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Ajani
04-03-2011, 06:25 PM
Let's assume you were building a 2 channel HiFi with a normal (middle class) audiophile budget, so essentially anywhere from $1,500 to $15,000 for the whole setup (source, amplification, speakers and cables), what compromises would you accept?

For example, sacrificing deep bass for more refined midrange and treble that a monitor would offer over a similarly priced tower... Or trading a flat frequency response for a more 'engaging' presentation... Or sacrificing the ability to crank up the volume for a more refined presentation at low volumes, etc...


More and more I'm starting to realize that I'm willing to compromise anything (in HiFi) as long as it is not obvious... So as long as the musical presentation is convincing as a whole... So ideally I'd like a system that while not the best in any specific area (dynamic range, detail, soundstage, etc...) doesn't appear weak in any area.... So unless you compare it directly against another product, you wouldn't really notice anything was missing... I think my preference has to do with what drove me in to audiophilia in the first place: hearing music on my walkman or mini-system and thinking that something sounds wrong - crank up the volume and the music gets harsh or strained, lack of clean deep bass, overly bright treble, veiled midrange, etc....

So back to the question: What compromises would you accept?

Dual-500
04-03-2011, 06:59 PM
I'm not sure if it's playing the game correctly but here goes:

I would say size and overall footprint of the gear - meaning larger enclosures. In other words all things equal, the larger enclosures tend to have some advantages at the cost of the overall footprint into the environment.

That's a trade-off I'm willing to make.

RGA
04-03-2011, 07:48 PM
Ajani

The problem is your budget is quite a large range. At $1500 you are forced into a whole lot of compromises that you are not forced into at $15000.

At $15,000 I can have an Audio Note AN E/Spe HE, Oto Phono SE, and a DAC 2.1 sig to go along with whatever CD player I currently have and some cables. That IMO is about as good a system as I have heard without feeling that there is a problem - it lies by omission IME so that you don't get the sense there is something lacking until you hear the next CD player or amp in direct comparison. (although at this price it would leave out the turntable rig).

At $1500 you would likely have to be in the solid state amplification range and smaller no bass standmounts. Although you could accept that and add a sub later.

And to me if it doesn't engage me I don't care what the measurements and graphs and THD numbers are - if it doesn't engage me then to me it's rubbish. The whole point of it is to be able to play all day every day at low medium and high levels and I am personally not a fan of sacrificing bass for better midrange.

Bass is critical and it needs to be "integrated and completely coherent" with the midrange and treble. The ideal is often said to be a single point in space - a single driver. But they usually don't have the bass or the dynamics and when they do they cost $10 grand+ which is a bit much for most of us.

The problem with sacrificing bass is that at some point you want more bass. And subs IME don't really sound that good with monitors for music replay. If you like it great - but I don't generally unless it's for home theater.

Big standmounts can have enough bass to satisfy for most music in reasonable sized room which then means you don't have to accept the weaknesses in ever three way+ design I've ever heard.

It also depends on the music you listen to with regards to the bass depth and type of bass you require. Most music may live in the midrange but bass lays an important foundation and without it the system tends to be very much lacking. I would take a B&W 600 series floorstander over a 700 or 800 series standmount. They have better tweeters but you pay a lot more and you lose the fuller scale presentation and "drive" and without that you've got nothing. Even if there is a bit of colouration and bit of a hot treble - it will be better on anything with a pulse. So unless the trade for the better treble is just so immense (and it's not in my example) then it's not worth spending more to better one area at the expense of 2-3 others.

Ajani
04-03-2011, 08:19 PM
I'm not sure if it's playing the game correctly but here goes:

I would say size and overall footprint of the gear - meaning larger enclosures. In other words all things equal, the larger enclosures tend to have some advantages at the cost of the overall footprint into the environment.

That's a trade-off I'm willing to make.

Ideally I was thinking of sonic compromises, but yes aesthetics (size and looks) are valid compromises as well... I have no issue with large components in my system, but I see no reason to have ugly ones... There are just too many products that both sound and look good, for me to accept an eyesore in my living room...

Ajani
04-03-2011, 08:30 PM
Ajani

The problem is your budget is quite a large range. At $1500 you are forced into a whole lot of compromises that you are not forced into at $15000.

At $15,000 I can have an Audio Note AN E/Spe HE, Oto Phono SE, and a DAC 2.1 sig to go along with whatever CD player I currently have and some cables. That IMO is about as good a system as I have heard without feeling that there is a problem - it lies by omission IME so that you don't get the sense there is something lacking until you hear the next CD player or amp in direct comparison. (although at this price it would leave out the turntable rig).

At $1500 you would likely have to be in the solid state amplification range and smaller no bass standmounts. Although you could accept that and add a sub later.

And to me if it doesn't engage me I don't care what the measurements and graphs and THD numbers are - if it doesn't engage me then to me it's rubbish. The whole point of it is to be able to play all day every day at low medium and high levels and I am personally not a fan of sacrificing bass for better midrange.

Bass is critical and it needs to be "integrated and completely coherent" with the midrange and treble. The ideal is often said to be a single point in space - a single driver. But they usually don't have the bass or the dynamics and when they do they cost $10 grand+ which is a bit much for most of us.

The problem with sacrificing bass is that at some point you want more bass. And subs IME don't really sound that good with monitors for music replay. If you like it great - but I don't generally unless it's for home theater.

Big standmounts can have enough bass to satisfy for most music in reasonable sized room which then means you don't have to accept the weaknesses in ever three way+ design I've ever heard.

It also depends on the music you listen to with regards to the bass depth and type of bass you require. Most music may live in the midrange but bass lays an important foundation and without it the system tends to be very much lacking. I would take a B&W 600 series floorstander over a 700 or 800 series standmount. They have better tweeters but you pay a lot more and you lose the fuller scale presentation and "drive" and without that you've got nothing. Even if there is a bit of colouration and bit of a hot treble - it will be better on anything with a pulse. So unless the trade for the better treble is just so immense (and it's not in my example) then it's not worth spending more to better one area at the expense of 2-3 others.

I pretty much agree with your views on this issue...

The budget is wide, mainly to allow an audiophile to pick their own price point... so if they find $1.5K too limiting then then they can choose anything up the $15K... But yes a lot more compromises need to be made at the bottom of the price range than at the top...

