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The Fifth Element and 80/20

I think John Marks has his dollars wrong. An ambitions audio system is around $10K, which is about what I have in mine. I know that many audiophiles spend more, after all, I've read about $60K amplifiers in Stereophile. But tell any non-audiophole even a couple K and they think your nuts. So if you were taking about a music teacher, what you really need todo is give them a system for $2K that will rock their world.

I know that's modest buget. But remember this, most teachers make far less than $40K a year and most at a private school make under $20K. Only very committed people spend that much of their disposable income (which is disproportately affected by income). So to expect a teacher who is barely in the middle class to drop close to $10K is silly.

The thing is I belive the $2K system a very relaistic goal. A small integrared amp (say a creek or NAD) some small Epos speakers, tha sony SACD/DVD player, maybe a used tuner could be done that really sounds wonderful. My father put together such a system for a muic teacher friend of hus.

We shouldn't assume people are like us. We need to meet them where they are.

dcrowe
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Re: The Fifth Element and 80/20


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I think you are correct about the price mark being set too high. At $10k, most teachers would be taking out a loan to cover the equipment. Not likely to happen. A $2k mark is a more realistic goal to set.

A Senior Editor for Wiley Interscience once asked me, on a visit to my office about a book of mine they had published, what my office stereo system cost, since she was looking for a system herself. When I started by saying the speakers were $200, she turned white at hearing that large sum, and stopped me right there. Even given that was 18 years ago, you can see that $2K may seem unbelievably high to many "civilians".

Jim Tavegia
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Re: The Fifth Element and 80/20

The post above is mine...forgot to log in. My wife cleaned out the "cookies" today. And I will be literally doing the same thing over this weekend.

ohfourohnine
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Re: The Fifth Element and 80/20

When, in October, John Marks set out to put a good two-channel system together for a hypothetical high-school music teacher, I was eager to see what he would come up with and never considered that he might need some help. But, then again, I didn't imagine he would peg the cost of this "modest cost" system at $10K.

The typical high-school music teacher does not consider $10,000 a modest sum of money. Half of that might, more reasonably, be considered an upper bound for the initial investment. My use of "initial investment" leads to my first point. If, as John suggests we're interested in perpetuating the high end, we aren't putting our teacher in a system to last for his lifetime, we're just out to get him hooked like the rest of us.

Next, consider that our teacher is probably not living alone. He typically shares his home with a wife and family and probably plans to share music with them too. The new system won't be housed in a "listening room" and therefore elaborate room treatments (following an entry level Rives Audio consultation no less) would be nixed at the outset on the basis of unsightliness before the question of the significant costs involved was even addressed. Going from no home music system at all to one that disrupts and dominates the family living room guarantees big time domestic trouble.

Why would our teacher, not be delighted with the Harbeth HL-3P-ES2 speakers driven by the Audio Analogue Primo integrated amp? We're talking about really good equipment which he can afford. His wife might find that combination easy to accept too. It's not big and ugly, not too disruptive of the home decor, and not too big a dent in the household budget. Add a good quality digital source, decent interconnects, cables, stands, and an inexpensive power conditioner and you've got enjoyment for one and all plus some cash left over to let everyone buy recorded music.

Don't we want to widen the tent to get more people to enter? They don't have to agree, at the outset, to live there full time do they?

If all goes well, and that's what is expected, they can go looking later for that bottom octave, better imaging, FM, or whatever suits them next. Isn't that what the rest of us did?

In the unlikely event that it doesn't prove to be a happy experience (maybe he gets all the music he wants at school or whatever) the price tag wasn't enough to lead to divorce.

Jim Tavegia
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Re: The Fifth Element and 80/20

In my home office I have kept my older system running with my old AR 58's (3-way 12"), my Hafler amp and preamp using my computer and a newer Jolida JD 100 tube CD player. This sytem reminds me why I got into this hobby into the first place. I also use an old Project one/DR220 with a Stanton 881S. Sounds good, but newer gear is markedly better as it should be.

DLWyattjr
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Re: The Fifth Element and 80/20

I'm not sure FM is something you do down the road, particularly when someone isn't sure about spending the money. The more useful an entry-level system is the more likely a newbie will come to appreciate it. FM (0r XM) adds functionality to the system, so it doesn't have to stay off when people aren't sitting in the sweet spot. For example, I often clean to music, cranking up Mister McIntosh helps get the drudge work done. Granted that isn't the best way to appreciate music, but I do stop now and then for particularly tasty bits before returning to the sponge.

Th more use they get out of that initial high-end system the more likely they are to keep going. If it adds to their experiance, not only in listening, but when they're watching The Two Towers, the more joy they will get from their purchase.

Anthony Tam
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Re: The Fifth Element and 80/20

How does the saying go? You are either a musician, music-lover or an audiophile? The rare combination of the three become writers in some hi-fi rag.

