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Buddha
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Upgrade Paths.

Hola,

Since we have loads of questions about upgrading systems, it has made me curious to see if people have "upgrade philosophies."

I love those kinds of questions, and even on an "Entry Level" forum, it is often very enlightening to see people's recommendations!

For my own part, I think I tend toward "saltatory" rather than incremental upgrade paths.

My own philosophy would be to start with whatever system is mentioned, and then, instead of incrementally upgrading each type of item (symmetrical upgrading?) I would usually pick a piece and try to unpgrade it to as definitive a level as possible, and then wait until the budget was able to accomodate another such move in the future with another part of the system.

My own feeling is that this has provided the most meaningful improvements in my experience, and also actually saves money, because I end up upgrading fewer times and keeping the upgraded item for a 'product-lifetime' rather than an 'ear-upgrade' time.

(I also tend toward an affection for products that offer further future upgrading of the product, too; like VPI or Michell and their turntables...)

So, what philosophy do y'all tend toward?

I can see where asymmetrical upgrading may not seem like a balanced approach to some, and I bet there are strategies I haven't thought of, too.

bifcake
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Re: Upgrade Paths.

When I do my upgrades, I do a LOT of research and listening in order to figure out what the possibilities are at each given system and component price point and to figure out what type of sound I want to pursue.

Once I figure that out, I assess my current system and pick the weakest link to upgrade. I upgrade the weakest link to the level of what my goal system should be at a system price point. For example, if my budget for my system is $10k, I will pick out a component that would be part of my 10k system and upgrade the weakest link to that level. Will then follow up with the next weakest link and so on until I have reached my goal system.

ethanwiner
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Re: Upgrade Paths.

Why not just buy good stuff to begin with and be done with it? Seriously. The only thing I "upgraded" in the past 20 years is replacing my receiver when it broke and was no longer viable, and then the same thing again a few years ago. That, and buying new (and better) speakers when I moved up from stereo to surround.

And Yes, I realize this is heretical.

--Ethan

dbowker
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Re: Upgrade Paths.

I do the same thing- one item at a time until the whole system is in alignment a sit were. It started a couple of years ago with speakers. Then wires. Then the amp. The cartridge and phono amp. Then CD player, tuner and finally the amp again. Then I made my own speakers to top it all off and I am seriously done for a loooong time. It almost was two upgrade cycles really, but with Audiogon it was easier.

Well... maybe the CD player in a year or two, hahah. The only thing that hasn't changed appreciably has been the turntable which would take major bucks to best IMO.

tom collins
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Re: Upgrade Paths.

i have taken the incramental approach, and most budget conscious people probably have to go this route. over the course of 3+ years i have done the following:
went to dealer when i thought i needed speakers, when he found out my receiver was 20 years old and my cd was a $100 best buy special, he suggested new electronics. after listening and considering this, i settled for arcam A80 and CD73t with nordost red dawn interconnect. got it home hooked it up with the radio shack 18 ga wire and good lord, those speakers i thought needed replacing, i had never actually heard them before. also replaced the outlet with hospital grade. happy for a while. then, talked to him and he custom made me some speaker wire, improved, happy for a while. then i decided the 20 year old cartridge in my 25 year old sanyo direct drive tt probably needed upgrading, so i got a grado red, life was good again. bought the naim wiremould power strip. then, he started carrying rega and nottingham turntables and i heard those (big mistatke) so the kids got the sanyo and i got a P2, although i agonized about the nott at the time (more on this later). about this time, i started to feel that i really had taken the speakers as far as they could go, so started looking, really liked the aerials and martin logans, but too much $ new, but was not content to settle for lesser models. as luck would have it, he traded in a barely used pair of Aerial 6s, so the 6s and a set of biwire demo nordost blue heavens came home. man, what a great day, but those speaks were heavy. after a while, i realized that i really should have gotten the nottingham after all. so dealer says no prob, i'll sell your P2 on audiogon, home comes the nott horizon se with a benz silver cart (demo unit.- good price, barely touched, maybe i was the only person who listened to it). what a great day, hiding it from the wife was tough because it looks nothing like the beautiful rega with glass platter. i then notice that my bass does not quite sound like what i want as the A80 is only pushing 65 watts per side (good watts though), so i look on a-gon and find the companion P80 which the manual said could be biamped for killer sound. That arrives and dealer modifies my nordost to do biamping. now, there is not just the suggestion of bass, there is serious bass. well, on albums, the nott still doesn't sound quite like it did to me in the store. i start thinking about power cords. got my first nordost pc and plugged into CD (dealer said arcam loves nordost), ah carumba, it sounded like a different unit, quieter, deeper, more detail, i like this magic, but was not prepared for when i plugged it into the amp and played the TT. Every record was so much more detailed and had so much less surface noise, even the wife heard the difference. got a 2nd cord, and probably going back for the 3rd soon. just picked up 6 panals of owens-corning 705 24 by 48 insulation, whoa, bass now under control. i forgot to mention that my listening room is in a 180 year old part of my house and the joists were trees cut in half, was a little unstable - so along the way, floor torn out, new floor put in, very stable, new carpeting with fiber (not foam) pad, expensive, but will get back with sale of house. also picked up many of the little things that go with the hobby such as a rack, record brushes and the like.
It all sounds great for now, until the next thing.
The moral - don't let this happen to you. (honestly, its been fun)

happy listening

Buddha
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Re: Upgrade Paths.


