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  1. #1
    Forum Regular elapsed's Avatar
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    What audio brands are you not attracted to?

    Or brands that you consider to be over-rated? Here I'll start.. B&W, McIntosh, NAD, Klipsch

    cheers,
    elapsed
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  2. #2
    Retro Modernist 02audionoob's Avatar
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    Any specific differences between perception and reality on these brands?

  3. #3
    Forum Regular elapsed's Avatar
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    Sure, for instance in McIntosh's case I can't work out what the fuss is all about. Absolutely gorgeous gear, but I find myself bored out of my mind listening to McIntosh speakers and separates

    cheers,
    elapsed
    Fidelity Acoustics RFM-2 speakers
    Naim CD5x cd player
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    Naim NAP 150x poweramp
    Naim FlatCap-2x power supply
    Naim Stageline N phono stage
    Naim NACA5 speaker cabling
    Naim Hi-Line interconnect
    Chord Crimson interconnects
    Rega Planar 3 turntable
    Goldring 1042 cartridge
    Squeezebox 3
    Oppo DV-983H dvd player
    Harmony 890 remote
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  4. #4
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Great minds think alike

    Quote Originally Posted by elapsed
    Or brands that you consider to be over-rated? Here I'll start.. B&W, McIntosh, NAD, Klipsch

    cheers,
    elapsed
    I agree on all these brands.

    There are hundreds of boutique brands of tube equipment (in particular) in which I'd have zero interest. And for some reason I can't see my self going for Manley, Cary, or Conrad Johnson. The CJ case is marginal, though; mainly I don't like the looks, (sorry Mr Peabody).

    On the speaker side, Audio Note comes to mind, (sorry RGA). Another weird brand I wouldn't consider is Coincident, (although they're Canadian). I wouldn't look at Axiom, (also Canadian ; apologies, my countryfolk). Once again there are main minor brands I wouldn't give any thought to, e.g. Eminent or VMPS though they do user ribbon drivers.

  5. #5
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    We have a dealer carrying NAD now and some of my recent experience has changed my mind where they are concerned. I used to not like them either but the recent gear I've heard has been good. I agree that it isn't going to appeal to everyone. They seem to have gone to a very dark sound. I have to admit that's probably why they interested me. I love gear that has that dark black velvet curtain behind the music. Some brands call themselves "more liquid" which I can only interpret from hearing said lines is that "liquid" tends to give the feeling of chilly and almost a glare in comparison.

    Klipsch and Bose would be some where at the top of my list of repulsive. A couple major brands I don't like are newer Audio Research and Classe'. I'm also not fond of the Primare CD player sound. And let's not forget Vandersteen, they'd be just under the other two speaker brands. I respect Rotel as a good product for the money but don't care for their sound. B&W I am in the middle with, I don't dislike them as the other speakers I've mentioned but they aren't my choice or type of sound either. I try to keep an open mind with B&W because most of the time I've heard them was with ARC, Classe' or Rotel. I can't help thinking maybe they sound better with other electronics I prefer.

    I have to admit the look of my amp is a bit odd but I have become a die hard fan of the CJ sound.

  6. #6
    Forum Regular elapsed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Peabody
    Klipsch and Bose would be some where at the top of my list of repulsive. A couple major brands I don't like are newer Audio Research and Classe'.
    I'll have to agree, Klipsh makes my ears bleed. So does Cerwin Vega. As for Classe, I've heard a B&W 800-Series with Classe system plenty of times, always found the system underwealming (though I'm sure many would counter that sentiment)

