Wrong hobby for the poor...but after all high end sound is a state of mind, a mental thing...I thought I had hi end sound before I discovered Audiogon, now 15 G's later I still don't have it, so that tells you something, lol...
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It is possible to get sound that you can enjoy. But can you get sound that everyone else enjoys? no.
You have to know what sort of 'bad' in the sound you can accept, and what sorts are terrible to your ears. Then buy the not so great stuff that fails in the areas you do not care about. Let's say all you can afford is a $25.00 flea market receiver, and some 'white van' no name speakers, another $50. used, and a used CD changer, another $30. You could be in heaven. (or Hell, depending on your ATTITUDE.
((If you were the typical cheapskate audiophile, then you would extoll the virtues of your system, and denounce others whose choices differ. LOL!!))
I can hear the gnashing of teeth already.. from my fellow audiophile wannabes... (i am an Audiophile wannabe too, if that helps alleviate the pain.) All I need is another $150,000. to have a good system I could brag about.
As it is, plenty of folks would say my system is 'thin' no bloom.. (Who cares?, It has super clarity, tight! my thing!)
I wouldn't say that it's not a hobby for the poor. Not having the money doesn't put you at as big a risk. You do not have to spend 15 grand to enjoy what your ears hear. There's alot of lower cost components that would be stellar for someone who never had a good system. However, the hobby is an addiction and you should be very careful if you lack self control. You need to decide what you have to spend to get started. Then decide whether you want vintage or modern equipment. Don't get discouraged by what you read after asking your big question!
A computer, an internet connection, and some headphones and you'll be miles ahead of where I was in my scuffling days. If you want your family to hear the tunes, then a used receiver, speakers and a DAC are the fixed costs. Then you'll have so many sources of music to explore and be able start a collection at a reasonable monthly cost. Whether it's "Hi-end"- that's a frame of reference thing. My presesent setup- a dream come true for me, but primitive by other's POV. Music enjoyment- I think you'll be there.
You have to be constantly watching the ads to get the best deals before someone else does. Yesterday (but not on Audiogon)I saw an Adcom Tuner/Pre, Adcom 545 power, Sony CD, a cassette deck, Celestion SL6S speakers with stands all for $250 total. Even something this cheap could sound good in the right room with some attention to detail.
George, GET OUT NOW! If you stay you will surely become infected. No one gets away clean. Everyone starts out like you wanting to get in on the cheap. They start out that way and wake up two or three years later and wonder what the hell happened to all that money. Branislav's experience as mentioned above is pretty typical.
I'll bookmark this thread and check on you in two years.
The answer is yes. Ebay and Audiogon are your friends. And it is true that this hobby is the "land of unquantifiable experiences" where opinions come to die. Perky huh? I'm a musician, I have an acoustic piano in my listening room, I play guitar for money, I'm old-ish, and none of that matters when it comes to my personal taste in gear and its reproduction, as well it shouldn't. The good news is the fact that GREAT stuff is available for not a lot of money in both used and new gear, and if you're lucky like me (and Elizabeth...weirdly female name for an audiophile by the way) you'll actually listen to some music and REALLY enjoy it.
Ignorance is bliss.
Stay away from sites like this and just cut out pictures from the mags. Tape it to the wall above what you presently have and use your imagination. When you get tired of looking at it, go back to the mags and find something else. Once you practice enough upgrading, you'll start to appreciate the costs and the frustration. It might prepare you to avoid the pitfalls of those who have gone before you. The advice already given is golden. Heed their words. And have fun.
High end audio doesn't have to cost that much. It's more about your attitude and your willingness to be obsessive about setup and room acoustics than expensive equipment.
If you live in a metro area or near a major university Craigslist, thrift shops and estate sales can offer truly outstanding bargains. But even Audiogon will allow you to put together a great sounding system for under $1,000. Right now you could purchase a Spica, Quad, NHT, Epos, etc. bookshelf speaker for $300-500. There are refurb NAD CD/DVD receivers going for $400. That gives you enough left over for a decent speaker stand and cables and you're still under $1k.
