Correlation: Money and Good Sound

Why do many equate throwing money around with the assumption that it will result in vastly improved sound? I realize this is relative...for example...many who have not heard the GMA Europas will not even consider them because of their affordability(under 1k)...this is just one example...are there any others where a reasonably priced product(1k or under) competes or surpasses those 2 to 3 times the price? I am sure there are numerous cables...but cables are vastly overpriced already...also...the next speakers up in the GMA line are roughly 5k and 7k respectively...just something to think seems there are many who judge a product on its worth vs. actual performance...also...I will probably get flamed for this...but I do feel NAD intergrated amps compete very favorably with others at 3 three times the price...
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I would agree with you. At least to a good degree.

Money does not guarantee superior sonic performance. But one can usually expect the more expensive products to at least have a potentially much higher build quality, visual appeal, customer service, and better warranty.

It's not so uncommon for a lesser valued system to do much more than just hold it's own against the very 'high-end' systems.

But to do so requires a great deal of homework, very thorough component mixing and matching, experimentation, and tweaks. And this can take years to accomplish.

Which reminds me of the addage, "The best thing that one can spend on their system is time."

Then there's always the addage, "One must spend a lot of money on this hobby to realize one need not spend a lot of money."

Which leads to the addage, "If you look upon bacon and eggs with lust, you've already committed breakfast in your heart."

No way. I do not like the sound of NAD amps. I would rather have something else used, (tube gear) for 2-3 times the price of NAD equipment, like you state. but in general I get the 'jist of what you are saying. But why the rant today? Just curious.

Also do not forget DIY projects! Or modified gear!

For uncolored neutrality, I thought the marantz cd, EVS Millennium DAC, Krell 300i, and Magnepan 1.6/qr was tough to beat. Granted it was a tad dry in the midrange, but I thought it was surprising good for the money. In a similar vein my previous acoustats and tubes did flesh out a midrange that very few all-out-assult dealer demos were even able to match, in the midrange.

I think there's a lot of Sun Tsu involoved here. You need to know what you as a music lover need and expect from a stereo. And you need to know what gears in your price range can deliver on those sonic priorities. No offense, but how unboxy sounding are the Europas? Me, I can't stand box colorations so they may not be a match for me. Vice versa. Someone else will hate the magneplanar weaknesses, so likewise they would be a poor match for that person.

But generally it DOES cost good money to get great (what does that mean?) sound. But there are a lot of poor performers out there. Even though some designs are just rehashes of old designs, apparently some (how much?) money has to be thrown at the problem, whether is a part quality swap or a decent power supply, or tweaks , or something.

I don't know. I'm still new at this and and trying to sort through a lot of this myself as I grow as an audiophile.
I too not too much impressed by NAD sound except NAD C370 ones. Anything bellow just seems to be unable to drive anything anyhow.
Among valuably priced components I'd go for Sunfire, Rotel and certainly McCormack. Schuffling among these brands with right speaker you may achieve the level of megapriced performance just by adding a simple RadioShack cables.
you get what you pay for- sort of. i.e., i had a hafler
300w/ch amp which was much better than a denon amp that it replaced- smoother sounding. but then i lugged home a levinson 23 (200w/ch)-used that was going for a good price.
it took 5 minutes to realize how much better the levinson was- much richer textures to instruments. there was no going back- i got a USED ML-23.5 which stayed in my system for a very long time. but let's face it- most people's paychecks don't cover $5,000 amplifier purchases, and it takes years until the right sound comes along at a price that you can afford. i waited for several years until i could get a pair of speakers that represented "to me" the audio end of the road- they cost $12,000. were they better than my b&w 801's?
way better. but i then heard the 801's with pass aleph amps,
and they sounded like a completely different speaker (again, much better, but the amps were $14,000 at the time-the speakers cost a third of that am't). i amuse myself when i recall the argument i used to make that you could build a state of the art speaker for no more than $2-3k/pair considering the cost of materials and workmanship. it's probably true- there are $10,000 guitars out there that cost
$600 in materials. sometimes i wish my father had been a carpenter instead of an accountant...
You only get what you pay for (if you are lucky)! Its what you do with it that counts. Stehno's comments are right on point.
In all matters, not just audio equipment, I am perfectly willing to pay top dollar for a superb product. However, I look to the quality of the product first, and worry about the price afterwards. I never begin my search for quality by evaluating the most expensive items.

