I just bought a $60,000 system with big names like krell, Audio Research, Mcintosh, B&W 802 D speakers, Sony SACD, Transparent wires, etc, and I get more enjoyment from my sub $1000 I put together used with ADS speaker, NAD monitor pre amp, Onkyo Integra M-504 power amp, Toshiba SD-9200 DVD player (as CD and DVD).
I am thinking I should have stopped with my midfi system now...
Anyone else have similar sentiments, or is my ear not golden enough to hear the difference yet?
Did you research and try out all these different components to see if they would work together or just haphazardly buy them because of something you read or heard?Equipment has to work in harmony to produce pleasing results.I know it's a trite cliche but,sometimes less is more.
System matching is work and trial and error. It takes time. Maybe this is part of the reason? Almarg is also correct about the nature of a revealing system making poor recordings sound worse.
I also think expectations play a huge role. You don't expect too much from your $1000 system and thus can simply rest in the music. The $60,000 sysem IS ATTACHED TO SIGNIFICANT $$ and has mental stuff tied to it. Hard to just enjoy when perfection is expected. One gets all tied up with performance perfection and enjoyment is lost.
I have been a part of this hobby for some 46 years and if there is one lesson I learned it is that equipment matching and system synergy has a far greater correlation with musical performance, overall transparency, and general tonal accuracy than cost. In my lifetime I have heard in my own home three superb systems, and each one of them had a total cost of less than $8,000. A friend of many years standing, who also happens to be a reviewer for one of the two leading audio publications, described one of these attampts as possibly one of the best in-home system he had ever heard. Sadly, I succumbed to the supposed "improvement itch" and moved backwards, rather than forward, a bitter experience many of us have encountered.
Definitely a troll, he's got one too many "big names" listed. He has an extra piece from Krell/ARC/Mac for his amp and preamp. To front that equipment with the Sony player is also very unlikely......lastly, he has like 4 systems listed.....RILLY?
I think we have all been there at one time or another. I think it is psychlogical. When listening to an inexpensive midfi system we don't expect much from it, so we relax and just enjoy the music. When we listen to a $60,000 system our expectations are high. Instead of listening to the music we are listening to the system and looking for flaws.
It makes sense to me. Even assuming the high cost system is completely synergized it's possible and reasonable for someone to prefer a less refined sound. The key is that he enjoys his listening experience.
As a rhetorical question - what's the difference between a $1,000 system, a $10,000 system and a $100,000 system? The cheapest system could actually sound pretty decent, especially if purchased used. The middle system will be clearly better in every area and will be capable of very high quality sound reproduction. The expensive system will perform better than the middle system in certain areas, but the difference between it and the middle system is less than that of the middle system and the cheapest system.
I frequently read posts where "the journey" aspect of this hobby is invoked. This person's journey deserves as much respect as any other. And as a point of reference his mid-fi system isn't all that mid-fi.
Like others have said, it could be a system mismatch. Why don't you post a couple of photos with your virtual systems ? Maybe it is your room set-up, and other members could help you with that. I have no personal experience, but from everything I have read, those B&Ws can be annoying if they're not fed right.
In all reality,an upgrade of a component should be just that.We should hear an improvement that makes us happy.If we get the opposite,we should resell it.That is what Audiogon is all about.A component may sound great in someone else's system,but not ours.Of course the opposite is true also.We shouldn't end up with a poor sounding costly system if,each piece we upgraded was listened to carefully, then decide whether it's a keeper or not. Carefully done,I don't see how someone would end up this way,unless buying higher priced components first,then listening to them later.If you don't hear better sound when upgrading a component, its not an upgrade(to us),even if the component cost more.
Definitely a troll. Most of his equipment listed in his four systems is bargain bin and EBay deals. He mentions things like "bright and airy highs", "nice boomy bass" and "amp has no highs and lows". He raves about a $79 Sony sub. So, do you think a guy with a house full of yard sale finds is going to go out and blow 60 large on Krell and Macintosh? Not unless he hit the lottery and someone talked him into it. Judging from his system comments he would be perfectly happy listening to a boom box.
