Ajani - from memory, you're the only one who seems to acknowledge 'personal preference' or 'taste' when it comes to products/sound. With many others it's basically a case of 'this product is the way it is, all others are wrong', with no mention of personal taste when it comes to sound. Applauded.
I think that post belongs in the hifi rip off Britain thread.
Mac mini > AVI ADM9Ts
I think that post belongs in the 'hifi expensive in the rip off UK' thread.
Perhaps if they listen to pink noise/electronic music maybe.... as a classical musician, all I can say is that music is the art, and the equipment's role is to reproduce that art - as accurately, faithfully and as naturally as possible. Taste or preferences don't come in to it with HiFi - it's not a musical instrument - rather it's role is to reproduce the music as faithfully as possible, and from all aspects - nothing more and nothing less.
If I chose to make a recording on a Bosendorfer, and a particular instrument at that, because of it's particular sound (there is no such thing as a generic piano sound) and your flavoured HiFi in it's reproduction efforts makes it sound like an 18th century Forte Piano what's the point of an artist going to the trouble they do in their selection of instruments for performance and recording? Why use Stradavarious or Guanerius Violins, if your 'flavoured' Hii makes it sound like a cheap Chinese beginners instrument. I have a friend who is a Luthier, and customers spend weeks assesing stringed instruments, and pay many, many thousands of dollars for the way an individual instrument plays and sounds - such is the dedication to their art.
In an ideal world, I would completely agree with this sentiment, though I have some provisos:
- Equipment that can fully and accurately reproduce an orchestra, is far from cheap.
- With the budget that the average enthusiast is prepared to spend, there is going to be a compromise, so it's better to make this in a way that makes it enjoyable to the listener. IMO. A composer uses music (via musicians) as a medium to convey passion, so the most important thing a hifi has to do, is relay this as fully as possible.....so this element must not be lost.
- Given the subjective nature of interpretation, how do you lay down "the standard". ie. If 10 people were asked to put together a system to accurately portray a classical concert that they had just been to......you would probably get 10 different interpretations, through 10 different systems.
- There is more than one way to skin a cat..........I think it's a mistake to write off the separates route, unless of course you have personally heard everything available.
- Even if you go the Active route, there are many different flavours. If AVI's promotion is to be believed, there would have been little point in looking past the ADM40s, yet you you ended up with a beautiful pair of B&Os.
I had a "classical music upbringing" (played in an orchestra / Mother a professional singer / Father an amateur conductor), so have a lot of sympathy for your position; but for me, the most important thing is to get people listening in the first place, to the wonderful music that is out there.
"Everything has been said before, but since nobody listens we have to keep going back and beginning all over again." André Gide
For serious classical music, and classical musicians though, it's just not good enough. End of.
Beg to differ JM, but I know several professional classical musicians, none of whom own a high end, or remotely mif-fi stereo. One, who plays with the RSNO and the SCO, certainly used to have a Denon all-in-one unit and I imagine hasn't updated it since. The others, one who plays for the BBC Saymphony of Wales and the other for the Halle, to my knowledge, have no major investment in hifi. They're pretty serious players.
It may be more accurate to say "...for some..." (etc).
Onkyo TX-NR818 / Tannoy DC4 speakers / Marantz UD-7007
AVI Lab Series CD player / various cables
With respect, some of the people in this industry who call themselves audiphiles, need to learn about basic, practical electronics, as well as music as an art form in particular.
I'm sure all musicians would argue that the music is the art, regardless of the genre they attach themselves to.
So we're expected to know every single product in store, inside and out, know how it compares to every other competitive product, and how it works with all partnering possibilities. We're also expected to know all of the above for everything we don't stock too. We're expected to be electrical engineers, and have degrees in electronics and physics. Oh, and let's not forget we need to be acoustic engineers too. Now we have to have extensive knowledge of the origins of all genres of music (even those we hate), extensive knowledge of every instrument ever known to man and exactly how they sound (and probably their inner workings too), and probably be able to play them all too.
