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59mga
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New equipment advice

It has been a few (15 or so) years since I last acquired any new stereo items. I am looking to downsize and simplify my system. Vinyl and CDs is what I'll be listening to. Several of the integrated amps (Creek, Music Hall & others)that I've looked have no balance, treble or bass adjustments. Is this a new trend? Have industry standards changed?

JoeE SP9
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Re: New equipment advice

Most high(er) end gear does not have tone controls. I think a balance control is an absolute necessity. Some gear has dual volume controls instead of balance controls. I have not had tone controls for at least 15 years. As my equipment and speakers got better the need for tone controls became less. A lot of those integrateds don't have a phono stage. You mentioned vinyl as one of your sources so a phono stage would be important.

gkc
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Re: New equipment advice

Right. I think McIntosh still offers tone controls on their integrateds. Van Alstine has 'em on some of his preamps, but I don't think he makes integrateds. They can be useful on REALLY bad software, but they mess up the soundstage when in the circuit. You can go the DSP route, which is a newer trend, but this introduces new complications, because each individual CD/LP requires its own specific corrections. There is no "one size fits all," except for those products offering different bass curves for room compensation. Even those won't tweak specific discs, unless you want to take the time to re-program the settings every time you put in a new tune. Some folks DO that, but that's a lot of fuss from my perspective.

Buddha
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Re: New equipment advice

Welcome!

You arrive at an auspicious time. The age of high quality integrateds is in full bloom!

At almost every budget, there is gear of such quality as to be mind boggling.

It's nice to have a simple set-up, too.

I'm biased by ownership, but the Marantz PM 7200 integrated is a stellar unit at only 499 bucks. It has tone controls and balance, as well, and runs class A up to 25 watts.

There are totally high Hi End integrates in the 2 to 2.5 kilodollar range that would kill mega-buck pre/power systems from just a decade ago.

The audio world is your oyster.

Clue us in as to what your expectations might be and we'll keep helping out.

59mga
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Re: New equipment advice


Quote:
You mentioned vinyl as one of your sources so a phono stage would be important.

Yes, a phono stage is important. Beings I'm scaling down the number of devices I have, Creek was the only (affordable for me) amp that had a phono card, that could be installed in the unit - as opposed to an external preamp.
But if I want to listen to FM I need to get a tuner. That is what was attractive about the Music Hall Maven...but then I'm back to having to get a phono preamp. What's a guy to do?

59mga
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Re: New equipment advice


Quote:
Right. I think McIntosh still offers tone controls on their integrateds. Van Alstine has 'em on some of his preamps, but I don't think he makes integrateds. They can be useful on REALLY bad software, but they mess up the soundstage when in the circuit. You can go the DSP route, which is a newer trend, but this introduces new complications, because each individual CD/LP requires its own specific corrections. There is no "one size fits all," except for those products offering different bass curves for room compensation. Even those won't tweak specific discs, unless you want to take the time to re-program the settings every time you put in a new tune. Some folks DO that, but that's a lot of fuss from my perspective.

Yes, McIntosh does still offer tone controls but I'm scaling down the number of devices I need. "...the DSP route...", "...re-progam settings...", where have I been. I know this is the computer age but it has been a challenge just to find "good old 2 channel stereo" equipment. Maybe I should try and locate some older, refurbished equipment.

59mga
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Re: New equipment advice


Quote:

I'm biased by ownership, but the Marantz PM 7200 integrated is a stellar unit at only 499 bucks. It has tone controls and balance, as well, and runs class A up to 25 watts.

There are totally high Hi End integrates in the 2 to 2.5 kilodollar range that would kill mega-buck pre/power systems from just a decade ago.

Well Buddha, you too Clifton and JoeE, you guys have certainly enlightened me. There is a lot more to be considered these days. Technology sure has changed our choices/decisions. Sometimes more choices is not a blessing. Back to my research.

Monty
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Re: New equipment advice

If you don't mind waiting a couple of months to receive your unit, the new Outlaw receiver might work out real nice for you. $599 and a 30 day home trial.

59mga
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Re: New equipment advice

Thanks, Monty, for suggesting the Outlaw. It has all the "traditional" features I was looking for and beings I'm trying to consolidate it looks ideal. Rotel, NAD and Marantz are few other brands that have been suggested.

