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Some OVERRATED High End Gear. - Page 2

post #16 of 330
A-gd
post #17 of 330
Thread Starter 



Wow... you really buy into the hype. Look at and read the test results from Stereophile for the ICEpower Bel Canto Reference 1000m amps and then read the test results for the Parasound JC1 Mono's that I got to replace the REF 1000m's. You'll find that the JC-1's are much more stable with varying and especially low impedance loads. The JC1's continue to increase their output power even into 1 Ohm loads whereas the REF 1000's shut down at 2 Ohms and only 1 KW, whereas the JC1's (Rated at 400 Watts into 8 Ohms) put out an astounding 4.2 KW into 1 Ohm for short term signals. Also if you examine the distortion characteristics the Bel Canto has extreme difficulty with Higher Frequency audio signals, to the point where different measuring techniques must be used to even perform measurements at all.

 

This is just an example of ICEpower vs. more conventional A/AB amplification. To be honest the REF 1000's sounded OK, they were innocuous, that is until I put another amp in their place. Both my Jadis Defy 7 (Which being a Tube Amp measures worse) and the Parasound JC-1's sound significantly better than the bel Canto REF 1000's. Every implementation of digital amplification that I've head has left me cold.

 

The DAC-1 is harder for me to argue against, technically it is a fine DAC. I just found that it errs on the analytical side, that it for lack of a better term Lacks Soul. Ultimately I don't care how something measures, I care what it sounds like. The number of us who have sold off our DAC-1's after hearing DAC's that sound better than the Benchmark is legion, ask around.

 

 

 

http://www.stereophile.com/content/bel-canto-ref1000m-monoblock-power-amplifier-measurements

 

http://www.stereophile.com/content/parasound-halo-jc-1-monoblock-power-amplifier-measurements

Quote:
Originally Posted by visualguy View Post




If you are looking for a different sound from what you get from neutral equipment with practically perfect measurements (Benchmark DAC-1, ICEpower amps), then yes, you are absolutely looking for a coloration.

 



 

post #18 of 330
Quote:
Originally Posted by visualguy View Post

If you like neutral and uncolored music reproduction, the DAC-1 and ICEpower amps are excellent choices. You must be looking for some particular sound or coloration...
 


A bleached, over-bright sounding DAC, with dark, veiled amplifiers. I wonder if that would actually work...

 

post #19 of 330

Very overrated electronics brands IMO: Nuforce, Krell, Bel Canto, Creek, Arcam.

 

Speaker brands: Wilson, B&W, JM Labs, Martin Logan.

post #20 of 330

Esoteric K-01. Sure, it's very detailed, but for an SACD player? If only audiophiles knew how CDs worked, they'd be horrified. Then there's the "but you need the Esoteric rubidium clock..." -- forget it!

 

I very nearly considered an Alpha DAC actually. 

 

The Cambridge Azur 840c new now, I'd consider overrated. Second-hand for around $800 it's good value though, even just as a DAC.

 

The Luxman P-1 and P-1u. They are good at making most headphones sound good, but they are coloured amps and, unless you can get one second-hand in Japan are very expensive.

 

Benchmark DAC 1: As has already been stated.

 

I disagree about the LCD-2s, especially as they've fixed the frequency response and other issues. Mind you, until I can fix or build one of the 'stat amps I have here, my dynamic rig is far better than my 'stat one, so that has to be considered.

post #21 of 330
Quote:
Originally Posted by Currawong View Post

Esoteric K-01. Sure, it's very detailed, but for an SACD player? If only audiophiles knew how CDs worked, they'd be horrified. Then there's the "but you need the Esoteric rubidium clock..." -- forget it!


The D-07 seems to be very overrated. Used values on them have collapsed - I think because people have gotten wise to it.

post #22 of 330
Quote:
Originally Posted by aroldan View Post
I think otherwise. Some of the most discussed brands here are chinese (Audio GD, Little Dot, Darkvoice), mostly by their good price-performance ratio.


Just because something is discussed a lot on Head-Fi doesn't mean it's good in quality, it only means that it has a lot of supporters. Also, I don't think I've ever seen any owners of Chinese gear actually compare said gear to an equivalent American or European brand, so the price-performance ratio is actually mostly or completely unknown. Chinese gear owners also have typically never owned anything better and most of them never bother upgrading either, so their assessments of price-performance ratios are actually completely uneducated guesses.

