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soundberry
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Doing an entry level system today

A big mistake with a little help by your dealer is to give too much money for the amplifier.

The loudspeaker is the critical element in particular today where you find out too much cinema speakers.

So you have to pay much attention at the speaker you buy.

Another big mistake is to look for technology aspect:many marks give you strong information speaking about new technology they use and this fact is only to justify high level price not important for you and get a fine system at a correct price.

Avoid loudspeakers that needs strong amplification to give fine results.

As I told in other post, test the speakers you have to consider with a low cost hybrid amplifier (I mean not more than 800 euro) and if the shop hasn't it change the pusher.

Ok start to hear the loudspeaker they propose you as they best arranged with their best amplifier and cd player but then ask to connect a low cost 50w hybrid amplifier.

Pay attention at the quality sound you get also in this situation and you'll do the right choice.

So you'll never throw out money in the wrong direction.

Only in a second Time you should consider to improve the quality of the amplifier at higher level and after months of experience.

In this way you get a fine loudspeakers that will come with you at higher quality level.

In different way you give too much money for the amplifier and buying conseguently a poor loudspeaker and final cost will be twice changing loudspeaker in the second time and related at the amplifier you bought before...not to do.

You have to buy before the best speaker you can for your budget minimizing the cost of the amplifier able to manage it and you'll get the higher result for your money.

This is particularly true for expensive loudspeakers costing 5000 euro or more.

soundberry
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Re: Doing an entry level system today

About turntable.

A similar situation.

Don't buy high cost cartridge.

Give all your money to the turntable and arm.

Go to a higher level of turntable without wood base or wood plate.

Use vinyl/polymeric material and fine arm and will be enough 75 euro of cartridge like the Elektra Goldring to give you fantastic music.

tom collins
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Re: Doing an entry level system today

this is just what my dealer has always said. most money for the turntable itself; next most money for the arm; least money for the cartridge. a $4,000 table with a $100 cartridge will sound better than a $100 table with a $4,000 cartridge. and if you start with the best table you can afford, you can upgrade the arm and cartridge later.

tom

Elk
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Re: Doing an entry level system today

Can you explain why that is? Is this the general consensus?

I would expect the best package would be one that is balanced among components.

soundberry
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Re: Doing an entry level system today

The best package is what sound best for the money of the package.
Normally I see packages done for the best money at the producer, or for the distributor that the dealer has chosen.

Now I speaking about some best buy systems that are only publicity's jokes.

Where to improve you must throw out everyting.And in every case is not the best for the price.

An example:
You cannot do a system better than a dvd player costing 50 euro I find out in Italy but I'm sure there is also abroad in different package/mark.
Plus an amplifier with only 2 volume, not other feature costing 150 euro(same above).
Plus easy to manage speakers costing the rest of money you have up to 5000 euro, chosen as I told in the above post.

And you may improve with a valve pre amplifier at the cost you want,starting 600 euro.And addition a second final power amplifier if you want more power....and you have the best speaker to come with you into the upgrade.

tom collins
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Re: Doing an entry level system today

hey elk:
if you were directing your question to me, i will attempt to analogise. i also should have menitoned that what i said is subject to one's budget, if you have lots and lots of money to spend, get the best of everything of course. i consider what i was told to be similar to building a house; for example, if you start with a very sturdy foundation, the upper parts will be more stable, such as the floors being solid and less likely to flex or bow from use. then you spend the next largest part of your budget on the frame, making it as solid as your budget allows, finally, on the drywall. if the foundation is solid, the frame is less likely to shift. if the frame is less likely to shift, your drywall is less likely to crack. also, the drywall is the easiest to fix if needed.
i guess the point is that the plinth, motor assembly and platter are the foundation, the arm is like the frame and the cartridge, the drywall. my dealer did tell me he had seen this proposition demonstrated several times. i don't know if this is a general consensus or not, but it is a guy with many years of experience that i trust and it seems logical, i mean, if you are getting vibes from the table, an expensive arm or cartridge is not going to eliminate them is it? if you are getting very little vibes from the table(none is impossible) then the other parts are going to work better aren't they?
from what i have heard, i would tend to agree with this philosophy. also, as i stated, you can later upgrade the tonearm and cartridge when funds permit.
of course, i may be full of it as well. i'm sure you will tell me if i am.
thanks for making me justify my postion.
100th post. cool.

tom

Elk
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Re: Doing an entry level system today

Thanks. The general concept makes sense, as well as the upgrade path.

