Description


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.

July 2020
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.

June 2020
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!

January 2020
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.

December 2019:
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.

May 2018:
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.  

March 2013:
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.
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Components Toggle details

    • Rega P8
    Comes with the RB880 tonearm and the Neo PSU.
    • Dynavector DV-20X2H
    HOMC
    • Gold Note PH-10
    Highly configurable phono preamp
    • Gold Note PSU-10
    Matching Power Supply for the PH-10
    • Rotel RCC-1055
    5 disc carousel with HDCD decoder
    • Morrow Audio MAP-1
    Power cord for the Rotel CDP
    • Pangea Audio Premier SE
    Digital coax CDP -> preamp
    • Cambridge Audio CXN V2
    Media Server
    • Zu Audio MIssion
    Power cord for the Cambridge media server
    • Pangea Audio Premier SE
    XLR ICs preamp -> power amp
    • Classe CP-800
    Pre/Op Amp + DAC
    • Cardas Audio Parsec XLR IC
    phono pre-amp -> pre-amp
    • Parasound Halo A21 SS Power Amp
    250 wpc
    • Morrow Audio SP-5
    Bi-wired speaker cables
    • Dali Helicon 800 MK 1
    in rosewood
    • Blue Circle PLC Thingee
    Six-socket power conditioner
    • Blue Circle BC61 power cord
    custom length for the PLC Thingee power conditioner
    • VTI Manufacturing NGR406 Audio Rack
    • Degritter Degritter
    Ultrasonic Record Cleaning Machine

Comments 27

Center
Owner
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 some excess inventory from the distributor and I got a great deal on a new Planar 8 (P8).  It just arrived and I am just waiting to have my Dynavector 20X2H mounted on it.  

hooboy

Center
Owner
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 imaging was vastly improved.  I'm sure it will be even better once it's broken in as well.

hooboy

Center
Owner
July 2020
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 experienced before.  

Went back to the shop and picked up a better power cord and balanced XLRs.

hooboy

Center
Owner
June 2020
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 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!

hooboy

Center
Owner
January 2020
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 started experiencing dropouts again because of increased wifi usage in the house, but I solved the problem by running a long ethernet cable from the range extender to the streamer. 

hooboy

Center
Owner
December 2019:
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.

hooboy

Center
Owner
May 2018:
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.  

hooboy

Center
Owner
March 2013:
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.

hooboy

Center
Owner
System edited: I picked up a used Classé CP-800 digital pre-amp/op-amp + DAC that replaces my trusty old Arcam Diva A90 (used most recently as a pre-amp for the Parasound) and a vintage EAD DSP-7000. Both of the old units had a nice mellow sound but I wanted something more detailed and resolving, so I think I have a winner in the Classé.

hooboy

Center
Owner
After a month or so, I finally got around to bringing my Rega deck into the shop to have them add a couple of spacers. I had them add 2 2mm spacers and aside from the fact that I can't close the dust cover with the tonearm raised that high, it is exactly what I was after. I haven't had a chance to listen to very many albums, but from what I've heard so far, I am very pleased. We ended up putting a couple of cushioned dampers at the back so I can put the dust cover when when transporting the deck, but I am leaving it off when it's at home. I always removed it when playing it in the past, even though Rega had suggested leaving it on during playback. I always found that a PITA.

So next up will be a home demo of the Audiolab 8200DQ but that will have to wait until I can afford it.

hooboy

Center
Owner
Correction: the 8200DQ can indeed handle 192/24 files via coax or USB. The optical TOSLink connection only goes to 96/24.

hooboy

Center
Owner
So as it turns out, while I was in the shop waiting for the new cartridge to be installed, I spied an interesting looking unit on display. It's the Audiolab 8200DQ DAC / Preamplifier. I have been wanting to replace the Arcam with a better line stage for some time, but I wanted to address the analogue source and pre-amp situation first (done!) as well as making my first foray into digital audio (done!!). So now I think it's a good time to change the pre-amp and as an added bonus, it's got a very well-regarded DAC which will replace the vintage EAD I picked up last year. The only thing lacking is the maximum sample rate supported is 96K and in this day and age, I figure 192K should be the standard.

