What makes the best equipment you can get, "the best" ? [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums


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04-07-2009, 08:55 AM
Hello all.

This discussion I welcome is to pick your brains for a while if you will.

Surely most of you have looked around for a component or two in your time. During those
time, you had to use some form of process of elimination, such as what qualities, features,
design, make the best the very best.

Some time down the track you may of seen in a store a component either way beyond
your budget, or at least out of most people's budget and you were curious enough to
ask, mate what makes this so expensive ? After the salesperson's attempt to bs you with
marketing jargon you would of gone home and looked up the model yourself on the net
and searched for online reviews.

So go on, don't be shy, whether it's a $50,000 projector, $99,000 pair of speakers,
share your story, tell us how it blew your mind, how hard you had to try to find any
faults (apart from the price). Did that shop have a knowledgable salesperson ? or
they couldn't move it ?

I am not interested in "value for money". I am interested in the best money can buy.
The most expensive only. That doesn't mean the most expensive is always the absolute
best, but the very best comes quite close to that price range.

For example, can you consider anything apart from Class A or Tubes for amplification ?

I will get the ball rolling, you can see what model of DynAudios that I own. I found in the
same shop they had the Dyns Evidence Master at 99k... yeah sorry could find a single
technical fault, sonically I was quite lost for words at the time. I didn't want to leave the
shop. I had no idea after know what my speakers were capable of, had nothing on the
Evidence Master. It is sooo good to know and experience what something at that price
range can actually do.

I believe tho that it's a matter of diminishing returns that you pay more and more to get
less and less better per dollar. I know you will respond by logically saying, yeah at 99k
you better be impressed. Still doesn't negate the need for the experience of listening
music through 99k speakers. It was definately worth to listen.

Were the speakers worth 99k ? IMHO I must say I do not know because I've heard music
through 20k Dalis, and the Dyns smoked them. The Dalis are incredible for 20k.
That would logically mean the Dyns must be more than 5 times better than the Dalis,
grrrr too long ago to remember if that was the case haha.

I'd welcome anyone who can convince me that a 5k, 10k, 20k CD player is worth every
dollar :smilewinkgrin: You know each one of us constrained by budget refuses to
acknowledge that the more expensive components are worth it's value.

04-07-2009, 04:39 PM
Looks like the phones are ringing off the hooks, mate!

04-07-2009, 11:47 PM
I heard a 10K Ayre CDP on a 10K amp and preamp and was not impressed. It sounded great but definitely not worth the money. Now maybe if I had a 7 figure income I might have thought differently.

04-08-2009, 06:23 AM
Cool br.

Well this boils down to an old thread I posted ages ago, the point is one can turn
a "cheaper" setup sound like 10K or more, and some expensive combinations (money
wise), can sound very ordinary in shops.

I was convinced the listening environment in a shop I went to was absolutely poor, I
could not believe Parasound Halo Amps, with a Raysonic CD player and DynAudio
Confidence speaker combination could sound like a $200 setup.

I was auditioning a pair of 25K McIntosh monoblocks and the overall setup was about
55k. There was an mp3 track played, which sounded 10 times better than the CD I
put in, well a 55k system can make even a mp3 track sound amazing. Immediately I
was hearing at least 4x as many background singing voices, instruments, incredible.
However I was informed that McIntosh sound best with only other McIntosh gear
connected to them.

I believe there's just some brands of components which actually go well with other
specific brands, so the hard part is figuring out which goes with which. Trial and error
can be bliss, or frustrating, but sometimes unfortunately necessary.

04-08-2009, 05:00 PM
Buying "the best money can by" is an illusion at best. As quickly as technology changes, it's impossible to ever truly have "the best". Some people think they need that $100,000 pair of speakers. It's my experience that such people are rarely truly happy with what they have, because they are always dreaming of their next purchase. For those people, everything they spend on fancy equipment is immediately a waste, because it'll never be truly enjoyed.

(Notice I was careful to say "some people", not "all people".)

JoeE SP9
04-08-2009, 07:47 PM
Although I've heard Infinity IRS's, Apogee Grands and all kinds of uber expensive speakers my $10000 would go for a pair of Magnepan MG-20's. The super expensive speakers just don't sound all that much better for 4 to 6 or more times the price. I heard a pair again two days ago. These were broken in and sounded unfu**ingbeleivable. I had heard them last year when they were fresh out of the box. They sounded good then but I now have the fever again. I want a pair of them bad!!!!!

04-08-2009, 08:02 PM
natronforever - I want feedback on people's experiences of the 'out there' priced
equipment. Not really for feedback on whether the thread is valid or not.

If people cannot share their experiences what is the point of having threads in forums ?

Of course it is impossible to have 'the best', it is dependent on the perspective, however
nothing wrong with sharing one's experiences of something that's out there.

It's the same with PCs, software, and anything that's technology related, the 'best' and
latest is only good for a short time. Still back in one's mind, it's still 'the best' for a while.

