Changing Amps?? Are you Sure??

All frustrated audiophiles out there,should heed this warning: stay with your amplifier if it sounds right to you.
I have wasted more money in the last 30 years, listening to the advice of the alternative press. You read "This amp is great, it does everything right". Then a year later, its not on the recommended component lists anymore. Listen people, if an amp is great, its great!! The fact is there are not that many good ones around. It has to be that many of the amps they recommended as great, really were not. They did not survive the test of time, not even a year.The Audio Research SP-11 preamp was just such a product.
Funny , when I sold my Audio Research D-150 amp(1976),to upgrade to the newer models, it was never quite right again. On and on went the upgrades into the hybrids, to the all fet input stages, only to finally return to my D-150 22 years later...mated to my quads. 22 years of wasted money. Anyone else go through this sort of thing? or am I from MARS
Frap, thanks for starting this thread. I was thinking the same thing reading my recent issue of Stereophile which by the way contained the annual recommended components section. Does anyone know if the press, such as Stereiphile and the like, ever publish the recommended components of the decade or a wider range of time other than a year? I think most of us would be more interested in products that can last a life time and not just a year as mentioned by Frap. We want long term advices and directions from the press. I certainly like to believe that newer is not necessary better.
No Frap, you are definitely not from Mars, or if you are, you now got company. The D-150 was a classic if there ever was one and with the Quads a bit of heaven on earth indeed. On another thread by the way, I told the story of my Threshold Stasis from the seventies, which now and again I insert into my system, when one of my amps is defunct or ailing. Again and again I am flabberghasted at how good this ancient piece of gear indeed is! The mags need to elect new kings of the hill frequently, otherwise they would bore us soon to tears, have hence less readers and soon no more advertising. They have to be read to stay informed about what is going on, but always with a very critical mind. Easy for us old birds, who have been burnt a couple of times, hard for newbees though. Thanks for starting this post.
I see your point Frap. Detlof I totally agree that the newbees will have a hard time not getting caught up in the hype of new technologies and features. I'm a newbie in regards to taking the equipment that I listen to my music on more seriously and listening more critically. However, to most of us in this hobby it's hard to deny the feeling that runs through your body when you have a box at your door that's supposed to be the "end all" unit of the century. If magazines tend to influence your decisions on equipment more than hearing and having the need for the equipment, then you are in trouble. I have to read these magazines like I read the newspaper. Objectively and honestly from both sides of the coin. I understand that these magazines actually create appetites for these new pieces and continuously offer them to you until you feel that your system doesn't sound right unless you have this piece. I used to feel that it was hard to listen to music when I constantly had the hot new must haves floating around in my head. I tell you fellow "audiogonites" if you have the recommended list floating around in your head more than Dianne Reeves (Tribute to Sarah Vaughn) then you need to come back to earth, reground yourself and get back to the basics of your present system and the music you love hearing through it.

Old Newbie
I agree with you completely !!! I currently own my fourth pair of Jeff Rowland Model 7's, world class Classics by anyone's standards. Every time I sold them for the "newer better" I would always go back to the 7's. I purchased one of the first pair that Jeff built; I currently have one of the last pair that were built. As I am now getting older, poorer, & seemly much harder for hearing, I am sure this pair will be left for my sons to fight over. Great thread & good advise for some of the younger guys with this sickness. I could have saved myself countless hours & lots of money if I would have just stayed with what I started with. My current system is antique by current standards. Rowland electronics & Duntech Sovereign speakers, EAD CD & DAC. All the state of the art at the time of introduction. While everything is top of the line from the past, 1992 to present, I enjoy it all everyday. I am retired now. I think there is certainly a lesson to be learned here. Again, Great Thread !!!
I too agree, but with two caveats. First that certain amps/pre-amps and speakers are meant to go together. Your quads are exceptional speakers, but from what I understand a tough match for an amp. The second thought is maybe even more on point. The products mentioned above are all top flight products. Someone new to our hobby may not be starting out with class A products from the start, and for them upgrading is a must. The trick, like anything in life is knowing when to stop. From your post Frap I would assume the time to stop is when you love what you have. Once perfection in you own ear is found, STOP! I agree, this is excellent advise. J.D.
Hi, guys good thread, good insight......Most people don't know, just how much you can change the sound of your speakers,by changing your amp/or upgrading the source. So, many have thrown out the baby, with the bath water.(sold the speakers/or amp) I can't speak for anyone but me;but the only way "I" can evaluate a product is to have it in my front room.I had cls s 14 years ago;sold them because my dealer didn't want to loose the sale by telling me my amp, and sourse were not nearly good enough. Well, I can't lug my stuff to the dealers/I don't want to pay retail,so I don't borrow from them anymore. So trial and error / Or is that trial by fire?-is the order of the day for me. I have to read what they say about this or that;sift thru the hype and hope I've gotten a little smarter.I think speakers and amps change the sound the most;the other things do affect your sound and improve or degrade it but not to the same degree.
After following Audiogon for awhile, I got the bug to upgrade my current system(includes mid 80s ARC and Spectral). I visited my local high end dealer who carries
Maggie 3.6s, Martin Logan Prodigies along with Spectral
and Classe electronics. After three hours of intensive listening my wife(the golder ear of the family) and I
left. We went to dinner to discuss our findings. There were
some improvements but NOT enough to spend big$$$$. Since we
were not going to spend the money on hifi we ordered
a really nice 1990 Chateau Latour instead.
Best thread in a long while. I think that the point of "Best of the Decade" is great! As a matter of fact, Audiogon, if you are listening, you should develop a data base which list products over the last ten years that have stood the test of time and compare to the best of today. One variable would have to be that the unit has been discontued. It should list reliability, sound, flexabilty and ability to be serviced. This would help your sale of used equipment.

