What's more important; sound or brand name?

I have had several people leave comments about my inability to hear things with my system because of quality of one or more of the parts. They seem to think it's not good enough to reproduce whatever sound is being discussed on that particular thread. The issue I have is I think my system is pretty good inspite of the fact that some of the componants might not be a popular enough name.

Many of the comments were based on my choice of speakers. I cannot describe how happy I am with the sound quality of the Sony SS M9 speakers inspite of the name on the grill cloth. Yes I have heard many other 'Hi-end' speakers over the years. Some have sounded better than the Sony's, most have not.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not whining because someone else doesn't like my gear as much as I do. I just wonder if people care more about the name on the product than the sound of the product.

If Sansui made a great product I would consider it inspite of the fact that I consider their stuff to be mostly junk. Maybe Sansui is a bad example since I prefer to buy American but you get the gist...

Any opinions? Have you noticed this happening?
Is this a trick question? Sound, of course!
Of course, the sound is most important. With radically different-sounding gear receiving competing raves, I think that one should respect one's ears, not brand names.
It's easy enough to say "The sound, of course.". But what if its a choice between a no name speaker versus a Thiel, a B&W, or a Magnepan. Or a no name pre amp versus an Audio Research, Krell, Mark Levinson, etc. I wonder how many of us can answer that honestly.
I mostly agree with previous posters. Sound is the most important factor, of course. But I am also mindful of the brand's track record - reliability, durability, quality, and servicing. "Famous, popular, big, and expensive brand" does not necessarily mean them to your satisfaction.

If the company is financially sound, and build quality is equal to the Namers and they have reliable customer service and a fair warranty, I would pick the No Namer without hesitation!
You seem to have all name brand components. Although I have no opinion regarding your cables, I wouldn't find fault with any component in your system. The Sony's are great speakers, and I think you can safely ignore anyone who says your system isn't good enough to hear something they hear. Sony is obviously a very big company and makes a wide range of products, from cheap and chintzy to very very good.

If sound were all that mattered, however, there wouldnt be much of an industry.
Ecpecially for the brand names that don't have overpriced and unreliable units.
Manufacturers and dealers at CES should realy hide their equipment behind the curtain to let visitors to audition blindly. It's entertaining as well!
At the end of CES you get "Answers" what were in particular "blind" room.
All things being equal sound is more important, but all things are rarely equal. If the choice is between a top of the line Conrad-Johnson preamp and a slightly better sounding preamp hand made in their spare time by someone in his garage, then the C-J is the better choice for most people. Quality control, cosmetics, build quality and service will all be better with the established manufacturer. Five years down the road the guy in the garage may or may not still be manufacturing audio products.

BTW, the Sony is an excellent speaker which I suspect mates quite well with the Krell amp.
The sound, of course. Call me contrarian, but drinking by the label never really appealed to me.

About 6 or so years ago I went with a friend to an audio store where he was auditioning a Conrad Johnson phono stage for his system. When I arrived a little late, he was listening to a phono stage of which neither he nor I had ever heard but which was one of those components that you knew right away on listening was something special, the Aesthetix IO. We clearly preferred it to the CJ, but both of us had the same qualms about it that Kinsekd mentions above. Ultimately, in part from my urging (it's easy to spend someone else's money!), and with a call to Jim White to convince himself the company would be around for a while, he bought the IO, which he is happily enjoying this day. I guess I fall that way too, as my speakers are not available to the market yet (to their designer's chagrin), as are my speaker cables and various isolation devices, and my Audio Logic DAC is one of the better kept secrets in audio. Really, at some point in this hobby I guess you realize what it is you're looking for, and when you find it you don't care what anyone else thinks about it. I think you've reached that point, and that's good, because it's then that you can get off the equipment merry-go-round and start concentrating on the music.

