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  1. #1
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    Blasphemy- or what is wrong with my hearing

    Despite the prospect of paying two college tuitions for the next several years, I am still indulging a constant case of upgraditis. To that end, I have been focused on my power source and have read up on a multitude of integrated amps. Last night I went to the local dealer for Focal speakers to hear what they recommend. I listened through a higher model speaker ( 1028BE) than I own and a couple of $10k plus integrated amps including an Ayre AX5/20 and a Luxman 30w class A amp.

    So it sounded great. But I was listening to $20k worth of equipment, so it should sound great. However, I went home and and listened to my modest setup ( see below), and truthfully, I did not hear a major difference.

    I know that there is a law of diminishing returns at work, but I paid less than 1/10th of this ( albiet gently used). Perhaps my hearing has diminished to the point that these distinctions are lost on me.

    Still grappling with upgraditis though as I am easily distracted by shiny things.
    Marantz PM 11S3 Integrated Amp
    Marantz SA 8004 SACD Player
    Music Hall MMF 9.1 turntable
    Focal Chorus 836V speakers
    Focal Chorus SW 800v subwoofer
    Acoustic Zen Satori speaker cables
    AZ WOW interconnects
    AZ El Nino power cables
    VPI Turntable interconnect
    Sennheiser HD-700 headphones

  2. #2
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    For a start I never found it really useful to listen to equipment in a dealer's showroom, although it can be useful compare, say, component 'A' with component 'B' in the same setup there. But the only real test is in your own listening room. A while back I listened at a local dealer's to some Monitor Gold towers, ($5000+), with Simaudio electronics; I found that setup not nearly as good as what I have at home.

    Rather than listening at dealer's I have found it more useful to read multiple reviews and glean from them common observations that seem relevant to my needs and preferences.

    As for hearing, I know that I am stone deaf above 10 kHz which probably means I'm not a reliable judge of ultimate quality above that cut-off. Nevertheless I can have pretty subtle differences such that I can pretty easily determine distinguishing characteristics of amps, (for example).

  3. #3
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    My first guess would be that the room you were in was not properly setup and contained other sets of speakers???

    Did you take your own music that you knew intimately so you could notice subtle effects?

    I have heard mega buck setups that underwhelmed me.

    I no longer have a car with a Cassette Player, but my old cure for Upgrade-itis was to take a drive in the car and play a crappy cassette. Once I got home again, my earlier modest system sounded great again.

    Your Marantz and Focals are no slouch so I would expect decent sound, but wonder if your Focals suffer from what most older JM Labs-Focal speakers suffered from.....Deep Bass but great mids and highs. I still have an older pair of JM Labs Tantal 509s that are fast, acurate, have great soundstage and imaging but just lack deep bass and many JMs even some of the big boys had the same characteristics.

    Sometimes the upgrade is visual more than SQ, but ugly ams don't sound as good as pretty ones, right

  4. #4
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    Feanor - I do agree with you and was tempted to take home one of these integrateds "on loan" for the weekend to see if their was a material difference in sound. Still a possibility, but plan to do more reading online before I exercise the dealer that way.

    Hyfi - the room was a dedicated listening room and they were the only two speakers present. I had called ahead to tell them what I was looking for and they set it up for my visit. The music was theirs, but stuff I owned - mostly typical hifi demo stuff ( Roger Waters amused to Death, Patricia Barber, etc.).

    I love your idea of the old cassette. My other hobby is high performance driving, and I run an old (and rather loud) BMW M3. It still has the cassette player, but I have not used it in ages, as it also has a cd changer that I crank before every time on the starting grid. Nothing like a little ZZ Top or Joe Walsh to get the red mist flowing.