IMO, a system at $15K should have an excellent balance and no obvious sonic compromises (so only by comparison should you realize that better is available)... However I can think of many HiFi products that would be used in a $15K setup that have obvious compromises such as weak bass and overly bright treble....

As for flat frequency response; I won't accept a product that doesn't get my toes tapping, but has great measurements... But I also won't accept a product with really obvious peaks and valleys in the freq response, as those things would really annoy me in the long run.... (note: by obvious I mean that I can easily hear those deviations, rather than they appear on a graph but I don't notice them when I turn on the music)...

Feanor
04-04-2011, 04:16 AM
Let's assume you were building a 2 channel HiFi with a normal (middle class) audiophile budget, so essentially anywhere from $1,500 to $15,000 for the whole setup (source, amplification, speakers and cables), what compromises would you accept?
...
The type of music you listen to, how loud you listen to it, and the room that you listen in are the biggest factors, IMO.

If you listen to chamber music, (I'm guilty! :D ), and/or maybe jazz or vocals, bass doesn't need to be loud, nor macro dynamics all that impressive. Mid-range is paramount, but extended treble is also important for accurate instrument timbres.

For large scale choral and orchestral music and , (I'm guilty again), resolution is essential to separate voices and instruments from each other. Additionally one must add more macro- and micro-dynamics and loudness for crescendos, and deeper bass, to the chamber music attributes, above.

It's a totally different matter if you listen to Trance at disco levels, in which case loudness and punchy dynamics, (PRaT), are vital but extended highs might actually be disadvantageous, (unless you filter your music through the vinyl medium and/or mellow tubes). Really deep bass, (vs. loud bass), is unimportant.

... So you choose your equipment accordingly.

IMO, my current stereo system is well-selected in a $5-8 k range for the wide range of classical music that I mostly listen too in a mid-size rooms; see below for the details.

Hyfi
04-04-2011, 04:29 AM
I was a total bass head until living with my current system that I acquired from my neighbor for a while.

I have been able to sacrifice deep pounding bass for glorious midrange. I have a sub blended in but not over powering any.

I have also learned to appreciate using my Pre in Passive mode, sacrificing the gain but being able to produce nice sound at lower levels.

I still put the SS-Stratos and Dynaudios in play every once in a while but the Hybrid-Counterpoint and Clearfields are in play most of the time.

I have recently been thinking of what I will have to do when the time comes to give up my big house and downsize. I will go for small but detailed and lively more so than large and loud.

bobsticks
04-04-2011, 04:47 AM
I have recently been thinking of what I will have to do when the time comes to give up my big house and downsize. I will go for small but detailed and lively more so than large and loud.

I was thinking along these lines as well. Ultimately, PRaT, detail, and imagiung are more important than being able to squeeze out those last few SPLs before ears start to bleed, IMO...

noddin0ff
04-04-2011, 08:08 AM
I wish Florian were here... I could enjoy a real good flame war today.

Ajani
04-04-2011, 08:09 AM
The type of music you listen to, how loud you listen to it, and the room that you listen in are the biggest factors, IMO..

Agreed... 'Unfortunately' for me I listen to a very wide range of music so sacrificing bass or treble extension for a silky midrange would ruin many of my favourite recordings...

Also, while I don't listen at really loud levels; I do want a system capable of going comfortably beyond my normal listening volume. It doesn't need to be able to achieve frat party levels, but loud enough that I won't be wanting for volume range on even my softest recordings...

Luckily for me my room size isn't large, so 50 watts on an average sensitivity speaker (87db) would be able to produce headache inducing volumes...


If you listen to chamber music, (I'm guilty! :D ), and/or maybe jazz or vocals, bass doesn't need to be loud, nor macro dynamics all that impressive. Mid-range is paramount, but extended treble is also important for accurate instrument timbres.

For large scale choral and orchestral music and , (I'm guilty again), resolution is essential to separate voices and instruments from each other. Additionally one must add more macro- and micro-dynamics and loudness for crescendos, and deeper bass, to the chamber music attributes, above.

It's a totally different matter if you listen to Trance at disco levels, in which case loudness and punchy dynamics, (PRaT), are vital but extended highs might actually be disadvantageous, (unless you filter your music through the vinyl medium and/or mellow tubes). Really deep bass, (vs. loud bass), is unimportant.

... So you choose your equipment accordingly.

IMO, my current stereo system is well-selected in a $5-8 k range for the wide range of classical music that I mostly listen too in a mid-size rooms; see below for the details.

Yep... I think the compromises you make should be based on your own preferences.... It's why some persons will rave over a specific product and others will question the sanity of those persons...

SlumpBuster
04-04-2011, 01:05 PM
My current rig is comprised of sacrifices. It is a good middle of the road Jack of all trades, but master of none.

Im still about 3 or 4 years out from a dedicated two channel system again, but I still think about how I will approach it this time.

Id sacrifice digital playback and route money towards vinyl playback and (gasp!) tape playback. And that is not to say it would be a vintage system either (except tape decks). Vinyl and tape is what I listen to at home. If I spent a bunch on transport and DAC for CD it would go unused. Wifi iTouch or iPad is all the digital playback I need. Middle of the road DAC is all I need for that.

Id also sacrifice aesthetics on speakers. Id probably go the DIY route, which can result in some wonky looking speakers. And, anyone who has been around DIY long enough knows, youre not actually saving any money. But it's more fun and Im a decent woodworker.

Woochifer
04-04-2011, 06:16 PM
Well, I'm kind of the oddball in that the compromise that I will not accept is going back to a dedicated two-channel rig. I've accumulated enough essential multichannel SACDs and DVD-As that my main audio system will always be at least a 5.1 setup. There are simply aspects of audio reproduction that a great 5.1 mix can do that no two-channel setup can do, period, no matter how many investments or upgrades you make across the entire chain.

So, what compromises would I/have I gone with? Well, I've gone with standmounted speakers all the way. In my experience, it's a big budgetary jump to find a really good set of floorstanding speakers. It would be nice to have full range speakers all the way around, but that's where the budgetary compromise kicks in. And there are many advantages to going with a subwoofer, especially the added placement flexibility and equalization options.

