• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required. There are many reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

Help with improving sound

justlisten

Member
Joined
Feb 26, 2024
Messages
11
Likes
8
Hello,

First of all, I am glad I found this site and it is nice to meet all the fine folks here. I'm just a budding audiophile wannabe who wants the best of the best possible sound money can buy, the only limitation being my diminishing hearing and money as a finite resource.
For a while now I've been itching to immerse myself in music privately, and at a place and time of my own choosing. I'm now pushing 50, but I have fond childhood memories of grandpa and uncles listening to vinyl, and remember being mesmerized by the whole experience. My question for all of you is for the audio setup that I currently have, how can I build and improve upon it? I mean the sound? What changes in my setup would make a big improvement in sound I hear from my speakers other than changing the stylus/carthridge? Willing to spend up to a $1000 for now on top of the money I spent.
Setup: Technics SL1400 MKII turntable with VM95E cart, Art DJ Pre II phono preamp, KEF Q150 speaker set on separate stands and at ear level, listening distance: about 4-5' from each speaker, Aiyima A07 class D amp. My listening room is 11'x10' in size with one window facing west.
Would adding this preamp like Douk Audio P2 as a pass through between the phono pre amp and the amp make an improvement? I heard someone mention that it does.
I figured it's cheap and won't hurt to play with. Does this make sense or should I upgrade any of my existing equipment?
And what power strip would you recommend in order to minimize electric noise coming from the outlet, etc? These power bricks from the amps are getting out of hand.
As a newb in this new to me endeavor, I have some rudimentary knowledge, but I am feeling lost.

Thanks,

Armen
 
OP
J

justlisten

Member
Joined
Feb 26, 2024
Messages
11
Likes
8
Oh, I forgot to mention that I plan on getting a good set of headphones down the line, so will be needing a headphone amp too.
 

madrac

Member
Joined
Jun 9, 2023
Messages
85
Likes
81
After treating your room, speakers are next most important piece for getting great sound. With a $1000 budget, I'd look at either the Ascend Acoustics CMT340SE or Sierra 1. Then when budget permits, upgrade the cartridge (maybe a Soundsmith Otello or Carmen or something from Ortofon) and phono preamp (a good budget one is the Musical Fidelity V90-LPS).
 

Joe Smith

Major Contributor
Joined
Jan 4, 2019
Messages
1,069
Likes
1,106
You've got a good start there with your equipment. I am not a fan of the cheaper tube preamps, but as you say, it's an inexpensive thing to try. Tubes add distortion and some respond to that as a "warmer" sound.

Changing to larger speakers than the 150s will probably have the most impact on your sound. Scan the recommended speakers here and on other sites to see what would fit your budget. I own older KEF Q speakers and they are very good for nearfield listening because of the driver design.

Another cheap change to make would be to buy the AT 95 microline stylus when your elliptical stylus ages out. It's $150, but a microline stylus lasts much longer than the elliptical, and has noticeable sound improvement.

The Art DJ phono pre can be improved upon also, but changing the speakers will probably have the most impact on your sound.
 

MaxwellsEq

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Aug 18, 2020
Messages
1,924
Likes
2,919
Hi and welcome!

Adding a digital source will bring a significant improvement in sound.

Better speakers will probably have the most positive impact.

Don't waste money on changing the phono preamplifier, the one you have is good enough and you will need to use too much of your budget to notice any improvement. Spending the same budget on, say, a Wiim will have a very significant positive impact.
 

ZolaIII

Major Contributor
Joined
Jul 28, 2019
Messages
4,296
Likes
2,542
Not load dependent and low impedance tolerant power amplifier with those speakers. Pair of sub's one per each speaker in 2.2 setup crossed high at 150 Hz and sharp 36 dB per octave, multichannel DSP and measurement microphone. It's a small room so room on the first place and then speakers capacities.
Edit: actually maybe getting better speakers instead of sub's would be a better option. For example Wharfedale Linton's if you have space for them.
 