Where's it going to stop? And when does the wage increases start to reflect all this?
If I knew how to play instruments and knew more about them, I'd be a musician. If I knew more about room acoustics I'd be an acoustic engineer. If I could service electronics I'd be a service engineer. If I knew more about electrical engineering I'd be designing/making electrical products. If I knew more about music, its origins, etc etc "as an art form", I'd be writing music.
It makes me wonder what you'd expect of a member of staff at HMV. Do you expect them to be able to play multiple instruments so that you know they understand music from a fundamental level? Or staff at Blockbuster to be film critics to the level of Barry Norman and Mark Kermode to be able to recommend films to you? Do you expect staff at Game serving you to have the ability to write games in any code for any platform so that they can serve you better?
These musicians that choose these specific instruments in order to produce a specific sound - do you really think they care what Joe Bloggs is actually hearing in their living room? If they were, some of them would be promoting real hi-fi and its virtues in order to save and lreserve a dying industry, in turn preserving their art. Instead you have Maroon 5 promoting iPod docks. They may be the future, but they're hardly going to sound like the musician intended. It's extra sponsorship income for them. As long as their albums sell and they get some dosh, Maroon 5, like most other artists/bands out there, don't give a toss.
David @Frank Harvey Hi-Fi, Coventry
Vinyl now available in store!
That's the reason why there are so many pointless quarrels in HiFi, instead of meaningful discussions of technology and music. You can't have a real discusssion, if you assume from the start that all other view points are wrong.
M-Audio USB Transit->Benchmark DAC1->Beyerdynamic DT880 (600 ohm) / AKG K701
The problem with talking about "accurate systems" is that there is no consensus on which products are accurate.
Also, what is the HiFi system trying to accurately reproduce? Is is the live performance or the recording?
Many persons (including many classical music lovers) claim that various tube amps (including SET), horn speakers, etc sound more like live music than any of the typical HiFI fare. Yet all those products measure terribly compared to typical HiFi products. So are all those listeners deaf? Are all the measurements wrong?
If your aim is to reproduce exactly what is on the recording, then if the recording is bright, warm or just poor quality, then the music replayed through the HiFi should sound equally bright, warm or poor.
If the aim is to reproduce the live event, then if the recording is bright, you would use a warm system to compensate for quality of the recording.
So which system is more accurate? The one that makes the music sound poor or the one that sounds more like the live event?
IMHO the best equipment either gets your foot tapping, gives you goosebumps or both.
Doesn't have to be expensive - I've found my iPod info a Panasonic mini compo at work can sometimes push the right buttons.
I've always thought that HiFi shop sales assistants were pretty useless because they don't seem to know very much. That's why I prefer to deal with a manufacturers direct sales outlet. One gets so much better information, I find.
Thanks for a thoughtful post...
- Yes, I agree totally that I'm being idealistic.. but if not, and some sort of objective standard doesn't matter, then frankly I'd almost rather give up on HiFi, and either settle with an iPod + Headphones, or maybe buy BOSE.
- No, it's not cheap - but quality seldom is, in anything...and where possible I prefer to buy right and buy once, as against buy wrong, or cheap, and buy twice.
- I would contend that if a system is as accurate and transparent to the source as possible, even given the compromises of budgetary restraints, it will still hold the attention of someone who is listening to the music - and NOT the sound that the HiFi makes - the music is the art, the HiFi the reproducer - cheap HiFi may lose or mask some of the information, but certainly most musicians 'hear' through those omissions, and provided the system is not adding excessive amounts of noise, distortion, or coloration, most will be reasonably happy. As I say, musicians listen to the music; HiFi buffs listen to either the sound of the HiFi per se, or what the HiFi is 'doing' to and with the music.
