Impactful System Upgrades - cables, sources, power, ...
Aug 14, 2021 at 1:12 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 16

OceanRanger

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Which of your system upgrades, excluding headphones and amplifiers, have had the biggest impact to your listening enjoyment?

Headphone cables, interconnects, digital cables, DACs, tubes, servers, streamers, reclockers, ethernet switches, AC cables, linear power supplies, power conditioners, etc....there seems to be an endless list of products competing for limited budgets. I'm interested in specific items which have yielded improvements exceeding your expectations.

We each have different systems, different ears and different preferences, so I am hoping that there will be a variety of thoughts on this topic.
 
Aug 14, 2021 at 2:30 PM Post #2 of 16

bagwell359

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Varies.

Analog vinyl? Cartridge, followed by tone-arm, table, env they are in.

Digital? Hi-Res streaming & DAC

Cables? Can be a nice change, but not on level of the two above. Class A amps in a highly detailed system vs any other class makes a bigger diff than any cables.
 
Aug 14, 2021 at 6:04 PM Post #3 of 16

DJJEZ

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DAC is number 1 by far then Streamer then Upscaler followed by various cables which are more like tone controls
 
Aug 14, 2021 at 6:08 PM Post #4 of 16

OceanRanger

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DAC is number 1 by far then Streamer then Upscaler followed by various cables which are more like tone controls
Thanks @DJJEZ . I was shocked when I went from the Hugo2 to the Wells Audio Cipher LII. I never realized how much difference a DAC could make. I keep contemplating an Antipodes or Innuos streamer, but I listen in two different cities so the MacBook is just super convenient.
 
Aug 14, 2021 at 7:25 PM Post #5 of 16

HBen

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Which of your system upgrades, excluding headphones and amplifiers, have had the biggest impact to your listening enjoyment?

Headphone cables, interconnects, digital cables, DACs, tubes, servers, streamers, reclockers, ethernet switches, AC cables, linear power supplies, power conditioners, etc....there seems to be an endless list of products competing for limited budgets. I'm interested in specific items which have yielded improvements exceeding your expectations.

We each have different systems, different ears and different preferences, so I am hoping that there will be a variety of thoughts on this topic.

Quite some mixing of apples and oranges in that middle part ...

I'd say apart from the headphones the biggest impact has
1) the quality of the recording
2) the DAC and amplifier and their synergy with the headphones
3) pretty much everything else has likely a pretty minor effect (or no listenable effect whatsoever)
... all that in my humble opinion and from my own experience of course :wink:

Among the things you listed it's obviously the DAC and tubes having the biggest impact ... while tubes are obviously part of the amplifier ... then pretty much everything else.

Probably lots of people will tell your otherwise. Best to just find out yourself i guess :)
 
Aug 14, 2021 at 7:34 PM Post #6 of 16

OceanRanger

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Thanks @HBen I agree, there are lots of apples and oranges to discuss. This is why I am keen to learn about other people's experiences on this topic. While upgrading the DAC had a huge impact on my headphone system. I was quite surprised with the impact that a Melco S100 switch had on my 2 channel system. It was amazing. This could be because, on that system, I am going into the DAC with an Ethernet cable.

Anyway, I'm interested in hearing more about specific changes that surprised you all in their impacts to your listening enjoyment.
 
Aug 14, 2021 at 10:02 PM Post #7 of 16

atya35mm

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Thought I share as well, as I’ve been spending quite a bit of time the last few months to optimise my setup. Probably echo the above with DAC making the biggest impact, streamer / player setup is very important as well after you sort out the DAC that you like. But to contribute to this thread of what I found the most enjoyable impact and change, but least ”expected”, is headphone cables! So that’s my pick for this thread, simply because it’s surprising and I was the same as anyone new to the hobby, cables are cables etc, but guess it’s not. :beyersmile:

Currently auditioning the Danacables Nirvana and it just puts a smile to my face everytime I listen to music now.
 
Aug 14, 2021 at 11:11 PM Post #8 of 16

Ciggavelli

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  • Uptone Audio ISO Regen and then Innuos PhoenixUSB
  • Danacables Diamond Reference XLR IC
  • Antipodes K50
  • Isotek Evo3 Sigmas
  • Danacables Lazuli reference for the Utopias
  • JPS Superconducter for the TCs
  • Squeezelite player with Roon server
  • The whole Chord lineup from the Hugo2 to Dave (I've owned the Hugo 2 twice, the TT2, and now the DAVE. All are very impressive, and I definitely would recommend any of them)
  • M-Scaler with SOtM bnc cables
🤘:alien::smiling_imp::L3000:
 
Aug 15, 2021 at 12:41 AM Post #9 of 16

OceanRanger

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That is quite a list @Ciggavelli! Thank you for sharing. I'm off to find more detailed thoughts on Danacables...
 
Aug 15, 2021 at 12:44 AM Post #10 of 16

atya35mm

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@OceanRanger some pic to tempt you. There's a dedicated danacables thread here on head-fi as well.
 

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Aug 15, 2021 at 4:26 PM Post #11 of 16

mammal

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My thoughts on this topic are quite simple, what type of audiophile are you? Do you respond more to frequency response differences, then you may pick up as to how copper sounds compared to silver. But maybe your brain is more sensitive to accuracy, then re-clockers, upsamplers, power supplies, or external clocks may be better investment for you. I for one could not hear much from Chord M Scaler nor Rossini Clock, yet have friends who go to extremes of having their word clocks have a reference master clock. And then you have a camp of folks arguing cables make no difference, yet I am here succeeding at blind ABX test conducted by my wife. So for me personally, filtering devices like cables make a bigger difference, than some digital add-ons.
 
Aug 15, 2021 at 5:39 PM Post #14 of 16

OceanRanger

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I appreciate the replies. I’ve just incurred an unexpected expense. Unfortunately it is going to delay some head-if upgrades that I had planned. :frowning2:

the good news is that it will mean more time focused on enjoying the music….
 
Aug 16, 2021 at 1:28 AM Post #15 of 16

ThanatosVI

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Well your list and questions are weirdly mixed, therefore I'll also group my answer.

Tubes and DAC did noteably change the sound in my system, however this was expected.

The biggest unexpected change was the addition of my power regenerator. This was also the biggest change overall.

Power cables and headphone cables also changed the sound but to a lesser degree than the first options.

I have yet to receive my Server and also never heard options like reclockers or a PhoenixNET.

Edit:
In terms of priority it still stand like this imo
Source Material > Headphones > Amp > DAC > Power Regenerator/Filter > Power cables > headphone cable > interconnects
 
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