Overrated: Van Den Hul -- dull, muffled, and lifeless
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Yep why some call(ed) them 'Van den Dull'.
Though mostly, if not only, applicable to those mixed carbon-fibre ICs.
Had used them once, had 2 happy days.
When I bought them - and when I traded them for something else.
Very nicely packaged though they were, in some pretty carton as I recall. 👌
I am going to list some very fine brands because so many rate them as universally most neutral or revealing or aspirational:
Are they fine brands?? Yes. Are they universally suitable for everyone? No. Same goes for my own faves too! I find them overrated, not because they make less than stellar components, but because their fan boys can't believe anyone wouldn't like their sound.
Dynaudio - Constantly playing with the house curve with different models in production at the same time so really depends. Good for them for making a variety of different sounds.
Dali - They tip the treble up several DB’s and many are mesmerized by how "revealing" they are. Neutral? Hell no, but at low volumes a good listen.
Oh, forgot to list underrated:
- Vandersteen - I don’t really care about their 1st order filters and time coherent response, but their bass management and room integration capabilities are simply outstanding.
- Fritz speakers - Actually really highly rated by his customers but under priced. Bespoke speakers with top of the line parts? Outstanding value.
- Monitor Audio - Outstanding value. Custom innovative drivers and some of the best engineering and results in the industry. Consistently neutral and enjoyable tone across the brand. All speakers are good looking and designed for long term listening.
- Parasound’s Z line. Sadly I have heard the DAC has been discontinued.
- Hsu subs. Monsters. Absolute monsters.
@cd You did mention in the original post this was a discussion restricted to cables. Problem is no one wants to read and they’d rather jump on their soapbox and opine on anything they feel like, regardless of how relevant.
Underrated/High Value Cables - Audio Envy
Overrated/Low Value Cables - Synergistic Research
Just go to usedcable.com to see how many more SR cables are listed than any other brand. Looking at IC's today they have 19 from SR, 1 from Wireworld, and 6 from Cardas. And no, SR's production isn't 10 times greater than WW or Cardas...people are always unloading them because they want something better in terms of sonics and value.
Under rated ICs:
The DH Labs pure silver / single strand balanced and shielded from Parts Connexion with KLH or silver Neutrik XLRs.
Brittle, but once you've had a pair it gets really hard to spend money on more.
Over rated speaker cables:
Wireworld and Analysis Plus. First is pretty dark, but improves imaging. Latter does little.
Typical responses by a guy that promotes his cheap stuff and puts down quality equipment. Plus he gets paid for every time he mentions his speaker brand that he gushes over the top everywhere he can. Plus he needs to respond twice so he gets his digs in on quality equipment. Too bad he can’t read what the OP wanted.
Underrated - Audio Musikraft DL-103 cartridge. I think folks are thinking it's just another modded Denon DL 103, but to me its a great value. No need to wait in line for a retip that could take up to a year..., just buy a 103 DL or R, whatever your preference.
Overrated - cartridges in general that cost over $2k.
Overrated: the audiophile creed that everything matters.
Underrated: the idea that correct AWG copper wire is overkill for the job it is tasked to do in a sound system.
But that's from outside audiophilia looking in. Since I have an audiophile brain, I believe (or have nervosa) that eveything matters, and I obsess looking for the ever-moving weakest (or less magical) link in the path. It's kinda like being Catholic or a biker-- some things come with the passion, and those outside it do not understand the sacraments or the bliss. But self-awareness should inform the audiophile brain that it's easily manipulated by marketing evangelists.
Oddly, streaming has dampened my equipment obsession. The system seems good enough as is as my interest turns to exploring the musical horizons and things "out there" like Qobuz or RP sound amazingly good on their own...but I'm beginning to compulse over some digital-to-digital converters.