Excellent intro. I'm with ya all the way on the value pro-position.
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I cannot count how many homes I have been in through the years. I have sat on many sofas, eyes closed just listening. It surprises me how many systems are not dialed in correctly when it comes to speaker placement. Just a quick note, your ears do the same job as your eyes but in a different way. Sitting in the sweet spot with your eyes closed allows your brain to focus on the information. It will build a picture of the space using just what it is hearing. Some of you know this I am sure.The next step is the tried and true golden triangle. This is where you start, measuring tape in hand. From that starting point, you can start tweaking the position for the best 3D image.
The most satisfying and really enjoyable systems I ever heard were the ones I built for friends and family where the total budget was $1200 to $2500. These were complete systems- power cords, interconnects, speaker cables, Cones under everything- just budgeted to their price point. One of them was set up in my listening room to burn in for a few weeks, and was so much fun to listen to that all during that time the main system wasn't even used. Had friends and co-workers over, all absolutely amazed at what $1200 could do. When you know what you're doing.
This site could totally use some more budget-minded posters. Welcome.
Now I’m gonna depart from traditional thinking and I’m sure many will scoff and throw stones but..... budget.
A vast majority of homes do not have a dedicated listening room so our stereo and theater share the same space. Now I’ll try my best to explain my thought process from here. All the magic happens in the stereo image, the center is mixed in mono and surround is effects. Spend your time and money in the stereo, once you have dialed it in you can now turn your attention to the rest except you shouldn’t have to spend so wildly. To hell with timbre matching speakers. Buy a Krell, Levinson etc. for your mains and depending on the speakers I would run a receiver or use a quality amp of lesser value. You basically want to keep pace with power but I feel spending hard earned $$ on a amp for effects and a mono channel defeat the purpose of a quality built amp, there is no image in mono. Find a quality speaker that reproduces vocals well enough and then tuning will get it close enough. I can elaborate further if needed.
An example of this is my present setup which is basic at the moment since I buy & sell. Denon X3500 and a Meridian 556 powering a pair of Gallo Reference 3.1 towers. My wife is slowly becoming an audiophile and we went to a friends house who spent a considerable amount of cash on a 11.2 SVS Prime speaker bundle and Yamaha receiver. On the way home, wifey started asking why I didn’t step in and fix the sound. I explained that I did what I could quickly but it is what it is. She replied our 5.2 kicks it in the ... and we spent half the money.
A friend at work came over one day she wanted a stereo for her husband for his birthday, what can we do? So I got her requirements and room info, got everything together, brought it all over and set it up so when he came home it was a total surprise.
Next thing you know the guy is calling me up all excited. In his business he goes to a lot of homes, guys with systems are always showing them off to impress, and this sounds better than ANY of them including ones he knows cost a small fortune... so how much did the wife spend???
"Really? I thought at least $5k for sure." He can't believe it. But its true. A little knowledge goes a long way. And yeah, it is gratifying.
That’s great. A little bit time and patience along with experience can take a system a long way. I purchased a complete Emotiva surround setup (Craigslist) with the ERT 8.3 and a 5 channel Emotiva amp. Sold within a week and made a few bucks. 6 months later I happened across the guy I sold it to, we chatted it up and of course we started equipment. I told him to dump the amp, he couldn’t understand why so I bet him $50 that my 25 year old Linn LK100 would make those ERT’s sound substantially better. I literally placed the Linn on top of the emotiva and went head to head with no tuning. His jaw dropped, 80x2 vs 400x2. Instead of taking his money, I sold him another amp.
Yeah. Its no contest. What's really funny, for all the arguments around here (among audiophiles!) what things matter and what people can hear, in my experience its like your friend, they hear these things easily and obviously. Every single time. Some stuff is hard to hear, sure. But in my experience everything I hear that seems big enough to matter, they hear it too.
The other thing is the importance of setup. The co-workers system was set up in like half an hour. Speaker position was like 10 min. Most of which time was enjoying the results. Tape measure, framing square, tweak toe. Rock solid imaging. Done.
A little knowledge goes a long way!
