System Advice Requested

So, a guy I know had a pair of GoldenEar 2's IIRC, and he wasn't all that happy with them. He says, "They are very clean and true. Nonetheless, I couldn't quite find a sweet spot." He has now gone to a pair of Martin Logan Classic ESL 9 electrostatics, and says he likes the bass better on the ML's and he loves the mids and highs. He has a Belles 150 amp and a Prima Luna Prologue preamp, ProJect RPM 9.2 Evolution Turntable with a Sumiko Blue Point Evo II cart, Vincent PHO-701 phono stage, Marantz CD 6006, and a Yaquin tube buffer. He said he purchased the buffer because he perceived highs as harsher on CDs. He has top shelf tubes in the preamp and phono amp.

He asked if it would sense to upgrade his amp? He has a budget of 2K? I told him that Belles amps are well regarded around here but I thought I'd throw this out as a question to y'all. Perhaps people have suggestions for improvement in areas of his system other than the amp if he has 2K budget ? What would be the most bang for the buck? Are there upgrades to the Belles that can be done that would be a dramatic improvement or would going to a higher level Belles amp be advisable? All thoughts are appreciated. He has not identified any specific areas that he is dissatisfied with in his system and I don't know if he just has the upgrade bug or what, but he wants to improve his system in the most cost effective manner possible. Thanks.

Comments

  • marvda1marvda1 Posts: 4,297
    He should not need a tube buffer if he has a tube preamp.
    What tubes are in the preamp?
    What cables are in the system?
    Amplifiers: Norma IPA 140, MasterSound Compact 845, Ayre v6xe, Consonance Cyber 800
    Preamp: deHavilland Ultraverve 3
    Transport/Dac: L.K.S MH-DA004, Cayin Venus cd-100i, Musical Paradise mp-d2 mkI,
    Musical Paradise mp-d2 mkIII
    Speakers: Rosso Fiorentino Volterra II
    Speaker Cables: Organic Audio Organic Reference 2
    Cerious Technologies Graphene Extreme
    Interconnects: Argento Organic Reference 2, Argento Organic 2, Gabriel Gold Reckoning
    Power Cables by: Argento Organic Reference, Cullen Cables, 6sons Audio, Swiss Cables
  • EmlynEmlyn Posts: 2,880
    A DSD capable DAC/music streamer would be on my list.
    1. Polk LSiM-707, LSiM-704C, LSiM-702FX; Dual SVS SB2000 subwoofers; Marantz SR7011 receiver; Parasound A31 and A23 amps; Oppo 205; Sony 65" 4K TV; FIOS; PS Audio Power Plant Premier; MIT S2 cables
    2. JM Labs Electra 920.1; Parasound JC2 and JC5; Sony HAP-Z1ES; Marantz SA8004 SACD; Music Hall MMF7 and Acoustech phono pre; PS Audio P1000; MIT S1 Cables
    3. Polk LSiM703; Anthem Pre-2L SE; Parasound A21; Sony 48" 4K TV; Wyred4Sound DAC 2; Oppo 203; Squeezebox Touch; PS Audio Power Director 4.7; MIT S3 cables
  • dromundsdromunds Posts: 9,183
    marvda1 wrote: »
    He should not need a tube buffer if he has a tube preamp.
    What tubes are in the preamp?
    What cables are in the system?

    He has some 1958 or '59 Valvo Hamburg ECC82 long plate slant O getter in the preamp, I think he just switched out the rectifier but not sure what it is. I will ask about the cables in the system but that is an excellent point.

    As far as the Belles 150 amp, is it fair to say that's a capable amp that would not be on the high end for replacement?

