Upgrade Advice needed

I've been happy with my system for the past six years but a minor issue with my Carver TFM-35 has made me contemplate an upgrade. I'm looking for ideas on upgrades that might help simplify my setup. I'll explain my system below.

It's a split system using Home Theater bypass. The main system for music has a Peachtree iDAC for digital inputs and a homemade passive preamp that chooses either the turntable or analog outputs of the iDAC. The preamp has as stepped attenuator for volume control and the output goes to the Carver TFM-35 (volume pot bypassed) then on to a nice set of SDA-2B speakers.

The video side of the system runs through a mid level Onkyo receiver that decodes blu-ray
master audio, optical output from TV for sound, and HDMI from the Nvidia shield TV. HDMI out from the Onkyo goes to the TV. The preamp outputs of the Onkyo go to the third input of the passive preamp which is setup for HT bypass and take the stepped attenuator out of the signal path. The Onkyo also provides a 12V signal to turn on a power center but isn't being used for any speaker amplification or surround sound business.

All in all I've been happy with the system but the carver could use a refresh. I pulled it the other day as the right channel was starting to drop due to oxidation on that protection relay and unfortunately the relays look to be the epoxy sealed type so I may as well do a recap while it's out if i'm going order relays anyway.

It would be nice to consolidate the system. I don't need surround sound and only use the blu-ray player occasionally. I could probably get away without needing HDMI switching and just use the TV HDMI inputs. A nice integrated amp might work, either using the iDAC as the digital front end or just moving on from that and getting something with analog, digital, and a built in phono pre and making things simple.

Ideas? Sorry for the long post.





2 Channel - Polk SDA-2BTL, Carver TFM-35, Peachtree iDAC, Chromecast Audio (optical), Bugle II phono pre, Technics SL-1500 w/ M97XE, DIY Passive Preamp/Input selector

Comments

  • ambiophonicsambiophonics Posts: 688
    Clipdat wrote: »
    Budget?

    I was thinking about $500-800. Some of that depends on if I'm just buying an amp or something to replace more than one component.
    2 Channel - Polk SDA-2BTL, Carver TFM-35, Peachtree iDAC, Chromecast Audio (optical), Bugle II phono pre, Technics SL-1500 w/ M97XE, DIY Passive Preamp/Input selector
  • tonybtonyb Posts: 32,454
    With that budget your better off focusing on an amp. Something else to consolidate some of the other pieces is going to run over budget.

    Parasound amps play well with those SDA's, so do B&k amps, and a host of others. What kind of music do you listen to ?
    HT SYSTEM-
    Sony 850c 4k
    Pioneer elite vhx 21
    Sony 4k BRP
    SVS SB-2000
    Polk Sig. 20's
    Polk FX500 surrounds

    Cables-
    Acoustic zen Satori speaker cables
    Acoustic zen Matrix 2 IC's
    Wireworld eclipse 7 ic's
    Audio metallurgy ga-o digital cable

    Kitchen

    Sonos zp90
    Grant Fidelity tube dac
    B&k 1420
    lsi 9's
  • ambiophonicsambiophonics Posts: 688
    I listen to some vinyl from the 70's. Dire Straits, Steely Dan, etc and stream a lot of newer indie rock type stuff like Susto, Vampire Weekend, Mandolin Orange and even throw in some Blackbear and Air for good measure. I don't listen incredibly loud as I'm in a condo. There's also the opportunity to take some money and rebuild the Carver.
    2 Channel - Polk SDA-2BTL, Carver TFM-35, Peachtree iDAC, Chromecast Audio (optical), Bugle II phono pre, Technics SL-1500 w/ M97XE, DIY Passive Preamp/Input selector
  • anonymouseanonymouse Posts: 2,653
    If you like the sound of the iDAC, then one possibility is to upgrade to a Peachtree Integrated like the Nova or higher. A used one will run at or less than your budget, you get a Peachtree DAC which is really good, a Tube stage, and an integrated amp. Run the video through the TV and audio back from the TV to the Peachtree. I have the iDecco and Decco (lower than Nova), and am really happy with both. I use them with LSi9s and SDA CRS+ and they happily drive both those extremely well.
  • audioluvraudioluvr Posts: 2,276
    Hi-Tech Audio can refresh it with mods better than new if you like how the Carver sounds in that budget. Better amps like Parasound, B&K, Belles, Threshold, Aragon etc can be had for a little over your budget but they may be getting long in the tooth and due for a refresh themselves.

    Have you modded your 2B' s yet? If not, that's where you need to put your money first IMHO
    One foot on audio nirvana and the other in the poor house.
  • ambiophonicsambiophonics Posts: 688
    The SDAs have been modded to the SDA-2BTL level - RDO-198s, rebuilt crossovers, spikes, upgraded interconnect, dynamat, etc. I think the only things left would be rings instead of hurricane nuts and updated PCBs for the crossover. I love how they sound when driven properly 😁.