Quote:
Why not just buy good stuff to begin with and be done with it? Seriously. The only thing I "upgraded" in the past 20 years is replacing my receiver when it broke and was no longer viable, and then the same thing again a few years ago. That, and buying new (and better) speakers when I moved up from stereo to surround.

And Yes, I realize this is heretical.

--Ethan

So, the first pair of speakers you ever bought is still singing in your room?

A person with a budget of 600 dollars for an entire system ten years ago should have just "bought better" in the first place?

Shockingly, not heretically, some people compromise with their first system and then wish to upgrade to, perhaps, more WATTS (as DUP would say,) or speakers that can keep up with more of the demands of wanting better performance (you may just call this loudness,) or perhaps there are Luddites who would like a quieter turntable or different cartridge.

Really, you can't conceive of someone upgrading anything?

Man, what will Best Buy do without your business?

ethanwiner
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Re: Upgrade Paths.


Quote:
So, the first pair of speakers you ever bought is still singing in your room?


Well, okay, but I'm almost 60 so my first "stereo system" was a pair of mismatched Fender guitar amps with a home-brew phono preamp running off a 9V battery. So Yeah, I have "upgraded" a few times in my life.

I guess I'm talking about the typical audiophile who feels the need to constantly upgrade. Never satisfied, always buying and selling on eBay or Audiogon, etc. Not a matter of unable to afford what's needed, but just never happy with the sound. Weak bass? Buy a new RCA cable and see what happens. Bad imaging? Replace those $4,000 each speakers with others equally expensive. And so forth.

I gave a talk at a local audiophile club a few weeks ago, and I learned that they begin every meeting with who's got stuff for sale. I used that as a starting point for why room treatment is so important. Once you take care of that, all of a sudden the rest of your system doesn't suck anymore.


Quote:
Man, what will Best Buy do without your business?


Heh, the only thing I buy at Best Buy is computer accessories.

--Ethan

Elk
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Re: Upgrade Paths.


Quote:
I used that as a starting point for why room treatment is so important. Once you take care of that, all of a sudden the rest of your system doesn't suck anymore.


True.

But most have never heard a system in a decently treated/designed room.

Additionally, buying room treatments just isn't sexy. It should be.

dbowker
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Re: Upgrade Paths.

"Why not just buy good stuff to begin with and be done with it? Seriously."

Seriously????? You forgetting something here, Ethan? I don't know about others around here, but 20 years ago I was making $7.50 an hour and barely had money for rent, food, gas for my '74 Beetle, and maybe 3-4 records a month. So why didn't I just get the killer high end system and just be done with it?

Maybe because like most people, my buying power increased many times over those twenty years. Even now, I could certainly imagine a better system if I had more money to throw at it. Upgrades aren't just because everyone is an equipment junkie (although there are those around). Most guys buy what they can afford, knowing it's often far from their ideal system, but good enough for the time being. When they get a better job or a big bonus, they think about getting closer to that ideal.

On top of that, even the best companies make better products over time, some times much better, and that can be a valid reason to move up too.

In the end, I'd bet 9 out of 10 upgrades are from increased economic power, or that the equipment is in fact 20 years old.

struts
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Re: Upgrade Paths.


Quote:
Additionally, buying room treatments just isn't sexy. It should be.

Thanks Elk, for the best laugh of the week! I stumbled across these pictures on a Swedish bulltein board.



This is what I imagine happens with somebody with an awful lot of money to spend goes to one of these room treatment consultants and says "Pimp my cabin"! Here is the link to the full thread where you'll find more pics as well as the hilarious story - in Swedish unfortunately - of how the guy (now why on earth do I think it is a guy? Am I sexist?) was woken at 0300 one Friday morning by a truck driver asking where he should leave the four pallets(!) of room treatments.

Hey, at least you can't accuse him of lacking a sense of humor. You gotta say that the little bust of Lenin, beautifully juxtaposed against about $200k of capitalism's finest fruits, sets the room off perfectly! I wonder if his 'aura' enhances the effects of the Shakti stones?

Anyway, if anybody wondered why room treatments are not considered sexy then here is your answer (although THE BOSS thought it looked like a BDSM dungeon which I suppose is some people's idea of sexy ).

Need more convincing? Here is another example from the opposite end of the price spectrum. I won't tell you THE BOSS'S verdict on that one. Maybe you can guess.

Of course I know that it can be done a lot more discreetly than that (ahem, room treatment that is) but I think you get my drift...

59mga
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Re: Upgrade Paths.

Now this is a place that qualifies as a "bachelor pad".

ethanwiner
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Re: Upgrade Paths.


Quote:
most have never heard a system in a decently treated/designed room.


This is why I always laugh at reviewers who comment on the imaging and sound stage of this speaker or that, yet in the "associated equipment" box not one absorber or diffusor is listed. Folks, if your room is untreated, you have no idea what good imaging and sound stage even sound like.

--Ethan

Elk
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Re: Upgrade Paths.


Quote:
Folks, if your room is untreated, you have no idea what good imaging and sound stage even sound like.


Absolutely true.

The wonderful thing is that if the room is good, modest equipment sounds great and excellent equipment is mind-blowingly spectacular.

My bet is that most of us would get more out speaker set-up and room treatments than buying new toys.

But the toys are so much fun to shop for and buy!