 

I'll admit to buying a Little Dot amp when I first started out on Head-Fi (it was the Little Dot Micro+, back in 2006) but since then I've never bought a Chinese amp. No offense to the Chinese but I'd just rather buy audio gear that's either Japanese, American, or European.

 

IMO, most of the reason that Chinese gear attracts the followers that it does is because it's inexpensive. A lot of people on Head-Fi look to buy everything as cheaply as possible - not that there's anything wrong with that, just saying that's how it is. And when they see the inexpensive Chinese gear, they tend to ask "why buy anything more expensive?" and well, there you go. Then one or a few people start forming the opinion that the Chinese gear sounds good (which it probably does, it is after all hard to make something that sounds truly atrocious nowadays). When enough people start joining into that opinion, the aggreggate opinion starts forming that the Chinese gear has a good price-performance ratio, when in actuality, no one in the aggregate group has any idea of what that ratio is.

 

In other words, what I'm trying to say is that just because there might be an aggregate opinion that there's something that sounds good is probably good, doesn't make it good. The cliche expression "if it sounds good, it is good" is inherently flawed - it depends on who thinks the sound is good. If the listener is someone who bought their first-ever amp for their first-ever >$200 headphones on their first-ever external DAC, are you really going to trust that opinion? Or would you trust the opinion of someone who's heard at least a few amps and headphones?


Edited by Asr - 9/1/11 at 10:57pm
post #23 of 330

I do get that feeling here sometimes, like going with the flow and feeding the flow. And if you go against the flow, well.


Edited by wuwhere - 9/2/11 at 12:14am
post #24 of 330
Quote:
Originally Posted by aroldan View Post

I think otherwise. Some of the most discussed brands here are chinese (Audio GD, Little Dot, Darkvoice), mostly by their good price-performance ratio.

 



 


They're only bought because they're cheap.

People are so eager for the glow of tubes that they will buy compromised equipment or amps where the tubes barely provide any amplification at all.

Also, I only run name-brand transformers. "Mystery meat" transformers are a risk I'm not willing to take.

If the cheapies ran good iron, they'd cost about the same as the amps that run good iron.

Those amps are not cheap because of labor costs. They're cheap because they run the cheapest possible power supply with the cheapest possible parts.

And, no, a very expensive and rare NOS tube rolled into it doesn't make a cheap power supply any better.
post #25 of 330


I'm not saying that most of the Chinese gear is better than other at all. I'm just saying that it cost what it must, and hence is not overrated.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Asr View Post


Just because something is discussed a lot on Head-Fi doesn't mean it's good in quality, it only means that it has a lot of supporters. Also, I don't think I've ever seen any owners of Chinese gear actually compare said gear to an equivalent American or European brand, so the price-performance ratio is actually mostly or completely unknown. Chinese gear owners also have typically never owned anything better and most of them never bother upgrading either, so their assessments of price-performance ratios are actually completely uneducated guesses.

 

I'll admit to buying a Little Dot amp when I first started out on Head-Fi (it was the Little Dot Micro+, back in 2006) but since then I've never bought a Chinese amp. No offense to the Chinese but I'd just rather buy audio gear that's either Japanese, American, or European.

 

IMO, most of the reason that Chinese gear attracts the followers that it does is because it's inexpensive. A lot of people on Head-Fi look to buy everything as cheaply as possible - not that there's anything wrong with that, just saying that's how it is. And when they see the inexpensive Chinese gear, they tend to ask "why buy anything more expensive?" and well, there you go. Then one or a few people start forming the opinion that the Chinese gear sounds good (which it probably does, it is after all hard to make something that sounds truly atrocious nowadays). When enough people start joining into that opinion, the aggreggate opinion starts forming that the Chinese gear has a good price-performance ratio, when in actuality, no one in the aggregate group has any idea of what that ratio is.

 

In other words, what I'm trying to say is that just because there might be an aggregate opinion that there's something that sounds good is probably good, doesn't make it good. The cliche expression "if it sounds good, it is good" is inherently flawed - it depends on who thinks the sound is good. If the listener is someone who bought their first-ever amp for their first-ever >$200 headphones on their first-ever external DAC, are you really going to trust that opinion? Or would you trust the opinion of someone who's heard at least a few amps and headphones?



