Head-Fi.org › Forums › Misc.-Category Forums › Members' Lounge (General Discussion) › Your top 10 mistakes in this hobby?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Your top 10 mistakes in this hobby? - Page 2

post #16 of 241
Quote:
Originally Posted by VicAjax
1. taking the advice of you bastards.
I didn't do that but it didn't prevent my downfall

My biggest mistake was not trusting myself enough to know what I want.
post #17 of 241
Quote:
Originally Posted by Welly Wu
What are your top 10 mistakes in getting involved in this hobby?

For me (in no particular order):

- XM Satellite Radio

- SA-CD and DVD-Audio

- Power conditioning

- Cables

- Modifications of stock equipment

- Reading high end audio magazines both online and in print

- Spending more money on hi-fi than music

- Online discussion forums

- Upgrading too much too fast too many times

- Spending too much money on hi-fi equipment only to have to sell it because you didn't factor in unexpected emergencies
Thanks for sharing Welly Wu! I wanted to look into power conditioning myself for quite some time now, but as I already have a dedicated line for my audio equipment I'm guessing that the power is pretty clean alright. When reading comments from someone who wrote that the benchmark DAC1 could be vastly improved with a 2000USD power cord I somehow do tend to believe this, which leads us to another one of your, and my mistakes.

Online discussion forums influence me on a very big scale. I was reading head-fi for almost 2 years now before deciding to purchase a high-end headphone system. Surely it's nice to read what people's opinions are on various gear, but one should always be wary of what to accept as a fact, and what to dismiss as crap.

I also invested more in my speaker system than I did in my music, however I quickly changed this, as it is the different CDs/Vinyls that REALLY make the most noticeable difference in your setup. I already thought about upgrading and my first headphone amp didn't even arrive! Nonetheless I think that, when having an appropriate amount of music, the upgrading and constant trial and error of various cansetups can be a lot of fun as well.

Considering SACD and DVD-A I was really wondering whether the upgrade of my redbook collection would be worth it! I guess I won't go this way however, since redbook has offered me absolutely everything that I could ever want in a medium for music. Also seeing how SACD and DVD-A both are more expensive than their respective redbook versions, I'm choosing the more affordable solution. I wanted to buy the Waltz of Debby SACD, but it was too expensive, knowing that I already have the redbook.

About cables I still don't know a lot. I haven't tried comparing any expensive cables to standard ones, and I highly doubt that I would hear a difference. The most expensive cables I have would be the upcoming meier-ICs for around 100€, and that's also my current limit in cables, which I already consider pretty high!
post #18 of 241
The real top 1 mistake I have made was to solder the ~100 resistors on the Elma attenuator of my Dynahi in reverse order without noticing, so that volume goes up on it when turning it counter-clockwise

Very insightful post Welly Wu, reminds me of a link recently posted by someone to an article listing the 10 biggest lies in Audio. I particularly like the wise approach you have taken, phrase in bold here:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Welly Wu
Here is something I am doing right: reading more basic electronics, electrical engineering, and scientific journals about various aspects of our hobby. In other words, I am getting an education about transistors, op-amps, DACs, electricity, etc. from people who only want to sell me information instead of product literature.
post #19 of 241
Quote:
Originally Posted by rsaavedra
The real top 1 mistake I have made was to solder the ~100 resistors on the Elma attenuator of my Dynahi in reverse order without noticing, so that volume goes up on it when turning it counter-clockwise

Very insightful post Welly Wu, reminds me of a link recently posted by someone to an article listing the 10 biggest lies in Audio. I particularly like the wise approach you have taken, phrase in bold here:
Actually, I think I'de have trouble talking to somebody like Jahn in real life. It's not like I am a god of this stuff eithre or know that much, but I figure if your spending thousands of dollars in audio equipment, you should know how to solder and most certainly know all the electrical basics. I'm not saying you need to know how to write down some magnetic field equation, but atleast know a bit. I don't know, It's like I hate people who overclock computers and spend so much, yet they know so little about how it actually works.
post #20 of 241
Quote:
Originally Posted by Welly Wu
What are your top 10 mistakes in getting involved in this hobby? I performed a few searches and I was surprised to see that there was not a thread dedicated to this specific yet pretty broad topic.