    Off-topic, but the same goes for me with Runco, possibly the most over-rated and over-priced HDTV's ever built (though I have nothing but positive things to say on their projector line)

    cheers,
    elapsed
    Fidelity Acoustics RFM-2 speakers
    Naim CD5x cd player
    Naim NAC 122x pre-amp
    Naim NAP 150x poweramp
    Naim FlatCap-2x power supply
    Naim Stageline N phono stage
    Naim NACA5 speaker cabling
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    Chord Crimson interconnects
    Rega Planar 3 turntable
    Goldring 1042 cartridge
    Squeezebox 3
    Oppo DV-983H dvd player
    Harmony 890 remote
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  7. #7
    Forum Regular audio amateur's Avatar
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    Nice thread!
    Someone mentionned Cerwin-Vega. Nasty! LOL
    That would probably be on the top of my list.
    Klipsch, JBL, Infinity... I have to say there aren't many that I utterly dislike. I can't think of that many at the moment

  8. #8
    Retro Modernist 02audionoob's Avatar
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    Cerwin Vega, JBL and Infinity seem to be mostly known for what is more or less mass-market equipment. They don't seem overrated to me...just economical. Now B&W...that one I'd like to hear more about. Are we talking all of their stuff or just certain levels of it?

  9. #9
    Ajani
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    OK, I'll play this game (though I should point out that brand bashing has a tendency to get nasty!!!)...

    Cerwin Vega, JBL, Infinity & Klipsch all sound fine for the money... Plus you should keep in mind that most people only hear these brands in best buy and with some ultra cheapo receiver... not on a good quality 2 channel rig...

    Anyway, I've generally found the following brands to be boring (not bad, just not interesting enough to make me want to spend money on them):

    Dynaudio
    Arcam
    Totem
    NAD
    PSB


    B&W sounds nice to me, but gives me serious listening fatigue after about half an hour...

    And the only truly, absolutely, 100% AWFUL sounding setup I've ever heard was:

    Magnepan MG12 with a McIntosh Integrated Amp & CD Player... I honestly, have to just believe that the system was not setup correctly or I wasn't anywhere near the sweet spot... It just sounded BAD... not bass deficient or with rolled off treble or anything like that... just muddy, strange and undefined...

  10. #10
    Forum Regular elapsed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ajani
    And the only truly, absolutely, 100% AWFUL sounding setup I've ever heard was:

    Magnepan MG12 with a McIntosh Integrated Amp & CD Player... I honestly, have to just believe that the system was not setup correctly or I wasn't anywhere near the sweet spot... It just sounded BAD... not bass deficient or with rolled off treble or anything like that... just muddy, strange and undefined...
    Ajani, please please give Maggies another chance, I wouldn't be at all surprised if they were given the wrong room and not setup correctly, they have every ability to shine

    cheers,
    elapsed
    Fidelity Acoustics RFM-2 speakers
    Naim CD5x cd player
    Naim NAC 122x pre-amp
    Naim NAP 150x poweramp
    Naim FlatCap-2x power supply
    Naim Stageline N phono stage
    Naim NACA5 speaker cabling
    Naim Hi-Line interconnect
    Chord Crimson interconnects
    Rega Planar 3 turntable
    Goldring 1042 cartridge
    Squeezebox 3
    Oppo DV-983H dvd player
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  11. #11
    Ajani
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    Quote Originally Posted by elapsed
    Ajani, please please give Maggies another chance, I wouldn't be at all surprised if they were given the wrong room and not setup correctly, they have every ability to shine

    cheers,
    elapsed
    Hopefully, one day I'll get to try out some Maggie 1.6s.... I find it strange that I had such a bad experience with the MG12s, considering how impressed I was some Final Sound 400i electrostats I heard... I always thought that Maggies and Stats should have a fairly similar sound...

  12. #12
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    Well I should only comment on brands I have had experience with...but I was in retail A/V at one time.

    For speakers I would have to say Klipsch, Polk, Paridigm, Bose & Jamo.

    Receivers, systems & separates....Pioneer, Kenwood, Classe, Bose.

    Did I mention Bose?

    Cheers,
    BT

  13. #13
    Retro Modernist 02audionoob's Avatar
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    How about some positives? Any comment on underrated equipment...especially speakers?