I'm surprised to read that you feel people are putting down your speakers, as I remember reading the highly favorable Stereophile review and being impressed as to how well-designed and made they were. I thought more people knew about them, but I guess not.
Sound and brand recognition are both important. Sound quality is important when listening, and brand recognition is important when you go to upgrade and need to recoup some money on your old component toward the new item. Happily, with some equipment, you can have both.
For better or worse, brand name also translates into marketability. For those who are concerned about resale value or simply the ability to unload equipment in the future, brand name can be an important feature.
Sony is not well known as a speaker builder in the U.S., so their first thought is (sony speakers?). It's not just sony, the same thing can happen with any of the big mass market companys. I saw a Denon amp for sale the other day ($17,000 used), you don't see many of those for sale in the U.S., these companys build high end products, most people on this side of the world just don't know it and look down their nose and figure it must be mid-fi if it's a sony. Sony has built speaker systems that sold for around $8,000 at one time, I did not get a chance to listen to them but did read a review on them that stated they were very good speakers. A lot of audiophiles start out as music lovers and then transform into gear lovers, when this happens all the fun goes out of it, they wake up and go to sleep thinking about cables, power cords, tubes, tweaks, ect. ect., you have to beware while they are in this state of mind, never tell them you have sony speakers, If they ask or if you must tell, change the letters around (noys) so you won't have to lie, they will want to hear these noys speakers so invite them over and help them get back to listening to music for a change. I always hide my krell amps before they come over so that they don't know how brite my system sounds. Before I started this practice, they would always run out of the house with their hands over their ears, works every time.
Agree with all above who suggest that some larger companies also provide larger service and a better resale market. Would I buy a no-name? Absolutely not -- unless it is inexpensive (so it doesn't hurt to throw it away if it's bad) or if there is a trial period so I can hear it in my home. Buying a no-name is hard to do. You'd have to literally stumble across it at a dealership (used equipment section) or a friend's house since a true no-name has no formal or reliable informal reviews.

Apart from the servicing and resale, another advantage of known products is that you can find more reviews and advice about them (e.g., here on A'gon). For either initial ownership or longer term ownership, those are valuable.
I could not care less about brand names, there are in fact well known products with lots of prestige, which I don't consider particularly musical and would never buy. I buy, set up and tweak solely by ear and according to my personal taste, which has been largely educated by live music itself. So I would agree with Nrchy, I think.
Neither, if I am correctly reading many comments. It's how many thousands of dollars your "interconnects" (that's "coax" to us old timers) cost.
By the way i love my sansuai TU 717. It's one heck of a vintage tuner. And of course i am talking about sound.
Kool39, I like mine to, great tuner. I have the au717 also but have not used it for a while.
Sogood51, I believe we share the same passion of the vmps line as well. I have an older pair of Tower 2/R's and i am just completely amazed at how involving they are. I see more VMPS in my future. Sorry to drift from the topic at hand Nrchy.
wow. If you like what you got, stop! I sometimes joke with my wife about--what the hell was his name(?) Favio or was it Fabio---the long blond haired italien hunk of a guy form the early eighties. The guy some (many) women closed their eyes in certain critical times and imagined him rather than that which they had.....

anyway, be mature. If you like what you got, don't bother with what someone else thinks, markets, etc. go for it. It is your music. It is your ears....enjoyment.

Under no circumstances, should you buy this because you think someone else will pay mor for 'this' than 'that' when you go to sell it.

The best woman is the one that makes you happy. She doesn't want to make someone else happy. When you are thinking of upgrading your stereo-----remember: Is what you got r-e-a-l-l-y worth less than the $1,500+ a replacement system will cost?