"Some" people can be rather content with their equipment. I know for a fact my
Dyns aren't the best money can buy, however I'm extremely happy with them. As long
as I can keep using them, I'll never buy another pair of fronts.

Doc Sage
04-09-2009, 09:19 PM
What makes the best equipment you can get, "the best" ?

To me, what makes the best "the best" is not the amount of money one invested in the certain piece of sound equipment, it's how long I hold on to this piece of equipment.

I replace my equipment regularly, looking at different combination that will give me a better appreciation of the music that I am listening to, getting me closer to nirvana. If I find a piece of equipment that I do not replace for years, that is the best for those years, till I find the need to replace it.

I had some classic McIntosh electronics that was the cats meow for years till I replace my Energy's with some Josephaudio's. These last ones made me aware of the limits of my McIntosh's. I now use a Sugden intergrated amplifier to great satisfaction. This is my "new" best in amplification and my Josephaudio's has never sounded this great.

The reality is I find nothing that needs to be upgraded with my present system. This is my "best" ever.

04-09-2009, 09:41 PM

I understand you are hoping for feedback on people experiences, but you posed a question as the title of this thread, asking what made the best equipment money could buy "the best". Your title made me think, and I posted in a moment of introspection. If you feel my thoughts threaten the validity of your thread, then I'm sorry. Surely was not my intention to derail things for you.

04-10-2009, 01:19 AM
natronforever - thankyou for the response. I'm sure all of us share the frustration of "the
best is always temporary" when it comes to technology.

I guess what we can get "now" will have to do, however in terms of great leaps and
bounds in the hifi industry, it does not improve by a great deal often. Maybe one or
two great leaps every 5 years if that.

Doc - I hear what you're saying loud and clear, I guess if I could replace My gear once
every 5 to 10 years, it would be great. Unfortunately My tastes don't get cheaper :(
the gear I like isn't cheap, but it also is not 'the best'.

The reason I wrote this thread is which components are out there, what key features,
constuction do these impressive units have ?

For example, the wires used within the speakers of DynAudio speakers are different
than your other brand speakers.

04-10-2009, 03:24 AM
To me, "best" is relative and temporary. And most often it's indeterminable in the first place.

Any notion of absolute best is a daydream for me; my quest has always been to fine best value within my budget. This is what I mean by relative. Furthermore product advancements and my changing requirements make even best value a temporary thing.

It's also a quest to determine what is best, even the relative, temporary best I'm talking. How much trust can you place on your advisors' judgement or your own? Not much maybe, but it's all part of the fun of it. :16:

audio amateur
04-10-2009, 03:58 AM
I saw a pair of 25K speaker cables on the MIT website. Makes me sick

04-10-2009, 09:12 AM
Okay...going out on a limb here.

Seems to me that "the best" equipment has at least two qualities that elevate some articles well above the beaten throng. The first relates to longevity--in build and presentation. While much out there was indisputably constructed for the whims of the moment, companies like Naim, McIntosh, Accuphase and Audio Research were interested in long-term investment. When certain folks arrive at that point in listening that they make increasingly informed decisions based on nuance, such a market exists for them. I don't think that Joe Schmo wuold know the difference between a CD played on a Sanyo or a Wadia, but there are differences. Yet while such acquisitions are exorbitant, for the most part I would say that such equipment is generally robust enough in build and presentation that their relevance is beyond dispute.

The second criterion is related to fatiguability. Good music is rarely-if ever-tiresome, but if it is played on inferior instruments or a musician who should have been encouraged to be a lumberjack the experience can be just dreadful. To many a keen eared listener, the reproduction of sound on stereo equipment of inferior quality can be similarly unpleasant. Put that same listener in a chair before equipment that allows the music to be presented, an he will never grow weary.

04-10-2009, 09:57 AM
What makes the best equipment you can get, "the best" ?
It is closing your eyes and discovering that all the walls have disappeared. It is hearing that natural sense of authority and utter lack of strain where you forget you are listening to electronics. It is when you play very familiar music seemingly for the very first time - hearing nuance you had never before noticed. Underlying rhythms lay bare in front of you allowing you to easily follow the separate parts of the musical line. It is catching yourself laughing out loud at how convincing the illusion is. That's what makes the best for me. I've heard a couple such systems although the cost of admission is more like buying a house than a music system.


04-10-2009, 10:51 AM
Thanks E! That ties it all up.

04-11-2009, 05:02 PM
The best as you'll discover is mostly subjective. Take the Danes at $90k - many of the panel guys would take a $10k panel over the Dane because the Dane is a boxed loudspeaker - but a lot of people will also take a Dynaudio over the panel.

So it's probably better to find the general design you like - say a dual concentric and then you listen for the difference between an entry level Tannoy and their flagship Westminster. Staying within a line helps you hear better the sonic improvements as you move up in price - comparing across brands things get tougher.

An example is using an Audio Note DAC 1 in a system (assuming you like it) and then trying the Dac2, Dac 3, Dac 4 Dac 5 etc. So here you started with $1500 Dac and moved up to a $70k+ Dac You'll hear the improvement. Plopping that same DAC into some other system may be real tough to tell due to mismatching or limitations of the other product's ability to resolve differences etc.

