Advice on low cost upgrade

Hi, wondered if anyone has thoughts on which of these small-ish investments would give the most worthwhile results:

  1. Change current Chord Shawline RCA from Qutest to 282 to Chord Epic RCA

  2. Get better network cable than basic Chord network cable from EE8 to NDX

  3. Get Gaia pucks to go under pre and/or power amp. Both currently on solid wood shelves in TV cabinet. Moving to separate rack not an option because of space.

If anyone has experience with any or all of these, plus say! Thanks

Mmmm, doing low cost upgrades is difficult and sometimes I have done this as part of wanting to constantly upgrade and change. It looks like you have a wonderful system as it is. What is it you are looking for to improve your system further. With a good system and ever diminishing returns on your upgrades I don’t think you’ll find huge improvements by changing out a cable or inserting pucks. You may notice a difference in sound but it won’t necessarily be better. And then your ears will get adjusted and you’ll be back where you started. Given your system which is good you might want to focus on your source and condider an NDX2 with XPS DR for the future.

Cables are the icing on the cake when you are satisfied with everything else. Sometimes its better to save that money and put it towards something more substantial that will bring a significant improvement rather than a subtle change that in time won’t have any impact.

Try to think what it is you are looking for.

I stopped upgrading anything well over 12 months ago because of these questions I asked myself. I decided to sell my CDS3 and XPS2 as well. People on hear said are you going to put this towards an upgrade. The answer was no because the system is good as it is.

If I do upgrade thinking 52, 252 or ideally 552.

But for now. I am leaving well alone. It’s good as it is.

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IMHO Of the options you list Option 1 will bring the best value improvement.
I am assuming you are happy with your speaker cable?

Option 1, but try, if it’s possible, to stretch to a Signature, even if it’s ex-demo or used (many are available out there).

In my experience Epic RCA-Din was a fine, though not dramatic, improvement over the Shawline RCA-Din. Strangely, with Epic RCA-RCA (in my other system) I really struggled to hear the difference over the Shawline RCA-RCA and ended up returning the Epic.

I’d get the pucks to further isolate your amps the TV cabinet.

Changes in 1 or 2 might very much depend on how you think your system sounds at present with your Dynaudio speakers? Shawline sound very much alive but flatter in my experience, while Epic - with more bass extension but may be too composed? Similar with ethernet cables, which are a lot about tuning in a direction you prefer? IMHO, also at least 2 levels of upgrade up the cable range is needed to really hear a worthwhile and satisfactory difference - so if you go for 1, I would also skip Epic and go for Signature, which is a different story … but not sure if that low of a cost?:slight_smile:

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All really helpful thank you. I’m hearing that there’s probably not an obvious worthwhile choice from these compared to looking at a more substantial upgrade. A few relatively low cost upgrades recently (EE8, shawline power cords) have yielded some great improvements. And re speaker cable, it’s NACA5, which I’m loathe to change as it’s been a great link to the speakers. Listening to the latest Melissa Aldana album and reminds me how well it’s all come together. Let’s just call this query ‘needless fidgeting’!

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I’d say Isoacoustics Gaia for speakers. The Orea is for components, not the Gaia.

Orea’s can be used for standmount/bookshelf speakers

I changed mine to the Chord Clearway which, to me, made a big improvement.


You are in the wrong place with a question like that🤣


When I tried a couple of DACs they came with Shawline and Clearway SPDif cables, neither of which did them any favours. An ex member here put me on to using a Belden 4974R SDI 12G cable which out performed either for less than £40 (at the time) delivered from Blue Jeans in the US.

Some ideas for you from my best experiences with low cost upgrades

  1. iso acoustics Gaia under speakers/stands

  2. Witch Hat Morgana DIN to XLR to 250

  3. Kudos KS-1 speaker cables

  4. used Cisco 2960 between router and EE8

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Out field idea for you…

Guessing the kind of budget - based on those other items - you are considering.

If you haven’t already sorted dedicated mains feed for your HiFi, my own experiences inform this would be a much more significant upgrade - value for money - compared to the others you are considering.

I would suggest on a par with adding another power supply into what you’ve already got.

Good luck
Let us all know what you decide?


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Thanks all, v helpful and varied suggestions.will report back in coming days!

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Some strategic room treatment can make satisfying improvement for a modest fee if it is domestically acceptable. Sometimes you don’t need to cover the walls. I have some panels that are hidden away and are positioned for listening apart from the front corners which have some Tritraps which are a permanent feature. Rear walls and reflection points being significant improvement to imaging and detail.
Oh and as ratrat suggests dedicated mains without doubt makes a big step up.

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BTW I also made some DIY panels for reflection points for a very modest fee.

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