Brand preference and opinions

Like cars with many brands, it is generally considered that Mercedes Benz, BMW, Lexus, Audi, Acura, Rolls Royce, Porsche, etc... to be in the top group. Ferrari, Lamborgini, Mclaren, etc... to be in the elite group and of course Toyota, Honda, Ford, Nissan, etc... to be in the general group.
Getting back to audio, I am looking for your opinion as to what is in the top group. For example, I think Conrad Johnson, Mcintosh, Mark Levinson, etc... brands to be in this group.
I like your opinion what would be in general the top brands for this group in the order of what is considered higher level.
My reasoning.... I am considering buying a amp/preamp or integrated amp based on brand only just like some people who buys a low end Benz for the prestige even though they could have had a higher end Lexus for the same money
It is hard to shop like that because, as high end cars are a finished complete product, the amp is just one piece of the puzzle and being top shelf alone does not mean it will perform good. I have heard very expensive amps and speakers sound terrible together (Lexicon and B&W) Synergy is just as important as the product itself. Some gear, no matter how expensive, just does not sound right.

If you have the set of speakers that you are set on keeping, that do everything you think is right, try testing different amps until you find the one that works the best. Speakers can be forward, laid back, image tall, short, focused wide, laid back, bright etc... you need to find the amp that will match your speakers signiture the best. Be patient and it will come. What type of speakers are you using?
Shopping this way (by brand name) will be (unless the gods are with you) a crap shoot as far as achieving the sound that turns on your tympanics. Hearing is believing. Now if you don't have the option to listen, fasten your seat belt. Your list? There are going to be oodles more to come. Give a price range, if you want specifics. ML goes into the stratosphere $$ wise, as do many of the brands you mentioned. If you're only interested in impressing your audio friends, this will be easy to make recommendations. Now, if you're intested in sound?-- (just a little subjective) There's as many opinions as brands. good luck. You're going to need it.. :)
Pawlowski, tell us what you really think.
But to try to answer, if I had unlimited funds to spend on audio gear, which I don't, and wanted to buy a show piece amp I'd go for the Rowland Concerto integrated amp. That amp is just sexy.
The sad part is Shsu isn't the only one that buys gear this way. There are many that only look at certain brands it sounds comes second! LOL

This IMHO is ridiculous. Those IMO are want to be audiophiles or music lovers. The foundation of this hobby is listening. If you can't do that.. no need to bother with the rest.

As one poster has said "good luck"..cuz you're sure going to need it brother!
gmood, you're right. Why I wasted my time with that post is beyond me. Saturday enui, I suppose

I'd listen to the brands first. Sure take the brand name into account as resale is something to consider. But like the cars MB, BMW, Audi, Lexus, Infiniti all have very different driving characters and interiors. I couldn't stand a Lexus or Infiniti but they'd have a great resale (well maybe not the Infiniti) but what's the point of buying something you use every day but dont' like? Get out there and listen. You'll be suprised at the differences in sound amongst the different brands.
Shsu....Let me jump in on the side of the minority opinion. We enjoy a hobby that includes magic rocks, Timex clocks that work wonders, dots placed on windows, $18K interconnects, racks that cost thousands upon thousands of dollars, moving speakers a fraction of an inch to achieve God only knows what, and we have the balls to call shopping by brand a crap shoot? (Honestly, not directed at Warrenh). This entire hobby is a crap shoot at best. Buying by brand for prestige doesn't really seem all that far out there. Thanks for your patience, I'm a Steeler fan for the last 48 years and not in that great of a mood at the moment. Now, please let me get back to putting on my white gloves to change LP's.
My guess is you want to impress your friends more than for your own personal enjoyment. Folks, actually some people are like that and there is nothing wrong about it. It's their choice. I've seen some people who don't play the piano at all but have huge 6' grand pianos in the living hall just for show. An audiophile or music enthusiast may think of this as ridiculous but those who have the same intention may think of it as perfectly fine. If you look at a different perspective, some non-audiophiles may think of us as crazy spending thousands of $$$ on cabling alone, which to them may not make any sense!