    Of course upgraditis has nothing to do with meeting needs, just wants. At this point in life, I am clear on the difference ... although Sofia Vergara can still cloud my thinking in that regard.
    Marantz PM 11S3 Integrated Amp
    Marantz SA 8004 SACD Player
    Music Hall MMF 9.1 turntable
    Focal Chorus 836V speakers
    Focal Chorus SW 800v subwoofer
    Acoustic Zen Satori speaker cables
    AZ WOW interconnects
    AZ El Nino power cables
    VPI Turntable interconnect
    Sennheiser HD-700 headphones

  5. #5
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    Agree with every thing that was said. You really need to hear things in your system.
    What you can get with upgrades are more resolution (not always a good thing depending upon the music that you listen to) more air and transparency with more depth and better dynamics. Bass slam and percussion will be better as will separation between instruments. I saw this in going from my Parasound A21 amp, AVA preamp to my Pass amp, BAT preamp and Luxman DAC. The differences were not subtle.
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp,
    Thorens TD-145 TT, Bellari phono preamp, Nagaoka MP-200 Cartridge
    Magnepan QR1.6 speakers
    Luxman DA-06 DAC
    Van Alstine Ultra Plus Hybrid Tube DAC
    Dual Martin Logan Original Dynamo Subs
    Parasound A21 amp
    Vintage Luxman T-110 tuner
    Magnepan MMG's, Grant Fidelity DAC-11, Class D CDA254 amp
    Monitor Audio S1 speakers, PSB B6 speakers
    Vintage Technic's Integrated amp
    Music Hall 25.2 CDP
    Adcom GFR 700 AVR
    Cables- Cardas, Silnote, BJC
    Velodyne CHT 8 sub

  6. #6
    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
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    Auditioning equipment is very difficult. The last speakers I auditioned were in an audio room much larger than mine and using unfamiliar electronics and cables. There were aspects of the sound I liked but I heard a warm bass and midrange with a light and somewhat bright upper mids and highs. To my ears the drivers did not seem to blend seamlessly.

    Years ago I was at an audio dealer and heard the Wilson Watts on the Puppies and was not impressed. At the time I thought they were lacking some tonal color. The system was not lacking but at the time my inexpensive system was adding colorations and low level noise. As I upgraded and tweaked much of the colorations were gone as well as the electronic hash of the lesser system. To this day I still have to listen to speakers many times before deciding. Which is why I still have the speakers I do because there is not an easy way to travel to listen to speakers.
    JohnMichael
    Vinyl Rega Planar 2, Incognito rewire, Deepgroove subplatter, ceramic bearing, Michell Technoweight, Rega 24V motor, TTPSU, FunkFirm Achroplat platter, Michael Lim top and bottom braces, 2 Rega feet and one RDC cone, Benz MC Gold, Fanfare 3/PSU 1.
    Digital
    Sony SCD-XA5400ES SACD/cd SID mat, Marantz SA 8001
    Int. Amp Krell S-300i
    Speaker
    JBL Studio 530's/Sanus SF22 stands
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    AQ SPKR and AQ XLR and IC

  7. #7
    Forum Regular harley .guy07's Avatar
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    I always found that when I went to a shop and listened to the setups that they always either had the rooms to busy with other components like was mentioned earlier and it hurt the sound or the systems were put together in a hurry to sell the product without taking the time to break them in properly and position the speaker right. I also have noticed that in the past that at times shops would not match the synergy with components as well. With saying that I have been at a few shops in the past that knew how to set up the systems properly and also set the rooms up and it makes a real difference. But I also believe that taking the components home and hearing them over extended periods of time and with components you know is the only true way to tell how good something is

    Marantz SR5008(HT)
    Nu Force P8 Preamp (2 channel)
    Pass Labs X150.5(2 channel)
    Adcom 545 mk2 power amp(rear channel amp)
    Spatial Audio M3 Turbo S Mains Speakers
    Dayton 8" HO custom sealed subwoofer(2 channel)
    Yamaha NS-c444 center channel
    Emotiva ERD-1 surround speakers
    JBL e250p subwoofer highly modified
    Samsung 46" LED TV
    OPPO BDP-83 blue ray/multi format player
    ps-audio NuWave dac (2 channel)
    Dell I660 music server running fidelizer windows 8 audio optimizer
    PS Audio Quintet power center



  8. #8
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    In addition, there's your taste, there is very expensive equipment I've heard whose presentation just don't appeal to me. So maybe look at other brands.

    The room is an important variable as well. My friend had Salons that always sounded great, another friend got a pair, he is in a house with a subfloor and a lot of reflection, let's just say not the best representation of the speakers.

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