It never occurred to me however that a much better 'table will improve the sound more than a better cartridge - everything else being equal.

Rather I expected that as long as the cartridge and arm can work together a better cartridge would make more of an improvement - with the better 'tables and arms simply able to show off the cartridge's abilities even better.

struts
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Re: Doing an entry level system today

If not a "general consensus" I think it is nevertheless reasonable to say that this is a "popularly held belief".

I believe it was Linn that first espoused this thesis and Ivor Tiefenbrun demonstrated it enthusiastically at many hi-fi shows to promote the (in those days outrageously priced) new Sondek. Of course that in itself doesn't prove anything; most people probably went away believing what they wanted to believe anyway.

Linn dealers backed this up by pushing people towards Sondeks with Basik arm/cartridge combos rather than recommending people stick Ittoks or Asaks on Basik turntables.

I am not a mechanical engineer but the theory seems sound to me too. I have to admit I have never heard the comparison demonstrated with enough of the variables bound to offer a subjective opinion.

dcstep
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Re: Doing an entry level system today

I don't know. I think that you should buy a turntable/cartridge/tonearm/preamp/speed-box consistant with your overall system and budget and NOT plan to upgrade incrementally. I spent $2880 on the TT/arm/cartridge, $500 on the phono-pre, $500 on the speed box and don't plan to make any incremental upgrades. If I move up, it'll be a wholesale leap, years down the road.

I think this buy the base and the upgrade strategy plays into the hands of groups like VPI, Linn and their dealers that entice people to get into a long-term cycle of tweaking and upgrading.

I want a front-end that I can enjoy on day-one and that really works well in my system. I think I did that and I'm not going to give a damn if VPI comes out with a rim-drive, carbon fiber arm or any other tweak.

Dave

Elk
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Re: Doing an entry level system today


Quote:
I'm not going to give a damn if VPI comes out with a rim-drive, carbon fiber arm . . . /quote]
But I love carbon fiber - ever since I first saw it.

It's almost boring and too present now, but what a cool material.

I fully agree - get a good integrated setup from the start.

But if you need to allocate money between 'table, arm and cartridge - what should take precedence for the best performance for the money?

struts
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Re: Doing an entry level system today


Quote:
But if you need to allocate money between 'table, arm and cartridge - what should take precedence for the best performance for the money?


Very many turntables, at all price-points come packaged with an arm, included or optional. Whether a good thing or a bad thing this certainly makes things simpler!

Personally, I would apportion most of the budget to the turntable (based on the above logic/superstition). Proportions would differ depending on price-point because at the budget end you hit minima which mess up the ratios. However, hedging aside, based on my experience I would propose 50-70% on turntable, 20-30% on arm and 10-20% on cartridge.

Thinking back my three generations of vinyl front-end all pretty much conform to the above:

  • Rega Planar 3/Rega RB300/A&R P77
  • Roksan Xerxes/Roksan Tabrizzi/Audio Technica AT-F5/OCC
  • SME 10/SME 10/Ortofon Rohmann
soundberry
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Re: Doing an entry level system today

What I say is not true only for the upgrade possibility but also to get more by your money also without upgrade.

The turntable quality is more important than increase the cartridge cost.

Upgrade the cardridge with a goldring gr1 into a more expensive 250 euro cartridge doesn't give you soo much more.

While a better turntable with the rest the same give you more.

You don't get the quality of a vinyle/polyvinil/acrilic with increasing the cartridge quality in a MDF turntable also with triple cartridge cost.