Now will that system sound as good as a $10,000 or a $100,000 system. Probably not, but if you take the effort to set it up well, it will provide you with true high end sound.
Branislav, please explain how you can spend $15k and not obtain high end sound?
MAN OH MAN I THOUGHT I WAS A PESIMIST, but after reading the replies to the O/P's question I see know that I have REALLY come a long way in the attitude dept...NEVER HAS THERE BEEN A BETTER TIME TO BE A POOR AUDIOPHILE!!!$250.00-$300.00 will by a nice little integrated from the likes of NAD-Cambridge Audio-Marantz etc..that will shame most $2500.00+ integrateds or seperates from 10 years ago & don't even get me started on HOW ABSOLUTELY AMAZING A SYSTEM CAN BE FRONTED BY ONE OF THE $500.00 CHINESE TUBE INTEGRATED AMPS READILY AVAILABLE TODAY!!!Multi Disc players from Marantz-Yamaha-Denon offer vanishing low distortion & a fairly honest portrayal of the original signal with a smooth,detailed sound anyone but the most jaded could live with for a lifetime & can be had for as little as $100.00 used to $400.00 for a BRAND NEW Denon BDP-1611 Blu Ray that plays SACD & DVD/A & will kill any $1000.00+ source from just a couple of years ago!!!AMAZING speakers from Quad-Usher-Monitor Audio etc.. can be had BRAND NEW for as little as $450.00-$500.00 & used for around $300.00!!!$50.00 Interconnects from companies like Wireworld(Luna 6 comes to mind)will give you 75-80% of what ANY $500.00 NEW interconnect brings to the table!!!Come on people,what has happened to you?My advice to you Dvjorge is BEFORE YOU SPEND 1 PENNY ON ANY GEAR, GO FIND THE CLOSEST PUB/BAR/ETC...THAT OFFERS LIVE, UNAMPLIFIED MUSIC & SPEND SOME TIME GETTING TO KNOW WHAT THE REAL THING SOUNDS LIKE!After that,find a budget that you can live with & then someone here on Audiogon that HAS NOT been completely jaded by this hobby will surely be able to help you put together a system that will bring a smile to your face & ears...Good luck & ENJOY THE MUSIC!!!
You can spend 100,000 and still not have HIFI sound. But who would admit it? I bought a new 25,000 system, and only paid 15,000 for it. Does it sound HIFI...yes... is it worth it? NO. Get what you like and need. Something that sounds good to your ears. Spending lots of money is no guarantee. Best of luck.
Not really. You can not buy a Bentley for the price of a Civic. Unfortunately, unlike Civics, which are finer cars than Bentleys in some ways, 2-ch hi-fi is such a tiny market now that economies of scale have disappeared. The time, effort and materials required to profitably make fine, low-volume products require relatively high prices. All is not lost: with research, intellignent selections, and buying used here on the Gon, you can achieve much better sound than you will ever hear from equipment intended for big-box appliance stores. If you want to hear simulated music at home, what other choice is there but to try?
Having a few pieces of legacy equipment was a great start for me. I'm so glad money is tight right now--I would have loved a new DAC, but my wife preferred a week and a half in Costa Rica--because my ignorance could easily take me down the rabbit hole.
Jorge, you've had some great responses. Get a budget, let the world open up. Be patient about the process. It's not really all about the sound, is it? Some people say, "Love the music, lust for equipment." I might change "lust" to "fetishize," but whatever. The point is, it seems like you're not sure how far you want to go--that is to say, I interpret the subtext of, say, "I want the best sound for the smallest outlay" as actually saying, "I'm eager but afraid and I need guidance." My two cents: spend enough money on it that you love your stuff enough to be a dork about it. Learn the equipment well enough to know what you like and don't like about it, and then proceed as resources allow. Same goes for wine and probably any other connoisseur-ish epicurean pursuit. If your experiment to grab some budget hi-fi doesn't cause the affliction of audiophilia, then you just saved yourself some money.
Don't generally listen to the 'deep pocket' guys. If I had that kind of $$$, I'd start marching gear thru my system looking for 'perfection'. And drive myself crazier than I already am!