For me (in no particular order):

XM Satellite Radio: the sound quality is beyond horrible. Take your favorite music and compress it hundreds of times more than a Britney Spears CD and then feed it through more processors before it gets beamed to you via satellite and I guarantee it is going to sound awful. I don't even know why I listen to XM anymore except for in the car, but I have a CD player. FM still sounds far far superior to XM any channel every day.

SA-CD and DVD-Audio. Fool me once, it's my fault. Every time I look at my ModWright LLC Pioneer Elite DV-59AVi, I look at my collection of SA-CD and DVD-Audio discs and I ask myself: WHY?! I hardly watch TV let alone DVD-Videos. There is something I got that I don't need to use. For your information, I stopped searching for good music on SA-CD (half of my music collection is classical) and DVD-Audio about two years ago...you know when the formats tanked. Chalk up two unnecessary features I will not get to use in the several years. Most of all, I am pissed that I allowed myself to get duped into the whole hi-rez garbage by high end audio magazines such as Stereophile or The Absolute Sound or this place. Sometimes I wonder if some of the people who make it their holy grail to defend these failed formats don't already get payolas from the rags to pimp the propaganda. Lesson learned the expensive way: identify existing technologies that have proven themselves and maximize their performance.

Power conditioning. I spent a boatload for essentially a glorified surge protector. I can not reliably tell the difference between regular A/C from the wall to my custom heavily modified BPT component or A/C cord. And I am doing sighted A-B tests! If you want to see high end audio at its worst, visit http://www.b-p-t.com and take a look at their marketing strategy and outrageous claims. Here is the truth: it doesn't work...period.

Cables. Another bogus piece of horse crap. I can safely say that my regular 18AWG zip A/C cord sounds just the same as my Cardas Golden Reference Power cord. I am also happy to report to you that my Blue Jeans Cable stereo RCA cables sound the same as my Cardas Golden Reference Interconnects. In other words, both make my music sound deeply involving, but neither sound different compared to one another in multiple A-B sighted tests. I don't have crappy equipment. I am not inexperienced with this hobby. I am just foolishly gullible.

Modifications of stock equipment. This has got to be the best marketing scam in the history of high end audio. Sell them something that can not possibly work as advertised and then sell them dubious upgrades that can not only possibly work but will void their warranty for the product. When I upgraded my BPT A/C cord and unit, that is a perfect example. When I modified my Pioneer Elite DV-59AVi, I simply spent more money to improve the performance of features that I no longer listen or watch. Great. I must have an inverse IQ curve. Moving right along to numero 10...

Reading high end audio magazines both online and in print. This has got to be the worst mistake that I have ever made in my entire life spent with this hobby. Taking what they write at face value in this day and age is simply foolish. Their business is to sell you a bunch of nonsense that can not be verified. They are all in cahoots with one another. There is massive collusion between manufacturers, audio writers, professional reviews, and advertisers. They all got each other's backs. Why is it that most of them don't bother to measure components with each review including power cords, loudspeaker cables, interconnects, etc? It's all subjective and impossible to recreate the same listening experience that the reviewer is writing about because you don't have the components or listening room. How can you expect me to extrapolate any meaninful information so as to transpose your experience into my reference system? Why don't you provide measurements for all components that you review including power cords, interconnects, loudspeaker cables, etc? Standardize measurements across the board if you expect us to spend tens of thousands of dollars on your stupid crap. Even worse, why don't you disclose how you acquired the component under review, your discounted purchase price as a member of the established review circuit, and the relationship(s) you have with the employees of the said manufacturer? High end audio is not regulated like other industries like investing. You want to give me a hot stock tip? Reveal your holdings. Moreover, why don't professional reviewers have to take a certification course or an exam to earn their credentials? Perhaps they ought to take an ethics or morals course or two or three to get their credibility. Any fool can write a review.

