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A Lesson in Audiophilism - Saving Wallets: 15 minutes reading this will save you 15% or more - Page 2

post #16 of 54

I started the audiophile journey from the other side, as a HiFi guy reviewing home theater and stereo gear for several websites. I quickly progressed from the internet direct budget brands to some higher end speakers and amps, all the while trying to stack rank the products I heard and give a delta value (%) of how much better it was. I tracked this on an excel sheet, and slowly started to reach some conclusions about where the price/performance inflection point lay in this market.

 

I ended up purchasing a Paradigm Studio 100,CC690 setup and Wyred4Sound amps, a Marantz processor and  a Seaton SubMersive subwoofer. Total cost - about 10k. It sounds as good as about 90% of the $25,000 setups from several manufacturers I have heard, yet delivers a lot of enjoyment. I have decided tentatively on my endgame speakers, and will one day be ordering them or their successor at a cost of about $10,000/pair. However the real lesson from all of this is simple:

 

Listen to the gear with your music, on your amp/source before making a decision. I did this with my recent headphone purchase and ended up going from 0->T90 and am extremely happy with the result. In home auditions are key for speakers, just like on-head auditions are key for cans.

post #17 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonido View Post
 

I just discovered the end game to all this insanity. One word: McIntosh

Quote:
Originally Posted by koiloco View Post
 

Wrong again... :p Take another 15 minutes and look around again.  There are quite a few other names that, IMO, McIntosh can barely keep up.  Of course, budget is always the restriction...

 

I agree. McIntosh has not moved very gracefully into the 21st century. Their house sound falls well short of the quality of many other quality brands. Although I applaud his enthusiasm, it appears that Sonido has not taken his own advice to heart & jumped to another hasty conclusion. There are many lessons to be learned in high end audio & the different compromises that must be made with speakers is a big one. Room acoustics & proper speaker setup (Sumiko Speaker Setup) is another. These lessons are not easily self taught, but if you know the right people, you can get there with a lot of experimenting & careful listening. It's a cruel fact that, the more you listen to good equipment, the more you "learn" to hear. There is no going back to systems that used to satisfy for serious listening.

Good luck & have fun,

kev


Edited by bugeyed - 11/12/13 at 2:42pm
post #18 of 54

oooooooooooooh boy, when you open the door to Speakers it's even more overwhelming. The choices were easier for someone with no money :D

I waited for the Newegg sales of Polk and Pioneer. That Martinlogan sub was on my short list a while ago, but have since tried Pio, BIC, Velodyne (Polk 10'' that went on sale for $70 last week) and will check out Dayton Audio from Partsexpress in the near future.

 

How do you get away with playing loud music? I would imagine the neighbors will get annoyed, as much as I love basshead cans nothing can replace listening to a sub+speakers.

 

 

 

(Also when you take those speakers home they may sound a bit different depending on the room you're in)

post #19 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by Astrozombie View Post
 

oooooooooooooh boy, when you open the door to Speakers it's even more overwhelming. The choices were easier for someone with no money :D

I waited for the Newegg sales of Polk and Pioneer. That Martinlogan sub was on my short list a while ago, but have since tried Pio, BIC, Velodyne (Polk 10'' that went on sale for $70 last week) and will check out Dayton Audio from Partsexpress in the near future.

 

How do you get away with playing loud music? I would imagine the neighbors will get annoyed, as much as I love basshead cans nothing can replace listening to a sub+speakers.

+1 Nothing could be more true.  :D

post #20 of 54

I can certainly appreciate this thread.  I lived with the same stereo for 10 years...bought it in college with student loan money.  Got a great discount (Best Buy employee discount).  For 10 years, my stereo was very basic:

 

Panasonic SA-XR25 receiver ($330)

Klipsch SF-3 floorstanders (retail $900, got for $350)

Audio Technica AT-LP50 turntable ($75)

 

That was it for 10 years.  That, and some crappy headphones...Panasonic something-or-others.

 

This year was my "10 year upgrade," lol.  I had a buddy that was selling some Wharfedale Diamond 9.6 speakers.  I looked them up on the internet, they got good reviews.  I bought them without ever hearing them.  I figured if I was upgrading my speakers, it would be a good time to upgrade my amp...after all, Emotiva was having a sale (I swear they have sales more often than they sell at full price...not complaining).  So my new setup was:

 

Emotiva UPA-200 amp ($299 on sale)

Emotiva USP-1 preamp ($389 on sale)

Wharfedale diamond 9.6 floorstanders ($325)

Rega RP-1 turntable ($450)

Bellari VP-130 phono stage ($175)

 

And actually, I live in NC and I bought the speakers from a guy in OH, so I had to wait 3-4 months to get the Wharfedales.  In the meantime, I traded a Bose Wave Radio + $150 cash for some KEF 103.2's (highly recommended) at the local pawn shop.