OP
J

justlisten

Member
Joined
Feb 26, 2024
Messages
11
Likes
8
Thanks for the replies and welcome. Sound advice by many of you here thank you.. So adding the preamp into the mix makes sense then. Thanks Joe. The consensus seems to be better speakers and DAC/digital source. And I will be updating the cart to the 95 one. Reason I got the KEFs is that most people who own them rave about them. I wish I could demo some speakers before buying them. I’m in Los Angeles USA. Someone also mentioned adding a sub.
I know this is aesthetic, but the phono pre amp I have is kind of ugly. The power “on” light is too bright. I was thinking about getting the Schiit Mani 2, or others mention on this site. I am more focused on enjoying vinyl for now, but realize I’ll need to add a digital source soon.
 
OP
J

justlisten

Member
Joined
Feb 26, 2024
Messages
11
Likes
8
I’d also would like to change out the turntable feet for something more solid. Any suggestions? Will be updating the RCA cables which are soldered on inside the turntable and haven’t been changed since the late 70s?
 

MaxBuck

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
May 22, 2021
Messages
1,584
Likes
2,247
Location
SoCal, Baby!
My recommendation for improving your sound quality is abandoning the vinyl and going to a cheap streamer. A Wiim streamer with integrated DAC will give you much better audio quality than any turntable.
 
OP
J

justlisten

Member
Joined
Feb 26, 2024
Messages
11
Likes
8
My recommendation for improving your sound quality is abandoning the vinyl and going to a cheap streamer. A Wiim streamer with integrated DAC will give you much better audio quality than any turntable.
Thanks, but I’d like to avoid digital for now at least. I’d like to satisfy my nostalgia with vinyl first. I’m not after the clinical sound, just the vinyl sound that people like me are after. I don’t know, but with vinyl I like the experience of listening to an album from beginning to end. I don’t mind the inconvenience of getting up and changing sides/albums. I like owning something tangible instead of digital files which may be available one day, but not the next.
 

MaxwellsEq

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Aug 18, 2020
Messages
1,924
Likes
2,919
know this is aesthetic, but the phono pre amp I have is kind of ugly. The power “on” light is too bright
Cut a piece of paper the size of the LED and use a pin to make a small hole. Stick the paper on the LED.
 

DVDdoug

Major Contributor
Joined
May 27, 2021
Messages
3,176
Likes
4,196
Oh, I forgot to mention that I plan on getting a good set of headphones down the line
Note that unlike speakers, with headphones there is almost no correlation between price and sound quality. You might look-into the AKG K371.

Would adding this preamp like Douk Audio P2 as a pass through between the phono pre amp and the amp make an improvement?
Technically, No. Unless it happens to distort in a way you find pleasing. Some tube amps distort, but if they do they distort in different ways. There is no one "tube sound" so if you like that kind of thing, you need to choose a particular amp.*

IMO - Vacuum tubes are just "dumb" outdated 1950s technology. You can make a good tube amp but it costs more than a solid state amp, especially power amplifiers.

Adding things to the chain can generally only degrade the sound (although not necessarily audibly), although an equalizer can correct for frequency response variations in your speakers/room, or phono cartridge, or in the recording, or they can "enhance" the sound to your taste.

Will be updating the RCA cables which are soldered on inside the turntable and haven’t been changed since the late 70s?
Changing the cables won't make much difference except that the capacitance will probably be different and that can increase or decrease the highs.

A different cartridge will sound different (better or worse, mostly frequency response.) But records themselves vary too. IMO - It's better to correct the frequency response with EQ or tone controls than to chase-after the "perfect" cartridge.

Thanks, but I’d like to avoid digital for now at least. I’d like to satisfy my nostalgia with vinyl first. I’m not after the clinical sound, just the vinyl sound that people like me are after.
A lot of people, even some "audiophiles" enjoy vinyl, but it hasn't been high fidelity for a few decades... It never was, but it was the best we had... There is ALWAYS noise, and sometimes some bad clicks & pops. There are usually frequency response variations, and occasionally audible distortion.

I don’t know, but with vinyl I like the experience of listening to an album from beginning to end.
With digital, you don't have to turn it over half way through. :p



* Guitar players often prefer tube amps because of the way they sound when over-driven into distortion. They usually have their favorite guitar and favorite amp.
 
