Hall of Shame

What is the worst, most overpriced, hyped, bad-sounding audiophile gear out there. Your bets please.
avantegarde speakers, followed closely by pipedreams. purely personal tastes. i'm sure you would find my speakers on others' shit lists. -cfb
Clearaudio Evolution turntable. I don't know that it sounds bad, if it works at all. My dealer recently tried to demo it for me and couldn't get the piece of crap to play even 1/4 of one side without malfunctioning in some way.

And this is not due to a lack of expertise, either. After over an hour of trying to play a record we gave up and had a beer. It might sound good if you can get it to work, but I wish you the best of luck in doing so.
Cornfedboy read my thoughts exactly, I have heard the Pipedreams at a local Chicagoland dealer and they were embarassing to say the least. Maybe it is just my taste, maybe not :)
Yea, I would have to say the Avalon Acoustic Eidolon's are the crappiest looking/sounding speakers on earth ;) I don't have any grudges agains much equipment though I am fairly particular about what I would actually own. Just for the record that was sarcasim, I don't want folks thinking that I dislike anything Avalon does.
Anything by MIT
Anything that resembles contemporary art: that silly Oracle cd player comes to mind.
How about the $37,000 Krell Lat-1 speakers? For that much money it sure did't get that great of a review in stereophile. Every time i see the ad it looks more like an ad for shoes--- Bruno Mahli???
Style over substance mass snob appeal...
C'mon...I heard the big Pipedreams a year ago and was overwhelmed! It was the only time I TRULY felt that I was transported to the venue I know so well...Jordan Hall in Boston. Maybe they're finicky to set up?? Dunno.
i keep thinking of a phish song:


right on natalie...MIT $700 interconnects sounded JUST LIKE MIT $100 interconnects, not to mention $40 Monster Cable ICs.
Tenor Audio (those $22K OTLs) use Pipedreams as their reference systems. Contrary to what others have said on this thread -- the Tenor/Pipedreams room was the best room at the Toronto show -- unbelievable when set up correctly.
The PipeDreams CAN "kick ass" if set up properly ( my opinion only ).

I've heard the same speakers at the same "Chicagoland dealer". I also heard them sound not so good, depending on what they were running them with in terms of front end components. The thing that sounds the worst in that specific place is the manager. I need not mention names....

I can't really comment on something that sounds horrible and is overpriced at the same time. My worst experience was with Analysis Plus Oval 9's, but they are not MEGA expensive compared to a lot of other cables. They were the most offensive components i've ever tried though ( several different systems too ). As to the overpriced part, it would be all those other cables that i just mentioned : )

Really though, how can you pass judgment on something unless you've spent a LOT of time with it and worked to dial it in as best as possible ? By that, i'm talking about combining different equipment, trying different cables, repositioning speakers, etc... Just listening to a demo at a shop or at a show really means nothing. That is, unless the stuff sounded AWESOME. If you could get it to sound good at a show or at a dealer, chances are, you've got something worth checking into. Other than that, some gear just needs a LOT more tweaking than others and / or is more sensitive to what it is mated with. Most audio gear nowadays that we would be looking at is not "bad", it's just "different". Sean
MIT Cables. I myself like the Eidolons, hate our local dealer (gary eats kitty litter).

Also as a general statement, those HUGE gazillion dollar/driver speakers that companies keep putting out as 'reference' models. Take one unused fridge (may substitute old battlestar galactica tv prop), black, silver or yellow(ces) paint, two dozen JBL whupssa COMPETITION car stereo drivers, charge up the screw gun and Presto! A $40,000 Reference speaker !