My question: What exactly is a "troll?" Is it a "shill" audio salesman who tries to stir up conversation about brands he sells? That definition would help me figure all this out and get more out of this thread. It seems the OP is asking a valid question-- with many of us arguing one way or the other, as is going on now. Thanks all!
There may be some trolling in the original post (in fact, it reads as though the original poster didn't actually spend 60 grand) but the underlying point is not a bad one. You can get a good setup with, say, Rotel components, and be probably 90% to 95% "there" (where "there" refers to some ultimate audio goal); especially if you don't custom design a special listening room. Beyond that, there is a rapidly decreasing return to scale for audio equipment where you spend exponentially more money for sonic improvements that increase at an exponentially decreasing rate.
High end is worth the money if you've got the disposable income to spare, but it's not worth breaking the bank to get there.
Thanks to all the helpful posts so far... Always interesting feedbacks for me to ponder over, and improve my system.
I will try to upload pictures later.
I bought the $60,000 system off of a gentleman who's business went under, and that was his 2nd system !
His first system was something like 3 times the cost, which he also had to sell...
So I didn't have a chance of extensively testing the system before I bought it - I just checked the professional reviews which were glowing.
The statement about synergy was especially enlightening to me - I am gonna pay more attention to that from now on.
Not all is bad news for me though - my upgrade bug has been cured for now - hopefully I have recovered from the much discussed audioholic disease. I am just gonna try to enjoy my midfi system, and not shoot for the cutting edge latest technology.
The gentleman said he would purchase the system back once his economic situation improves - I am hoping that day will be soon now for his sake, and mine, 'cause it's just taking up space in my living room, while I constantly turn to my midfi system for music...
To those who have a well chosen midfi system, I would recommend not shooting for the stars and spend big bucks, but just stop there and just enjoy the music, like I am gonna do from now on.
You might want to hear the big names, but I wasn't impressed with the improvement for the amount of money invested.
The person who mentioned the law of diminishing return must be right - on hifi, after a certain point, it seems like you get a little return even when you spend a lot more in a system.
Another problem with high end audio is that there is a lot of snake oil being sold. A further problem is that many of the "audiophile" reviewers who post glowing reviews of equipment have conflicts of interest that they don't reveal in their reviews. Underlying this is that it seems that many audiophiles don't know a whole lot about electronics; so they get swayed by subjective comments and "objective" technical comments that are sometimes wrong. The net effect is that (from what I've observed) people who have the cash for high end are constantly experimenting with new equipment. Let's face it, even if you "audition" equipment (which I have always found to be a rather pretentious term), the sound of audio equipment is like the sound of your favorite record: when you first hear it you might think that it is the greatest thing you ever heard, but over time you get used to it and the thrill of original ownership begins to decline. As a consequence, you get a lot of equipment turnover (especially among those who seek constant thrills) that shows up for sale on websites like Audiogon and Ebay.
The Audiogon gods tend to delete postings that are too critical of the audiophile game, so this posting may be gone before long... :-)
I have been having a blast picking up stuff off Craig's List, Goodwill, garage sales and ebay. I stopped dumping thousands into my main system a couple years ago. Old vintage ADS, Pioneer, Sansui, JBL, Technics AR, Boston Acoustics to name a few. I have built up a few systems for near nothing and found good homes for them ... then start all over again picking up a few bucks along the way. I have a vintage Pioneer floroscan receiver (SX-3900) and a pair of ADS 710's in my office at work. I have a nice Sansui AU-7900 and TU-7900 in my garage and I am heading out soon to check on a pair of Klipsch Heresys. I am having a blast and its a pretty cheap habit sometimes picking up broken equipment for near nothing and getting it repaired for less than $100. The only problem seems to be space. I am considering reconstructing my garage with shelves from floor to ceiling on one side and a wall of vintage speakers on the other. I can see me spending hours out there just hooking up different combinations. A mini used stereo store where I can play with old cassettes and spin scratchy vinyl without worrying about wear and tear or risking a scratch or a ding. I will keep my main system and I still listen to it several hours a week but there is something about tearing into an old classic and getting it back up and running. If not the garage a nice 30 X 40 shop with a concrete floor, a woodstove and a couple of comfy chairs. A workbench to work on old equipment and room for 50 - 100 components. Maybe 7-10 pairs of speakers and as much vinyl as I want. I bet the whole shop will be less than $30K and for $5-10K I could fill it with classics.
