Mid November 2020
I was planning to upgrade my turntable in honour of a special birthday upcoming in 2021, but with COVID boredom in full bloom, I started looking at different turntables that might fit my requirements. I wasn't going to buy another Rega, but one thing or another with other possible candidates kept me coming back to Rega. A dealer in Canada bought a lot of excess inventory from the distributor and I got a great deal on a new Planar 8 (P8). It just arrived and I am taking it in next week to have my Dynavector 20X2H mounted on it.
Early November 2020
It took a good 75 - 80 hours for the PH-10 to break in, but once it did the sound was glorious. So I just doubled down and added the dedicated PSU-10 power supply. Right off the bat I found the music had more dimensionality. Or more specifically, the instruments are more in place within the sound stage. I'm sure it will be even better after it gets a proper break in as well.
The Dynavector P75 Mk 4 didn't work out. So after a lot of research, I came upon the Italian audio company Gold Note and their well-regarded PH-10 phono preamp. I was able to demo it with my turntable in a local shop and bought it that day. It needs 100 hours of break-in but from the moment I put it in my system, vinyl playback was elevated to a level of realism I never dreamed of.
Went back to the shop and picked up a better power cord and balanced XLRs.
Well, I got the upgrade itch again and found the latest version of the Dynavector P75. (I went from a Mark 2 to a Mark 4.) I was finding the high end a bit lacking with the Mark 2 and perhaps the bottom end a bit "thumpy". The Mark 4 is said to be a bit quieter and better balanced in terms of the frequencies. I'm just breaking it in now as I had a turntable issue around the time the phono stage arrived. With all the repair shops shut down because of the pandemic, it took me a while to determine the problem and to source a part to fix it. Everything is back working and I have a stack of new vinyl purchases to get to!
I bought a Pangea Premier SE XLR IC for the CXN V2 and after some fiddling with the preamp settings on the unit, I am now getting a slightly more analog vibe from the streamer. Except for the really shoddy iOS app, I'm very pleased with it and the fact that I have all my ripped CDs and my Bandcamp and hi-rez downloads all in one place.
I have further embraced the use of the Cambridge network streamer. To that end, I upgraded the NAS from a cheapo Logitech to a much more robust Synology NAS. I also added a WiFi range extender halfway between the cable modem/router and the music room. The result is no more drop outs! I just downloaded the newer StreamMagic iOS app, but it's too early to rate it over the archaic CA Connect app.
In terms of the sound of the streamer, I'm still not completely enthralled. I have upgraded the AC power chord and have experimented with various analog and digital interconnects. I'm not a big believer in spending a lot of money on cables, but I think there's a sweet spot to be found. My next move is to pick up a pair of balanced XLR ICs as the Cambridge gives me that option.
I added a Cambridge Audio CXN V2 network streamer to the system in order to listen to my digital files. I am especially interested in exploring high resolution music. Further down the road, when I have the time, I plan to rip my ~2000 CDs to FLAC. Perhaps in the future, I will try out Tidal, as it is now available in Canada. First impressions are mixed. I am experiencing a lot of connectivity issues, specifically over WiFi. I don't have an easy way of running Ethernet to the music room. I am having a lot of drop outs where it goes into a buffering state, and some evenings, it takes a long time for the CXN to find the MinimServer I'm running on my desktop PC. Further the CA Connect app I use on my iPad is embarrassingly lame. Funny how the big audio companies put so little money into the User Interface.
I continue to upgrade the system as funds allow and "the itch" motivates me. The latest change is swapping out the Arcam Diva A90 (acting as a pre-amp) and the EAD DSP-7000 Series III for a gently used Class CP-800. I guess I'm going from one extreme to the other (in terms of resolution), but I demoed the preamp twice - once in a store and once in my room with my other gear and I liked the massive improvement in the resolution. I will need to tweak the amp a bit to get the most out of it, but I think I will be hanging on to it for a long time to come. I understand there is a board upgrade coming out soon, so for a pretty small cost, I will be able to upgrade the amp when I choose.