Spending more money on hi-fi than music. Mea culpa. Somehow, I got the notion that by upgrading components that I would upgrade my existing music collection without having to bother with that annoying thing called enjoying different music. I listen to the same music today four years into this insane hobby that I did before I spent a single penny or even discovered Head-Fi.Org. I got thousands of dollars invested in the hi-fi and less than 700 CDs. Hell, most of them are CD-R copies that I found at my local public library. I know hi-fi very well; it's just music theory or influential artists in each genre that I don't.

Online discussion forums. Head-Fi has been a stand out in terms of how people behave toward one another, but I have read some stupid and nasty sheeeiiitt that would probably get real people in real debates vis a vis killed with multiple gang gunshots or bleed out dead through stabbings. The most sad phenomenon I have ever seen is that we have all of this advanced communication but our civility, once you take away a human face, is stuck in the pre-stone Barney Rubble eons. I have seen grown up men who make a ton of money and have years of education and experience get stupid agnry (spelling is correct when you are that pissed too) just because some one with an ISP living on a tiny speck of dirt above sea level said their amplifier sounds bad even though they ain't never heard it. I have also seen people take one another's word as the koran, holy bible, budda philosophy, also known as the holy in grail word of knowledge and go and buy components unheard only to be unhappy and sell it at a loss to be able to afford another promising component because someone else said so. I guess one pump of the syringe just doesn't have enough milliliters to totally shut down incapacitated moronic neurons and unexcited neuro transmitters firing off blanks.

Upgrading too much too fast too many times. This has got to be the most expensive mistake that people make too frequently here. It is so pervasive that I am actually going to get serious in my tone and say, "I'm sorry for you." After four years of being involved in what seemed to be a fun hobby of ours, I honestly truly deep down to the small intestines in my gut have a conviction: people believe they can own perfection. It must be this. This has got to be the driving motivation for most people caught in this sad dog chase tail vicious cycle. Tyll Hersens wrote it best and I'll paraphrase him: it's better to own less stuff but of far superior quality than a lot of garbage. Oh yeah, we ain't all presidents of a headphone company so we don't need his stash neither. Following his philosophy, minimalism ensures happiness so long as you obtain the best you can afford. Numero 10 is last.

Spending too much money on hi-fi equipment only to have to sell it because you didn't factor in unexpected emergencies. They tell you in investing to never part with money you need to live on. They also tell you not to put all of your money into one investment vehicle. Why don't people transpose these basic common sense fundamental principles with high end audio? I remember a member who bought top of the line equipment only to have to sell almost all of it in a few short months because he had a lot of debts (already) and an unexpected crisis forced him to part with his stash...at severely reduced prices because time was not on his side. Why research, work, save, and buy more than you can afford only to regret selling it later? Do people have any concept of how dangerous it is with material goods especially luxury ones? This crap is not investment grade. It will always depreciate though high end audio does hold its value. It will not deliver a historic 10% return on investment over the next 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70 years. It can not be easily liquidated and it does not convert to other investment options readily. The smartest thing I have had to force myself to learn is to do two things: 1. create a realistic budget with spending and savings goals, 2. follow Templeton's 50/50 principle whereby I save 50% of what I want to buy (i.e. Wadia 302 at $5050 USD) and I spend 50% on the item that I want to buy. So, I am protect myself against uncertainty. Tomorrow is not going to go down like yesterday. It is not promised to me. Sure, it takes a hell of a lot of time. I literally have the money to leverage all of my assets for a CD player right now. But, for a CD player?! C'mon.

Here is something I am doing right: reading more basic electronics, electrical engineering, and scientific journals about various aspects of our hobby. In other words, I am getting an education about transistors, op-amps, DACs, electricity, etc. from people who only want to sell me information instead of product literature. I walked into this hobby wide eyed and open hunting season was declared on my wallet. Now, I have a better solution than trial and error. Remember, these were my mistakes that I am sharing with others. I am not attacking anyone here and I have named no names.

Please share. My hope is that the open discussion framework will serve as an antidote or a self-check. I know that I really went gung ho with this thread, but I have got to get this stuff out there because I can't stand seeing otherwise well educated, well heeled, and honest people making some or all of the same mistakes that I did. It kills me to recount my own mistakes in this hobby. Seeing others make the same mistake while biting my tongue is like premeditated murder.