OP
J

justlisten

Member
Joined
Feb 26, 2024
Messages
11
Likes
8
Note that unlike speakers, with headphones there is almost no correlation between price and sound quality. You might look-into the AKG K371.


Technically, No. Unless it happens to distort in a way you find pleasing. Some tube amps distort, but if they do they distort in different ways. There is no one "tube sound" so if you like that kind of thing, you need to choose a particular amp.*

IMO - Vacuum tubes are just "dumb" outdated 1950s technology. You can make a good tube amp but it costs more than a solid state amp, especially power amplifiers.

Adding things to the chain can generally only degrade the sound (although not necessarily audibly), although an equalizer can correct for frequency response variations in your speakers/room, or phono cartridge, or in the recording, or they can "enhance" the sound to your taste.


Changing the cables won't make much difference except that the capacitance will probably be different and that can increase or decrease the highs.

A different cartridge will sound different (better or worse, mostly frequency response.) But records themselves vary too. IMO - It's better to correct the frequency response with EQ or tone controls than to chase-after the "perfect" cartridge.


A lot of people, even some "audiophiles" enjoy vinyl, but it hasn't been high fidelity for a few decades... It never was, but it was the best we had... There is ALWAYS noise, and sometimes some bad clicks & pops. There are usually frequency response variations, and occasionally audible distortion.


With digital, you don't have to turn it over half way through. :p



* Guitar players often prefer tube amps because of the way they sound when over-driven into distortion. They usually have their favorite guitar and favorite amp.
Hi DVDdoug, I guess I am a sucker for punishment . Flipping vinyl, cleaning filthy lps that I bought second hand, and dealing with dust is good times hahaha. Thanks for the headphone suggestion. So an equalizer with tone controls is your suggestion. Do you have one in mind that you can recommend? Also, the Aiyima 07 amp I’ve got has no remote control and I quickly realized that I’d like to have an amp with a remote for adjusting the volume.
 

Chrispy

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Feb 7, 2020
Messages
8,256
Likes
6,290
Location
PNW
I’d also would like to change out the turntable feet for something more solid. Any suggestions? Will be updating the RCA cables which are soldered on inside the turntable and haven’t been changed since the late 70s?
The Technics suspension on that model am not familiar with, but my 1200mk2 I only made worse by trying and adding some sorbothane footers :) Is it reacting to bass/footfalls or ? I'm still using the stock cables, too.
 

Bob from Florida

Major Contributor
Joined
Aug 20, 2020
Messages
1,349
Likes
1,250
Hello,

First of all, I am glad I found this site and it is nice to meet all the fine folks here. I'm just a budding audiophile wannabe who wants the best of the best possible sound money can buy, the only limitation being my diminishing hearing and money as a finite resource.
For a while now I've been itching to immerse myself in music privately, and at a place and time of my own choosing. I'm now pushing 50, but I have fond childhood memories of grandpa and uncles listening to vinyl, and remember being mesmerized by the whole experience. My question for all of you is for the audio setup that I currently have, how can I build and improve upon it? I mean the sound? What changes in my setup would make a big improvement in sound I hear from my speakers other than changing the stylus/carthridge? Willing to spend up to a $1000 for now on top of the money I spent.
Setup: Technics SL1400 MKII turntable with VM95E cart, Art DJ Pre II phono preamp, KEF Q150 speaker set on separate stands and at ear level, listening distance: about 4-5' from each speaker, Aiyima A07 class D amp. My listening room is 11'x10' in size with one window facing west.
Would adding this preamp like Douk Audio P2 as a pass through between the phono pre amp and the amp make an improvement? I heard someone mention that it does.
I figured it's cheap and won't hurt to play with. Does this make sense or should I upgrade any of my existing equipment?
And what power strip would you recommend in order to minimize electric noise coming from the outlet, etc? These power bricks from the amps are getting out of hand.
As a newb in this new to me endeavor, I have some rudimentary knowledge, but I am feeling lost.