(Thanks for the pics by the way - yike!)

absolutepitch
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Re: Upgrade Paths.


Quote:
Well, okay, but I'm almost 60 so my first "stereo system" was a pair of mismatched Fender guitar amps with a home-brew phono preamp running off a 9V battery. So Yeah, I have "upgraded" a few times in my life.

Ethan,

Funny you brought up the Fender amps. My first stereo was a Dual TT with a ceramic cartridge (no RIAA EQ needed) fed through two mismatched Fender guitar amps with attenuators in the input to match sensitivity. The next step was a Kenwood Receiver powering two home-built speakers, with (what else) 12" guitar speakers as drivers (later upgraded many times, finally to a 3-way system). We all started somewhere, somehow, with little cash.

ethanwiner
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Re: Upgrade Paths.


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... fed through two mismatched Fender guitar amps with attenuators in the input to match sensitivity.


Oh, getting all fancy on us are you?

I had a bandmaster and a bassman, and I just used their volume controls to match the channel volumes. I don't remember what I did with the tone controls, since guitar amps don't typically have a "flat" center setting. But it sounded good! Well, good for then. And it played very loud.

--Ethan

SAS Audio
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Re: Upgrade Paths.

I do things a little differently when it comes to my system. Of course I can work on any part of my system, making adjustments.

The preamplifier and ICs are the only components that can actually be tested vs a wire, or "nothing" so to speak. One cannot do this with a source, amp, or speaker for obvious reasons.

I feel this forms a foundation for the rest of the system since the preamplifier and ICs are tested for absolute transparency/accuracy. Since the preamplifier and ICs are accurate, the number of variables one has to work with is reduced by at least 3.

Then I work on the rest of the system, source, amp, speakers, room interface. Go back and forth until all is the best one can achieve.

If one uses an integrated amplifier (preamp and amp in one case), then we still have eliminated 1 variable, the ICs.

Hope this helps.

Buddha
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Re: Upgrade Paths.

Hey there, SAS!

You raise another of the great audio issues - the impact of the preamplifier.

I am inclined to think about it as you do!

Great point.

(P.S. Do you still make amplifiers? I'd think you would make a killer integrated, too; but the website only lists preamps.)

gkc
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Re: Upgrade Paths.

Struts, in no particular order of importance --

Is that Lenin? I thought it was John Atkinson.

The listening couch is only 3 feet, at most, from the speakers. I need more toe-in for my 5' tall, $50,000 headphones. Sorry to nit-pick.

If this guy (or gal -- after all, let's acknowledge the truth: they can fetch a much higher price for their pussies than we can for our Johnsons, since any rigid vegetable will substitute for the latter) had bought gold when he sprang for this miserable waste of capital, he could have paid cash for every house on the entire block. Hey! The truth is the truth. No wonder Lenin is smiling.

I love what decorators routinely do to fuck up good sound.

Buddha, you start with the speakers and the amplifier you must drive them with. THEN you do the preamp, for transparency and compatibility. If you have any money left, you go for the signal source you use most often. Wires make differences, but only when you want to tweak what you already like. They won't turn a bad system into a good one, but they CAN make a good one better...

Happy tunes.

SAS Audio
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Re: Upgrade Paths.

Hi Clifton,

"Buddha, you start with the speakers and the amplifier you must drive them with. THEN you do the preamp, for transparency and compatibility."

With an accurate preamplifier and ICs, one is automatically forced to choose the most accurate source, amplifier, and speakers since the wrong choices will add/sub artificial flavors. If one wants a different sound than accurate, simply choose the component to give such. A clear preamp shouldn't cause any problems.

If we start with an amp/speaker and the sound is bright, the preamplifier will have to be full. So now we have a preamplifier that is just as far off from accurate as the amp/speaker. And they will never match up perfectly, so compromised music. Sorry, but I do not want that.

I think one look at Audiogon's list of components for sale shows the fruits of choosing components that left the owners dissatisfied. I think we are overdue for a change in methodology.

Trying to compensate with the preamplifier is just too much of a task because there are too many problems to compensate for. A small list would be harshness, poor frequency response, bloated bass, lacking or too much highs, too smooth, inaccurate soundstage, too little depth and/or width etc. Cut down on the variables and cut down on the problems.

If we can cut down on the number of variables one has to deal with, the job is alot, alot easier.

Buddha. I am having problems finding a nice chassis that can handle the rigors of shipping. Steel will work but finding someone that will prepunch the holes is hard to find.

I could make an integrated, but it will not be of the same quality as my separates. I am not sure how much less quality the public would accept. But alas, I have to find an acceptable chassis first.

Buddha
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Re: Upgrade Paths.

Hi, SAS.

Two things:

1) The link in your sig is missing "com" at the end.

2) I must be dense. I can't find and amplifiers on your page, only preamps.

SAS Audio
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Re: Upgrade Paths.


Quote:
Hi, SAS.

Two things:

1) The link in your sig is missing "com" at the end.

2) I must be dense. I can't find and amplifiers on your page, only preamps.

I don't have the 25 watt amp page on line. Sorry about that.

Thanks for the heads up on sig. Much appreciated.

Steve

gkc
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Re: Upgrade Paths.

