what is a high end component ?

the term "high end" is used to connote excellence of construction and sound.

yet there is no clear description or definition of the term.

sometimes the word is used in the context of marketing, advertsing to increase the probability of a sale.

it is hard to establish a benchmark for or an objective standard for quality of construction.

i have a suggestion for evaluating the aspect of sound quality.

i believe that high end is synonymous with minimal distortion. the question is how to define distortion, as it is multi dimensional and how to measure it.

in addition, an algorithm or equation combing the types of distortion would need to be developed to arrive at a quantitative rating.

i suspect however, that listening is the key and that ultimately it would be useful for expert listeners to judge distortion by listening, or failing that to evaluate a component or stereo system and assign the label high end or not high end. yes there will be disagreement. yes this is not scientific. it would be interesting to see if say 75 % of alistening panel could agree.

otherwise what we are left with is the term being heavily influenced by price of component, manufacturer and appearance.

any ideas
High end is not synonymous with minimal distortion, IMO. A $200 Technics consumer HT receiver has much lower distortion specs than my VAC Phi 110/110, but the VAC sounds better and has considerably better build quality. There are many elements that comprise a high end audio component, and low distortion is one criteria, but it is not at the top of the list.

Daniel von Recklinghausen said, "If it measures good and sounds bad, it is bad. If it measures bad and sounds good, you've measured the wrong things." (From the VAC owner's manual)
Hmm, seems vindication is mine (as if there was ever any doubt). Thanks, Mrtennis -- carry on sir!
Actually we are most heavily influenced by the opinion of others.

Imagine audio where you have to actually try everything for yourself to see if it is worthy of your system without the benefit of other's experience (opinions).

So is "high end" those items that have the best opinions?

Just a random thought.
"The World of High Fidelity" is a book written by Gerard Rejskind, the editor of UHF Magazine. At the start of the book just before the Table of Contents, he writes the following acknowledgement:

"To the countless musicians who have, day by day, stepped from my high fidelity system into my living room to entertain me, enchant me and move me beyond words. Because they cannot hear my applause, I owe them this homage."

The ability, or even just the attempt, to do this is what makes something "high end". "High end" is not a product or a measureable spec. It is a philosophy. It is a philosophy of bringing music and emotion to another through their product, whether the product is $500, $5,000, or $50,000, and the passion in attempting to do so.
According to your testing criteria most of my stuff wouldn't qualify as high end. Bummer. :)

Oh well, at least I like the way it sounds.
High end is anything that costs more than 5% of your annual (gross) salary.
So for Bill Gates... well he'd have to spend 100 times more than I make in a year.
For me, it's anything over $1,500.
So my speakers, amp, SACD are high end.
And my Plasma TV.
The rest is just junk.
Interesting idea Entrope. After all, I have based just about all of my buying decisions in the last 11 years of audio equipment on "other's" opinions, whether they were published reviews, opinions of friends or discussion threads here on Audiogon. Kind of a collective concensus.

LOL @ Elizabeth!
Um, who cares? I mean if you like a piece of gear then you like it, who cares if some arbitrary expert says it's "high end". I honestly think that it's thinking like that which makes audio so forboding for novices who might appreciate a good stereo.

I am sure 100% of the audio community buys that way. Unhappily it puts many at the mercy of heavily biased (advertising) opinions which are readily available as opposed to the more moderately biased user opinions which can require some effort to ferret out.

Isn't "unbiased opinion" an oxymoron?
an unbiased opinion is not an oxymoron. here's why.

there is knowledge and there is opinion.
if there is evidence and no pre judgment. having experiences and then having an opinion as a result of an experience is not bias.

example: if i don't like a food, never having eaten it, it's a biased opinion. if i have eaten a food 10 times and don't like it, it is hardly biased.

if i look at an amp and don't like it before listening to it, it's a biased opinion.

if i listen to an amp, in the context of a stereo system, 50 times and then don't like it, it is an opinion based upon some evidence. that's hardly biased.
One's opinion will always be considered biased by those who do not
agree, and one always brings past experiences to an opinion. It’s just
impossible not to do so. Therefore, an opinion is always biased.

To use your food example, you may claim not to like Sea Urchin, having
never eaten it. However, your dislike of Sea Urchin will invariably be
influenced by your past experience eating seafood, or another
food which you did not like that looks similar to Sea Urchin, or by
stepping on a spiky chestnut when you were a child that reminds you of
a Sea urchin, or any number of other possibilities. Our perceptions of
new things are always founded upon past experiences that we relate,
rightly or wrongly, to the new thing.

Furthermore, any qualifier of an “unbiased opinion” made by someone
expressing their opinion is essentially an attempt to persuade others to
accept the opinion based on its having been formed fairly and honestly.
However, it is anything but unbiased.

Just throw a dart at any Audiogon thread and read the evidence for

Mrtennis, natural or synthetic gut?
Back to the question...

If you can't buy it at Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Circuit City, then it's high end....;)
et's reconsider the question of bias.

bias entails prejudging.

if i say i don't like certain solid stae amps and specific solid state preamps and i have auditioned each of these for hours and hours.

i have evidence for my opinion. it is not biased even if someone likes one of the amps or pre amps i do not.

i have formed an opinion based upon listening. if i say i do not abarnd x solid state amp without listening to it. that is a biased opinion.

is there no difference between forming an opinion based upon experience and forming an opinion based upon no experience ?

if all opinions are biased, what value are they and what is the point of having a discussion if the substance is biased opinions ?
Webster's Dictionary definition of bias:
an inclination of temperament or outlook; esp: prejudice.

One can be inclined to have a certain outlook about any subject whether or not one has personal experience with that subject. One's outlook...or bias...can be formed through direct or indirect knowledge.

Sorry, Mr tennis, I don't think your argument holds water.

Beyond that, this discussion no longer has any relevance to the question of what constitutes high end equipment.

Personally, I believe the definition of high end audio gear is different for every individual based on many factors including exposure or knowledge of components, and economic means.
Who's on first?
the question still remains, if all opinios are biased, what is to be gained by mentioning them ?
the question still remains, if all opinios are biased, what is to be gained by mentioning them ?
the question still remains, if all opinios are biased, what is to be gained by mentioning them ?
Mrtennis  (Threads | Answers)
Reading reviews written by authors whose taste is similar to yours can be helpful in identifying new possibilities for equipment. Also, carefully looking at a reviewer's associated gear can help the reader get an idea of the reviewers "bias"...and experience. It takes some detective work.

I read lots of reviews, but there are only two ot three reviewers whose opinions I find valuable. All are biased, but at least I have some idea whether their bias is similar to mine.

It's not perfect, but it's the best anyone is going to get.

Sgt. Joe Friday is not going to start reviewing audio gear.
Double blind for all component listening can remove some bias but environment, upbringing, genetics, experiences, etc. all contribute in subtle and no so subtle ways to influence perceptions and therefore your reality.

To eliminate them is like trying to change reality.
A high end component is any component I can't afford to buy! :-)