Or maybe the original poster didn't fully explain his intention of getting components based on 'brand' only BUT at the same time sounds good?
I don't think that Shsu's approach is all that different than what many of the posters in this forum actually do. Just re-read some of the answers to different forum topics here ... who won't buy anything made in China, who will only buy brands that can be resold in 30 days for what he paid, who will not buy anything that is from a mid-fi brand (as defined by price, not performance). There is a good deal of audio snobbery here.

With the shrinking number of audio dealers in many places, the ease of purchasing over the internet, the amount of information easily available about a lot of components, and the reality that most audio equipment is rarely pure crap (or at least to 99.99% of the population) ... is purchasing a well respected, luxury brand name all that crazy an approach?

What might be crazy is buying something sight unseen and sound unheard. But if you buy an accepted brand, you can always resell it. Hell, that's mostly what goes on here.

I am in this hobby for close to 40 years now and I know that there is no substitution for listening and being open to switching around components (it is a hobby after all), but enough people over the years have looked down their noses at the pedigree of my systems. One of the nicest sounding bedroom systems that I ever owned was comprised (all new prices) of a $130 Technics receiver, $120 Pioneer CD player, and $150 Bose 101 speakers (the original butt ugly wedge shaped enclosures made for outdoor use) with Radio Shack cables. The system had a sense of air around the instruments and a soundstage that few would believe.

Regards, Rich
I am considering buying a amp/preamp or integrated amp based on brand only......

In that case, I would highly recommend Brand X!!!
Buy it today!!! :)

It's not a new purchasing style. In the 1970's lots of people bought McIntosh stuff this way. Granted, much of it sounded great, but the folks I'm thinking of didn't have a clue that was the case. They bought it because it was McIntosh and anybody who thought they were anybody had it.

So Shsu, don't buy by brand, there's too many choices. Limit your choices by purchasing by cost. Without a doubt, the most expensive is the best!

Happy hunting...and, oh yeah, "good luck".
Excellent point Mags5000 and well made.

I only comment because I needed a break from "green lining" my CD's while waiting for the teleportation tweak call back.
Or maybe the original poster didn't fully explain his intention of getting components based on 'brand' only BUT at the same time sounds good?

Sound good to who?

Shsu seems to be more interested in what sounds good to others than what would sound good to him/her. No mention of the type of sound that would please him/her. Rich, warm musical or fast, dynamic, transparent. He/she only wants brand names, sound has nothing to do with it.

How about Boulder? They certainly make some expensive gear...... that should impress your friends.

Shsu is obviously a joker.
I guess for me it comes down to if I don't have a chance to listen, what would be safer to buy, a matched Mcintosh amp/preamp or a matched Yamaha amp/preamp.

I figure it is easier to sell to an audiophile a Mcintosh than a Yamaha thus for obvious reason, it is safer to buy something from the top group.

Also would I not be right to say that generally something coming out of Mark Levinson would be better than a Denon?

I love some people two liner response, please elaborate instead of just trying to increase their own thread count.

Honestly, looking for a $3-5k (used price) amp/preamp or integrated but i just can't subjectively go out and listen as the stores are far in between, they use different equipments and interconnects and most important, many of the models sold on agon are not carried at the local stores or must be ordered or no longer in production.
The threads here are a wealth of information, recommendation and opinions. They can easily be seasrched through. But, even then, you'll get conflicting answers. For example, I wouldn't buy McIntosh and don't consdier it high end. Whatever that really means and how ever you try to distinguish it in the thick middle of things. At the extreme's it's a no brainer: High = Lamm, Shinbdo, etc. Low = Sony, Bose, etc. I'm sure there will even be debates on this
mags5000.....if I could have said it as well as you, I would have said it long ago. Bravo!
Shsu, given what you said about the importance of resale, I would recommend that you buy Mcintosh. Although you will probably have to pay more than for comparable other products, you will be safe in resale. I don't know why you posted, however.
You need to include Audio Research in the group without a doubt!
Bose and JVC must be included in your short list.
Shsu... what kind of speakers are you using? If it's just about easy resale, then VAC, Audio Research, VTL, McIntosh can all be easily resold IF you buy them at the right price. Pay for the bluebook, it'll give you a good idea of what you could probably resell for. In general, I've found that you have to price right at or slightly below bluebook to resell a piece. This is a generalization that doesn't always hold true. Best bet is to watch and see what pieces sell for and how quickly...
BOSE 5.1 driven by Mark Levinson gear - you want people talking ???????? with this combo they surely will.....for a very, very long time.
Good Luck
Pass Labs, Balanced Audio Technologies, Cary, Audio Research, Lamm, EMM, Dynaudio, Wilson, Krell, Levison, Rowland, B&W, Theta.

