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What if the audio critic is completely right? What would you own?

post #1 of 103
Thread Starter 

I fear starting this thread may be utterly pointless and turn into a monster, but my intentions are honest.

Lets ASSUME for the sake of this thread, that the audio critic, 10 biggest lies in audio http://theaudiocritic.com/back_issue...ritic_26_r.pdf is completely correct.  What kind of system would you build.  Has anyone built thier system around these parameters?

IF YOU DISAGREE AND WANT TO CONVINCE EVERYONE, PLEASE GO SOMEWHERE ELSE

given that assumption, lets make some amp and dac recommendations.
and yes that means tubes are right out...

also, if you have built your system around their information id love to hear what you have.

Again im not looking for convincing arguments one side or the other, i just want to know whats recommended ASSUMING the audio critic is totally correct

post #2 of 103
My first post ever on this site.

Without knowing, I actually have several components that he loves and I later read his reviews of:

I own a pair of Bang and Olusen beolab 5 speakers with direct digital connection in from a sonos zp90. Cables bought from monoprice for very cheap.

I also have a Benchmark Dac1, which he gave a very favorable review of, fed by a sonos zp90 as well. Again, cable supplied by monoprice.

I think it all sounds great, but what do I know?
post #3 of 103
If the 10 lies article is true here is how I would spend my money/approach audio:

1) Spend 90% of my budget on the actual speaker/headphone and amp/source.

2) Not worry as much about the last 0.5% of performance, and aim for value for money.

The result would probably be something like a Polk Audio setup or a Paradigm setup for my speaker system.

For my headphones, I would probably aim for Sennheiser HD 600/650/800 depending on how rich I am, and a Little Dot DAC, Dac Magic or Audio gd DAC. For my amp I would probably go Little Dot MKVII+ or Audio gd.

Entire setup for the speaker system would be under $5000 and under ~$2500 for the headphone setup.

Funny... that is exactly what I DO own ;-)

Note, less than 10% would be spent on interconnects. Note, I did upgrade my speaker wire to 12 ga and I did upgrade the Senn HD600 to HD650 balanced cable. Total cost of the wires was under $150.
post #4 of 103
His philosophy does not seem to preclude spending gobs of money, as long as it is not spent on "worthless" parts of your system. So - maybe WATT/puppies run by a gain clone (or 2) precisely placed in a treated listening room?
post #5 of 103
The implications of an Audio Critic-like approach are pretty simple....

Spend only what is absolutely necessary and justifiable on sources and converters. Don't run off to upgrade unless you can justify a needed (non-audio-quality-related) feature, or something that you can verify via ABX.

Spend everything else on headphones, speakers, and other transducers, but not as much as what you're saving on sources. Always work off of the specs and the performance figures, when they are well-measured.

Spend everything else on music.

In practice, as a basic guideline, this means low-cost internal sound cards for basic computer audio, Rat Shack- and Blue Jeans-level cabling, essentially any digital transport, and extremely high quality speakers/headphones. Headphone amps are generally unnecessary except in very specific situations - ie, when max volume/headroom really is an issue, or with RedWine-modded iPods which really do have lower noise floors (but necessitate external amps).


I've more or less followed this strategy - since 2004, almost all of my purchases have been either completely defendable on such merits, downgrades, or explicitly experimental purchases (Quail group buys).
post #6 of 103
Actually, tubes are only out on the assumption you are aiming for the most uncolored sound possible. Me? I'm still young in this hobby, I want to experiment with colors, different technologies (not better, just different) like it's freshman year at college again. But said, there is merit to their views about tube amps.

That said, my planned setup is still pretty much within these bounds set by Audiocritic, except that I'm considering the Elekit. If I wasn't limited by budget, I'd get a really nice SS amp and a really nice DAC, and really headphones. I wonder what he'd say about transports. I really don't know $1K SS amps, the beta22 is supposed to the amazing *shrug* It's not really a revelation or anything, the fundamentals of a strong system are still there. I'd also add lots of live performances and start playing some instruments so you know what you're hearing.
post #7 of 103
Nobody is always completely right, but as far as I have seen at their site the guy (80yrs. +) is right most of the time. This fraudulent society all over the globe (not only high end audio) badly needs such people ...
post #8 of 103
Not all of their claims are true (different amps do sound different) but most are, so I generally follow their philosophy. I get the cheapest amp that has enough power for my headphones, cause I know changing headphones or EQ will make much more difference than changing amps will. Right now I don't have a dedicated source but when i do buy one its gonna be a "cheap" DACmagic, so my philosophy isn't source-first. I think the quality of the original recording makes a much much bigger difference than the source. My cables are terrible, they let a lot of noise through, but I don't even care, cause I can't hear some tiny interference when the music is playing. In short I just change headphones and don't worry about whether I can or can't hear tiny differences between amps and sources. I think lots of people get a pleasure out of "finding" differences between $5,000, $10,000 and $15,000 DACs. Or between $100 cables and $500 cables. But I'm not one of those people. I will also say that even though I've never heard expensive cables, I'm not a believer. The arguments against differences being anything but placebo are too great. So why would I waste my money on something I have no logical reason to believe?
post #9 of 103
Audio perception is all about personal preferences and listening skills.
post #10 of 103
That's a very interesting article, which on the whole I feel is correct.

Assuming it is, then any decent digital source that measures well, coupled with a decent solid state amp and sensible cabling should suffice, the thing is we humans love complexity too much and as a result of this we have a whole industry based around cables and accessories, also whilst digital may measure better, anyone who has had the pleasure of listening to a set of Quad 57s being fed from Quad II's and a decent turntable will tell you that hifi can sound better than it measures!

I am not sure my recommendations would change at all regardless of the audiocritic being right or wrong, I would still say:

- Use common sense, if something sounds too good to be true then it probably is

- Remember the law of diminishing returns - Is it worth spending 1000's more just for that last bit of performance?

- Stick to a sensible budget and get the best gear you can afford
post #11 of 103
I like this thread, I think all newbies should read it. Not saying they have to conform to it, but it'd be a good read it start off the hobby.
post #12 of 103
As a rule of thumb, amps go up in price with the amount of amplification. I think headroom is one of the most significant factors. Other than this most hi-fi amps nowdays are all pretty similar.

Perhaps now is the time for $/Watt ratio to become a consumer standard specification for amps, just like 'mpg' is with cars.
post #13 of 103
Since I don't have the money for a speaker system, just my headphones and my DAP. Which is pretty much what I do own, so hazaa.

Anyone want to estimate the amount of money they've poured down the drain if this is all true?
post #14 of 103
I have mostly followed the advice.

However, I do run tubes. The Audio Critic entirely misses the point. Tubes are wonderfully reliable, only require simple circuits and tube amps are repairable/useful for a lifetime. The real reason to buy tubes is so you can keep the same gear for a lifetime. If a chip cooks off ten years on, good luck finding a replacement. Tubes don't havr that problem.

The Audio Critic similarly misses the point of vinyl. Vinyl is about being able to listen to music that never made it to digital. Vinyl is also about buying a box of records for $10 at a garage sale. Fidelity? It's good enough. I'm happy with a turntable because it lets me listen to cheap music not available on digital. That's reason enough right there.

But I agree with the majority of the article and that's how I've focused my system.
post #15 of 103
I don't think anyone can dispute that these are sound guidelines for brilliant sound quality. All newcomers should follow these guidelines, and if they develop a favoring of certain subjective qualities, they can then explore less conventional means - with an absolute understanding that additional expenses will never yield a reasonable return on investment.
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