Recent equipment you hated, thought overpriced


Enough with the glowing accounts and positivity. What equipment have you bought in the last couple of years that you either just hated or thought sounded good but was significantly overpriced? Dish it out.
jult52
I once purchased a Joule-Electra pre-amp that used printed stickers to label the controls..This stuff aint cheap either!..I expected more..like maybe some engraving? BTW..the sound was good.
I thought that the Spendor SA1 were good speakers, but not as great as the reviews and overpriced at more than $2K.

Rich
Bybee gizmos. incredibly overpriced Like the Golden Goddess set of four little gizmos $4,200 WTF?? give me a break.
I dispise tweaks which are basic stuff mystified into bullshit priced tweaks for folks with waaaaaay more money than sense.
Like the infamous Tice Clock, the grandfather of overpriced garbage tweaks.
Then Shackti sticcks.. Tuning bells.. If it costs more than the average amplifier. it is a rip off.

I have used plenty of tweaks all good, and none of them cost more than the basic raw materials.
I have Bybees..and Shakti stones..and LessLoss Blackbodies
and others...and they all work as advertised. So unless you have actually owned and used these products your comments make no sense. I let my EAR be my judge..what do you use..your wallet?
BTW the OP wanted opinions about stuff you've actually used.
By Jove, I think they have finally got it!

Boy you guys just don't get it.

Elizabeth your lack of understanding is profound.

A system may or may not come together based on all of its setup parameters including tweaks, just because you can't justify their cost of production doesn't mean that tweak X doesn't make a large enough difference over its purchase price to justify its inclusion to a system the difference may be akin to changing out a more expensive component!

Or the other way you can look at it may be that the inclusion of x accessory might actually make X amount of stuff finally sound the way the purchaser wanted.

Rarely is the cost of actual production a valid component in pricing of any good, is a $10k Rolex worth $10k when the amount of gold is minute in comparison to the selling price?

The probable production cost of a $10k Rolex is most likely less than $1,000.00 or ten times less than the selling price, yet no one calls a Rolex wearer an uninformed sucker!

The market determines value, a Rolex or whatever brand of watch you prefer is a piece of handmade jewelery it is up to the consumer to make the value judgement. A 10 quartz timxe tells better time than an automatic watch, so people are buying high end watches due to how they make the wearer feel.

In terms of the Bybee stuff they are absolutely worth the money, the degree of liquidity they add is remarkable. I bought a set for use in my own reference system which is a system of about $180,000.00 and the difference was very audible, know if you are thinking I am saying this to sell Bybee I am not a Bybee dealer and never was!

In terms of tweeks some really work and others are bull the Tice clock is bull, QRT technology, Shakti, tuned resonators,Bybee Purifers, Walker Talismen and many other Walker audio products are not.

The Shakti stuff works so do the little tuning bowls aka Acoustic System Resonators and other similar products, we had a reference system at the NY high end audio show comprising the KEF Blades, and Chord Reference electronics etc,

Upon closing day I played the system without the two tube traps, the Shakti products and the resonators and the sound was poor in comparison to how remarkable the sound was with the tweaks in the room.

No change in hardware could make as big a difference as we were already using some of the worlds best hardware: $50k in electronics, 40k in digital, etc, etc.

So Elizabeth I am really curious as to what tweeks you have tried, who installed them and were they used correctly?

You should find a real dealer that would be willing to demonstrate these kinds of devices to you, you might actually be able to make a major improvement to your system.
Its a fact that tweaks may work sometimes but are almost always cash cows with high markup fueled by hype used to help make this ridiculous industry profitable for some companies.

I avoid expensive tweaks like the plague. Similar or better results can usually be achieved for less.

I have not had any recent equipment that I hated. I probably paid too much ($200) for my .5m Harmonic Technology ICs, but these do make nice but expensive amp/pre jumpers on my old NAD receiver when needed.
08-24-12: Davvie
"I have Bybees..and Shakti stones..and LessLoss Blackbodies
and others...and they all work as advertised. So unless you have actually owned and used these products your comments make no sense."

