if you had this system, what would you do to make it sound the best you can

This is my first time using this forum. I'm looking to improve my system, and I'd like to hear your ideas of what you would change or purchase to make it sound even better. Current system:  McIntosh amp MC202, 200 watts/ch; C42 preamp with DAC and 8 band equalizer; MCD 301CD; MR85 Tuner; streamer MB20.  TT is Pro-ject Classic SB, Equalizer Sound Shaper 3 IC, Speakers Spendor A5s rated 150watts peak, cables Audioquest; R to R, J Corder Technics RS1520; Panamax Power.  All pieces have original power cords.  Audio cables are low-end.  Music: Classical, Jazz, Easy/soft Rock.  Joan Baez, Enya, etc. thank you for any advice.


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@markley Years ago, in one of my previous systems, I used a Panamax power conditioner but eventually switched to an isolation transformer. The isolation transformer dropped the noise floor of the system precipitously and its benefit was immediately apparent. Building the sound of my subsequent systems on such a very low noise floor has worked satisfactorily for me.


I bought new Quad ESL's 15 years ago - and I'm keeping them. The 29 series is very smooth and elegant, and build quality is high. The 28 series is brighter, too bright for my taste. YMMV


I quoted ithe 2nd recommendation for Quad ESL-63 electrostatic speakers, and I will be the third.  I imported a pair of Quads from England in 1985.  I had them rebuilt about 4 years ago which was much needed and a splendid improvement in sound quality.  They are absolutely special speakers, the sort of speakers you want to be buried with, they’re that good.  Their only weakness is they cannot do justice to bass dominant music.  They are ideal for classical and opera, folk and country., piano and violin, guitar, vocals.  You can often find a used pair on eBay and have them rebuilt for far less than one pays for many ordinary speakers.

Hi, @markley ,

Welcome to the forum.

Yes, I would pull the outboard EQ unless it is used to "fix" very significant tonal balance issues. You should here immediate improvements in focus and detail. Room acoustics are a better solution -- if possible.

There are better options for power distribution/surge/conditioning than Panamax. You’ll hear a difference.

I would get my hands on a good variety of good cables (speaker, interconnect AND power), including models above your current budget that can be returned. I would suggest putting on some Depends™ beforehand. I don’t want to be responsible for what happens when the sum of all those improvements arrive at your ears at the same time. I suggest auditioning cables above your current budget for these reasons: a) it may help solidify your target price/performance selection and make your feel more confident in your selection, b) you may discover your next upgrade when time/money make sense to you, or c) you may find yourself using expletives that you wouldn’t use around your grandkids to describe the (improved) sound, determine they are worth the investment -- and just go for it.