To my ears smaller two or three driver (oh sh*t I just realized my audio physics have FOUR drivers) designs have a more pure sound and are generally easier to listen to.
hello I may disappoint some people out there but I was totally not impressed whatsoever with any Krell equiptment I ever heard, also Wilson is way overpriced and overrated
I second Lorne. Setup was amazing. I was there
I agree with the AnalysisPlus Oval 9 speaker and MIT cables. I would like to add the $85K Dynaudio Evidence speakers. I listened to these speakers in a private home for some time and it was one of the most dull lifeless image-less systems I have every heard. Perhaps it was the associated gear (about 100K worth of YBA electronics). I have heard some of the Dynaudio monitors sound quite good so this is not a Dynaudio bash, but the Evidence was just plain BAD!!! And I am still trying to figure out what would cost 85K in that speaker, it is 7 drivers/channel as I recollect. Insult to injury: Dynaudio now says yoou need their bass augmentation unit.

The Gammut/Enigma room at 12 K shamed the Pipedreams/Tenor room.The Pipedreams where not even in the top 3 at the show.
They where nice but at the price point they where a joke.
I find the FM Accoustics gear madly overpriced, the Gryphon amps, except for the Reference monos musically uninvolving, the Martin Logan CLS harsh and twangy in the highs, most of the Levinson amps..see under Gryphon, but I do like MIT!
De gustibus non est disputandum.
Kel -- Funny as usual!! Great venue to have fun with each others' choices and MFG's products.A.P. Speaker cables RULE!!! Never tried the ic's. I'd like to see a print-out of how fast sp wire used sells / and the best percent of cost recouped; at this site. There is a reason!! (YMMV)
Judging by all the stuff that is for sale on Audiogon quite a bit fits into this category - personally for me it was a pair of Wilson Witts - the entire Wilson line is ridiculously priced.
anything by Martin Logan -- just a personal taste :)
MIT cables (yes speaker cables and interconnects) due to rolling off of highs and generally muddy sounding cables. I have also found Krell amps to sound harsh particularly given the price points.
These speakers would be an excellent value at 1/4 - 1/3
the cost.
I normally would not weigh in on something like this with all it's potential for inflaming the emotions of us hyper-sensitive audiophiles, but, I've got to comment in this case. Frankly, I'm amazed by the post of Mikeam re: the Dynaudio Evidence. I've been involved in this hobby for over 30 years and presently own the Evidence speakers. Obviously, I could have chosen any number of other speakers, but, felt these were absolutely the best, period (see my further comments as to why on audioreview.com). I don't require that any of my local audiophile buddies reaffirm my choices in equipment, but they are of the same opinion as I am on this point and feel that they have not heard anything better than my system anywhere. These are not yes men, in fact they relish the opportunity to be critics. I don't know the YBA electronics, but I suspect that this shouldn't be a serious problem. My guess is that it would have to be the room/setup. Mikeam, if you are ever in my area, I'd be happy to demo the system for you, just e-mail me. BTW - I would not attempt to defend ANY component on its price since what you are willing to spend to achieve a given result is purely subjective.
Milo, do you find this true also with MIT's latest and more expensive offerings, or do you refer to their wires of about 8-12 years ago? If that's the case I aggree with you wholeheartedly. I use their newer stuff with Spectral gear and Plasma tweeters, there the highs certainly do not seem rolled to these here ears. Regards,
Transparent cables. Over priced and bad sounding. MIT comes a close second!
There are things that I personally ignore when surfing an audiomarket for upgrade:

Cables: Monster cable, MIT, Transparent.
Amps: OCM, Belles, Anthem, Jolida, Parasound, SETs
CD-players: Rega Planet above $300
Speakers: Talon Khorus, Martin Logans., any Horn speakers.