 

post #26 of 330
Quote:
Originally Posted by Asr View Post


Just because something is discussed a lot on Head-Fi doesn't mean it's good in quality, it only means that it has a lot of supporters. Also, I don't think I've ever seen any owners of Chinese gear actually compare said gear to an equivalent American or European brand, so the price-performance ratio is actually mostly or completely unknown. Chinese gear owners also have typically never owned anything better and most of them never bother upgrading either, so their assessments of price-performance ratios are actually completely uneducated guesses.

 

I find this true of all equipment discussion, regardless of where it is from.

 

I know that I've gone out of my way to compare what I own with similar equipment from other manufacturers where possible.
 

 

post #27 of 330
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yikes View Post

Obviously if someone likes something different than you they must be the one who's looking for coloration's

 

I hope that you enjoy listening to the measurements.


Just out of curiosity, what are you listening to? If you are listening to any form of digital audio then you too are listening to measurements.

G
post #28 of 330
Quote:
Originally Posted by aroldan View Post


I'm not saying that most of the Chinese gear is better than other at all. I'm just saying that it cost what it must, and hence is not overrated.

 



 



I think by using China for manufacturing and saying they are doing the best they can to bring you quality sound makes them overrated because even though they might be good quality, they are doing it as cheap as they can. And the manufacturing price to consumer price varies the most is product coming from China IMO

 

post #29 of 330
Quote:
Originally Posted by MosinNagantMan View Post





I think by using China for manufacturing and saying they are doing the best they can to bring you quality sound makes them overrated because even though they might be good quality, they are doing it as cheap as they can. And the manufacturing price to consumer price varies the most is product coming from China IMO

 


No.

Labor costs are not the issue.

Part quality is the issue.

If the low-end suppliers started using quality transformers and built good power supplies, then the prices would probably be within 10%-20% of better-built amplifiers.

The false assumption is that the low cost of Chinese labor is the difference. It is not.

If the low-end manufacturers used transformers on the same level of quality as, say, Plitron, Hammond, Edcor, Sowter, Lundahl, Electra-Print, and others, then you'd be paying closer to $1,000 for those amps.

I have zero problem with a Plitron plugged into the wall. Something made of potmetal and the cheapest possible parts and construction will NOT be plugged into my wall.

I do not understand why people buy a $300 amp, another $500 in tubes, then $400 in cables to dress it up. You're better off buying a $1,200 amp and running it stock. Or you could spend $1,200 on parts and build one of the finest amps around. But it seems that people are more comfortable buying accessories than figuring out how to build something.
post #30 of 330

I don't have experience with a lot of the DACs people are listing, but I've recently discovered that the mode of transport does make an audible difference (such as S/PDIF vs. USB).  I recently ordered an Alpha DAC based on the rave reviews from audiophile to professional sites, so we'll see if my ears (or expectations :) ) hear a reasonable improvement over the gamma2 I'm using, which I think is a fantastic DAC for the money, compared to the more expensive retail DACs I've listened to.

 

I haven't listened to a MSRP $5k+ DAC yet, so I might end up completely agreeing with the camp that Berkeley Audio, dCS, EMM, Esoteric, Reimyo, Weiss, etc., are all completely overrated, but I am learning through making adjustments and trialing systems that the entire chain and system synergy is a lot more important than I had thought.

 

As far as my contribution to this thread...

 

I'd say the Grado RS1i and GS1000i are overrated unless you love the Grado sound.  I didn't hear a huge improvement in sound over the SR225i.  The sound was different but it wasn't the 'oh my god' experience I had when moved to the Stax O2.

 

LCD-2 Rev2 is borderline overrated.  It is a nice headphone, even for $1000, but it wasn't the religious experience the 1000+ page thread here would indicate.  I think it could do very nicely in a chain specifically designed around the LCD2 but there were some aspects of the sound I wasn't thrilled about, and the jaws-of-life clamping was so uncomfortable, it took a conscious effort to focus on the music.  I didn't have a chance to test the LCD-2 in my own setup so maybe it was due to the DAC and amp, but it felt like I had some dynamic speakers playing music straight into my ears, with all the associated pros and cons.

 

Also, I don't think Audio-GD is overrated, nor do I think Chinese-made necessarily means bad.  Sure, a lot of Chinese manufactured goods aren't that high quality, but there are also Chinese enthusiasts who own these companies that really do care and do a bang-up job.  It's not really fair to use these kinds of broad brushstrokes, especially towards companies that don't deserve it.


Edited by Elysian - 9/2/11 at 5:23pm
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