A few other observations. You guys are nuts. LOL. Some of the setups I have read and seen in pictures is just a whole different level. Me & my friends try and keep it simple at home, we build some large setups that can drag out for over week just to run a 2 hour show. Then tear it all down. We don’t want to work that hard at home. Sorta like the mechanic that drives a clunker.
Next, I’ve come to love/hate iall the YouTube (and other social channels) so called audio/video pros. This is what has kept my side hustle going for so long ;-) but wow, so much bad information out there.
I’m still using the tape measure most of the time and still tinker a lot, OCD.
As to what can be heard or appreciated really comes down to the listener. I had someone sitting on my sofa and his exact words were “it doesn’t sound right, the singers voice is in the middle” I had to absorb that for a few.
After 10 years of casually reading, I can definitely attest there some high level professionals here. Since they’re here and maybe reading, I have a question that for the life of me I cannot figure out. I’ll start with “I don’t know everything but” from what I remember, Many moons ago some scientist sat in the audience at a moving picture show. single speaker (mono) sitting dead center, that was it for sound. As things ran across the screen, it bugged him because the sound didn’t move also. He went home and now we have stereophonic imaging. Move forward, we realize that the stereophonic was limited to a sweet spot. That’s what brought about theater sound, so everyone could enjoy this magic 3D stereophonic image. I think you get where I’m going. In my opinion (legal disclaimer), a very large percentage of the population usually watch movies in pairs, so the stereo image would be superior (assuming it was mixed correctly). The question is Why do so many stereophiles, audiophiles and/or avid listeners still go full surround to watch a movie?
Cables. WTF is what comes to mind when looking at the price tags. I am a firm believer in spending some in cabling. Starting with shoring up your power as far as you can afford, literally swap out the 14 gauge cables in the wall if you can. Amplifiers are dynamic and need loads of current in waves, this is where all the life in sound comes from, power. Almost all of the amps I have enjoyed the most have always had 1 thing in common, large toroidal transformers. Clean, quality power is important for sound quality. But a few grand for 3ft of cable touched by thanos? Most amplifiers will see an improvement in overall performance starting with a quality 10 gauge copper cable, after that initial jump it really gets expensive for a marginal increase in performance. I still say to invest in quality cables, your whole system can and will evolve but cables and bass always stays put.
This is my first post as well, being new to the site and having recently returned to the world of high fidelity stereo after far too many years with bluetooth sound bars. In my fact finding stage there has been a wealth of information available, many wide ranging opinions and options out there to consider. I leaned toward a more minimalistic set-up given my listening space (a living room adjacent to dining room/kitchen in a condo), and it needed to do double=duty to embrace my TV/Blu Ray audio as well. I emerged with the following:
- Peachtree Audio nova300
- Dali Oberon 5 floor standing speakers
- Martin Logan Dynamo 300 subwoofer
- Primare NP50 streamer
- Rega Planar 3 turntable
This ended up at the $4,400 mark which I feel satisfied with for the sound that I am basking in now that it's breaking in. A pair of Meze 99 Classic headphones is on the Christmas list to round it out.
And now on to buying back all the LPs I got rid of a decade ago....
There are so many ways to bring out the best from a system. First consider the outlet in which power conditioners and amps are plugged in directly. I replaced mine w/Leviton MRI82/83's Hospital Grade. What a difference from the $2 Leviton outlets. Dedicated circuit. Use the best conductivity plugs as well. I've found bare wire speaker connections sound the best. (If you're worried about copper corrosion, try silver plated copper. QED Revelation.) Recapped my Arcam Alpha 10 int. amp w/Kendeil. Superb! It will take a while before all components will blossom w/trial and error. I've finally reached the point in my reference system where I'm satisfied. Took many years! With effort, you can put together a very nice system w/little funds. Every detail matters and hopefully everyone finds "it" at some point.
A couple of things:
1) quite a few audiophiles have dedicated rooms, most people buying cheap systems don’t, they set them up in living rooms/family rooms that are shared with a tv usually.
