Thread: The Audiophile Thread

  1. #1576
    Parrots ripped my flesh Dave (in MA)'s Avatar
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    A while back my brother sent me the link to the Binaural clip in the Headphone section. It really sounded like someone was in the room knocking on wood.

  2. #1577
    Member rcarlberg's Avatar
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    I know, it's astonishing isn't it? I had to take off my headphones to check.

    When I played it over my speakers, my dog alerted and started barking like crazy.

  3. #1578
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    Hey all, I'm late to this party and did not read all 40 full pages, but would like to add my thoughts and personal experiences in no particular order. I know most has been covered by both sides and camps, but I always enjoy civil conversations on this subject.

    Background - From the time I was about 5 years old, I watched my oldest brother building HeathKits, Dynaco Kits, and Hafler Kits on the kitchen table. They were all then run thru the paces using various sets of AR speakers. My brother also consulted for David Hafler and helped him refine some circuits while his company was in Pensauken NJ in the 60s. So I was introduced to better than Mass Market Sound at an early age.

    My first system was a TOL Heathkit, but with my first income tax check at 17y/o, I bought Onkyo gear and Infinity speakers for a decent start. My systems have changed and grown over the years and I now have 5 separate systems around the house ranging from under $1K to my main rig that retailed for over $20K when it was new. (not what I paid for it)

    Over the years, I visited every B&M store in my area, which Soundex was the king. 22 dedicated rooms, one floor all HT and the other all 2 channel setups. Room #1 had all the latest and greatest gear so I got to hear all the Krell, CJ, BAT, Oracle, B&K, Focal Grand Utopias, Wilson Grand Slams, Dunlavey, ProAc, B&W, Dynaudio and more. My favorite setup was always the Dynaudio Consequence Speakers with full Arbiter Electronics....close to $100K at the time.

    In my experience, Rooms are a really big factor in overall sound.
    Detail, tone, pace, timbre, and true to life sounding instruments are more important than how loud, how deep the bass is (which is usually boomy and not detailed and distinct)
    Cables can change the sound, whether good-bad-or just different. I have tamed a bright sounding setup with ICs touted to be more bassy. Groneburg ICs I bought when I purchased my Odyssey Stratos+ amp.
    There is more importance with the Pre Amp overall than the amplifier itself, although Tubes vs SS, topologies, wattages and distortion factors do play in. Case in point, I recently dropped my old $600 Hafler 9180 Amp into my main rig with a $5400 Pre Amp and was pleasantly surprised with the output. That amp never sounded like that when coupled with it's mating 945 Pre-Tuner or a Sound Valves 101i Tube Pre. I can't say enough good things about my early 90s dual mono all tube VAC pre. That all said, of course the Hafler amp did not sound as detailed or refined and the normal Counterpoint NPS-400, but most would not have believed that this combo put out the sound it did.
    Speakers are as important or more and is where to start. Find the speakers with the type of sound you like, then increase the electronics to get the highest potential out of them. It is also very surprising just how good $700 speakers of good quality sound when coupled with higher end electronics. Examples are a pair of Dynaudio Audience 42s, or an even older pair of JM Labs Tantal 509s in my main VAC-Counterpoint rig. Of course they don't compare to the Clearfield Continentals usually in play, but very surprising how much quality sound you can get from less expensive speakers with decent electronics.
    CD Players, Transports-Dacs can also change your sound

    Not all Audiophiles are worried about how big or expensive there system is, but more that they can afford to get that last 5% of nirvana they seek. Price vs performance can never be accurately calculated because an amp costing $50K does not perform 50 times better than a $1K amp.

    There is a lot of affordable HE gear that performs well above it's price point and some that isn't worth the extra money.

    All that said, I am in early stages of prepping to sell off all my gear and purchase one killer setup for my retirement years. I have started auditioning what I can in my local area. What I have found so far is that I would really need to spend well beyond my budgeted $20 to get something that sounds better than what I am listening to now. Last month I auditioned 2 systems at a local shop, both in dedicated rooms. First system was an all tube 20wpc tubed integrated - Viva Solistino ($12K) driving a pair of $30K Tannoy Canterbury speakers utilizing a $5K McIntosh CDP. Because the room was dedicated and treated, there was some good sound and some differences, but this setup with my disks did not blow away my early 90s $20K setup by any stretch of the imagination.

    So just for fun, because it was WAY out of my range, I listed to an all Burmester electronics system driving the latest Wilson Alexandria IIs with over $50K worth of cabling for a net cost near $250K. Yep, it sounded awesome, but again not 200 times or even 4 times better than my humble old gear. But the Burmester gear is a sight to behold and for an old Toolmaker, the machining-fit and finish and looks were awesome.

