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How much does it cost to build a good hi-fi system?

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by shark_jump, Feb 6, 2010.
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  1. Shark_Jump
    Just how much does it really cost to build a good hi-fi system?

    Let's cut through all the BS floating around, if you don't know what I mean please check out at least the first 10mins in Nick Charles's thread.

    http://www.head-fi.org/forums/f133/v...on-aes-468533/

    By good I mean something where you start to see real diminishing returns and perceived yet unmeasurable improvements in quality when you start spending much more.

    IMO, if you get your speakers to integrate into your room correctly, it doesn't have to cost the earth for a top system.

    IMO
    Maximum = $1.5k Speakers + $1K integrated amp + $500 DAC + $300 phones + $200 cables.
    = $3.5k

    Do you agree with this?

    For arguments sake give or take $200 bucks in case you are a can, cable or DAC freak.
     
  2. anetode
    There's a problem when you begin to align an absolute like "maximum" cost and a relative, like "good hi-fi". Your 3.5k total estimate is reasonable, but I can see going double that and still getting perceivable improvements in quality.
     
  3. Shark_Jump
    Yes, agreed, subjective, but I'm glad you think I'm being reasonable.

    Did you read the link?
     
  4. anetode
    Yup, that's a terrific video. The idea that you don't have to spend a lot of money to get hi-fi performance becomes obvious when you do research beyond review publications and manufacturer websites. A good system could be put together for well under a grand, if you're willing to assemble kit speakers and purchase a second-hand amp. Depending on your requirements and preference for transducer technology, spending tens of thousands of dollars isn't entirely out of the question. The problem is that unorthodox planar and radial speakers are very expensive, at least at MSRP. So if you want low-distortion and flat response along a wide sweet spot, the investment in room-correction systems and multi-channel speaker setups becomes justifiable [​IMG]
     
  5. Shark_Jump
    Well what's always missing from these questions is the room itself. Thats why I said 'if you can get your speakers to integrate with your room correctly"

    If you can't get your speakers to integrate with your room then you are probably wasting your time and money until you get it sorted out.

    The problem is there does not seem to be much consideration of this. Its like people don't think of the listening environment as part of their 'system'. I guess its not an easy thing to correct, you can't just walk in to a shop and buy something to sort it out.
     
  6. sbtruitt
    interesting question - depends on what 'good hi-fi system' means.

    i've always been a 'mid-fi' kind of guy and do believe in the law of diminishing returns.
    i'm also a sucker for vintage equipment - so if I was going to build a good system, I would find a good vintage receiver for ~$500 (e.g. a good Marantz or Yamaha) - then put the rest into the best speakers you can get (a nice high-end pair of JBLs will do) - but I think there are too many variables to put a price on what a 'good hi-fi' system would cost. different strokes for different folks...
     
  7. Armaegis
    I know a guy who has a $50k setup in his basement (well, it's pretty much his entire basement), and it sounds amazing.

    I've sat down with a mid-fi setup which was $5k and was thoroughly entranced.

    My headphone and speaker rig cost about $500 (mostly used) and I am perfectly happy with it. My investment in the rig is about equal to my mortgage payment, which also coincides with my point of diminishing return. Do I wish I had the $5k rig? Maybe, but I could shrug either way and the costs do not really equal the reward for me. Do I wish I had the $50k rig? Not a chance. I could buy another house with that.
     
  8. Shike
    If you're going by cheapest I believe you can do a good job for:

    $300 speakers
    $300 integrated
    $300 DAC
    $200 headphone amp
    $300 headphones
    $100 transport
    $50 cables

    $1.65K new if you scout the deals out (can be MUCH cheaper used if you know what you're doing). There is no max. There's speakers I want that run $12K, and even used cost $10K. A setup using those with want I want to do would easily run into the $20K level.

    You also have to consider the balance of the system too.

    Do I feel I need a $20K stereo setup? No. I feel there's ways of getting extremely close with the use of mild compromising in areas.
     
  9. Drag0n
    Heres a system i think represents diminishing returns.

    Bryston 3bst amp - on ebay i see them sometimes under $500. You will not beat this amp at that price. It was new for $1699, and Bryston has a 20 year transferable warranty, and there should be many years left even on a used one.
    These have been compared to $10,000 Mark Levinson amps in reviews, and came pretty close except for that last bit of detail, but equaled it in slam.