Nor do subjective *unproven/unverified* personal opinions & testimonials about product performance. Merely trying and stating "they all work as advertised", because one's various sensory perceptions convinces one self, for a battery of plausible explanations, does not *default* to absolute without methodic verification measures.
The best way to find out if a tweak could possibly work for you is dealer demo. If your dealer sells it out of his/her store front it probably does for some or most. Online is a whole different story.
i assume that if you hated a component , you wouldn't have bought it.
so too, if you liked a component, but thought it was overpriced, you wouldn't buy it.

either way, you have asked a rhetorical question.

i suspect most people , in principle, would not buy something that is overpriced, as it violates a basic principle in economics:

the value in use = the value in exchange.
I've borrowed Bybee, Shakti, Tice and other tweeks from a friend that used to be in the audio business, and I'll take a Rolex any day. Even he admitted that they made little if any difference in sound. They just cost a lot that's all. You'll get a lot more in return for a Rolex than any of that other crap, but it's to each his own with His or Her money. I choose not to be foolish enough to waste mine. I'm glad I was able to try out the tweeks since most don't get the oppertunity to do so first.
Actually more than a few people laugh at Rolex and their wearers. In every hobby there's a pecking order.
Rotel. I'm passed that phase now.
Audio oracle: I'm with you 100%. As far as Rolex-the last time they made a worthy timepiece-Jean-Claude-Killy was racing the tram at Chamonix!
I use Bybee and Shakti and some other quantum tweaks and they are all very effective.

Unless you use these items in your system your opinions are merely opinions. I prefer facts to opinions.
For Audiooracle: I started to list and explain but just thought gee this is a full size book.
So I will just mention tweaks i use;
Antistatic (black) foam in DAC and a few other electronics, also wrapped around VAC Standard powersupply umbilical. Reduces RFI.
Crystals. $100 worth of small various quartz all over in little ziplock bags, i treated with automotive dielectric silicone. (others bake, or do stuff to coat them.. my stuff works too, I happened to have it around and thought what is needed? and decided the auto stuff works, yup)
Crystals are mostly around A/C stuff inside and out.
"pigtail tweak' of adding a wire to the negative terminal at amp and speaker at speaker wires. I added some ferrite and silver plated raw wire to add more 'mass' to the wire.
Also on ground of Rudistor MPX33 headamp for phone.

Pangea powercords all around. Teflon at base of A/C cord blades.
various feet, most used butyl rubber size ten bottle stoppers. On all stuff on my racks (racks have glass shelves)
Some teak blocks cut from Goodwill chees cutting boards. Really rare now, used to be common to find back in 1980's.
Tiptoes from when they came out.
I coat the Ac wire ends and IC with Caig stuff.
I have a sort of dedicated line. A sigle breaker 20 amp circuit from kitchen brought to area with quad twist dual handmade 12 gauge MilSpec silver plated teflon coated wire. So I have four outlets from one 20 amp breaker.
I use three powerconditioners. Furman REF20i for analog except preamp. Preamp is alone on Monster 7000SS right now after a couple of sessions to solve new Pangea AC9SE powercord sorting out ... and digital is on PS Audio P600.

I leave my stuff on 24/7/365

Cables a few Kimber KCAG, Hero, most of my IC are handmade (yes I made them) with Mark Levinson wire from early 1980's with Vampire Tiffany RCA. (very similar to Cardas in sound)
I have a few Nordost Blue Heaven in storage.
All in a 12' by 28' apartment living room
My 6,000 LPs are in a bedroom to keep the main room free of stuff.

I believe in the 10% rule for cables. And actually by chance pretty much fit close to that at 11%. Adding in the conditioners I bought used, adds about another 10% to that.
(If i compensate a percentage of the Furman for video, that changes the powerconditioner percentage to about 7%

I am not big on paying for stuff i can do myself. So all of my tweaks are self made, or just cheap stuff (like tiptoes. $10 no big deal..)