I can continue that list with some analogue gear but I'm not willing to place everything onto the Hall of Shame -- It's just my personal taboos.
Perhaps Sean is right here (he usually is anyway). What really hit me was someone disliking the Dynaudio Evidence speakers. I cannot afford them personally, but agree with the above post by the person who owns a pair. I've heard them at a dealer and, although you may equal them at half the price, they sounded absolutely fantastic to me. Perhaps it's really not objective at all, but even if it is, system synergy is important. One example: I'm upgrading cables throughout right now. I tried synergistic research IC's with audioquest speaker cable. Horrible! Extremely bad! However, the audioquest speaker cable on its own with other ICs was OK, and it turns out the synergistic research IC's are my favorite. They were just incredible with different speaker wire (Tara Labs). So, what the hell. Maybe I'll just put myself in the hall of shame for bashing MIT earlier. It's pretty appropriate, actually, I've got the worst singing voice I know.
Eletronics:New Krell KAV gear("Junk" compared with Vintage Krell gear),Goldmund Mimesis
Digital:first generation CAL CD Players(harsh,poor finish)
Analogue:Crystal Clear Records,Clearaudio MC Cartridges
Krell amps (I'm wondering if they drop them in boiling water to get them sounding so sterile?), Blue Point Special cartridges (they NEVER open up and are flimsy at best), and the worst component I EVER heard was a Threshold preamp. I had to use a tourniquet on my ears after slipping one into my system for a test drive. As for speakers...well, speakers are so highly room dependent; room properties and set up are critical to how they sound. I've never heard a bad speaker, but heard plenty improperly set up.


Audio Physic Avantis and Avantegarde Duos, not bad speakers but way overpriced for what they do. Meridian A/V processor (I forget which model, but it was in the 5 digit range.).

Price and Performance: Tact digital amp.
are you crazy? belles in the hall of shame?

i'll put my $3500 350a up against just about any amp, anywhere, anytime.

its friggin ridiculous how nice this amp is. belles 350 is a must audition.

Resolution Audio CD50
Everything delivered by UPS.
What else? No highs, no lows, must be Bose.
Hey Jeff, which Threshold Preamp was it ? Can you remember the model number ? Most of their preamps were rather "analytical" sounding i.e. very revealing on the top end but quite piercing if the rest of the system was not dialed in to work with them.

Kind of funny how some companies voice their amps SO differently from their pre's, etc... Then again, they might count on you getting relatively "even" results from using a "revealing" preamp and a "warm and sweet" sounding amp or vice-versa. Most of the time though, i have a HARD time sticking with the same company for both pieces. I usually find that companies that make GREAT pre's usually don't build amps to the same level and vice-versa. There are exceptions to this rule, but as usual, most of them cost a LOT of money. Sean
Sean, I'm starting to share yr view regarding pre's & amps from the same manufacturer. And this, after advocating the opposite for some time for sonic & electronic compatibility.

As you say, VERY different voicing -- astounding! Funnily enough, an INTEGRATED from one manufacturer sounded better to me than the equivalent separates (that allegedly have bigger power supplies). OK, it may have the I/C (valhalla) -- but I doubt it: the sonic character was very different, not resolution, audible range, etc.

would not welcome these: Dunlavy speakers, Classe electronics. In my book, They are IN Hall of fame.
Greg, i think some companies are more consistent with their "house sound" than some others are. Musical Fidelity for one seems to be pretty consistent. Like anything else though, it is a matter of personal taste whether you like that "flavor" or not. On the other hand NAD is one of those "flip-flopped" companies. Their amps ( warm and forgiving ) sound different from their pre's ( lean and metallic ). You would think that the designers would voice the components to be either compatible together or share common sonic characteristics, but who knows.... Sean
Sean, I think that some manufacturers started out as either pre or amp "specialists". Given their original "killer" product, they then set out to pair it accordingly... which is fine but, it seems that the mechanics invlolved in casing pre's vs. amps (damping, shielding, emi filtering, etc), let alone the electronic circuitry design & choice of components -- is a herculean task, maybe, when it comes to voicing components alike?

I'm suggesting that although we DO get some up-front taste the brand is connected to (example: Symphonic-line - "fast & dynamic"), with some up-market pre-power pairs certain subtle characteristics we have connected to one or the other component seem absent...