ps: same goes for divorce.....etc!
In truth, I see somewhat of the reverse phenomenon around here more frequently. There is a large contingent in this hobby for whom the most un-hip gear you can mention are the well-known establishment audiophile brands (the validity for many of Kinsekd's point notwithstanding). Paulwp nailed it: "If sound were all that mattered...there wouldn't be much of an industry."
Zaike, thanks for getting me unto Paulwp's post. I also feel that he is dead right with his final statement. It was Sean who first pointed out in these pages, the difference which exists between audiophiles and musiclovers. Possibly the latter are more immune to advertising hype and can be equally enthralled by a musical performance, when listening to their car radio. I consider myself as a "hybrid" by the way, as probably most of us here are, but I will buy by ear, my own or through the advice of those, whose ears I trust. As for resale value, well, as RCprince has stated so well above, once you've found your gear, you tend to stick with it for good.
Some brands somehow draw me instinctively and I seek them out first based on philosophy or reputation, whether they're well known or not. I neverthelesss try to stick with components that can be resold here on Audiogon without taking a massive loss. This is said as a relative beginner still looking for the sound that I need. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't, but every piece at least teaches me something.
Nrchy, a very interesting thread. While most of us would probably agree that sound is the most important part of the buying decision, there are other factors to consider. Price to value ratio, reliability, build quality, WAF, warranty, aesthetics, resale value, and yes manufaturer's reputation. Everyone has their own hot button.
Brand name. Conrad-Johnson. Burmester. Audio Research Corp. I want the assurance of an established reputation, a long life servicing and supporting equipment, serious engineering smarts when I spend my hard earned $. My most dearly beloved pair speakers is now 20 years old. The designer, Per Kirksaeter is still designing after 40 years in the business and will chat on the phone and support his product.

That's really what I'm looking for, not for the frisson of excitement that passes through the pages of Stereophile or TAS upon the arrival of this year's star new component.

Does it really matter - if you like it - "why" you like it? Or what anyone else thinks about it?
Good point Unclejeff. Got me to thinking ...

As I reread this thread, I wonder if we all have different definitions of brand. There's the mass market brands (like Sony), the mass audiophile brands (like Krell), the specialty audiophile brands (like Montana), the price competition brands (like Stealth, perhaps) and the no-names (like, ... well, uh, if I knew who they were they wouldn't be no names). Plus there's stuff in-between and beyond. The original question was around the potential stigma behind an audiophile buying mass market brands but some of us took it further. I took it to the "nobody ever heard of this brand before" extreme. Many of the answers covered the brands that are smaller and less stable. That might help explain why the answers are a bit all over the place.

At this point, I would agree that the right course of action for me is to just jump in headfirst into the music. Even if the piece lasts just a year, oh what a year! That assumes the off-brand is really better than the rest.
Definitely brand name ;<{) I mean, whenever I buy jeans I go out of my way to spend more dollars to advertise someone else's name on on my butt - it lets everyone else no where my intelligence is seated...
I've always said "buy what YOU like and will make YOU happy". If it is a big brand name or something built out of a garage, if it costs a small fortune or was found at the local "resale shop", it really doesn't matter. It also doesn't matter what i or anybody else likes for that matter as we won't be listening to it or using it. At least, not as much as you will : ) Sean

PS... I personally like "out of the ordinary" gear that one can consider a "find" all their own. These are typically great ways to get good sound without the price tag that big reputations bring with them.
Nrchy; I've enjoyed the thread and find much to agree with in the above posts. As to your Sony M9 speakers, several years ago (after the Stereophile review) I had them on my short list to consider for purchase, but could never find a place to audition them, and ended up w/Vandersteen 3As.