IMHO, anyone who has spent the money on "State of the Art", should get at least 10-15 years of enjoyment, with the exception of front end digital. However, I would only upgrade to ultra high rez when the software supports it.
Look at upgrading your source before your amp.
Audio magazines make money selling ads. At $5K per page, they need to make sure that the manufacturer can afford to pay their ad. The magazine folks help out by stating that the advertised product is the best, or a close second.

This is sadly done with the automobile press as well. Does anyone remember back in the early 1980's when Car and Driver named the Audi Quatro the Sports car of the year? Was the Audi a better sports car than the other makes made in Germany at that time? You can purchase the Audi for about the same money as a nice evening out with the wife. A similar year Porsche 911, now that's another story ...
Good thread. I can really identify with Audio4fun's comments. I owned the Duntech Sovereigns for 14 years before I let the "bug" get to me and sold them. I have a friend who still owns his Sovereigns and when I hear his system, I realize that, even today, it is hard to beat this "classic" for musical enjoyment.
The "high end" world is pretty small in relative terms and the wheels have to keep spinning to keep the business going. Hence, the flavor of the month club. I stayed on the sidelines for a few years, blissfully enjoying my Stages and associated equipment, never reading an audio magazine (although I still have piles of old one in the closet -- go figure), rarely even contemplating an upgrade, not asking myself whether new equipment here or there, or a small tweak would get me *this* much closer to the music (holding thumb and forefinger really close together now). These were my best times as an audiofool.

Fast forward to 2000. A spade breaks so I go to my local shop for a quick repair. Something bites me. I start thinking about equipment again. I start hanging around the shops listening to the "hot" new stuff. I start reading the mags again.

Well you know what? When I look at a current issue of an audio mag, not much has changed. A few familiar names are gone. A few new names have arrived. Some well known people have changed horses, so to speak. Aside from some genuinely new technology, the same banter is thrown about. The reviews sound the same.

When I listen in the stores, things don't sound any better than they did before. (I will say that the exception to this is some of the lower and mid priced gear. Improvements in actual components -- i.e. soft diodes and the like -- have made these pieces notably better than their counterparts from the past IMO.) But did I hear anything that I thought was better than the *old* Quads, the classic ARC amps, Threshold for solid state, a Linn or the top-of-the-line Oracle? No way. But business is business and the wheels must continue to spin.

I doubt that I would have had this perspective had I not sat out for nearly a decade. This, however, did not stop me from getting "new" speakers which turned out to be "old" ML CLS's with new panels. And I had to change amps due to the needs of the speakers -- and while I was at it I bought some "new" old IC's that I couldn't afford when they were $1,000 a meter but are dirt cheap now. I then somehow fell into a deal for a pair of subs that are pretty much dedicated to the CLS's -- too good of a deal to pass up, so I had to have them. Now, I need additional speaker cables so I finally buy something that is actually new-new. Oh, had to have some surge protection and lite filtering. Like I said I was bitten.

So after several months of mucking around, and several thousand dollars later, I think I am close to getting back to where I was when this started -- on the sidelines listening to the music and not sweating the equipment side of things.

