What have been your biggest wow moment upgrades?

I think my starting point was as a student in mid to late 1980s in Belfast where I bought a starter system from Lyric Hi-Fi - Rega Planar 2 (I don't think I could stretch to a 3); Creek 4040; Heybrook HB2.  Without a doubt the single biggest WOW moment I have enjoyed was changing the Rega over to a new LP12 with second hand Ittok arm and K9 cartridge.  The difference was incredible.

My next WOW was more subtle - swapping the Creek out for a Nait 2 - there were alternative amps at the time which seemed to have more sparkle, but the little Nait just seemed such a perfect match for the LP12.  It didn't play particularly loud, but within its power limits, it was just great.  I still have it.

An Arcam Alpha 8 (still resides in my bedroom stereo with the Nait!) was my first cd player and my next major WOW came with the introduction of a CDS3 - I was overjoyed at the similarity in presentation it had with the LP12.

My further journey into Naim was a disappointment - I bought a 102/180 pairing which, whilst more powerful, never really did it for me.  The importance of proper auditioning was established.  the 102/180 did offer me a major WOW when I traded them in for a 252/300, a pre/power combo with a sensational synergy.

Final WOW I would like to report was a DIN-DNI Hi-Line for the CDS3 - the improvement made a major impression on me.

Loads of changes have followed over the years, but these were the changes which really grabbed hold and made me say WOW!!


Moving from an AT440MLB to an Ortofon 2m Black (second hand, low hours), that was a really big change; there was a lot more detail in the music.

The next big change was replacing the 2m Black with a new (remanufactured) Kontrapunkt h and adding an Elevator EXP to the Reflex M phono stage.  This really pushed the noise floor down, even on old vinyl.

Replacing my speakers with a pair of SBLs and going active (at the same time) was a big step.  Not sure if it was as big as changing the cartridges though, or at least not so immediately obvious.  Maybe the amplifiers/SNAXO took time to warm up/settle down and come on song so it wasn't quite so night and day as when switching a cartridge?

Sometimes though, when I put on the right track (maybe Bjork, Like someone in love) and I'm actually listening to music rather than multi tasking I just get lost in the moment and wonder 'when did it all start to sound so good?'

Adding a 555PS to my CDS2 was the eye opener for me.

Second best was adding the Superline with the Supercap..

CD555 and the rest was behind these two.  Initially at least.  

I have come to love the CD555 as my favorite everyday source.  It is right up there with the Superline Supercap and my wife loves it the most.  She hears the difference but she doesn't care.

So many to choose from but somewhere up there would be:

NAP135s driving Linn Saras.  The first time I'd ever heard Linn Saras sound right, which was slightly embarrassing as I owned a pair driven by a 32.5/hicap/250 at the time.  I ended up selling the Saras and buying the then new EPOS ES14, which I adored.

Strapping an XPS2 on to a CDX2.  I'd auditioned a bare CDX2 3 times and really tried to like it but just couldn't.  But with an XPS2 on it - wow.  Ordered both there & then.

3 years later, I heard what a 555PS could do to a CDX2.  Oh, that was expensive.  But so worth it!

Comparing a Nottingham Analogue Hyperspace to a (my) Linn LP12 and a Xerxes 20+.  I'd never heard resolution of detail like that Hyperspace with NAS arm & Dynavector XX-2 managed.  It was genuinely way ahead of my LP12 or indeed the Xerxes.  Unfortunately, it was utterly uninvolving to listen to.

Finally, hearing a Vertere turntable.  Gosh.

Best regards, FT

I had one ‘inverted’ wow moment. After having the system on a high end audio rack for almost two years, moving the system back to an old Quadraspire rack made me realise how much difference the furniture makes, and how good the quadraspire is - even my actively indifferent spouse noticed the increased clarity and tightened low frequencies of the much cheaper setup.

adding a 555PS to my 272 - I won't repeat the various impacts that others have described in much better terms than I am able to muster but for me it was like everyone on the every track had taken a massive step closer to me. The presence of the bass was a specific, pleasing improvement but without overpowering everything else in the mix. Wow indeed.

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