Sas, exactly my point. You note, "If we start with an amp/speaker and the sound is bright, the preamplifier will have to be full." If the sound is bright, then you do not keep this speaker/amp combination. You reject it. If the sound of the speaker/amp is right to you, then all the preamp has to be is transparent and neutral (no small feat...), have the features you need, and be electronically compatible with the power amp.

You can't "adjust" an overly bright or dull speaker with a preamp. If the speaker is bad, no variety of electronics or wires will make it sound good. Perhaps less bad, but never good. Besides, there is far more to choosing a speaker than tonal balance, even though that is the first thing you notice. There may be a dozen speakers with the right tonal balance for you and your software collection, but they will all image differently, require different spaces and placements, and place different demands on your amplifier and program sources.

If you get the speaker right, the battle is won. That is the hardest part. Then, you get an amplifier that can drive it. Then, all the preamp has to do is remain neutral and let the sound through. And that is an extremely difficult task for preamplifier designers/manufacturers to pull off. Still, it is possible, since there are a good number of great preamps out there (it is true that most are colored, but some of them get it right).

SAS Audio
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Re: Upgrade Paths.

"Sas, exactly my point. You note, "If we start with an amp/speaker and the sound is bright, the preamplifier will have to be full." If the sound is bright, then you do not keep this speaker/amp combination."

>A few problems though. First, some 98% of the speakers, amps, and preamplifiers, and ICs are not very accurate and secondly, how are you going to test them? People keep purchasing and then selling, at a loss.

Believe it or not, many if not most are not even accurate in terms of frequency balance let alone in other areas.

>Then the problem of how is the average guy going to check the amp/speaker, since it will be so loud. Hopefully not using a passive control, since they are also off.

"If the sound of the speaker/amp is right to you, then all the preamp has to be is transparent and neutral (no small feat...),"

>And the speaker/amp. So why not an accurate preamp first and then one will be able to test the amps and speakers? Beleive it or not, not much in electronics is all that accurate, true to the music.

"You can't "adjust" an overly bright or dull speaker with a preamp."

>There are some exceptions that I have heard that are really full.

"If the speaker is bad, no variety of electronics or wires will make it sound good."

>So is bad electronics with the lowest signal levels being especially critical. And the preamplifier and ICs are the Only pieces that can actually be tested for absolute accuracy.

So what is the objection to starting with the best preamp/ICs? Should not be.
What amp/speaker one may think is the best may not actually turn out to be the best when a truly accurate preamplifier is installed. Big difference.

"Besides, there is far more to choosing a speaker than tonal balance, even though that is the first thing you notice. There may be a dozen speakers with the right tonal balance for you and your software collection, but they will all image differently, require different spaces and placements, and place different demands on your amplifier and program sources."

>I already mentioned that. I can guarantee you that after you get your speaker/amp combo, you will never choose the accurate preamplifier. Guaranteed.

"If you get the speaker right, the battle is won."

>That is not true in the least. The electronics/ICs can be absolutely horrible, and how you obtain the right speaker is the question we are discussing. You will never get the best sound the way you are going at it. Again look in Audiogon and see the disatisfied customers selling their so called accurate preamplifiers because of their so called accurate amp/speaker combos.

"That is the hardest part. Then, you get an amplifier that can drive it."

>Won't work.

"Then, all the preamp has to do is remain neutral and let the sound through."

>Unfortunately, that will never happen, guaranteed. Your position is backwards. Purchase a truly accurate preamplifier first, and then one can check out the rest of the system and obtain better sound.

"since there are a good number of great preamps out there (it is true that most are colored, but some of them get it right)."

>Virtually none get it right. Virtually none. I get the feeling that you consider most electronics actually accurate, when most are not. The best come fairly close, but no cigar.

In conclusion, one would be surprised how far off most electronics and speakers are. That is why I recommend starting with the Only components that can actually be tested for absolute accuracy. Then go back and forth with the source/amp/speakers. Sure is alot easier and you will save money in the long run. Otherwise, one will get on the merry-go-round until one gets sick of it.

ethanwiner
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Re: Upgrade Paths.


Quote:
People keep purchasing and then selling, at a loss.


Heh, yes, I've noticed that. Many audiophiles are never happy with the sound of their system because they keep replacing one perfectly good piece of gear with another, all the while ignoring the one "component" that degrades the sound more than all others combined. I'm sure I don't have to point out that this component is the room they listen in.

--Ethan

SAS Audio
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Re: Upgrade Paths.

"Heh, yes, I've noticed that. Many audiophiles are never happy with the sound of their system because they keep replacing one perfectly good piece of gear with another, all the while ignoring the one "component" that degrades the sound more than all others combined. I'm sure I don't have to point out that this component is the room they listen in.

--Ethan"

>Most all electronics are not that good, so the "perfectly good piece of gear" is almost impossible to obtain. Some of the best electronic components are only fairly close to transparency and accuracy.

>Even basic flat frequency response in electronic components is nearly impossible to come by, let alone other parameters such as harshness, too much smoothness, overly bright, too full, etc.

>So one will obviously not be able to get perfect sound by simply "treating a room" for flat response and reflections.

>As an experiment, one might try treating a room where the electronics are too bright. Even with a perfectly accurate flat response speaker, the room treatment will not be correct as the treatment will mainly treat the lower room resonances, while the highs from the tweeter beam right at your head and are unaffected. Still bright treble.

