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current setup upgrade help/opinions


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Brand new member to these boards, and I cannot believe I have never joined here before!

 

So I have been into vinyl since college (about 10 years) and I have always just put most of my money into buying new records, so I have a pretty sweet collection at this point of ~200-300 both used and new.  

 

A combination of not having the money, and blowing money on records has always prevented me from building a nice stereo setup.  Over the years I have gotten a few vintage pieces together to make my current setup for cheap (~$250):

 

Marantz 6100 turntable

     - with pickering XV-15 cartridge (original 625E stylus)

Sansui G5700 receiver

Infinity RSa speakers

 

All of these pieces are in good working order and have done a decent enough job for me for several years as a poor college/grad student, but I am now able to finally upgrade to something better.  I never really paid any attention to what components would/should work together since I just bought what I could find at local shops.

 

I am now looking for which component upgrade would give me the most benefit initially, and if any of these components are actually pretty decent and not worth upgrading.

 

I am not really in any rush to upgrade everything all at once (it's been long enough with the current setup that I can take my time) so I would say I have about $750-$1000 budget per component stretched out over the entire upgrade process.  I would ideally like to buy new and upgrade to a system that will last for a long while, and not need/want to be changed anytime soon.  I listen mainly to rock from all eras and I also have a good amount of classical/jazz records that I was given.  I like music to sound clean and straight forward with not too much added color to it.  I like hearing what the artist intended without the stereo adding what it thinks it should sound like.  

 

Any help and opinions would be greatly appreciated with all of this.....time to put on another track now!

 

-Z

 

 

 

 

 

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Hey, welcome to VC!

 

As it stands, your setup is pretty decent. If like you say everything works fine, the weakest link is probably the table and the cart, so I'd start there. If you're buying new, the best table/cart combo around $1k is the Rega RP3 with the Elys 2 cart. But you have to understand that, while the improvement will be noticeable, it will be far from the table's potential because the rest of your gear will be holding it back. So if you want instant acknowledgment of exactly what your money is bringing you, it might be better if you hold out with your current equipment and save up until you can replace everything in one go. As for the rest, I completely understand wanting to buy new, but it is a really good idea to look for a second hand amplifier, because it is the "safest" piece to buy used and in the $1k price range some really high end pieces start to show up.

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so from what I am getting as feedback from various forums, it seems that my speakers and receiver are good and a purchase within my budget will not be a drastic improvement...but a new phono stage for the amp actually would help (and is not crazy expensive anyway)

since the marantz TT is already running a little weird/slow and does not seem to be anything amazing in its own right, a new TT would be worth the upgrade sticking with the same cartridge since it seems pretty good actually...

So I am thinking that a new table, phono stage and possibly stylus would get me setup and happy for a good long while...

I'm looking at this as the updates:
-project expression III TT: $699
-cambridge audio azur 551P phono preamp:$139
(since I don't have any plans for a MC and the sansui receiver already has a subsonic filter on it I don't see the point in the 651p, but would like to hear
opinions)
-possible JICO shibata stylus for current cartridge:$140

all total is just about $1000....Anything here that jumps out as a bad buy or something that would be weird with my other gear? This seems like a good setup that will last....and most importantly it leaves all of the extra money to put into music!

thanks again for the help

-Z

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I'm going to recommend something quite different than the others.  Your Sansui is definitely the best piece of gear in your setup, but the biggest improvement in sound quality will come when you get the G5700 recapped and restored by an experienced Tech.  This would most likely cost around 400 dollars and would be a night and day improvement. 

Once caps get past the 25 year mark they go out of spec and sound quality suffers, restoring the amp to factory specs will A.  Improve sound drastically and B. ensure that your Sansui will work flawlessly for years to come.

If you live in or near a major city, there are most likely more than a few stereo techs around.  Do this first, and then upgrade your turntable/speakers.

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Also the Sansui has a great phono section, you dont need a phono preamp. 


Before you ditch your Marantz, get it tuned by a professional and put a new cart on it.  The Marantz is a solid belt drive table that can sound really good when tweaked correctly.  It probably just needs a new belt and the motor oiled.  As far as carts go, the AT120E might be a good choice for that table.