It's all part of the process Troll...errrr fellow audiophile. Gotsta pay the dues! Pay some restocking fees and take some dat monies and I'll see you at the RMAF, where you will see/hear many full fledged cases of audio synergy at work. My first system, when I got back into the hobby after a twenty five year hiatus, consisted of an ARC CD-7, Cary SLP-05 preamp, NuForce Ref 9SE mono amps, and Von Schweikert VR4-SR's with all Nordost Valhalla cabling. There are not a few audiophiles cringing right now, and a couple of jealous newbies muttering "Wow! Cool system!". Synergy trumps cost in every instance. This system was a disaster, and could have been averted if I wasn't inclined to trust my instincts. There is a difference between trusting your ears and trusting your instincts. I don't say you shouldn't trust your ears; but if you ain't heard it TOGETHER, you ain't heard it. Period.
Your comments underscores one of my criticisms of the way that many audiophiles approach equipment purchases. Expressions like "synergy" and "trust your ears" are so mushy and ill-defined, that it makes the whole thing seem like systems come together by magic. In my view, if the system is that poorly matched, then there should be some objective data that would suggest that outcome: either the output impedance of one device is incompatible with the input impedance of a downstream device; or the output level of one device is insufficient relative to the input sensitivity of a downstream device, and so forth. To that extent, there should be someone who can offer some insight as to why some of these device might not work together very well: I mean, something more precise than just "synergy" and "trust your ears". Granted there are some fine points that you can't represent in objective data, but if a system is a "total disaster" (as opposed to being optimal) then there should be some objective evidence of the disaster. I approach this stuff as being partially visceral, but also partially analytical - I tend to not believe in magic.
Paperw8 - I agree with you quite a bit. Unless there is really something mismatched, I can't see any hi fi system really sounding "bad." It's far more likely that it just doesn't have the sound the purchaser was trying to get. If a person visits a store and listens to a particular system and only purchases a portion of the equipment, it's very likely to sound much different at home given the change in equipment and environment.
I have experienced a significant change in enjoyment on one of the systems at my local hi fi store. Every time I heard the Focal Utopia Diablo's, especially with a JL Audio subwoofer I was drooling over the wonderful sound. The store sold their Krell amplifiers and are now running Asthetix amplifiers and I have not been blown away since. Does it still sound great, yes, but for my ears it's a train wreck in comparison.
Please understand that I'm not knocking Asthetix products, I'm sure they could sound great with a different system or to a different person.
If I had the money, I would have quickly purchased the Krell version of the system without question, but I've been dissapointed every time I've listened since their departure.
I think it helps to have a sound you're trying to recreate in your head. You may be unaware that you are sensitive to missing high end information in a perfectly acceptable sound system until you hear it and it bothers you to the point that you'd rather not listen to music at all as long as the offending sound continues. I was like that when I finally switched speakers after 17 years. The new outrageously well reviewed pair I bought had excellent defined bass, good dynamics, very nice incisive midrange--BUT the highs were closed in like a slightly padded object was covering the tweeter and no matter the position of the speaker, messing with the considerable adjustments one could make on the outboard crossover, I could not get rid of the slightly to markedly closed in highs. I didn't know this even bothered me until I heard it. Others may be bothered in various other ways--lifeless dynamics, not enough or tubby bass, dynamics constricted, etc. You may not even know that it bothers you until you hear it. Man, I'm glad I took a chance on one more set of speakers after that disappointing venture on what I thought would be my last pair from reviews I'd read. Same thing happened with speaker cables. When it's right, it's enjoyable and you can quit anal/oh, analyzing your system and just enjoy the music. After reading another OOH BABY review of some outrageously good cables, I bought a used pair and inserted them in my system. The joy was gone, even after running the system for 2 straight weeks non-stop. Put the other cables (cheap, but also well reviewed) back in and the smile returned to my face. Same thing happened in my basement built dedicated room. I had stuffed the ceiling