    Meier Stage Dac - $745 FRom reviews, i dont think youll find a better dac for that price and youd have to spend much more to find better. PS Audio is another choice if you dont want the Meier.

    Marantz CD5003 CD Player - Use as a transport for the dac. I dont think youll find a better transport for $349.

    Gallo Nucleus Reference 3 speakers $2600 - these have recently been discontinued, so you may find deals around for cheaper.....but i dont think theres a better pair of speakers up to about $5000, and the competition is the speakers that have replaced them in the line.

    Signal Cable- Signal Cable Great cables for a cheap price.

    PreAmp- WooAudio WA2 - $950- $1700 depending on options, if you want tubes.
    Opinions vary but i think this preamp represents diminishing returns. If you dont want a tube preamp, then look at....

    Vincent Audio- SA-31 Preamp... ok, its a hybrid, but the tubes are internal and its a great preamp for only $599.95

    Another amp worth considering is:
    Vincent Audio- Model SP-331 $1299. Its a tube hybrid that has great reviews,just like the preamp does. You would have to spend much much more to get better.


    I think the only things you can change from these choices are the possibility of different speakers.

    I dont know enough about turntables, incase you also wanted to go that route, but theres my 2c on what i think represent the best values in home stereo audio, and will compete with componants 3 times their price or better in some cases.

    This is pretty much what my system will be when im done, except i may go Paradigm for the speakers....a sub/sat system because of space.

    As far as a tuner....

    Magnum Dynalab is the best, but Marantz, Rotel, Cambridge, has good offerings.

    Sub- SVS, or REL. Choose whatever you can afford.
     
  10. Industrial
    I got to hear a amazing $100,000 system today. I expected to be blown away but left thinking "not bad". I may just have a preference to what I'm building in my system. Even had a simple turntable setup today from someone working there and liked my system as well.
     
  11. 3602
    As much as you want.
     
  12. Shike
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Drag0n /img/forum/go_quote.gif
    ...

    Meier Stage Dac - $745 FRom reviews, i dont think youll find a better dac for that price and youd have to spend much more to find better. PS Audio is another choice if you dont want the Meier.

    ...

    Gallo Nucleus Reference 3 speakers $2600 - these have recently been discontinued, so you may find deals around for cheaper.....but i dont think theres a better pair of speakers up to about $5000, and the competition is the speakers that have replaced them in the line.

    ...

    PreAmp- WooAudio WA2 - $950- $1700 depending on options, if you want tubes.
    Opinions vary but i think this preamp represents diminishing returns. If you dont want a tube preamp, then look at....

    Vincent Audio- SA-31 Preamp... ok, its a hybrid, but the tubes are internal and its a great preamp for only $599.95

    ...
    Sub- SVS, or REL. Choose whatever you can afford.




    For the DAC and preamp, why wouldn't one just get one of the higher end Benchmark units? They measure extremely well and by combining them will reduce the cost substantially [​IMG]

    Speakers -- I'd say Magnepan, Martin Logan, or Quads give better bang for the buck.

    Sub -- I'd go with a higher end Velodyne unit if going retail (or e-tail).

    Cables -- Depends if you believe in voodoo >_>'
     
  13. anetode
    There's one audiophilistic tendency that keeps popping up and raising the prices of these estimates. You don't need a separate component for every bit of processing and amplification! There are plenty of all-in-one systems with decent internal dacs, disc drives, and 50+wpc amplification that could easily cut a third from the total cost of the system. My idea of the budget rig values simplicity - pair of high quality speakers, sub with internal crossover and a stereo receiver/cd player with network connectivity.
     
  14. Happy Camper
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Shike /img/forum/go_quote.gif
    ................. [​IMG]

    Speakers -- I'd say Magnepan, Martin Logan, or Quads give better bang for the buck.

    Sub -- I'd go with a higher end Velodyne unit if going retail (or e-tail).

    Cables -- Depends if you believe in voodoo >_>'




    You peeking in my media room?

    [​IMG]
     
  15. Shike
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Happy Camper /img/forum/go_quote.gif
    You peeking in my media room?

    [​IMG]




    Nope, just a dipole fan (especially planar/ribbon). As for some of the higher end Velodynes . . . I'd like one, but I can settle for a good DIY design myself. ^_^
     
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