Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Oelewapper, Dec 28, 2020.
What is high-end?
Oh baby, don't hurt me
Don't hurt me
It really is quite simple: High end is what I spent and what I have in my system. Cheap **** is stuff that costs less than my system. Crazy, stupid excess is anything that costs more than my system.
Makes more sense, bought my son a nice system for 5k, he’s now going to add a turntable so 6,500 after that. We listened to a bunch of things below this price point and definitely was a very easily noticeable difference to jump from 3k to 5k. Definitely prices jump from there pretty easy, 10k system would probably sound better but double I doubt it maybe 10-15%. Then jumping to my listening room, you can spend 20 times the amount for maybe a third better sound. Depends on your preference and ears, subtleties can seem more substantial to different people. Feeling low end can be more important than, hearing a singer licking their lips or taking a breathe. I personally think people over look amps and preamps when starting in hifi, I think good advice is whatever you plan on spending on speakers, spend the same on your preamp/amp. I’ve seen too many people looking to swap speakers when the bookcase speakers they have can be great but are 85 sensitivity and they are trying to power them off a 40-50 watt receiver. When I owned LS50’s they might have been small bookcase speakers but needed 150 watts of good power to shine, more was spent on the amp then the speaker there. Most floor standers are more efficient and can sound great with less expensive lower wattage amps, also don’t need a separate sub for a fuller range. I think those are two areas new comers often make their mistake. If you’re not limited in space you can often get a fuller sound from a larger speaker for slightly more in price then the bookcase in the same series but often the larger speaker is more efficient and can easily run well off a more reasonably priced amp due to needing less power(watts).
Great assessment. I guess the only thing is that I believe what would be considered even reasonably good equipment prices have gone “off the wall” in recent times making it difficult for the majority to step up. Very unfortunate in a way.
High end is stuff that is way beyond anything obtainable by me. I know a dealer that assembles such systems and it often involves some whacky steps. He wanted to buy vintage drivers and parts to assemble a system and he took the buyer to the home of someone who had the right stuff. The seller had a system put together in his basement, next to the washer/dryer. For this big ticket demonstration, the seller used a Sony walkman as the entire electronics package (the speakers were very efficient). The buyer agreed to the purchase and handed over something like $200,000 in cash (the seller had a run in with his bank and did not trust banks, hence the cash transaction). This same buyer had a massive tri-amplified system that utilized two pairs of Audio Note Gaku-On amps--one pair for the midrange drivers and one pair for the tweeters. When it was determined that the Audio Note Kageki amp worked just as well for driver the tweeter, at something like a $200,000 savings, the dealer offered to take back one pair of Gaku-Ons in trade for the Kageki plus the cost difference. The Buyer decided to buy the Kageki and keep the Gaku-On pair as "backup"; I suppose it is better to be safe than sorry. No, the buyer is not crazy, and in fact, he spends far less on his gear, as a percentage of income or wealth, than I do.
I will probably never know. And it's better that way - at least for my savings account...
I have several systems at home. The main system uses Classic Audio Loudspeakers model T3.3s, which employ dual TAD 15" drivers and are perfectly flat to 20Hz. The first breakup in the midrange horn (field coil powered) is at about 35KHz. Its very fast, smooth and due to relatively high efficiency (97.5dB/1 meter) also is good with dynamic range. Due to standing waves in the room I have additionally a pair of Audiokinesis Swarm subs to break up the standing waves, so I have accurate and uncolored bass to 20Hz.
Maybe I need to define some terms. If I find the system satisfying (sounds great) it will be full range and will be capable of fooling me from time to time by reproducing sounds from the recordings so well that it causes me to think the sounds are real and not from the stereo. A goal of high end audio (unlike 'mid-fi', which is how I describe box store products) is to get the music to sound real. Its not going to do that all the time; recordings (and I'm saying this from the perspective of having a recording studio for the last 50 years with my own LP mastering operation) being what they are (FWIW if you ever get to hear a direct microphone feed from really good mics it can be spooky).
You don't need a lot of money to do that. One of my smaller systems is my bedroom system, which has an amp I built that only makes 5 watts/channel (using EL95s in ultralinear class A operation, fully differential and full power to 100KHz, two inputs with a volume control; I wanted a low power PP amp that was actually built to a decent standard...). I found the M&K subwoofer on Craigslist for $150.00. The speakers are KLH model 19s which employ full range 4" drivers in a bass reflex enclosure, made in the mid 1960s; I got the off of ebay for $160.00/pair (I did have to work on them to make sure the front baffles didn't rattle). Coupled with a Topping E30 DAC (surprisingly smooth and relaxed, I've seen it eat $4000 DACs for breakfast and I paid $125.00 for it ebay including shipping), this system can be quite convincing. Its fooled me a number of times by making sounds that sounded like they were really in the room. My investment in that system is under $1500 total. I think I paid $12.00 at a pawn shot for the DVD player which I use as a transport. I paid more for the SPDiF cable that feeds the DAC! It is a bit annoying that it pauses between tracks but I don't care enough about that to replace it yet. I built all the cables myself except for the Audioquest digital cable. So it has nice interconnect cables and nice speaker cables which cost more than the speakers. But it all works solely out of intention. Its certainly not the investment! I can't play it loud- the room is a weird shape and won't allow it and there's the WAF to deal with. I doubt the amp ever makes over a watt. But it images nicely and has good depth and after some tricky placement of the sub, blends well with extension into the bottom octave.