And I am a solid believer in the ten percent rule. If one would spend the extra money on better components, the final result can be better. others disagree. Not a problem. this works for ME. I would never blow a lot on cables. The most expensive i have is a Hero 7 meter from pre to amp.($700)
One KCAG I own costs new $1,700 now, But when I bought it used many years ago, I paid like $350. in the late 1980's early 1990's (Way before fakes flooded the market)

Anything near free I might try. i would never buy an already made tweak. They all are just a basic idea, wrapped up in fancy verbiage and nicely boxed.(I love all the 'quantum' BS spouted to 'explain whatever..)
Anything sold as a tweak can be made for pennies or a few dollars. And YES the overpriced stuff is ripping off people. Though since those buyers seem to have money to burn, no one cares. (like a Patek Philippe, all for status and all you need is a Timex for time)
I am a Timex sort of girl.
Elizabeth, the horror, 'glass shelves'? They need to be covered, quickly, as you are missing much of the joy of your setup/room. You should know better.
Audiooracle, sucker you are. Rolex? Not a time piece, but a piece of jewelry, eye candy. It has its counterpart in audio in the many, many high priced products that really do not improve on the sound experienced. I suggest you read, and re-read Jim Smith's book on 'Better Sound'. As you know, Jim has in depth experience in audio, including being a dealer, and he has never been 'taken' by the high price tweaks. It is all about the room and its setup.
08-25-12: Buconero117
"Elizabeth, the horror, 'glass shelves'?"

LOL

~

i assume that if you hated a component , you wouldn't have bought it.
so too, if you liked a component, but thought it was overpriced, you wouldn't buy it.
Mrtennis
Mrtennis, do you understand the purpose of Audiogon? By/sell used gear over the internet which does not allow for auditioning.
I have purchased many items without knowing whether or not I would like them. It's a crap shoot, some I like others not so much.
But to answer the OP's question: Dynaudio 1.3SE monitors. I expected big things from these speakers and was sorely let down. I knew how bad they were when I realized I kept turning the volume down to save my ears the pain.
Sequerra Met 7.7 Mk6. Purchased factory direct (through ebay). I'd just as soon listen to my computer speakers. And these were rated "Class B" in Stereophile. So much for professional reviews.
Oppo DV980h. Purchased new. Just an average cdp IMO. Not overpriced, just way over hyped.
Thank you for initiating this thread, Jult52. When the Discussion Forums on this site were at their best, this type of thread featured prominently.

Points to Elizabeth as well for having the stones to say what she thinks.

Acoustic Zen. If not for Talon, it might be the worst sounding high-end audio loudspeaker produced. Wait, if given the choice, I'd take the Talons - I've always thought I might rebuild them into something livable. A long time Audiogoner currently thrashes around wildly in thread after thread searching for the source of his system's poor sound. The fix screams out to everyone, lose the AZ, and yet he hears not

Arum Cantus. Outside of some front-loaded horns (of which I'm a fan), probably the most disconnected speaker in existence

Art Audio. Nice sounding stuff, actually. The one distributor who could sell it had almost everyone conned about all sorts of things. Among them, he being the manufacturer. How much faith (thus, the stuff is overpriced) does the actual owner of the company who did so little to address the collapse of his company in this market and those who were bilked out of their money instill? Long ago, a friend who would know, told me the stuff was made in China on the sly. I never confirmed his statement, but watching that slow developing car wreck didn't do anything to leave me feeling my associate had no idea of what he was talking about

Chord. Proof that audiophiles care far more about looks than sound

Classe. Every encounter I had with it sounded either (mostly) dead or (occasionally) shrill. And, now that they're made in China, why would anyone waste their time and money?

Conrad Johnson. Thick, fat, lazy, and the most euphonically colored electronics in the scariest sense out there. I realize some will seek my scalp over this one

Gallo. Right at home on a shelf at WalMart. Maybe it's me?