>So treating the room will not correctly compensate for the brightness of the electronics. What about if the tweeter itself is bright. How is one going to tailor the treatment to cover only the tweeter's response and not affect the mids? Can one design the material for just that tweeter and its particular frequency range? Nope, not unless one addresses the speaker itself.

>In fact, I would guess that one would treat the room such that added bass, mids etc are introduced in an attempt to compensate for the bright tweeter.

>The treatment will be more effective (depending upon the quality of the treatment) if the electronics (and speaker) are truly accurate.

One will get a better sense of what is actually wrong with the room, and be better able to deal with the problems.

I am not saying that treating a room isn't helpful, especially in the lower regions. But to get it as close to perfect as possible, the electronics had better be the most accurate to begin with. Then work with the speaker/room interactions.

bifcake
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Re: Upgrade Paths.

Ah! It is the battle for manufacturer supremacy! In this corner, weighing 170lbs is Ethan Winer from Real Traps. And in this corner, weighing virtually nothing (given that this is a virtual world) SASAudio. The challenge has been issued, the real traps set and the preamps neutralized. It is a fight to the death. Who will emerge victorious from the ruins and proceed to challenge DUP in the ultimate, ultimate challenge of the right to use "Teh" in every sentence? The winner of this bout must hone his skills and sharpen his weapons to withstand an all out assault by the mighty DUP armed with the big Legacies and "Teh bomb": AVA. Ladies and gentlemen, the excitement and tension in this room can be cut with the knife as our contestants prepare to duke it out in... The Octophile!

Ethan is setting his traps... SASAudio is powering up his tubes... The bell rings aaaaaannnnd they're off!

Buddha
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Re: Upgrade Paths.

This issue of 'preamp primacy' is one that has been visited in the pages of Stereophile in the past.

As I recall, JA is a member of the 'pro preamp' crowd, and I think I agree.

Anything that the preamp does that is not just right has significant downstream ramifications. A preamp's problems get amplified, after all!

Like a golf swing that is only one half of one degree off producing a final golf ball destination that is many yards off course, artifacts introduced by the preamp do, indeed, get magnified, as it were, downstream.

I don't think preamp shopping is as simple as choosing an unfussy unit to toss into the mix with a well considered amp/speaker combination.

Clifton, I know you were unimpressed by the Adcom preamp, although I've now forgotten your impressions of it. Would you consider it to just be a poor match for the gear you used it with, or was there something more fundamental? Is it a product you think may sing in another sysem you put together, or did it have an inherent sound or flaw?

I think there may be some fun stuff to find out in a discussion about preamps like SAS and Ethan are doing.

I think there's more to it than Ethan's notion that we toss away perfectly fine preamps because we are not treating our rooms to the point where any given preamp sounds the same as another.

If that were so, wouldn't they all still sound the same, even in untreated rooms?

I bet SAS would have alot of insight into what makes "preamp sound."

gkc
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Re: Upgrade Paths.

Buddha, you remember me wrong. No offense taken. The Adcom GFP-750 is the absolute finest high-end product I have purchased for under $5,000 over the past 20 years of my existence. It still occupies an honored place in my apartment system, with the Triangle Volante speakers and the Musical Fidelity A 3.2 Power amp (solid state, obviously) and the Blackie-modified Audio Innovations 1000 monoblock tube amplifiers (EL-34 based..).

I own about $40,000 in state-of-the-art preamps, in my mountain home. I own the top VTL TL-7.5 (tube, obviously), the top Conrad-Johnson (ACT2 Series 2 --tube, obviously again -- why would you buy CJ transistors??) and the recent top Levinson (I can't remember the model# -- 326S?? -- yeah, that's it). I have taken my Adcom up to the mountains, out of curiosity. It has NOT been embarassed. NOT! Cost me $1200 new. $1200 bucks!

In fact, I will go out on a limb to tell you the Adcom is the MOST TONALLY NEUTRAL preamp I have ever owned. At ANY price!

I am now frothing at the mouth. You may have gotten an honest inference from the e-mail I sent you a couple years ago, offering to let you try this piece in your own system. I was NOT trying to sell it. My Adcom and my Smith and Wesson .44 Magnum -- out of my cold, dead hands. That's the only way you get either of 'em.

To optimize the performance of the Adcom, you must use it in the passive mode. Still, it is very good in the active mode. There is NO other preamp for sale, at ANY price, to my knowledge, that lets you make this choice via a front panel switch, on the fly. Just turn down the volume first.

It would be best if you had very efficient speakers, so you wouldn't be dynamically starved when running the Adcom in its passive mode. Otherwise, you need not pamper it in ANY way. Just plug and play. It even has one balanced input (CD, preferably). What a deal.

Again, this is the MOST TONALLY NEUTRAL preamp I have EVER heard. And, I have heard 'em all. My multi-thousand babies are just fine, in their own rights. I love them, or I would sell them. BUT. None of 'em is as tonally neutral as the Adcom. I am just NUTS over this piece. Put it up against ANYTHING, at ANY price, and it will NEVER be embarrassed. NEVER.

And, it is built like a brick shithouse. NO reliability issues. None.

Whew! I hope I didn't leave anything out...I am SO glad we were able to clear this up, Buddha.

gkc
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Re: Upgrade Paths.