Frap, you are from Mars. But that's OK, so am I. Thanks for a great post.
Hi, Frap: Your thread reinforces a point I have made repeatedly in these forums: that next great upgrade often turns out to be DIFFERENT, not necessarily better, than the unit it replaced. I've tended to stay with good equipment for relatively long time periods, particularly stuff that is made by value-oriented companies such as Vandersteen and Bryston. During the late 1980's, I belonged to Pacific Northwest Audio Club, and was amazed at the "audio paranoia" and "component of the month club" mentality. Ultimately, this hobby comes down to one golden rule: believe your own ears. If you can't hear the difference between the old and new unit, or you can't tell if one is better than the other, then stick with what you have -- no matter what the audiophobes or high-end mags say!!

I subscribed to Audio for over 30 years they went out of business and was replaced by sound and vision; terrible magazine. So I replaced it with Stereophile and Absolute Sound; these are also terrible but in a different way. EVERYTHING sounds better than the previous model. You can see the crescendo building concerning the Wisdom/cj/VTL setup in HPs listening room.In a year it will be the Avant Garde Trios with Wavelength Napoleons. The ARC RefTwo preamp is only 10k but the cj ART is 16K. I betcha the house within two years ARC will have the super REF and it will cost 20k.
I do not know when the hype about amps will end. As I have
stated before I went to my local audio store were I auditioned Spectral/Classe electronics;Avalon, MartinLogan,
and Magnepan speakers. The differences between them
and my 15 year system was not as great as I expected. The
new models were not significantly better than 15 year old
models. The upshot: if your satisfied with your system
buy more music!!! Even better: buy season tickets to your
local symphony orchestra or opera company.
Just think how your hearing has deteriorated over those 30 years! The moral of the story: buy some classic stuff like
Frap and live with it! After 30 years, there may be better stuff out there, but will you still be able to hear the difference?! If so, by then your old stuff will be worth $$$!
Hi Frap, seems Mars is being populated by a lot of nice and interesting people. So we are not alone. On the other side, if we all were like that, the industry would come to a standstil and we don't want that either. By the way, why don't you guys give Frap some points? I was the first to answer his starting post and gave him 2/2 and now with more than 12 hours later its still only my 2/2 !
If the new equipment is truly better, then it is worth considering. However, it has seemed that the audio press has had its' "flavor of the month club" for quite some time, overly promoting products that really aren't breakthrough products.

I believe that most of us want and will purchase the best that our budget allows, but it would be great to see some REAL advances along with those high prices. While I'm not one of those who will bury my head in the sand and exist with classic gear, I admit that the component really has to impress me to separate me with my money. (and yes, I too have budget constraints)

Wouldn't it be refreshing to have an audio magazine that wasn't influenced by advertising dollars, like TAS back in the early/mid 70's?
Thanks to all of you for your thougtful insights. Thank you Detlof for the points mention. I really feel that audio manufacturers today have lost sight of reality. There was a time in the late 70s,that one could enter a hi end audio dealer and have a list of wants to aquire.Prices even at the extreme end of the market (ie. ARC, Levinson,Koetsu, Beverage,Dayton Wright,etc.)were attainable with a savings plan in mind. Today most manufacturers serve no purpose for the real world you and me. There are exceptions (like Richard Vandersteen),but not many. As late as 1985 a company like Infinity Systems produced the model RS-1, a four piece affair loudspeaker that came in at $5500.00. Today Arnie wants $40,000.00 for the same 4 piece loudspeaker. Sorry, but this is not justifiable for our community. Its no fun if we can never have it.
Mars is getting crowded...but it takes awhile to get there.For me,I've only just recently landed. If the words "obsessive,compulsive,and excessive"are any indicators of addiction then I am a bonafide equipment junkie from the mid 80's to today. Between Stereophile,TAS, and a number of others,I'd devour every review I could find.Have you ever found yourself spending more time on your day(s) off visiting as many different high end audio stores as you can,just to check out all the "really neat"latest "stuff"?How about knowing[at least]as much about a particular new item as the salesguy before he says a word?I could go on...but suffice to say: it is sooooo easy to get completely hooked on this holy grail thing that"newer,better,here-it-is!"becomes a totally consuming thing.How about "get a life?"...I'm often reminding myself of THAT phrase much more often now. Aside from your front- end stuff, I'm not "electronically savvy"enough to understand the legitimacy of "new and breakthrough" technology when applied in the pre-amp and power amp departments but I do trust my ears.. Bottom line to me is, if you've got a great sounding amp(to your own ears) try and be grateful and don't stir things up too much.You can shop features/versatility if you'd like when it comes to pre-amps,but don't get too caught up in that either.Enter your listening room,cue-up one of your favorites,take a few deep breaths,close your eyes,and enjoy a level of sound reproduction that 99.999% of the rest of the world don't even know exists,let alone is possible.Savor it,immerse yourself,and feel LUCKY.