Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Thouston, Mar 2, 2019.
I thought this was a catch all thread??
I for one like a bit of warpage. Not on my records mind you but since we're on the subject
I believe Atkinson would have wanted it that way.
Since it has already been insinuated in this thread, what is the current price for "expensive" audio vs. "non-expensive" audio. At what price point should Sterophile Magazine seek to limit evaluations.
Back in the late 70's to early 80's (when I first sought to move beyond my father's audiophile system to one of my own), there was an approximate rule of thumb for new purchases to spend 1/2 +/- on sources (usually turntable and tape), 1/4 +/- on preamps/amps/tuners (or receivers), and 1/4 +/- on speakers. My first system cost ~ $5,000 (~ $15,000 today). Stereophile and other audio magazine covered the components I purchased then, and my equipment, while not the cheapest, was no where near the most expensive.
Obviously the rule-of-thumb was oversimplified. And for most people today the actual components, especially specific sources, has changed (there were no digital sources, as commercial CD players were still a few years away). But what would be the appropriate median price (either based on number of reviews, or more likely, based on how many units people actually purchase) for each major component? What should Stereophile target as a median system price.
As a related question, are new audiophiles such a small minority that Stereophile's target audience is only those who already have small fortunes invested in audio equipment? There is a huge difference between advising someone interested in buying there first tube or solid state amp, or advising someone who is moving up from a McIntosh MC2105 or a restored vintage Fisher tube amp.
Well, technology is changing and they need to stay on top of state of the are audio playback. I also think they need to figure out how to stay relevant and continue to bring in new readers. I believe it is possible to cover entry level and high end.
Good reply - because after I promised to delete mine my boss called and I have been on the phone last couple of hours! LOL
Cheers. I need a stiif drink.
Your post makes much sense to me and it is why I developed a rating system many many years ago where I would offer my best approach to provide an objective rating to a product or system and then place a personal bias weighting on something.
There is no real argument from me that big horns like WE do dynamics better than a relatively small speaker like the AN E - the AN E is not a state of the art loudspeaker in any realm and I get why someone who likes the WE or the big Silbatone or even the Line magnetic Horns would not be satisfied with a speaker like the AN E that in comparison is compressed. PS I have never liked AvanteGarde - I got banned from AudioShark for saying I didn't really care for the speakers and posting a picture that Peter Qvortrup had a pair of them in his broom closet. The owner of the forum is a dealer for them and basically uses the forum as one long advertisement for the brands he sells. And no one is allowed to say anything negative about anything he sells. Oops. Acapella IMO is a lot better in sound and materials for less money (and more money depending which models). The High Cellini is less expensive than the High Violoncello and I quite liked the less expensive Cellini over the Violoncello though the latter has a new edition so we shall see.
But as I have noted on many occasions - you can't stuff those WE speakers into a "typical" non 20 millionaire home - the AN E is about as good a speakers as can be had for the room size it was meant to be placed in and it's an all rounder. That's all that it is. There is only so much speaker that can be achieved in the average living room. The Acapellas and WEs and Soundlab U1s of the world are not designed for these rooms. If I has the large room I would not have the AN E so I don't think we disagree here.
And perhaps you have heard a specific Solid State amplifier that is superb that I have simply not heard. I keep my mind open and I have liked SS but the ones that have sound really good to me cost $200k and up.
Lastly, you should consider that you are in the top 0.001% of audiophiles - my commentary really isn't directed to you - it is directed to the 99.99% who spend less than $10,000 on amplifiers and speakers. All of which is a totally different segment than the one in which you inhabit. You can buy a SET and an AN E for $10,000 and place it in a 150 square foot room. You are not getting any of your favorite horns in that room with a SS amplifier and doing better in all likelihood.
I guess I am not clear what you expect from a review of highly expensive gear. Let's face it. The reviewers don't have different rooms in their mans-- uhh houses that they can use to optimize gear, including speakers. Their listening spaces are probably much better suited to cheap gear. In addition music is infinitely more varied than test tones so unless you standardize what is being played you can't easily compare.
