Should I upgrade my retro setup?

Hi. I’ve got a certain audio setup for several years now. I’m quite happy with it but I’m wondering if I could get better or similar quality with smaller and newer equipment. I’m not sure how much engineering / innovation happened in the several past years. I’m not sure how good (or bad) my gear is, especially the speakers. Can’t find much info about them online.

Speakers: 2x Quadral AC 3100
AMP: Pioneer A-307R
Cassette deck: Pioneer CT-656
TT: Audio Technica AT-LP5X (that’s a new TT)

I’m wondering if it’s worth replacing the old amp and speakers with something newer and smaller. I still want to have good quality for the analog music but if I can also connect it to my TV/PC/Bluetooth, have a remote and all that that would be nice. Right now I have an external BT receiver connected to it when I want to use it that way.

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Do you stream from a pc, tablet, or phone to this Bluetooth receiver, which I guess acts as a DAC feeding one of the RCA inputs on your Pioneer receiver?

Yes. The amp has 6 inputs, all of them RCA, one of the being phono. I had various things connected to it over the years, right now I have the TT, tape deck, tv, pc (USB dac), Bluetooth receiver for the phone. Used to connect Amiga to it or other stuff.


First off, welcome to the forum! I think you will enjoy your time here as this is a fine group of folks.

I really like your setup. I was able to find some info on each piece and frankly, I like the sound of that amp. Your speakers look really good, too! If it were me, I would be in no great hurry to replace anything unless there is a specific goal to either take that next step into higher end audio or to reduce the physical footprint of the gear itself. Having said that, the technology has improved quite a bit over the past few years and has given us gear that is smaller, lighter and in many cases better that is also reasonably priced. So there is that.

I can share that I have a vintage setup in my home that is built around a 15-year-old Denon AVR-2808ci 7.1 surround receiver that I have reconfigured for 2 channel, 25+year old Mitsubishi speakers and so on. I also have a more modern setup on the desktop of my home office that consists of smaller pieces, bookshelf speakers etc.

I love both systems. Each one has its own unique signature and use case, and I find both extremely enjoyable. I think there are certain advantages the desktop system has due to technological advancements, and that is fair. But for me, great sound is great sound, whether that system is 2 years old or 20. Best of luck on your journey.

Do you have a local library of digital files? Or do you stream from a service like Spotify exclusively?

I’m not using streaming at the moment but I might in the future.
@Raptor168 Thanks ! To give you full picture of what’s happening. I’m moving out to a new apartment. I’ll be doing a full arrangement of it. Right now my setup is quite crammed, all my vinyls are in closed cabinets, tapes are in drawers. I want to fully integrate my setup with the TV in the living room. This is why I thought of replacing the amp and speakers with something newer. Especially the AMP because I’d like to have it work with the TV via HDMI ARC to control the volume while the amp is on the TV input and also have a separate remote when running on a different source.

So my new amp would require to be at least as good as my current one, have a remote, work with TV’s remote via HDMI ARC, have 2 other RCA connectors at least (for tape and turntable, my TT has a phono preamp built in) and bluetooth built in or 3rd rca for an external one (but if I’m buying new amp it might as well have BT built in already).

I hear you. Cool on the new digs. I see where you want to go. I do have a third system in the living room that is a full home theater setup driven by an Onkyo Home Theater 7.1 full surround receiver with Bluetooth built in. It was interconnected completely by HDMI. For TV/movies, it was perfect. But I was never satisfied with the Onkyo’s performance when it came to playing music. Granted, that wasn’t this system’s primary mission, but it bugged me.

I had an SMSL SU-8 DAC in spares, so I tried integrating it into the system. This way the CD player can be a digital transport via S/PDIF coax and the TV comes in via S/PDIF TOSLINK optical. Man, what an upgrade!

I did a similar thing with the Denon-based system. I wanted to stream on that system, but there was no way to do it on that setup. Again, I had an SMSL M200 DAC in spares, so I implemented it there. This system now sounds superb (turns out the M200 is a very good DAC), and I can stream in 24/96K using LDAC on my phone as the streamer/control head. It’s pretty slick!

In summary, there is something to be said about using separate components, because the separates are usually superior to what is in the integrated solution. But the Onkyo in its initial configuration was fully integrated and would have been fine if I wasn’t so picky about the music part. And with the tech. today I am quite sure there are integrated solutions out there that check all boxes. It more becomes a matter of budget at that point.

I’m contemplating two solutions. I’m a programmer and a tinkerer so I was thinking for a while of making my own smart tv like setup using a raspberry pi or a laptop. I could control that using the phone. At the same time I wouldn’t be surprised when such DIY stuff breaks with time as platforms such as YouTube update their protocols (or even intentionally break interoperability with 3rd party software) so I’d like to have some fallback with the built in smart tv stuff via HDMI. When we have friends over we often play music or whatever funny videos on YouTube and I wouldn’t want to debug my own experimental setup while I have guests lol

I’ll keep my old amp in my office connected to the PC. I don’t need a remote there, it can stand on the desk within hands reach. For the living room I want a good amp to which I would connect my tapes, tt, pi, tv HDMI.