My Major System Upgrades in 2022 and Impact of Each

Sold my luxury car and traded it for an economy car this year. Also sold some other stuff. I used the proceeds to fund purchases of major upgrades to my home system. Here is the list and my assessment of the impact the upgrade made:

Speakers (Impact Level: Very High): I wanted to upgrade my 803 D2 B&W speakers to more align with my existing Gryphon Diablo 300 amp, which I would recommend to almost anyone. I have the DAC and phono modules installed in my amp as well. After testing many premium speakers worth up to $40k, I couldn’t find any I liked for all ranges of music I listen to. I decided to upgrade within the D2 range and buy used. I’m very happy with the result and found that clarity, scale, soundstage depth, imaging, and realism have all improved.

Power Cords (Impact: Medium): Tested mid to top models from Audioquest and Shunyata, and Nordost. Ended up with Audioquest Dragon to power my amp and my Torus Power transformer, and Hurricane Source cords for the rest. Vs mid-level cables, I found the Dragon cords full fleshed out instruments and voices within a 3D space, with more air and more fully formed, tangible tones. I was concerned I would find top-end cords to be too revealing and potentially too lean sounding, vs mid-level cords. I was happy to find that was not the case, at all.

Speaker Cable (Impact: High): Moving to Nordost Valhalla 2’s from the excellent Clarus Crimson Biwire cables was a revelation. The degree of detail and transparency with soundstage depth that was coming through, with perfect tonal balance, was stunning. And the pace of these cables are lightning quick. I also tested top speaker cables from Audioquest and Transparent and didn’t take to them. However my system with this upgrade became resolving enough that for the first time I realized my system sounded better after midnight than during the day, due to noise on the AC power coming into my home.

USB Reclocker (Impact: Medium-High): Added the Innuos PhoenixUSB high-precision reclocker for my Innuos Zenith Mk 3, after reading the 100% positive reviews. After breakin, and only with a good cord and usb cable (Audioquest Hurricane power cord and Diamond USB), this device added clarity and focus to the sound. I did note that my system sounded better with the reclocker than without, but there was a "hi-fi" quality now that was a slight detractor.

Ethernet Isolation Switch (Impact: Medium-High): The Innuous PhoenixNET, when paired with Audioquest Diamond Ethernet cables, and an Audioquest Hurricane power cord, is a perfect addition to remove the "HiFi" qualities that I didn’t like that the PhoenixUSB reclocker added. The PhoenixNET perfectly balances out the PhoenixUSB be adding a warm, musical, solid, and engaging overall sound.

Dedicated 20 AC Circuits (Impact: Medium High): After finding that my system sounded better after midnight following the addition of the Nordost Valhalla 2 speaker cables, I realized that my speaker cable upgrade had exposed AC issues. My dealer suggested dedicated 20A lines and said "you won’t know what hit you" . Completed it and have burned one of the new lines in over two weeks. Sound is more expansive now (I can directly compare with the old shared line which still exists), with bigger bass and more up-front mids. Very glad I did this. I also added Shunyata SR-Z1 outlets to the two dedicated channels.

Torus Power Isolation Transformer (Impact: Medium): After testing the Audioquest Niagara 5000 and finding that the unit buzzed with my AC lines, and finding that I didn’t take to the admittedly mild tonal impact it made on the sound (VERY slightly boosted upper mid frequency, leading to treble sounding closed in), I gambled on buying a Torus RM-20 isolation transformer to connect everything into. I borrowed the Niagara 5000 again from my dealer and compared, and clearly preferred the Torus for it’s lifting of the mid and high frequencies out of the mud, but doing so perfectly evenly without raising or lowering any particular tones.

Before the upgrades I enjoyed my system but I never had thought that my system had reached the level of being worthy of the "HiFi" moniker. That has totally changed with these upgrades.

My advice would be to focus the least amount of funds on the highest degree of impact for your upgrades. For me, that turned out to be buying a used set of mint condition speakers that were a higher calibre than my old speakers. For the thing that made the highest impact, I saved 10’s of thousands over what I was planning to spend and that opened up funds for other upgrades.

