The Best and not so good upgrades

After reading several thousand threads and listening sessions we decideing to upgrade, but in reality, some of upgrades are just minor than it was thought before while the same upgrades for others are jaw-dropping and similar cliché. Obviously, it depends on listening environment, other components and our ears. Despite of that, can you remember and rank upgrades which were the most noticeable and instant and which were you needed to listen carefully to convince yourself, that it was worth?

For me the most noticeable was Nac82->NAC52. Can just imagine upgrading from 252 to 552.

Not so valued for money:

  1. Tplink switch - > Bonn8 ‘audio switches’ with standard switchable power supplies.
    2.NDX2 → +555PS. Sure, there’s a difference, but maybe it needs time to burn in, maybe expectations were to high or just bare NDX2 is good itself.
  2. Long hair carpet on tiled floor :blush:

By far the best and most fundamental, dedicated spur & earth.

Is this to inform your own upgrades, or merely theoretical? You profile says your system is Supernait 2 and that’s it. Are you looking to upgrade, and from what?

That may sound funny, but reducing room related distortion may result in a better upgrade than even the NAC 552. And a lot cheaper.

A sign of room related distortion is listening fatigue that occurs after 1-2 hours, or even before.

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This earlier thread may provide some clue…

Maybe it’s just theoretical in that case. It’s nice not to have to do detective work.

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  1. Large, high quality speakers that are an easy load. This made the biggest improvement to listening pleasure. Particularly night time low volume listening.

  2. Moving system to an area where the speakers are +3m from sidewalls and have room to breath.

  3. Speakers with first order crossover. The only way I can explain this change is that’s it’s like there is no tweeter/treble, only music. The driver cohesion remains consistent at all volume levels.

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Custom DBL paxo

Most profound changes in sound quality for me were as follows (in date order - I can’t rank sound quality change because they’ve been at different times and memory of sound change isn’t a reliable means of comparison):
All speaker changes, in particular DIY to IMF RSPM
Speaker and listening position assisted by REW measurement software
Naim ND5XS to ND5XS+Chord Hugo DAC
Chord Hugo DAC to Chord Dave DAC

Least evident changes in sound quality generally:
Amp changes
Cable changes
Support changes

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SN2 was upgraded a year ago, but not profile:). It’s a question more for nice to know purpose according to your own practical upgrade journey, for somebody might be useful. My personal upcoming downgrade will be listening room shrinking, from big to small, unfortunately without enough space for speaker breath, 35 cm only from the sides.

I haven’t really had any upgrades that have not brought a big difference.

LP12 upgrades brought a big difference. Notably servicing Akito tonearm, repairing bearings, upgrading tonearm wire. Kore and Cirkus and Lingo 1 all lifted the LP12. Phono stage upgrade to Graham Slee Reflex M was great too.

Going from ND5XS and adding an external DAC made a huge difference. Then changing over to NDS with 555PS. Wow!

Going from Nait 5si to 82 HiCap, 250CB. Huge difference. Probably biggest change in amplification upgrades.

1 HiCap to 2 HiCaps good improvement. Supercap 2 even better.

Going from 250CB to 2 x 135s made a massive difference in power and control. Able to play at louder volumes with no overheating of power amp.

Cabinet to full Fraim. Expensive but worth it. Looks good and provided better stability, isolation and separation.

Speaker upgrade from Linn Kelidhs to Focal 936. Huge improvement and able to listen at higher volumes. Greater clarity, wider soundstage.

CD5Si to CDS2 with XPS. Wow. What a revelation. Perhaps my favourite all time CD player. Sold it and regretted it.

CDS3 with XPS2. Yeah. Really good and sounds even better with 555PS (which is on NDS).

Servicing pre and power amps and power supplies, upgrading cables, dedicated radial circuit for mains supply has all been beneficial.

Everything in my system is either serviced or doesn’t need it.

All the upgrades I have done have reaped their rewards.

Only thing I would do differently is have gone for 10mm radial rather than 4mm cable.

My recommendation for anyone is servicing makes a big difference, as does supports and cabling. Get a balance between good sources and amplification. A weaker source gets highlighted with better amplification.

Bang for buck improvement for me was changing from an Arcam RPlay source to a Naim ND5 XS2. A revelation.

Upgrade to atlas interconnects and tellorium speaker cables also proved a good upgrade.

Btw i dont have Naim amplification, before anybody mentions inductance and speaker cables!

Most disappointing and honestly even today I am still not convinced it does anything, is a plug in mains conditioner.

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One pair of upgrades that didn’t work out quite as expected were when I ran SN1/HC/nDAC/XPS and Naim introduced their DR technology. They offered DR upgrades to power supplies, so I opted to have both PSs done. First was the HiCap and on the SN1 that was transformative — the best bang for buck I have spent on Naim. The DR’Ing of the XPS followed and was a good deal more expensive, around twice as much IIRC. It did improve the sound and was worth the expenditure, but the improvement was nothing like as startling as the HiCap.

I often wonder if my experience would have been different with the same power supplies on different boxes, but too late to find out now.

Roger

I got all my kit serviced at once + a DR upgrade on the HiCap. The improvement was significant but I wasn’t able to judge to what extend the improvement came from the DR upgrade or from the service. Very happy with the result though. :slight_smile:

282 from SN3 was a pretty (gawd) “jaw drop” upgrade…I really wasn’t expecting the difference (no pre-purchase audition due to Covid).

300DR from 250DR too.

Linn Krystal from my lovely but old Asaka.
I’d say Keel too but I changed from Ittok LVII to Ekos SE at the same time…actually shortly after (why I have the Ittok hole in the arm board). So…Keel too.

from my experience over the years

JAW DROPPING

Linn Cirkus to Karsouel
Linn Kore to Keel
NAIM 300 non DR to 300DR
NAIM 282 - HCDR to 282 SC

EXCELLENT
Cord Oydessy to Kudos KS -1 Cable
Quadasire Q4 to Full Fraim
Linn Lingo 4 to Akrute Radikal
DV 10x cart to DX20x
Ittock VII arm to Ekos SE
B&W 805N to Kudos T505

I honestly can’t think of an upgrade that has not delivered in muscial terms

Yup, I have the same experience. The standard SN1 has dynamics, but lacks detail / sparkle but the Hicap DR brings this to the SN1. Still running it and the SN1 is going for service for another 15 years of service to me.

I find most downgrades to the standard cables rewarding.

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Chord Music Interconnects
Super Lumina Speaker Cable
ProAc K6 Signatures

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Biggest upgrades?

Replacing my old Akai receiver with a NAIT 03 was my entry to Naim and probably the biggest wow.

Adding a Supercap to my 82 was also impressive.

Lots of other big improvements along the way. But those two stand out.

Nothing really disappointing. Generally if I didn’t like it I didn’t buy it.