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Discussion in 'General Music Discussion' started by Descent, May 31, 2018.
I'm currently looking at some used Polk speakers for $100, and even THAT feels like a splurge.
Yeah, tell me about it. Before I bought the Klipsch speakers, I had a pair of hand-me-down Cerwin Vegas from the late 80s or early 90s. They actually sounded decent, but they took up a lot of floor space and I figured I was due for an upgrade. It's all relative; the same audiophile store my brother and I went to also installed people's home theatres, and typical budgets for that could be over $100,000. The employees were just shooting the shit with us as they were running up the purchase, but maybe they threw in that line to make the $20,000 pair of speakers seem more affordable
Funny anecdote about those ATC speakers:
When we got back to my brother's place to set everything up, we unboxed the speakers and realised they had spikes on the bottom. The design is basically the opposite of what Orange does with their speaker cabs: a smaller contact area with the floor equals less interference with the speaker's sound, so ATC tunes them to not need the extra and/or muddy bass. Problem was that my brother has these nice hardwood floors and the spikes were sharp as hell, so we kind of sat around WTF-ing for a bit figuring out what to do. Ended up putting them down on some plastic drink coasters for that frat house aesthetic!
Eventually he bought these stainless steel floor pad things that ATC sells; can't find their version, but here's something similar from Linn. Talk about first world problems, right?
God, I hate the expensive audio equipment economy. I am guessing the majority of people who buy that stuff like 5000 cables just have money to burn and can't tell the difference.
I had a friend who got sucked into that world of audio psychos on forums who do things like endlessly argue over exactly which CD pressing of Pink Floyd album sounds best (always something from the 80s) and refuse to discuss audio setups less than the cost of a new car. The funny thing was, he'd just recently introduced me to an application that just took two audio files and gave you a bunch of AB tests to determine if you could tell the difference in a statistically significant way, and he couldn't reliably distinguish between a 96 Kbps MP3 and a WAV through good headphones
I ended up grabbing those Polk speakers and some research told me that these were originally sold with stands for a similar reason. Strikes me as a bit odd though, since they don't have a tooooon of low end to them, although that could be a matter of the cheap receiver I have them hooked up to.
So yeh, I ended up getting some speakers -> they're Polk Monitor 10s, no idea how old they are but I'm sure they're old. The drivers in them were replaced at some point. It's no expensive-as-a-new-car setup, but they're a tooooooooon more clear than the surround system packed in speakers. I haven't spend a lot of time setting them up, but I've noticed they seem to be pretty bright sounding right now. The low end is there, but there's not a ton of it, so I'm debating keeping the sub from the surround hooked up. The sub doesn't add a whoooole lot (it's not a great sub), but just fills in that tiny bit of missing "room filling" part of the low end. It's not needed per se, but sometimes it's nice to have.
So it's no "audiophile" setup, but it's a step up from just the in-the-box surround, I think. Definitely pleasant to listen to so far, which is the point as far as I care.
As I say, it seems to be one of those industries where, no matter your budget, you can expect to pay exactly as much as you can afford. Because even after the 'consumer audio' stops, the 'professional audio' begins, and people can spend a million dollars on a sound system.
To be fair, it's not all snake oil, but the superior sound quality of one product over another might be negated by sitting 6" off-centre of the tonal 'sweet spot'. Or maybe the 'objectively superior' speaker winds up in the hands of customers who can't hear the difference but can afford it. In the end, I try not to judge. We live in a word where people pay $500+ on mechanical keyboards...there's all kinds of hobbies where people waste money on nice but ultimately useless stuff. I mean, look at what forum we're on People are always chasing the latest sound or brand, and are spending thousands on custom guitars. There's quite a few members here that have more than $10,000 invested in their collection, and several with $20,000+. Everyone has an addiction, I guess.
Just in time, I randomly just came across an article about someone who tried out a fancy hifi amp vs. his cheap surround receiver (and some other components) and decided that in terms of hifi, an amp is just an amp for the most part. According to the conclusion they came to, an expensive amp is not any better than a "cheap" amp as long as it drives your speakers cleanly and transparently, which pretty much any amp can do at this point.