With a budget of up to $15k (and believe me, that's NOT a "middle class" budget!), I would simply optimize around a set of outstanding standmount speakers, and invest in a processor with critical time alignment performance, particularly in the subwoofer channel (my current receiver does not have this available in the sub channel, while my SACD player does -- I can hear an audible improvement in the bass coherency after adjusting the time alignment).

Going further down the line with further budget reductions, I would drop the amplification a step and maybe even forego the dedicated processor and simply use a receiver to handle the processing/switching functions, while using an outboard amp.

Ajani
04-04-2011, 06:58 PM
Well, I'm kind of the oddball in that the compromise that I will not accept is going back to a dedicated two-channel rig. I've accumulated enough essential multichannel SACDs and DVD-As that my main audio system will always be at least a 5.1 setup. There are simply aspects of audio reproduction that a great 5.1 mix can do that no two-channel setup can do, period, no matter how many investments or upgrades you make across the entire chain.

So, what compromises would I/have I gone with? Well, I've gone with standmounted speakers all the way. In my experience, it's a big budgetary jump to find a really good set of floorstanding speakers. It would be nice to have full range speakers all the way around, but that's where the budgetary compromise kicks in. And there are many advantages to going with a subwoofer, especially the added placement flexibility and equalization options.

With a budget of up to $15k (and believe me, that's NOT a "middle class" budget!), I would simply optimize around a set of outstanding standmount speakers, and invest in a processor with critical time alignment performance, particularly in the subwoofer channel (my current receiver does not have this available in the sub channel, while my SACD player does -- I can hear an audible improvement in the bass coherency after adjusting the time alignment).

Going further down the line with further budget reductions, I would drop the amplification a step and maybe even forego the dedicated processor and simply use a receiver to handle the processing/switching functions, while using an outboard amp.

Interesting viewpoint... I tend to forget about Multi-Channel audio... I suppose if enough of the music I listen to was available in MC, I might be tempted to try it...

As for $15K not being middle class, I'd have to disagree... It is the top of the range and beyond what many (most) would want to spend, but it is possible without being rich... Keep in mind a few things (1) Not everyone has kids (and possibly a wife) to support, so that would free up a large chunk of spending money (2) Instead of driving a new Camry or Accord some persons are content with a really old Civic (3) You don't have to spend all $15K at once; most audiophiles build their systems over time - so you might start with an expensive pair of speakers and eventually get appropriate quality source and amplification to match... So yeah $15K is very expensive, but it is still possible with a middle class income...

LeRoy
04-04-2011, 07:01 PM
Let's assume you were building a 2 channel HiFi with a normal (middle class) audiophile budget, so essentially anywhere from $1,500 to $15,000 for the whole setup (source, amplification, speakers and cables), what compromises would you accept?

For example, sacrificing deep bass for more refined midrange and treble that a monitor would offer over a similarly priced tower... Or trading a flat frequency response for a more 'engaging' presentation... Or sacrificing the ability to crank up the volume for a more refined presentation at low volumes, etc...


More and more I'm starting to realize that I'm willing to compromise anything (in HiFi) as long as it is not obvious... So as long as the musical presentation is convincing as a whole... So ideally I'd like a system that while not the best in any specific area (dynamic range, detail, soundstage, etc...) doesn't appear weak in any area.... So unless you compare it directly against another product, you wouldn't really notice anything was missing... I think my preference has to do with what drove me in to audiophilia in the first place: hearing music on my walkman or mini-system and thinking that something sounds wrong - crank up the volume and the music gets harsh or strained, lack of clean deep bass, overly bright treble, veiled midrange, etc....

So back to the question: What compromises would you accept?

I've had the good fortune to be able get very familiar with the Naim Dac and other Naim equipment. I love the resolution and pace but I still prefer the Lektor tube CDP because of the texture and tonality and relaxed presentation the Lektor is able to provide.

I have a Rega Brio 3 integrated and while I don't have the Apollo CDP I've heard that combination and I love the synergy these 2 Rega products produce. Nope, the Rega is not as resolving as the Naim but my feet/toes sure get to tapping when listening to music from Nelly McKay in a Rega configuration. Toe tapping does not happen for me when I listen to Naim.

So, for me, musical sway/pace,texture, tonality is more important than absolute resolution. My Belles Soloist Amp & Pre, with the Stello DAC and Stello transport give me the sway, pace and tonality that I enjoy but of course I always think that config need more body or texture but I might have recently found the answer for that.

Ajani
04-04-2011, 07:10 PM
I've had the good fortune to be able get very familiar with the Naim Dac and other Naim equipment. I love the resolution and pace but I still prefer the Lektor tube CDP because of the texture and tonality and relaxed presentation the Lektor is able to provide.

I have a Rega Brio 3 integrated and while I don't have the Apollo CDP I've heard that combination and I love the synergy these 2 Rega products produce. Nope, the Rega is not as resolving as the Naim but my feet/toes sure get to tapping when listening to music from Nelly McKay in a Rega configuration. Toe tapping does not happen for me when I listen to Naim.

So, for me, musical sway/pace,texture, tonality is more important than absolute resolution. My Belles Soloist Amp & Pre, with the Stello DAC and Stello transport give me the sway, pace and tonality that I enjoy but of course I always think that config need more body or texture but I might have recently found the answer for that.

No toe tapping for Naim? Wow... That's the first I've ever heard that... I thought that was supposed to be the whole appeal of Naim... I also thought Naim and Rega are supposed to have great synergy...

LeRoy
04-04-2011, 07:43 PM
No toe tapping for Naim? Wow... That's the first I've ever heard that... I thought that was supposed to be the whole appeal of Naim... I also thought Naim and Rega are supposed to have great synergy...

Naim does have great pace, control, and resolution which I do in fact find quite appealing but no toe tapping for me with Naim gear. I don't think I've heard Rega/Naim paired together so I don't know how that combo presents to the listener. Yes, I agree Naim+Naim or Rega+ Rega are synergistic combinations.

tube fan
04-04-2011, 08:28 PM
For best value buy used. New equipment suggestions: integrated amp: AR VSi60, $4,000; phono: Fosgate, $2,500; Cartridge: Benz Micro, $700; turntable: VPI Classic, 2750. That leaves $5,000 for speakers. Many great buys on used speakers (and, in my experience, good speakers last many decades). New speakers: Audio Note J.