2) nobody can correctly setup a room in 10 minutes like millercarbon claims. Millercarbon thinks he’s a gift to us all on knowing everything audio which he is not. The pros take hours and sometimes a couple of days to setup a audiophile system. It’s not just positioning the speakers, it’s room acoustics, listening seat position, and if you get time aligned speakers like Wilson’s, it takes hours just aligning them. If you take millercarbon’s system, it might take only a couple of minutes because you can only get so much out of it3) speaker positioning is an art. There are many recommendations on how to start. You can use the 1/3 or 1/5 start, the Cardas starting location, or Jim Smith’s, all each a little different. Also, these formulas differ depending on the type of speaker you are using. 4) I use Jim Smiths formula for seating distance which isn’t equal to spacing between the speakers
5) most families spend a few thousand on a stereo setup, but the real quality systems cost much more. If you think you can get a top notch system for $2500, save your money and get an apple HomePod. I have 5 systems throughout my house ranging from a HomePod, to wireless peachtree speakers, plus a couple of quality small speakers powered by ps audio sprout 100 integrated amps, but all pale to my much more expensive (50-60x more) dedicated audio system. You can get an enjoyable system for a few thousand $$$$ and I think it’s impressive how some manufactures can build a smaller quality speaker that sounds big, like raidho’s and Wilson’s for example.
Theater sound has not been about creating a larger stereo image since the 70s. Surround sound is about trying to put the viewer into the scene with sounds appearing to come from all around like in real life.
The center channel is not to widen the stereo image it is to lock the position of dialog with wide theater or home seating. It is not a simple left/right summation. For one or two this is why you can eliminate the center and have good results but still need the surround channels for the intended experience.
I agree with most of that. I have noticed many here have dedicated spaces for sound, but that is not very common. In my years buying and selling or for work, a vast majority cannot spend the money you are talking and chances are you will not be calling us for help to install. Budget builds start on websites like this and are very important for business. More and more people listen to crap speakers and more and more music is recorded in the studio and released the same day (sounds like it). I believe we have to get more average blue collar people into enjoying a quality setup or this business will go to catering to just you high dollar customers. Many buy high dollar receivers and 5 years later it’s obsolete, that kills there enjoyment. Bringing the average Joe into this hobby starts with the budget builds. Taking that $5,000 system and turning it into something top notch for pennies on the dollar by shopping here and adding a quality 2 channel amp, cables and at the very least a quality pair of speakers. This is 1st step on a journey.
I spent a good amount of time researching good components because I wanted it to sound good. I don't care if it looks good I only want it to sound good. I spent good money got everything home and have good components because good sound comes from good gear. A good guy once told me that your system is only as good and your weakest link. That sure was good advice. My room has good space in it and is treated good so in the end my system sounds good.
Researching a product is important but I think researching the who is more important. Speakers have been around a century, anyone can buy the loudspeaker cookbook and build something pretty decent. The sound engineers training, experience and knowledge play a big part in the overall performance and this is more important than the badge on the front.
I'm from the "baby boom" generation. It's a terrible thought, but as people in my generation leave this world, I believe the high-end audio business will shrink, substantially.
The thirty-somethings I know, who now have the funds to spend on the hobby are not following in our footsteps. Many of them have bought powered speakers that connect to networks and stream from their phones or iPads to the speakers. I suspect more of these speakers will become available in the future, maybe ones with DSP capabilities to better adapt to the room acoustics.
The only thing I can think of that might slow the shrink in the business is that younger people seem to be attracted to vinyl. But I suspect that digital and streaming will continue to dominate the market.
Erj1953 I agree. I got into different kinds of music because of the sound systems and quality of the recordings, it still amazes me what some of this stuff can do. But a large majority of the music presently available sounds horrible when you sit down and listen. This is in part due to the lack of experience. Experience that starts at home with a quality setup. You cannot dial in the sound if you do not know what you are looking for. So much misinformation and poor quality equipment permeates the market. This has made the sound engineer of yesterday a dying breed. This will continue.
