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JK1234
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Audiophile vs. Pro Audio Gear

A simple question, but one for which I have found very little feedback on the web. The question is this - does anyone have real-world experience comparing high end audiophile gear to pro audio equipment, and if so, what were the results? Every now and then you see manufacturers that bridge the gap (Bryston, PMC, Benchmark, etc.) but rarely do you find audiophile-oriented reviews of pro gear. Seems logical to me that the equipment used to record the music the in the first place should do a half decent job on reproducing it, no? So if you have practical a/b listening experience or have chosen to incorporate pro gear into your system, I'd love to hear about it. Preamplification and digital conversion especially... I'm in the process of building a computer based system and am in need of a new preamp and DAC. The new system must match or exceed the existing arrangement and I have to say I am tempted to experiment with pro gear - partly out of curiosity and partly due to lower cost.

BillB
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Re: Audiophile vs. Pro Audio Gear

Good question, and I got no answer - but I'll give one anyway I think a primary difference is that pro gear is built and MARKETED, first and foremost, for dependability/reliability - and for surviving rough handling, in the case of equipment that travels (for concerts, or remote recording, etc).
The audiophile gear is built and MARKETED for its sound quality, and with some attention to aesthetics.
There is no huge contradiction - you can have super reliability with super sound in theory - but designing for the different markets in the real world does generally sort it out into pro vs audiophile categories.

Elk
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Re: Audiophile vs. Pro Audio Gear

The difficulty in making a blanket comparison is that it greatly depends on what one means be "pro gear".

Sound reinforcement amps and speakers are excellent for their purpose; tough, powerful, affordable, bullet-proof, etc. However their ultimate sound quality is compromised for these purposes.

On the other hand, pro equipment used in good quality recording and mastering studios can be excellent. Moreover, it is common to see what we think of as audiophile amps and speakers in studios. For example, B&W 802s are readily used by mastering studios.

There is synergy the other direction as well. For example, the Benchmark DAC1 was common in studios and the audiophiles learned of it.

John Marks does a great job bringing good recording and monitoring gear to the attention of audiophiles in his column.

ethanwiner
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Re: Audiophile vs. Pro Audio Gear


Quote:
rarely do you find audiophile-oriented reviews of pro gear.


There's a good reason for that.

That said, the magazine Pro Audio Review does audiophile-style assessments of pro gear. This is also a free magazine.

--Ethan

Elk
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Re: Audiophile vs. Pro Audio Gear


Quote:

Quote:
rarely do you find audiophile-oriented reviews of pro gear.


There's a good reason for that.

That said, the magazine Pro Audio Review does audiophile-style assessments of pro gear. This is also a free magazine.


And they have an on-line version: Pro Audio Review The only downside with the digital version is that they don't always reprint the lab tests on-line (they like measurements).

dbowker
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Re: Audiophile vs. Pro Audio Gear

I agree with you Elk. What's "pro" is as wide a term as anything else out there and subject to many different requirements. Ever go to a rock concert and realize your home system sounds 10 times better than the live one? Like 75% of the time for me! Even mostly acoustic jazz shows use some amps and reinforcement and it's not across the board great stuff.

I've worked with many A/V studios and sometimes the setup is quality (rare) and sometimes it sucks (usually) simply because most studios are like most carpentry shops: bang it out and send the bill ASAP. They are not about lovingly attending to every detail because it's expensive to own good pro gear, expensive to have qualified people to run it and time consuming to utilize it. Plus, most clients don't know or care enough to pay for all the above. They just want "good enough" when it comes right down to it.

Of course not all are like that- and you have fantastic pro gear too--- but don't count on getting it any cheaper than the high-end audio consumer gear! And definitely don't think your wife is going to let you stack it up in the living room!!!

greenelec
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Re: Audiophile vs. Pro Audio Gear

The previous reference to Pro-Audio Review entced me to go there and look around. I found a reference to Dunalvy Speakers used in recording studios. Since I have Dunlavys I pursued this link. It came from a review of Lipinski Monitors, that used the Dunlavy SM-1s as an inspiration for their design. Following the link to the Lipinski site lead to reviews of their speakers, and beleive it or not, a stunning review of these same Lipinski speakers in the pages of,.. Stereophile!!
Yes good equipment is good equipment, "no matter how small!"

Elk
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Re: Audiophile vs. Pro Audio Gear

Duntech (John's original company) and Dunlavy have been popular in recording studios and mastering studios for years. Duntech Sovereigns are still available from Duntech Australia ($33,500.00)

Like the SM-1's, the Lipinski's do not go down low (only to 60hz or so) so they need to be paired with a good, well-integrated subwoofer or, even better, two.

I have a pair of Dunlavy SC-IVa's. Which Dunlavy do you have?

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Re: Audiophile vs. Pro Audio Gear

I just addressed the same situation as you are talking about (just posted my solution on the Newbie section). Picked up an Apogee Duet for $495. Firewire cable from my Macbook into the Duet - gets it power from the cable, patch it straight into my power amp. Comes with software to manage to functions. Sound great. I'm taking my CD, CD changer, and old integrated preamp upstairs to the bedroom.