One factor that can drastically affect cost is new technology. Recent examples are DVD players that have caused development of inexpensive high speed 24-bit DACs, and digital power amps that deliver results previously obtainable only at 4 to 5 times the cost. I don't think it makes sense to pay an exorbitant price for a gold-plated version of yesterday's technology.

Many high end audio products are well built and good designs, but carry a huge price tag because of the very small number of units manufactured and sold. If you buy one of these what you are paying for is exclusivity, not performance. People will pay more for a Volkswagen if it has a Porsche nameplate.
I think that Bryston Gear shows that you don't need to spend a small fortune for good sound...I've always wondered though...what are the brands that do cost a fortune...but suck? You always hear statements like. "This integrated/amp/pre etc competes with gear costing many times more" or something like that...funny how one never hears it the other way around.
There is a correlation between money and good sound. But it's not a guarantee. When someone tells me, for example, that the Meitner DAC and transport combo sound smooth and almost like vinyl, I say for $12k it better. Some actually think it makes Redbook sound better than vinyl, proving that they are just excited about there new purchase and they haven't heard well set up vinyl.

But the law of diminishing returns kicks in way below $12k. I've gone to dealers who've had $50k+ setups in rooms and sat there and had to listen for awhile before I could figure out a few qualities that make is sound better than my modest system, about $12k total. I can listen to top of the line systems, go home listen to my system, and think wow I really don't get much more joy from the $50k+ system. So it's all relative. I'd rather just listen to music and just keep up on listening to new stuff when I can.

Good Thread,
There's a number of factors at the edges of this question such as space and convienience. I go to my high-end dealer's house (which doubles as his showrooms) and his main setup, along with a large RPTV, has a large BAT amp which must sit on the floor and Avalon Eidelon speakers which are halfway into the room (this is necessary for proper setup). Listening to 2-channel music makes these monoliths less imposing, but to watch a movie (the room is also set up for surround with Avalon speakers), you get the feeling that you're watching through a set of goal posts. There's also the tweak factor in very expensive equipment. To get the most out of some high-end equipment, every input/output/knob/cable needs adjusting somewhat before you can listen to different music or whatever. Impulse listening is lost because of the necessary tinkering. The bottom line for me is diminishing returns: if I only get 25% improvement for double the cost, I fall into a state of contentment. The nth degree is just too damn expensive and short-lived.

Why is that people can justify what they spend on audio equipment, but anyone who spends more than they do is an idiot? What is the correlation between being able to afford better stereo equipment and not being able to tell that it isn't any better than NAD!?!

Do people loose their ability to hear at a certain income level?

I have heard NAD gear and I have never thought it was anything special. I have heard plenty of stereo equipment that was priced similarly or more expensive that sounded lots better.

Sherwood receivers are the best sounding equipment. Anyone that buys anything else is just showing off, and into this hobby as a way to stroke their egos.
"Why is that people can justify what they spend on audio equipment, but anyone who spends more than they do is an idiot?"

"Sherwood receivers are the best sounding equipment. Anyone that buys anything else is just showing off, and into this hobby as a way to stroke their egos."

wow...are these conflicting statements or what?

you're off to a wonderful start making friends here on the Gon...NOT
Great thread

I think one of the problems is the "Latest and greatest" notion that plagues everyday life.
Especially when it comes to speakers. Anyone who has read a basic book on speaker constuction and has the very basic understanding of diffraction can look at a speaker and see it was designed poorly. Extra edges where they dont need to be, cosmetics that make it look real sharp but cause excess distortion of the sound coming from the speakers. etc

HT is one area where there have been massive jumps in technology, but alot of the gear you can buy that is newer and pricier is not automatically better. In my opinion, in amplifiers and especially speakers, there have been no "Revolutionary" changes since they were first introduced. They use the same concepts. As long as there is good constuction with good qualitys in a well thought out box, you have a quality speaker.

I think everyone should have a system like mine. Not to listen to all the time, but to pull outta storage and play with for a couple days, it shows that name brands are not the most important aspect, and that you dont have to spend ALOT of money to get good sound. I think once you get on the upgrade path it is very easy to shun away cheaper gear because it is too easy to assume that it is way inferior to the gear you currently have. Which it probably WILL be inferior, but not as bad as you might assume.