1) I still listen to high quality radio broadcasts ..... but the number of such broadcasts is rapidly shrinking.

2) The newer formats would have been a quality improvement ..... especially once the formats matured. The problem with the formats was the music industry did not support them with software like they did with cd. There needed to be one standard but greed kept that from happening and all of them have failed.

3) Power conditioning is a must in my system. I have had two amps destroyed by my power companies inability to maintain their equipment. Upgrading the fuse box and dedicated lines was not enough. Not only does the power conditioning protect my equipment but the sound quality is definitely better with such conditioning in place; less noise and less tendency for hum and ground loops.

4) Cables defintely make a difference. The secret is finding the proper synergy, which I admit can be tough, often doing so is trail and error. I dont use the ultra expensive IC's but any cheap IC's I have tried just dont get the job done in my setup. I have went to using inexpensive volex power cords throughout my system because thats what my amps were voiced with. The synergy is more important.

5) Modification is where I absolutely disagree with you. The best sounding sources I have had for the most reasonable price have been modded players. The sound quality and value of the Sony sacdmods 555es players I use are the best I have come across. I have listened to the expensive Meridians, dacs etc.... and the modded players I use have better dynamics, tonality and bass while performing most other aspects of the sound quality, to the point, they are indistiguishable without long and intense comparisons. In my case, paying much more for expensive stock players nets little or no sound quality gains and buying stock players at the same price point results in inferior sound quality. Reliability has been 100% too. The secret is understanding what the mods do and realizing what mods make the biggest improvement for the money spent.

6) High end stereo magazines have went from providing real input about gear to sanatizing and almost hyping products. There is very little criticism of any product no matter how bad they sound; IMO. I havent susbscribed to any magazine for years now so I would say I agree with you on this point.

7) Spending more money on Hi-fi than music. This sounds easy, but its not. I am fifty years old and the newer music rarely seems to suite my tastes. If I find something good I buy it. But that has been pretty rare of late. If the music industry would make higher quality recordings, regardless of the format, that certainly would help too.

8) Online discussion forums are fun. But the problem I see is to much input from people with little or no experience with products making recommendations; or repeating second hand information. In fact, input from individuals that have zero experience with a component, other than a 5 minute listen at a meet, making absolute statements about the product, is plain annoying to me.

9) Spending to much money for equipment only to sell the equipment soon thereafter ..... this is just commom sense. If you have the money to purchase something buy it. If you dont .... then avoid the purchase. This applies to everything and is certainly not limited to audio. People routinely do this with homes and autmobiles and any number of other items as well.

10) Educating yourself is always a good idea. But seeking the knowledge from different sources for a well rounded perspective is a must. Latching on to one viewpoint you read and rejecting all others will bite you in the end. The best experience is listening. You want something that sounds good ..... let your ears tell you what sounds best.
post #21 of 241
SACD lover, you are right about the fact the new formats did not get enough support. I still think there is some decent music on these formats though. SACD has killer protection that has yet to be broken, and dvd-audio's process of being ripped is just a joke (trust me, I deal with it when I rip my dvd-audio.) I'm beginning to see the future, and it's going to go down with the RIAA trying to prevent us from ripping even our most basic cd's, filling them with watermarks and other junk.
post #22 of 241
I usually sell an item for much less than I paid. I always hope the buyer appreciates this and I'm sure I feel pretty good about doing it. My problem is my diminishing availability of funds.

Another mistake is not learning how to type rapidly, because of this my posts are short fast answers that don't include my reasoned rationale for whatever position I take. I am deeply sorry for this.

Sometimes I don't follow my instincts an take a position that I don't wholeheartedly support. An example of this would be climbing on the ATOWF bandwagon last year, and then selling all of my woodys a few months later, because I finally admitted to myself I didn't like the sound that much. Lost a few K on that one, but that's OK. stupid and silly me, but I was having fun.
post #23 of 241
Great post Welly Wu! Nice read.

I have nowhere near the amount of experience with audio equipment as most people here, but I most likely have a greater knowledge of electronics than those people. Because of my lack of experience I can't say much about most your points, other than they sound very logical to me. However, I too am very sceptic about power conditioning and most of all cables.

