Upgrading – Phases And Steps

So how might we go through our hi-fi upgrade steps? Well, in order to do a run-through of a simple end-to-end system upgrade, lets assume our customer has the system that we used in Part 3, a sensibly chosen setup with 2 conventional solid-state electronics boxes and a nice pair of speakers – a moderate size 2-way design lets say. And the rack and room layout are sensible too. The scenario might go something like this:

Phase 1 – Outside The Signal Path

Step 1 – A bit of mains filtering and a better support

This first step is a 2-pronged attack and is intended not only to start to tackle the problems in your system, but also to let you hear the true significance of the RFI and microphony problems. You would take home a Jaya mains filter and a LeadingEdge platform say, and plug the Jaya into the spare socket on your distribution block, and put the platform under the CD player. Do this one at a time and both together perhaps, and give yourself time to listen to the results. You will hear how the Jaya lowers harshness and glare a little, and allows a more delicate and extended treble to come through. And you will hear how the platform brings some extra focus and stage width and depth, and also improves bass definition. The two combined, bring a real improvement to musical insight and expression. So this then may well be your first investment with Vertex gear – and this is where a lot of customers start.

Step 2 – Another platform and two mains leads

Next you would perhaps try a second LeadingEdge platform, this one going under the amp, and two Roraima mains leads, one to feed each piece of electronics from the distribution block. This second Kinabalu will drain acoustics from the amp of course, and the 2 Roraimas will start to lower the acoustic noise in the mains loom, and thus in the amp and CD player power supplies. These additions will significantly lower the microphony distortion in the amplifier, and the power supply of both boxes, so you will hear an improvement in transparency, timing and the tonal development of your music.

Step 3 – A distribution block and a third mains lead

Experience has shown us that it really is worth completing the full mains treatment at this stage. Installing a Taga distribution block really does provide an excellent mains hub for your system – the combination of comprehensive acoustic absorption, a Silver Jaya mains filter and full star wiring in this unit gives a big lift to performance. Using a Roraima mains lead to feed it from the wall helps reduce unwanted vibration getting into your system from the wall (this happens a surprising amount), again lifting performance. Finally, that Jaya that you purchased in step 1 now gets plugged into an adjacent wall socket and its filtering effect there, followed by the filtering within the Taga, produces what we call a cascade filtering effect (see about cascade theory below) and this lowers further the effect of RFI in your system.

Step 4 – Add some grounding blocks

At this stage it is really worth adding perhaps a pair of Pico component grounding blocks to the system. These blocks plug into unused line level sockets on your main system components and they drain out unwanted vibration and RFI from your system grounds. You might also wish to consider the Pico Binding Post Grounding Blocks which add considerable performance when used on the output binding posts of power amps. The application of some Picos can be a very important part of the systematic approach as their addition, which apples the Vertex techniques right into the heart of your system, is another complementary part of the whole RFI and vibration strategy already started with the platforms and mains products.

Phase 2 – Inside The Signal Path

Step 5 – Speaker leads (and speaker links!)

Going inside the signal path has a similar logic to the previous steps in that we’re really thinking about stray energy management primarily, and not so much about carrying the signals around the system (at this point at least). So using that criteria it is logical to get some control in the high-energy end of your system. Replacing conventional speaker leads with Vertex Moncayo speaker leads significantly changes the behavior of the amp and speakers and hitherto uncontrolled intermodulation is instantly reduced. The improvements on grip and timing are substantial, as is definition at the frequency extremes. But perhaps the most startling effect, as the phase alignment of your music signal is significantly improved, is the massive step-up in imaging, with a real ‘reach out and touch’ sensation. Just a note here as well, the amount of damage that is done using conventional links on bi-wire speakers (when using only a single speaker cable run) is significant – using a set of the mini-moncayo links is a very big upgrade.

Step 6 – Interconnects

So in our relatively simple system this is the last step. The Vertex analogue interconnect brings a reduction in acoustic energy levels in the sensitive output stage of the CD player and input stage of the amplifier. Now the energy levels are relatively low in this part of the system (thats why its the last part of the upgrade sequence) but the signal levels are relatively low too, so there is still a big gain to be had in performance here. The changes are a significant improvement to the delicacy and integration of the sound, with a lot more richness and vibrancy.

If your system has components that requires digital leads, CD transport and DAC say, then you would also consider using the Vertex digital leads which here are going to reduce systematic faults between your digital components. And the improvements are sometimes a significant reduction in that ‘digital harshness’ which can be so problematic in digital systems.