Is it 70 times better - no but then it doesn't have to be. A subtle improvement can be just as important if not more so than big differences. With my speakers I could have purchsed a copper wired version for $400 less. The copper version was terrific but when I heard the silver wired version I felt I could not go back - the improvement was dramatic enough to make it worth the money to me.

But if you LOVE the Evidence master then you look at their less expensive models - try and get as close as you can to the sound you loved in your budget. And if you keep it many years you know you made the right choice.

04-11-2009, 06:47 PM
is a pie in the sky for most of us. mikel at AA has pie and is unassuming to converse with. the best reviewers get to hear greatness regularly. hp reviewed the scainas and revealed why they are so revered, many drivers barely moving and thereby producing exceedingly low distortion.

harley and others have waxed enthusiastically over the MBL 101s and their bigger brother and rightfully so. likewise the big arc and VTL electronics.

we can hear these things and keep them in mind when we listen to what we might afford, then buy what comes close to that stratospheric equipment for less. many times, our choices are fortunate and we can be happy for long periods.

buying used formerly s.o.t.a. pieces can bring us close to the ecstasy we know can be achieved. but high end isnt always unaffordable end. my MMGs and adcom power plus the arc pre go a long way in this direction. making changes slowly is the best way to stay focussed.

04-12-2009, 06:09 AM
I think that beyond a certain point what you're buying is not audio equipment so much as a status symbol. It is difficult to justify four or five figures for a piece of electronic equipment without dumping a good portion of that into non-functional embellisments, pointless over design or pure profit for the manufacturers and distributors.

04-12-2009, 06:46 AM

there ARE some costly pieces that are the result of 'cost no object' development by reputable manufacturers and others that build UP to a price point so they can reap a bigger piece of the pie.

hopefully some of the technology trickles down to our level. there are some audio research, VTL, and parasound products that are reachable where you can get a taste of the ambrosia.

in speakers, the MMGs and silverlines can do. there are many others. when and IF i can afford the best i will have it.

audio amateur
04-12-2009, 06:49 AM
I think that beyond a certain point what you're buying is not audio equipment so much as a status symbol. It is difficult to justify four or five figures for a piece of electronic equipment without dumping a good portion of that into non-functional embellisments, pointless over design or pure profit for the manufacturers and distributors.
That's for darn sure.

04-12-2009, 07:34 AM
Folks, thankyou most kindly for your comments.

E-Stat, that is a most intriguing description. Hmmm I guess I've auditioned several
brands, components of various price ranges in my time. However the sad part of it is
that the overall setup, the room, listening environment are all completely different.

It's a bit of a toss up though, at one hand, there's the concept of diminishing returns, how
much more do you get for the extra buck, $1000, $10000 ? However some can justify
that the extra money adds to the improvements that they need.

I really wish I could hear music through all of your setups everyone. I'd like to take in
the new perspectives.

What I do know is our hifi systems are more than just a hobby, or in our blood. It's a
constant project that with time, our plans to reach the ultimate listening environment
matures. We all find new music to test our systems, we learn of slowly new developing

Since the High Def market has taken off to new heights, what new formats are we going
to look forward to ? Can't get much more detail back than "lossless" formats. Perhaps
12.1, 13.1, eventually we would solve the problem by just living in a lighthouse, or
one day get that new 360.1 receiver and a HDBBDBBDBDBDVDVDVD (from Red vs Blue)

Well I waited 10 years to get myself a replacement amp, was well worth the wait.

It was just out of reach of my normal budget, but I felt it was worth stretching it a little
just for this. My ultimate goal of reaching audio heaven got that much closer.

Perhaps ignorance is bliss, to not really experience the best money can buy, or the
very high end stuff, will prevent one from throwing so much more money into the next
upgrade :P

04-12-2009, 10:36 AM
E-Stat, that is a most intriguing description. Hmmm I guess I've auditioned several brands, components of various price ranges in my time.
It is sad that most enthusiasts don't get the chance to hear that level of gear in a home environment. I've been spoiled by having known several reviewers over a long space of time where I've been exposed to a wide range of exotica that otherwise I most likely would never have been able to. It has always been a treat to be able to hear examples of that which can be achieved. :)


04-12-2009, 12:03 PM
Yes, it's unfortunate that most of us will never experience the majority of brands of
components. I must say I have been blessed experiencing some excellent setups.

When I was listening to some nice McIntosh mono blocks, McIntosh SACD/CD player,
and inserting a relatively so-so mp3 CD, the playback was absolutely incredible. Much
better than what I can play on CD at home. It's like taking away your hands off your
ears. It helps to work from the top-down, know what the best can output, work with
what you have, and work towards a budget to get somewhere in between.

In my area of Western Australia (I've said the following before), the exposure to the
number of brands is less than the USA or UK. However it doesn't mean I cannot get
some semi-decent system together.