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I'm going to recommend something quite different than the others.  Your Sansui is definitely the best piece of gear in your setup, but the biggest improvement in sound quality will come when you get the G5700 recapped and restored by an experienced Tech.  This would most likely cost around 400 dollars and would be a night and day improvement. 

Once caps get past the 25 year mark they go out of spec and sound quality suffers, restoring the amp to factory specs will A.  Improve sound drastically and B. ensure that your Sansui will work flawlessly for years to come.

If you live in or near a major city, there are most likely more than a few stereo techs around.  Do this first, and then upgrade your turntable/speakers.

that sounds like a good plan.  The more I look into other amps, I am finding that the Sansui is actually a pretty nice piece.  I did not realize that it would make that significant of an improvement if the amp was serviced.  So looking at your location is says Austin.....I am also in Austin, TX.  Where would you recommend having the amp serviced in the area?  Doing a quick search online http://austinstereo.com/ and   http://www.yelp.com/biz/mr-wizards-electronics-austin look like pretty good spots.  Is there anyone else that you have experience with or would recommend?  

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I have no experience with Mr. Wizard, but Mike at Austin Stereo just recapped/restored my Sansui Au-D9 to like-new condition.  He really knows his stuff.

Also if you're looking for new speakers, check out what Mike's speaker guy (Wes: http://texasound.blogspot.com ) has for sale.  Last I checked he had some JBL L60t 2-ways that would be perfect for that warm G5700.  I think he's selling them for 250 for the pair (good deal as they have been recapped).

I also have some speakers for sale myself if you'd like to Demo something.  I have some Pioneer CS-905 speakers that might also be a good match for that Sansui.  I also have some Realistic Optimus-45s.  I get home from school in two weeks so I would be happy to demo them for you if you're interested.

Another good spot for turntables/speakers is End of an Ear.  The staff there are really nice, but they dont know that music about the vintage pieces they are selling so do your research before you let them try to sell you something.  They sell everything as is/unrestored unlike Mike or Wes.

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My advice? 

Get your Sansui recapped by Mike, and have him tune up your turntable while you're at it (but it's probably not worth it to replace the motor).  That should run you about 600 depending on how much work the turntable needs.

Get a nice 100 dollar cart for your turntable.

Then get those JBL L60t's from Wes (250)

Bangin' set up upgrades right on budget (950).  That will turn your setup into a monster.  Use the extra 50 bucks to hunt down a good early 90s cd player at goodwill.

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sounds like a plan.  I will definitely take the receiver into Austin Stereo and have him look at it.  I figured on about $400-$500 for that.

 

I probably will not even bother with a new cartridge...the one I have (pickering xv-15) is the same as a stanton 681EEE, and I don't think I could do too much better without going into the more expensive range $300 range.....especially if I ever want to upgrade the stylus, I can use any from the stanton 681 line.

 

I actually went into end of an ear yesterday just seeing what they have, and it was way overpriced....no amps under about $200 - $300 and they were not even anything too special.  Most of the speaker selection was not much either.  But I live really close by there, so I will just check back every so often.....the record selection was good, but again seemed a little pricey.  I really like friends of sound and Antones for LP shopping.  and Antone's has an unbeatable 45 selection in town.

 

As far as cd players go, I bought a used NAD 5340 that works just fine...I rarely listen to cds though, and this setup is mainly vinyl.

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My Sansui integrated was 526 including tax, but that is 95wpc with 82 caps.  I doubt your receiver has that many caps and it certainly doesnt have all that complicated super feed-forward stuff that required 6 hours of labor to work on.  I doubt it will be much more than 400.

Definitely get a new stylus for your cart though, old needles wear on records.  Depending on how DIY you want to go, you can do a lot of the turntable work yourself.  New belts can be found on the internet (make sure you buy the right kind for your table though) and spindle oil can be purchased for like 10 bucks.  You might want to just open up the bottom of the table and clean it too, a lot of gunk can accumulate of the years (thats how the automatic functions usually go).

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