Would love some thoughts on how to upgrade my gear

Hi all,

I have been a lurker here for a while to try to learn about this hobby. I only started to really get into it this summer. I had only listened mainly to computer speakers and car audio until then. I mainly listen to rock music, sometimes some acoustic stuff, but mainly rock. I exclusively listen to vinyl so that is where I want to focus all my energy and dollars.

As of right now I have a system consisting of Klipsch Forte II speakers (upgraded xovers from DeanG and Crites titanium tweeters), Rega P1(w/Denon Dl160 cart), and Fisher 400 (rebuilt by Craig Otsby).

I feel like this gives me a pretty nice sound as is but I have a real curiosity for what I am possibly missing. I have never really heard any high end gear so I don't know how mine stacks up. I also want to make sure that I don't get anything so analytical where the only thing that sounds good are audiophile recordings.

I first decided that I really need to upgrade my TT. I was thinking I would go with a P5, but am not sure if it is worth the extra money compared to a P3-24. Or if I should go in a different direction entirely. The one reason I wanted to stick with Rega is that my dealer will give me 80% back on my P1 as well as installing my cart since I don't know how to do that. I was thinking I would like to stick with my Denon cart for now.

So then I realized that I probably couldn't get all the performance of the P5 without upgrade my phono stage. So I then began to look at the Bottlehead kits. I have never soldered before but figured it might be fun to try to put their Seduction kit together. I wasnt't sure if this would be very good or if it wouldn't have enough gain for the Denon. Also, I didn't know if the seduction would really be a step up from my Fishers phono stage. I was getting really jazzed about trying out Bottlehead gear until I talked to my dealer. He said that SET isn't really the greatest for as it can be slow and has difficulty presenting rock music correctly.

I then was told all about Naim gear and he had me pretty convinced that it would really sound great. It was very intriguing as it sounds like some of that vintage gear can sound great and not be super expensive. Although I'm not sure how good it would sound with my Forte IIs.

So all in all, I guess I am kind of confused about what I should do. One minute I think I have my mind made up until I learn about something else. Or about some flaw of some gear I am considering.

I was just hoping to hear some opinions from those that are much more knowledgeable than I am. I'm sorry if this was a little long, I was just trying to give as much detail to work with as possible.

Thanks so much!
Long is good so you get the answers you wanted. One thing you did not mention is budget. How old is your TT? Even though your dealer will give you good trade in, if you don’t like the step up it's not worth it. But Rega does make a good TT, and more $ spent = more better in the Rega line for the most part.

Tell your dealer what you feel you’re missing (bass, air, smooth highs, whatever) and get his input. Hopefully you can listen to upgrades there and see if you think that would be a good direction to go. Bring your own LP's to audition, as you know how they sound (pops and all) on your kit.

Also- don't be afraid to try and set up your own cart. It's really not that hard, just takes time and being careful. Here is a link with good TT set-up advice:

TT Set-up

Hope this helps!
Have you tried tube rolling? You can really change the sound of the 400. What tubes are in there now? Changing your phono stage tubes from Sovteks to something like telefunken is a huge difference.
Your gear sounds pretty well tuned from your description. The next step up may well come at some cost.

I have never really heard any high end gear so I don't know how mine stacks up.

So, as long as this is the case, buying anything is taking a chance. You might like it or you might not. Maybe you don't want to risk this if the next step is very costly.

For my 2 cents, then, you need to meet other audiophiles near you and get acquainted with their systems. If you post where you live, maybe someone can help you contact a club, for example.

There's no lack of good stuff to try, but it's the combinations that make the magic. (That, and room treatments. If you don't know which way to go but must do something, treat your room.)
Internet advice is great, but ultimately, you're going to have to wander through the world of hi-end yourself and assemble a system that fits your tastes and budget. Unless you're in the "price no object" category, there are going to be some compromises and you have to experiment to find what makes you happy. Your dealer is offering you a nice trade-in. I would personally go for the P5, as you can never go wrong upgrading your source. The P5 with the outboard controller and a good cart should keep you happy for a long time - at least from a vinyl standpoint.
If you do decide to DIY the Bottlehead Seducation is a very nice sounding phono stage. Very sweet, add some mullards to warm it up and blues...blues.....blues.......
Buy a good pair of headphones along with a box to connect them to your amp if you don't have a jack. They can approximate the sound of MUCH more expensive speakers and are a great tool for evaluating your system. Pick up some Stax electrostatics used or Sennheiser 600 or 650. I have both of these, while they are not my main source of listening I would not want to be without them.
Hey Guys,

I really appreciate all the responses. Its really great how willing this community is to help! I'm sorry I have so many questions, but it really helps to gain my knowledge base. I am currently located in Seattle. I guess I could try and set up my cart in the future. I just wouldn't know how to tell if it was really on there correctly. But it probably is a skill I should have as I plan to listen to vinyl for the foreseeable future.

