SEEKING ADVICE: Which component would you upgrade first?

This is my first post, so take it easy on me!

I have a modest analog system and would like to get recommendations on which component you would upgrade first for the biggest impact. Please use the existing components as a gauge for my budget (+/- a few hundo).

About me: I'm music lover. I'm a musician and recording engineer. I have a decent collection of old and new records, CDs, and tapes, which I listen to regularly. I appreciate good sounding recordings and have the experience to identify good and bad, but I'm not interested in mortgaging my home to upgrade my system.



Receiver: Pioneer SX-680

Turntable: Pioneer PL-112D

Speakers: Yamaha NS-1 and Pioneer HPM-100


A few options from someone who has been down your road recently. Not sure I would say any of these is the "right" way to go, but any of them will make an audible difference.

One, I don't have any experience with your receiver, but if you're thinking about upgrading your amp the NAD C316BEE is a great option. It brings that classic NAD class AB sound, and has a really good MM phono stage.

Two, I'll echo the previous post about upgrading your phono cart. A big improvement can be had by upgrading/updating to one of the Sumiko oyster carts, the Nagaoka MP series, or the AT VM that was previously named.

And third, if vinyl is your primary media, think about a record cleaner. I use the Record Doctor, which made a big difference in audible quality of my vinyl for not a huge investment. And if you play a lot of used vinyl, an inexpensive ultrasonic cleaner makes a remarkable difference. 

Good luck and enjoy the music!

Corelli +1, If you know an audiophile near your place try to listen to his system , to see if you like it. Then if you like it. Hopefully he can mentor you to put a low cost system if you don’t have the budget.

cheap yet HIGHLY effective: Mad Scientist Graphene Contact Enhancer

First clean all contacts (including power cords) with 99% isopropel alcohol then apply the contact enhancer



If you want more modern electronics, look at Rotel. Modestly priced, good quality, and nice features in their integrated amps. 

@lukasread I’ll suggest a different route to consider, if not now then at some point, given you said you have a background in music engineering and an interest in vinyl. This route would have you listening to your music in other ways, rather than swapping kit-for-kit in hopes of sonic revelations for a few hundred bucks.


There’s a USD $250-300 device (down from $500 nearly a decade ago) that functions as a phono preamp, a DAC, and an ADC (Analogue-to-Digital Converter). RCA cables from your TT to the device, and the device via USB cable to your computer; and you can digitize all your records to enjoy on the go via earbuds, in the car, on your phone, etc.

The DAC feature of the KORG will also allow you to connect a USB streamer that can be had for ~$100, or easily DIY’ed for slightly less. There are multiple free software options for this that will also play your personal digital/digitized music library, too (though as a music engineer I suspect you may already have these features via computer / additional unlisted kit).

If you want a way to clean your records and haven’t one already, there are cheap, solid solutions from AliExpress and the like:

Record Spindle Spinner (I would strongly recommend a stronger jet of water than pictured in the article!).

As some folks have mentioned, beware making lateral moves in the kit you already have - yours is solid stuff. For your budget, look for new inroads to using your music if you really are a musician, engineer, and listener more than a new-kit-chaser, being my bottom-line.