Another Source

Looking to add a second source to my system.   I have 300dr, nds, super cap, 555ps, 252dr and Focal Maestro Uptopia III.  Looking to add either a turntable or a disc player.   With my system what price range turntable and phono stage or CD player should I be looking.  Don’t want to underbuy or overbuy my current gear. 

Original Post

To compete with your NDS/555PS you will have to spend out a lot on a vinyl source at least Rega RP10 and matching Rega Aria stage or perhaps a used high spec LP12 from a good Linn dealer.  Don't forget though records are not cheap these days so if you don't already own a collection I would also set aside a few hundred to buy new vinyl.

I cannot comment on CDP's having never owned a quality one especially at your level electronics although CD's are a fraction of the cost of vinyl records and so would be a lot better value.

Having said all of that if I were you I would improve on what I already had first choice would be trading in your 252 for a 552 or second your NDS for a new ND555 when they are released.

Normally when adding a new source, someone has a particular reason to want to a add a specific format. That doesn't appear to the be the case here as you casually mentioned vinyl or CD. Which is a bit like saying you might want a sports car or a boat but haven't decided yet.

If you are happy with the NDS, I don't think adding a CD player is going to really be meaningful unless you want the novelty factor of it since you can already play ripped discs far more conveniently via the NDS. 

As for vinyl, I don't see the point here unless you have a sizable vinyl collection already. Older vinyl that was mastered in analogue and kept in pristine condition can sound amazing. But newer vinyl generally comes from the same digital master that you might be able to download anyway. Which just means information was lost in the conversion from one format to another. And the source format may be available as an HD download without watermarking. 

So of the two, both can have very valid reasons for adding them as sources but given the constraints, neither is something to do on a whim and you really need a reason to be comitted to the format. I guess the other consideration is whether the format provides access to music simply not available otherwise. In the case of vinyl, that is almost certain true depending on what your musical tastes are. In the case of CD there is zero truth here because you can play them all ripped via the NDS.

On the other hand, if the addition of the source is more for fun:

  • And you live in a place with an FM radio future comittment, you might true a tuner.
  • And you attend lots of gigs where you do the live recordings or get copies of live recordings to reel-to-reel (it's a niche thing but I've seen it a few times recently).
  • And you have an older car and want to make pristine mix tapes, then an old tape deck.
  • And you just want to set the mood by playing some music on a CD player or turntable just.. well just because!

The problem with a streamer like an NDS is that it is effectively also a high end DAC so consolidates all your digital sources (most will not have DACs of the NDS quality). It's possible to have several digital sources but all going into the NDS and therefore only using one analogue input on the preamp. There just are not that many analogue sources around these days and digital ones are generally only going to connect via the line out to your pre if you feel their DAC is on par with the NDS or betters it, or the unit has a certain "sound" that is valuable.

 

 

feeling_zen posted:

As for vinyl, I don't see the point here unless you have a sizable vinyl collection already. Older vinyl that was mastered in analogue and kept in pristine condition can sound amazing. But newer vinyl generally comes from the same digital master that you might be able to download anyway. Which just means information was lost in the conversion from one format to another. And the source format may be available as an HD download without watermarking. 

I'd point out that despite being derived from the same digital source, modern vinyl and digital albums can be mastered quite differently. It is not uncommon for modern vinyl releases to have nearly twice the dynamic range of their digital counterparts, HD downloads included - at times simply upscaled from the CD. The cost of an HD download and an LP are often similar.

Hi Zacwater, Feeling_Zen has nailed it really.  It really depends on what is making you want another source.

A NAT-01 tuner is hard to beat if FM radio is important to you.
A Rega RP10 + Aria phono stage (on an appropriate stand/shelf) is a tremendous turntable, bettering the NDS/555PS as a source to these cloth ears on 90% of recordings that I buy.  Many on this forum default to a Linn LP12, which is fine too.  If you wish to step up from a Rega RP10, then I'd take a good listen to a Vertere MG-1, which is where I have ended up.
A Revox B77 reel to reel tape deck is just a marvellous piece of industrial sculpture if this is how you like to replay music and can manage the cost & space of the reels.
With your streamer, realistically, you are looking at a CD555 or a CDS3/555PS.
Finally, if you hark after a cassette player, then a Nakamichi Dragon, ZX-7 or ZX-9 are the bees knees.  Richard Dane would be a good person to ask about these, as I never made it to such exalted heights of cassette player technology, just lusting after one from afar.

All of these are immensely capable sources but first you need to choose your preferred format.

Hope this helps, FT

Sixty albums is hardly any. Say you bought a Rega 10 and phono stage that’s about £4,000, or £66 per album. My advice, which you probably don’t want, is that you should trade the 252 for a 552, then you’ll get a whole new record collection rather than a nice looking deck that is rarely used. 