    Emlyn: do you have any suggestions on a DAC/music streamer that would be in the $1K or under area, assuming he needs better cabling which I bet is the case?
  • EmlynEmlyn Posts: 2,880
    The Bluesound Node 2i is pretty popular as a starter point well under $1K. No DSD but it does support MQA from Tidal, and it's main virtue is getting a good foot in the door for network streaming.
    1. Polk LSiM-707, LSiM-704C, LSiM-702FX; Dual SVS SB2000 subwoofers; Marantz SR7011 receiver; Parasound A31 and A23 amps; Oppo 205; Sony 65" 4K TV; FIOS; PS Audio Power Plant Premier; MIT S2 cables
    2. JM Labs Electra 920.1; Parasound JC2 and JC5; Sony HAP-Z1ES; Marantz SA8004 SACD; Music Hall MMF7 and Acoustech phono pre; PS Audio P1000; MIT S1 Cables
    3. Polk LSiM703; Anthem Pre-2L SE; Parasound A21; Sony 48" 4K TV; Wyred4Sound DAC 2; Oppo 203; Squeezebox Touch; PS Audio Power Director 4.7; MIT S3 cables
  • rooftop59rooftop59 Posts: 7,072
    If you keep an eye on Cambridge’s eBay site you can snag either a CXN V2 or an 851n streamer for under a grand refurbished. I am about to have the latter for sale in silver...
    Living Room 2.1: Dynaudio Contour 1.3mkii; Martin Logan Grotto sub; Musical Fidelity A308; Marantz SA 14S1; Sony UBP-x1000es
    Game Room HT: Denon AVR-X4200w; Sony UBP-x700; Definitive Technology SM450; Definitive Technology LCR2000; Definitive Technology StudioMonitor350; Mirage Nanasats; Sub - HSU VTF-2 MK5
    Master Bedroom
    Cambridge Azur 551r; Definitive Technology promonitor 800; ACI Titan Subwoofer
  • jdjohnjdjohn Posts: 1,906
    Don't forget about power management. A good cord for his amp directly into the wall (maybe upgrade the outlet), a conditioner or regenerator for peripherals, good cords for those. That might remove some of the hash noise.
    "This may not matter to you, but it does to me for various reasons, many of them illogical or irrational, but the vinyl hobby is not really logical or rational..." - member on Vinyl Engine
    "Sometimes I do what I want to do. The rest of the time, I do what I have to." - Cicero, in Gladiator
    Regarding collectibles: "It's not who gets it. It's who gets stuck with it." - Jimmy Fallon
  • erniejadeerniejade Posts: 5,516
    Your friend is not the first person I know that has had good luck putting a tube buffer on a cd player. What is his main source? If it is more cd \ digital, I would suggest changing the dac to something like a Marv suggested Musical Paradise MP-D2 MK3 dac. I did not see a streamer on your list so, does he want to try one out?

    Since he has not stated what he feels he is missing or looking to get out of the system, it makes it hard to suggest anything. I think is preamp is solid. Maybe add a subwoofer in the mix?
    Den: Lumin D1,Wireworld Silver Eclipse RCA, KEF LS50 Wireless, Velodyne SPL1200, Technics 1200, Denon DL160, Jolida D9,

    Living Room:,T+A PA 1530R,Wireworld Silver Eclipse SC, Tyler Highland H2, High Fidelity Reveal RCA, Innuos Zen MK3 , W4S recovery, LKS MH-da004,

    Have but haven't used in a while: LH Labs VI Dac, Cayin SCD50T, Grant Fidelity Tube Dac11,Aries Mini
  • invalidinvalid Posts: 475
    Maybe a tube preamp with the 6sn7 tubes, I think the primaluna preamps use the smaller 9 pin tubes.
  • marvda1marvda1 Posts: 4,297
    might mullards on the preamp. will know a little more when you get the cable list.
    Amplifiers: Norma IPA 140, MasterSound Compact 845, Ayre v6xe, Consonance Cyber 800
    Preamp: deHavilland Ultraverve 3
    Transport/Dac: L.K.S MH-DA004, Cayin Venus cd-100i, Musical Paradise mp-d2 mkI,
    Musical Paradise mp-d2 mkIII
    Speakers: Rosso Fiorentino Volterra II
    Speaker Cables: Organic Audio Organic Reference 2
    Cerious Technologies Graphene Extreme
    Interconnects: Argento Organic Reference 2, Argento Organic 2, Gabriel Gold Reckoning
    Power Cables by: Argento Organic Reference, Cullen Cables, 6sons Audio, Swiss Cables
  • gyosagyosa Posts: 580

    You beat me to it !

    I’d look for a refurb 851n

    Bk
    rooftop59 wrote: »
    If you keep an eye on Cambridge’s eBay site you can snag either a CXN V2 or an 851n streamer for under a grand refurbished. I am about to have the latter for sale in silver...