Most people don't reach that point, but DO reach a very hi level of satisfaction.
Do start listening to stuff. Find out what you like. Depending on actual budget, you may end up with 'mid-fi' or even good pre-owned stuff. Try to find a dealer who covers used equipment. Some may be on consignment.
Make peace with your budget at least for now. The 'source first' crowd may have something to say about choices.
Having a few pieces of legacy equipment was a great start for me. I'm so glad money is tight right now--I would have loved a new DAC, but my wife preferred a week and a half in Costa Rica--because my ignorance could easily take me down the rabbit hole. I've identified several points where I would have expensively blundered
Jorge, you've had some great responses. Get a budget, let the world open up. Be patient about the process. It's not really all about the sound, is it? Some people say, "Love the music, lust for equipment." I might replace "lust" with "fetishize," but whatever. The point is, it seems like you're not sure how far you want to go--that is to say, I interpret the subtext of, say, "I want the best sound for the smallest outlay" as actually saying, "I'm eager and curious but afraid and I need guidance." My two cents: spend *just* enough money on a careful selection that you love it enough to be a dork about it. Learn the equipment and listen critically well enough to know what you like and don't like about what you have, and then proceed as resources allow. Same goes for wine and probably any other connoisseur-ish epicurean pursuit. If your experiment to grab some budget hi-fi doesn't cause the affliction of audiophilia, then you just saved yourself some money by only spending X for something your probably still like anyway.
High end sound is the best stereo that you've ever heard. I had a Sansui 771 reciever, generic 12 inch three way speakers and a Technics turntable. With that system, no one could tell me that I wasn't a hi-fi baddass. It was high end as I knew it and I was happy. For 25 years it served me very well until I was introduced to this site. Then I found out that I didn't have high-end sound. I can never go back to a system like that once I was exposed to the equipment since I've joined this site. Amazingly, I would wager that Sansui receiver system is better than 90% of what is in American households today. It was certainly better than anything that I had ever seen in anyone else's home, even to this day. So, if you can pick up a pre-owned system for say $750.00 and you love the way it sounds, then that's high end sound. Stay with it and be content. It's kind of like getting married: She's beautiful, kind loving and a good person, but if you keep looking, you could probably find someone better. Once you find someone better, if you keep looking, you could probably find someone even better than her. The key is, once you find a good one, stay there and stop looking. When I bought my current AR preamp, I was sure that it was the Holy Grail. I could not and still cannot imagine a better preamp. Guess what, there have been two more models released by AR since I bought mine and all accounts tell me that the new models are head and shoulders above the model that I own. Well, I've got news for AR, I've stopped looking. I like the one I married and I'm staying home.
I listened to a system recently that consisted of Magico Q5s, Boulder amps, and wire that cost more than a car. It sounded REAL GOOD...I got home and listened to my cobbled together budget system and it sounded REAL GOOD too. I can only assume that my taste in carefully selected used items has paid off. That, or I'm an idiot.
I am impressed with your answers. You all are awesome. Ok, This is what I already have, Paradigm Studio 100 V2 speakers, Monitor Audio Silver S2 speakers, and B&W DM 602 S2 large bookshelves. My cd player is an NAD 521, amplifiers are vintage Sansui AU-517 and G-5700 receiver. Speaker cables are Straight Wire Stage. I owned an Nad C-370 integrated and a Rotel 1070. Both were sold because they couldn't sound better than the vintage Sansui gear. (IMO) I also have a Monster Cable power supply with 3 step of filter. I listen to light rock and pop mainly. Styx, Supertramp, Phil Collins, Genesis, Elton John, Billy Joel, etc.