 

And Sherbourn was having a "merging with Emotiva/clearout" sale, so of course I had to buy their desktop amp, normally on sale for $269, for $189.  After all, that would allow me to use the Kef's in my office...otherwise they would be sitting in my closet.  The buddy I had bought the Wharfedales from mentioned a DAC, so I started look for one of those.  Ended up with a Peachtree DAC-it.  So that was my office setup:

 

Sherbourn PA 2-50 desktop amp ($189)

KEF 103.2 bookshelves ($150)

Stands ($40)

Peachtree DAC-it ($270)

 

It started bothering me that the Wharfedales were more of a lateral move from the Klipsch's...probably a LITTLE BIT of an upgrade, but more just a different sound than a "better" sound.  So I found some Magnepan 2.7QR's.  Guy was asking $800.  I ended up giving him $400 + the Peachtree Dac...so I got them for $670.

 

I was pretty happy with my speaker situation after I got the Magnepans, but I saw some Stax electrets on Craigslist for $40, thought they were a good deal, bought them (last night), and that's what brought me here.

 

My takeaway from this is similar to yours, I think:

 

1) Never pay full price.

2) As much as possible, listen before you buy!

3) Consider used/vintage gear.  Often, it's the best "bang for your buck," especially if you don't mind fixing something here or there.  I had to have the crossover fixed in the Kef's...probably could have done it myself...but it was only $50 to have the local repairman do it.  I still can't believe how good those speakers sound, and they were made in the 70s or 80s.  I've heard people claim you would have to spend $2-3k on new bookshelves to compete with them.  Do your research, and don't be afraid to make minor repairs.  I know a guy in town here (I bought my speaker stands from him) who has a SWEET system with some sort of Polk or JBL towers and a whole rack of McIntosh gear.  My buddy went over to listen to his stuff and buy a set of speakers from him, and my buddy asked how much he paid for his McIntosh amps.  He says "1250 for that one, 25 for that one, etc."  My buddy thought he meant $1,200 and $2,500...but he said "No, $12.50 and $25.00!"  Don't be afraid to look in pawn shops and "hole in the wall, mom and pop" audio stores.

4) If you really want to buy new, shop around...a lot.  I was almost ready to buy my Bellari phono stage for $250...almost every website had it for that price, new...when I finally found one site selling it for $175.  Score!

 

Anyway, cheers all, and enjoy the music!

post #21 of 54

also ~ don't be afraid to buy used! save 25-50% off retail, and you get something already burned in / proven to work. 

 

all of my stuff was bought used here in the F/S forum

post #22 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lorspeaker View Post
 

 

70bucks on amazon....tiny SMSL sa-50..a 50w x2 T-amp..powering my He-6

http://www.amazon.com/SA-50-TDA7492-Digital-Amplifier-Adapter/dp/B008XTDBYW

 

Go ahead n buy the HE-6, otherwise your soul wont rest...period.

:beerchug:

Isn't analog input bad? They are lossy. Better get amp with built in DAC right? 

post #23 of 54
Thread Starter 

Yeah I just brought up McIntosh because they are charging ridiculous prices. Never demoed them with A/B comparison to other amps, though that's what they use at Best Buy. Not in the market to buy them, and if I were, I'd be sure to A/B demo them. Then I'd try to find it on craigslist. ;)

post #24 of 54

One consideration if buying used amps is the age. If buying equipment that's over 10 years or so, it may need its caps. replaced. Just illustrating that there are a lot of things to know about high end audio components. Also, if you are interested in knowing what high quality audio is all about, visit a local high end shop instead of Best Buy. 

Cheers,

kev

post #25 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by bugeyed View Post
 

 Also, if you are interested in knowing what high quality audio is all about, visit a local high end shop instead of Best Buy. 

 

 

You realize most of us don't have 'local high end shops' right? It always annoys me when people say something like that because it's commentary from an exceedingly narrow perspective. 

post #26 of 54
I'm an old-timer, been at this audiophile hobby for over 35 yrs! My current rig's worth over 15K but I've spent at least 2X that getting to this point. Currently I've re-discovered my love of headphone listening. It's been fun! And while I understand that you can spend huge bucks on high-end headphone gear, I've managed to get totally satisfying sound for less than a grand. I find myself listening thru the headphones more than the big rig but I know its just a "new toy" phase. Here's some advice for you younger audiophiliacs. BUY USED! Your dollar buys SO much more this way. Audiogon is your friend! Just like you have guys here that wrap their gear in hideous plastic wrap because they intend to flip their toys, the same mentality exists at Audiogon. You'll find great gear at great prices being sold by guys looking for the next great 'toy'. It can be overwhelming due to the sheer volume of gear that's available. Be patient, do yr homework online. Another personal rule of mine is you should have at least as much money invested in yr music as you do in yr gear, keep your priorities straight!wink.gif
post #27 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by jbarrentine View Post
 

 

You realize most of us don't have 'local high end shops' right? It always annoys me when people say something like that because it's commentary from an exceedingly narrow perspective. 