I certainly would not have been biased against the M9s because of TOO BIG A NAME, and BTW & IMO they are very attractive speakers to boot. Sound vs Brand name?-- not to worry, you can have both. There are so many small, but known among audiophiles, product names that it sometimes boggles the imagination-- tremendous diversity. I love it! Cheers. Craig
I am a true believer that the LABEL is what counts. As in clothing... Ya cut out a $1,000 dress label and stick it on a decent Goodwill special ($3.00) and you got a dress!!!
Same with audio equipment.I got me a Mercedes benz hood ornament duct taped to my amp. Impresses the H out of my friends. I got a Alienware bumper sticker on my cheapo comp. an' it looks like a gazillion bucks.
I got Krell medallions on my speaker grills, fools em' EVERY time. I ground off the "Sony" from mah SACD and glued on a magazine picture of President Bush!
Ah know you all think what's on the inside is what counts... but ah disagree!!! Superficiality is where it is at. Why my Stereo can't even play, but mah friends all cry, "Please, please can't we listen even fer' a minute?" And I SNEER, and say "You tin ears ain't got no love in your hearts for mah eQuipment, an I will NOt sully it's good name pandering to your decrepit ears!!! Begone!!!"
Then when I'h is alone, ah gets out mah Radio Shack table radio alarm clock an' CD player and ENJOY ENJOY ENJOY
Elizabeth, I think you have discovered the true meaning of life!
Either that, or she's gone off the deep end : ) Sean
What a bunch of hyppocrites! *****************************

How much flak have I gotten for defending the Absolute Power Cord and the modded Technics 1200?
Just stand up to the barrage Psychicanimal, and hold your ground!

I personally heard of a group of "real" audiophiles(not us) getting together and listening to a bunch of powercords, and The Absolute Power Cord did quite well. Quite well. To the point of the consensus(not everyone) preferring it to at least one which cost was at least an order of magnitude higher.

Sound should always be the number one goal. For example, the Music Hall turntables sound a lot better than most people would believe, but there is zero wow factor/pride of ownership in them.

However, I can see factoring brand into the equation. For example, you know you are going to get great customer service from a certain brand, and that is important. Track record also comes into the equation. I knock off price for a company who hasn't proven itself.

So, I apologize for looking like I feel strongly both ways, but in the end, it's the sound!
Well spoken Psychicanimal and Trelja! Yes often we are tempted to be hypocrits, who wants to admit that he's been sold snake oil by "hype"-crits anyway......
Psychicanimal, please don't generalize. I have never given you grief for your choice of system components and I bet I'm not alone among those responding to this thread. No need to stereotype (pun intended).

I still use the Absolutes, along with my Peter Belt Rainbow Foil treated Stat-Mat, but enough about the frigin 1200 - OK?

Even if it sounds wonderful it's still butt ugly, plus constantly resisting the urge to scratch cannot be good for your mental health in the long run.
Dekay - If I itch, I scratch...my 1200 has nothing to do with it. :-)

Psychic - The answer to your rhetorical question is: Almost as much flak as you've asked for... ;^)
Don't be envious, Zaikes--it's me who gets the fan mail from people wanting to mod their 1200's. The last guy gave me his 800 phone # so I could help him. Turns out he manages *strip clubs* and he's working on opening one in Toledo. I might get a VIP invitation, after all! I love exotic dancers!

The fan mail from those wanting noise control/power delivery in lieu of expensive power cords is even more.

Now it's mail regarding my Ridge Steet Audio ICs and my Channel Islands cryo'ed DAC.

I'm an agent of change...
of course sound should be the only determining factor in buying a piece of equipment, however one can become colored in their judgement be reading what people say on these kinds of sights, by reading reviews, or by taking in informaiton from audio dealers. However, I believe that all these factors will help you in getting what YOU THINK YOU NEED.

That being said the only way to get audio equipment with out being biased in any way is to test equipment without knowing what that equipment is. It takes patience from many people, (audio dealers, store managers, friends, spouses) but if you do not care what brand name you end up with, including Sony, Pioneer etc... then this is the only way to go.
No matter how good a Bose speaker might sound, it's not acceptable in some circles.
I don't think the virtually universally condemnation of bose speakers is related to anything other than the fact they haven't made a good speaker since the early 70's. The market their junk very well, but they don't make quality products anymore. IMO.
With the mid-bass bump and the lack of much output above 15K the 901 is a good rock speaker for a young guy who wants to play loud, they can make some of the poor quality rock recordings sound pretty good. You can find the old 901's cheap.