There is no "absolute accuracy," and I don't give a damn how you test these pieces. You listen and evaluate. Period. It helps if you know what you want (most people don't...). I want the emotional and intellectual recognition of the live event I heard last night at the concert hall. Not everyone else does. I don't care. It's my money, and I want to duplicate the thrills as close as possible. Repeat. There is no "absolute accuracy." There is only listening, remembering, and listening again. Ad infinitum. The process never stops.

Look. You are hawking your product. You have to cover everyone with grandiose claims, or you are wimping out. Okay. Good luck. Sell a ton of 'em. But NONE of 'em are "absolutely accurate." Or you need a good dictionary. "Absolute" is beyond proof. We humans live in a world where "absolute" is a mere hint of the beyond -- if there is one.

"There are some exceptions I have heard that are really full." Now, what the hell does THAT mean??? Is that what you mean by "absolute"????

"I can guarantee you that after you get your speaker/amp combo, you will never choose the accurate preamplifier. Guaranteed." You can't guarantee anything. Repeat. You can't guarantee anything about "accurate preamplifiers." Because all you can do is measure.

"I get the feeling that you consider most electronics actually accurate (sic) when most are not." You get the wrong feeling. I said no such thing. You are begging the point. Salesmen often do this. You are a salesman. If you stock a store within driving distance of my domiciles (either of them), I will give your gear a listen. Other than that, I am not interested in your sales rhetoric or your hyperbole. Your prose suffers from both.

If you are going to quote my comments, at least read them first. You have misconstrued more than half my post.

Repeat. Get the speakers right. Listen around to to so. Try the best amplifier in the shop and the worst. Extrapolate. It takes a few months, but it is possible. The sound of a speaker without an amplifier driving it is the sound of one hand clapping. But, the sound of an amplifier driving no speaker is equally silent. You obviously have to start somewhere to eliminate the silence, and the starting points may be planned or arbitrary. THEN, the work starts. You have to have an idea of what you want. Which means you either have been living with unsatisfactory sound or you have season tickets and find your home system wanting in comparison to the memory. Or something in between. Your "absolutes" mean nothing in the real world.

Sorry. But a better sales pitch would get you further...

SAS Audio
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Re: Upgrade Paths.

"There is no "absolute accuracy," and I don't give a damn how you test these pieces. You listen and evaluate. Period."

>Really. Earlier you starting with the amp/speaker and then added a neutral preamplifier. Now you state there is no absolute accuracy. So which do you believe, that a neutral preamp adds/subtracts from the music, or not?

>I don't know why you are so angry, we were discussing how to start a system. We disagree. I don't think I have attacked your system, or even knew what it is, so no need to be defensive.

"It helps if you know what you want (most people don't...). I want the emotional and intellectual recognition of the live event I heard last night at the concert hall. Not everyone else does. I don't care. It's my money, and I want to duplicate the thrills as close as possible. Repeat."

>I also like live orchestral music and want to produce it faithfully. I think we agree. I think you misunderstand what "accurate and neutral" actually means. It has been bantied around by some reviewers, who should know better, that neutral and accurate means sterile. Nothing could be further from the truth.

>Neutral/accurate has always meant listening to the live event, live instruments and voices. Ever heard a live clarinet or trumpet sound sterile(?), or did it sound accurate and neutral?? Of course a live instrument is neutral and accurate. So I agree, I like my system to sound like the live event.

"There is no "absolute accuracy."

>So I take it that your preamplifliers are not accurate/live sounding? Well, of course, the manufacturers simply "voice" the products in their "reference" system, which does not mean their preamplifiers are actually accurate, regardless of price. It depends upon the quality of their "reference" system.

>So if you cannot perform any accurate testing, we automatically cannot either? That is a pretty arrogant assumption on your part. (By the way you cannot simply disconnect the preamplifer and interconnect cable (IC) from the system to test.

"Look. You are hawking your product. You have to cover everyone with grandiose claims, or you are wimping out. Okay. Good luck. Sell a ton of 'em. But NONE of 'em are "absolutely accurate."

>I could also accuse you of advertising with your comments about your preamplifiers. The only difference is that I am a manufacturer, so it does limit me from posting. But the comments are just as valuable.

>Every idea and product ever conceived had an origin, some person who came up with an idea and saw it to fruition. Good thing they overcame their scoffers and attackers or many products would not be around today.

>Why haven't you gone after Dup or Ethan for their multiple "advertising methods" here??? If you think I have done it, Dup and Ethan have repeatedly done so, but I see no comment from you to them. So what is your angle Clifton?

"Or you need a good dictionary. "Absolute" is beyond proof. We humans live in a world where "absolute" is a mere hint of the beyond -- if there is one."

>The definition has always be used in different context, with different meanings. Ok, here they are.

>"Abolute" applies to the standard that the preamplifier Neither Adds nor Subtracts from the music, with the current technology we currently have to listen and test. In otherwards, it is as if the preamplifier is not in the stereo system.
"Absolute polarity" is another term with a different meaning. So there are different definitions Clifton.

>You do specialized listening tests, for weeks or months. It is a complex method that is NOT simply removing the preamplifier and IC and listening, then re-installing. It involves more stringent testing. And does it change the sound, even when testing on a multitude of systems? If not, great. Then I work on the rest of the system.
I would hope it meets with your approval, but I am sure it will not.

"There are some exceptions I have heard that are really full." Now, what the hell does THAT mean??? Is that what you mean by "absolute"????"