    There is something out there for every person and every budget and it annoys me when people equate the fact that they have less money to spend so those who do are just buying snake oil. (but those same people may have a Rolex which tells time just the same as a Timex, or a car that can go 150mph while the speed limit is 55 or 65) If I had the extra cash to spend, I would buy bling too and enjoy both the looks and the sound.

    I also find that the many of Nay-Sayers don't own a system revealing enough to hear a cable difference let alone just re positioning the speakers. Lots of folks read a lot on the internet but rarely or never have visited a HE shop and listened to top end setups to even back up what they write on forums.

    I could go on but whats the sense. As long as everyone is enjoying their music and or their gear, then it's all good and nobody elses business how any enthusiast spends their money if it is what makes them happy and or they can hear a difference.

    Cheers and Happy Listening.

    PS, It also bothers me to no end that at shows and in shops, they do demo HE setups with the simplest of music or vocalist. But at the recent Germany show, there was Pink Floyd, SRV, and other more complicated tracks being played. I want to know what a system can do when the music is heavily layered and complicated, not just a simple piano or vocals.

    Brian
    Last edited by Shadowfax; 07-10-2017 at 01:20 PM.

  4. #1579
    Parrots ripped my flesh Dave (in MA)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rcarlberg View Post
    I know, it's astonishing isn't it? I had to take off my headphones to check.

    When I played it over my speakers, my dog alerted and started barking like crazy.
    When my brother IMed it to me, I told him to hold on, someone was at the door. I was only kidding, but it certainly was realistic.

  5. #1580
    Member Jerjo's Avatar
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    It also bothers me to no end that at shows and in shops, they do demo HE setups with the simplest of music or vocalist
    Yeah, you got to have a least one big symphonic piece to make sure the system doesn't reduce the orchestra to an indistinguishable mass
    I don't like country music, but I don't mean to denigrate those who do. And for the people who like country music, denigrate means 'put down.'- Bob Newhart

  6. #1581
    Member rcarlberg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowfax View Post
    I want to know what a system can do when the music is heavily layered and complicated, not just a simple piano or vocals.
    Thanks for the lengthy contribution Brian.

    "Testing speakers" isn't something you can do (properly) with one or two recordings. You have to see how they sound on solo voice, large symphony, great booming bass and high twinkly bits. It takes many, many hours of listening to fully evaluate a pair.

  7. #1582
    Member Firth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Firth View Post
    Here is an interesting fact, Smart TVs that stream and can be used to output the audio to the receiver, do so at no better quality than Dolby Digital. Some of the TV apps produce Dolby Digital Plus which to my ear is a significant step towards lossless. So using the same app streamed from my Sony UHD bluray player with the Audio only HDMI output to the receiver, I get Dolby Digital Plus. Watched Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country and it looked great and sounded great. It was released at the 25 year anniversary of the tv series start. We are now in 50th anniversary year. Tv series to reboot soon.

    I expect Sony to release a firmware update which enables Dolby Vision and better sound. The player was outputting a 4k upscaled video signal from an app. It looked good but could be tweeked.


    "Logic is the beginning of wisdom, not the end" - Spock, "Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country"
    Update on the above. Because of a stupidly named control for Digital Audio, when in fact the Digital Output is an optical cable, the Digital Output control impacts HDMI as well. So a reference to compressed audio caused me casually chose PCM Which caused stereo only to be output over HDMI, even though I dont use the optical output. Choosing compressed audio, caused the TV to output Dolby Digital Plus back to the TV over HDMI Audio Return Channel. WTF? I also discovered that the Netflix app on my Sony UHD bluray player outputs DD, but the Sony TV app outputs DD+.


    "Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible", Frank Zappa.
    On the verge of indecision
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  8. #1583
    Member Firth's Avatar
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    Read some comments on the Crown series of pro amps (Direct Core) that are about a dollar a watt/channel into 4 Ohms. Interesting how all of these psuedo-audiophiles were poo-pooing them. People who owned them and expensive speakers which were 4 Ohms, appeared to love em, only complaint was their revealing of other weakness such as source or poor preamplification.
    On the verge of indecision
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  9. #1584
    Member rcarlberg's Avatar
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    I don't know how to define a "pseudo-audiophile", is that a person with a gear fetish who doesn't actually care about the QUALITY of the sound? It's been proven, over and over and over again with blind listening tests, that so-called audiophile gear sounds, at best, no better than and oftentimes much worse than normal consumer-grade gear. Speakers excepted of course, since every speaker has a characteristic sound of their own.

    So maybe a so-called "pseudo-audiophile" is simply somebody who reads the wrong blogs and believes in magic?

    Incidentally, as you undoubtedly know, the "nominal resistance" of a speaker varies with frequency. Stats give only an average.