    I'm kinda digging the idea of a higher end Peachtree amp but worry it may not be enough oooomf.

    Today I started looking at some schitt and have been thinking maybe the saga + could work if I ran video directly to the TV.
    2 Channel - Polk SDA-2BTL, Carver TFM-35, Peachtree iDAC, Chromecast Audio (optical), Bugle II phono pre, Technics SL-1500 w/ M97XE, DIY Passive Preamp/Input selector
  • anonymouseanonymouse Posts: 2,653
    if the iDecco can power the 9s, I assure you the Nova can rock those 2Bs. The SDA's are easier to drive that LSI's. But I agree with audioluvr about upgrading the 2B's. A crossover TL mod + new tweets would be my first move.
  • audioluvraudioluvr Posts: 2,276
    What's your location? Let us help you spend your money! :D
    One foot on audio nirvana and the other in the poor house.
  • ambiophonicsambiophonics Posts: 688
    audioluvr wrote: »
    What's your location? Let us help you spend your money! :D

    😁 I'm in Eastern Iowa.
    2 Channel - Polk SDA-2BTL, Carver TFM-35, Peachtree iDAC, Chromecast Audio (optical), Bugle II phono pre, Technics SL-1500 w/ M97XE, DIY Passive Preamp/Input selector
  • ambiophonicsambiophonics Posts: 688
    If I went with something from Peachtree I could likely cover much of the cost by selling the TFM-35, Onkyo receiver, and iDAC! I just ordered all the caps and new relays to refresh the Carver as it needs to operational either way.
    2 Channel - Polk SDA-2BTL, Carver TFM-35, Peachtree iDAC, Chromecast Audio (optical), Bugle II phono pre, Technics SL-1500 w/ M97XE, DIY Passive Preamp/Input selector
  • ambiophonicsambiophonics Posts: 688
    After some digging I found the list of upgrades to the speakers! I forgot about a few...


    - The crossovers were re-done with new Clarity Cap capacitors and Mills resistors.

    - The air core inductors were replaced with new low DC resistance Erse Super Q inductors to enhance the low frequency response. These add depth, control and clarity to the speakers' low frequency sound reproductions at low, mid and high volumes.

    - The SL-2000 tweeters were replaced with new Polk Audio RD-0198 tweeters.

    - The fiberboard speaker base pedestals were removed and replaced with extremely stable solid oak ones.

    - Brass/copper composite spikes were installed into the new oak pedestals for incredible speaker stability and speaker isolation (de-coupling from the floor). These are essential for anyone who is serious about lifelike speaker sound reproduction - tighter bass, more lively mids. The spikes are adjustable so the speakers can be leveled on uneven floors. They work perfectly for carpeted or solid (hardwood or tile, etc.) flooring. For solid flooring, simply use inexpensive and easy-to-find speaker spike pads.

    - Dynamat Xtreme sound deadener was applied to all the midwoofer driver and passive radiator metal baskets to eliminate their unwanted resonance.

    - Steel Driver and Passive Radiator Support Rings were installed. These rings are mounted inside of the speaker cabinets flush with the inside of the speaker baffle. They allow new machine screws to be screwed-in more tightly and evenly forming a more uniform and perfect seal between the drivers and passive radiators and the speaker baffles. These also eliminate the possibility of stripping out the wood screws that are used by the manufacturer.

    - Tweeter Support Brackets were installed. These are braces similar to and with the same effect as the support rings above except these are used on the tweeters.

    - Sonic Barrier cabinet damping material was added to the inside backs of the speaker cabinets behind the midwoofer drivers and the tweeters. This absorbs unwanted interior cabinet sound waves.

    - New Driver/Passive Radiator/Binding Post Cup Gaskets were installed to improve the seal for airtight speaker cabinets.

    - All midwoofer driver magnets were epoxied to decrease any likelihood of the magnets shifting and locking up the voice coils.

    - New Vampire Binding Posts - BPHEX model - (Copper directly plated with Gold) - two pairs - were installed in place of the stock ones. They provide better conduction and the ability to attach speaker cables terminated with either spades or banana plugs very firmly.

    - New Cardas Binding Posts - CCGR model - (heavy billet copper with Silver plating and Rhodium flash) were installed in place of the stock (pin-blade) interconnect cable sockets. This allows you to use a much higher quality interconnect cable with banana or spade terminations.

    - A new interconnect cable was made using high quality banana connectors and a heavier gauge speaker cable.

    - All interior speaker cabinet seams were resealed to eliminate any air leaks.
    2 Channel - Polk SDA-2BTL, Carver TFM-35, Peachtree iDAC, Chromecast Audio (optical), Bugle II phono pre, Technics SL-1500 w/ M97XE, DIY Passive Preamp/Input selector
  • lightman1lightman1 Posts: 10,672
    edited January 8
    audioluvr wrote: »
    What's your location? Let us help you spend your money! :D

    😁 I'm in Eastern Iowa.