Buddha
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Re: New equipment advice

Yeah, with adding phono and FM, the Outlaw seems perfect!

They were actually demoing it with a turntable at HE 2006, and in a casual display room, it sounded "normal."

That may be a perfect fit!

gkc
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Re: New equipment advice

Mike, don't be put off by the latest alphabet soup -- DSP makes corrections in the digital domain. Since I am an analog man, I'm damned if I'm gonna undo all the good that analog does by converting it to digital, just so I can twirl a few more dials. Buddha is right. Try the Marantz (I didn't know it had tone controls) and others in that price range -- it may sound just as good in your system as $10,000 separates. I honestly thought Roy Hall had one of the top 3 rooms at the show, and he was using sub-$1000 electronics. Just take your time, shop around, go to a few live music events, and gradually make up your mind about the characteristics of music YOU are interested in hearing in YOUR system. Cheers, and keep in touch -- Clifton

59mga
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Re: New equipment advice

This morning Creek replied to my inquiery concerning tone controls. Luke Creek reitorated what JoeE stated; as equipment gets better the need for tone controls goes away.
And the proof is in the pudding: Yesterday evening I went to Soundscape (a local hifi dealer) and listened to some of my own CDs via a Music Hall A25.2 amp and CD25.2 player along with the B&W 704 (that I considered purchasing). It sounded great - no need to adjust treble or bass. Another area hifi dealer has the Creek 5350 I want to buy - I'll be stopping there this weekend to listen to it through a set of Spendor S5Es. I appreciate what you enjoy about analog, Clifton - I use to restore antique radios and the sound is very ...warming. I've looked at some hybrid and tube equipment but am staying with solid-state for a variety of reasons. I'll let you know my final choice.

Jeff Wong
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Re: New equipment advice

Will seeing your name as mike5350 be the giveaway?

59mga
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Re: New equipment advice

Don't change my name just yet, Jeff. I went to listen to the 5350 and it (a demo unit) had been sold. So, instead, I listened to a Music Hall Maven through a pair of Spendor S8Es and S9Es. Both sounded good but I will be going back to listen to the Music Hall a25.2 again. Hey, I've gotten older, my hearing is not what it use to be so why buy a system that reproduces frequencies that I can't hear. These days I'm listening for tonal quality, not so much frequency.

JoeE SP9
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Re: New equipment advice

You should be buying gear on what your ears tell you. Specs don't really tell you all that much. You want equipment that reproduces the entire frequency spectrum. The most important thing is how the gear reproduces what you can hear. If you can't hear to 20khz it's not all that important. Most of us old folks can't hear a 20khz signal anyway.

CECE
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Re: New equipment advice

Yes it is, what you can't hear affects ehat you do. Why does EarthWorks produce mics that go way out to like 50K? Why do my VanAlstine amps go from like 0-500Khz yes 500khz!!! Why are they using FAST slew rates liek 800V/uS, when all teh gurus say anything above 25 or so is wasted, why do teh Vanalstines sound better than teh sloooooow, diminsihed freqs ones? What you hear is influenced by what you don't harmonics etc. That's the olded falsehood in stereo, Oh, i can't hear above blah blah blah, why should teh system be able to go far beyond..it matters

Monty
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Re: New equipment advice

I was going to draw an analogy between science saying we can't hear it and so it doesn't matter...and science saying cables cannot possibly be audible. But, nope, I'm not gonna do it. I'll simply take the occasion of agreeing with you and say that sometimes science's inability to explain something doesn't make it irrelevant.

Dup, you are actually thinking outside the box on this one. Whassa matter wit you?

JoeE SP9
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Re: New equipment advice

Please don't misunderstand what I meant. I know that what you can't hear is just as important as what you can hear. I was just going back to my standard thing about pleasing your own ears. I think specs are important but pleasing your own ears is even more important.