Ajani
04-05-2011, 09:42 AM
For best value buy used. New equipment suggestions: integrated amp: AR VSi60, $4,000; phono: Fosgate, $2,500; Cartridge: Benz Micro, $700; turntable: VPI Classic, 2750. That leaves $5,000 for speakers. Many great buys on used speakers (and, in my experience, good speakers last many decades). New speakers: Audio Note J.

So your compromise would be to buy used instead of new?

pixelthis
04-05-2011, 02:03 PM
My friend bought a HARMON KARDON receiver (stereo) open box, and hooked it up to a
pair of Axioms(M80'S).
hooked up a Yamaha changer and the whole thing sounded quite good.
You can get ridiculously good gear at cheap prices these days. My EMOTIVA
amp is on a par with much higher priced gear, sounds fantastic.
In other words, plan right and you don't have to compromise at all, no matter what the budget.:1:

pixelthis
04-05-2011, 02:20 PM
ITS THE OLD law of diminishing returns that I keep bringing up, not that much diff between
a 1500 dollar system and a 15,000 SYSTEM, and thats mostly tactile.
THE fancy cabinet, the speaker cabinet from an endangered species, etc.
If you can live without the frills, you can still get the "thrills".:1:

E-Stat
04-05-2011, 05:20 PM
Let's assume you were building a 2 channel HiFi with a normal (middle class) audiophile budget, so essentially anywhere from $1,500 to $15,000 for the whole setup (source, amplification, speakers and cables), what compromises would you accept?
Sins of omission such as frequency extremes and output capability. Get the midrange right first. No receivers.

rw

Poultrygeist
04-05-2011, 05:25 PM
I will always sacrifice the ability to play loud but the trade off must that I hear all of the spit in Miles' trumpet at low volume.

I hope the 2a3 amp I just ordered will give me that and then some.

JohnMichael
04-05-2011, 05:53 PM
I can easily sacrifice the lowest bass. Partly due to the difficulty of acheiving low bass in a smaller space. Of course there is greater expense to reach the lowest lows. I will also accept a smaller soundstage again due to room size.

02audionoob
04-05-2011, 06:33 PM
At the bottom of the stated budget range, I'd give up quite a bit...especially power and deep bass. I'd even tolerate some brightness or earthiness. I'd just try to get the midrange right, which is actually no small challenge on $1500. I'd definitely go with vintage gear with that budget.

I'd even venture to say the compromises would be evident in a decent $15,000 system, unless we're talking about getting everything for bargain prices on the used market. I'd still be willing to give up some power. I'd no longer tolerate brightness or roughness around the edges, though. Let's say I bought the following:

Audio Research VSi60 - $4,000
Rega Saturn - $2,500
Rega P5 with TTPSU and Exact cartridge - $2,500
PS Audio GCPH - $1,000
ProAc Response D2 speakers - $3,000

I've spent $13,000 at that point and I've still got only 50 watts of amplifier power. But I'm a happy camper.

jrhymeammo
04-05-2011, 06:39 PM
Ajani

The problem is your budget is quite a large range. At $1500 you are forced into a whole lot of compromises that you are not forced into at $15000.

At $15,000 I can have an Audio Note AN E/Spe HE, Oto Phono SE, and a DAC 2.1 sig to go along with whatever CD player.............



AN gear? That's too much of compromise for me... JK.
I have yet to experience first hand on how AN attracts some audiophiles so no further comments.

$15K is ALOT of money, but aint enough in my opinion when buying new. Compromise buying new gear, and get some kick ass used components.
Also, $15K isn't enough for room reconstruction. So compromise room aesthetics and get some ugly acoustical treatment panels and diffusors.

Ajani
04-06-2011, 09:06 AM
Sins of omission such as frequency extremes and output capability. Get the midrange right first. No receivers.

rw

I've always liked the terms "sins of omission" in audio... However, even then the omission can't be too obvious or it pulls me out of the experience...

I don't mind sacrificing frequency extremes as long as they are "extreme"... So while I'd love to have a flat response from 20hz to 20khz, I can accept not hitting that target as long as my Reggae still sounds good... However, if I cant hear the drums, then that omission of bass is too obvious... So no amount of sweet and gloriously detailed midrange will make up for missing the opening drum beat in 'Turn Your Lights Down Low'...

Woochifer
04-06-2011, 09:45 AM
IAs for $15K not being middle class, I'd have to disagree... It is the top of the range and beyond what many (most) would want to spend, but it is possible without being rich... Keep in mind a few things (1) Not everyone has kids (and possibly a wife) to support, so that would free up a large chunk of spending money (2) Instead of driving a new Camry or Accord some persons are content with a really old Civic (3) You don't have to spend all $15K at once; most audiophiles build their systems over time - so you might start with an expensive pair of speakers and eventually get appropriate quality source and amplification to match... So yeah $15K is very expensive, but it is still possible with a middle class income...

Yes, it's POSSIBLE within a middle class budget, but not realistic given how many other budgetary priorities most households have.

It doesn't sound to me like you have kids. Believe me, everything changed after my daughter was born.

Consider that the average American household spends less than $100 a year on audio products. That's the kind of perspective that self-proclaimed audiophiles need to weigh in their heads when they start attacking people who buy "midfi" or entry level audio products. Remember that the aggregate U.S. revenue from the ENTIRE home audio component market is only around $1 billion a year. That's about the same amount as 12 Walmart stores.

Compare this with the automobile market, where the household spending on automobile purchases averages around $4,000 a year.

Yes, it's possible to save up and juggle around the budget to fit a $15,000 audio system into the mix. But, with middle class incomes, the amount that goes to discretionary purchases is very narrow. In that context, I think calling a $15,000 audio budget "middle class" just doesn't fit within any realistic definitions of that term.

GMichael
04-06-2011, 09:55 AM
Budget aside, I would be willing to give up ear splitting volumes. I don’t listen to music loud anymore. I used to play my system(s) at max volumes all the time, but the last few years I’ve calmed down. I’d rather just here great sound at a lower level.

Ajani
04-06-2011, 10:30 AM
Yes, it's POSSIBLE within a middle class budget, but not realistic given how many other budgetary priorities most households have.

It doesn't sound to me like you have kids. Believe me, everything changed after my daughter was born.