I do find it pretty striking how different the speakers I grabbed sound in the room they're in now compared with where I first demo'd them. They were pretty boomy where I first heard them, but at my place they're very bright and the low end is very tame. Could be the eq in the receiver, could be the room, could be lots of things. Who knows.
IMO the point of diminishing returns comes pretty early with audiophile stuff. You can throw basically an infinite amount of money at a setup but speakers are about as good as speakers can be at $3k a speaker, amps are amps, and your average computer is the best high resolution audio player you could ever need. Never, ever, ever spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on cable... cable sellers avoid true double blind tests like the plague because they know their shit makes no difference at all unless you convince yourself your setup sounds better.
Most hi fi guys have zero studio experience and don't have the slightest idea of how to listen critically and their impressions are best ignored. Only trust your ears and check out the stores. It's a pretty fun shopping experience in any event
I always worry a bit when I hear someone say they're going to go to a store to ask for audio system advice. I trust neither my non-audio-knowledgeable friend, or the people at BestBuy to have any idea what they're doing, or what they should be listening for.
I guess that's mostly true for anyone who goes into a shop and asks for advice. I never assume that a person is particularly knowledgeable because of where they work. I don't ask tech store people for advice on computer stuff. I don't ask music store people for advice on guitars or gear. They often don't know any better than I do. (I don't mean that to suggest that I think I'm particularly smart, so much as the barrier to entry for being a salesperson often doesn't involve a deep understanding of the products on sale. And it's their job to sell you things, not to optimize the value you get out of your listening experience.)
But why $3000 per speaker vs. $2000 or $5000?
Not aiming this at you, but I find it interesting that in most hobby communities, and in the Hi-Fi world especially, you seem to see people insisting that the top of their budget is the point at which you reach diminishing returns. Not to mention that all the same justifications for not buying the $5000 speaker aren't applied to purchasing the $3000 speaker the person can afford. Because once we start bringing up whether someone's ear is 'trained enough to hear a difference', or EQ profiles, or listening off-axis in the living room and whatever else, probably most of us don't need $1000 speakers if we're being honest with ourselves. Somehow there's always a justification, though.
Myself, I think the psychology can be equally applied to consumers with modest budgets vs. people with huge ones.
Don't really know enough of them to speak to that, but communities like this one would be obliterated by the same advice.
Electrostats are the only right answer.
I think on some level, most enthusiast communities could be "obliterated" by a dose of "go by your own objective experience". You don't need a $5k pair of speakers any more than you need a $5k custom made instrument, or a $1k smartphone, or expensive shoes, cars, homes, etc etc etc.
I think most people, given the opportunity, will definitely push at least one thing that they're enthusiastic about, to the limits in terms of spending despite the fact that the experience you get out of it could have been achieved for much less. I know I do this with guitars and amps, I do it with video cards, I would do the same with TVs if I cared enough to.
because $3k gets you the bigger Martin Logan ESL-X, which has a bigger panel than my ESLs so the sweet spot is wide enough for more than two people, and $3k/speaker also puts the former range topping but one generation older MLs in your budget too (secondhand).. the Summit X. $2k you can get the smaller ESLs which are still absolutely outstanding, iirc $5k/speaker isn't enough to get the smallest "high end" ML and those are pretty hard to work into a room because they are 30" deep. all the difference is in low end extension anyway, which you won't need with a good sub
my budget was actually way higher and I was glad to walk away for less. electrostats were a revelation and I was floored to find out they were such a good deal.
even with studio monitors $1k per speaker isn't enough to get really good ones that don't need 500 hours of listening to learn all their stupid little quirks
This seems like a really good summary of the audiophile community in general. If you go to forums like Head-Fi you'll see words thrown around like "endgame quality". I think for a lot of people the quest for these devices is more than the practical benefits of having good audio gear, which I can relate to in terms of horrible GAS.
the cost for performance ratio is just so much higher with electrostats...
you just gotta deal with the other small issues. lawl.
serious contribution to the thread - 99 percent of high end magnet based speakers are just trying to approximate the tech lead that electrostats have. I'll fight anyone.