I'm currently studying for my masters in micro electronica design, and one of the 10 week projects I've thusfar finished was to design, build, and test an 8 watt audio amp. I've tried cheap cables and expensive ones (but none of the here frequent used brands -- but so called "good" cables nontheless), from to the speakers aswell as in the amp itself, and there was no difference on either a scope or my ears.

Opamp rolling in the preamp stage gave a slight, slight effect, and only on the scope (and only in frequencies we don't hear anymore) and nothing big enough to hear (for me that is -- I couldn't tell the difference between a NE5532 and a OPA2132). It could very well be that my ears are whack, but I highly doubt the scope was.

And oh, about powerconditioning. A simple dual RC filter with the price of sub 10 usd will clean any noise from the power line. 2 capacitors and 2 resistors is all that is needed to give a nice clean line. This will work in any situation, whether a headphone amp or anything else. (Totally out of context, but I visited a gas drilling installation last week where they have a 23 MegaWatt (to put this in perspective, it drains more power than a 50 thousand people city) engine which they used to compress that gas in the earth to 300 bar, what a beast... and yes, it was regulated by a simple RC filter, although that filter was about the size of a house. )

I have a friend who is into audio aswell, and he's a firm believer that cables do make a difference. I showed him my results, and he dismissed them. In my opinion, audio is like Hoodoo -- it only works if you believe in it. Fine by me, if thinking that a system sounds better with high priced cables makes the listening experience better, then by all means, go for it.

Offcourse, this hobby is 95% subjective, and this forum is all about sharing what one thinks of something. And that sometimes includes recommending things that are rubbish. People, make sure you know the facts of something before you buy it -- don't fully rely on opinions of others.
post #24 of 241
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalmind
Great post Welly Wu! Nice read.

I have nowhere near the amount of experience with audio equipment as most people here, but I most likely have a greater knowledge of electronics than those people. Because of my lack of experience I can't say much about most your points, other than they sound very logical to me. However, I too am very sceptic about power conditioning and most of all cables.

I'm currently studying for my masters in micro electronica design, and one of the 10 week projects I've thusfar finished was to design, build, and test an 8 watt audio amp. I've tried cheap cables and expensive ones (but none of the here frequent used brands -- but so called "good" cables nontheless), from to the speakers aswell as in the amp itself, and there was no difference on either a scope or my ears.

Opamp rolling in the preamp stage gave a slight, slight effect, and only on the scope (and only in frequencies we don't hear anymore) and nothing big enough to hear (for me that is -- I couldn't tell the difference between a NE5532 and a OPA2132). It could very well be that my ears are whack, but I highly doubt the scope was.

And oh, about powerconditioning. A simple dual RC filter with the price of sub 10 usd will clean any noise from the power line. 2 capacitors and 2 resistors is all that is needed to give a nice clean line. This will work in any situation, whether a headphone amp or anything else. (Totally out of context, but I visited a gas drilling installation last week where they have a 23 MegaWatt (to put this in perspective, it drains more power than a 50 thousand people city) engine which they used to compress that gas in the earth to 300 bar, what a beast... and yes, it was regulated by a simple RC filter, although that filter was about the size of a house. )

I have a friend who is into audio aswell, and he's a firm believer that cables do make a difference. I showed him my results, and he dismissed them. In my opinion, audio is like Hoodoo -- it only works if you believe in it. Fine by me, if thinking that a system sounds better with high priced cables makes the listening experience better, then by all means, go for it.