  14. #14
    Forum Regular elapsed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 02audionoob
    How about some positives? Any comment on underrated equipment...especially speakers?
    Tough question.. I'd say Totem loudspeakers are very underrated, but always put a huge smile on my face. The Totem Arro is no exception, surprisingly good bass and an astonishly big sound from such a small column.

    cheers,
    elapsed
    Fidelity Acoustics RFM-2 speakers
    Naim CD5x cd player
    Naim NAC 122x pre-amp
    Naim NAP 150x poweramp
    Naim FlatCap-2x power supply
    Naim Stageline N phono stage
    Naim NACA5 speaker cabling
    Naim Hi-Line interconnect
    Chord Crimson interconnects
    Rega Planar 3 turntable
    Goldring 1042 cartridge
    Squeezebox 3
    Oppo DV-983H dvd player
    Harmony 890 remote
    Quadraspire Q4 shelving
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  15. #15
    It's all about the music. Doc Sage's Avatar
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    I am of the opinion that reproduction equipments are to be totally transparent and should let all the music be experience without adding or substrating from it. That said, any equipment that leaves it's stamp on the music is to be avoided.

    Speakers are usually the most offending. JBL and the West Coast Sound proponents were always too bright. Most of these hyper efficient speakers are not respectful of the music, it's about making noise not music. They are hard on my ears after a short listening. You can add Klipsch to this group.

    With the New England sound, many speakers brands became much more enjoyable. Today we have Boston Speakers to thank for this and many Canadian are from the same thinking. Paradign, Energy, Axion are all wonderful speakers that are doing great sound waves at a lower price point. Totem is reaching up to a higher level, they get my nod.

    The Japanese electronic trade done great stuff at the lower budget end, who can fault a $300.- receiver that turn most of us to the joy of music. But in our quest to higher fidelity most have been by-past. A few I still look at for what they offer, Denon, Onkyo and Luxman comes to mind. NAD was responsable of showing what was missing at a certain price point but I do not know how well they are doing these days.

    Mckintosh is the fore father of all that is audiophile. With their attention to the various parts that makes up an amplifier, they showed us what can be done with repoduction music. I think of them as the Rolls Royce of our fetishes. They got all my respect but I turn to Ferrari for my thrills these days. Sorry.

    Someone above said that B&W and the likes left him unimpress. Why? Is it because colouration is not added to the music? Is it because he was not able to hear the intrinsic sound of these speakers? As I listen to David + David this morning, it the quality of David's voice, the sound of the electic guitars and the impact of the drum that I listen to, not the distortion added by my equipment. When I look at Picasso, I like to see the true colour shades used by the artist and not what I see through my rose colour glasses.

    Doc Sage

  16. #16
    Ajani
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doc Sage
    I am of the opinion that reproduction equipments are to be totally transparent and should let all the music be experience without adding or substrating from it. That said, any equipment that leaves it's stamp on the music is to be avoided.

    Speakers are usually the most offending. JBL and the West Coast Sound proponents were always too bright. Most of these hyper efficient speakers are not respectful of the music, it's about making noise not music. They are hard on my ears after a short listening. You can add Klipsch to this group.

    With the New England sound, many speakers brands became much more enjoyable. Today we have Boston Speakers to thank for this and many Canadian are from the same thinking. Paradign, Energy, Axion are all wonderful speakers that are doing great sound waves at a lower price point. Totem is reaching up to a higher level, they get my nod.

    The Japanese electronic trade done great stuff at the lower budget end, who can fault a $300.- receiver that turn most of us to the joy of music. But in our quest to higher fidelity most have been by-past. A few I still look at for what they offer, Denon, Onkyo and Luxman comes to mind. NAD was responsable of showing what was missing at a certain price point but I do not know how well they are doing these days.

    Mckintosh is the fore father of all that is audiophile. With their attention to the various parts that makes up an amplifier, they showed us what can be done with repoduction music. I think of them as the Rolls Royce of our fetishes. They got all my respect but I turn to Ferrari for my thrills these days. Sorry.