Is that a thing that even exists though? I mean, is there such a thing as a speaker with zero quirks? Sounds like we're striving for a thing that doesn't exist.
My Hi-fi rig since 1997:
Audiolab 8000s integrated amp,
Audio Vector M3 Speakers
Yamaha CDX - 530E CD player, this was actually my first separate CD player bought in 1991 as a part of a Yamaha rig with separate units which was my first affordable Hi-fi rig that I bought after having a Philips ghettoblaster as my very first music rig..
The CD player being as old as it is now has some difficulties playing newer CDs, usually a small warm-up playing some of my older CD helps this, otherwise I simply use the Blu Ray player for the new CDs.
The hole rig sounds clear and very transparent with a good defined balance in the overall sound. All kinds of music just sounds great on this system. You could probably take things even further upgrading all kinds of stuff like the CD player but sound is sound and I have been enjoying this rig for 20 years now!
I would consider myself a semi-audiophile. I need a decent setup if I'm going to enjoy some music. I HATE it when people play music on small tin can sounding boomboxes or stereos.
I've managed to put together a cheap but rather effective home setup for myself. I use an Onkyo TXNR609 7.2 surround receiver for power. My main speakers are a pair of Dali Blue 6006, which - for my personal use - is the best sounding store bought speakers I've ever listened to, and I got them dirt cheap too (used). When I'm doing serious listening I only run the two Dali speakers in true stereo without any kind of equalizing. When I'm doing more casual listening, or watching live dvds/blurays, I run everything in 7.1 surround, which also sounds really good with my setup. I have the matching Dali Blue C1000 center speaker, my sub is a beastly Sunfire D10 1000watt box of doom, the rest of the surround speakers are mid-class hifi speakers by Argon (which actually sound great by themselves).
It's by no means a highend setup, but I love it and wouldn't change a thing about it
Here's a question for some of the more hifi knowledgeable people here:
In the case that you're listening to stereo content on a 2.1 system (stereo with a sub), what exactly is supposed to be sent to the sub? If you're watching content that specifies a channel for the sub, then that's cool, everything lines up and makes sense, but when you go back to stereo content, suddenly there's no content for the sub to play. The receiver I've got gives the option to pipe the low end from the L+R channels into the sub, which does thicken up 2-channel content, but I have no idea if this is the usual/intended way to use a sub in a stereo situation.
I'm not all that concerned with what I'm "supposed to do" (I'm going to keep using the sub this way cause I like it) so much as I'm curious what the design/intention of this kind of setup is.
The receiver should be sending a certain frequency range to the sub. All the receivers I have owned have an option of the range to send. I think it is called LFE. You set it to the frequency the speakers can no longer produce - ie 120Hz
In my case, the speakers are a bit of a mismatch, so the two front speakers are large full-ish range speakers that cover most of the range needed, and the sub is a cheap/weak sub that doesn't go a toooon deeper than the fronts do. The front speakers easily reach below 120, although it's noticeably rolled off. I have the crossover point set right now at I think 80 or 100, and it's more of a "boost" than anything else. Hi-passing the front speakers doesn't sound very good to my ears, and leaving the sub off is ok, but a little bit weak. So I have the sub on this mode that "doubles" the bass in the fronts and the sub.
The trick seems to be that there's this option in the menu for the receiver that decides on what gets sent to the sub (it's literally called "double bass" ), but it doesn't change based on context. If I set it to send the low end from the front speakers to the sub, it makes sense for stereo content, but once I play back a 5.1 signal, the sub gets the .1 channel AND the doubled low end from the L+R channels, which is a bit much depending on the content, so I end up having to flip the option back and forth depending on what I'm watching.