My thought is the vocabulary describing audio, not too mention music, can be frustratingly imprecise. Also sound quality can be very subjective based on our hearing, or lack thereof, and other factors. Our experiences, especially for someone just starting out, may not give us the knowledge or the vocabulary to express the sound we have or the improvements we are after. I think the best one can do is provide our own experiences and hopefully the OP will take those to heart but even better be inspired to go out and do some listening of their own.
I'm sure it varies, but IMO, many people have no concrete idea of what they are listening to. They have little or no reference to live music and are basically making decisions based on reading reviews and forums like this. Also IMO, the only way for these people to gain knowledge of how to put a system together is either to join an audio club or utilize the services of a dealer who can walk them through what each component contributes to a system so they can hopefully find the solution that suits them. But many are afraid to walk into a dealer because of fear of being criticized or pressure or whatever. That's just the nature of the beast I guess.
Totally agree with chayro, but I will add that a large part to me is to visit hi fi stores and other properly set up systems so I can hear what I think my recordings were supposed to sound like, on a really good hifi. Live music references is important, agreed, but I don't have Carnegie Hall in my house, so every once in a while, I will take a few LP or sacd and bring them to my dealer to hear in his megabuck system )or a manufacturer I know...). This process has actually gotten me to where I want to be as it exposed my system for what I was lacking.
Thanks guys. I see where you are going and offering good advice. I am at an advantage because I have been repairing components so I can hear/test them in my system and understand what each one offers. I also live in the NYC area so many audio clubs, dealers, and people to hear different systems. I also build components so I get to hear what caps, resistors, different implementations of parts can do in a system. I still find it hard to give advice and maybe I should stop unless I think the person knows what they are looking for.
Anyway, always, Happy Listening.
As you are in NY, I would be happy to have you over and help you out to the extent I can. Send me a PM.
Probably 90% of audiophiles buy based on reviews. Most won't admit to it, but its easy to see. Many come here to seek conformation.
Hard not to seek conformation when big-bucks are involved .
And what big bucks are to me, may be pocket change to you .
If a guy wants an upgrade, it's pretty easy to steer them in the right direction, the same way my audio dealer steered me in the right direction when I was young. I don't make a recommendation unless it's a giant step up, a change that a deaf person could hear. Once you have a system that is reasonably good, then you'll need to know what direction a fellow wants to go in but big changes are easy even with the most basic info.
I asked for advice on getting started with a turntable setup, and advice on power conditioning. Got a lot of useful opinions and was able to move up the learning curve much more quickly. Ended up going with setups I had never heard of before. And glad of it. Also saved a bunch of money by avoiding my previous costly trial and error method. There are a number of guys on this forum who are knowledgeable and don't mind sharing their wisdom. If you can't ask for advice on this forum than what is the point?
Oh dear it was I who asked that question. Of course I may not be the only criminal here. Wait. I thought that's what these forums are for... sharing experience.
Ok why did I ask? My system was at a certain point of development and I was receiving advice that two channel was a much better path for development than my multi channel pre/pro could muster. So I was exploring. Is that ok with everyone? Too bad anyway really. I was doing it and I confess. I must say not a lot of useful info came back to me. But I did find one Audiogon post listing so many great brands this guy was trying out. Brands like Classe and Pass that with this one post of five pages or so I had hit the mother load. So given that I reside in Saudi Arabia, yes really why not?, and there's only 2-3 Ac stores in the capital and no clubs ( I am thinking of starting one, I started a movie club already) its only through vicarious means that I can learn more. No I could go to AXPONA or Munich Hi-Fi shows but instead I come back here to Australia for my vacations. So next time you're frustrated that we seem to ask dumb questions have a little thought that something real lies behind such questions. They may not be coming from a place you know. Have a little patience they are points of inquiry and opportunity to share knowledge and experience 🤓Many posters here report such valuable experiences. I certainly enjoy sharing with others across the globe here.
That's because there is no standard terminology. Even in the ridiculousness of wine tasting there are charts to describe the flavors, but audio has vague terms like veiled, dark, crisp, shrill, dynamic, boomy. The inexperienced don't know any of this or what it means. And the experienced just take a guess.
