This is dated but it's how I got started. There was a website with this information that was more interactive and had other info, but it's long gone.
It is just one resource at your disposal. I'd also recommend cruising the member's systems area here, and internet search.
Take your time.
Buy or find in your library a book called, "The Complete Guide to High End Audio" by Robert Harley. It's an excellent resource you'll want to have on your coffee table. That's where mine is. On-line articles and reviews are great but nothing replaces sitting down and studying a book like this to set you straight. It does explain all of the components in an audio system, how they work, how much you should spend, etc. It does not endorse any brands but it's more like a text book. Study one chapter at a time. Trust me on this.
i agree with pdn, that book was/is my bible. if youre lucky. you library might have a copy. the other thing that ive learned over the years is that sound, music, the feeling it brings you is and will always be a personal thing and the sensations that you will get out of it beats any review, forum, advise, blog, new tweak etc etc etc... go with your ears... some of us can literally "see" the band and the stage in front of us, while others dont "get" that. it took me a while to grasp the ins and outs of it, and im still learning... bottom line is this, its a hobby, an expensive one at times, but one that does bring a significant amount of pleasure despite the pains you will experience growing into it.
cheers and enjoy the music.
alex from montreal
another book called "Good Sound" is helpful to beginners ... hold off on buying anything until you have more info. in my opinion you can do much better than Adcom/NAD for the $$$ even used
Thank you for your responses. I have ordered the books that you guys have suggested. This is going to be fun...
After you have absorbed all of the excellent advice given, I recommend that you go higher than Adcom or NAD, because there is so much fantastic top of the line "high end" available for a song and a dance here on the Gon. Stick with the known winners as confirmed by the threads on this site. For example, CJ PV-12 is a known winner for a preamp. Research will provide you with others.
if you just seek tight bass and a coherent sounding system you can save a lot of money and time with NAD equipment. OTOH, if you want to transcend the limits
of the-commonly-thought-of-as-a-good-sounding-system it WILL take a great deal of research and/or spending gobs of money on often-weird-and-inconvenient components (i.e.- when they break which can happen much more often than you anticipated, you might spend 6-8 weeks calling, writing, and waiting for your state-of-the-art component to return so you can start listening again).
i chose the 2nd route of course, but i still often long for the SAE-2 integrated amplifier i once had, with fluorescent meters and lots of tone-shaping controls, a phono input, 70W/CH, wood-veneer side panels, etc. i later bought the matching tuner and was rocking out to the radio, too. AND i don't remember ever saying to myself- "this sounds bad". i was having way too much fun, and the system even did a decent job playing Beethoven. Of course, NOW i have a MUCH better hi-fi costing obscene amounts just for a 3 foot piece of wire, and i am buying SACD's that after one listening wish i could return for a refund. of course certain other discs sound deliciously real. as long as i either choose carefully or just get lucky.
but at the same time i don't DARE put on a Jefferson airplane alblum which screeches instead of "flows" out of the speakers. James Taylor "Sweet Baby James"
(a typical pressing) doesn't sound like it was mixed properly anymore. the record used to sound fine, but that was years ago in a land far far away...
here's one more special surprise- CSN&Y- wait a minute! what is wrong with this record?! it sounds like it was pieced together using an 8-track cassette deck...
but hey, it's your choice. at times it's kind of like driving a lamborghini- racing the wind at 140 MPH, or taking a wrong turn and getting stuck on a road full of pot-holes...
You need to first learn what you like from your system. No two are alike and nobody else hears what you hear or prefer. Once you undertand that you can move forward. Buying gear that you can resell for your purchase price or make a profit is always a good way to hear what components sound like in your system unless you have an audio club or people close to you who will lend you there gear for you to hear in your system.
Books to me are a waste of time because they cannot teach you to hear. Become familiar with your favorite recordings and what they sound like on your system and then bring those recordings around to see how other systems make them sound. Bass, mid-range, high end extension, height and width of soundstage, depth of sound stage, top end air, placement of instruments and backing vocals, clarity, tone, etc. I like to use piano recording because if the componets cannot get that right I feel that I am wasting my time then. Listen to piano on SS gear and tube gear to see what I mean. You may perfer one over the other so go with what you like.
I heard my speakers no to long ago with a cheap NAD power amp and it sounded very good. My amp is way more expensive and much better but the NAD was musical and enjoyable also.
While books can't teach you to hear, or know what kind of sound you like; they can certainly help you avoid costly mistakes when assembling and putting together a system. "Read Read Read, it don't cost nothing to Read".
ill second that: Read Read Read Read...
orpheus is right, i would have saved a ton of money and time (and i certainly wouldnt have a few closets full of gear) if i had taken the time to "educate" myself on the basics. when i started , internet was ICQ for chat, on a 28k dial up connection.... and Netscape was the browser of choice (what ever happened to them?) so we didnt have google back then to key in the words "bad hi-fi" and get Bose as a top result.... no offense to those that think Bose if high end... i did too once upon a time.... and i still have my 901's in one of the closets... or maybe in under the house in the crawl space with my old pentium 286 with MMX technology!!!! whatever that was.... sigh!!!!