You could do much worse
brand loyalty is still a factor in audio. also companies with a long history of acheivements and reliability....something that new companies can't get without the passing of time.....survival in the industry is getting tougher than ever....lots of classic gear is from manufacturers who have long since 'bit the dust'.
Some of us actually have untrained ears to actually listen and critize music. When I first heard some "high" end gear at an audio shop a few months ago, I almost peed my pants and pulled out my checkbook. I swore that I heard the most beautiful music in my entire life. But after a few auditions, I realized then that there are better stuff out there.

I myself have to rely on recommendation from friends about what gears to buy, then hope that it sounds good so I don't have to resell it.

Take it easy on him. He is probably knowledgeable with cars and trying to get an analogy that he would understand.
thanks ZYL8TR

when it comes down to buying something, i would like to try to get it right first time.
just like cars, something that is priced right from a top brand name company will sell faster and is generally of better quality and performance.
this should apply to audio as well. i would like to have fellow member give me opinion on whether the same idea can be used for audio and if yes, what brands would you recommend if I can't really audition and it is best bang for the buck.
just trying to learn, if i go to the stores, salespeople would be biased more than fellow agon members so i would think i can learn better here than walking to various stores as the stores would play different materials on different cd players and different speakers.
If I was looking for best resale value in high-performing equipment, I would look at: McIntosh, Mark Levinson, Ayre, Shindo, and Audio Research. All have very high resale value and sound great in many kinds of systems.
I would lean towards McIntosh in that I think it can be sold to, and appreciated by, folks who themselves are not audiophiles. I think it has a broader reach as a brand than the others mentioned. Oh, and it sounds mighty fine too.
My experience found Conrad Johnson makes reliable gear that works well with a wide range of speakers and holds its value well. Having owned many CJ products in the past, their amps and preamps always worked well together. Several of these are 'classics' today that continue to provide musical enjoyment. (Imo/YMMV No CJ components in my system and no affiliation with the company.)
Mark Levinson is Ferrari.

I think of Mcintosh as Mercedes Benz and their monoblocks is the AMG division.

I think of Krell as BMW, and their evolution series is the M\\\ division.

I think of Cary Audio as Jaguar. It appeals to older folks that have experienced it in the past.

I think of Rotel as Toyota. Best bang for the buck.

I think NAD as KIA. Unreliable back then and slowly becoming more and more reliable.

Haha.....just having fun. These are just my opinion and mine only.
You really have to listen to all the gear and don't worry about brand names. Go to all the dealers and shows that you can.
Went to the Rmaf in October and determined that there were 3 types rooms at the show. The 30 second rooms, the 3 minute rooms and 30 the minute rooms.
Some rooms you knew after 30 seconds you didn't care for the sound.
Some rooms took about 3 minutes to decide on the quality of sound.
Some rooms 30 minutes wasn't enough time because they sounded so good and you wanted to stay . These were few and far between. Price didn't seem to have as much bearing on the sound as you would think.
There were six figure systems that sounded mediocre and small systems that sounded great.
Go out and take your ears on a test drive. Don't worry about names but trust your ears.
ARC is like Cadillac?
CJ like Lincoln?

Mac is like Mercedes, but better resale, in that way more like Honda.
Magnumpi205, you are 100% correct, but that does not appear to be the motive or approach this fella is looking to take.
01-08-08: Zyl8tr
Mark Levinson is Ferrari.

LMAO! I'm just trying to figure out if you like or dislike Ferrari from that comparison.

Since Ferrari are expensive foreign cars, I would think MBL or Goldmund would be more apropos. Levinson more like a Lincoln Towne car.


No I love Ferraris and Mark Levinson. Both I can not afford.

MBL or Goldmunds are Lamborghinis.
Well, I'm with you on Ferrari's, I love 'em but can't afford 'em.
As for the ML, I can afford 'em, but I don't love 'em.
Maybe we only love what we can't afford......