When I was TV shopping I could say about Panasonics "the greens aren't realistic" and people would easily know what I was talking about. Audio needs to be defined the same way. For instance, "male voices sound chesty" to account for a particular flaw at a particular frequency in speaker design.
As far as electronics, cabling and whatnot, well having been through blind tests, I don't believe there is a difference in sound (given the standard spiel about used within specifications), so I can't help you there. I just refer them to Roger Russell's chart for speaker cables and stay out of the other debates.
I am not saying there are dumb questions only that they are usually not specific enough to really help someone. I guess I personally are a little more advanced than most people are since I live in an area that I can go to multiple audio clubs to gain experience, gain knowledge form people more experienced than I am, get equipment from other people to hear in my system, etc. I jumped the gun in thinking most Audiogon members had a specific level of experience but no I think that I was completely wrong in my thought process. So to correct myself, keep the questions coming and I will do my best to understand the questions and make helpful recommendations / suggestions.
The point you make about being able to listen to other systems and other components in your own system is the key to understanding a upgrade path . I recently heard a system using distributed bass . I hooked up 4 subs in my room all I can say is wow now I have even bass response . If I had not heard it at another audiophiles home I would not have followed this upgrade path .
I suppose as an 'experienced' audiophile (and one who does not "guess" at what audio descriptors mean), I'd say that the biggest impediment to improving one's system is not the lack of good advice, there is plenty of it in these pages, nor is it a lack of vocabulary (the late J. Gordon Holt supplied an excellent basis for that decades ago...strange how newbies seem to complain about a lack of vocab, yet don't want to take the time to try and learn an existing one because it's apparently too hard??...really??...how do you expect to understand what you read?). But I'd say the biggest impediment is simply that the uninitiated are too hesitant to just jump in and get their feet wet and Try something based on that advice. The true complexity of this hobby is not to be underestimated and in it no ground can be gained without at least **some** amount of the direct experience of simple trial and error. Without any of that, relying on the sum total of theory and advice essentially becomes either useless or errant. Having been down this road before, I can tell you it's not advice that really make this hobby go round, it's experience, and there's generally only one way to get that.
Practically speaking, advice and recommendations can be very useful, of course, but can only take you so far. To answer the rest of your questions and settle remaining doubts, you will invariably reach the point where you must try something for yourself. Yes, that may cost you some bucks, large or small, but it takes a while for All of us to begin to feel confident about finding our way around in such a convoluted hobby. It took me 2 to 3 decades and that I suspect is typical.
Just remember to learn Everything you can from your mistakes...and that as you move forward in the hobby that those mistakes Will be inevitable, and that they are in fact a necessary part of the process. All the while, you are sharpening your audio instincts...instincts that, yes, may lead you to another mistake, but then that is the true nature of the beast, that's really how we learn and grow. The more practiced you are at it, the more reliable your audio instincts become. If I'm more confident now about my own instincts these days, I can tell you it's because I have the scars to back it up, lol!
But, that said, pure experience would not seem to be the best choice either; just randomly box swapping until there's a "eureka" may not be quite rational. But, either way, I'm saying that if you can't learn from your mistakes in this hobby, you may well end up paying for the same real estate many times over, and may God help you then, because IMO you will likely indeed have an even More expensive row to hoe from here on! If you think making the occasional buying mistake is an expensive proposition, just consider the alternatives!
Best of luck to all,
Bigkidz - I don't normally chime in on these sorts of threads but have to say that at any given moment I know exactly what the weakest points are in my system because I can hear them. At the end of the day, the most important part of any system will always be your ears, your brain, and your experience.
I totally agree that I find it strange that someone comes on here and says "I have this" and "I want that" - It's all very subjective but if you don't have the ears or brain for it I don't get why some people chime in with "buy x" or "buy Y" - I just ignore it. If I didn't I'd probably own a pair of KEF LS50s, Tekton double impacts or some silly ART09 cartridge, none of which would make me happy.
That said, I'm totally on board with Chayro and other posters above and I also live in NYC so maybe we should set up an impromptu GTG?
Nice post BTW