Upgrade thoughts

I'm considering an upgrade-not committed to it and not sure which component would be best to upgrade. System= Sonus Faber Serafino; Michi s5 amp; Simaudio 390 preamp; DCS Bartok DAC streamer (currently being upgraded to Apex); Clearaudio DC Performance TT; Simaudio 610LP phono pre; Ortofon Cadenza Bronze Cart; Roon Nucleus; Nordost Heimdall II speaker cables and interconnects; Shunyata PC; Room is approximately 36x24 with an area opening to a different room. 

I enjoy different kinds of music-jazz-60s, 70s rock, country, accoustical. No classical or electronic- not a lot of really bass heavy stuff. Mostly stream from Qobuz-really enjoy my vinyl rig but too old and lazy to get up every 20 minutes. 

I'm pretty satisfied with my system-spend a couple of hours with it every night- and maybe should leave well enough alone. If I had to identify what I would like more of, maybe a wider soundstage and a bit more detail. Or, maybe I just have a recurring case of upgraditis because that seems to go with this hobby. 

Have toyed with going to Boulder 1160 amp. The Michi S5 might seem the logical weak spot, but I think its pretty good. Auditioned against McIntosh and Classe and I liked the Michi better. Boulder is obviously in a different price category-wondering how much improvement i might get for the money. 

Also considered going to Magico S5 MkII speakers. The SFs are fine speakers-would this be more of a lateral move?

Might be able to audition these in a showroom-probably not with my setup. 

Would appreciate any helpful thoughts-particularly about the Boulder and/or Magico.

Budget is 15-20 plus trade-in-obviously would be happy to spend less.

 I don't post that often but look at the forum everyday and have learned a lot. Things like never debate raven vs. prima luna, but helpful stuff as well. 



OP, congratulations.


It is hard to believe you will not be really happy for a very long time with those speakers. Great choice.


I am close friends with my dealer, and thankfully he picked up the product lines I wanted shortly before I needed them. Your dealer did exactly what he should have… that is what they are there for. Great on getting a set of demos.

Just wanted to circle back and thank everyone for the very useful input. I learn a lot from the people on this forum who provide constructive insights. I ended up trading my speakers for Sonus, Faber Il Cremonese I think I got a pretty good deal on a demo pair with very few hours.
my dealer was able to set up my exact system for an audition in his store. I also auditioned the magico speakers with a boulder amp.
These are all superb components in my opinion and this set up sounded great, but moving up the SF line just suited me a little better. The new speakers give me a bigger Sound stage, a little more detail, more gravity to the music and of course better bass extension. This is pretty much what I was looking for. Probably fit my room better as was suggested in the discussion.

I tend to be pretty loyal to my dealer which can be limiting, but on the other hand, he takes good care of me, and given my limited technical abilities it's comforting to know that if something goes wrong, he's a phone call away.

just wanted to close the loop on this discussion and say thanks again to everyone who provided advice. I have made some notes and will be considering what I learned here if and when I go for another round

i'm very happy with the sound of my system with the new speakers, and really look forward every day to the time that I can just chill out, close my eyes and take in the music.

Thanks again





A couple of things you could try:


Experiment with speaker placement / toe-in - angling in the speaker towards your listening position could yield the smidge more detail you're seeking. Sitting closer to the speakers could make the sound more enveloping.


Connecting the Bartok directly to the amp - this might help you figure out if the preamp is a bottleneck on overall system resolution.


I wouldn't hesitate to audition the Magico's. I've only heard the discontinued Q series at a shop once and they sounded quite good.

George was the most interesting character for sure, most referenced, quoted. 

I feel like a loser so often and then I think of George/Jason and don't feel alone!

We had dinner a few tables away from Larry David. (we had tickets to see him later at a nearby comedy club).

How brilliant is he, George's hands, phobias, .... It was both interesting and distracting to see him rearrange the salt/pepper/ketchup OVER and OVER again.

I watch re-runs, never gets old. 

@elliottbnewcombjr I am no footie but you definitely are gifted. As a swimmer, I usually just look at the width, but your feet are like George Costanza's hands!



well, the left foot is concealed. Since then: Bad Infection in Big Toe Bone, 3 surgeries later, as my friend Nick just said:

"I guess your foot modeling days are done".

Oops, in my comment I intended to say upgrade the preamp… for some reason I said amp in the second paragraph. Hope that was not too confusing.


Preamps with tubes should not at all be difficult. The analysis is exactly the same as any other component. Any angst about tubes comes from amplifiers which need big high power tubes. Preamps do not have high power tubes and are pretty much just like solid state, although they tend to be more natural and musical. If you want your system to really capture the magic of music this is where to concentrate.


Similar age, music preferences and room dimensions

I was shocked when I replaced a Pangea Premier XL 1.5M coax ($169) with a 1.5M Chinese Nordost knockoff. And since it was so cheap I also got a 1.0M which I held back until I felt the 1.5 was well broken in- mind blowing improvement. Since then I slowly replaced all the other cables and wires, each time my system revealed more of how good it is.

As to speakers I own Emerald Physics 3.4s 12" coaxial with 1" polyester tweeters, and while they really satisfy 99% of my music needs, because my room is so large I would love to get a pair of EP 2.8s same plus dual 15" woofers. I did see a pair in the classifieds for ~ $2500 + shipping. See my virtual system


Truly awesome System.

You have enough power to drive half the city.

I have never heard your speakers, my ’imagined’ take:

1. I am not a fan of ports, if so, Front Only.

2. Lots of description relative to Violins, however I have never seen/heard a Violin with a hole in the back.

Sooo, can you

a. close the ports, live with change for a while, differences beneficial?

b. audition different ’portless’ speakers, find something that sound fantastic to you?

Listen, particularly to imaging, and, despite apparently less bass, is ’stereo bass’ improved, i.e. very low bass mono, but the bass overtones become directional thus bass player’s location more readily identified. Port Sound Waves are detrimental to Bass Overtones IME.



IF you have a lot of open space behind the rear port, as I once had, the rear port can be beneficial, barely if at all detrimental, I would still try them blocked, ascertain the differences.

My speakers, in their current location, have their rear ports blocked. Open when I moved in, but definite improvements, HERE, closing them. 


Prior Location, open space, they had a full room behind them, the rear port gave extra extension to the 15" woofer, i.e. like in a larger enclosure than the 6.8 cu ft enclosure without reflections of sound waves out of the rear port.


I’d be leery of buying any Boulder amps. Comparable sonic quality can be had today for way less. I’d rather buy a pair of the newest Hypex Ncore 500’s for around a few grand than spend 10X that for Boulder! The future of audio is with the newest Class D amps - not the 100+ lbs  $20K boat anchors!

Speakers can  give the best bang-for-buck improvement because they are the least neutral of components! Yet a change can too often be a sideways move! Sonus Faber has a house sound. You could audition a larger model from SF.

Thank you for your thoughts. I thought about going up to the Amati because my room is not small. Also, wondering how much the new generation improved. No experience with tubes so that's a little daunting but I'll look into that too. Appreciate the advice.

Looking at your great system that is fairly well balanced what sticks out to me as opportunities is your preamp and your speakers.

I would recommend a high quality tube amp long before an amp change. A great one like an Audio Research Reference, Presto, CJ… these are highly detailed and very musical. 

I happened to be a big fan of Sonus Faber and currently have Amati Traditional. I looked at the Serafino and realized they were too small for my room.  I would go up a level or two.

Magico would be a completely different sound… one that might cause you to trade a lot other equipment. They are so revealing that can end up not sounding good.