I wish to EXPAND a bit further on my rather negative comments made previously.
the real watershed moment for me was the day i bought a (used) pair of B&W 801 speakers. from then on, the music i had sounded much better - and in some cases WORSE. because of their far superior accuracy at reproducing nuances
that were always present but glossed over by my previous speakers i could hear so much more detail it was truly amazing. but then of course i had to resolve the problems raised by such a far superior transducer. a better DAC, a better preamp, a better transport (with a special digital interconnect), a levinson stereo amplifier (good Lord what a huge improvement over my SAE amplifier!). and finally wires (i went with audioquest at first). i remember coughing up $800 for a pair of used speaker cables- very necessary, and very difficult to work with garden hoses.
but as someone else mentioned here, piano recordings had a richness and clarity that helped me differentiate between the sound of one brand of piano from another. other instruments would leap from the speakers into the room. a Martin guitar would sound
so convincingly real and just like what i would hear when i got to play one in person. the female voice would no longer be a part of the "system" but would take on a life of its own. a really REALLY good system will take you step by step into the studio or the concert hall and sit you down with the people making the music.... AS LONG AS there is no crappy cheap electronics and/or a deaf engineer that screws up what you should be hearing.
i guess the final word on all of this is whether it becomes an "obsession" to get the best possible results OR at what stage you're willing to call it quits- which will vary for each one of us. as long as you can take the sound of a pair of $150,000 speakers in stride (or get freaked out and have to buy them), you must measure your ability to remain rational and objective as to how good they REALLY ARE, regardless of how wealthy you are (aren't).
like i said, stick to mid-fi. good night, sleep well...
If you are truly just getting started, do this:
get polk lsi15 speakers used for around 650 a pair, get a used or new harman kardon hk3490 receiver 299 new. get a marantz cd player cd5004 350 new. some well make 12 / 14 gauge wire off amazon, I got raptor. total around 1500 dollars. then listen for a while, not a week or a month but a year or more. buy music all the while. you now have a good system and a 'baseline' to compare any other equip with. and any time you don't like the sound, move the speakers back forth, side to side and up and down.
this will change the sound. Anyone tell you a more expensive piece will improve your sound, ask them how or why. good listening.
Polk speakers give the biggest bang for the buck, and Marantz CD players are good but electronics such as preamp, and amp should be top notch. These, or this in the case of an integrated will be the essence of the other components. They should be the best you can buy.
I would take the best electronics and "good" speakers as opposed to the "best" speakers and average electronics, any day; but it really depends on what kind of listener you are. If you get deep into the music, electronics is very important.
Spend lots of time listening to different speaker types (sealed box, ported box, open baffle, horns, electrostats, combinations, single driver, two ways, three ways, etc.) and decide which type of sound you prefer. Drive around, fly around, do whatever you are able to experience as much as possible. Reading this forum and reviews is fine, but let YOUR ears decide, not someone else's. Once you decide what type you prefer, then pursue that type. But also make sure that type can work well in your room, or if not, pick another room where it can (verify with manufacturer).
Then zero in on a specific speaker to purchase. Once you do, you can then purchase proper amplification for that speaker (again, verify with speaker manufacturer).
From this point you will have a very good foundation on which to build/tweak and eventually upgrade if desired.
I agree with rockadanny. With all respect to the guys who recommended Polks, I believe it is much too soon to recommend any specific products. Beside the fact that you don't know what you like, a big part of the journey is learning for yourself and finding what works for you. Especially since you asked for resources and not suggestions for products.
Take your time and enjoy.
just dont get discouraged... in the end, the reward is amazing... i am reaping the rewards right this moment in our ZEN room
I agree with rockadanny and Sebrof; however, there is one big question left unanswered; where do you recommend he go to do all of this "listening"?
RMAF is a good place to start, or some other audio show nearer to Waryan. Many big cities have audio societies. I'd also put out a feeler on all of the forums, asking if s/he could stop by to have a listen - IME people love to show off their systems. Hit all of the stores and dealers within a few/several hours driving distance. Any other ideas?
Rockadanny and Sebrof, not long ago there were two high end emporiums within easy driving distance from me. I spent a lot of time at both of them. Now, I have yet to find how I'm going to audition some speakers I might like. Not many of us can afford to fly to L.A. in order to audition speakers.
orpheus, where about's are you located?
Get out before it's too late.
P.S Yes, power cords matter as does all wire.