>You do not know what the simple term "full sounding" means?? Yet you start an argument because someone disagrees with your 'expert' opinon? Look it up in the dictionary. Also look up thin.

"I can guarantee you that after you get your speaker/amp combo, you will never choose the accurate preamplifier."

>But you first posted that you would automatically choose a neutral preamplifier after the amp/speaker. That is when I responded why not just purchase the preamp first? Now you say you would not choose neutral preamplifer?

"you will never choose the accurate preamplifier"

>And that demonstrates your amp/speaker combo is not accurate either. Now if you would have chosen the accurate/live sounding preamplifier first, then you would have chosen a better amp/speaker combo, each with less exotic flaws, and the music would have sounded more live.

>Your idea, as expressed above results in ALL the components being flawed, including the preamp/ICs as well. It is just a matter of how flawed. And please don't try to tell us that your system has no flaws, ok.

"Guaranteed." You can't guarantee anything. Repeat. You can't guarantee anything about "accurate preamplifiers." Because all you can do is measure."

>Sounds like another Miklorsmith comment.

>But Wrong. Not measurements, but actual sohpisticated multi-method listening tests. And I guarantee it is not the way you perform your little listening tests.

>It appears to me that you aquate accuracy and neutrality to only measurements. Sorry but that is hardly the case.
Two pieces can both have the same spec and sound much different. So measurements are not the complete answer.

"I get the feeling that you consider most electronics actually accurate (sic) when most are not." You get the wrong feeling. I said no such thing. You are begging the point. Salesmen often do this. You are a salesman. If you stock a store within driving distance of my domiciles (either of them), I will give your gear a listen. Other than that, I am not interested in your sales rhetoric or your hyperbole. Your prose suffers from both."

>I said "I get the FEELING" which is what you quoted, right in front of your eyes. And you were the one who said that that after choosing the amp/speaker combo, you would get a neutral preamplifier. So your amp/speaker combo would also be accurate if you wanted live music.

>My listening methods offer a better way, but if you don't want any advancement, that is your problem, not mine. You can suffer through the music while I enjoy mine.

>And I do not see you going after Dup and Ethan for their self agrandizing "sales pitches". But I cannot, even one time, present good info? So what is your angle?

"If you are going to quote my comments, at least read them first. You have misconstrued more than half my post."

>I did? See above, I do not see you mentioning any other misquotes.

"Repeat. Get the speakers right. Listen around to to so. Try the best amplifier in the shop and the worst. Extrapolate. It takes a few months, but it is possible. The sound of a speaker without an amplifier driving it is the sound of one hand clapping. But, the sound of an amplifier driving no speaker is equally silent. You obviously have to start somewhere to eliminate the silence, and the starting points may be planned or arbitrary. THEN, the work starts. You have to have an idea of what you want. Which means you either have been living with unsatisfactory sound or you have season tickets and find your home system wanting in comparison to the memory. Or something in between. Your "absolutes" mean nothing in the real world.

Sorry. But a better sales pitch would get you further... "

>It is interesting how you started with the amp/speaker and then get a neutral preamplifier, but now say there is no absolutely neutral preamplifier. Might want to get your story straight.

>So you suggest all components should be inaccurate in order to get live accurate musical sound. And choose the variables first, the components that cannot be tested for accuracy. Then choose other variables, but never start with an accurate/live sounding component that has been listened tested, first. That seems to sum up your latest position.

>Unfortunately, we see the results of what you preach, the dissastified customers on forums and on Audiogon selling components.

>Your position seems to be anything BUT starting with the preamplifier first, right? What strings on other forums have I seen this same position?

So you would rather see people lose money selling their gear over and over using the same scheme than try another approach?

>By the way, a salesman keeps the merry go round going (sales going) while I am trying to stop the merry go round by providing a better way of optimizing one's system. When the system is better optimized, there are less sales and purchases.

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Re: Upgrade Paths.

thanks to the OP for a very interesting philosophical discussion. i am sure that the "truth" lies in the middle somewhere. to clarify an earlier post, i am working with both approaches to achieve an end result that i am happy with. i am working with the room with soft furnishings, quilts and Owens Corning 705. i am currently working on the electronics with power cords. in my own experience, i have found that a measured pace for changes has given me time to appreciate the change and then look for the next improvement. to me, it doesn't seem to make sense to change major factors such as electronics or speakers until you know you have gotten as much as they actually have to give. some of you guys, cliff, budda, elk have huge experience to draw on. everyone else should probably consider finding a mentor or dealer they trust to help with this process. if your mentor can make valid suggestions or your dealer is agreeable to let you try before you buy, it seems to be a good process for the rest of us. this middle-ground course probably does not add much to the great argument that is brewing, but i wanted to clarify my earlier post that made it sound like i just did upgrades willy-nilly. thanks for listening, now fight on.

tom

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Re: Upgrade Paths.


Quote:
Most all electronics are not that good, so the "perfectly good piece of gear" is almost impossible to obtain. Some of the best electronic components are only fairly close to transparency and accuracy.


I could easily disagree with that statement, but I'll instead direct your attention to a pair of frequency response graphs. Yes, frequency response is only part of the story - there's also noise and distortion - but in the absence of gross tape hiss or vinyl crackles, frequency response is arguably the most important factor for accurate reproduction.

The first graph below shows the low frequency response you'll have in a typical bedroom size listening room. The lower graph is the frequency response of a Bryston integrated amplifier from THIS review in Stereophile. You tell me which is the bigger obstacle to accurate sound.