My upgrades:

  • B&W 803 D2 UPGRADED to 802 D2
  • Gryphon Diablo 300 with DAC and phono modules
  • Innuos Zenith Mk 3 streamer
  • Clarus Crimson Biwire UPGRADED to Nordost Valhalla 2 speaker cables, plus Valhalla 2 jumpers.
  • UPGRADED, added Innuos PhoenixUSB reclocker
  • UPGRADED, added Innuos PhoenixNET Ethernet isolation switch
  • UPGRADED, added Torus RM-20 Isolation transformer
  • 1 Audioquest Hurricane High Current UPGRADED to two Audioquest high current Dragon cords (amp and Torus)
  • 3 Audioquest Hurricane Source cords (Innuos streamer, reclocker, and isolation switch)
  • Audioquest Diamond Ethernet and USB cables (two of each for the streamer, reclocker, and isolation switch)
  • UPGRADED, added dedicated 20a AC circuits (although one is powering everything through my Torus now.

Likely Future Upgrades, Budget Permitting:

  • Upgrade to Dragon Source power cords for my source equipment
  • Addition of a VPI Prime Signature turntable.
  • Upgrade to Nordost Odin 2 speaker cable (this is NOT likely to happen due to budget, but I can imagine the improvement this would make.. I expect even more detail, and even more of a natural, open, and fast presentation of mids and highs. It’s ALMOST worth considering forgoing the turntable in favour of having what I’d think would be the ultimate cable configuration for my amp and speakers. Hmmm...)




Wow @nyev!   You have been busy!  Congratulations and thanks for such a great summary.  Your journey has been quite similar to mine, albeit a bit quicker!

And it is fascinating in that while we each have upgraded almost identical components with quality gear, none of the brands or models are the same!

All of these things matter!

Now, spend at least as much on recordings as you have on equipment, and it will have been money well spent.

I see little correlation between "spending $ on recordings" and musical enjoyment. 

I see little correlation between "spending $ on recordings" and musical enjoyment. 

Let me help you. You have no recordings, you have no musical enjoyment. Unless  you are grooving to FM radio.....

How is your listening room, as the room itself often plays the most significant part of the sound experience? The same gear can sound SOOO different in different listening spaces.... 

Damn.  Your system must have sucked.  Just kidding.  I've made a lot of changes that I consider significantly impactful.  I think they were really only minorly impactful but because we know our system so well we hear them.  

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Since I was retired I sold my low mileage car and bought pre-owned Wilson Sabrinas for half the cost of new. I'm loving that decision. My MA312 never sounded so good. Good for the environment and good for my ears. Happy birthday to me.

Being in a multi state audio club ,I have found the MBL speakers to be much more resolved and lowest distortion vs box speakers ,even their 120, 126 stand mounts ,with subs for lowest possible bass is Outstanding 

and outboard dacs of high quality better then any module 

my brother has the Diablo 300 ,with module ,and has since upgraded it with the Denafrips Terminator+ ,    The Diablo is a Great integrated and module is good 

but can be bettered . 

bdp24 & ozzy62,

no need at all to BUY or HAVE recordings when you can have Qobuz lossless hi-rez streaming through the excellent setup he has.

that's speaker wire upgrade doesn't make a lot of sense to me the Nordost wire is ofc junk but it's ribbon cable and the Clarus Crimson is OCC ribbon cable which is far superior to the nordost wire so I don't get how the nordost can sound better that makes total no sense considering that OCC wire is far superior to anything OFC at any price, and why would you stay with B&W, the monitor audio platinum ll are so far superior it's not even funny.


you should have bought the monitor audio platinum ll, they're much better than the Wilson.

Congrats!  Happy for you and your upgrades!  Enjoy and keep us posted on future changes and discoveries!

Nice posts urbie. I don’t see your system listed. Perhaps you are jealous of the excellent systems Nyev and gjohns have? 

I think building  a system  is a lot like fune art paintings.  So happy for you now that you have a masterpiece! 



Do you guys know that the streaming services are even worse at paying the creators of music than are record companies? If this continues going the way it is, no one will be able to afford to be a musician.

The guys in Dwight Twilley's band were making $150/wk in the early-80's, on the payroll of Twilley's label. They never saw a dime in royalties. And that's the "big time"!

Artists/bands now make far more selling their own product at the merch table at their live shows. You can't stream that.

@bdp24 That's always been the case, the label takes most of the money and the artist barely sees any of it.  They've always made their money on live performances and touring.

The gear upgrades look pretty nice, you seem to be set there. You should put a budget towards room treatments, which IMHO make more of a difference than cables, which would be the last on the list for me. 

