When to stop upgrading your stereo

November 21, 2021
 by Paul McGowan

13 comments on “When to stop upgrading your stereo”

  1. When you are on your 3rd mortgage.

    Btw…that loudspeaker behind Paul is an ATC – ‘SCM 50 SL’ (passive)
    However, I’m not sure of it’s year of manufacture & I don’t know it’s serial number.

    1. What tells you that they are passive rather than active. About 15 years ago the last speakers Gordon Holt purchased for himself were active ATC 50A speakers because he felt they were one of the few speakers that reproduced the sound he heard when recording the Boulder Symphony.

    1. You can have the absolute best speakers in the world.
      But if your power and preamps and audio sources aren’t up to snuff, you’re not gonna get the best sound in the world.
      On one hand, Paul is correct.
      But on the other hand, you have to get your electronics to match up with your speakers.
      Or else, that grate sound you’re looking for, is just cempley not gonna happen.
      So, not only should you get the bestt speakers you can get, you should get the best electronics, and the best audio sources too.
      If you got that right, your audio sources should be upgrated every 5 to 8 years.
      Leave the rest of it alone.

      1. If you have great speakers and a decent Pioneer receiver you can get great sound. Yes it gets better with better equipment. On the other hand the best equipment can never force crap speakers to sound good.

        1. Good afternoon Joe!
          I hole heartedly agree.
          But for me, Mcintosh and or VTL electronics, all of it full of tubes!
          Legacy Audio speakers, and perhaps PS Audio Perfect Wave DAC, and SACD transport.
          Hook it all up with the best audio cables!
          Now, that’s a real serious stereo system for you!

  2. C’mon, we tell ourselves otherwise but deep down, we really know – the journey doesn’t end until you’re dead!
    I even want to one-up that scenario. I’m really kinda hoping that I croak AFTER I’ve ordered a delectable piece of gear and BEFORE it arrives…
    Knock knock – “I have a rather large and heavy delivery for Mr. Kippen… Hmm – why is everyone dressed in BLACK?”

    When I go, just run me over with a steamroller and bury me in the box my Magnepans arrived in.

    1. Great line, but for me I’d need a bigger box. Hmmm, gets me to thinking I probably need bigger speakers. Yeh, that’s the ticket.

      Or, as Willie Nelson would sing: Roll me up and smoke me when I die.

  3. When I started my hifi-journey I was unable to afford good sounding loudspeakers and thus I bought a pair of electrostatic headphones (Sennheiser Unipolar 2000) driven from the stereo-amps speaker outputs and revealing every detail of the recording – the rest of the stereo set-up was studio-grade equipment from Revox. Only a pair of Magnepans came close to this sound quality but required a much bigger apartment/listening room and stronger amps. Paul’s advice going for the best speakers first is most straightforward but also most difficult to realize due to room caustic issues and power amp synergy – not to mention the headphones’ reference sound quality.

  4. You forgot to plug your book. You’ve also said, about a million times, the best speakers in the world can still not do the trick if they have not been placed properly. Does our guy really need new speakers, or does he need your book so he can properly place the ones he has?

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