Consider that the average American household spends less than $100 a year on audio products. That's the kind of perspective that self-proclaimed audiophiles need to weigh in their heads when they start attacking people who buy "midfi" or entry level audio products. Remember that the aggregate U.S. revenue from the ENTIRE home audio component market is only around $1 billion a year. That's about the same amount as 12 Walmart stores.

Compare this with the automobile market, where the household spending on automobile purchases averages around $4,000 a year.

Yes, it's possible to save up and juggle around the budget to fit a $15,000 audio system into the mix. But, with middle class incomes, the amount that goes to discretionary purchases is very narrow. In that context, I think calling a $15,000 audio budget "middle class" just doesn't fit within any realistic definitions of that term.

So not having kids makes someone outside a realistic middle class definition? $15K is probably only unrealistic if you have kids... Not all middle class persons do... So while it's still very expensive, it is still possible over a period of years... Just consider how much money you'd save from diapers straight up to college tuition (if you had no kids) and suddenly $15K ain't that big a deal with a middle class income...

BTW, I have no issue with mass market gear... No one should need to justify why they "only" spent $500 on a HTIB.... We all have different priorities (and expenses)...

Ajani
04-06-2011, 10:37 AM
Budget aside, I would be willing to give up ear splitting volumes. I dont listen to music loud anymore. I used to play my system(s) at max volumes all the time, but the last few years Ive calmed down. Id rather just here great sound at a lower level.

As long as it has enough volume to fill a small to medium sized room with sound, then I'm happy.... I'll leave the frat party volumes to my students....

While my last 2 amps were both beasts Rotel RB-1080 (200 Watts - measured almost 300 though) and Emotiva XPA-2 (300 Watts), my next amp will likely be max 50 watts... I'm unlikely to get speakers with lower than 84db sensitivity and my room isn't likely to be big enough to warrant more power...

JohnMichael
04-06-2011, 10:56 AM
Now that I have power I would not compromise. I love the dynamics and ultimate volume of the Krell driving the RS6's. The MoFi OML compresses much earlier than the RS6's. I do enjoy listening to some music loudly and now without distortion.

Hyfi
04-06-2011, 11:19 AM
So not having kids makes someone outside a realistic middle class definition? $15K is probably only unrealistic if you have kids... Not all middle class persons do... So while it's still very expensive, it is still possible over a period of years... Just consider how much money you'd save from diapers straight up to college tuition (if you had no kids) and suddenly $15K ain't that big a deal with a middle class income...

BTW, I have no issue with mass market gear... No one should need to justify why they "only" spent $500 on a HTIB.... We all have different priorities (and expenses)...

I have no kids but dropping 15K on anything is out of the question since I plan to be able to afford to retire someday. However, if you use the original list prices of the gear I have now, I am well over the 15K mark.

Clearfield speakers were $4500 new, Conterpoint NPS400 was $4500 new, VAC CLA pre was $5200 new, the Synergistic cables that came with it totaled close to $2000. I paid $300 for it all and another $300 to get the Pre and amp tubed and working.

That list above does not include my HT receiver, CDP, DVD, Blu, Dynaudio 82s and 42s, my center and sub and all the other cabling.

GMichael
04-06-2011, 11:41 AM
Does the number for the budget really matter? I think that the idea was just if you are working within a budget what compromised would you accept? Different people will have different budgets, same as different people define compromise differently.
Some think that their HTiB is the best you can buy. Others wouldn't consider any receiver or MC system as not worth it's weight in spit.

Ajani
04-06-2011, 01:01 PM
Does the number for the budget really matter? I think that the idea was just if you are working within a budget what compromised would you accept?

Yes, that has always been the point... but it seems some persons seriously object to me including $15K at the top of a middle class budget...


Different people will have different budgets, same as different people define compromise differently.
Some think that their HTiB is the best you can buy. Others wouldn't consider any receiver or MC system as not worth it's weight in spit.

Also my point.... Just because someone would never consider spending $15K on a system (for whatever reasons) doesn't mean that someone else would have to be rich to spend $15K...

It's like assuming that because someone wears a Rolex or drives a BMW that he must be rich... I know persons who live in apartments that I wouldn't want to spend 5 minutes in, let alone live in, yet they own a very nice car.... It's a matter of priorities....

GMichael
04-06-2011, 01:17 PM
Well, at least it stirred up a debate. That's very welcome around here these days.

Ajani
04-06-2011, 01:30 PM
Well, at least it stirred up a debate. That's very welcome around here these days.

Yeah. I certainly enjoy having a debate on this site... It has been fairly quiet lately....

Sir Terrence the Terrible
04-06-2011, 01:39 PM
Well, I'm kind of the oddball in that the compromise that I will not accept is going back to a dedicated two-channel rig. I've accumulated enough essential multichannel SACDs and DVD-As that my main audio system will always be at least a 5.1 setup. There are simply aspects of audio reproduction that a great 5.1 mix can do that no two-channel setup can do, period, no matter how many investments or upgrades you make across the entire chain.

So, what compromises would I/have I gone with? Well, I've gone with standmounted speakers all the way. In my experience, it's a big budgetary jump to find a really good set of floorstanding speakers. It would be nice to have full range speakers all the way around, but that's where the budgetary compromise kicks in. And there are many advantages to going with a subwoofer, especially the added placement flexibility and equalization options.

With a budget of up to $15k (and believe me, that's NOT a "middle class" budget!), I would simply optimize around a set of outstanding standmount speakers, and invest in a processor with critical time alignment performance, particularly in the subwoofer channel (my current receiver does not have this available in the sub channel, while my SACD player does -- I can hear an audible improvement in the bass coherency after adjusting the time alignment).

Going further down the line with further budget reductions, I would drop the amplification a step and maybe even forego the dedicated processor and simply use a receiver to handle the processing/switching functions, while using an outboard amp.

I with you Wooch, I would never go back to a two channel system. I like the ability of playing ALL formats, whether they are two channel, or 7.1.

GMichael
04-06-2011, 01:42 PM
I with you Wooch, I would never go back to a two channel system. I like the ability of playing ALL formats, whether they are two channel, or 7.1.
Some would see that as a compromise of its own. Personally, I'll take that kind of compromise and rejoce in it.

Sir Terrence the Terrible
04-06-2011, 01:50 PM
Some would see that as a compromise of its own. Personally, I'll take that kind of compromise and rejoce in it.