I am not totally happy with the sound yet and have $ 1000 to spend to get an improve. I was thinking to find something such as an used McIntosch, Rogue Audio or any other tube preamp or integrated to feed the B&W DM 602 S2. I will need another cd player and was thinking in Cambridge Audio or Arcam. The fact is my best music system ( the Studio 100 are in my HT system for movies ) is the Sansui 517, NAD 521, and the Monitor Audio Silver S2 bookshelves. For some reason, I don't find the B&W matching good with the old Sansui. The reason because I have old Sansui amplifiers is because I haven't found any thing new that compare to them with the price I can pay. Sansui was the best japanese made during 1970/80. Even the Rotel and Nad I have owned couldn't sound better than the vintage Sansui.
Wolf...well...I wouldn't say your an idiot. But...I have heard those speakers (not with those amps though) and they sounded AMAZING. I deal with hifi, have been involved with hifi for over 40 yrs and have heard a few things along the way. Not sure what budget gear you are listening to but I'd love to get the list if it sounded ANYTHING like those beautiful Magicos.
I'm in the camp that believes you get more bang for the buck with active speakers. Many of the "pro" active speakers that target home studios are quite musical.
IMO, the following speaker system is worth considering:
The cost of a pair of LSR2328P monitors, LSR2310SP subwoofer and MSC1 monitor controller will run you $1400 from http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search?ci=8617&N=4294550597+4291399742. They are running a rebate special... buy a pair of LSR2328P monitors and get the MSC1 free; savings of $300.
Just add a decent CD player and you'll have a nice system for under $2K.
Some of us have control and can easily be satisfied. Wish I did.
My first so called hobby was tropical fish. I started out with a little ten gallon tank and a couple of Swordtails. Two years later I had built a room with forty tanks, some as large as 300 gallon, and fish costing as much as a nice piece of audio equipment.
It got to be more work then play. Gave it up only to get interested in this hobby.
At least it has become relaxing. In both cases it grew because I found others with the same interest. Had I not I would probably still have that ten gallon tank and a Bose radio.
Let's see: I win a $200,000,000.00 lotto.
I immediately go buy:
MBL 101e speakers
Audio Research 40th anniversary preamp
Audio Research Phono Ref2
Audio research REF 600's
Dcs digital stack
Some turntable... Yeah I do not know which i would grab. I am torn between several, well just buy a bunch and sort them out...Prosceneum Black diamond, SME 30, Kuzma Stabi XL, VPI HRX...
Wire, yeah wires...
At least with my first choices I have a good start at blowing quarter of a million...
Realhifi...you missed my point. I don't mean to imply my stuff sounds as refined as 200K worth of gear, just that a MUCH more modest system can sound amazing in one's own home if properly set up, thereby providing some serious enjoyment. My listening room isn't big enough for Q5s to open up anyway, thus saving me 50 grand! Also...I doubt seriously that people with mega buck systems are having more fun than those of us who prefer to assemble a well thought out system within fiscal boundaries, as the laws of "diminishing returns" seem to rule in audio. I bet if I won millions in the lottery I would be too antsy to enjoy any system much, as it seems that among those with stupid luck the first thing to leave them are previously valued simple pleasures (I read that somewhere).
Yes, if you put the biggest portion of your money (that you have set aside for hifi) towards the speakers and preamp, it will lay a good foundation. To pursue this hobby with vigor you will need money and lots of it, there are exceptions like for an audiophile that has very good experience with matching various speakers and components to reach an outcome that is high end regardless of cost. When you do assemble a system don't let anyone convince you there is better because that might put you on that frustrating ride called the merry-go-round but believe your ears. How frustrating can it be for an audiophile who has spent one hundred thousand dollars on his system to find out that the guy down the street spent half that and it sounds as good or nearly as good.
MBL101e they are my dream speakers, cost no object dream top number 1 choice.
The ARC stuff is another dream choice. your choice might vary. this is MY fantasy. And i would probably not buy a house. I might get two condos, but not a house. i like being completely alone in a crowd. As long as no one bothers me.
I agree with Wolf garcia. I have a modest $5000 system and have really enjoyed the challenge of matching equipment and cables until I found the best sound at the given budget.
I have heard $60,000 systems that didn't sound good to me at all. The point is, set a budget and have a great time getting the best sound you can at that budget.
Buy used hear and there and you wont take such a big loss when it comes time to try something else.
Have fun. John