    Parasound A21 , Yamaha wxc-50 , Polk SDA 1c’s ( my first love .. ) , Kimber Kable 4TC, Sony 42” - BEDROOM

    B&K EX-442 ( it will go in my casket when I die ... ) , PS Audio 4.6 preamp ( old school , but it still jams on ... ) , Yamaha wxc-50 , Boston Acoustic voyager 7’s - POOL

    PS Audio Stellar S300 , Cambridge Audio 851n , Yamaha wxc-50 , Kimber Kable 4vs , Salk Supercharged Song towers ( difficult choice between these and my family if I had to choose ... 😩 ) , Sony XBR-A8F 65” OLED , Onkyo TX-RZ610 - DEN , MAIN RIG

    Onkyo TX-nr609 , Polk atrium 7 , Boston acoustic sound ware (4) , Boston acoustic sub , B&W center , Sharp 65” TV - PATIO

    DAYENS AMPINO ( thanks Verb ! ) , KEiiD streamer ( this was only 60 bucks ?? ) , Polk atrium 8SDi’s - KID’s BEDROOM


  • dromundsdromunds Posts: 9,183
    marvda1 wrote: »
    might mullards on the preamp. will know a little more when you get the cable list.

    He tried a bunch of tubes including Mullards. Those Valvos are really nice, on Heiney9’s top five list.
  • F1nutF1nut Posts: 45,653
    Dedicated 20 amp lines and MIT cables.
    Political Correctness'.........defined

    "A doctrine fostered by a delusional, illogical minority and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a t-u-r-d by the clean end."


    President of Club Polk

  • dromundsdromunds Posts: 9,183
    I’m awaiting word of from him on what cables he’s using but I had the same thought about MIT’s. I will also ask whether he has dedicated 20 amp lines. Thanks
  • audioluvraudioluvr Posts: 3,186
    edited November 2020
    I've never heard the Belles 150A but I do own the 350A Reference. The mids and highs are very detailed. Subwoofer frequencies are detailed but not as pronounced. Maybe a good subwoofer is what he needs to enhance those frequencies as stated earlier. Also a good higher end speaker cable can make a difference as well if that isn't being used.
    Cambridge Audio 851N Streamer/DAC
    Belles 21A Pre modded with Mundorf Supreme caps
    B&K M200 Sonata monoblocks refreshed and upgraded
    Belles 350A Reference modded with Mundorf Supreme caps
    Polk SDA 1C's modded
    Wireworld Silver Eclipse IC's and speaker cables


    There is about a 5% genetic difference between apes and men …but that difference is the difference between throwing your own poo when you are annoyed …and Einstein, Shakespeare and Miss January.