I hate to say this(well maybe I don't), but I don't care what another person see's as a compromise. It is my money, my system, and my choice in the end, so their opinion does not count. Now if they want to pay for it....that changes everything!

Sir Terrence the Terrible
04-06-2011, 01:52 PM
Well, at least it stirred up a debate. That's very welcome around here these days.

Well, based on what I have seen, debates are certainly NOT welcomed here.

GMichael
04-06-2011, 01:53 PM
I hate to say this(well maybe I don't), but I don't care what another person see's as a compromise. It is my money, my system, and my choice in the end, so their opinion does not count. Now if they want to pay for it....that changes everything!
You and I both know that you enjoyed saying that.:ihih:

I only brought it up because it's what this thread is about, and some people do feel that way. I'd rather have the all around system, including my 106" HDTV.

Ajani
04-06-2011, 02:04 PM
ITS THE OLD law of diminishing returns that I keep bringing up, not that much diff between
a 1500 dollar system and a 15,000 SYSTEM, and thats mostly tactile.
THE fancy cabinet, the speaker cabinet from an endangered species, etc.
If you can live without the frills, you can still get the "thrills".:1:

Just my 2 cents; but I think that the difference between a $1.5K and $15K setup would depend more on the listener.... The distortion test E-Stat linked to sometime ago, best illustrates that point... Essentially a more trained listener (I don't mean someone who just enjoys listening to a lot of music - I mean someone who spends time picking the sound apart in HiFi terms) would better be able to determine the difference.... Someone who just loves listening to music, might hardly even notice a difference...

The first time I took Stat's test I got a decent score, with a few more tries I was better able to identify distortion... I believe that if I spent a lot of time practicing I could probably do fairly well... So while I might not hear that much difference between a $5K and $15K setup, someone else might be able to write an essay on the differences...

However, with all that in mind, the question I ask myself is whether it makes sense to train myself to hear that difference... Why train myself to be dissatisfied with what I have or can afford?

bobsticks
04-06-2011, 02:19 PM
Does the number for the budget really matter?

The number of the budget doesn't matter but the numerical determination of what equals middle class sure as hell does. If the Fed keeps printing up funny money with reckless abandon we'll all be poverty-stricken.

Lower-middle class needs to start around $100k. There's no way I can be expected to keep up this steady diet of Picanha and Ravenswood Old Hill Ranch and possibly drop $15k on a system.

Ajani
04-06-2011, 02:42 PM
The number of the budget doesn't matter but the numerical determination of what equals middle class sure as hell does. If the Fed keeps printing up funny money with reckless abandon we'll all be poverty-stricken.

Lower-middle class needs to start around $100k. There's no way I can be expected to keep up this steady diet of Picanha and Ravenswood Old Hill Ranch and possibly drop $15k on a system.

So maybe you should drop the Picanha and Ravenswood Old Hill Ranch from your diet... That would free up some cash for the HiFi... :)

EDIT: Forget that... Drop the stereo... I just looked up what Picanha is and it looks so delicious that tears are coming to my eyes.... Who needs a stereo when you can have that?

bobsticks
04-06-2011, 02:50 PM
A guy's gotta have the basic necessities...:D

E-Stat
04-06-2011, 05:33 PM
However, with all that in mind, the question I ask myself is whether it makes sense to train myself to hear that difference... Why train myself to be dissatisfied with what I have or can afford?
I approach the question differently. For me, hearing better systems than mine does not diminish the enjoyment I get from my own. The experience of hearing spectacular ones, like that of live unamplifiied concerts just becomes all the more special. My glass is never empty. :)

rw

tube fan
04-06-2011, 07:31 PM
I have never made compromises in audio judged by playback volume or frequency response. Without true deep bass, you just lose too much that drives all types of music, classic, jazz, or pop. At the $15,000 price point, you can get it all. My current system (Fulton J speakers, flat from 20 to 30,000, cost $2500 new; AR SP 8 and AR D70 cost $4,000; VPI Scoutmaster $2500; Benz Ruby 3 $3,000; Fosgate Phono $2500) If you buy used, you can get a great audio system for $8,000.

Feanor
04-07-2011, 02:41 AM
...
EDIT: Forget that... Drop the stereo... I just looked up what Picanha is and it looks so delicious that tears are coming to my eyes.... Who needs a stereo when you can have that?
Just another trans fat-laden steak. :prrr:

GMichael
04-07-2011, 04:53 AM
The number of the budget doesn't matter but the numerical determination of what equals middle class sure as hell does. If the Fed keeps printing up funny money with reckless abandon we'll all be poverty-stricken.

Lower-middle class needs to start around $100k. There's no way I can be expected to keep up this steady diet of Picanha and Ravenswood Old Hill Ranch and possibly drop $15k on a system.

I must be in the lower lower middle class. :nonod:

Feanor
04-07-2011, 05:09 AM
I must be in the lower lower middle class. :nonod:
Me too, GM. But I'm willing to accept donations to bring me up to the lower-middle standard, (from 'Sticks or whoever). :17:

bobsticks
04-07-2011, 06:27 AM
I must be in the lower lower middle class. :nonod:

Well, clearly there's a level of self-satire going on but, seriously, when $22, 350 per annum for a family of four is considered the poverty line I think it skews any conversation as to what "middle class" might be.


Just another trans fat-laden steak.

Why Bill Bailey, I've never seen you jealous before. Don't be hatin' on my carnivorous instincts...don't hate me because I'm beautiful...:D

Sir Terrence the Terrible
04-07-2011, 09:53 AM
Well, clearly there's a level of self-satire going on but, seriously, when $22, 350 per annum for a family of four is considered the poverty line I think it skews any conversation as to what "middle class" might be.



Why Bill Bailey, I've never seen you jealous before. Don't be hatin' on my carnivorous instincts...don't hate me because I'm beautiful...:D

Alright then beautiful....LOLOLOLOLOL...hehehehehehe

bobsticks
04-07-2011, 10:39 AM
Alright then beautiful....LOLOLOLOLOL...hehehehehehe

Leave it alone baldy...


...or at the next AR block party the only chicas you'll be leaving with will have a rump like "Precious", eyes like a moldy branmuffin and a voice like Fran Drescher with a megaphone...:dita:

atomicAdam
04-07-2011, 10:52 AM
It hard to take a compromise when you know what great audio should sound like but here is my stab at this.

