These are the areas of the system which get most ignored but seeing as the level of electronics now begins at such a high level for reasonable money, these parts of the system are now more important than ever before, second really only to the Loudspeaker. With the rise in streamed and stored digital music, the home network has also become absolutely crucial and improvements made here often completely transcend the normal £/performance ratios we are used to.
“Ancillaries” then is a bit of a misnomer because these parts of the system are not ‘supplementary’ or ‘supporting’ but as important as any other category of product. Moving to a good loom of cabling, a decent suite of mains cables, or installing a Shunyata mains distribution block or an Entreq grounding box, will often be an even bigger sonic upgrade than moving your Amplifier or DAC one rung up the manufacturer’s ladder. And that even holds true if you are using our cheapest components. Even small network improvements like a better USB or Ethernet cable can also effect bigger sonic improvements than actual box upgrades.
Let me illustrate this with a short story. I have a good customer who lives local to me. He has a great system and we have done many upgrades together. Vitus Dac module to Masterpiece Dac. Avalon Idea to Avalon PM1 speakers. Melco Zh streamer to Melco Zs. Vitus RI-101 to Vitus SIA-025 Integrated. Most of these are upgrades in excess of a £10,000 spend but if you ask him, he will tell you that sonically the 2 biggest upgrades he ever did were installing Tara Labs ONE speaker cables and then also a Shunyata Omega USB cable on another occasion.
Quite a few people find it difficult to enjoy this side of the industry and some struggle emotionally to pay good money for what is a series of wires or metal feet, which offer little in the way of pride of ownership or purchase excitement. I can completely empathise with that position but can only implore you to rethink everything that your head and heart is telling you and not neglect or compromise in these areas. An expensive wire is expensive largely because of the time consuming R&D that has gone into it and because there is no shortcut and you cannot get the same sorts of improvements by buying cheaper cables or somehow making your own.
As a dealer I know first hand just how much more you can extract from all these boxes when pushed with the best ancillaries. It is quite staggering. These amplifiers, preamps, DACs, streamers, CD players we all love buying, they are capable of so much more than most people have ever heard.