matrix,you hit the nail on the head,i'am guilty as the next guy,audio is like an addiction,the changing of eqiupment never ends,very few audiophiles will admit to it and even though,i do accept the fact,that some system's are very musically satisfying,the b.s. and overpriced gear that the dealers and audio manufacturer's are selling are eroding the very nature of this hobby.
Matrix, you are right. We are all willing victims of the audio magazines and manufacturers who conspire to take our money. Unfortunately for them, sites like Audiogon return the power to us. Here, we are able to share information outside of that supplied by the Audio Gods and we are able to sell off our "mistakes" at a reasonable price instead of selling back to the audio establishment at fire sale prices. I have been able to buy much more intelligently since becoming an Audiogon member and while the internet fuels the addiction, it also prevents a lot of mistakes and has lead me to acquire a system I am extremely happy with.
I know what you mean guys, but I think that the complexities of putting a good system together are so great that there is a degree to which we have to go through a long series of mistakes before we can gain the appropriate wisdom - rather that than just deny anything other than speakers makes a difference and never try anything. But I reckon that learning from others' mistakes is a good thing and so I try to get to listen to lots of other peoples' systems too.
I agree with the previous posts. You know the drill--read a raving review on a piece of equipment, then go search different web sites for user reviews to (hopefully) confirm the positive remarks on the equipment, then go find one used on audiogon and buy it. Then when the equipment arrives, be a bit disappointed because the equipment didn't give you boosebumps all over and lift you out of your listening chair. We all have some degrees of upgraditis--as so many of us are familiar to that syndrome. I think even sometimes when we do get lucky and find a musically satisfying system, some raving review of a piece of eq will make us think--"hey, my system could be better!" Like Redkiwi says, system matching is rather complex, and I believe it involves some luck to have a synergistic system (if you are not using all eq from the same manufacturer). I think it's a good idea to have a piece of new equipment (whether bought new or used) in your system for at least 3 months before deciding whether to upgrade, instead of after a week thinking buying a more expensive product will give you that goosebump/chair-lifting experience. But all in all, through countless swapping pieces of audio equipment, when that first note of goosebump city sinks in, it's all worth the effort...
There is no doubt that this site has helped very much in making certain decisions, and many good ones on gear, but man does it have to be that expensive to make a mistake on a power conditioner or cables, I am lucky enough to not to lose huge, but I believe that the real tweaky stuff needs to come down considerably in price before I can totally believe in the industry again--and ive noticed that this trend has added to the sickness even more over the last few years with the access to the internet. however,I have to stick with the fact that it is the music we strive for not the brand name of the equipment. Maybe we need to go on audiophile strike or something to bring the price of brass spikes and such things down from 200$ a set to a more resonable amount for a couple of chunks of brass it just seems semi-ridiculous at some point.
In the best of worlds we could audition gear we're interested in in our homes, A/B'ing against the piece we're looking to upgrade. Then, paying at or near MSRP would be at least palatable, given the piece will probably live with us for some time to come. Unfortunately not only is this rarely possible, after reading reviews/ others opinions about some piece of gear, then briefly listening and perhaps talking oneself into "it's as good as my preconcieved idea" an impulse buy ensues. Then after living with it for a while, well..... At least sites such as this allow us audio malcontents a place to recoup some of our $$ and to try new gear without losing the farm. And I personally have found this particular site to be extremely educational.It's an expensive hobby, and high markups go with the territory. Paying professional athletes millions is possible because we buy tickets to the games and watch the commercials in between innings/periods/quarters. Audio prices will remain inflated as long as we buy and listen. Now, if you will wxcuse me, I'm going to put a bid in on that titanium treated, zircon encrusted spent uranium exposed toothpick that's supposed to rid ones tube traps from the effects of jitter resonating from my new Magnawatt Deluxe Mark XI window reflectonators. If I can just get him down to $1100......
Just chuckling to read all the hype about the Hi-end audio gears and reading the same sort of statments from my friends and seeing how one can blow away the hard earned money to the greedy dealers and distributors and the manufacturrers. I have very good friends with excellent electronics background with whom I consult often on. As an example, LAMM amps for $30K does not cost 1/10 to buld it and is not woth paying that much when you can get someother for very good sound for 1/10th e price of the LAMM. The room acoustics plays such a big role in all this music hearing that even with the most expensive gear for a total of $250K will not sound good. With most of us not affording to go that far it is stupid of us to fall for it. It is imprtant to be happy with what one has- happyness does come form outside us- it comes from inside. I have a gear for $20K I am not changing it...
A thought...and why the hype succeeds.
I have been a hi-fi enthusiast for over 30 years (I consider the term "audiophile" a perjorative that reeks with the scent of HP and all the other know-nothing self-appointed gurus who depend on "audiophiles" to slavishly follow them so they can reap the benefits of free equipemnt and "industry accomodation prices.) I have been down the high-end road twice. I left the hobby for over a dozen years and returned to listening to music, not equipment. I now build my own amps, preamps and make my own cables and power cords. It is emminently satisfying and produces a home listening experience you can't buy down at High End Inc AT ANY PRICE!
I know of no hobby where a larger percentage of its participants through such lavish sums of money at things they know so little about. And they become the rightful prey of snake-oil peddlers of magic wires and $6K AC cords, of exotic wood hockey pucks and pointy things that either "couple" or "decouple" (pick your ad) your amp from its platform.