If I heard sound this good at a show I'd stay and listen and throw fun torture tracks at it. IMO Topping has been embarrassing the high end digital world with their DACs just as Technics has done with their SL1200G in the turntable world.
If price really had anything to do with it there wouldn't be so many people on all these different forums. Price is an influence- its not the cause. You can look at it this way: if you seek excellence, look for someone who is doing it because they love it and not for the money. In this regard it really doesn't matter if its audio, bicycles or whatever. People who make the best stuff make the best stuff because they want it to be the best stuff, not because they want to make money. This fact is well-known. Its intention, not price. The only reasons price is an influence is sometimes some parts are expensive (like Teflon caps) and the Veblen Effect. The industry loves the Veblen Effect....
The Veblen Effect, you say? I thought that was a Gibson trademark.
Yes, I had that revelation.
Whereas I believe that, with the introduction of excellent budget DACs, streaming, and outstanding Class D amplifiers such as Hypex and Purifi, truly outstanding audio reproduction has never been so attainable at minimal prices as it is today. It's largely a matter of whether you're happy with clean, distortion-free components or whether you're looking for some sort of euphony that colors the signal in a manner you find pleasing.
1980, Wilson Audio in New Orleans, Rogers LS3/5A when I Heard the Magic that 2-channel stereo Promised!!!
It Was a religious experience that 41 years later, I can still vividly recall the revelation of what I heard in that demo room on a beautiful Fall day! The journey to achieve for myself that illusive holographic 3D presentation has been long and bumpy, but well satisfying and worth all the effort!
Yes...I Know it when I Hear It!!!
Anything better than you have now.
High End are components which have a price tag that makes you wonder if these people are insane.
It also usually sounds really good.
I still like the term: HiFi. Simple really. Fidelity to the source. IE: Truth. Nothing more-nothing less. Simple really. The rest is…..
High End is outta my price league.....
If it's expensive it has to be good right?
But seriously, I would just call high end anything that sounds and measures better than most other products.
Based on a number of comments from pretty knowledgeable audiophiles, I'd say the high end represents whatever the current pinnacle of reproduced sound is, as articulated by the legacy press (and the various outliers whose views are considered valid) but that is a constantly changing state of affairs. If you are in the business and could get constant access to the newest and "best" you'd likely have a different view than the average guy who plunks down money, sometimes a lot of it, to get a system that can deliver the goods and isn't an outlier. (Outliers are harder to resell).
I saw a couple things about the latest Stereophile "List" of ultimate components. This kind of thing does not matter to me.
I'd start at the beginning, and leaving aside cost, listen to systems that purport to deliver the best that is possible today. And with that information, proceed to evaluate equipment without taking in the sales pitch, based purely on performance, with sufficient controls over the evaluation process ---and a wide enough selection of material-- to know you are getting pretty good handle on the equipment side.
One of the things that I wonder about sometimes, is how our choices in one area of the system affect perceptions of additional components elsewhere in the system. That means that some of this is very random, in the sense that the potential buyer is locked in to going in a certain direction given what they have. And the wholesale change of approach, with all new equipment, is often costly. So it is wise to make the "right" selections at the outset. How do we do that? (I'm not offering a magic bullet, but instead, indicating how hard it is for people to assemble systems that are truly synergistic in the sense that they deliver more than the sum of their parts, are within a defined budget and can prove enduring-- the budget may have to be "tweaked" but you won't be on the Merry-Go-Round).
Not if they don't care. It's like people who don't care about comic books; they're missing out on.......comic books ! They think of us like people who're missing out on an entire world of wonderful.........comic books ! (not comparing really, but you get the analogy)
You gave me a good idea of a very long threading we can start...
"What triggered you to Hi-Fi?"
The sound: You cannot tell if it is live or Memorex.
The look: It will survive WWIII.
High End equipment generally has a few things in common.
I don't think High End necessarily has to start out as expensive. However it could gain a reputation that makes it high end and then in turn will start costing more to obtain it. In other words high end equipment tends to also cost a lot and ends up making it more exclusive.
A company can start out as just part of the crowd, maybe their products where just a little more expensive than the rest. They could have charged a little more because they where using the best parts they could get. They built great sound quality and durability charging a little more for it, they can also give better warranties to their customers. After awhile the company grows with a very good reputation for their products. In turn they strive to do better and better charging more as they elevate their product.
A lot of the good high end audio companies did the above, preferring to put quality units out over quantity of units.
For me it is because I enjoy the emotions and feelings of music. And high quality hi-fi presents those emotions and feelings better than the average hi-fi.
My deeper dive happened when I finally got to hear a high-end level headphone system. And wow! The sound quality and emotional indolent in the music was so much better than I'd heard on typical speaker systems and headphone systems. Wow! And I had to get me some of that. And I did.
I've lived in apartments and condos where a speaker system would get me evicted if I played music at the levels I like to listen to. So I do headphones. I live in a condo with neighbors below and beside me. I'm listening to the new MONO album (released today in 24/96) right now at a volume that my neighbors would never allow if I was using speakers. But I'm on headphones so they don't know. And I'm really enjoying this new album at about 90 dB and I wouldn't be able to do that if I were using speakers. But on headphones I can.
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