I was surprised of the quality I got with a Bellavista Blue Note Villa turntable with goldring elektra VS a triple cost cartridge Goldring on Rega.
I could also suppose the impact of a vinyl plate without any support for the disk...but in any case is part of the turntable.

tom collins
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Re: Doing an entry level system today

i am speaking somewhat from personal experience as well. my first tt in 30 years went from a circa 1979 sanyo direct drive to a rega p2 with 250 arm and bias cart - about 600 total, it sounded good. at the time, the dlr had a nottingham se ($1400) there with that same 250 arm (300?) and a benz silver cart ($350). the diffreneces were not subtle at all. i was shocked when he said that the cartridge was "only" the benz silver. i thought that he would have put an expensive cartridge on that unit the way it sounded, this was right out of the box, first time ever played for the tt and cart. at that time, i cheaped out and got the rega, i now own that very nott. setup.
i splurged buying it set-up as it was, but it is good to know that i have a good foundation that i could move up in arm or cartridge quality if i feel the need at some point or it is just a good solid system to keep for the next 20 years. another place it is important to spend the money is on the motor and possibly a controller as one poster mentioned. it won't matter how good the system is if the speed is not constant and vibration free. in my example, i included that as part of the basic turntable, but many good units have upgrades there too.
turntables are a p.i.t.a., but so much fun.

tom

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Re: Doing an entry level system today


Quote:
I think this buy the base and the upgrade strategy plays into the hands of groups like VPI, Linn and their dealers that entice people to get into a long-term cycle of tweaking and upgrading.

There you go! Even more proof manufacturers and dealers are greedy SOB's who only want your money! They force you into upgrading just to stay in business. I bet they even take your old stuff in trade and resell it to someone else for a profit.

I've got an idea! Let's just deal with Best Buy and let the independent SOB dealers go out of business. Then they won't be making anyone upgrade ever again. Who's with me? Who has a rope?

dcstep
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Re: Doing an entry level system today

Jan, don't get your panties in a wad. I bought all my TT systems over the years from dealers. I'm just saying that we buyers have a couple of choices to make. Do we want to buy a complete, fully functioning system or get into a planned upgrade mode.

VPI, for one, caters to both groups. I could have bought a Scoutmaster instead of a Pro-ject RM10 and refused to listen to the enticement to convert to rim drive. However, VPI has a bunch of customers that tweak their TT one step at a time.

I won't even talk about Linn. Always the "best" but always "better" with their latest stupidly named improvement. That's been going on for decades.

I'm sorry that you're so insecure about your role in audio society. I love my dealer, Soundings in Colorado.

Dave

Jan Vigne
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Re: Doing an entry level system today

I have no role in the "audio society". I just listen to music. And read posts on forums. But I do find

Quote:
I think this buy the base and the upgrade strategy plays into the hands of groups like VPI, Linn and their dealers that entice people to get into a long-term cycle of tweaking and upgrading

sounding like it comes from someone who doesn't really think their dealer and the high end manufacturers have your best interests at heart. When I was selling I found a good deal of my clients had limitied incomes and liked the idea their system could be tweaked and upgraded. I'm not clear on how that can be a bad thing. I can't help but feel there exists a large group of people who believe dealers drag people off the street and force them into submitting to strange, depraved acts of audiophilia. How manufacturers and dealers "entice" (force) people to do things not in their best interest certainly takes up enormous amounts of time on this forum.

bifcake
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Re: Doing an entry level system today


Quote:
How manufacturers and dealers "entice" (force) people to do things not in their best interest certainly takes up enormous amounts of time on this forum.

There must be a good reason for that.

struts
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Re: Doing an entry level system today


Quote:
another place it is important to spend the money is on the motor and possibly a controller as one poster mentioned. it won't matter how good the system is if the speed is not constant and vibration free.