Certainly whilst my HiFi, or my iPhone + Headphones provides the most accurate/transparent to the source reproduction, I still enjoy the music almost as much in my car, or other portables, notwithstanding that the sense of natural spatial perspectives in conjunction with timbral colour, as heard in real life, is such that the overall listening satisfaction is greatest with either the HiFi or the iPhone + Headphones - otherwise there'd be no point in spending expensive amounts on HiFi systems in particular. However, I'm also one of those lucky sods who can read a score and hear the music in my head - I have no idea how this works physiologically, - but I certainly don't need a HiFi to get the passion of the music, and speaking personally, playing an instrument beats any Hifi I've ever heard, at any price point, for a sense of involvement and connection with the music.
- With respect to the subjective nature of interpretation and resultant standards - I agree - and all the more reason to entrust a fully conceived, developed and voiced system by tertiary trained engineers at the highest possible level, and where the closest approach to the original sound is the goal, to meet my HiFi needs, rather than after market, third party mixing and matching at a retail level to try and achieve a satisfactory result by people who, at the end of the day are well meaning enthusiasts to be sure, but ultimately amateurs.
I'm not an electrical/audio/acoustic engineer, nor would I try and pretend to be one, and nor am I an automotive engineer.
If I may make a car analogy, my Merc is more comfortable, but not quite as sharp handling as my friends BMW. Should I then go to a third party, after market dealer, and start playing around with wheel, tyre, and suspension components, to make it handle more like a BMW? How about I just buy the Merc body-shell when I buy the car, and shop around for a Honda or BMW engine to put into it - reputedly Honda and BMW make the best internal combustion engines going, if you're a petrol head.
Or, instead of enlisting the help of semi-professional third party specialists, perhaps it might just be really prudent and sensible to trust the tertiary trained engineers with the highest qualifications in the business, accompanied by peerless R&D, at Daimler GmbH, to design, develop, test and engineer the whole box and dice, to wit the finished vehicle for me? All the mixing and matching is done by engineers at the highest possible levels of expertise, and I get to choose whether to buy the superbly finished and engineered Mercedes, or the better handling, sharper to drive, but less comfortable BMW.
Either way, it's win-win, because the end goal with the car, is to build the best available, and by the most professional and highly qualified engineers in the business. To my mind, after many years of experience in this industry/hobby (40 +) the mixing and matching system building methodology is well past it's use by date - with respect, it belongs back in the DIY era of the 1950's where it began with the baby boomer generation, and is easily outdone by more modern, integrated, efficient, and slowly becoming more mainstream methods of system building, such as fully active speakers.
- There are definitely more ways than one to skin a cat...ouch... I love cats...lol
I just don't believe that going way up the chain in great expense with separate amps/preamps/power supplies/racks/cables/passive speakers is one of them. And as you say, it's nigh on impossible to hear all the combinations - so why bother?
Yes, if perhaps one has started out with an all in one Home Theatre in a Box for example, a separate amp/processor, plus higher quality speakers is likely to give slightly better results if carefully matched, as well as extra connectivity (probably the main reason for moving 'up' from a HT in Box system, as in my experience some of the HT in a Box systems can be extremely good on both music as well as movies)
Beyond that though, (and been caught up in it over many years), I regard it pretty much as an almost continuous merry-go-round exercise in frustration and likely disappointment. If I want 'flavour' in my sound, then there are numerous active systems available to choose from, including large amounts from the Pro audio scene, which is where I would personally look nowadays before any attempt at mixing and matching at a consumer/retail level.
Beyond that, if you want more flavouring of the sound to 'taste' you can also play around with Digital EQ, so why try to alter the sound balance to 'taste' if that's what one is after, by spending silly amounts on swapping out gear to try and effect the desired result? Just plain silly, and quite unnecessary with todays modern tone shaping methods in DSP IMV. Back in the analogue days, this was done with tone controls and EQ - of course, there was always a penalty to pay with noise and distortion in the analogue world, but this is the 21st century, not the 1950's, and modern tone controls or EQ in the digital domain can tailor the sound any which way you like, with few, if any, deleterious effects.