Apogee Duet

Welshsox
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Re: Audiophile vs. Pro Audio Gear

How can a home system sound better than a band playing live ?

The reinforced sound typical of a venue is real live music, how can a reproduction sound better ?

The energy, distortions etc are what make live music so real, there is just no way to reproduce that at home

Alan

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Re: Audiophile vs. Pro Audio Gear

pro audio gear over audiophile for obvious reasons: more science and less snake oil. But sometimes is hard do adapt pro gear to home environment.

Elk
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Re: Audiophile vs. Pro Audio Gear


Quote:
pro audio gear over audiophile for obvious reasons: more science and less snake oil.


You obviously have not spent any time reading the trade magazines. No group is immune from the corrosive effects of snake oil.

KBK
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Re: Audiophile vs. Pro Audio Gear


Quote:

Quote:
pro audio gear over audiophile for obvious reasons: more science and less snake oil.


You obviously have not spent any time reading the trade magazines. No group is immune from the corrosive effects of snake oil.

To add, Snake oil is also one of the most potent and effective preventatives/curatives ever known.

The story comes from the unscrupulous folks who would pretend to be selling authentic Native 'snake oil' when in fact it was just diluted alcohol based crap, no snake oil of any kind. The legend of Native curative 'snake oil' healing powers...is what created the liars and thieves.

Authentic snake oil is an awesome thing.

Elk
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Re: Audiophile vs. Pro Audio Gear

Indeed. I have made this point a number of times.

It's even scientifically verifiable. Even when both the snake and the recipient are blindfolded in a double-blind test.

mmacoustics
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Re: Audiophile vs. Pro Audio Gear

I really like this topic. Although I have a small home theater business I have installed several PA systems in churches. It is true - there is good pro stuff out there - but much of what gets used in PA applications is not near the quality of a good home system. That being said, I often use some "home gear" in PA systems. In the last church I did we used speaker drivers often found in home systems to make the main line-arrays.

Elk
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Re: Audiophile vs. Pro Audio Gear

Fun to know.

Creativity and care (an enough money) must be the reasons that some PA systems sound fantastic.

Welshsox
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Re: Audiophile vs. Pro Audio Gear

Hi

I still have strong thoughts that a very high quality pro amp such as a Crown CTS 2000 for $1500 can run rings around a Krell/Mac/Levinson for $10,000.

Definetly the low level sound reinforcement type gear is not going to sound good but the high level pro audio gear is typically built by the same people who designed and built high level home gear. A good example being Crown/JBL building Mark Levinson gear, the only difference being one got a simple black box and costs $1500, one got a shiny polished box and a name plate and costs $10,000

Alan

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Re: Audiophile vs. Pro Audio Gear


Quote:
I still have strong thoughts that a very high quality pro amp such as a Crown CTS 2000 for $1500 can run rings around a Krell/Mac/Levinson for $10,000.


I wish.

But if your ears tell you this, buy the Crown.

Welshsox
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Re: Audiophile vs. Pro Audio Gear

Elk

Im very openminded about this stuff.

Have you ever actually compared side by side a top Crown amp with a Mark Levinson or something similar ? I have and its a close call, they are different but as to which is better its subjective. Comparing either to a lower quailty amp from the pro world or hifi world does show the qualities of the higher end products.

Im just curious if your applying a hifi bias to your thoughts ?

Alan

Elk
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Re: Audiophile vs. Pro Audio Gear


Quote:
Have you ever actually compared side by side a top Crown amp with a Mark Levinson or something similar ?


Yes (as has already been discussed previously a number of times).

Sound reinforcement amps, particularly those of high power, have a crunchy, crispy sound. It's apparently the trade off for inexpensive reliable watts.

It makes my ears bleed.

But, if you like this sound go for it.

Tony Zubia
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Re: Audiophile vs. Pro Audio Gear

Sorry i'm late jumping into this conversation, but I thought it was an extrermemly interesting topic. It's pretty simple actually and not really a matter of opinion. I can put it best if I say it like this: Pro gear is "utilitarian" where high end home audio is more so a "delicacy". Pro audio is designed to be cut throat and simple. All of the "beauty" comes from post production that has very very little to do with componentry design but has to do more so with the "post artist" (the engineer). Much much more 'thought and consideration' regarding design and "sound Process" goes into high end home audio. I could go on and get more technical but as I mentioned, it's pretty cut and dry. What qualifies this observation? ..... aside from being a die hard HiFi enthusiast/audiophile blahblahblah, I have over a decade as a music industry executive and a published songwriter/producer(currently) and have 'participated' in and produced many countless recording sessions with many known recording artists but even better, some of the industries most amazing post engineers to date. Please forgive me if this sounds like a pump me up session; it's not, I just wanted you guys to know I'm not talking out of my butt!...... Home AUdio over Pro Gear!!