Anyway, I need to save up a bit but the price point is excellent and to top it off, they are offering an in-home demo first. Can't beat that.

hooboy

Center
Owner
System edited: The Dynavector cartridge finally arrived (there was a 6 week backorder on it). Got it installed yesterday, but they didn't add a spacer to the RB301 tonearm, so I think it's riding too low (i.e., close to the surface of the record). They also lightened the mass to about 1.9g and I had a skip listening to the first record I played on it. I also thought I heard a little distortion at one point only, but I will chalk that up to the source. That first record was Steely Dan - Gaucho and my goodness, did it ever sound fine especially in comparison to the harshness of the Ortofon 2M Blue I had previously. I'm going to give it a good week of listening before I decide whether or not to have them add either a 2mm or 4mm spacer. I also added a Herbie's platter mat which raised the height of the record in relation to the needle, so I might go back to the thin felt mat I had previously (at least for now).

hooboy

Center
Owner
After a brief fling with digital audio, I am refocusing my attention on analogue playback again. To that end, I am in process of replacing the Ortofon 2M Blue cartridge with a Dynavector DV-20X2H high output moving coil. I was going to wait a while before acquiring a dedicated phono stage, but I got a great deal on a new Dynavector P75-Mark 2. The cartridge is on back-order but I'm breaking in the P75 using the 2M Blue MM and it is significantly better than the on-board phono stage in the Diva A90.

hooboy

Center
Owner
So to finish my latest round of upgrades and additions, here's what I've done:

Added a Squeezebox Touch which I am running into the EAD DAC via TOSLink. I'm connecting to the NAS, which is connected to my router, wirelessly. I can use my Android phone to control the Squeezebox with the door to the armoire closed which is nice. I did an A/B of a Dixie Dregs CD and wav files and I couldn't detect much of a difference.

I bought an IC from Ultimate Cables in Montreal and that's how I am connecting the DAC to the Arcam.

I'm very happy with the sound I'm getting these days. The EAD has a very relaxed and natural sound that I quite like.

Here's what I'm considering next:

- new speaker wire - maybe Acoustic Zen bi-wires to the DALIs
- new power cords for the DAC and the CDP
- a more modern DAC (one that is capable of higher resolution than the EAD which only does Redbook CD)
- replacing the DAC and the CDP with a universal player that would also accept digital input from the Squeezebox

We had a New Years party and I simply put some mp3s on a memory stick and connected it to the Squeezebox, put it on Random and we had a mix for the entire party. However, we cranked it up (louder than I had ever played it) and I found the sound a little grainy. I'm wondering if it was the mp3s or the Arcam. I need to do some more torture testing with better quality source to see if it's the preamp section of the Arcam. I figure one of these days, it will have to go. I just really like the idea of having it drive the Mirage speakers in the study.

Any comments are always welcome.

hooboy

Center
Owner
Updated on the DAC - I was able to contact Thom at Noble Electronics and he guided me through the reconfiguration of the DAC so the output is now double the factory setting. Wow, what a difference. All my previous comments about the sound beng muted and restrained are obsolete. It sounds fantastic. It has a really nice warmth to it - tube-like perhaps?

I've been listening to a lot of my ECM CDs and they sound wonderful. Last night, it was a Manu Katche CD and it just oozed out of the speakers.

I'm a happy guy right now!

hooboy

Center
Owner
I'm not sure what happened to my update from yesterday, but here it is (albeit a bit out of sequence with the previous post):

I bought a vintage EAD DSP-7000 Series III DAC from a friend. I figured it was a low cost opportunity to change the sound of my system: (1) without spending a lot of dough; and (2) being able to keep my 5-disc Rotel CDP. The Rotel CDP and the Ortofon MM cartridge for that matter are both quite lively and I wanted something that would bring some warmth and to remove some of that digital sheen that bright recordings have. In reality, the main problem with my system is the room it's in is our living room and it is a very lively room.