- I agree that even in the active world, there are going to be different sounds, or I'd like to call it tonalities of speakers. I remember the old saying about a piece of kit back in my parents day, as having a nice 'tone'. So yes, you can have two different active speaker designs, where accuracy, neutrality and transparency is the goal, and yet they will have different tonal signatures. I would put this down to differences in cabinets, driver materials, and the actual sound design of the speaker (crossover points and such) which will all subtly alter the tonal balance of the overall sound of the speaker, notwithstanding that one may be equally satisfied with both as far as transparency to the source is concerned.
I chose B&O Beolab 9's quite recently, as a new speaker/system to carry me through the next decade +, and have zero regrets; indeed I regard them as being astonishing value for money in the context of what else is available in the so called high end audio scene, and easily the best HiFi purchase I have ever made. As Mac users are wont to say, they will need to pry them from my cold, dead hands....lol
And yes, I did consider ADM40's, amongst B&W 803D's (as I already have a good system with Sony ES TA-DA9000ES amp + Sony ES 9000 series sources + Naim SBL's and could have thence used my existing sources and amplification) along with some active/hybrid Nakamichi-Whise, electrostatics. If you'd like to know more of my selection criteria and thoughts, I'm happy to copy and paste a writeup/review I made elsewhere on the subject, bearing in mind it's a long post - I have a habit of writing at length!
- Finally, wonderful to hear that there's another classical music fan here - and I agree - getting newcomers, or if you will Gen Y to listen to music (preferably classical amongst other genres) is a great goal; however, most of them with high quality phones + iPod etc, are already hearing far better reproduction than anything I had when I was starting out with domestic HiFi, and arguably better than anything except possible the most expensive, mix and match separates system.
I believe that active speaker systems, no matter who makes them, are the way forward, and likely to be the only system building methodology likely to seriously interest Gen Y - most have no interest in copying the systems of their Grandfathers, or swallowing all the technobabble put out by baby boomer so called high end specialist assemblers - they're far to smart and tech savvy for that.
Thanks for listening, and for your post - apologies about the length of this one...
Quote : "So we're expected to know every single product in store, inside and out, know how it compares to every other competitive product, and how it works with all partnering possibilities. We're also expected to know all of the above for everything we don't stock too. We're expected to be electrical engineers, and have degrees in electronics and physics. Oh, and let's not forget we need to be acoustic engineers too. Now we have to have extensive knowledge of the origins of all genres of music (even those we hate), extensive knowledge of every instrument ever known to man and exactly how they sound (and probably their inner workings too), and probably be able to play them all too.
If I knew how to play instruments and knew more about them, I'd be a musician. If I knew more about room acoustics I'd be an acoustic engineer. If I could service electronics I'd be a service engineer. If I knew more about electrical engineering I'd be designing/making electrical products. If I knew more about music, its origins, etc etc "as an art form", I'd be writing music."
I'd just like to point out that I empathise totally with your position on this one, having also worked in the past in Hifi / AV retail sales, and please don't accidentally mis-construe my comments about industry marketing/system building methodologies as being some sort of personal attack or slight upon you - it's not - but I certainly do disagree with how much of HiFi is sold in the current industry, hence my comments are directed at the industry per se, and not individuals caught up in it.
Of course one cannot expect a shop assistant, selling HiFi, to know all the answers - it's totally unrealistic and also unfair IMV. And no, one cannot expect you or similar people working in the industry at retail level, to be musicians, come recording engineers, come acoustic engineers etc.
But, with respect, that's also the reason that I won't personally buy anything other than an active system, put together by the most highly qualified engineers in the business - B&O for instance employ people who ARE musicians, recording engineers, DSP engineers, and acoustic engineers amongst others - and all at the very highest possible levels of tertiary training - think multiple PhD's. Mixing and matching separate pieces of electronics kit, combined with passive speakers, is never going to happen to me again, and nor will it ever likely happen again with any of my professional and classical musician friends.
