While I have not needed to downgrade in order to better enjoy my stereo, I have come to a point where I care less about audio and subsequently about the sonic defecits in my stereo. And now that I have started to invest in other interests that have more to do with life, I enjoy my system more than I did in the past. Some people continue to stay cool while they upgrade, some upgrade with blinders and relentless neurosis, and others, like me have to bail out to some degree in order to be more satisfied customers.
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I have an all "Brit" system including integrated and monitors, with subwoofer. CD, turntable, and tuner as well are British. All and all very enjoyable and musical. Brits listen to the "music" more than the "equipment".
I have tried various American and Japanese speakers and components. I think the British have them beat.
>>>Any recommendations in actual simplifications in audio as well as simple technical titles for DYI beginners would be much appreciated!
Drop me an e-mail if you would like a collection of helpful online DIY tube articles/sites. (you can't send an attachment over the Agon email so I need your address.)
If you have a small enough room, try listening to the Spendor S3/5 driven by a modest SS integrated amp, such as a NAD (ARC Complete will probably work also). If you want audio fireworks or teeth gritting, analytic sound look elsewhere. However, if you want to relax and enjoy the music... this set up has worked for me.
I replaced monoblocks, preamp and outboard phono stage and all their cables with a Rowland Concentra integrated. No dropoff in performance and a very pleased wife. Then I sold digital transport and DAC and DVD player and bought a better DVD which plays CDs to my satisfaction. Then I bought a new phono cartridge. Then I bought a pair of enormous passive subs and an active crossover and another power amp. It never ends. Listen to Musikat.
No matter how good or expensive your rig, it will pale in comparison to real live music. So your attitude toward it will be "half full" or "half empty" depending on your mood. Try this: devote your attention, energy and money to collecting and enjoying music. Forget about the hardware and invest in software.
As for me I just heard a new CD from Dave Eshelman's Jazz Garden Big Band. It is superbly recorded, superbly performed, cool music. (www.jazzgarden.com) Knocked my socks off. So relax and have fun!
My work office system is all British except for the tuner. I agree that for compact lower cost audiophile systems, British gear is really great and leads the pack!
They usually win in the styling department also.
A partial list of compact sized audiophile British brands speaks for itself....
Creek, Arcam, Musical Fidelity, Linn, Naim, Rotel, NAD, Cambridge Audio, Roksan Kandy, REL Subwoofers, B&W Speakers, Epos, Tannoy, Mission, Mordant Short, Wharfedale, KEF, and so on....
I could easily limit myself to that list and be very happy. I would only cross the English Channel over to Holland for cables (Van den Hul and Siltech).
I like Canadian gear once I move up the line a little; and do like the "budget" offerings by Blue Circle, Sim Audio and Bryston as well.
At some point it makes sense to stop worrying about upgrading and instead just sit back and listen to the music. As someone pointed out above, no matter what you do it's never going to sound live.
For myself if I went from dual RELs to a single REL subwoofer would my system suddenly become unlistenable? Of course not. The fact is I could elminate both subwoofers and still have very fine sound. By themselves my M-L main speakers go down to 35Hz. This doesn't mean that my subs are superfluous. It means that they are a luxury, icing on the cake so to speak. I suspect many audiophiles could eliminate the luxury items from their system and find that they still have wonderful sounding systems.
This is an old thread relating to this topic. Check out Albert Porter's response. It really captures the essence of how little equipment anybody really needs.