timing issues = fatiguing). After that, replace the source, then upgrade cables for your Senns.
post #4 of 23
Thread Starter 
Wouldn't it make better sense to upgrade source, THEN cables?
post #5 of 23
Normally yes, but you said the sound was too laid back, well cables do a better job of brightening up the sound. Unless you want a Yamaha or Marantz CD player...
post #6 of 23
Upgrading the source would probably make a bigger difference than cables. It might not necessarily make your system brighter, but that onviously depends on the CD player in question.
post #7 of 23
Like Audio&Me said, try some silver-plated copper interconnects. Possibly silver interconnects too. The DH Labs or Homegrown Audio ones (both around $80) are worth a shot, get them with a 30 day money back guarantee and you are set. Or build some yourself. I buillt some silver-plated copper ones for $25 or so, with decent WBT-clone connectors, mostly teflon dielectric, shielded, the whole works. Much improved clarity, soundstage, etc. They were in another league compared to my Straightwire Chorus. Just too darn bright. Ouch. Maybe you'd like something like that though. It's not really as bright as I make it sound, it was just slightly fatiguing and fatigue is something I will not put up with. I'm still searching.
post #8 of 23
Thread Starter 
Hmm... Well I'm sure my parents won't want to spend much more than $400 CDN for my birthday present.

Maybe get a cheap but good source like the Denon 370 or the Cambridge D300, and get the DH Labs IC?

Which CDP is more detailed, the Denon or the Cambridge? I'm guessing the Cambridge because most people say the Denon is warm and somewhat lacking in terms of details... What about that AMC player that Joe Longwood has?

Or should I worry about cables later, and get a better source instead, like the Cambridge D500se?

How much better is the 500 over the 300?
post #9 of 23
Predictable, yet someone has to say it: Clous.
post #10 of 23
Thread Starter 
Which would make a bigger difference: Changing IC or changing headphone cable?

I was thinking _maybe_ the headphone cable b/c there's more of it?
post #11 of 23
I definitely think if you had to decide between a cable upgrade and a source upgrade, you should go with the source first. Although I am a big proponent of cables, if you don't have good components at either end of the wire, the cable will just magnify the crappyness. (crappiness?)

DH Labs cabling is great. It would never be mistaken for being dark, although like Audio&Me, I personally don't find it bright like some people do. The DH Labs cable is so good, you'll always find a use for it somewhere, if eventually in a secondary system. I've just upgraded, and there's no way I'm selling mine. It's worth three times what I paid, IMO.

So if you can upgrade to a Denon or a Cambridge and afford an interconnect, great! If you can afford only one, I would stick with a cd player upgrade.
post #12 of 23
Source Ist, then cables.
post #13 of 23
I would never recommend cables before upgrading the source unless they had lousy ones, a la RatShack. I just offered fiddler a quick fix solution to his "too laid back" problem, I thought it'd be more practical as a first step.
post #14 of 23
Thread Starter 
Revelation: MY SOURCE IS A PIECE OF !@#$!

I just did a quick comparison between my Technics and my Panasonic 570 PCDP's line-out. As soon as I switched to the 570... Whoa! There's the treble! Now I can actually hear all those higher-frequency overtones I was almost completely missing on the Technics. A violin sounds like a violin now! The Technics dulled the treble to a point where a violin almost sounded like a viola!
I had to turn the volume knob to around 3'o clock to get the same volume I was getting out of the Technics; the line out is significantly weaker out of the portable.

Now a question: Where does the lineout of the 570 lie on the brightness spectrum? When people say the Panasonic is warm, are they referring to the headphone out?

At any rate, a $100 PCDP should NOT be sounding better than a full-sized CDP. The 570 is good, but not THAT good. It's time to buy a new source. I'll worry about cables later.
post #15 of 23

Glad you've opened your eyes

Let the sun shine, it's hard to get used to at first, but you can never go back afterwords...
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