Although I love listening to music through my system, I find the sound somewhat wanting. I'd describe my system's shortcomings as a lack of low end bass, lack of airiness or sparkle in the treble, and a feeling that some details are lacking (rather like looking through a pane of glass with a film of gunge over it). Left/Right soundstaging is OK (but could be better), but most of my sound stage is very much 2D. I listen mostly to rock/pop (which would probably explain a lot of the sound stage issues!), but also enjoy light classical and (more recently) some jazz.
So I'm looking to upgrade my system; the question is where would be the best place to start? Here's my current system:
Front end: Forsell Air Reference turntable with a Lyra Parnassus MC cartridge (the original, not the DCt version). Both were purchased new (by me) around 14 years ago.
Preamp: Audio Research SP Mk 2. Bought used a couple of years ago, service history unknown.
Power amps: A pair of PrimaLuna Prologue 7 monoblocks. Bought new last Xmas.
Speakers: A pair of bi-wired Spendor SP1 Mk 2s. Bought new about 12 years ago.
Cables: 1.5m Nordost Frey between the Forsell and the SP9 (bought new about a year ago). 2m of self-made interconnects using insulated silver cable and gold plated phono plugs. About 6m per side of QED Qudos 4-core speaker cable. I can't remember how much the interconnect I made or the QEDs cost, but they weren't (about 12 years ago) expensive. A rough guess would be a couple of hundred bucks each. New cables would be a 6m interconnect between the SP9 and ProLogue 7s, with short (1m or 2m at most) speaker cables.
Accessories: Stands by Target and SolidSteel, Furman Elite 15-PFI power conditioner.
Long term, I see myself with a new set of ARC amplification (Phono 7/Ref 3/Ref 210), new speakers (e.g., Martin Logan CLXs or Wilson Audio System 8, or...), and a new front end with upgraded cables all round. But where to start?
Part of me wants to replace my speaker cables and homemade interconnects with Nordost Frey. This would bring them up to the standard of my turntable to preamp connection, and would make clearer the diffferences/improvements other upgrades would bring. I can also make a case for upgrading the speakers--or maybe my preamp needs servicing/retubing (or even replacing). Perhaps my cartridge is reaching the end of its life?
I'll eventually attend to all of the above, but would really appreciate some guidance from you guys! Budget depends on what option I decide to go with, but it's around $5K. I like to do bigger upgrades, but can only afford to do one or (at most) two per year.
I look forward to reading your replies, and thanks in advance for any advice.