    Someone above said that B&W and the likes left him unimpress. Why? Is it because colouration is not added to the music? Is it because he was not able to hear the intrinsic sound of these speakers? As I listen to David + David this morning, it the quality of David's voice, the sound of the electic guitars and the impact of the drum that I listen to, not the distortion added by my equipment. When I look at Picasso, I like to see the true colour shades used by the artist and not what I see through my rose colour glasses.

    Doc Sage
    This extract from Benchmark (in a letter that comes standard with the DAC1) best expresses how I fee about neutrality and coloration:

    If you plan to use effects to achieve specific coloration with your music, that's just fine. As an artist with his palate, choose processing equipment, microphones, preamplifiers, instruments and recording locations that have the particular sounds that you wish to incorporate into your audio canvass. The two places where coloration is unwise, is with A-to-D and D-to-A converters. Without the cleanest recording and playback, you will never able to accurately judge and control how the final product sounds to the end user. You need total accuracy.
    For me, source needs to be as clean as possible... but if you want to tailor amplification (pre or power) & speakers to get a specific sound, that's OK... Why should the producer/band be the only artists in your HiFi? If you want to be one as well, then have fun with it!!!

  17. #17
    Sure, sure... Auricauricle's Avatar
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    Seems to me that the thrust of many of these denuciations comes from a deeper dicontent with hype and ubiquity. In a sense, you have to sympathize with manufacturers who find themselves at war with one another to become the premier brand. In turn, they produces innumerable units and models, filling every foresseable niche. Add to this the attendant "buzz" extolling the manufacturers' wares, and it gets pretty wearisome.

    While for lay people, all of this is failrly innocuous, we "audiophiles" become increasingly leery. This is especially true in regard to products appealing to the mainstream: that if a manufacturers going to spend a bunch of money in developing new models and marketing them, they better damn well deliver; otherwise, they're hacks. On the other hand, brands that are sold by their reputations, there is little need to be so aggressive (or innovative?). Knowing their products of the past to be sound, there is little expectation for those standards to improve. For the mainstream, this works out fine; for audiophiles in the know, the proof will always be in the pudding.

    As examples, I will point to Klipsch and Cary. Klipsch is a fairly respectable company, producing speakers that were well considered. Unfortunately, the pressures of demand and the attendant hype drove the quality of many of their products down. For the masses whose ears were not as sensitive as their discerning cousins, this did not matter much. Now the manufacturer of the well received Klipschorn, LaScala and Heresey produces many other speakers that sound much like their contemporaries.

    Cary is a brand that is widely seen as a manufacturer of excellent equipment, but--and this is an intuitive hunch based on what I have seen in ads and models I've noted for sale--not very innovative. Part of this, I reckon, rests upon the medium--how many variations of the tube amp can one come up with? So, while Cary's standards of workmanship have remained pretty high, many interested customers have snapped their products up. On the other hand, Cary's products have not shown much innovation, so, among audiophiles, they don't move with as much vigor as they might if their products were au courant.

    In sum, manufacturers face the dilemma of caving to mass consumer expectation and standards anticipated by the audiophile market. Both have valid and influential arguments to make, and companies who are canny enough to listen will survive. Whether or not they measure up is a different ball o' wax altogether.

  18. #18
    Ajani
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    Quote Originally Posted by Auricauricle
    Seems to me that the thrust of many of these denuciations comes from a deeper dicontent with hype and ubiquity. In a sense, you have to sympathize with manufacturers who find themselves at war with one another to become the premier brand. In turn, they produces innumerable units and models, filling every foresseable niche. Add to this the attendant "buzz" extolling the manufacturers' wares, and it gets pretty wearisome.

    While for lay people, all of this is failrly innocuous, we "audiophiles" become increasingly leery. This is especially true in regard to products appealing to the mainstream: that if a manufacturers going to spend a bunch of money in developing new models and marketing them, they better damn well deliver; otherwise, they're hacks. On the other hand, brands that are sold by their reputations, there is little need to be so aggressive (or innovative?). Knowing their products of the past to be sound, there is little expectation for those standards to improve. For the mainstream, this works out fine; for audiophiles in the know, the proof will always be in the pudding.