Tom,

I agree with much of what you are saying, however I feel that there is a risk of falling headlong into a colossal mantrap if one pursues specific features (cause) rather than sound quality (effect). I would argue that while it is the job of the product designer to chose how to apportion the BoM budget between various components, it is the job of marketing to convince the consumer that those design choices represent the unique "silver bullet" that will transform his/her listening experience. The job of the consumer must therefore be to try to ignore the engineering pseudoscience and let his/her ears be the judge! This is particularly true in digital circuits where relationships between cause and effect can be virtually or totally impossible to assert based on any identifiable sonic characteristic.

While the logic of the importance of constant rotational speed is irrefutable, there are myriad other aspects of turntable (not to mention arm and cartridge) design which affect the sound at least as much. Ceteris paribus a turntable with an elaborate power supply that flattens everything to DC and then synthesizes two pure sine waves exactly 90 degrees out of phase should sound better than one which uses the mains frequency as a timebase. However in reality ceteris is rarely paribus and completely contrasting design approaches can often yield surprisingly similar results. Check out this review for a great example of what I mean here:


Quote:
Rega upgraded from its simple motor/wall-socket power-supply drive to a sophisticated 24V twin-phase synchronous motor with an extremely sophisticated outboard power supply that feeds the two phases independently and cancels out motor vibration. According to Rega, the motor can thus be mounted directly to the plinth, which is a thin, light laminate of chipboard and phenolic plastic.

W-B went with a simple power supply to feed its AC-synchronous motor, but took great pains to design a sophisticated (though simple to set up) isolation system using two plinths and a series of platforms supported by carbon-fiber tubes.

...

Which is "better"? I can't answer that. From my recollection of the Rega, it sounds more lively, "fast," and exciting. The W-B is richer, airier, somewhat smoother, more neutral and laid-back, and easier to listen to for long periods. I also think it has better bass extension, but too much has changed in my system to be sure.

In any case, these are two really accomplished products. If I were in the market for a 'table priced at around $3000, I'd be sure to audition both. But you won't go wrong with either.

Put simply, what I am suggesting is that people should be thinking "do I like the sound of the midrange?" rather than "do I like the sound of the power supply?"

Of course a turntable with an upgradable power supply (I upgraded that of my Roksan in three stages!) allows you to have your cake and eat it too. But then we're back to the old battleground of the upgrade merry-go-round and dealer motives and I don't want to go there again!

tom collins
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Re: Doing an entry level system today

I would never argue that the end product, the sound, should be discounted in favor of cool gadgets. My suggestions are generalizations that have been true in my experience. There are innumerable of approaching turntable design - in the end its how it sounds that counts. but, in keeping budgetary constraints in mind, i still believe in my earlier theory. i think you are right in that i didn't preface my remarks with the caveat "sound quality first".

tom

struts
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Re: Doing an entry level system today

Tom,

I suspected as much, and fwiw my own experience with turntables with upgradable power supplies (really the only case where ceteris is paribus) backs up your theory.

My point was that many (especially budget) tts do not have elaborate power supplies but that it would IMHO be foolish to discount them based on the absence of one feature and the belief that the product cannot sound good without it. This is an easy trap for anyone to fall into, especially a noob, and I felt that your post was open to this misinterpretation. After all, this is "The Entry Level".

You can find examples of this in every single equipment-related thread on the board, people ardently asserting that some 'feature' sounds better and either implying or explicitly stating that products not incorporating it are inherently compromised. It is breathtaking how some, sometimes knowledgeable, people can be seduced by marketing to this degree and start relaying (and often amplifying) it with evangelical fervor - not to mention the seductive illusion of impartiality. The 'Cables' board is by far the most entertaining amphitheater, if you like bloodsports that's where to head!