with 6" fiberglass batting that was a good sound absorber. The sound inside that room was incredibly the moment you walked in the door, clear with zero recognizable defects to my ear, anyway. My brother, in the trades, told me to get glacier ceiling tiles for that room and it will sound even better. I put in a slightly angled drop ceiling where behind the speakers was a little lower and sloped slightly upward to behind my seat. I laid all the glacier tiles in the grids and turned the music on. All the live illusion of music diasppeared and I was left with dull, flat, uninvolving music like a cheap table radio. I couldn't believe what those tiles did to the sound. I replaced most of the glacier tiles with Armstrong's highest articulation tiles that you can only get if you know someone it the trades and 98% of the magic returned like before I put in the ceiling tiles. It's a woefully long post and I'm sorry this lasted so long, but my main point is you'll know when something really bothers you. Try to fix the problem and also, when your system sounds great to you in all areas, QUIT reading about new stuff and just enjoy your system and the fact that you have been fortunate enough to take many different electrical devices connected together so that a very pleasing approximation of live music is coming out and you get to enjoy it most any time you choose. Reading the high fi rags just gives you the itch, the desire to acquire. Then you stay on the neverending treadmill of upgrades and ultimate dissatisfaction that goes with it. Music truly soothes and stirs the soul, wanting something more only stirs the wallet and your degree of unrest. Right now I thank God that I've been one of the lucky ones in this hobby to assembly a reasonably affordable system with outstanding sound. I intend to be very content for years to come and maybe help others reach their lucky point, also.
Good comments all around. I agree with Paperw8 that impedances have to match; but "trust your ears" just means that at the end of the day you have to be happy with your system; and synergy is that intangible (I guess intangibles could be considered "mushy"...) that gives you a little more for your hard earned ducats by giving you that sum-of-the- parts (components)-being-better-than-the-whole thing. I guess there are some who would have heard the system I disparaged and liked it. I know, because I go to the audio shows, and there are some rooms that are very popular that it just blows me away that people like the sound in them. So everything is relative to the listener's ear. Although we have something of a "fellowship" as audiophiles (for the most part we agree for instance that Bose is crap), there are different schools of thought among us. I'm lucky to have found an audio cohort that likes pretty much what I like: All tube, vinyl only, SET pretty much exclusively. Ya, I'm that guy. But that guy considers himself pretty fortunate. I've paid my dues; my system is tits, and even my instincts are pretty good today.
Tough crowd. The guy hopes to get a big lift from securing a second hand system of high end gear and is not impressed. Then he's chastised for not knowing ahead of time. A great way to get more newbies into the High End...
I can understand why Gonglee3 would be disappointed. If you've never dropped more than $1-2K for some gear and poured out several $K for a rig, but it didn't do it for you, wouldn't you be put out?
Regarding him knowing better, you have to hear the respective brands of gear to know enough that it will potentially sound poor with other associated gear. If you've never visited for years as a guest of a high end shop or been to a show how would you know that? I did cringe when I saw the equipment listing of the rig, especially if it's older gear. Perhaps it was at one time $60k of stuff, but now is worth about $10K? That's still a lot of money to most people to dole out for a rig. If it doesn't perceptually sound two or three times better then he'd have some reason to be upset.
Anyway, if the sound is harsh and unforgiving at least one or two component changes are in order. The system obviously is so deficient that tweaking will not resolve it. I would experiment with different cabling, even used much less costly cables to attempt to soften the sound. If aftermarket power cords are not being used I'd snag some from the classifieds here. I would check every piece of equipment to ensure that I've tried every feasible setting in an attempt to moderate the problems. I would get some tubes or, as a distant second option, a very warm sounding SS component into the rig asap. If the bass was boomy I'd try stuffing the speaker port with a sock or foam to turn it into a quasi-sealed cabinet design; it may make it much more pleasant. Maybe a home made sound panel or two would help. It doesn't have to take a lot of money to spiff it up.