So far, I've found the results to be mixed. Older recordings sound a bit too muted and restrained. That may be in part because of the lower SPL that the DAC produces (confirmed by my friend). OTOH, newer, better recordings sound really charming. I was listening to one by The Album Leaf last night and aside from ambient sounds (e.g., traffic noise) he added to several tracks, the rest of the CD sounded really warm and natural.

hooboy

Center
Owner
System edited: I'm on a bit of tear right now. I received a power conditioner from Blue Circle yesterday. (I have to support my fellow Canucks when I can.) I didn't get much of a chance to listen to the system last night, but I know that right off the bat, switching on the Parasound power amp no longer causes the UPS in my office to kick in! Next up, I'm waiting to receive a Digital Coax cable for the new DAC and I will be trying a different IC for it as well. I also plan to upgrade the power cords for the new DAC and my CDP at some point. I don't have anything in mind yet, so I will scour the classifieds from time to time looking for something that might fit my budget and taste.

hooboy

Center
Owner
System edited: I spent a few dollars recently on the analog side of things. I brought my Rega in for a tuneup and ended up replacing the tonearm with a Rega RB-301 and the cartridge with an Ortofon 2M Blue. I also replaced the mat with a very thin one that vastly improved the tracking. I broke down and bought the low-end Nitty Gritty Record Cleaning Machine (Master 1.0 - all manual). It's kind of nice to revisit all my old vinyl and to hear it sound totally different than in the old days. The Ortofon is quite lively but not super bright as I've heard the 2M Red can be.

hooboy

Center
Owner
Hi Bud,

I put the spikes in after those pictures were taken. I had my friend help me out with it, 'cause those suckers are heavy! I was a little nervous about being able to slide them on the hardwood that proved to be completely unfounded. In fact, my latest "revelation" has been to pull them way out from the back wall. I was pulling them out about 15" - 18" as a rule, but now, I'm bringing them a full 24" out and I can't believe how much better they are imaging. I'm still sitting too far away (15' rather than about 9') but that's the best that I can do given the fact this is my living room.

Thanks for your input. We Dali owners have to stick together.

hooboy

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Hooboy,

Beautiful system. I am not seeing any spikes under the Dalis. I know you have the nice wood floors but if you can incorporate the spikes it makes a big difference with the 800s. I have MS5s and 800s and have been very surprised at how the bass tightens up and images snap into focus.

Thanks,

Bud

buda

Center
Owner
System edited: I added a small Acoustic Visions MRS-10 that I bought used earlier this year. I wanted a good looking sub that didn't overwhelm the room and it has done a superb job. No immediate plans to upgrade anything, but I suspect that the next thing I will change will the CD player. As much as I like the convenience of having a 5 disc carousel and having HDCD decoding, I think my system will be better served by a higher quality source. I will probably start my search at the local "Planet of Sound" that sells Rega, Esoteric, Creek and Cyrus.

hooboy

222222&text=mi
The Dali Helicon 800s are fantastic. I upgraded from Helicon 400s recently to 800 mk2, and was amazed at the improvement, and the 400 was definitely no slouch! I searched for ages before I went with Helicons, and I believe nothing beats them in their price range, but you have to like that warm, enthusiastic and detailed sound.

mike60

Center
Owner
In case you're wondering, I'm using the Arcam's power amp to run the Mirage bookshelves in my office (on the other side of the wall from the living room) and I'm running the pre-out from the Arcam to the Parasound which is powering the Dalis.

hooboy

Center
Owner
System edited: Any comments are welcome. Any thoughts on a full feature preamp (MM phono stage, headphone jack, balanced outputs, balance and tone controls, etc.)? I'm open to either SS or tubes at this point. Any recommendations on interconnect and speaker wire?

hooboy

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