Thanks,

Armen
Hello Armen - I read your thread and would like to offer some suggestions. Your turntable looks to be “decent”, unfortunately with vinyl getting a lot of improvements can be expensive. With your current budget and system components, I don’t think it would be sensible to try and improve the turntable itself. You already have a good cartridge which you can upgrade by getting a better stylus. Are you confident in your setup abilities for turntable alignments? Going with a microline or shibata stylus will make setup more critical because of the stylus profile. They can sound worse if not optimized. Changing speakers will likely be more than your entire budget. I suggest keeping the speakers for now and invest in a good subwoofer that can be utilized with any speakers you may choose to get later. SVS is running a sale right now and they have the 3000 Micro for $749. https://www.svsound.com/products/3000-micro-subwoofer. I own 2 of these and can vouch for them.
This is something that will make a difference and is pretty easy to set up with the smart phone app. If the Art is noisy - as in you can hear excessive hum that grounding the table to the preamp can‘t fix, consider getting a different phono preamp. The Schiit Mani 2 seems to be a good value, the ifi Zen is excellent, and the Parks Audio Waxwing is superb.

Best of luck with however you choose to proceed.
 
Last edited:
OP
J

justlisten

Member
Joined
Feb 26, 2024
Messages
11
Likes
8
Hello Armen - I read your thread and would like to offer some suggestions. Your turntable looks to be “decent”, unfortunately with vinyl getting a lot of improvements can be expensive. With your current budget and system components, I don’t think it would be sensible to try and improve the turntable itself. You already have a good cartridge which you can upgrade by getting a better stylus. Are you confident in your setup abilities for turntable alignments? Going with a microline or shibata stylus will make setup more critical because of the stylus profile. They can sound worse if not optimized. Changing speakers will likely be more than your entire budget. I suggest keeping the speakers for now and invest in a good subwoofer that can be utilized with any speakers you may choose to get later. SVS is running a sale right now and they have the 3000 Micro for $749. https://www.svsound.com/products/3000-micro-subwoofer. I own 2 of these and can vouch for them.
This is something that will make a difference and is pretty easy to set up with the smart phone app. If the Art is noisy - as in you can hear excessive hum that grounding the table to the preamp can‘t fix, consider getting a different phono preamp. The Schiit Mani 2 seems to be a good value, the ifi Zen is excellent, and the Parks Audio Waxwing is superb.

Best of luck with however you choose to proceed.
Hi Bob,

Thank you for the good advice. I am willing to double my budget since I realize it isn’t nearly enough. That Parks Audio Waxwing looks superb. Will be getting that for sure. I was able to successfully align the stylus and cartridge by using a protractor, a digital scale, and a level. So far so good. Will be buying an VTA azimuth gauge adjustment block soon and aside from that, I don’t know what else I will need for proper adjustment. Thanks for the sub suggestion as well, it looks interesting. Will have to get a different amp to connect the sub as the Aiyima 07 I have now doesn’t seem to have a sub out.
 
OP
J

justlisten

Member
Joined
Feb 26, 2024
Messages
11
Likes
8
Thank you all for your suggestions and very helpful advice. I’ll take it and run with it. Will slowly implement it and see what works and what doesn’t. Most importantly, I’ll be listening to the music closely. I since doubled my budget (shhh…don’t tell the wife!) as I realize it isn’t quite enough.
 

Chrispy

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Feb 7, 2020
Messages
8,256
Likes
6,290
Location
PNW
Hi Bob,

Thank you for the good advice. I am willing to double my budget since I realize it isn’t nearly enough. That Parks Audio Waxwing looks superb. Will be getting that for sure. I was able to successfully align the stylus and cartridge by using a protractor, a digital scale, and a level. So far so good. Will be buying an VTA azimuth gauge adjustment block soon and aside from that, I don’t know what else I will need for proper adjustment. Thanks for the sub suggestion as well, it looks interesting. Will have to get a different amp to connect the sub as the Aiyima 07 I have now doesn’t seem to have a sub out.
If your current sub has high level inputs you could use the Aiyima...
 
Top Bottom