Hi Zackwater,

I also buy vinyl records in the USA from time to time.  

Soundstage Direct & Acoustic Sounds both have quite large selections of vinyl records to buy on-line.

If you have 60 lps, then a Rega RP10 or equivalent may well be overkill, as HH indicates.  Try a Rega RP6 (used) or the new Planar 6 and see how you get on with it before deciding whether to go all in.

Happy listening, FT

Zackwater posted:

After sleeping on it, I’m going to add a turntable. I own 60 or so old albums and I just like the experience.  Any advise is appreciated, I’m located in the USA.   Nearest music shop 6 hour drive (except for a dealer nearly exclusively McIntosh). 

If you want it to be somewhere approaching the sound quality of which the NDS should be capable, based on the various contributions on vinyl playing on this forum, I guess you need  to consider spending well into five figures, and don’t forget the record cleaner. If on the other hand you just want to fit with the current fashion, re-experiencing the the LPs you already have, playing nice music, then a budget system may do.

Curiously, you didn’t respond to Feeling Zen’s puzzlement about the vagueness you i itially expressed about wanting a different source. It rather sounds like boredom with your NDS based system, which more begs the question why is it not satisfying?

Hungryhalibut posted:

Sixty albums is hardly any. Say you bought a Rega 10 and phono stage that’s about £4,000, or £66 per album. My advice, which you probably don’t want, is that you should trade the 252 for a 552, then you’ll get a whole new record collection rather than a nice looking deck that is rarely used. 

What will the 552 do to improve my system.  My only complaint it’s the “noise”, hissing coming from the speaker when the amp is on. 

I'm still a big fan of linn lp 12. Mine is from 1989,just had (I think) the third service done. Changed arm to (used) ekos,new kore and krystal cartridge and it sounds phenomenal. I was tempted to go from lingo 2 to lingo 4 mostly because it could be mounted under the quadraspire wall shelf but enough $ was spent on what I did do.I have not found the need to have it serviced often,so if you can find a dealer to help with the initial set up you should be fine.I would suggest taking the time and trouble to demo whatever you decide on.Differences are clearly audible - perhaps not as much as speakers but audible.

60 or so LP's is plenty enough to start a collection and don't worry there are some exceptional modern releases as well as some exceptional remasters. Right at this moment I'm listening to test pressing of a Pure Pleasure remaster by Ray Staff of Blues Roots by The Dave Brubeck Trio Featuring Gerry Mulligan that cost me £10 on eBay and it sounds really, really good on my early 90's LP12 with an Ittock/Dynavector 20x2L.

As you have decided to go with a TT you really don't have to break the bank to equal the digital source you have as has been stated an RP10 would better an NDS/555ps 99% of the time BUT a modest used LP12 like mine would also beat your NDS IMO.

I trully hope they will sort it out skiping Tidal with new streamers! I own a turntable but i own one last 20 years ( i am 45 ) waaay before they were hip! So it is a habit rather than a smart choice for me also i happen to have a quite large collection from my parents....

Zackwater posted:

What will the 552 do to improve my system. ......

Everything !!  There are plenty of threads on the subject. The search facility is your friend. 

IMO you don't need to spend 5 figures to get LP playback that rivals/exceeds top digital, especially if you are willing to seek out a good used deck/arm/phono stage from a reputable dealer or other trusted source + a new decent cartridge.

Top used Rega, Linn, SME et. al., + ancillaries all well under 5 figures.

Enjoy the journey. 

 

Zackwater, I think you have had a lot of good advice here. You don’t need another source, just more music, whether 24bit downloads or CD rips. You have already got a top class source just waiting to be fed.

FM radio is the only possible logical second source for you but you would need to be of what broadcasts are available to you. 

Naim NAT01 is unbeatable if there are quality  broadcasts in your area; otherwise buy music!

I agree with adding other sources to add enjoyment. In my experience all sources worth considering add their own character, and add their own interpretation to the media being replayed. I use  Hugo and a CDX2 for exactly that... and have the media ripped and on disc format... it’s perfect. The same would be true with the NDS, although I was not so fond of that.

The CDX2 add a strong character, that is extremely enjoyable for some music... at the expense of perhaps  insight and transparency, and for me that is precisely what having multiple sources are for ie to suit mood... its bit like  cars... a saloon during the week for family, work and safe long distance and a roadster for the weekend when the weather is good on the smaller regional roads.... and it is also of course why we have multiple inputs on our NACs. Having  one source just simply misses out on so much musical enjoyment....

Simon-in-Suffolk posted:

I agree with adding other sources to add enjoyment. In my experience all sources worth considering add their own character, and add their own interpretation to the media being replayed.