Hegel. Dull as dishwater. Also, like Art Audio, there have been audio insiders who have told me the stuff is manufactured in China, and I personally have seen real evidence of that. Maybe the company has an explanation (final assembly only?), as they have claimed Norwegian manufacture on many occaisons

Joule Electra. I most definitely have heard good sound from them. But as Davvie mentioned, I've also sat in disbelief in regard to the apparent build quality

Magico. Speaking of Rolex, and how it's jewelry

MBL. Sounds like it's stuck in first gear

MIT. See Conrad Johnson, but for cable. My first realization of the lack of understanding (listening with one's heart), utter foolishness, and money/profit over all else in high-end audio

Nordost. Why not just use lamp cord? I actually shouldn't include cable in my list, since it's like shooting fish in a barrel

Revel. Not sure if John Atkinson still uses these loudspeakers as his reference, but I find it difficult to envision a person and product more alike

Talon. See Chord

Usher. Comatose. People often seem happy with them in a "I bought a Sonus Faber at 1/3 - 1/2 the price - or, at least, I think I did" kind of way

Wilson. Obviously, they've never been cheap. Call me a huge fan of the Sasha, however
Power cords and line conditioners. Give me a break! Do that many people need a band aid for their system? If you need a line conditioner and aftermarket power cords on every piece of equipment, including the power conditioner, something is seriously wrong with your system. If it does not sound right find out what the real problem is.
Simaudio W-6 monoblocks. Cheap construction and synthetic sound. Sold'em quick.

Musical Fidelity M-3 Nuvista integrated. All bling, no substance.

Soliloquy speakers. No wonder they are no longer in business.

Conrad Johnson Premier 140 tube amp. Fine if you want an amp that sounds like solid state. Lacked tube magic. Great customer support though.
Also, not a fan of power conditioners. Dedicated lines work for me.
Post removed 
For sale. 8 Herbies Big Fat Dots.
hi timrhu:

i don't believe in crap shoots, so i try not to buy equipment without hearing it first.

secondly i stated an economic principle, i.e., the value in use = the value in exchange.

this means a person will not pay more for an item than he thinks it is worth.

in my case, no component is worth more than $10,000.

thus as far as i am concerned, since i do not buy withiut listening, the question posed in this thread is rhetorical, for me.
Audio oracle: I'm with you 100%. As far as Rolex-the last time they made a worthy timepiece-Jean-Claude-Killy was racing the tram at Chamonix!

Rolex are high-quality mass-produced watches and are priced like mass-produced watches. I believe their entry-level stainless is $6500 and you don't buy great watches for that amount of money. OTOH, they are often available pre-owned from Rolex dealers for half price or less, in which case, they are a somewhat sensible purchase, as they will last a lifetime.
08-25-12: Sabai
"I use Bybee and Shakti and some other quantum tweaks and they are all very effective.

Unless you use these items in your system your opinions are merely opinions. I prefer facts to opinions."

Clearly a textbook *opinion* lacking any shred of *factual* proof of effectiveness.

~
These threads make me laugh. Over priced tweaks are just that, over priced. You might think they make your system better, but they don't. Once again, ever hear the old saying about a fool and his money being soon parted? Yes, i've tried/listened to them. If you believe they work, thats all that matters. For you, they work, I guess.... I am, and always will be in the show me the proof camp. I've yet to hear a quantum tweak I would spend a dime on.
My vote would go to power conditioners and such products as well, as long as we are talking about an analog set up. They are not as harmful to a digital set up. I do run my gear through a surge protector to protect it, that's just common sense, but nothing beyond that.
Well i am a total fail for loving to use power conditioners.
I started years ago with a little Adcom ACE515 and never looked back. Got a Monster 5000, then a Monstr HTPS7000SS and a AVS2000. Then about 30 months ago went big time to a Furman REF20i (i got the $3,500 list object for $1,400 via Agon, and close enough to pick up too.
Then wanted a alternate AC range, so same way bought a PS Audio P-600 with optional board allows it to vary output AC sinewave from low of 60cycles up to 120 cycles. (i currently use it at 110hz A/C output for my digital stuff)
Also Agon $1,000 also local pickup.

