What is high-end?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Oelewapper, Dec 28, 2020.

  1. Maybe overall theres a better chance of low end exceeding expectations than there is of high end meeting expectations.
     
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  2. Thorensman

    Thorensman Forum Resident

    It costs an arm and leg.
     
  3. One thing I’m pretty sure of. I’ll never really have to worry about a true high end system because I’ll never really be able to afford one. I guess it’s really a non issue around here for most of us. So why even worry about it?
     
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  4. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident

    Location:
    Austin
    I think HP did claim at some point that he coined the term. It doesn't really matter. The mindset at that time was that there were only a few select components that, taken together in a system, could most closely approximate the experience of listening to real, live music. At the time, HP had a convenient target to rail against-- the legacy audio press, which included Julian Hirsch. Audio magazine was of a different order, and of course, J.G Holt preceded HP in writing about the same thing, although the old Box 49 Elwyn Pa publication had a homemade quality compared to The Absolute Sound, which commanded your belief; JGH was in some ways less "absolutist" is his views, and provided us with a wealth of information including a set of definitions for the terminology that was used to describe sound.
    I tend to think of the High End as a term of art as emerging in this period, even though there were high end components made during preceding golden ages, e.g. the Marantz 7 tube preamp, double KLH 9s, and a few other "classic" hi-fi components from the post war era when DIY, kit and hobbyist audio (21 amp designs with full schematics!) emerged in the aftermath of WWII. All this home hi-fi stuff can really trace its roots back to sound for film, and the various efforts on that front, which make up the high efficiency horn camp that was the subject of another thread.
    Is pre-war Western Electric high-end? Oh, yeah, and then some. But, as a term or label, it is in some ways a creation of that era in the very early '70s when JGH was publishing and The Absolute Sound appeared. We were turned onto the Infinity Servo-Statik, the Levinson amps, early ARC tube electronics and Magneplanars-- stuff that was considered the cutting edge, and a publication spoke to us based on experience in using and listening to this gear.
    (I can't say I read everything published about home audio in the '50s and '60s but I was reading in the '60s and did more than a few look backs over the years, and that's my recollection unless someone corrects me).
     
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  5. John76

    John76 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Midwest
    High-end audio is having more money than sense.
     
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  6. Musicphil

    Musicphil Well-Known Member

    Location:
    West mids uk
    High-end to me is something of a £30,000 set up.
    I am in my mind in mid territory with my system and my cost approx £15000.
    It more important to have a balance system that's in sync at say £5000 than a system that is unbalanced and mismatched but cost £30,000
     
  7. Oelewapper

    Oelewapper Plays vinyl instead of installing it on the floor. Thread Starter

    Why?
    And why not 25k? Or 35k?
    And what happens when the value of those components drops significantly below that threshold?
    Would the system lose the high-end definition in that case?
     
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  8. Classic Car Guy

    Classic Car Guy Analog to the Next Level

    Location:
    Northwest, USA
    There you go. See that guy up there.. That's my Man.!.:shtiphat:
     
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  9. Classic Car Guy

    Classic Car Guy Analog to the Next Level

    Location:
    Northwest, USA
    Love it!
     
  10. Musicphil

    Musicphil Well-Known Member

    Location:
    West mids uk
    £30,000 and above is where products start to become serious money, I had the pleasure of hearing a £30,000 plus set up and it was a pure delight to hear. I have also heard a system I think was at around £23000 and to be fair was not sonically better than mine.
    So I class my set up as a mid system and above £30000 a high end, it costs significant more than mine and can sound better too.
    Having said that someone who is happy with a well balanced £2000 system might think theirs is a mid system, something up to £1000 entry system and to them £10000 plus is high end.

    As I said earlier, it's probably more important to have a balanced system that all components are in sync with each other.
    Price doesn't always mean better .
    So in truth it's all down to the individual.
     
  11. mds

    mds Forum Resident

    Location:
    PA
    As many have said already, High End is a big buck set up and has nothing to do with sound quality, but all to do with how much money is dumped into each component. The question is where does high end start, well I guess it is the point at which you no longer can afford to purchase that next piece of equipment.

    Rating systems that rank how great something sounds that is judge across certain price points seems to be what Stereophile is trying to do with its A+, A, B... rating system. I think that makes great sense in terms of identifying what is a nice sounding piece of equipment within its price range. Again what is nice sounding is subjective and should not be taken too seriously.
     
  12. rbbert

    rbbert Forum Resident

    Location:
    Reno, NV, USA
    How do you arrive at that figure?

    Well, no...

    It really has nothing to do with money and everything to do with sound quality, or perhaps more accurately how one perceives sound quality. One person's high-end may be another's mid-fi, depending on priorities and perceptions.
     
  13. Musicphil

    Musicphil Well-Known Member

    Location:
    West mids uk
     
  14. Ted Torres Jr

    Ted Torres Jr Stereo Synergy for All

    Location:
    SE LA
    BINGO!!! :righton:
     
  15. mds

    mds Forum Resident

    Location:
    PA
    I believe you are saying what I said even though you would like to disagree with my post. A great sounding $3,000 is not a high end audio system, but a $75K system is considered one even if some people do not like it sound, others do and therefore it is the price point that distinguishes the two. Now where doe mid-fi end and high end start that could be up for debate.
     