If these are the ideals -

Detail
Staging
Dynamics
Balance

I'll take -

Detail and good staging with midrange dynamics.

I'm willing to overlook absolute top to bottom balance since I can survive w/o super low bass and a bit of coloration is ok as long as it sounds good to me. But a liquid midrange and top end is a must as well as good mid range dynamics - since that is where I think the life of the music is. Staging just has to be solid - as in no holes on either side of the speakers - but instrument separation doesn't have to be amazing.

GMichael
04-07-2011, 11:08 AM
It hard to take a compromise when you know what great audio should sound like but here is my stab at this.

If these are the ideals -

Detail
Staging
Dynamics
Balance

I'll take -

Detail and good staging with midrange dynamics.

I'm willing to overlook absolute top to bottom balance since I can survive w/o super low bass and a bit of coloration is ok as long as it sounds good to me. But a liquid midrange and top end is a must as well as good mid range dynamics - since that is where I think the life of the music is. Staging just has to be solid - as in no holes on either side of the speakers - but instrument separation doesn't have to be amazing.

Why did his part remind me of, It was Colonel Mustard in the library with the lead pipe?

atomicAdam
04-07-2011, 11:41 AM
http://www.imfdb.org/w/images/thumb/3/3f/Clue-rev7.jpg/600px-Clue-rev7.jpg

You might have weird childhood board game issues?

Sir Terrence the Terrible
04-07-2011, 01:09 PM
Leave it alone baldy...


...or at the next AR block party the only chicas you'll be leaving with will have a rump like "Precious", eyes like a moldy branmuffin and a voice like Fran Drescher with a megaphone...:dita:

Bwaaaaaahahahahahahahah....LOLOLOLOLOL. Masterful comeback my eloquent friend. Now if I could just get the vision of this outta my head........

tube fan
04-07-2011, 06:00 PM
Why give up low end if you don't have to? For $15,000, you can get it all. Rock without low bass? Jazz without low bass? Classical without low bass?

SlumpBuster
04-07-2011, 07:02 PM
Miami bass without bass?

atomicAdam
04-08-2011, 08:15 AM
Why give up low end if you don't have to? For $15,000, you can get it all. Rock without low bass? Jazz without low bass? Classical without low bass?

Well - sometimes you live in an apt building and don't want to get kicked out. For $15,000 you really shouldn't have compromising issues. In fact - I could put together a $15k system right now that would effectively be perfect for me.

Zu Omen Def - $3100
Melody AN211 - $5695
Rega P3/24 w/ wire upgrade - $1700
Sumiko Blackbird - $1000
$1000 phono amp
2 WyWires IC or Supra Sword ICs - $2000
WyWire Speaker cable or Supra Speaker Cable - $1000
$500 for a power cable or two.

$15000 vinyl set up.

I personally could live for a long time very happily with this set up.

Ajani
04-08-2011, 09:06 AM
Well - sometimes you live in an apt building and don't want to get kicked out. For $15,000 you really shouldn't have compromising issues. In fact - I could put together a $15k system right now that would effectively be perfect for me.

Zu Omen Def - $3100
Melody AN211 - $5695
Rega P3/24 w/ wire upgrade - $1700
Sumiko Blackbird - $1000
$1000 phono amp
2 WyWires IC or Supra Sword ICs - $2000
WyWire Speaker cable or Supra Speaker Cable - $1000
$500 for a power cable or two.

$15000 vinyl set up.

I personally could live for a long time very happily with this set up.

I would rephrase that line to say that for $15K there should be no 'obvious' compromises. I would expect that as good as the system you suggested sounds, that it still isn't quite as good as the best systems you've heard (presumable for a lot more money)...

JohnMichael
04-08-2011, 09:09 AM
How are we defining low bass? What frequency and -db range are we considering. I am down to about 40Hz in my room. I wonder how many of us have rooms that would support a 20Hz tone without digital frequency adjustments and some room treatments. I am satisfied without the first octave of bass equal to the midrange.

Feanor
04-08-2011, 10:14 AM
How are we defining low bass? What frequency and -db range are we considering. I am down to about 40Hz in my room. I wonder how many of us have rooms that would support a 20Hz tone without digital frequency adjustments and some room treatments. I am satisfied without the first octave of bass equal to the midrange.
I think that's right, JM. Low bass to me too is below 40 Hz, i.e. the lowest octave of audible sound. In principle you'd need a room 28 feet in at least one dimension to reproduce 20 Hz. Lots of people have that, though.

My Magneplanar MG 1.6 are good to 45 Hz at least, but I do find my subwoofer helps a lot especially to get the bass that goes with those orchestral crescendos.

Feanor
04-08-2011, 10:38 AM
Well - sometimes you live in an apt building and don't want to get kicked out. For $15,000 you really shouldn't have compromising issues. In fact - I could put together a $15k system right now that would effectively be perfect for me.

Zu Omen Def - $3100
Melody AN211 - $5695
Rega P3/24 w/ wire upgrade - $1700
Sumiko Blackbird - $1000
$1000 phono amp
2 WyWires IC or Supra Sword ICs - $2000
WyWire Speaker cable or Supra Speaker Cable - $1000
$500 for a power cable or two.

$15000 vinyl set up.

I personally could live for a long time very happily with this set up.
Ah ha! Finally: How to spend $15k!

Nice choices, aA, given you taste and predilections. (Maybe a little too much on cables and ICs.)

Personally my stereo system would look more like this:

Magneplanar MG 3.7 speakers = $5500
Rythmik F12SE subwoofer = $950
NAD Master M2 Direct Digital Amplifier = $6000
Blue Jeans Cable interconnects & speaker cables = $300
Low-noise Win7 computer with plenty of disk storage and S/PDIF output = $600.
NAD Master M5 SACD player = $1800The SACD player is optional. Not having to worry about vinyl playback saves me a lot of money, of course.

atomicAdam
04-08-2011, 11:18 AM
Magneplanar MG 3.7 speakers = $5500


I agree with you on these. If I wanted to go the high powered solid state route I'd take the 3.7 very quickly.

tube fan
04-08-2011, 12:25 PM
Ah ha! Finally: How to spend $15k!