Only the FurmanREF20i and the PS Audio are in my setup now. The Furman has EVERYTHING on it, including the amp. Just went to a Pangea AC9SE on the Furman, and to amp.
Tried another AC9SE elsewhere, but a little too much of a good thing.
I would NEVER go without a power conditioner.
The pluses are cleaner sound, greater transparency. The downsides are possible leaness if too much stuff used.
I push them to just before they start sounding lean or thin. I dislike fat chubby thick sound. Some call it warm. I call it mush.
I like the 'Japanese sound' Lean, tight, lots of clarity and dynamics Massed voices I can hear every individual voice.. That is what i want. Clean. slightly sweet.. Great.
My conditioners give it to me.
I have ALL pangea cords on IEC stuff.
So I am a big cord and conditioner lover.
Still, my total expenditurs on ALL non-component stuff is only about 15% total of equipment actual cost. 10% cables cords. 5% power conditioning in use. (taking half off conditioner cost as video shares the conditioners too)
I'm with Zydo. Hook up a bunch of overpriced tweeks to a Bose wave system or a system that uses seperate speakers and it should sound as good as a full blown MBL system. Right?
i agree some on tweaks for expensive ones. they seem a scam. Though anyone can make plenty of them cheap..
Not so much in agreement on cables.
I view cheap tweaks as fine tuning.
Like say you make the same cake everyday. (cake=system use)
So you try a little less salt, OK, tweak.
Or a little honey insead of all sugar. tweak.
Or add sprinkles to it. tweak.
Or add butter to the frosting tweak.
It is still yes the same damn cake you had, but it is tweaked. and may be a little more emjoyable for it.

Cable are also fine tuning a bit.
i am not so hot personally on expensive cables. as mentioned, better to spend big money on basics.
But a few bucks does seem to help.
Like i was very hesitant to blow money on Pangea upgrade cables at a few hundred a pop. But i did buy four of them, and it is OK. That much is really over my self imposed budget, but i splurged. They sound good, and make the system a tiny bit better, and i can hear it. So OK, good enough.
I am actually sending one back. As one was big deal plus, two pretty good plus, the third a little plus, but the fourth just no any positives. (and i tried it all sorts of ways, just no better.) i would rather try my luck with $300 worth of Kimber 12TC!!! over my 8TC.
I have no problem with folks who think any expense for cables is foolish. We all have our priorites.
I felt bad i criticized another member about Bybee $4,200. gizmos.. (the real thing is he put them on a pair of $700 cablees???) I guess if i were wealthy, I might try them. Seeing I am decidedly NOT wealhty, I'll keep my 'spare' $4K for important stuff. Like FOOD. LOL
I had a set of those $800 Reimyo wooden footers. Got them here for a few hundred buck. Very nicely made and all, but I just didn't hear much value in them. Of course, footers are very component and system dependent, but they just seemed very overpriced for what they were and did. IMO.
Anything "Quantum". No comment on if they work or not and the value for money is up to the purchaser but that said I really hate vendors who trot out the quantum tag with some nonsense about how it uses some proprietary quantum process. Sorry bit off topic but........
Quantum can be such an ugly word and makes a lot of people rather nervous. I move we just use the term, advanced physics. That way, everyone will be happy.
"Quantum can be such an ugly word and makes a lot of people rather nervous. I move we just use the term, advanced physics. That way, everyone will be happy."

If the physics to play it back need be so far advanced beyond that required to create it in the first place to get it "right", I will still probably not be happy. But that's just me....

At least one might sniff out the snake oil easier when the term "quantum", is used in marketing materials to explain why something is so great when the advertiser knows perfectly well few if any will understand.

Now that's effective communication that you can trust!

Plus I am likely to not open my wallet as far for merely "advanced physics". How passe! Quantum is a lot more impressive!
Mapman wrote,

"If the physics to play it back need be so far advanced beyond that required to create it in the first place to get it "right", I will still probably not be happy. But that's just me...."

Yes, it's probably just you as the laser in CD players is advanced physics, quantum physics to be precise. Smile, be happy.
Mapman wrote,

"At least one might sniff out the snake oil easier when the term "quantum", is used in marketing materials to explain why something is so great when the advertiser knows perfectly well few if any will understand."

I am kind of getting the impression you'd prefer that manufacturers either refrain from providing explanations altogether or else provide some fluffy pablum that they feel everyone will understand. One also has to wonder if it's really true that few if any understand quantum mechanics. It's been around for 80 years. And quantum mechanical devices have been around in audio for at least 15 years. My guess is people are suspicious and superstitious.
Powder- I agree. The one Rolex that I own is the Jean Claude Killy model.
It uses the Valjoux 72 'Ebauche with triple calendar.
No my observation has been that the term quantum is often used as a marketing ploy to make something appear more sophisticated and valuable then it would be otherwise.