    As examples, I will point to Klipsch and Cary. Klipsch is a fairly respectable company, producing speakers that were well considered. Unfortunately, the pressures of demand and the attendant hype drove the quality of many of their products down. For the masses whose ears were not as sensitive as their discerning cousins, this did not matter much. Now the manufacturer of the well received Klipschorn, LaScala and Heresey produces many other speakers that sound much like their contemporaries.

    Cary is a brand that is widely seen as a manufacturer of excellent equipment, but--and this is an intuitive hunch based on what I have seen in ads and models I've noted for sale--not very innovative. Part of this, I reckon, rests upon the medium--how many variations of the tube amp can one come up with? So, while Cary's standards of workmanship have remained pretty high, many interested customers have snapped their products up. On the other hand, Cary's products have not shown much innovation, so, among audiophiles, they don't move with as much vigor as they might if their products were au courant.

    In sum, manufacturers face the dilemma of caving to mass consumer expectation and standards anticipated by the audiophile market. Both have valid and influential arguments to make, and companies who are canny enough to listen will survive. Whether or not they measure up is a different ball o' wax altogether.
    Frankly, I'm happy that non-audiophiles have an influence on the audio market.... otherwise all we'd have to choose from would be speakers the size of barnyard doors with matching aesthetic appeal, vinyl and tubes.... No portable music, CDs, music servers, efficient Class D amplification...

  19. #19
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    Maggies actually sound quite different from electrostats.

    Klipsch actually sounds better on cheap receivers. I had a pair hooked to a Krell integrated amp and when I turned up the volume the sound was horrible, the speakers distorted to the point the music was pretty much unrecognizeable.

  20. #20
    Sure, sure... Auricauricle's Avatar
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    AJ: I'm not sure if I buy you're argument. If I follow you, CD's, portable music etc. was driven by the "non-audiophile market". I'll think about this statement but will state immediately that these markets were driven by the availablility of transistors, which made it possible to "do more with less". Add to that research done in psychoaccoustics, the need for creating huge watt-hungry amps and speakers "the size of barnyard doors" was no longer dictated. You still make an interesting point, and I will ponder it some more....

    Your position is an intriguing one as well, Mr. P. I am not sure if I agree with it altogether, though. Years ago I had a pair of Heresies that I drove with a Yamaha M2 amp and C2a preamp. It was a very good sound, but fatiguing in the end, when I traded them in for tube gear. At the same time that I bought the Heresies, various friends bought other models of Klipsch speakers, including LaScalas, Cornwalls, Belles and Horns, each of which was driven by respectable amps etc. They sounded very impressive, albeit fatiguing. In retrospect, I am stuck with the burning question: Am I just smitten by the tubes, or were the speakers actually as fatiguing as I thought they were? In future, I will probably return to the tubes. When that happens, you'll know, and hopefully some of this mystery'll be cleared up....

  21. #21
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    Mr.P, I have to disagree on your definition of liquid sound. Liquid to me means a smooth sound, without glare or harshness.

    Brands that I dont care for include Paradigm (i think they are way over rated and too bright), Klipsch, JBL, CV, Pioneer, Sony, and I think that Rotel and Martin Logan speakers are just ok although I do like ML subs.

    I do like NAD, Mac's, NHT, ARC, B&W, CJ, Van Alstine, Marantz, PSB, Music Hall to name a few.
    Last edited by blackraven; 12-07-2008 at 07:55 PM.
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp,
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  22. #22
    Ajani
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    Quote Originally Posted by Auricauricle
    AJ: I'm not sure if I buy you're argument. If I follow you, CD's, portable music etc. was driven by the "non-audiophile market". I'll think about this statement but will state immediately that these markets were driven by the availablility of transistors, which made it possible to "do more with less". Add to that research done in psychoaccoustics, the need for creating huge watt-hungry amps and speakers "the size of barnyard doors" was no longer dictated. You still make an interesting point, and I will ponder it some more....
    I don't think that the non-audiophile market is the reason a lot of the research was launched... I believe the research was often launched with the intention of advancing overall sound quality... however, I believe the reason these products managed to get a foothold in the market and eventually dominate is because of non-audiophiles...

