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How does one define "Summit-Fi?"

Discussion in 'High-end Audio Forum' started by timestretch, Dec 10, 2011.
  1. Timestretch
    At what point do you say that a certain piece of hardware is "Summit-Fi" or just hi-fi or even mid-fi or entry level? Can a complete setup be Summit-Fi material if some of the individual components are "average?" Is "the end-game audio setup" even actually attainable, or is it just an imaginary goalpost that will only ever be temporarily touched by its seekers before it moves to a new horizon? Does anybody even consider the term "Summit-Fi" as a legitimate term for describing equipment quality, or is it only just the slick name of head-fi.org's high-end audio subforum?  
    If there are answers to these questions, I suppose they differ from user to user. I think my setup is on the path that leads up the metaphorical mountain trail toward the "Summit-Fi," but I'm not there yet. I'm not sure at what point I'll feel that I am there. Sometimes, when the music bewitches me fully, I am sure that I have already reached the summit, and that better audio doesn't exist or doesn't matter. Other times, I wonder just what the flagship headphones and the big amplifiers are really like, or even what the next flagships will be like.
    Have any of the visitors of this particular subforum of the larger head-fi community thought about this? I believe some of you who are regulars to this section have spent more on audio equipment than I earn in a year. Surely some of you feel you have "reached the summit," right?
  2. Uncle Erik Contributor
    You're right, the definition is tough.
    I look at it a couple of ways.  First, I generally consider gear that's over $1,000.  But that's not a hard line.  I'd put something like the HD-650 in here because it really is that good.  Then there's used gear which goes under $1,000, but is excellent.  And retail values vary - at one time you could get a new K-1000 for $400.  Would anyone argue the K-1000 doesn't belong?
    The other consideration is if something isn't a compromised product.  Lots and lots of things are here.  Especially the cheap tube amps.  The problem is that some expensive stuff is also  compromised or cheap stuff in an expensive case.  Where to draw that line is contentious.  I won't get into my definition now because it won't go over well with some and I'd like to see this discussion stay in the theoretical.
  3. Edoardo
    I agree with Uncle Erik...
    It's weird. There have always been 1000+$ headphones, but Since the HD800s, the T1s and the Audezes's entered the market, most head-fiers's dream-rigs  suddently started to look cheap, mid-fi systems. 
    I'm speaking about the k701, k702, HD600, HD650, DT880, DT990...  Their disappearence from the forums left me wordless. 
    Amps have always been pretty expensive though, but it really seems that since a couple of releases ago, or after the moltiplication of the balanced amps available in the market, your budget would have better be tripled to put a post here...
    I mean, if we didn't go electrostatic or vintage, less than two years ago, any of those headphones with any 500/1000-dollar SS amp were unanimously considered a top-notch system. 
    Now, that system would just sound "fine". 
  4. InnerSpace
    I like "path" and "mountain trail" in your OP, because it's definitely a journey, but it's multi-dimensional rather than linear.  I found myself appreciating "a" "b" and "c" in some of my early rigs, while being aware that "d" "e" and "f" were lacking, and then I would move on and get "a" "c" "d" and "e", and I would think, if I could still have "b" with this it would be great, and if I could have "f" too it would be really great ... in other words, I think we build up a mental checklist over many years, we experience various virtues in random and incomplete combinations, and we develop a strongly personal - and possibly idiosyncratic - construct of exactly what a perfect system would be, if only it existed in the real world.
    And then one day - if you're lucky - a system exactly matches that personal construct, and that's your Summit-Fi system.
    Does it have to be necessarily expensive?  No, not necessarily, but it probably will be.  The many years of trial and error tend to lead to an appreciation for good fundamentals, which aren't cheap.  And the last step - adding the "z", if you like - will probably be costly.  My own Summit-Fi system cost nearly $18k, but I don't feel bad about it.  It's my personal enthusiasm, and my only hobby, and I drive a seven-year-old car, etc.  Summit-Fi HP systems are cheap compared to cars, and houses, and watches, or whatever else might have floated your boat if your tastes had gone another way.

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