  16. lazydawg58

    lazydawg58 Know enough to know how much I don't know

    Location:
    Lillington NC
    To me high end is simply equipment that someone views as out of their price range. So for me any component that costs more than $400 - 500. Of course for many that is a joke. So it's all relative.
     
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  17. Ya, there was a huge sale recently at the local “high end” store of trade in arms and legs.
     
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  18. Thorensman

    Thorensman Forum Resident

    Conrad Johnson, Mc intosh,
    By reputation they are top notch,
    My idea of HI -End

    But I have never heard one.
    You pay for the R&D Time.
    And the years of devopment.
     
  19. rbbert

    rbbert Forum Resident

    Location:
    Reno, NV, USA
    No, as far as I am concerned it the sound which distinguishes high-end. Cost undoubtedly plays a factor; it is likely impossible (IMHO) to assemble a high-end system for $3000 (although a headphone only system could come close), much easier if one has $75,000, although money alone doesn't guaranteee high-end sound quality
     
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  20. Ted Torres Jr

    Ted Torres Jr Stereo Synergy for All

    Location:
    SE LA
    IMHO and IME (see my profile Info), I have truly obtained a "Live, Real, You-Are-There" 3D Soundstage that is mind blowing (What-you-see vs What-you Hear)! My audio component investment is a humble $6K (+CD music library sources 2x that), but have heard several High End $$$$$+ systems, none of which present Hi Fidelity in a live un-amplified music presentation any better!! :cool:

    Ted
     
  21. Ralph Karsten

    Ralph Karsten Forum Resident

    Location:
    St. Paul MN
    Yes. And so far I've not seen the correct answer on any of these pages. Certainly none of the above are correct; they are a subset of the actual.

    High end audio is not about cost. You can have an inexpensive system that can be high end. You can also have an expensive system that isn't. Its not cost.

    Its also not whether its made by a small or large company. Technics makes high end audio stuff. So did Radio Shack.

    There is only one thing that defines 'high end audio' and that is intention.

    Intention defines high end audio, not price, not availability, not where its made, etc., etc.

    Because some people have a mistaken understanding of what high end audio is, they feel they can't participate. They are suffering because they have a made up story which isn't real.

    The simple fact is you can put together an excellent system on the cheap and it can sound better than one that cost over $100,000. We all know this, we've all seen it.

    For example if you have a Dynaco SCA35 you can have it refurbished and updated with some pretty cool stuff. Its not hard to find speakers that will work with it; you can buy Topping DACs for cheap ($125 on ebay with shipping) that will eat some $5000 DACs for breakfast. This is because Topping has an intention to make good DACs while others have an intention to make money. You just need to learn to tell the difference and that is easy to hear.
     
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  22. rbbert

    rbbert Forum Resident

    Location:
    Reno, NV, USA
    I can't agree with most of that post. I'm not sure what qualifies as an "inexpensive" system, but over the years I have listened to hundreds of systems, both at audio shows and in peoples' home, with new, "used" and vintage equipment and have never heard a system put together for $10k or less (actual cost, not MSRP) that I would characterize as high-end, with the exception of a handful of headphone-only systems where the actual purchase price of mostly second-hand components came in at or around $10k. I'm not saying it couldn't be done, but I think it extremely unlikely. I suspect those who feel otherwise may not have heard a true high-end system (they aren't all that common these days).

    BTW, IME even the best $5k DAC's would only just qualify as "high-end", most probably not.

    I like Bill's post #104 above, and although his system is "high-end", he carefully avoids describing why
     
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  23. Ralph Karsten

    Ralph Karsten Forum Resident

    Location:
    St. Paul MN
    Too bad! I've heard plenty of systems under $10K that sound great. I've put a lot of them together myself.

    There's far too much expensive audio equipment that is simply built to make money rather than having the intention to be something excellent for audio. We've all seen that. If that's all you've been exposed to you might wind up thinking that cost is a driver. Its an influence but its not the defining factor. Intention is. I've been a manufacturer for 46 years and I first came across this question 30 years ago. I couldn't answer it at the time even though the answer was staring me in the face. But I've had time to come to grips with it. If you think its cost you stand a really good chance of putting together a lousy system that's really expensive. We've all seen that! Its intention, not cost.
     
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  24. I’m really believe in today’s market what I consider to be “high end” as far as a system goes starts in the 100k - 200k range. Great speaker systems alone can easily be priced at over 50k to start with.
     
  25. Ralph Karsten

    Ralph Karsten Forum Resident

    Location:
    St. Paul MN
    Or they might be $5k because you figured out that a Distributed Bass Array will fix the standing waves in your room, and having done that you then realized that the main speakers don't need to go to 20Hz; they just need to blend with the subs so 60Hz is fine. So now they whole thing is an order of magnitude less cash.

    Radio Shack bought Lineaum so they could use the tweeter on a speaker that cost $250.00/pair. The speakers got good reviews in the high end audio press. The speakers weren't perfect (find one that is!), but Tandy's intention to do that produced a product that keeps up with a lot of speakers costing a lot more.
     

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