System Changes, Better or Just Different?

After losing several components due to age over the fall I decided to try to upgrade a little bit. Previous system - Arcam CD 23 and Alpha 9 players, Arcam C30 pre-amp, Bryston 10B active crossover, Arcam 10P amplifiers, Magnepan 1.6's (passive crossovers removed), and a Velodyne sub. The 2 CD players and the two amps both gave up the ghost and parts aren't available. All at one time I replaced the CD players with a Node 2I, a Bel Canto 2.8 DAC, and the amps with 2 Parasound A21+ amplifiers.

The only major system change I had ever made was the addition of the active crossover and it made a rather startling/obvious difference for the better. Three weeks in and some fiddling with amplifier gain (the Arcam Pre puts out a fairly weak gain), speaker position, and sub integration, I am listening to ripped CD's on wave files on an external hard drive.

I am happy with sound and will keep fiddling, but I can't decide if it's better or just different. Ever happen to you?

Jim S


Sometimes there's a difference without a distinction. In my experience when it's noticeably better there is no ambiguity about it- it grabs you by the collar

Time to upgrade to 3.7i. When you make a change make it a big one. 3.7i is a big step up (or maybe ET LFT-8Bs). 

Zavato - Point well made. I enjoy the music I'm getting, but no, it doesn't grab me by the collar. Yet.

Russ69 - Yes,3.7's or 20.7's would be nice. Maybe someday. 

I'm not familiar with your components, but have definitely had both types of experiences: 1) "gear changes" that made my system sound different but not necessarily better and 2) "upgrades" that have unambiguously improved the system.

Unless a system is unbalanced, with a glaring "Achilles heel", it would seem that real improvement more often that not requires a substantial leap up the food chain.

What is the expression -- "go big or don't go at all" ?