I have to assume that they review expensive gear because that is what pays the bills for the audio designers and the mags, not because they can review it properly (which admittedly would be very hard.)
What do you do with the Rotel RB 1050 that’s listed in your equipment profile? Just curious.
Audiophiles spend too much time hand wringing about things like amplifiers. The room and the speakers are the most important things for how a system will sound. But since the vast majority of people have no control over their room they stick their fingers in their ears and turn to looking for other things to play around with. Since you asked I really like the good Pass amplifiers. The best sounding amps I've heard are the SIT-1 amps, they do not sound like SET amps. Even the best ones I have heard which are DHT driver and DHT output tube with filament bias. They might have some qualities of those SET amps, but they have superior resolution as well as sounding just a hair more real on stringed instruments (I include piano in that). To give another example a guy who I know has better hearing than me thinks the Dutch and Dutch 8c are the best sounding speakers he has heard, these use Class D amps. I am not that surprised they sound that good to him because they essentially "fix" the room, going back to what I said about the room being far more important than an amplifier.
On typical rooms you can see as much as 20 dB swings in the bass in even with some "good" (more like popular) audiophile speakers. The smaller the room the worse the system. That is no way transparent but as humans we quickly get accustomed to listening through things.
I like to think I have an open mind. Several years ago I traveled around the country (and outside) to hear many very expensive systems. The ones I was most blown away by used digital crossovers properly, when done right these sounded incredibly close to live music. Within months of that I was selling off my entire vinyl collection that I had spend years very carefully curating. I was one of the most die hard vinyl proponents; it still sounds damn good in my small system, but not real. Even Michael Fremer has said the best system he has heard that sounded closest to live music is a digital crossover setup using very large horns (I think this system is in Greece), I was impressed that even he could have an open mind when hearing the right system.
I don't try to post about measurements or the more objective side of how we hear on this forum, since I realize most people here are looking for a sound. It's not just piano and orchestra music that I value so highly (regularly going to the BSO and NYPO), this is my close friend's mom, an accomplished violinist focusing on baroque and early classical music and I regularly hear her string quartet group in their living room.
On being one of the top audiophiles, if that comment was in regard to money, I didn't fall into it When my friends were partying in undergrad I was memorizing useless biochem pathways. When they were seeing live music at festivals in the summers I was doing sub-i as an M4 student barely getting a couple of hours of sleep. I didn't read any harm into that statement, just thought I should clarify, I know I have gotten flack about this in the real world from people that do not know me well. Sorry if that came off as defensive, it really was not intended that way.
I'm not exactly a big Stereophile (or TAS) fan, but FWIW, I don't think they should seek to limit reviews to equipment in a particular price range. Rather, they should be well-rounded, and try to review stuff in all price classes.
For instance, they kinda have to review the ultra-high-dollar stuff at least some of the time, as pics of that are what go on the cover and drive sales from 'aspirational' audiophiles. It's the same deal with cars, you see a constant steam of high-end sports cars or lux cars that 95% of the readership can't and will never be able to afford... but try putting a Toyota Yaris on the cover and see how many sales that gets your mag.
But, you also have to cover the low-price stuff, because that's what your future audiophiles are buying. If you don't grow or maintain the hobby, it will eventually shrink to a smaller and smaller circle of rich old guys, and they can't stick around forever.
And, you also have to cover the middle price ranges, because that's where the bulk of your readership actually lives, and you ignore their needs at your peril, i.e. "Yeah, I used to subscribe to Stereophile, but it stopped being relevant to me. Too bad."
So, you kinda have to cover all price ranges to the best of your ability, as challenging as that sounds. Where the major mags take flack the most I think is when they concentrate even more heavily than they have to on the very tip-top high-end stuff.
Yeah, we all get that you need to have a 'showpiece' component/review every issue, but if that's the bulk of your content, that isn't actually helpful to most of the readership. And beyond a certain point, it actually engenders a bit of resentment.
The YouTube reviewers do as well as they have in part because they tend to actually address the needs of the average audiophile. So, for the review mags, tons and tons of coverage of $30-300K stuff done in florid wine-tastery purple prose just makes you look sadly out of touch.
