Does an upgrade make sense?

I may be coming down with the upgrade bug, and I’m open to suggestions. I’m quite happy with what I have—excellent imaging, musicality, dynamics. Maybe I could use a little more depth (left right is fine and speakers truly disappear), and maybe a touch more dynamics.

Almost everything I listen to is Qobuz streaming or hi res and flac files from a NAS (hard drive). My system:

Cambridge 851 Streamer/DAC

Bel Canto Pre5

Bel Canto Ref 500 monoblocks

Dali Mentor 6 floorstanders

Everything sits on maple plinths, Gaia iiis, or pucks.

Cabling is mid range Morrows. I previously had Kimber KS1116s but sold them as the Morrows sounded just as good, on the current set up.

What do I need to get more of everything? Speakers? DAC, Streamer? Amp?


Within your budget ($3,000), you’ll have a lot of choices in the used market.

Since you appear to only stream your music, you probably don’t need a DSD-capable DAC.

There are a lot of used high end DACs on the market that only go to 24bit/192kHz as their owners upgrade to DSD. So there are some great bargains to be had from companies such as EMM Labs, Bricasti, dCS, Theta Digital, etc.

If you do want a DSD-capable DAC, then a Denafrips Venus II mated to the Denafrips Iris DDC, is a killer DAC combination.

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I would start with noise/jitter management.

Something like a Puritan 156 for the electrical noise.

At least one audio ethernet switch (I use 3) 

Adding an ethernet filter like the Network Acoustics, or using an ethernet cable with a filter like the SOtM.

I have found using a DDC to use an input other than USB diminishes digital noise.

Then you can upgrade your gear and appreciate the benefits.

Yep, some RELs will make a big difference in both the bottom end and size of sound stage.  

+1 to Puritan 156 which made signifact improvement on my system at reasonable cost.


The next step is to try nice subwoofers like Rel.


i enjoy pair of Rel 31s but it is not cheap.