My intention was to point this mantrap out to the unwary but definitely not to imply that your post was an example of it. Apologies if it came across that way.

tom collins
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Re: Doing an entry level system today

struts:
no offense taken. i am in a profession where we have to justify our postions, so i never mind being taken to task if i have not expressed myself well. one of the things i like about this board is that for the most part, we can carry on a civilized debate about these issues. i believe you are from europe and i don't know the situation there, but in the US, civilized debate has been a dying art for a while now.
the turntable in my opinion is an excellent example of the relationship of how all parts affect the whole. becuase a TT has so many parts, in a TT, if you change something small, such as belt tension, or even the brand of belt, it has a ripple effect through the entire unit and system, ultimately affecting the final sound. the same holds true for the entire system, change one interconnect, different sound. although i totally agree that the sound is most important, i still love the esthetics of the individual parts and how they integrate. ok, i'll say it, i love a cool looking table. but cool can mean simply well executed and simple like the Rega P2 with glass platter i had or wild looking like some of the exotica out there or the VPI black knight for instance. i wouldn't choose the cool looks over sound, but it is a definite bonus for me. i would love sonus faber speakers (i'll have to dream about these for now) even if they didn't sound good. i'm one of those guys in the middle of the form vs. function debate.
currently i have these birdseye maple speakers and have to be honest and say, they look very cool to my eyes and will also admit that i love it when people ooh and ahh over them (sonically, they kick but for their price range). now, in the spirit of fun, i throw down the challenge to anyone else who is willing to admit that they too like that little ego boost.

tom

soundberry
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Re: Doing an entry level system today

"I've got an idea! Let's just deal with Best Buy and let the independent SOB dealers go out of business. "

I totally agree.
Today are sold an incredible amount of product at high level cost not justyfing that price.

But the problem is..it's true best buy what it's indicating in a pubblicity page?

dcstep
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Re: Doing an entry level system today


Quote:
I have no role in the "audio society". I just listen to music. And read posts on forums. But I do find
Quote:
I think this buy the base and the upgrade strategy plays into the hands of groups like VPI, Linn and their dealers that entice people to get into a long-term cycle of tweaking and upgrading

sounding like it comes from someone who doesn't really think their dealer and the high end manufacturers have your best interests at heart. When I was selling I found a good deal of my clients had limitied incomes and liked the idea their system could be tweaked and upgraded. I'm not clear on how that can be a bad thing. I can't help but feel there exists a large group of people who believe dealers drag people off the street and force them into submitting to strange, depraved acts of audiophilia. How manufacturers and dealers "entice" (force) people to do things not in their best interest certainly takes up enormous amounts of time on this forum.

Good for you Jan.

I would hope that if I came to you and said that I want to spend no more than $3500 on a TT/cartride and I want the best that I can get for that price and don't plan to update, tweak and twiddle that you could and would have responded to my desire with a very good suggestion or two.

Some people don't want to tweak and twiddle, yet some brands tend to have an endless history of tweaks. I would ask to be steered away from those brands. I'd suggest to any newbie that they consider which camp they belong to and chose accordingly. There's nothing wrong with tweaking and twiddling and farting around with your TT/cartridge, but I'd rather listen to music through a good system and not spend my time waiting for the earth shatering, must have, tweak from Ivor, or whatever his name is.

Dave

soundberry
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Re: Doing an entry level system today

Relating my opinion is not to improve update time by time but I say thatif you have 2000 euro to spend is better to use a 75 euro cartridge only and the rest on the turntable/arm.

-------------------

Returning at the start post question I would repeat to give more importance to loudspeakers with a true selection,take time.And please give less importance to the amplifier and much more to the preamplifier.The importance of the power amplifier is about some ,too much, terrible speakers that need too much power and with strong difficulties to manage.
Today there are many low cost separate pre+final amplifiers :use this opportunity to invest only into the pre part better.
Use the opportunity to buy the few low cost fine music cd players:

Trevi 3520 dvd player 50 euro
And not more up to 1000 euro when you find out the Vincent cds1.1..

So you can buy a better loudspeaker.

This is very important.Too much loudspekers today are cinema loudspeakers independently by their important name..

Easy to find out.

Avoid metal tweeter
Avoid multiple woofer,in particullar way where they are the same two or three:they are used only to speak loud but with less quality...and reduce the cost for the producer.
Use three way speakers only if true quality components.

When you test speakers avoid speakers not able to sound very well with economic 200 euro amplifier.

Ciao

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