Do not be afraid to swap components from your other rig into the new one to see what it does! Get a feel for as many component combinations as you can. I would double check to see if the Quad amp can drive the speakers, then put it into the mix and see what it does to the sound. I would try the Parasound player with the new rig. I would probably try the NAD/Onkyo combo if deemed sufficient to drive the B&W. You may love the rig a lot more with just one or two changes. In any given rig the synergy between components may more than offset the removal of a slightly higher quality component. All things equal you want the highest quality stuff in the rig. But, if you can't stand the sound of those components, switch things around! I have made many systems with mostly higher end components and just one, and definitely no more than two, moderately priced components and gotten good results. No, not SOTA sound, but very nice sound.
Think in a fluid way about forming systems; don't compartmentalize your rigs. You don't like the main rig's sound now, so mix it up. Putting one different component into the rig may have profound influence for the better. You have enough gear that moving cables, amps etc. might get you a lot closer to something you like on the big rig. No matter the result you will learn a lot about how incredibly variable the sound can be with different gear. My guess is that you'll stumble onto a combo that you like a lot more than the current one.
Keep at it, Gonglee, because that rig has potential - a lot more potential than you think, perhaps a lot of potential. But it will take time and effort to coax the best out of it. You invest the time and an perhaps a bit more money and it might become a dream rig for you. If that happens you won't be so quick to sell it back. :)
Douglas - I like you suggest to mix and match with the OPs other system. I'd probably take one of the new components and hook it up in the old system and see if the sound improves. The next step might be to take one component from the old system and hook it up in the new and see if the offending component could be identified. If it turns out that changing a single component makes a nice difference, it could give some direction for a higher end replacement unit.
Everyone here is very kind and offering sage, well thought out advice to the OP. You are all to be commended.
I'll still bet that this person is a Troll, although I hope to be proven wrong when he posts some pictures to 1 of his 4 systems.
Again, I contend he's just tossing this group as the equipment he mentioned simply doesnt compute. Krell, Audio Research, McIntosh fronted by a Sony CD player feeding 802d's. Maybe if he would post pictures and describe the setup I would feel less like he's yanking our chain.
Since the exact equipment of the high end system hasn't been stated, how are so many people able to claim it's mismatched?
Getting more detailed, there's only so many logical ways the brands can be assembled. We're only given the specifics on the speaker. The Sony could be a SCD-1 or SCD-777. The McIntosh could be a tuner. Which leaves the Krell/Audio Research combo. Are there no combination of Krell/Audio Research preamp to amps that would sound good when linked to the B&Ws?
Then again could be the Audio Research is a crossover and all the amplification is Krell? Or could the Krell be a D/A and the amp/preamp are Audio Research? Or vice versa?
How do you people know so much when so little info has been given?
"(for the most part we agree for instance that Bose is crap),"
Ok, audiophiles agree Bose is crap, but who has actually set up a system with Bose speakers the way they would with a popular audiophile brand? Who has selected just the right amp and preamp to make a pair of Bose speakers sing? Who selected the right CD played, turntable and cartridge to get the most sound out of Bose speakers? What about interconnects and speaker cables? Who set up their system with the right equipment and then, with the advice of a so called acoustical expert, treated their room to get the best sound from a pair of Bose speakers?
Has anyone here ever done any of these things? Probably not. Yet everyone agrees Bose is crap.
That's actually a good post, Rrog. I misspoke. Bose is sort of the John Tesh of speakers. Kind of an inside joke amongst the insiders. Yugo; Gallo; Red Lobster. They try so hard to be all things to all people that they become caricature-ized. The funny thing is, I was at the local Krispy Kreme today, and was blown away by the fact that they'd put a pretty expensive Bose setup in the ceiling, and you know what? It didn't sound bad! Of course, my expectations weren't too high! So I should have said Bose is a joke, not crap. **My wife is a designer for a local builder, and sells Bose. She however is NOT an audiophile, and will never read this!**
I'm sure if everyone of us went out and spent 60k on a system, NONE of us would have the same exact components. OP bought someone elses "ears". In that case, odds are not good for happiness no matter what the price. Odds are better that most of us could spend half that and end up with a better system because it would be based on our "ears". Hard lesson learned.
Sincere thanks to all those posted - especially to lengthy posters who took the effort and time to share words of experience and wisdom...
They will help me and others get to the land of sonic-nirvanah.