Most have already found considerable dis-satisfaction with such (mixing and matching at retail level) system building methods, and most, highly qualified, educated and knowledgeable, look aghast at some of the pseudo scientific technobabble put out by some of the well known so called high end names re brands, - and run a mile.
Personally, I would no more approach a retail mix and match retail organisation to supply my HiFi needs, than i would take my Merc to an aftermarket semi-professional parts specialist to 'hot rod, or 'rice' it, - it's just no-where near professional enough to deliver what I want and need out of an HiFi system (or car for that matter) - and when I'm expected to pay the price of a car for my HiFi, I can assure you that professionalism and engineering credentials at the very highest levels matters a very great deal to me indeed.
I appreciate that my comments will likely not go down well with you, and I would emphasis again that this is not some sort of personal attack or put down upon you, either by intent or design, and certainly it's fair to say that you cater for a market that likes to tweak and fiddle about - that is arguably the hobby for them more than the music - just like some people like building and fiddling about with computers as a hobby.
That's all relevant, fair and good, - you can have a lot worse hobbies or ways to spend money - but ultimately I find it both relatively unprofessional and not a lot to do with music, and/or engineering when it comes to the old hobby horse of the closest approach to the original sound.
As such, I feel, with all due respect, that the business model of HiFi system building with which you are involved, will likely either completely die out along with the baby boomers who created it, or return to it's ultimate DIY roots for a very small niche market of people who like to play with home electronics as a hobby. I daresay though, that for the mainstream, and for those interested in music more than playing and tweaking with the kit, fully active systems are likely to be the way ahead, along with what ever other technology developments that may be in store for us in the 21st century.
Whoah there, bad example. Kef actually made the T33 tweeter in the 104/2, and its one of their very popular driver that was used in a LOT of their speakers so I would expect it to be cheap. Also remember the tweeter that Alacrity Audio were using is around £20 from a dealer too, so the manufacturer (Monacor/Visaton) would be making very little on the tweeter themselves.
Not that that helps with the dealer charging £80 for the tweeter to the punter, or was that including fitting/delivery?
Michell Gyrodec SE / RB300 / 2M Blue | Sony DVP-S9000ES
Croft Micro 25 Basic | Decware Zen
Goodmans Axiom 201 / Rega Alya / Keesonic Kolt
I take it we haven't agreed on which is the best speaker, then?!
Yes, for me it's Magnepan.
You have my fullest sympathy here, FHHiFi. Having worked in retail and in other jobs that have a strong 'service' focus I can categorically say that people in this country are getting worse. I used to think that the Americans I worked for were demanding, but the Brits have caught up quite nicely. Sorry to say that the Brits have few of the redeeming features of the Yanks (largely positive and cheerful). I now deal with people on a daily basis who are aggressive and bullish and will stop at nothing to 'get it cheaper'. I have to say that I get a large degree of satisfaction when I hear that their 'cheaper deal' has gone EDITED up on them. When I worked in retail electronics, people would think nothing of picking your brain for upwards of an hour, then say; 'we'll, I'll have a think' and then go and buy it on the Internet. The really brass-necked ones would occasionally come in with their new, Internet purchased kit, and ask for it to be explained to them.
I feel for shop staff. Low wages, low morale, low margin and a predatory, thankless public whose 'expectations' rise exponentially in the name of 'good customer service'. Bullsh*t! It is nothing more than people getting what they want, when they want, and for as little as possible and this selfish, craven behaviour makes them spiritually bankrupt. Since when was the consumer God?!
Of course, there is also a wealth of rude, dissinterested shop staff who richly deserve to lose their jobs to the Internet.
What you might call your essential dichotomy.
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