Do yourself a favor. Next time you feel the need to upgrade, go to your local university bookstore and get a copy of their introductory text to circuit theory. Learn Ohm's law. Then get a copy of the 4th edition of the Radiotron Designer's Handbook or Tremaine's Audio Cyclopedia (both OOP), and start trudging through. Your fatter bank account will be your reward.
A secret - everything you need to know to build a good amplifier was already known by 1930. In 1927, Western Electric engineers built a single compression driver that had flat response from 80 Hz to 15kHz. Try to find one like it today.
Educate yourselves (yes, you're gonna have to do a little math, but it's simple algebra) and stop spending thousands on speaker cables with mystery boxes or "light" as an insulator (Geez, was Barnum ever right) so you can hook them to an output transformer that cost $50.
Even if you don't want to venture into DIY - but the very best in music reproduction in the home is coming off the workbenches of gonzo DIYers, not off the assembly lines of Krell or ARC - you will still know enough to not fall for all the BS and smoke and mirrors the Harry Pearsons of this world try to foist onto you.
An educated consumer makes wise choices. A man with the Recommended Components List in his hand is low-hanging friut ripe for the picking.
I have read some of the threads here and must agree with the person who obsrved that a large number of folks are assembling systems based on the status they convey and not the music the can play. If you know how this stuff works, it's not necessary to repeat their status-concious mistakes.
Feel free to flame away at my e-mail addy ;-).
Well, if it will make any of you feel better, my wife's hobby is collecting souvenirs. Her plastic snowdome collection alone has cost more than $30,000 in the past 7 years. My main system right now, some of it purchased used cost under $4000.00. I find this hobby (hifi) to offer a lot more bang for the buck than my wife's. I would estimate that I have only spent $2K additional on stuff that I did not end up keeping and then either sold or gave away to family members. I realize that many of you have much more expensive systems, but just think of those 2500 or so crappy plastic souvenir snowdomes the next time you get bummed about the money.
Psieg- Lots of what you say is probably correct. However, not all of us have the ability or time for DIY. One thing this site does is allow us to dabble w/o spending huge sums. And I guess some folks get a lot of pleasure out of spending big $ on audio, others buy cars and others design and build audio (or cars). I imagine you get as much pleasure out of the design/build process as you do from listening (or maybe as much when you add in the pleasure of knowing how much $ you saved. Anyways, just my thoughts, but please try to be tolerant of those not as talented, skilled, or with as much free time (I envy all of the above). No flames here, though.
But why would the magazines persuade us to buy junk? They are the most ethical people out there, right?
Swampwalker, I am being tolerant. For years I was working 60+-hour weeks and was a "checkbook" audiophile simply because I had money but no time. Even so, that didn't stop me from continuing my "education" in things electronics which started in grad school (Math) when I took a sophmore-level EE circuits course.
I agree with you. Not everyone can DIY. But I do think everyone can make themselves into an educated comsumer. I assume people in this hobby are reasonably bright from the simple fact that someone is paying you a big enough salary to be able to afford these audio baubles. That implies some level of intelligence.
Why trust an audio reviewer (ever wonder how one "qualifies" to be a reviewer?) or a dealer ("High End Done Right!") when you can trust yourself?
This is interesting. What drives me is the unexpected quality of a piece. I have put several pieces in my system that just completely blow me away. I then always say to myself is this is that incredible how great is the next level? I will agree that living with a piece is different form hearing it in the show room but sometimes it really grows on you.
I agree Perfectimage, I believe it isn't a matter of complacency, I think it is what we are exposed to which determines whether we are happy. Some guys find it hard to believe that a simple power cord will affect the sound to the level that it does, while others are replacing the internal wiring on thier point to point wired amplifiers, all in the quest for sound. What bothers me are the guys that know the difference, are unable to obtain the component or wiring and take the sour grape attitude. Life is pretty cruel to some. What this has to do with the original thread, I'm not sure. But it needed to be said.
Jacks, my man, I'm not sure where you are coming from but I assure you I am not taking a sour grapes attitude. I design and build my amps and preamps to play music the way I hear it live and am totally satisifed with the result.
I have owned some very high priced and well received gear (I was a corporate executive who was well paid prior to retirement)that was totally disappointing. In my retirement I have returned to my electronic roots and can assure you that any competent DIYer can build something that will outperform the rip-offs down at High End Inc.
Throw away the 'Pile, TA$, Ultimate Envy and all the rest and buy a copy of the the Radiotron Designer's Handbook. Trust me, you will cry at the $$$$$ you have wasted on crap that doesn't and can't make a difference.
V=IR. It's the law, man. Just do it!
(BTW, if a power cord radically affects the sound, you own a component with a poorly designed power supply.)
Tell me Psieg, what have you done differently to your power supply that differs from the Radiotron Designers Book and hasn't already been attempted and accomplished from the multiple manufacturers out there now, and in the past?
By the way, I've been to the DIY shows and have heard the DIY amps and pre-amps. I'll gladly spend my money ...
I think the DIY guys are passionate about what they do, I have a close friend who makes his own gear which sounds very good. Something created from you own plans/hands always sounds better to you. My kids are better looking, smarter etc than yours. But like Jacks, I've been to the shows and heard many DIY systems, and well..... If something sounds better to you, and you have the recources to obtain it, great. If you have the time to DIY and you love it, great. To each his own. Personally, what with time constraints and all, if I've got a few spare hours of free time, I'd rather listen. And instead of picking up the soldering iron, I'll tee it up.
Jacks, I don't really think you would understand. Your question isn't even phrased correctly. As for the comment about DIY shows, whay am I not surprised?