I uploaded 2 pictures here :
One is the new hifi system that's been lonely, and the other one is the beloved $1000 midfi system.
From chatting on other audio forums, I found out that my midfi system is pretty good. ADS speakers are well liked by many audiophiles, Onkyo Integra M-504 power amp is recommended by some experts as a good midfi piece, the Toshiba SD-9200 is top of the line DVD player with upsampling to 24/192 specs.
I just got lucky and ended up assembling a pretty decent souding system for not much money, and when I bought the hifi system expecting it to be many times better, I was sadly disappointed...
I am coming to like the new system a little more though - classical music (especially piano and strings) sound good on it. The reason I still prefer my midfi system is that female vocal music sounds better on the midfi system (and over 90% of my listening is that).
Perhaps B&W had classical music in mind when they designed the speaker... I am not sure.
I am a musician and I played on Steinway pianos and Stradivarius instruments before, and perhaps when I spent that much mulah, I was expecting something similar to the real instrument sound...
It ain't that for sure !
I am gonna try to find more music that sounds good on it, since I found out classical piano and strings sound good on them.
So to all the audiophiles who's searching for the realistic sounds, please look somewhere else than my system.
Maestro Jung Myung Whon (famous Korean conductor) prefers the sound of his hifi system to actual orchestral sound he conducts, so I know that a good hifi system can sound relistic - his system consists of McIntosh CD, pre, power, and 15 incher co-axial Tannoy speakers.
Perhaps it's the sony XA777ES (SACD player) and the B&W 802 D combination that's the culprit - both gears have been described as "annoying" when not matched well in a system. I am gonna try to mix and match my gears like some of you suggested...
I am glad I got into the land of SACD though - clearly sounds superior to regular CDs, and on Amazon, I can buy them for about the same price. Perhaps we should all make that jump sooner than later - all the digital lovers (rather than Vinyl).
I am sorry this got to be so long, but it was fun and educational for me.
Happy listening to all...
Horseface, I think I am gonna join you and hunt down classics on used market - sounds like sheer fun... It's affordable, and just fun to try new things in this hobby - thanks for the tip.
It's interesting how this thread dried up and all the naysayer's headed for the hills once the supposed "troll" produced a photograph of the $60k system. These forum groups are so funny!
Back on topic, Gonglee3 brings up a point that I've been exploring the past 5 months. MidFi gear is pretty good sounding stuff. Bought my first Chinese tube amp (Prologue 5), my first Chinese integrated (Grant Fidelity 534b) since owning a French Kora integrated for a secondary system over a decade ago. Each of these components sounds as good as gear 3 times their price point. And what's even better they're priced used at prices any1 can afford.
I would not worry about things like midfi, hi end labels on gear.
Its good to have reasons for buying things other than just to buy stuff that is "better". You always have to start with getting the right speakers for your taste that can work the room well. Then you go for an amp that is capable of driving the speakers to the max. Then you tweak the source and wires, etc. If you do a good job with the amp and speakers and room synergy, the rest comes down largely to personal preference using most any decent gear.
I don't even think these systems are in the same house. One is thrown together, things piled on it, crappy cords and wires. The other is perfectly arranged, speakers are towed in, good cords, well dusted, etc. I've been in many homes, and if the common rooms look lived in the whole house looks lived in. If the common areas are immaculate, then the rest of the house will look immaculate. I think that picture of the high end system was taken in a dealers show room or someone else home.
Being the trained observer that you are is it a mere coincidence the carpet and walls in both photos are identical?
I suppose my place is an exception to your house cleanliness rule for my listening room is well organized, the rest of the house, ummm not so much. Oh but could it be that the area of his midfi gear appears that way because of the type of gear it is? Well, it's just a thought...
The carpet is not the same in both rooms. One room has a light grey carpet and the other has a off white throw carpet over soltio tiles. If you zoom, the profile of the baseboards is different. The room with the B&W speakers has a "show room" vibe to it. Having been in thousands of homes over my life time and quite a few Hi-Fi show rooms, this is my opinion.
Your listening room is well kept because you have a lot of respect and care for your hobby. I imaging you dust and vacuum on a regular basis in your listening room. Also, you have great respect for your equipment no matter what room it's in.