    Left up to many 'audiophiles', CDs would never have survived since the original CDs sounded really bad compared to vinyl... But I believe that acceptance by the mass market of CDs is what forced many audiophile brands to take the medium seriously and advance it to the point where it is today... Class D amps have been around for decades, but the desire for smaller, more efficient, lifestyle systems by the mass market has led to new interest by audiophile brands in Class D tech...

    I believe Music Servers were a mass market invention based on MP3s and iPods, but now so many major audiophile brands are taking serious interest in pushing the limits of that technology... Brands like Linn are now producing more music server products than CD players...

    So basically I think that many of the popular technologies would have been stillborn if not for their acceptance by non-audiophiles (who embraced the tech for reasons other than sound quality - such as convenience, portability and durability - things that were never priorities for audiophiles)...
    Last edited by Ajani; 12-07-2008 at 06:56 PM.

  23. #23
    Ajani
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    Quote Originally Posted by elapsed
    Tough question.. I'd say Totem loudspeakers are very underrated, but always put a huge smile on my face. The Totem Arro is no exception, surprisingly good bass and an astonishly big sound from such a small column.

    cheers,
    elapsed
    I don't think Totem speakers are underrated... they've received excellent reviews worldwide...

    Unfortunately for me, though I've heard Totems many times, they were always driven by Arcam gear... I'd love to hear a Naim/Totem combo though, since it's supposed to have good synergy...

    A question often asked about Totem though is:

    Is the bass really impressive or just impressive considering the size and lack of drivers on the speakers?

  24. #24
    Sure, sure... Auricauricle's Avatar
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    I think you're essentially you're right with this POV, AJ: that it was mass marketing strategy that drove the medium when CD's appeared. Nevertheless, I aver that many companies like Deutsche Grammophone, Telarc, Philips, Loiseau Lyre, Archiv and others were prepared for the technology and produced products that fully exploited its capability. This, of course, was not always the case, and many companies caught in the spell succumbed to catering to the desire to acquire discs, no matter haw bad the source. Do you remember the first pressings of Aqualung or Some of the early Virgin releases of Tangerine Dream (Stratosfear, e.g.)? They sounded pretty poor. In spite of these occasional missteps, I think most execs at the helms of the companies at the time knew the CD for its potential and, while "audiophile" taste certainly had its say, were poised and ready to deliver when the time came.

  25. #25
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    As we post our biases I think it's important to keep in mind that many of the brands listed have been through many transitions and we can't say they were always good nor can we count them out when they are struggling. A few mentioned would be Pioneer, NAD & Marantz. I had a negative view of NAD because my first encounter was during the period where some of their gear had a thin and not so appealing sound. As I stated recent auditions have changed my mind. For a lot of years, the 80's and 90's Pioneer were entry level at best in my eyes. They built up a rep in the 70's and from what I hear are now trying to put out some respectable gear. Although they may have gone too long as a Wal-mart, Best Buy cheap brand to bounce back, only time will tell. Marantz, my have they traveled, starting out as true high end in which some pieces as old as they are now bringing several time their original price, true legendary pieces; then at one point hitting bottom and nearly lost, to now where they have progressively been making a come back, the parent company sold and the story still moves on. I was careful when putting ARC on my list to say "recent" because I've heard some of their gear that I have liked, same with Classe'.

    All of this to say, I guess, we must keep an open mind, don't stereotype a brand based on it's name, and generally a line will have some pieces to stand out amongst the rest of it's family. With that being said, even that is a generalization, there will always be some brands I suppose that will stay on the bottom feeding but time goes on and we are watching.

    One other thing, some one asked for it, so throughout this thread it is, we all have a different taste, hence not many here have the same gear, except for those pesky Emotiva fanboys And even they mix it with different gear. So no sense in anyone getting their feathers ruffled.

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