    by Dr. Sardonicus
  • jdjohnjdjohn Posts: 1,906
    If he's really into his vinyl playback, adding an SUT might provide some added excitement there.
    "This may not matter to you, but it does to me for various reasons, many of them illogical or irrational, but the vinyl hobby is not really logical or rational..." - member on Vinyl Engine
    "Sometimes I do what I want to do. The rest of the time, I do what I have to." - Cicero, in Gladiator
    Regarding collectibles: "It's not who gets it. It's who gets stuck with it." - Jimmy Fallon
  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 9,507
  • dromundsdromunds Posts: 9,183
    He said he is currently using "slightly above mid-level Morrows" and I discerned from his message that he means interconnects. He seemed to indicate he wasn't sure what speaker cables he had, but he got all his cable from a local audio salon in the mid-80's. He said he paid $300 each for two 3 footers back then which made his wife flip. (As an aside, I used to purchase a lot of gear from the same salon, the owner would let you take gear home to try out prior to purchase) I suspect that a compliment of decent MIT cables would be quite helpful, as well as a quality power cord on the Belles. If anyone is familiar with Morrow cables especially older ones would you please let me know what their general characteristics are? I suppose that depends on the model but perhaps they have "house" tendencies. In the back of my mind I seem to remember listening to some Morrows in the past and not being particularly enthralled with them, but I could be thinking of a number of cables that didn't do much for me. I also remember some of the cable in the early days commanding big bucks but $300 each for IC's would have been lots of dough in the mid-80's and that was purportedly the "friend" price.
  • invalidinvalid Posts: 475
    Cables may help, but it can be difficult to match the right ones to your system. You may want to look into a DSD dac or Maybe a tube dac.
  • marvda1marvda1 Posts: 4,297
    If I'm not mistaken, I think Monster was the big kid on the block and some of their wire is known to become corroded over time.
    I am writing a review on some Audio Envy cables and am impressed.
    $158 3ft. interconnects, $412 8ft speaker cables with a 45 day return policy.
    Amplifiers: Norma IPA 140, MasterSound Compact 845, Ayre v6xe, Consonance Cyber 800
    Preamp: deHavilland Ultraverve 3
    Transport/Dac: L.K.S MH-DA004, Cayin Venus cd-100i, Musical Paradise mp-d2 mkI,
    Musical Paradise mp-d2 mkIII
    Speakers: Rosso Fiorentino Volterra II
    Speaker Cables: Organic Audio Organic Reference 2
    Cerious Technologies Graphene Extreme
    Interconnects: Argento Organic Reference 2, Argento Organic 2, Gabriel Gold Reckoning
    Power Cables by: Argento Organic Reference, Cullen Cables, 6sons Audio, Swiss Cables
  • SCompRacerSCompRacer Posts: 7,250
    edited November 2020
    I had ESL's for several years. Some amps can't handle an ESL speaker which can cause harshness or distortion.

    Magnetic speakers presents a mostly resistive load to an amplifier. Electrostatic speakers present a capacitive or reactive load to an amp. If the amp can't handle it, or you have high capacitance speaker cables, harshness can be the result. IIRC ESL's can range from 2 to 120 Ohm, or more, depending on frequency. I know the Belles is a great amp but I don't know how it behaves with ESL speakers. Worth looking into. If folks say the Belle's works great with ESL's, you look elsewhere.
    Make yourself necessary to someone. Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Salk SoundScape 8's * Audio Research Reference 3 * Bottlehead Eros Phono * Park's Audio Budgie SUT * Krell KSA-250 * Harmonic Technology Pro 9+ & Pro 11+ * Signature Series Sonore Music Server w/Deux PS* Twisted Pear Buffalo III Dual Mono ESS Sabre32 DAC * Heavy Plinth Lenco L75 Idler Drive * AA MG-1 Linear Air Bearing Arm * AT33PTG/II & Denon 103R * Richard Gray 600S * NHT B-12d subs * GIK Acoustic Treatments * Sennheiser HD650 *

  • dromundsdromunds Posts: 9,183
    Thanks much. Anyone have thoughts on how the Belles 150 would behave with the ESL speakers?
  • audioluvraudioluvr Posts: 3,186
    SCompRacer wrote: »
    I had ESL's for several years. Some amps can't handle an ESL speaker which can cause harshness or distortion.

    Magnetic speakers presents a mostly resistive load to an amplifier. Electrostatic speakers present a capacitive or reactive load to an amp. If the amp can't handle it, or you have high capacitance speaker cables, harshness can be the result. IIRC ESL's can range from 2 to 120 Ohm, or more, depending on frequency. I know the Belles is a great amp but I don't know how it behaves with ESL speakers. Worth looking into. If folks say the Belle's works great with ESL's, you look elsewhere.

    Good point. I had to go back and read the OP's original concerns. My original thought was he wasn't happy with the bass output but now I'm thinking the highs are fatiguing on the ML's and the Belles could be considered too detailed for a naturally bright speaker. As for not finding the "sweet spot" with the GE2's I'd almost suspect room acoustics / speaker placement.
    Cambridge Audio 851N Streamer/DAC
    Belles 21A Pre modded with Mundorf Supreme caps
    B&K M200 Sonata monoblocks refreshed and upgraded
    Belles 350A Reference modded with Mundorf Supreme caps
    Polk SDA 1C's modded
    Wireworld Silver Eclipse IC's and speaker cables


    There is about a 5% genetic difference between apes and men …but that difference is the difference between throwing your own poo when you are annoyed …and Einstein, Shakespeare and Miss January.

    by Dr. Sardonicus
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