  10. #1585
    Member Zeuhlmate's Avatar
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    ^^^
    So this means that you think all amplifiers, CD-players, etc. sound the same, only loudspeakers differ?
    Definetely not my experience.

  11. #1586
    Anybody have any experience with Simaudio Moon amps?

    They just introduced an "affordable" model for $2100. I'm in the market for a new integrated amp and this one - features-wise - has everything I want (DAC, phono stage, digital inputs).

    Can I get the same quality for cheaper? Is this still not "audiophile grade," because it integrates the DAC and phono stage?

    https://audio-head.com/moon-by-simau...ted-amplifier/

  12. #1587
    Member Zeuhlmate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Facelift View Post
    Anybody have any experience with Simaudio Moon amps?

    They just introduced an "affordable" model for $2100. I'm in the market for a new integrated amp and this one - features-wise - has everything I want (DAC, phono stage, digital inputs).

    Can I get the same quality for cheaper? Is this still not "audiophile grade," because it integrates the DAC and phono stage?

    https://audio-head.com/moon-by-simau...ted-amplifier/
    Parasound Halo:

    http://www.parasound.com/hint.php

    https://www.whathifi.com/parasound/h...egrated/review

    I have a Parasound power amp, its hard to get more value for money than this brand.

  13. #1588
    Quote Originally Posted by Zeuhlmate View Post
    Parasound Halo:

    http://www.parasound.com/hint.php

    https://www.whathifi.com/parasound/h...egrated/review

    I have a Parasound power amp, its hard to get more value for money than this brand.
    Looks great... but it costs even *more* than the Simaudio...

  14. #1589
    Member Jerjo's Avatar
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    I've heard good things about Emotiva, even from a dealer that doesn't sell them.

    http://emotiva.com/
    I don't like country music, but I don't mean to denigrate those who do. And for the people who like country music, denigrate means 'put down.'- Bob Newhart

  15. #1590
    Member Firth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerjo View Post
    I've heard good things about Emotiva, even from a dealer that doesn't sell them.

    http://emotiva.com/
    So have I.
    On the verge of indecision
    I'll always take the roundabout way

  16. #1591
    Member rcarlberg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowfax View Post
    Price vs performance can never be accurately calculated because an amp costing $50K does not perform 50 times better than a $1K amp.

    What I have found so far is that I would really need to spend well beyond my budgeted $20 to get something that sounds better than what I am listening to now.

    Yep, it sounded awesome, but again not 200 times or even 4 times better than my humble old gear.

    There is something out there for every person and every budget and it annoys me when people equate the fact that they have less money to spend so those who do are just buying snake oil.
    Not *necessarily* "snake oil" -- although certainly there's a lot of voodoo out there that is pure snake oil -- but it's generally acknowledged in audio that the bang-for-the-buck curve is exponential, not linear. You reach a certain level rather quickly (and cheaply) and beyond that you spend 50x more to go from 95% accuracy to 98% accuracy, and 200x more to get to 99%. The double blind listening tests have proven over and over that most people can't hear the difference -- or more to the point, that differences people THINK they hear (when they know what's playing) disappear when they don't know what's playing.

    Nevertheless, if I may be so bold... you MAY need to spend more than $20 to replace your stereo

  17. #1592
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    The Audiophile Thread

    Ever heard of Andrew Jones? In 2015 he created the Elac UF5 floor standing towers at less than a $1000 a pair that got rave reviews from the audiophile community. Concentric soft dome tweeter and midrange driver. Previously he designed a very inexpensive bookshelf speaker for Pioneer that was called the best period for that price range ($140?). His latest effort is the Adante which is similar to the UF5 except for extension of the low end using an internal driver and an external passive radiator. You need to check these out!
    On the verge of indecision
    I'll always take the roundabout way

  18. #1593
    Member Firth's Avatar
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    On the verge of indecision
    I'll always take the roundabout way

  19. #1594
    Member rcarlberg's Avatar
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    No frills. I like it.

    Some speaker manufacturers go way overboard to make their speakers look wacky. So wacky you'd be embarrassed to have company over.

  20. #1595
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    Here's a couple of Q's for you audio gurus:

    Background: I have for years ripped all my CD's to FLACs using EAC and play them via Squeezebox (I have a classic and a duet). I much prefer to use either my phone or ipad as a controller. It works well when it works, but as the software has aged it seems to have become increasingly unreliable (at least via the ipad app "SqueezePad" I think it's called). Unfortunately Squeezebox was bought by Logitech who then destroyed a wonderful little company and killed the entire product line so it has no support. Too bad, IMO Squeezebox was a quality product and worked well.