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Re: Audiophile vs. Pro Audio Gear

So why aren't studio engineer artistes using high end HiFi gear in their studios to do mixdowns? Maybe the idea of spending $10,000 on a single stereo amplifier with THD and noise figures no different to a decent rack mount pro amp doesn't make much sense to a guy who has to make a living using the amplifier. He might be able to buy a bunch more studio gear with the money he'd have left over from buyng a pro amp.

The fact is that all the delicacy in the world isn't worth the price difference. As I have said in other posts, high end (should say "needlessly high priced") audio equipment is for dummies who can be flim flammed out of their hard-earned cash.

Someone wanting to equip a business won't be buying. The tragedy is that the high enders somehow believe that they can extract a REAL LIVE performance out of their gear.

Sorry to say, the recording you're listening to has passed through the tiny wires and conductors of a thousand different machines before it reaches your ears. None of it, bar the last two or three can be classified as "Audiophile" grade equipment.

Instead, it is "Professional" grade machinery that has been chosen and purchased because it could do the job asked of it, not because some vacuous HiFi reviewer with practically no understanding of the technical issues has given it a gold star (ear) rating in return for a bit of cash in his pocket (or some other amenable consideration). Oh but it's got "LiniPur" conductors!..........

One born every minute.

Elk
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Re: Audiophile vs. Pro Audio Gear


Quote:
So why aren't studio engineer artistes using high end HiFi gear in their studios to do mixdowns?


As I have pointed out many times, it is common for them to do so. Pass Labs, Chord, Gamut amps are popular - as are B&W speakers, Dynaudio and others. Then we get into the expensive stuff, like Duntech Soverigns.

Mixing engineers also often use active monitors with built in amplification specifically designed for the speakers. These are far from cheap. Meyer, Barefoot, etc. fit into this camp. It is easy to spend serious money on these as well.

Mastering engineers rarely use self-powered, feeling that the best sound comes from passive speakers with carefully chosen separates (sound familiar?).

Keep in mind however that mixing engineers are more concerned with the integrity of the signal itself. They are trying to present the best possible signal to the next guy in line, the mastering engineer. Thus, more money goes into mixing boards (these things can easily top $100k), good ADCs and DACs (also pricey), mic pres, etc., than basic amplification. It may surprise many, but studios often even pay attention to cable dressing, clean power (even using conditioners!), etc.

What you typically won't find are inexpensive PA amps such have been discussed here. Of course, there are exceptions, but they simply do not provide good sound - and the big boys know this as well as we do.

OTOH, if you like the sound of "pro" PA amps for listening at home, good for you! You will be able to find sound that pleases you for relatively little money, will probably never run out of power, and will have a robust amp or two that will easily survive anything that you throw at it.

mmacoustics
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Re: Audiophile vs. Pro Audio Gear

There were three people in the church I attended while in the Nashville area who worked in sound studios. Two of them put new boards in while I was there. The price to performance balance was a concern. They purchased the best they could afford at the time then

Elk
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Re: Audiophile vs. Pro Audio Gear

Good point. There are a lot of studios with modded boards and other equipment; the goal is the best possible sound.

The vast majority of people in studios disparately care about sound quality and are on a constant quest for those products that sound the best.

lannyt
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Lipinski Sound

Does anyone know whether Lipinski Soound is out of business?
I tried to phone them at their offices in Massachusetts and there is no way of leaving a message.....no live people answer....just automated answering and their system wont accept any messages.

Lanny

Elk
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Re: Lipinski Sound

It's a very small business, but odd you can't leave a message.

It would be very said if they are gone. Amazing speakers.

ferenc_k
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Pro Audio at home

Actually after living with high-end audio equipments for more than 20 years now I am using pro audio at home.

My last system was Audio Note Kageki, Accuphase DP-100/DC-101, Avantgarde Trio, etc. It was changed to MC2 Audio MC1250 pro amp, Danley 100B (SH 50 as well) PA speaker and a Macbook to Altmann Attraction DAC through a TCElectronic Konnekt 8 as a Firewire to SPDIF converter. All my bloody expensive cables were changed to Evidence Audio pro cables as well, including the mains cable.

Can not be happier. Does not matter what I play, plays everything from Albinoni to Zappa according to my taste. It has drama and fun, like no system from my personal hifi history.

The MC2 amps and Danley speakers are true classical, the latter is one of the most exciting speaker construction I know of.

YMMV of course.

Elk
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Re: Pro Audio at home

Cool!

Why do you like your current setup better?

ferenc_k
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Re: Pro Audio at home


Quote:
Cool!

Why do you like your current setup better?

More musical generally. Can play any kind of music, on any volume. Quite friendly to even the modern dynamically very compressed recordings.

Has more life. Live recordings are really amazing. Dynamics, coherency like nothing else in my life earlier.

Too much difference to tell. Suites my taste way better. It seems.

KBK
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Re: Audiophile vs. Pro Audio Gear

I used to rebuild and modify stage gear and recording audio gear for performers and pros for free, as a service to the music.

I wanted them to enjoy what I enjoyed from it, for the same reasons: It serves the music.

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