CECE
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Re: New equipment advice

But i do hear teh effects of teh exteneded freq responses, teh faster ckts. i do not hear AC line cords etc. Look inside a CD or SACd player....After you change out teh line cord, it winds up being connected to the interal ckts of the player with some rather common, cheap, wire from the IEC to the fuse holder or switch, so how can the first 6 feet do anything being in the middle of the 12/14ga NM wall wire, then you insert this magic cord of 6 feet, then again it's reduced to some Chinese connection wire of about 18ga. or less. Soldered by non magic solder, etc. The thing that matters for line cords, amapacity, insulation rated for it's inteneded use. You can measure the influences of speed and exteneded freq responses of pre and amps, how do you measure the influence of an AC line cord? Let alone the difference between PVC or a rubber cord? This month Sensible Sound has an AQ ad for 36V bias RCA 75 Ohm wire. Now they are mentioning using it for audio and Video!! now how can that be? Last month ad had 72V listed for AUDIO how can this magic wire know it's video electron or audio and do it right? Since most of these magic wire companies sell use specific magic wires. What is teh difference in sound between teh 36V bias or 72V bias magic? They claim there is no current, so the battieries last long time, how bout' thos LED's they now put on it, what's that do? If it lights up, it must be using current? Why not bias the speaker wires? Why only the signal connectors?

JoeE SP9
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Re: New equipment advice

Why is it that you can hear the things you think are important and not hear things you don't think are important. Things such as slew rate beyond a certain point are irrelevant to everyone but you. Others can't hear them but you can. Is it such a leap that others can hear differences in wires cables and other components and you can't.
I am an engineer and have been taught that any properly functioning amplifier will sound the same as any other(NOT). I had to revise my thinking about wires and cables also. Until it was demonstrated to me that wires and cables sound different I would refer to my test gear and theory. A perfect example is negative feedback. On test signals and theory wise it is a good thing. How come amplifiers with lots of negative feedback sound so awful? I used to think that if I couldn't measure it it didn't exist. I realize now that we don't know what to measure or how.

59mga
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Re: New equipment advice

All of you guys make good points. Scew rates, frequency response, bias voltage, etc., etc. when added up do make a difference. But JoeE's advice, "...buying gear on what your ears tell you.", is the ultimate determining factor. Even the cheapest "boom box" has better specs than the best audiophile equipment of 10 years ago. But we all know that there is no comparison. What we read on a piece of paper and what we hear coming out of a speaker are two totally diferent things. Hey, my modern day car has power everything, it rides smooth, is quiet and practically drives itself and is worthwhile is rush hour traffic. But you know what, on the weekend I much prefer driving my
1952 Jaguar.

JoeE SP9
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Re: New equipment advice

I once traded a bunch of tube gear for a lot of early SS gear. It had great specs but sounded so bad I almost gave up listening to music. Six months later I traded the SS stuff for some more tubes and the magic returned. I have used nothing but tube preamps since. I also use tubes to drive my ESL's. SS is good enough for my subwoofers.

59mga
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Re: New equipment advice

I know what you mean about "...early SS gear..". Back in the very early 70s I had a Dynalab, which I had retubed, and a friend had a new Pioneer reciever. Although the Pioneer had a nice sound it just wasn't the same as the tube gear. I can still hear the difference between SS and tubes but I guess I'm just not as critical a listener as I used to be...I think I'll listen to some tubes equipment before making a final decision.

59mga
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Re: New equipment advice

Well, I finally took the plunge and bought some new equipment. I purchased the Music Hall a25.2 amp and CD25.2
player along with some B&W 704 speakers. Now waiting to get a phono preamp for my vinyl. It is amazing how much technology has advanced since I last bought stereo gear - I'm getting such great hi and lo tones without having bass and treble adjustments. JoeE, I did listen to some tube amps and it did sound good, but I opted for SS...this go round. Next time, maybe. Thanks, everyone, for your advice and comments.

Monty
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Re: New equipment advice

Cool, I'm glad you gave us an update. I'm always curious as to what people decide on after they do a little comparison shopping. Impressive hifi doesn't have to cost a fortune. That's what Music Hall is all about.

JoeE SP9
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Re: New equipment advice

As long as your ears are pleased so am I. Current SS gear sounds quite good. It just sounds different than tube gear. That's not a value judgement. It's just an observation.

59mga
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Re: New equipment advice

Monty, just as you stated, "Impressive hifi doesn't have to cost a fortune." Even though I still have to buy a phono preamp the Music Hall sounds great and is a good buy.
Yes, JoeE, tube and SS sound different and it's a matter of preference. Before buying the MH I did listen to a Conrad Johnson tube preamp and amplifier. A very, very nice sound which I did prefer but my wallet had the final say. I listened to it via the B&W 704s that I bought and have already decided that my next purchase will deffinately be tube. Thanks, again, to everyone for their input.

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