I bought my P1 in the summer, so its about 6 months old or so. As is I said, I think its not bad at all but am just really curious at what kind of better sound is available to me! I just want to avoid any kind of set up that is just ridiculously revealing making any non-audiophile recording sound subpar.

I'm thinking I will probably go ahead and get the P5, I just couldn't decide if it was worth it over the P3-24. My dealer thinks the P3-24 is really close to the P5 and that his favorite in the whole line is the P7. I'm just wondering if the P5 will be diminishing returns.

As for budget for any other gear, I was thinking of keeping it around $1,500 for now. I don't really have to stay with tubes or anything. I wanted to try the Fisher because everyone says that tubes really mate well with the Klipschs. To my ears this seems to be the case, but as stated earlier, I'm not really familiar with much else.

I'd like to give the Seduction phono stage a try but was wondering if it was really a step up over what I have now with the Fisher? Also, it would be pushing it with the gain factor as the Denon only outputs at 1.6mV. I think my speakers would help to compensate though as they are 99dB sensitivity I believe.

I have never been able to hear SET stuff so I am a little leary going down that road as my dealer warned me that they really don't match up that well with rock music. I also like to listen to my music fairly loud. Certainly nothing earsplitting, but enough to really know its there.

In the future I would like to get a nice pair of headphones, but for now I'd like to funnel all my money towards vinyl playback for my room.

As for what tubes are in my Fisher. Craig wrote me up an invoice of all the parts he had to buy and here are two lines listing the tubes:

"4- EH 7868 matched quad of output tubes
6- JJ 12AX7 preamp tubes"

Does switching tubes really make that much of a difference? One other thing I forgot to mention at first was that I can definitely hear a fair amount of tube rush during the very quiet parts of my music when I have the receiver turned up to about the '5' position on the volume knob. Its not anything horrible, just a little distracting.

Thanks so much!
If you are in Seattle, take your turntable to Jim at JnS Phonograph Needles on 65th. 206-524-2933. The shop doesn't look like much, but Jim knows turntables. He can set it up right!

Hey Tonydec,

Thanks for the reccomendation. I just might do that.

I thought I'd give an update:

I am going to end up getting a P5 this weekend that was listed on here. It will come with the TTPSU and an upgraded subplatter. I am very excited to see what it can do compared to the P1. I will be using my Denon 160 on it for the time being. I was wondering if I needed to get one of those spacers to use with this cartridge or if I can get by without one?

Thanks much!
Another thought-To get the most out of your TT/Cart/Arm I HIGHLLY reccommend getting a Mint LP protractor. $110 new from Hong Kong shipping included.
Here are a few thoughts, in no particular order, from someone who, like you, is just beginning his journey. Forgive me if these are redundant, obvious, or unhelpful in your view. First, learn to do as much as you can for yourself. Unless you are blessed with a wise, benign, and patient local technician whose tastes are remarkably aligned with yours, you will be best served by gradually becoming proficient with all aspects of table maintenance. Learning this on a reasonably priced Rega with its straightforward design is not a bad idea. Be careful of making big investments in the hope of realizing huge improvements, and then being too intimidated by your complicated, expensive equipment to try adjustments. This pursuit rewards attention, and I don't mean constantly fiddling with tweaks and gadgets, but slowly learning the fundamental mechanics. You will hear confident opinions from everyone; try to confirm these yourself, and not be seduced by pretty language or passionate excitement. I don't mean that other people are malicious, devious, or wrong, but they are other people, for whom truth, beauty, and soul may take different shapes. Even you, at various times, may respond very differently to certain things.
Thanks for all the advice guys. I'm going to pick up the new 'table tomorrow. I am going to try and install the cart myself first. I'm thinking with a little time and patience I can do it.
Well I got my new P5 today. I was all excited to come home and try to install the car onto it. But then when I was going to take the cart off my P1 I learn that my roommate has destroyed the stylus! I am beyond mad right now, the worst part is that he won't even and fess up and admit it. What a class act he is.
I guess as an aside to that, I was wondering if you guys had any suggestions about a cart that might work well in system?

I have a P5, Fisher 400, and Klipsch Forte IIs

I am going to try not to go ballistic on my roommate tonight, but it will be tough.

Thanks all.
Ask your Rega dealer about a cartridge. You're a good customer and he is well placed to help with sound advice and pricing.

I'm sorry to hear about the busted Denon. Cartridges are delicate, of course, and this kind of thing has happened to many of us. That doesn't make it much easier to take when it does happen, but welcome to the club anyway.

It would be great if your roommate both fessed up and paid up, but of course he doesn't have to do either. Just a thought, but if your new cart had a removable stylus, you could take it out when you weren't listening and keep it where your roommate couldn't break it.