I too agree, despite having only two sources in my main system; a TT and CDP. I find myself going through long runs of playing exclusively vinyl, then for no apparent reason, the CD bug hits me and I go on a binge with them. Nice to have options. The other thing multiple sources do is allow you to better evaluate changes or tweaks to your system. A worthy change should work for all sources.

Aside from my main system I enjoy FM radio in my car and via a boombox in my shop. I also have a vintage tube AM radio in my listening room to enjoy baseball broadcasts. As Simon says, each source with its own character and interpretation, and it keeps any single source from becoming stale.

Regarding multiple sources, I suppose at least in part it depends on available resources: personally I would rather have one system as close to “perfection” as I can, than limit it by spending significantly on additional sources instead of other improvements. If spare resources over and above maximising overall sound quality with one source were available then different things could conceivably be of more interest (though whilst I could have retained my TT for just the modest cost of its sale value, nothing about vinyl made me want to retain playing capability once I had ripped my LPs).

Zackwater posted:

Looking to add a second source to my system.   I have 300dr, nds, super cap, 555ps, 252dr and Focal Maestro Uptopia III.  Looking to add either a turntable or a disc player.   With my system what price range turntable and phono stage or CD player should I be looking.  Don’t want to underbuy or overbuy my current gear. 

If this means budget has flexible limit I would look at Vertere turntables

One of the very best tables I have heard cost no object

From the former Roksan maker, seem to be very dedicated, a revised version out now.

An easy "plug and play" turntable I choose a Rega

Plenty of vinyl available

Hi Zackwater,

Their “entry level” MG-1 turntable with arm and phono stage is priced at a similar level to a Naim 555 power supply, then rises quickly from there. So it is a significant commitment, especially for a first turntable, similar in cost to a highish specification Linn LP12.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so very much a matter of personal taste. I have seen reactions ranging from Wow! to Ugh!

In terms of sound though, I progressed from Linn LP12 to Roksan Xerxes 20+ to the MG-1 and have been very happy with each change.

However, for a first turntable that is already at an equivalent level to your current source, the Rega RP10 would be my personal benchmark. Yes, I’m a strong admirer.

Hope this helps, FT

That's a heck of a lot of turntable for 60 LPs.

Why not dip your toe in with an RP2 or RP3 which cost next to nothing with a NAD phono stage and see if your love for the format grows before dropping $10k on a source like that? In fact you could pick up a classic but low cost turntable and a tuner and anything else that strikes your fancy and just see which one makes you smitten to invest more.

To be honest, I don't see any problem using a preamp with just a single decent source, leaving other inputs unused. Over the years I've used 6 sources at the same time down to the 1 now. Usage patterns change without the need to force it. 

I dunno. I spent years with access to a maxed out LP12 and vinyl never appealed to me on many levels. It's not inevitable that anyone who's heard vinyl at its best will also think it is a superior format. 

I tend to keep this opinion under wraps because the evangelical vinyl brigade can get a bit, shall we say, "holier than than thou" when someone suggests vinyl is less than superb.

feeling_zen posted:

I dunno. I spent years with access to a maxed out LP12 and vinyl never appealed to me on many levels. It's not inevitable that anyone who's heard vinyl at its best will also think it is a superior format. 

I tend to keep this opinion under wraps because the evangelical vinyl brigade can get a bit, shall we say, "holier than than thou" when someone suggests vinyl is less than superb.

Perhapse your motor was touching the trampoline.

Zackwater posted:

After sleeping on it, I’m going to add a turntable. I own 60 or so old albums and I just like the experience.  Any advise is appreciated, I’m located in the USA.   Nearest music shop 6 hour drive (except for a dealer nearly exclusively McIntosh). 

you didn’t told about budget.  Like you i have an nds/555dr and bought recently a rega rp10: with a good phono stage ( like superline) and cart ( more than 1k cost), it outperforms my nds on most recordings.  No maintenance like an lp12, and quick to change the lps.  dust cover too.

But even a rega rp6 can bring you enjoyment.  With 15/20k budget, i would go for avid acutus reference, vertere, or spiral groove sg1( us product).

I reckon LP12 requires no maintenance at all , if properly set-up I cannot see how that would happen, my own when went back to seller for a cart upgrade after a couple of years needn't any.

Also, I think it's really a matter of personal preference, I 've never been impressed with Rega tables other than those lower the range , neither was when demoed the RP10.

If one's really into vinyl like I am should audition any from Vertere, Linn ,Sme as those could put aside any digital source.

the non ending battle of rega vs linn....  Personally i once went for a demonstration of rega rp10 / aphelion /superline vs lp12 radikal klimax / superline on a naim system.  I couldn’t tell one is better or not, just a bit different.  The problem is linn turntable was more than twice expensive....

Recently i sold my 15 years old sme 20/ sme5 and bought a second hand rp10.  The sme was clearly better on most aspects.....( but i got some cash....).  The sme20/2 is on the same price as lp12 klimax.

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