Dont get me wrong though, i know my rig is far far from where i want it to be, but even as now it still sounds good enough to enjoy. Hopefully in the next couple weeks i can look foirward to another small upgrade. :)

As with anything, in any market, in any hobby, there will always be some gear that can hold its own to much more expencive gear, but it might not fit the needs of everyone, and it does not garauntee synergy with other types of gear in the same price range, nor synergy with other gear reputed to compete with gear much more expencive.

Who knows, maybe the Pinnacle of audio gear is a $10,000.00 rowland amp connected to some $880.00 europas.

Attempting to match gear on price really does not garauntee anything.
I need to follow the advice here, because I'm one of the suckers spending more and more every time I upgrade.

Slappy, your post started out sounding like one Sean's. I had to read the author's name to make sure I wasn't seeing things. What's gotten into you?!! I expected a quote from you somewhere along the lines of...

"Who knows, maybe the pinnacle of audio nirvana is a $10,000 a year ex-Army dude connected to a $50 hooker."

Ellery has shown that even a well to do doctor can appreciate a second hand DVD player.
Ellery911 actually I thought that was pretty funny. So many people on AudiogoN seem to think they have almost the best system they can get and anyone who spent the money to buy that $14,000 amp or $16,000 speakers is just stupid, because they could have gotten something as good or better for 25% of the cost.

The point is well made that we can all justify what we spent while those who spent more are of questionable intelligence. Sounds like class envy! Maybe we should have a massive redistribution of HiFi gear, so there are no more systems that are not up to some illusive, but predetermined level. This is too similar to the people who castigate others for using SS when they have determined that only tubes can reproduce music at the appropriate quality level.

I would guess the Sherwood thing was a joke, but many down on their luck audiophiles (slappy for instance) have had to live with gear that would not comprise their dream system. Maybe there is a good reason that uppermidfi has a Sherwood receiver now. That doesn't mean his comments aren't valid, or maybe he's just a Bozo, since you know, we're all bozos on this bus.
Wow... so, I have a Sherwood S-7300 I think I'm gonna post here at auction, after reading this.

Money's not enough. You also need knowledge. There are units with comparable sound and widely different prices, and the reverse exists too--widely different sound with similar price tags.

If you've never heard what you can get for little money, you think you have to pay a lot. Getting to hear it all is difficult, though, and potentially somewhat expensive. It helps to have friends with experience. Longtime hobbyists, or people in the business. And it's surprising what good advice you can get from a manufacturer, if you write and ask what goes well with their gear.

Even used equipment can be a poor buy. I can name five or six pieces that are utter bargains, but what do I know about all the rest?
Yeah Ellery, give Uppermidfi a break, just cause he made a stupid statement. After all, it takes a long time of being an audiophile to realize that the BOSE WAVE RADIO is the absolute Pinnacle! HA HA HA HA
Actually i agree with nrchy, i think he was kidding around.

Gunbei, hey, it actually did look like something he would say, except less informed... and less coherent... and less technical... and less intelligent.. and less thought out...

I think the problem is my utter lack of my primary food source.

See, i had a filling fall out of my molar the other day, and i had to get it put back in. well, i ended up needing a root canal and they decided to do a deep cleaning on my gums and put me on a regiment of antibiotics.
Well one of the antibiotics i am taking has a HUGE warning in the damn BROCHURE that comes with it, and it states that while taking this drug any achohol consumtion may cause "Severe nausia, vomiting, shaking, and hot flushes"

Good times. Good times.
My experience showed me that mixing and matching certain older and newer components (some were big bucks, others not) correlated to my desired sound without going totally broke.
I have listened to many well-matched, top-flight systems over the years on different ocassions for extended periods of time.
Rx8man if you have a system you like and did not go broke putting it together, you did something wrong.
I agree with NRCHY, yer not a true audiophile unless you go bankrupt building a system you dont quite enjoy.
Stop those caps, my eyes are hurting.
Get the phase correct on that keyboard, eh?
Hey...size matters...just ask my lady friend(he he)
What size lady's or yours?
BIg sexy mama(16)...and my 9