Now, if we tweak one or the other component, MAYBE... but why have to tweak?
I want to preface my remarks with the qualification that all of this is highly subjective. In other words,it is difficult to criticize anyone's post-that is what they heard in a certain room with certain equipment.That said,i will add Mark Levinson amplifiers to the list.Maybe it is the room at my local dealerhsip-sound environment in omaha,ne.That is the only place i have seriously listened to levinson amps,as they have sold them for many years.I have always walked away from these systems,some costing over 100k,un-impressed.I recall going from the over 100k system (levinson,revel salons,etc.)to a room next door containing a levinson cd player,VTL 450 monoblocks into aerial 10t speakers and was just blown away-i thought it put the more expensive system to shame.
1. All "high-performance" cables (with few exceptions for speakers that have demanding impedence curves in the upper frequencies where the cable's "low impedence" will be of use).
2. Most all pure vacuum tube circuits (some hybrids are ok and tubes can do well in an fm tuner)
3. All Class A/B amplifiers (the designer should have just stuck with class B if s/he couldn't afford the heatsinking for class A).
5. D'appolito and line array designs (only the latter one's incorporating electrodynamic transducers)-both have too many interference problems that there is no way around.
6. Ridiculously overpriced gear given the cost of its parts (design time does not makeup for it): 47labs sakura systems gets top place-$600 for a piece of stupid 28g wire and that dumb gaincard amp, Genesis follows a close second with thier crap-$12 tweeters and sub-$200 ribbons in a $90,000 system?)
7. All vibration control devices-microphony in most gear is inaudible. Turntables exempt, its important here.
8. Many more not caught in any category who missed the boat because of bad engineering choices.
9. Burn-in CD's, wonder contact cleaners, etc., etc., etc.
10. Compressed digital audio
Ezmerelda,wow your advice is as valuable as fish guts. All tube stuff sucks eh? You have a real credibility problem. All quality cables? All vibration controll devices? Your advice is rather misinformed, closed minded, and frankly(kooky) incorrect. Go and listen to what I am sure sounds like a big table radio and quite dolling out advice.
Well based on the advice before me I should start all over, I have a new audio bible and can now throw out that crutchfield one I used to use, Thank you Ezmeralda I was so foolish in the past, I actually thought I could hear the difference!
Why is so much of the advise in this forum worse than my spelling? Many of the contribuors here belong in the hall of shame! So many nay sayers and philastines. I do see that there are a few careful listeners with genuine and helpful info here but the rest seem to think that they need to have something bad to say about so many products(based on the fact that they can't hear it,don't know how to measure it or don't "beleive" in it, and probably never herd it at all or not under controlled cercumstances), perhaps to show that they are descerning"critics". These are the same people that in a different time would have been the "critics" that refered to the Expresionist painters animals and paned their work as trash. I applaud the open minded few that give out genuinely helpful advice. The rest I am sure are hopelessly condemened to a hell of listening to their own horrid(and I am sure very thin,edgy,and bright) systems. As it should be!
I do also agree with Ezmeralda except all-tube(I realy love all-tube recorded music back there).
Rather than get into specifics, I simply want to say that when the aggregate cost of an entire system, regardless of brand, design, basis, etc., exceeds something in the area of $10,000, I begin to lose interest, because after that (admittedly arbitrary) price point, the law of diminishing returns seems to set in big time. This does NOT mean, however, that anything above that level is bad-frankly I haven't heard a truly bad piece of equipment in years-but that bang-for-the-buck reduces quickly. (I can't help but wonder how much some of the vehemence on this thread results from the knowledge that the various posters with such strong feelings can't afford the stuff they trash.)

That having been said I don't see why those with the means shouldn't indulge in Pipe Dreams, Wilson, Levinson, Krell, etc., for the same reason that some people will buy a Ferrari rather than a VW, even though the latter will accomplish the same basic objective, i.e., get one from Point A to Point B. Assuming, of course, that the item(s) are purchased as a deliberate, well considered, intelligent and informed choice-or maybe not if you have enough money!
I think that Suretyguy's comments are right on target. There is no question that the law of diminishing returns operates on, perhaps, its highest level in the world of high-end audio. That said, I fall into the camp that has spent way too much on my system (although the end result has been spectacular). I have no doubt that I could have achieved "respectable" performance at a small fraction of the cost, but, when you're hooked, your hooked. BTW, I also agree with his point that one's ability to afford the gear can often color one's judgement in assessing its performance.