What digital crossover did you get then and why was it necessary to sell the records? Room correction dig equalizers just do an AD-DA conversion of the signal. It does change the sound a bit but doesn't prevent an analog front end.
I agree for the most part. Accurate, pleasent, I dont know?
I like, buy, covet my music and stereo if its pleasing to me from years of gear buying, taste, being a musician..
In other words I buy from brick and mortar stores? and online and I dont persue some unknown according to everyone with an opinion.
Ive been doing this for 45 years and with technology and opinions changing constantly I do what I can to get sound I like. If its Chinese tin crap or Russian repaints or American overpriced "we are #1 gear" I really dont care. What sounds best in my well setup room is my goal.
Ive had problems with the best gear a middle class man can acquire and the same with cheap gear, also had fantastic experience with great and not so great gear. I dont have answers but the decline of real stores has made all gear a crap shoot.
I still love it, CDs, vinyl, etc. but its getting to much Dac, adc, download, chipsets, numbers on lps outer grooves, this is not what the love of audio means to me but I understand others do love the minutiae. For me rolling tubes, and speaker placement is the most I do with the occasional wire cable replacement.
I miss my halcyon days of Stereo Review in the early 70s and discovering J.Gordon Holt and the information giant from Sea Cliff Long Island in the late 70 s. I put his phone lines in with my friend Howie in 1988 for some reason and signed a copy of the original Perfect Vision and still have it. I showed it to my LG oled calibrater Kevin Miller who was the editor of said issue.
Boy I ramble. This brave new world is getting harder for this almost 60 year old to navigate, I just want good music not navigate a rocket ship to Saturn. Thanks for indulging me, John M.
Nost reviewers aree not all that wealthy. On youtube you can see many of the Stereophile reviewers and their homes and all of their rooms especially Fremer's are pretty lousy.
And yet people slavishly take his advice as gospel.
Point is very few reviewers can realistically own a wide array of gear at a wide array of price points to compare. And room treatments are also a problem. Speakers interact with the room differently. With Focal speakers Bob Hodus covered the entire back wall behind the speakers with foam. Sounded terrific. That is not good for my speakers or perhaps most dipole speakers. It would take months and months everytime a speaker came in. It's not practical and afain, the reviewers aren't millionaires who can just own 8 different rooms.
I agree and that was my point. Reviewers are ill equipped to review expensive gear. So therefore the direction must come from the mag owner and vendors to concentrate on the super high end for financial reasons.
This post is very busy. Is there a huge concern John has moved in position at Stereophile and no longer editor?
You had $5,000 ($15,000 in today's dollar) to blow on your first system in 1979/80 era?
Well there is also another difficulty that was pointed out to me by Fred Crowder on our staff - Fred is one of the fortunate few reviewers with shall we say deep pockets - A reviewer who owns those $100k+ components.
As he pointed out - if a company does want to have a $100k preamp reviewed or is a $100k preamp requested - the manufacturer wants to see that the product is going to be put into a justifiable system.
If the reviewer owns a $4,000 Parasound power amps and $4,000 speakers - they are not going to generally be able to request a $100,000 preamp to review.
And the review may not even make sense because the rest of the system isn't likely able to reveal whatever improvement exists and it will be a useless review for the rich folks who can afford the preamp because they could care less if the reviewer says - hey this preamp blows away the preamp in my $4k preamp. It is a no win situation for the manufacturer - so why bother?
So on our staff Fred is the reviewer who typically, and justifiably so, will receive the top of the line ultra-expensive pieces.
And for those of us not nearly as well healed it becomes quite a lot more expensive to BE reviewers than what many of us get out of it. I have spent more being a reviewer than I would have spent arguably had I not been.
Granted there are some manufacturers who give reviewers free stuff and some that give reviewers specialized modified superior versions of the products. I know some of these brands so when I see a system list of certain TAS and Stereophile reviewers and I see that manufacturer listed - kind of roll my eyes. Anyway that's another topic.