I'm not sure what the median income of a high-school teacher is but I am inclined to agree. $10K+ seems to be a rather not-insignificant sum of money for a music system. The typical "civilian" (i.e., not a Stereophile reader with zero exposure to the price ranges of "the high end") would probably have a fairly extreme reaction.

The technophile in me enjoys the gear aspect but the music lover in me just wants good sound. Reality dictates that I have only so much to spend in pursuit of high fidelity. Fortunately, entry level hi-fi that is way better than mass market kit can be had for a more modest sum.

To be fair, I believe Stereophile's readership surveys indicate the median income of its readers is well above $40K. In this respect, the article is in-line with the "typical" reader thumbing through the pages (or mousing over to the next page for Zino subscribers).

Perhaps products like the Arcam Solo, Linn's equivalent and the forthcoming Audio Analogue Enigma (paging Sam Tellig...) can help bridge the gap between the mass market and hi-fi? Perhaps a topic for another thread...

ohfourohnine
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Re: The Fifth Element and 80/20

You're right. An Arcam Solo (about $1500?) with the best speakers suited to it that one can afford may just be the answer. I got caught up in my reaction to John Marks' recommendations and missed seeing the forest for the trees.

Jim Tavegia
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Re: The Fifth Element and 80/20

I still think that you could take either the larger Creek 5350 with either the B&W or Triangle $1K floorstanders and a MusicHall Cd25.1 and make a pretty fine system for $3K and have money left over for plenty of software. I doubt that most would feel the urge to "upgrade" any time soon. I think Denon makes a good DVD/CD/SACD in that price range of the Music Hall if you want to add video for free. If you have $2-3K to spend you can make some pretty fine music playing.

Jim Tavegia
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Re: The Fifth Element and 80/20

http://www.musichallaudio.com/creek_products.asp?show=false

Here is the link to the new Destiny Series from Creek. I'm sure it will raise the bar for affordable high end audio. Since the 5350 is ranked Class A, I would doubt that the new Destiny integrated would be less. I'm sure ST will fill us in on the specifics real soon. These Destiny units mated with a Music Hall model 5 or 7 Turntable and a set of Epos would make most people quite happy for a long time to come.

Buddha
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Re: The Fifth Element and 80/20

This topic brings up an old memory that I think I first read about in a Stereophile article or interview.

It was, I think, in regard to the lack of women in the hobby and then showed up again in relation to music professionals.

Both of the above groups seem to be able to "listen through" electronic gear and actually get the gist of the music and message without needing to hear someone's inhalations before singing a phrase or hear a player's fingers on the frets.

It seems that some people can listen to an AM table radio and get to the heart of the matter while others, us audiophiles, seem to need every drop of information that can be squeezed out of a medium in order to gain a measure of the appreciation that those other listeners do.

I took a music appreciation class in college that was taught by a symphony cellist who introduced me to music that I love to this day. One night, he invited several students to his house for dinner and music listening and I was absolutely buzzed thinking about what a great system he would have and how it would sound compared to my hi-fi rig.

When I got to the party, I was downcast to see a Sansui receiver with Sansui speakers (remember those ones with the plastic filigree mesh covers - kind of like looking at a Venetian room divider?) and a basic kenwood turntable and Pickering cartridge. The system had rumble and that static that those things used to get when you moved the volume knob...but he was as happy as a clam, pointing out musical nuance and talking about what the conductor was trying to accomplish and how the timing of the entry of different parts of the orchestra was bold and inventive...

He got more joy out of his rig than I will ever be able to get out of anything I put together - he didn't need hi-fi because he "got it" without the need for what us audiophiles demand.

So, when I've taken people who teach music hi-fi hunting, I usually ended up getting a lesson in just how much information is produced by a kilo-dollar system instead of convincing them that a high dollar system is superior. Their ears fill in the missing highs, lows, or whatevers and they get right down to enjoying!

They would be a neat group to do a hi-fi study with. Instead of asking how this or that device sounded, I'd just track how long they listened before losing interest and then compare what gear kept them listening longer vs. what we all think is the best gear. I bet we'd be in for a few surprises!

Cheers!

stereophillips
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Re: The Fifth Element and 80/20


Quote:
I was absolutely buzzed thinking about what a great system he would have and how it would sound compared to my hi-fi rig.

When I got to the party, I was downcast to see a Sansui receiver with Sansui speakers (remember those ones with the plastic filigree mesh covers - kind of like looking at a Venetian room divider?) and a basic kenwood turntable and Pickering cartridge.

I remember these well, but I'm not sure if they were actually sold in the US. Everybody I knew who had them had picked them up on R&R from the SE Asia wargames in the '70s. Does anybody know if the Sansui speakers were sold in North America?

I actually bought a Sansui AU-555 because it had a "midrange" control in addition to bass and treble. More had to be better, no?

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