Can you advise me in my quest to enhance my current hi-fi system please? It looks like this:
Michell GyroDec + Rega RB600 + Sumiko Blue Point Special cartridge. The phono stage is a Clear Audio Basic MM/MC. Loudspeakers are Linn Ninkas and CD player a Linn Genki. The power amp is a Linn LK140 and preamp Linn Wakonda.
Speaker Cables – QED XT400. Hi-Fi Table – Saturn 5. I would like to upgrade in the following order: phono stage, loudspeakers then turntable, and the budget is £1,500, £5,000 and £4,000 respectively.
My initial feelings from what I’ve read are to look at the Icon Audio PS3 or stretch to the Whest PS.30R. The majority of the music I play is on vinyl and I would like a warmer sound than my current system is achieving.
I really have no idea at the moment regarding the speakers other than they cannot be much bigger than the Ninkas due to the shape and size of my room. Floorstanders appeal but I am happy to look at bookshelf if both the sound is great and they are visually appealing.
Finally the turntable. I do like the GyroDec and feel a natural urge to upgrade to the Orbe. An SME arm would add to this fine deck. I appreciate that interconnects and mains cables make a difference so I could simply reduce cost on the source and upgrade these instead. So can you advise on my current thinking please?
Icon amplification will certainly give you the warm, atmospheric sound you want and seems like it might be just what you are after. The Whest ‘house sound’ is highly detailed and analytical, but being solid-state inevitably drier and less romantic, shall we say. At this level, our primary recommendation would be something from LFD Audio. A preowned Zero LE Mk3 or Mk4 delivers a wonderful sound and an NCSE Mk1 (again, preowned might be all you’ll ever want and need)
For loudspeakers I strongly suggest you try something from the Vandersteen range that seem to bring a smile to everyone’s face, irrespective of taste it would seem. That’s no mean feat. They are certainly one of the finest loudspeakers sounds I've ever heard. Howard sold his Harbeth SHL5s for a pair of Vandersteen 2CE Signatures and tells me he has no regrets.
Regarding phono stages, the Icon Audio PS3 is highly recommended; it’s brilliantly suited to your Linn electronics, inasmuch as it’s warm and your Linns aren’t; hence they balance sonically nicely. The Michell Orbe is a no-brainer; it's a long way above the lovely and iconic GyroDec in sonic terms, bringing a far more stable, powerful and detailed sound.
We’re hearing good things about the Clones audio phono stage at around £600 we believe but we’ve yet to hear one.
First of all though, upgrade your cartridge; the Sumiko is miles behind the capability of the rest of the system, so I’d be tempted to go for something from the Ortofon range, ultimately to receive an SME IV or Audio Origami PU7 or Origin Live Encounter (on the Orbe, I’d go for the latter).