Looking to upgrade my Audio Research SP-16L. Front ends includes a VPI Scoutmaster Turntable with a Shelter 501 mk II and a SONY SCD XA5400ES SACD player. Amp is a Classe CA-2200 and my speakers are Magnepan 3.6. Any suggestions?
Ken, what's your budget?
I'm thinking $3500 - $4500
The Audio Research SP17 could be a good choice if you've been happy with the SP16.
Thanks. The AR SP-16L has been great. Any Solid State options?
Ken, I can't help with the solid-state options, but within your price range, the ARC LS17 might also be considered, too. I've never heard it, but I suspect it sounds better than the SP17L.
I guess I'm not sold that the SP-17 or LS17 would be that much of an upgrade or change over the SP-16. Has anyone heard the Ayre K-5xe or the Simaudio 350P preamps?
What about a used LS-26?
What about replacing your 3.6's with 3.7's instead - seems to be the logical choice, or did you hear no upgrade in sound quality of the 3.7 over the 3.6 yet? Obviously the source matters, but a Luddite like me is reasonably happy with a Proceed Pre, and yet would prefer a ne-pas-ultra speaker like Rockport, Tidal, Karma, or even Marten budget wise, before considering a more pricely pre of the Solution, Balabo, Burnmester, MBL, FM Acoustics level, myself...
What does the SP-16L do wrong? If it is a steaming pile, why not something by Bryston like the Bryston BP26, or the matching used Classe pre to match your amp?
It's out of your stated price-point, but if I was looking at replacing either a dac, pre and/or amp, I'd look at the Devaliet D-Premier first myself before considering other choices (www.devialet.com). You may not like the choice of digitizing phono, however.
Sorry to change the topic, I just think the 3.7 might make more sense of an upgrade in your system, or else give a listen to something by Rogue Audio and Audible Illusions, or something higher up the Audio Research chain, used, at your price-point and system setup.
There's also the Conrad Johnson ET-3...
Staxguy, you make some well thought out points and suggestions for me to think about and explore. I haven't heard the 3.7s but I have seen the reviews. I guess I'm not sold on their superiority over the 3.6s. I'm not saying the 3.7s aren't an upgrade from the 3.6s but over the years I've learned the hype for new products when introduced, doesn't quite hold up over time. My experience is after a model has been out for awhile and the hype dies down, more accurate assessments come to light. It seems to me that model upgrades tend to be more significant and cost efficient when you skip next generation for the following one.
However, since my SP-16L is 7 years old and every signal generated is passed through my pre-amp, I'm exploring the idea that a newer pre-amp may provide superior sound quality (purity of tone, better soundstaging, imaging, and dynamics) to what I have. While I have enjoyed tubes over the years, I'm wondering if today's solid state or tube pre-amps (in my price range) can provide superior sound quality to what I already have.
Appreciate the input and the suggestions.
My recommendation, since your preamp and amp are very fine sounding units (be sure to replace your sp16L tubes at least after 4k hours or so and get them only from ARC), would be to first sell your 3.6s, they currently fetch around $2800, and buy the 3.7s, a bargain at $5K or so. This should give you the greatest intial improvement per dollar in your system. I owned a pair of 3.6s for two years, then sold them last year for $3k, and bought a pair of 1.7s for $2K. After breakin, we both believe the 1.7s are a better overall speaker than the 3.6s so the 3.7 should really give you much improved performance. I personally am saving up for a pair of the newly released 20.7s.
Next, I would consider improving and expanding your digital source and digital material. I am familar with ARC, Ayre, Rega and Ayre sources. I am really enjoying 96/24 blue ray concert dvds and 96/24 and 192/24 downloads via usb as well as 44k cd, sacd, dvd a source material on my Ayre DX-5 universal player with (ARC REF-5. AYRE VX5e,Audience 24e cables, powercords,and powercenter,MG1.7s,velodyne DD12plusSW,.
Then, enjoy the music ! All the best, Ken
If you want to change preamps, I would consider a used LS 27 for 4K or an Ayre5exp around $3.5k., or a used REF3 for 5K. I like the combination of a tube front end and solid state amp. The Ayre to me sounds quite tube like, musical, and pristine.
Have you considered and adequately and properly auditioned the Parasound JC-2 preamp for $4,000 ? Perhaps without the home theater bypass, or with it if you need that functionality. It is a fabulous piece of gear that sounds the way that it should (like wire with gain ... mostly at least) You could contact an authorized ARC dealer who has an SP-17 (L) ?? on display and bring in your SP-16L and do an A-B head to head comparison and hear for yourself if it is worth the cost / has enough of the types of improvements that you are looking for. Have fun.