    Des Moines representing here!!
  • GardenstaterGardenstater Posts: 1,011
    @ambiophonics only thing I can think of that you could do is to re-wire them internally with Cardas Litz wire, 15 gauge or the like. I was shocked that my Polk 7B's seem to be wired with 20 gauge hookup wire to the midbass drivers.
    George / NJ

    Polk 7B main speakers (1979, orig owner)
    Martin Logan Dynamo sub
    Crown D150 amp
    iFi nano iDSD DAC
    iPurifier3
    iDefender w/ iPower PS
    iFi Mercury 0.5m OFHC continuous cast copper USB cable
    Custom Ribbon Speaker Cables, 5ft long, 4N Copper, 14 gauge, ultra low inductance
    Custom Vibration Isolation Speaker Stands and Sub Platform
  • ambiophonicsambiophonics Posts: 688
    I like the looks of the Peachtree NovaPre. That would pair nicely with the TFM-35 once it's back up and running.
    2 Channel - Polk SDA-2BTL, Carver TFM-35, Peachtree iDAC, Chromecast Audio (optical), Bugle II phono pre, Technics SL-1500 w/ M97XE, DIY Passive Preamp/Input selector
  • aiconnaiconn Registered User Posts: 267
    edited January 8
    FYI I'm about to sell my novaPre. PM me if you're interested.
    PS Audio Stellar Gain Cell DAC/Preamp
    Denon DVD 2910
    Quad 12L Active Monitors
    Marin Logan Dynamo 700W
  • ambiophonicsambiophonics Posts: 688
    aiconn wrote: »
    FYI I'm about to sell my novaPre. PM me if you're interested.

    Just sent you a message. Thanks
    2 Channel - Polk SDA-2BTL, Carver TFM-35, Peachtree iDAC, Chromecast Audio (optical), Bugle II phono pre, Technics SL-1500 w/ M97XE, DIY Passive Preamp/Input selector
  • ambiophonicsambiophonics Posts: 688
    The Parasound new classic 200 looks pretty nice also
    2 Channel - Polk SDA-2BTL, Carver TFM-35, Peachtree iDAC, Chromecast Audio (optical), Bugle II phono pre, Technics SL-1500 w/ M97XE, DIY Passive Preamp/Input selector
  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 8,122
    The Parasound new classic 200 looks pretty nice also

    It also sounds nice, I reviewed it recently: https://theaudiobeatnik.com/review-newclassic-200-from-parasound/
  • Clipdat wrote: »
    The Parasound new classic 200 looks pretty nice also

    It also sounds nice, I reviewed it recently: https://theaudiobeatnik.com/review-newclassic-200-from-parasound/

    Thanks for the link and review, lots of great info there. I'm looking at the new classic 200 without the amp as it's not common ground but Parasound says the preamp/dac is identical. Any thoughts on how the DAC or phono pre might compare to my current Peachtree iDAC and Bugle II phono preamp? Thanks
    2 Channel - Polk SDA-2BTL, Carver TFM-35, Peachtree iDAC, Chromecast Audio (optical), Bugle II phono pre, Technics SL-1500 w/ M97XE, DIY Passive Preamp/Input selector
  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 8,122
    No idea as I haven't heard either of those products, sorry.
  • Still thinking on this. Currently planning to upgrade the Carver amp and debating between a few preamp or pre/dac options. I'm leaning towards the parasound Zpre3 and using it with my existing Peachtree iDAC and Bugle II phono preamp. It does what I want - default volume level at power on, 12v trigger output, mono sub output and a few other things. I'm trying to find out if it uses the same IC based resistor ladder volume setup as the new classic 200 and read a few more reviews before making a decision.
    2 Channel - Polk SDA-2BTL, Carver TFM-35, Peachtree iDAC, Chromecast Audio (optical), Bugle II phono pre, Technics SL-1500 w/ M97XE, DIY Passive Preamp/Input selector
  • ambiophonicsambiophonics Posts: 688
    edited January 28
    I've finished updating the TFM-35 and it sounds so much better with fresh caps, relays, and updated pre-drivers. The amp runs much cooler now and sounds awesome. A very nice match with the SDA-2BTL speakers.

    I'm still figuring out the rest of the system. I signed up for qobuz recently and really like it but the Chromecast audio I'm using crackles once in a while (even hardwired to Ethernet) which seems to be a common issue with them when fed HD audio. Any thoughts on a similar product that might accept up to 24bit/192khz?
    Post edited by ambiophonics on
    2 Channel - Polk SDA-2BTL, Carver TFM-35, Peachtree iDAC, Chromecast Audio (optical), Bugle II phono pre, Technics SL-1500 w/ M97XE, DIY Passive Preamp/Input selector
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