When to upgrade

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When is it time to upgrade? Add another component like a Power Plant, a new cable, a better DAC?

I get asked this question a lot. Just recently the question put to me was a tough one to answer. If the system is limited by the setup possibilities: speakers shoved up against the wall, a lower end integrated driving them, and not much room for change, is it worth upgrading components?

Of course we understand an upgraded component will typically outperform its replacement but by how much? Is it worth adding a high-end power cable to an off-the-shelf integrated when it’s already difficult to hear small changes in music resolution?

These are the tough questions one must ask before dropping coin. My general advice on this question starts with asking what the person hopes to achieve. It’s a great question we should all be asking ourselves. If we’re hoping to make the speakers disappear, bring the sound of live musicians into the room, then simply upgrading components isn’t going to get us where we want to go—not if we’re unable to accommodate the space necessary for the speakers and proper setup.

If the basics are there then it makes sense to begin the upgrade process. But without the ability or willingness to dedicate a decent amount of living room space or take the time to set up properly, it’s probably not worth your time to start down the upgrade path.