But let's face it - if you are an experienced audiophile - reviews are kind of worthless - they are great starting points and a way to introduce you to designs or technologies you don't know about or have yet to try. AND you find a reviewer with similar interests in sound and then follow that reviewer. The actual title of the magazine is secondary. I follow the ears I trust more. And every magazine has a tube guy or a SS guy or a HE speaker guy and a LE speaker guy - (maybe some of them even have a woman on staff).
The audiophile who can drop $100k might be reading Fred Crowder but not reading dagogo as a whole. I am sure the audiophile in that bracket isn't reading my last review of a $449 Cambridge Audio transport lol. He probably spends more on one banana or spade lug!
I don't have a digital crossover setup now, my speakers are listed in my profile and they are still using passive crossovers. The Harbeths are ok speakers (they will be sold), the ESL57 is my reference for midrange magic. My wife loves the 57s as well so they will never be sold . I will be switching to a system that uses either Audiovero Acourate or Audiolense for the crossovers. These give you flawless time domain coherence not achievable by any capacitor/resistor/driver arrangement combination which is why I suspect instruments sounded so real on them when you lose that blurring that occurs with normal crossovers. Just so it doesn't seem like I was biased about digital going into hearing these various systems I did not know anything about digital/active crossovers at the time. I was still hearing systems that had front ends like Techdas Airforce 1, Technics SP-10 MK3, Walker, etc. I was actually thinking about getting a front end along those lines at the time, so I was still very much analog forward.
As for why not AD-DA with the vinyl, after I started comparing hi-res vinyl transfers to digital compared to a digital mastering on such reference worthy systems the digital mastering sounded truer to live on dynamics, tone, timbre, soundstage and imaging. I was never the biggest fan of vinyl when it came to classical, the loss of dynamics and fidelity towards the middle/ends of sides of records is very obvious to me, especially since I have a large collection of audiophile 45 rpm reissues which have most of the music on the first half of the record then empty dead wax for the rest. There are even some of those reissues that have as little as 5 minutes on a 45 rpm side. I've heard enough comparisons of good early/original pressings compared to 45 rpm reissues of classical as well, where having something side by side makes this even more obvious to other listeners present as well. Not saying the reissue won on all things, but on the issue of fidelity, dynamics and the increasing "compressed sound" as you got closer to the middle on the 33 rpm it was dead easy to hear. For these comparisons we were not using my old Nottingham Spacedeck/cheaper Sound-Smith cartridge, but my friend's nice front end with a Dynavector XV-1s.
I am keeping my records where the mastering is better on vinyl than on digital.
I think if JA measured this thread he would find it 'broken'.
I find that the sound quality does not get worse as you get closer the middle of a side, but more likely towards the end of the side, last 2/3 or 1/4. The middle of a 23 minute side should be gravy, no issues, speed is still high and if one is in alignment, not any degradation yet.
Comparing hi-res digital transfers of vinyl to digital? Digital what? What albums have you gotten in CD which you compared (same title) to vinyl captured to high-res? Or was it an HDtracks version? Or a DVD-A rip? You don't mention bit depth or rate, or the titles?
It's run off the tracks, pretty much.
Nearly all classical and jazz, resolutions from redbook to 24/192, for hi-res more DSD64 than hi-res PCM. For my ears mastering matters far more than resolution, there are many poor sounding hi-res transfers of classical attempting to modernize the sound just because it is hi-res. I may be way to critical a listener for my own good, for instance I was not happy with these Furtwangler SACDs that nearly everyone else loves (there are a few pages of praise about the box on another classical board with no dissenting opinions!). I have a real world reference for these instruments that don't often go through mixing boards, additional processing or distortion from amplifiers, etc. I am far more lenient on multi-tracked rock music.
For classic rock which I don't listen to much any more SHM-SACD of Sabbath vs UK first pressings, I sold all mine on the classifieds here. I do think there is a lot of vinyl on classic rock that sounds better than any digital counterpart for instance the UK first pressing of Electric Ladyland, that is a killer mastering.
Regarding the times of the sides and where fidelity loss occurs, it's more obvious earlier on acoustic music for me than classic rock.
Good to know.
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