Offcourse, this hobby is 95% subjective, and this forum is all about sharing what one thinks of something. And that sometimes includes recommending things that are rubbish. People, make sure you know the facts of something before you buy it -- don't fully rely on opinions of others.
Heh, I think a lot of it is psychological too. Personally, the only reason I would buy an expensive cable is for the sexy braiding / look of it, but I'de rather build my own and have that nice look. If you were using a software based scope (bleh, too lazy to type full name of scope, kind of a hard name to type, eh) why not post some results here. I don't have trouble believing what your saying though.
post #25 of 241
Quote:
Originally Posted by VicAjax
1. taking the advice of you bastards.
Classic!
post #26 of 241
Brave post, Welly. I agree with much and disagree with some of it. Luckily, spare money has always been in tight supply around my hom, so common sense kicked in early for me. When I bought my first headphone amp (the X-Can V2) and realized it sounded exactly the same as the headphone output on my $250 Sony CD player, that was when I jumped off the upgradis bandwagon at Head-Fi. Looked cool, but sonically useless. But I still pursue good sources when I can find them - cheap. As far as SACD, if you've got the money to blow on a handful of good sounding cds, go for it I guess. Head-fi inspired me back into vinyl, but I gave up on that (a second time). Again, just not orth the investment for me. When I heard a Krell CD player outshine a top $12k vinyl rig at an audio show, I realized alot of vinyl talk (and I grew up with vinyl) is just hoopla. A small improvement in not worth a huge investment - at least in my world, where I can enjoy good music from an ipod and cheap cans as much as a mega rig most of the time.
post #27 of 241
Great post Welly! Thanks for taking the time to write it.

While I don't agree with every one of your points, the majority of them are very accurate (in my experience) and needed to be said.
post #28 of 241
Thinking I could save money by DIY. I had a lot of fun building amps and I learned some electronics. I am happy with the way most of them turned out. There was some frustration at times. They sound just as good as commercial amps, but I built a lot of them and spent a lot of money on components and tools. I like building amps, but I wouldn't say it was cheaper for me.

I guess another mistake would be buying botique components for DIY. It is a catch 22. The expensive components didn't sound any better, but if I didn't use expensive components, I would have a hard time selling my amps to fund building more. Everyone wants the botique maxed out amps.
post #29 of 241
Quote:
Originally Posted by JaGWiRE
Heh, I think a lot of it is psychological too. Personally, the only reason I would buy an expensive cable is for the sexy braiding / look of it, but I'de rather build my own and have that nice look. If you were using a software based scope (bleh, too lazy to type full name of scope, kind of a hard name to type, eh) why not post some results here. I don't have trouble believing what your saying though.
The scope I used had a printer out and floppy drive, so I have a bunch of screengrabs and also logged alot in documents. I don't have logs of the cables, as that was just done for fun and wasn't part of the assignment. Alot of my work is only in printed form, but I could scan a couple of the scopes readings, focussing on clipping points of opamps (most of the tested opamps didn't clip untill well above 100kHz and nearing 200kHz, and displayed the same measurements across the board).
Will do this in the coming week, bit busy now.

Unfortunatly, all documentation is in dutch, but here's the final document that was delivered with the amp on completion. The schematics are in there, along with some measurements. It consists of a balance setting, tone adjustment (bass +-, treble +-, and bass frequency adjustments and treble frequency adjustments), volume, and the power amp.

http://www.alaxy.net/ontwerpdocument.doc
post #30 of 241
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalmind
The scope I used had a printer out and floppy drive, so I have a bunch of screengrabs and also logged alot in documents. I don't have logs of the cables, as that was just done for fun and wasn't part of the assignment. Alot of my work is only in printed form, but I could scan a couple of the scopes readings, focussing on clipping points of opamps (most of the tested opamps didn't clip untill well above 100kHz and nearing 200kHz, and displayed the same measurements across the board).
Will do this in the coming week, bit busy now.

Unfortunatly, all documentation is in dutch, but here's the final document that was delivered with the amp on completion. The schematics are in there, along with some measurements. It consists of a balance setting, tone adjustment (bass +-, treble +-, and bass frequency adjustments and treble frequency adjustments), volume, and the power amp.

http://www.alaxy.net/ontwerpdocument.doc
Heh, after a quick glance, looks like you had a lot of fun with some of those EE expressions / equations . I'de say that taking electrical engineering seriously requires a lot of mathematic skills, seriously. Hell, I am sure there are some people who can build amazing stuff, yet can't figure out half of what would be required to know to pass an electrical engineering course.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Misc.-Category Forums › Members' Lounge (General Discussion) › Your top 10 mistakes in this hobby?