It's exhausting reading MC drone on and on about how much he knows and the musical magic he can extract out of chewing gum wrappers and a paper clip as if he were a musical MacGyver. This theme permeates every thread he contributes to. I read this board less and less these days due to this dominating drivel and pathetic need for confirmation of his god-like abilities.
I realize I could just stop coming here if I want to avoid the the dose of literary Ipicac....which I probably will.
I understand the heat directed at a member but I cannot throw shade. Believe it or not, he is just as important to the business than many of the pros. This is because even partially getting it right is better than having it all wrong which is common in most homes. At the very least, it gets someone without a clue interested. That interest grows with time along with there wallet and enjoyment. Hopefully we see that customer on websites like this in the future.
djones Yes we are seeing more of the active speakers with DSP and some are impressive. I had about 3 minutes with the Dutch & Dutch 8c and I will admit I was impressed. Incorporating this into many of the standard budget conscious systems presents some questions since many are doing double duty as a theater also. Maybe I’m just overthinking it but it doesn’t allow for much tinkering. I am on amp #4 in my present setup, each had a different character and highlighted different aspects of the sound. This allows for some customization or tailoring to suit your taste.
Ok back to budget. Since I buy & sell I run across some great deals from time to time. A recent find was the well regarded Odyssey Stratos Extreme Monoblocks. After posting them for sale, I received quite a few emails asking the same 2 questions, why am I selling them and what am I replacing them with. (Legal disclaimer again) In my opinion, they are hard to beat at $3,500 new, they do deserve your attention. Used on the other hand is different, they reside in the $1,500-2,000 mark with shipping. At that price point in the used market I believe there are better amplifiers to be had.
Yep .... you can still get a great toe-tapping audio system without spending the wad or even straining the budget .
I have four systems ranging from $1,000 to $40,000. The one that I listen to the most is my comparatively modest home office system starting with TRIANGLE standmount speakers and an ARCAM integrated amp streamed from a PC and MAGNUM DYNALAB FM tuner.
Below is a recent audiofest review echoing the budget/quality matrix sentiment starting with the TRIANGLE BOREA speakers above were reviewed below. (NOTE the prices are in $CAD below, so it’s a third cheaper in $USD equivalent)
“ .... Canadian importer Motet Distribution partnered with several local dealers to spotlight its portfolio of high-end audio brands at this year’s Toronto Audiofest. Motet distributes several high performance audio brands including Plinius, Auris, PMC, Triangle, Lumin, VTL, Music Hall, Hifiman and iFi.
In one room, Toronto retailer Star Electronics / Motet demonstrated that you can achieve some great sound without spending a ton of money.
The affordable system here showcased the Triangle Borea bookshelf speakers ($599), Triangle Tales 340 subwoofer, Music Hall A15.3 integrated amp ($750), Music Hall C-DAC15.3 DAC / transport ($750) and Music Hall mmf-2.3wh turntable.
The music had me tapping my toes in seconds flat. Vocals were vibrant, clean, articulate and full of emotion. Guitars displayed detailed string textures as they danced around in the mid / high ranges. The bass was also surprisingly deep and well articulated for such a small and inexpensive system.
Overall, this was perhaps the highest value system I had the pleasure of listening to at the show. Amazing value! ...”
The small companies like that are most likely the future of high end. Harmon went buying out a lot of its competition for a few decades and now Samsung purchased Harmon. I havent been keeping track but there are a handful of companies that own a large percentage of the mid priced and down market. Quality suffers when this happens and why I try and pay more attention to the who designed the product vs the brand.
1st, you want to be at least 2-4 ft from rear and side walls and you don’t want anything next to your speakers. The triangle is equal distance from you and each speaker. All 3 sides should be equal. That is your starting point, from there you can start tweaking. If your ports are on the rear of speaker then you may want to be closer to 4 ft from rear wall. As you get closer to the wall the bass can get boomy and stage gets a bit muddy and loose. As you pull forward you loose some of the depth in bass but stage gets more focused. Toe in a little at a time, every speaker has different characteristics, strengths and weaknesses and your searching for a happy medium. That’s the basic idea.