Low-Fi Experience

Anybody have any recent low-fi experiences?

A buddy of mine recently went out and bought a Kenwood HT in a box set. Comes with 2 standard bookshelf speakers, 2 smaller surrounds, and the center, along with a 100W 8in subwoofer with a kenwood DD/DTS reciever.

He got it at a major retailer for about 260 bucks, about half price of MSRP due to a sale going on.

I was somewhat impressed with the sound of it.
Since my HT is history and a 2 channel system in progress, and i have no surround sound, i was thinking of picking one of these up for the living room. I still plan on building a dedicated HT, but untill then i think this will suffice, and probably even last as a livingroom surround rig for some time.

The thing is i was real suprised by how it sounded. It actually sounded pretty good. Granted, it doesent sound as good as a decent High End system, but it was not only tolerable, but rather enjoyable, and very forgivable of the shortcomings with such a handsome price.

I think alot of it has to do with the fact that Dolby Digital and DTS inherantly sound pretty good. But it really took me by suprise. Definatly kicked the crap out of any 2,000 bose system i have encountered. But not nearly as refined as my old HT rig.

Does anybody else think that Low-Fi equipment is making vast improvements with advances in technology?

anyone else have any experiences like this? Its been so long since i heard a In Box Bargain Bystem, i really wasnt prepared for it to sound as good as it did.
Slappy, IMO your not wrong. Several times I’ve posted similar comments here at Audiogon. The most important thing in HT is to get something that gets beyond your built in television speakers.

Even some used Radio Shack bookshelf speakers, a mid line 5.1 processor and amp with cheap cables will surprise you. Plus, there is less expectation and therefore less chance of being disappointed.

Obviously I am very prioritized toward two channel. My HT system is great, but certainly not the investment and energy that goes into my music system.
Like Albert, but on a much smaller scale, my priority is 2 channel. I'd definitely get a system in a box should I ever desire HT. Also, modest systems can sound pretty darn good when set up with care.
"Lo Fi" is improving. I'm pretty impressed with the ease of the sound coming from nice car systems and from some inexpensive home systems. Is the imaging, soundstaging, smooth response, natural bass or thrill of a live performance there? Nope. But, it's plenty good for those who aren't tuned to those things. And, it's an enjoyable listen if the music is good ;-) My wife sometimes thinks I'll make a comment on someone's lo fi system, but I'm a lot more interested in the company of those I'm with when I'm out visiting. Usually, the music is just fine. Sometimes, especially after a few drinks, I start wondering whether it's really fine enough .... Nah!
True True.

When i first started on this board, i was all about the HT. Never thought too much about 2 channel. I liked good quality of sound, but i was also all about the latest and greates techno-features.

I'd love to have a really great HT again, but i have a feeling for the next couple years i will be focusing on a real great 2 channel setup.

i still think that comparing HT and 2ch is like apples and oranges. They produce sound, they use similar equipment, but that is where the similarities end. They are definatly different beasts.
I agree with you Slappy- I got started in this hobby years ago with a kenwood HT in a box, I paid $499 for it. Worth every penny! I used it for 2 years and then I went crazy(you know how it goes) and I gave it to my brother and he's still using it! Its about 7 years old and works great, he is not an audiophile, but likes music. I gave him some kimber Kable for it and he told me the improvements he heard- one day he'll take the plunge, its weird because he's my older brother; I should be learning from him. By far this system offered the highest level of value out of everything I have owned. Now less then 10 years later, I have more invested in my outlets and dedicated lines, cryo treated breakers, etc... then my first system cost! And that's just what stuff just gets plugged into- so sad.
NAD markets(or used to) a receiver/cd player box with a pair of PSB speakers that is not half bad for the money for rooms the size of dorm rooms.