Nice choices, aA, given you taste and predilections. (Maybe a little too much on cables and ICs.)

Personally my stereo system would look more like this:

Magneplanar MG 3.7 speakers = $5500
Rythmik F12SE subwoofer = $950
NAD Master M2 Direct Digital Amplifier = $6000
Blue Jeans Cable interconnects & speaker cables = $300
Low-noise Win7 computer with plenty of disk storage and S/PDIF output = $600.
NAD Master M5 SACD player = $1800The SACD player is optional. Not having to worry about vinyl playback saves me a lot of money, of course.

As I consider vinyl and analogue to be far superior to digital, living without analogue is something that I would not even begin to think of.

SlumpBuster
04-08-2011, 12:36 PM
In principle you'd need a room 28 feet in at least one dimension to reproduce 20 Hz.

Not just "in principle," in actual practice too. I moved my sub to another room entirely with cross over at 50hz. It made a huge difference in low frequency impact.

And surprisingly, I don't think subs are really an area that requires too much compromise. A couple years ago I went looking for subs with $3500 in my pocket. Ended up with the Dayton Titanic for $650ish and I'm still pleased as punch. Now my mains... I've been feeling some upgraditis stirring.

JohnMichael
04-08-2011, 12:51 PM
As I consider vinyl and analogue to be far superior to digital, living without analogue is something that I would not even begin to think of.


Good point as I will always want and need a turntable.

Feanor
04-08-2011, 04:54 PM
As I consider vinyl and analogue to be far superior to digital, living without analogue is something that I would not even begin to think of.
I don't find digital all that bad, but the main reason I'm not interested in vinyl is that there is almost nothing on LP in the way of the classical music that I mostly listen to.

E-Stat
04-09-2011, 07:27 AM
I agree with you on these. If I wanted to go the high powered solid state route I'd take the 3.7 very quickly.
Or, high powered tube route. I heard HP's 3.7s driven by Mac 2301s. It was phenomenally transparent, but had an $80k analog / digital system driving them.

rw

pixelthis
04-09-2011, 08:02 AM
How are we defining low bass? What frequency and -db range are we considering. I am down to about 40Hz in my room. I wonder how many of us have rooms that would support a 20Hz tone without digital frequency adjustments and some room treatments. I am satisfied without the first octave of bass equal to the midrange.

20hz.
When my sub had its original 600w plate amp it could do it. Don't know if it will
now with the "interim" 130w I have hanging back there.
I DO have to admit TALKY was right. With today's speaker design you need a decent sub.
CAN'T do it anymore with a pair of bookshelves like when I started.
MOST designers take the "sub-sat" model as a given. Either that or floor standers.
But even most floorstanders can benefit from a decent sub.:1:

bobsticks
04-09-2011, 08:52 AM
What fullrange bookshelves were you using Pix?

Feanor
04-09-2011, 10:43 AM
I agree with you on these. If I wanted to go the high powered solid state route I'd take the 3.7 very quickly.
Well, 60 wpc might do and you can get the from tubes well within a $15k budget. Personally I'd like to here my 1.6's driven by a pair of Triode Electronics modernized Dynaco Mark III's ... see here (http://store.triodestore.com/trmk3tuampki.html). If you needed more power you could passively bi-amp with two pairs of these, or one pair and a kickin' class D amp for the bass.

http://ep.yimg.com/ca/I/triodeel_2150_85949283

Sir Terrence the Terrible
04-12-2011, 08:02 AM
I think that's right, JM. Low bass to me too is below 40 Hz, i.e. the lowest octave of audible sound. In principle you'd need a room 28 feet in at least one dimension to reproduce 20 Hz. Lots of people have that, though.

This is not correct or subs in cars would not be able to produce anything below 120hz or so. We know that is not true. In a 12x15x10' room, I am able to get a clean 19hz with my H-PAS sub


My Magneplanar MG 1.6 are good to 45 Hz at least, but I do find my subwoofer helps a lot especially to get the bass that goes with those orchestral crescendos.

Feanor, Orchestra crescendo's come from you main speakers, not your subs. Are you referring to bass drum and organ pedal parts? That is where your subwoofer comes in.

Hyfi
04-12-2011, 08:15 AM
What fullrange bookshelves were you using Pix?

I used to have a pair of these that had great bass.

http://www.infinity-classics.de/infinity/models/Reference-series-1978-klein/RS-b/RS_b_2_1.jpg

Feanor
04-12-2011, 08:40 AM
This is not correct or subs in cars would not be able to produce anything below 120hz or so. We know that is not true. In a 12x15x10' room, I am able to get a clean 19hz with my H-PAS sub
.
I stand corrected, Sir T, although I've heard the assertion made many times.



...
Feanor, Orchestra crescendo's come from you main speakers, not your subs. Are you referring to bass drum and organ pedal parts? That is where your subwoofer comes in.
Yes, I suppose. But perhaps I was really thinking of my Magneplanar MMG days when I had the high- and low-pass filters set much high, i.e. at 80 Hz, in which case the sub certainly did make a big difference for crescendos and loud bass in general.

JoeE SP9
04-12-2011, 11:23 AM
My esl's are crossed over at 80Hz. I get away with this because I've got two subs. Each is quite close to a speaker.

Sir Terrence the Terrible
04-12-2011, 01:52 PM
I stand corrected, Sir T, although I've heard the assertion made many times.



Yes, I suppose. But perhaps I was really thinking of my Magneplanar MMG days when I had the high- and low-pass filters set much high, i.e. at 80 Hz, in which case the sub certainly did make a big difference for crescendos and loud bass in general.

Gotcha!

Dual-500
04-12-2011, 02:56 PM
I stand corrected, Sir T, although I've heard the assertion made many times......
It's not about being corrected.

16hz can be reproduced in a thimble - yet, larger rooms are in general terms better suited for LF reproduction. :)

Sir Terrence the Terrible
04-13-2011, 08:53 AM
It's not abut being corrected.

16hz can be reproduced in a thimble - larger rooms are in general terms better suited for LF reproduction. :)

The larger the room, the lower the resonant points of the room are. That is why movie theaters and concert halls don't need bass traps - their resonant points are below most instruments bass reproduction frequencies, and for theaters its lower than the lower limit of the subs themselves.