I am a fan of keeping communications as simple and accurate as possible, not muddying the waters or obfuscating. So your impression is incorrect Geofkait.
no one calls a Rolex wearer an uninformed sucker
P.T. Barnum knew what to call him...
Mapman wrote,

"No my observation has been that the term quantum is often used as a marketing ploy to make something appear more sophisticated and valuable then it would be otherwise.

I am a fan of keeping communications as simple and accurate as possible, not muddying the waters or obfuscating. So your impression is incorrect Geofkait."

But no one has ever used the word quantum as a marketing ploy, at least not for audio devices, not in fifteen years. I suggest you might be a wee bit overly suspicious. If you are unfamiliar with the principles of quantum mechanics, as you have intimated, I can certainly understand your dilemma.
"But no one has ever used the word quantum as a marketing ploy, at least not for audio devices, not in fifteen years. I suggest you might be a wee bit overly suspicious."

Well, anyone can do a Google search on "Quantum Audio Tweak" and decide for themselves about that.
Mapman wrote,

"Well, anyone can do a Google search on "Quantum Audio Tweak" and decide for themselves about that."

Really? How, pray tell, can they do that when, as you believe, very few if anyone understands quantum mechanics?

Actually things are even worse than that. If you've been following the ongoing debates, there seems to be very little consensus on a great number of audio issues, including tiny bowl resonators, directionality in wires, extremely low frequency generators, why high end fuses sound better than stock fuses, why high end cables and power cords sound better than stock ones, why demagnetizers and deionizers improve the sound of cables, CDs and LPs, crystals in room corners and other locations, Mpingo discs, colorization of CDs and why systems frequently sound harsh and distorted at medium or higher volumes.
I've liked some Ayre products, but not the K-5XE[mp] preamp. Do not understand the enthusiasm.

Plinius. Though in fairness, it always sounds good (often very very good) in others' systems, just not in mine.
Oy vey!

GEof, from the forums, at least we both seem to like a lot of the same music.

I'll leave it on that positive note.

FWIW, I sell nothing and have no vested interests in this discussion.
Geoffkait said.. "My guess is people are suspicious and superstitious."

Yeah... and some people used to think the world was flat and masterbating would make you go blind!

I'll call it for what it is...ignorance..plain and simple.

"There are more things in Heaven and Earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy,Horatio". (W.Shakespeare)
this is seriously funny to read. IMO most equipment including tweaks are seriously overpriced. But this was discussed in detail in previous posts. R&D, materials, price point competition, market, estimated number of pieces to be sold, seriously underestimating the intelligence of the consumer, greed, the actual intelligence of the consumer, all contribute to the price of the piece. Most tweaks are due to the equipment manufacturer failing to accurately design and construct their equipment correctly in the first place. If one needs vibration platters, then the equipment wasn't really constructed correctly. If changing cables make that much of an audible difference, then the circuit design in the from/to equipment weren't really designed correctly to handing the capacitance/inductive impedance of the cables correctly. So, for tweaks, it really does come down to how good the original piece was designed and constructed. This does not apply to room correction devices. That is serious magic and experts with correct equipment are needed to tell you what your room is actually doing and what is needed to correct it. I can tell you that I have A/B compared equipment and can hear audible differences. But for high end equipment, there is really no jaw dropping differences. I have heard seriously good and seriously expensive equipment playing great music, and we disconnect one set of interconnect cables and insert another set and it was as if we changed speakers. Wow! what a difference. And the original set up was wonderful sounding also. I can't really think of equipment that I purchased and hated or thought overpriced because if it was overpriced in my opinion, I wouldn't buy it anyway and I typically would hear the equipment in my system first before purchasing it.

But, it is good to read accounts of others and their opinions about equipment and tweaks, both good and bad. I actually value the opinions of most of the people posting here. The people that go out of their way to insult others? well, I don't care for that at all.

enjoy