    I just want to be able to play my FLAC music library via a high quality streaming device without breaking the bank. I really like being able to browse folder, genre etc., search quickly to find stuff play random tracks, see the artwork, lookup artist info online or listen on the iPad if I'm not around a hi-fi, all of which I can do now with SqueezePad.

    Q1: Any suggestions on reasonably priced HQ streaming devices to replace the unsupported Squeezeboxes? It should be a simple component device, preferably with it's own HQ DAC like the Sqeezebox had and top-drawer software for control via iOS and Android. I haven' researched this for a while but last time I did I couldn't find anything in the price/performance sweet spot formerly occupied by SqueezeBox.

    Q2: Any thoughts to the quality of streaming lossless vs. playing CDs? It seems to me both are digital so in theory should provide the same quality. Assuming you've made a good quality lossless rip, using the same AD or better converter why would one sound better then the other? There are other variables I suppose such as jitter, error correction, blah blah but I'm out of my depth there.

  21. #1596
    Member Firth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buddhabreath View Post
    Here's a couple of Q's for you audio gurus:

    Background: I have for years ripped all my CD's to FLACs using EAC and play them via Squeezebox (I have a classic and a duet). I much prefer to use either my phone or ipad as a controller. It works well when it works, but as the software has aged it seems to have become increasingly unreliable (at least via the ipad app "SqueezePad" I think it's called). Unfortunately Squeezebox was bought by Logitech who then destroyed a wonderful little company and killed the entire product line so it has no support. Too bad, IMO Squeezebox was a quality product and worked well.

    I just want to be able to play my FLAC music library via a high quality streaming device without breaking the bank. I really like being able to browse folder, genre etc., search quickly to find stuff play random tracks, see the artwork, lookup artist info online or listen on the iPad if I'm not around a hi-fi, all of which I can do now with SqueezePad.

    Q1: Any suggestions on reasonably priced HQ streaming devices to replace the unsupported Squeezeboxes? It should be a simple component device, preferably with it's own HQ DAC like the Sqeezebox had and top-drawer software for control via iOS and Android. I haven' researched this for a while but last time I did I couldn't find anything in the price/performance sweet spot formerly occupied by SqueezeBox.

    Q2: Any thoughts to the quality of streaming lossless vs. playing CDs? It seems to me both are digital so in theory should provide the same quality. Assuming you've made a good quality lossless rip, using the same AD or better converter why would one sound better then the other? There are other variables I suppose such as jitter, error correction, blah blah but I'm out of my depth there.
    Q1: I’m interested in how IOS 11 supports FLAC via folders. The Apple music app doesn’t, but you are supposed to be able to load them and play them from the folder.

    Q2: Bit depth, sampling and mastering are the issues behind the sound of one lossless source and another.
    On the verge of indecision
    I'll always take the roundabout way

  22. #1597
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    Quote Originally Posted by Firth View Post
    Q1: I’m interested in how IOS 11 supports FLAC via folders. The Apple music app doesn’t, but you are supposed to be able to load them and play them from the folder.

    Q2: Bit depth, sampling and mastering are the issues behind the sound of one lossless source and another.
    Q1: Squeezebox itself supports FLAC decode and playback as does apparently SqueezePad, I don't think it is reliant on iOS calls or functionality for decoding FLAC. Folder support is foundational no-brainer standard library call available to any developer, hence it should be easy to provide with almost zero development cost.

    Q2: True, but I am asking about ripping CD's and playback not the quality of the source material.

  23. #1598
    Member rcarlberg's Avatar
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    Q2: If you do a careful A/B comparison and can't tell the difference, then the technical specs don't matter. Every format has slightly different compression paradigms but the only thing that MATTERS is how they sound to you (CD files are essentially uncompressed). The theory that "both are digital so in theory should provide the same quality" is not based in fact.

  24. #1599
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    If you do a careful A/B comparison and can't tell the difference, then the technical specs don't matter. Every format has slightly different compression paradigms but the only thing that MATTERS is how they sound to you (CD files are essentially uncompressed).
    I agree that's the bottom line. I ask because I've seen a lot of controversy around high-end CD players vs "ripped" or downloaded digital files etc. and wanted to get the take of the audiophile gurus lurking about...

    The theory that "both are digital so in theory should provide the same quality" is not based in fact.
    How so assuming that both come from the same source and are lossless? CD vs. FLAC? FLAC is compressed but lossless and is stated as being identical to the CD source at 44.1 KHz, 16-bit, stereo audio. What am I missing? I don't want a debate, I'm just trying to understand.

    Thanks

  25. #1600
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerjo View Post
    I've heard good things about Emotiva, even from a dealer that doesn't sell them.

    http://emotiva.com/
    This looks damn impressive for the price and has nice aesthetics to boot. Anyone have any experience with them? I'l looking to replace a Carver that gave up the ghost...

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