Why should it annoy you? It's just advice & it is a fact that you need to listed to reference gear to understand what it's all about. There are numerous high end shops, at least in the US, that are worth a day trip to experience. Point is, you can't learn about this stuff by reading about it. You have to listen to understand. The more you listen the more you understand. One way to get to hear some decent systems if you don't have any retailers in your area is to look for audio clubs or join some audio forums & find people in your area that you may get in touch with. It's fun, but can get expensive. BTW, I stopped reading audio magazines years ago, because they are not about enjoying or enhancing your system, they are about selling you new equipment. Many forums & clubs are focused on getting the most out of what you can afford. That's when it gets fun! Learning all the things that make the most of what you have. I mentioned the Sumiko speaker setup before & there are a few published & somewhat accurate versions of the procedure on the net.  Accurate enough to get you close. It does make a huge difference in the experience. A bit tedious, but well worth the effort.

 

Cheers,

kev

post #28 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by bugeyed View Post
 

Why should it annoy you? It's just advice & it is a fact that you need to listed to reference gear to understand what it's all about. There are numerous high end shops, at least in the US, that are worth a day trip to experience. Point is, you can't learn about this stuff by reading about it. You have to listen to understand. The more you listen the more you understand. One way to get to hear some decent systems if you don't have any retailers in your area is to look for audio clubs or join some audio forums & find people in your area that you may get in touch with. It's fun, but can get expensive. BTW, I stopped reading audio magazines years ago, because they are not about enjoying or enhancing your system, they are about selling you new equipment. Many forums & clubs are focused on getting the most out of what you can afford. That's when it gets fun! Learning all the things that make the most of what you have. I mentioned the Sumiko speaker setup before & there are a few published & somewhat accurate versions of the procedure on the net.  Accurate enough to get you close. It does make a huge difference in the experience. A bit tedious, but well worth the effort.

 

Cheers,

kev

 

Well, it's nice to have that fantasy that people live near high end audio shops but for the widest percentage of the population that's just not even marginally realistic. Only people living in select areas of the country have such things near them, and I'm unwilling to believe there are even that many in those areas. I can't think of a place in my state that would have high end headphones in stock, much less on listenable display. You'll note that many people even on this forum talk about having to order from Amazon and send something back if they don't like it because that is the reality of high end audio for most people. It's a niche market, it's irritating for those of us who simply can't go try it out to hear 'go try it out' from those of you who aren't willing to recognize the fact that not everyone exists in the same little market paradise you do. 

 

As for 'a day trip' to go listen to audio: Are you out of your mind? This is almost offensive given the number of things that normal people have to do in their lives every day. When you get those rare times off you go do something with the family, you don't go listen to headphones. 

post #29 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by jbarrentine View Post
 

 

Well, it's nice to have that fantasy that people live near high end audio shops but for the widest percentage of the population that's just not even marginally realistic. Only people living in select areas of the country have such things near them, and I'm unwilling to believe there are even that many in those areas. I can't think of a place in my state that would have high end headphones in stock, much less on listenable display. You'll note that many people even on this forum talk about having to order from Amazon and send something back if they don't like it because that is the reality of high end audio for most people. It's a niche market, it's irritating for those of us who simply can't go try it out to hear 'go try it out' from those of you who aren't willing to recognize the fact that not everyone exists in the same little market paradise you do. 

 

As for 'a day trip' to go listen to audio: Are you out of your mind? This is almost offensive given the number of things that normal people have to do in their lives every day. When you get those rare times off you go do something with the family, you don't go listen to headphones. 

Well first off, I am mainly talking about speaker oriented systems, 'cause that's the subject that I was responding to, but it appears that you are determined to be annoyed about your circumstances. I apologize if I offended you by suggesting a solution & no, I am not out of my mind & am reasonably normal! If it's really important to you, you will find a way to get what you want.

Cheers,

kev 

post #30 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by jbarrentine View Post
 

 

As for 'a day trip' to go listen to audio: Are you out of your mind? This is almost offensive given the number of things that normal people have to do in their lives every day. When you get those rare times off you go do something with the family, you don't go listen to headphones. 

 

You had me for a while until I got to the part quoted above.  If you're going to be spending a significant sum of money purchasing gear I don't see why it's out of the question to drive a few hours on a saturday to demo some of it.

 

If you were car shopping I assume most people would find it reasonable to go test drive a few.  If you were buying an engagement ring you might go to a few different shops to compare.  If you were buying real-estate you'd definitely spend a significant portion or time looking around.  Any asset commanding that much money should at least be worth some of your time.

 

I'm assuming for many people that spend a significant amount of money on hi-fi it ends up being lumped into the 'hobby' designation.  I don't see why you couldn't bring the kids or wife along with you to share in the hobby.

 

You are correct in saying this is a niche, and you do have to go out of your way to demo a lot of the gear.  If only it were as easy as finding a starbucks on the corner...

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