Great summary of the audiophile process.  Loved how you let your ears and sound scape taste inform your choices.  Not what you should like, but actually what you do like. Enjoy the music!

@tubeguy76: True, but a big part of touring musicians' incomes is from the sale of physical product at the merch table. If you stream instead of buy LP's and/or CD's/SACD's, there goes a big part of their income.

The best result of the "digital revolution" (in affordable recorders for home use, making pro recording studios unnecessary) is the ability of cult-level artists (where most of my favorite current artists live) to record, manufacture, and sell their own product. If you want them to be able to continue to create music you want to hear, support their efforts!

@bimmerman2 , room treatments are next.  Not 100% sure how to go about it; I don’t want to hire a consultant that just wants to sell foam.  I don’t detect any “problems” in my room, and whenever I experiment putting 5 or so moving blankets and/or couch seats around my room, all I hear is slightly diminished upper frequencies.  Nevertheless I do plan to tackle that challenge next.  First step though is I plan to lose my L-shaped couch as I do think it has a minor impact on imbalancing the sound with one section of the couch extended towards the right speaker!

Regarding my speaker choice, I TRIED leave B&W, or even move to the new generations of B&W. I tested Wilson Sasha DAW, Magico A5, Audiovector R6, Sonus Faber Amati, and B&W 801 D4, but found that I wouldn’t be able to listen to ALL ranges of music I listen to due to a leaner midrange sound that all of these speaker produce.  All auditions wer with my Diablo 300 amp. Therefore I upgraded within the D2 generation of B&W.

There were speakers I didn’t bother to audition like Monitor Audio, because they have a rear-firing port and I don’t think I could give them the clearance they need from my front wall in my room.


I highly recommend a consultation from Jeff at HDacoustics. He is very good and would point you in the right direction. Duke Lejune (I hope I spelled it right ) of Audiokinesis recommended him to design my rooom and it turned out fantastic. Good luck with your room. 


@nyev - Nice upgrades! BTW, The B&W 802D's an excellent speaker. Ignore the naysayer

@boxer12 , thanks, and I wouldn’t really care if the entire world hated the 802 Diamonds; I spent so much effort before I found upgraded speakers I could be happy with, and they are exactly what I was looking for.  I didn’t even consider the looks until I saw them in my living room.  The look tremendous.  I like the proportion of the marlin head better than the D3 or D4 generation.

Just discovered now that I enjoy them toed out even more than I had them toed out before.  More solid and much wider sweet spot, and wider soundstage….

It's fun isn't it.  The addition of a new component always gives me a rush even if it is justification of money spent.  Took me 3 yrs to be satisfied, at least for awhile. It's harder now.  Local dealers are on the wane..

Wow, you were doing a great value engineering.  Just on the speakers, you have saved yourself over $30k.  Congratulte.  Question: why did you go with the older model d2 instead of d4?  Is d2 better in sound?

@lanx0003 , I doubt the D2 generation of B&W is better. But, it sounds better to me. Most other speakers have too lean of a balance when playing all ranges of music I listen to, especially hard rock (eg Pearl Jam). Ends up sounding too thin and harsh, and it’s not due to poor recording. I’ve never accepted the notion that HiFi can’t extend to all types of music, and that is a very important qualifier for any component I choose. But it certainly makes finding gear I like a lot tougher.

The D2 range has a more balanced approach that is very detailed, fast, and yet they have a midrange that is supported by lower frequencies.

At least when playing on my Diablo 300 amp that is. I specifically did not like my old 803 D2’s when paired with any other amp I tried. I had taken many separates home to audition in 2019, and another integrated, and just about gave up on HiFi altogether. Then I read on these boards all the glowing reviews of the Diablo 300 and found that I enjoyed my speakers with this amp….

All of my gear/cabling aside from the Innuos stuff was the result of gruelling and extensive testing that took a ton of effort and focus.  The Innuos stuff I just bought based on the near unanimous positive comments on each of the three Innuos components I have.  I’m pretty happy with it but if I could do it again I would have skipped the reclocker and just upgraded the Zenith Mk3 to the Innuos Statement.  That would have saved the extra power cord and USB cable, and would have sounded a bit better in the end, so ultimately would have been a better value.  That said the improvement the reclocker makes is tremendous - really takes the Zenith Mk 3 up another level, but I also couldn’t imagine it without the smoothness added by the Innuos PhoenixNET Ethernet isolation switch.