I've heard worse.
I hear you there tireguy.
I have an older brother that im going to convert to the evil ways of audiophilia as well. Im somewhat suprised he never got into this hobby, he is big on vinyl, and lives for music. I gave him a set of Boston Accoustics Bravos that i had laying around. He was wanting to get better sound for his DVDs than just the regular tv speakers. He got an Atlantic Tech subwoofer and a yamaha reciever and absolutly loves it.
This next year i think im gonna buy some bottlehead kits and build them and give them to him. See if that gets him the bug. He can afford this hobby a little better than i can, and i would sure like to know somebody personally who is also in this hobby
Im sure my sister in law will hate me when he is telling her how he needs to upgrade his cable. hehe
I don't really have any specific, recent 'lo-fi' experience, and my past experiences have been mixed. But IMO this is an area the high end neglects at its own peril. I would stongly advocate that the high end mags keep things honest by occasionally but regularly checking out 'mass-market' components of all stripes. For audiophiles, doing this on your own can be a little difficult - you may run into many such 'systems' at your friends' and relatives' places, but almost none of them will have been set up with best sonics in mind. Same is true of this gear in the big chain stores. But in theory, I believe that getting a good idea just what the real-world baseline truly is or can be constitutes a worthwhile self-check on all our audiophilic flights of fancy and standards of perceived value.
I once helped a friend picking a system, and he bought a Denon separates mini-set (sorry, forgot the model) and some cheapo B&W speakers, with some half-decent cables thrown in for free. I set it up for him, slipped one of my cd's in and expected myself to be hiding a little smile..... and I almost cried, since it seemed to sound even better then my own, mucho, mucho more expensive system. When I got home, and finally dared to power up my rig, it was better.... in a subtle way, not spectacular, but more satisfying on the long term. But...... it is more expensive, and nor as convenient or as good-looking as my friends' system. So what's the moral? Ehmmmmm..... don't drive drunk? No, that's another story. Moral is that 'low-fi'isn't always bad.
I have been astonished at the sound from "non-Fi" speakers, the ones that come almost free with a computer.

The "Lo-FI" systems described above are OK, but what I notice is that "Mid-FI" is also getting better. Indeed, it sometimes challenges "High-end".

What can "High-end" do in response? Not much room for sonic improvement. It has to be cost reduction. Which brings us to digital amps....
Well said Zaikesman. I'm kind of O/T, but some of the British mags - What Hi Fi? and Hi-Fi Choice come to mind - do a decent job of covering lo- and mid-fi offerings in both 2 channel and HT. They've conducted comparisons of several reasonably priced one-brand HT systems.

KEF now has two 5-speaker HT packages that have received very positive reviews, although they are much pricier than the likes of Kenwood, Pioneer and Yamaha. Also, NAD and other mid-fi brands have some very good value HT and 2 channel products.

Ultimately though, as others have noted, it depends on your means and priorities.
Satch, I had the same experience. "Hi-Fi Choice", I think, used the $300.00 Denon UD-M31 CD receiver on Wilson Sophias. "People walked away shaking their heads thinking they were listening to $10,000 of McIntosh tube gear".
As Aerosmith would say "shocking".
Slappy, great thread! I am in complete agreement with Albert and Zaikesman. It's amazing what improvements can be gained by turning off those miserable built in TV speakers and replacing them with a really modest little amp and properly placed inexpensive little speakers can do for the TV experience. I wish there more very simple little amps for just this purpose. I really think manufacturers should stop putting speakers in any TV over 20". Keeping an open mind and ear of the lower end is a real reality check.
my sharp 1 bit mini system sounds great with my full range speakers,not as nice as my tube gear but heck only paid $150 and it has a tuner and cd player.If Iam ever down on my luck this cheap little system could run even my large horns.
Right now I am using a CAL CL-10, Yamaha C2a pre, ASL Wave8s and Acoustic Energy AE1 in my home office. My total investment was about $330, since the pre and the CL-10 were sitting in a closet. Total Audiogon value probably about $750, if I had to go out and buy the pre and the CDP. It sounds pretty darn nice. Have not yet had to turn it off in pain. Maybe this thread should be called Low (price High)-Fi. Great thread, Slappy.
Included in my stereo system is a Pioneer DV-440 DVD player that I bought for $250 Cdn. new two years ago (one can probably buy it used now for $100). I tried one of my "reference" CDs in it and did a non-scientific back and forth comparison with my Marantz SA-14. Was there a difference? Yes, but darn small. I thought there would have been a greater degree of difference. Truly makes me wonder about those reviews that state that one well made component worth $5000 "blows away" another well made component worth $1000.
Good thread. It has made me re-evaluate some conceptions that I have.

David, I bought one of those Pioneer DV-440's for my kid a couple of Christmas' ago for $150 US. Didn't perform to shabbily next to a 10 X the price Arcam. Now the Arcam had better sound, different though I'm not sure better picture, but the Pioneer is heck of a lot more user friendly.