I have to admit that I have never understood these type of comments. In my experience I can't remember a single time when a truly "modest"system has outperformed a much more expensive one, as long as the more expensive one consisted of components that were well matched and complimentary to each other, and set up properly in an appropriate room. There has been numerable occassions when people, audiophile and not, have been impressed by the sound of my home system, when I would tell them that for more money much better results could be achieved. They were Doubtful but I have persuaded many of them to accompany me to my favourite dealer where they were astounded by how much better the ultra high end systems in the store sounded in comparison to mine. Yes the prices were extreme but the performance increase was of a magnitude way beyond 5 or 10%. I'm not saying that there are no expensive components that are duds, because there certainly are some, but all things being equal and as long as there is adherence to the conditions specified earlier ,it has been my overwhelming experience that the more you spend the better the sound, with of course a very few exceptions. I have met people who have claimed that there modest system outperforms systems that are much more expensive that they heard at a dealers. I then got the opportunity to hear, along with some other people ,this persons not so modest system and frankly couldn't understand what they were talking about. While the system sounded fine ,when I and the other people, including the owner of the a fore mentioned system, visited the store and heard the specific system in question, that his supposedly outperformed, there was no doubt in anyone's mind, except for the owner of the modest system, that the in store system sounded considerably better in all areas. Of course contrary to the rest of us, the owner of the modest system still claims that his system is better.
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One of the problems I have found, in my own experience, is that some audiophiles do not look to try to maximize their existing components performance. For example, looking for better ways to isolate their turntable vs. spending 10k more to buy an existing turntable that has a built in isolation and suspension in the design. There is no doubt the law of diminishing returns is alive and well in HIFI. Not to mention ridiculous snake oil claims such as 10k interconnects and 20k speaker wire. Just throwing this out there but maybe the reason the dealers mega system sounds so much better is simply because they treated the room properly. How would the modest system perform in the same room? You cant really measure that This is just my experience yours may differ
That is so absurd its doesnt even dignify a response.Absurd? How so? I have read at least a dozen responses over the past several days espousing value (lower cost components) over higher priced components.
Here's an example of what I'm describing. There are more examples if you look deeper in the threads.
It's just an observation. Don't read anything more into it than that.
Now, as far as addressing this specific point:
In my opinion there is not need to spend buckets of money to achieve the last 5 or 10%.There are many audiophiles who believe as you do, and there as just as many, if not more, who believe the extra 5%-10% is worth the extra expense. This is a frequent debate that inevitably goes in a circle.
That is so absurd its doesnt even dignify a response.
I don't see anything absurd about it at all. Strikes me as a perceptive and arguably correct observation, nothing more and nothing less. Frankly, I think that your response to Tvad's comment does a disservice to your intriguing initial post.
If you have been conditioned to how your modest system sounds on a particular track/LP then you may indeed be disappointed by a meagbuck system that does it correctly. Many people have excessive muddy but impressive bass and pleasant but recessed midrange -over time and continued exposure this becomes "normal" and "correct" to their ears/brain. PLay a track correctly and they have been so conditioned as to feel that it is wrong or inferior.
Generally speaking though, do the mega buck systems sound better? Of course. But they can sound crappy too if not properly mated and set up.
Dealers don't always properly set up there systems prior to auditions. A few years ago I had an experience similar to the OP's when I was looking for a speaker upgrade. Went to a local dealer with my own music to demo speakers and can guarantee my speakers sounded than the speakers I was auditioning, even though the dealer's speakers cost 3 times as much as mine. In fact the dealer went so far as to complain about one of the cuts I was using. He said it had a very heavy, one-note bass line which did not sound right. On his system he was correct. On my system the bass line had a more natural sound and was not overpowering the mix.
The dealer had a crappy set up that day. He is no longer in business.
A "better" sounding system can be a matter of taste. In my quest for the best speakers for my room I have had speakers costing 5 times the price of my current speakers. The expensive speakers will usually impress me at the beginning but eventually wear on me. Although I will probably continue buying speakers to experiment with, I have stopped searching for speakers more to my taste.
Seems to me that Shardorne has correctly described the brain/reality correlation as the crux of Autodexr's "revelation". It goes to state of mind while comparing what you have sweated to build and poured your love into while listening in your own space versus listening to what you probably can't have in a space that you cannot control.
Add to this:
System synergy for those that take the time to improve sound through component matching (expensive or not). Dealers build systems from the lines they sell which may or may not be ideal.
Room acoustics which again at a dealer may or may not be ideal.
we're forgetting the dictum "if it sounds good, it is good". evaluation of stereo systems is subjective. so, if someone says system a is better than system b, it is to that person. since there are no absolutes no system is better than another. rather one system is preferred to another.
using the example of a modest lower priced stereo system compared to a higher priced stereo system auditioned at a dealer, there will be differences of opinion as to which is better. until someone sets up objective criteria one can never say that stereo system a is better than stereo system b. one can state facts that one stereo system seems to be more resolving or more extended , or has certain attributes that another does not have, stating that such a stereo system is superior to another is arbitrary.
the word "better" is so personal, when each one of us has an idiosyncratic preference(s) regarding stereo system performance, that it may be irrelevant. if you like the sound of a stereo system, nothing else matters.
remember the addage, place 10 audiophiles in a room and you will get 11 opinions. the majority opinion is neither right or wrong, true or false.
My experience has been the opposite. When I hear megabuck systems I usually am very disappoinred in the sound. When I hear modest sytems I'm blown away by how good they sound.
Sure I have heard a few megabuck systems that were mind blowing but for the most part they haven't been. I was in a store about 2 months ago having my cartridge replaced. While I waited the owner put on a system that cost over 300k. I was with my wife at the time and she said she liked our system better at home than the 300k system. Our system cost 10% of what that did. I really believe it's more about the room and component matching than it is about price.
I've heard 100K+ systems set up improperly, or in a lousy room, that sounded terrible. Then again; there are many people that can't stand the sound of live music, prefer transistor radio caliber reproduction, or will choose the very back row of the hall(Mrtennis?). If the poster actually has played the mentioned album "many, many times" on his "modest" system; it may not have enough left in the grooves to sound worth a damn. Lots of variables, preferences and opinions out there. As long as you're happy........
If you want that last bit of performance you cannot beat a properly set up highend system. The problem is the further down the road you go the more complex the set up is to get all the devices to sing and balance preferences to make the hifi disappear. There is more for you to get wrong so to speak.
There are very expensive systems which could probably be out performed by a cheaper and cleverer design. Just look at Formula 1 racing at the moment for an examples of this. There is a cut off point though. You have to spend in curtain areas though.
I have heard many good sounding mid fi systems which gloss over the deep details but are basically musical, but once you have had the details and the musicality it is impossible to go back.
I do believe that the middle ground components have got closer to the higher ones recently. Digital has evened the performance stakes somewhat.
I guess the question is how far are you willing to go and just how obsessed are you?