Quote:
Even basic flat frequency response in electronic components is nearly impossible to come by, let alone other parameters such as harshness, too much smoothness, overly bright, too full, etc.


You do understand that "bright" and "full" and "smooth" refer to frequency response, yes?


Quote:
So one will obviously not be able to get perfect sound by simply "treating a room" for flat response and reflections.


Agreed. What room treatment does is reduce the influence of the room, so you hear the sound of the gear and loudspeakers.


Quote:
As an experiment, one might try treating a room where the electronics are too bright.


I would never use any electronic gear that is not flat within 1 dB from 20 Hz to 20 KHz. Fortunately, this is easily obtainable even with inexpensive gear.


Quote:
What about if the tweeter itself is bright.


Agreed again. And again I avoid anything that substantially varies from flat. The notion of buying bright speakers, and matching those with dull sounding electronics, is misguided IMO. A better approach is to favor gear that is as close to flat as possible, within one's budget of course.


Quote:
to get it as close to perfect as possible, the electronics had better be the most accurate to begin with.


Again I agree. Fortunately, even cheap mass-produced electronics are acceptably flat these days, with imperceptible levels of noise and distortion.

--Ethan

SAS Audio
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Re: Upgrade Paths.

I am going to compact some comments as a complete explanation is just too lengthy. But I think you will get the point I am making.

"I could easily disagree with that statement, but I'll instead direct your attention to a pair of frequency response graphs. Yes, frequency response is only part of the story - there's also noise and distortion - but in the absence of gross tape hiss or vinyl crackles, frequency response is arguably the most important factor for accurate reproduction.

"The first graph below shows the low frequency response you'll have in a typical bedroom size listening room. The lower graph is the frequency response of a Bryston integrated amplifier from THIS review in Stereophile. You tell me which is the bigger obstacle to accurate sound."

>Unfortunately, there are several problems with your statement, assessment, and graphs.

1. First I have never measured a room that had that poor of response, or even close, 30+ db variation? One time I did measured 20db. So I would venture you chose the worst you could measure. Is it a bare room, hardwood floors etc? I see you also did not post measurements above 200hz.

2. The frequency response graph of the amp does not take into account the sonic characteristics of the design or parts such as film and electrolytic capacitors, different types of resistors, inductors, volume control, etc.
One simple example is a solen capacitor. It sounds totally different than a auricap due to its thin metallized material, size, construction, terminations etc. Electrolytic caps have high DA and ESR problems. In fact, different voltage rated and value rated Solens sound different.

3. The frequency response of the amp does not extend well below or above 20hz and 20khz. A basic 1st year introductory electronic engineering class teaches that one must extend the bandwidth well beyond those limits. Any less and the waveform will not be produced faithfully and the sound will change. Yet the static frequency response will measure flat from 20-20khz. You have to receive and understand the complete picture before any proper conclusion can be reached.

4. The changes in a room are generally limited in bandwidth. Any changes in an electronic component covers a much wider bandwidth. Harsh sounding resistors or capacitors cover the entire audio spectrum. There is a major difference.

"You do understand that "bright" and "full" and "smooth" refer to frequency response, yes?"

>Not necessarily. Film thickness, voltage rating of the cap, size and shape, terminations, materials used in resistors will all affect the sound even though a simple sinewave sweep will show flat response. Static does not equal dynamic conditions by any means.

"I would never use any electronic gear that is not flat within 1 dB from 20 Hz to 20 KHz. Fortunately, this is easily obtainable even with inexpensive gear."

>This was explained above. It had better be much flatter than that and extend well beyond as well. That leaves inexpensive gear out.

"Agreed again. And again I avoid anything that substantially varies from flat. The notion of buying bright speakers, and matching those with dull sounding electronics, is misguided IMO. A better approach is to favor gear that is as close to flat as possible, within one's budget of course."

Thanks. I agree, and believe in specs as well, they must be excellent, but the final judgement is sound. As you mention, the budget is very important.

"Again I agree. Fortunately, even cheap mass-produced electronics are acceptably flat these days, with imperceptible levels of noise and distortion."

Again see above. Just as other fields get very complicated as one delves deeper into the subject, electronics also gets very complicated. I wish it were very simple, but there is no free ride just because it is electronics.

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Re: Upgrade Paths.

I can "suffer through" my music, while your superior listening "methods" allow you to enjoy yours.

Huh? Who said anything about suffering?

Okay. That's fine. You start with the preamp (yours, of course). I'll start by listening to speakers. I suppose you can stare at the preamp, or (better yet) stare at a few graphs that abstract its performance out of the world of sound. Keats was right, and they hadn't even invented this shit in his time: heard music is sweet, but unheard music is sweeter. "Pipe to me ditties of no tone." I give you the Urn -- the world's first and last absolutely perfect preamp.

Sooner or later you're going to have to hook that thing up to something that makes some music, or noise, or sound of some sort. How, pray, do you decide on where to start? Aww, what the hell -- just hook it up to an oscilloscope and watch the wavy lines.

Live sound is neither accurate nor neutral. It just is. For me, it is the basis. I do know, however, a few music lovers who won't go near a concert hall. That's fine with me -- it's their money and time. But no piece of electronics or coned furniture can "absolutely" reproduce the live experience accurately.

I'll just have to suffer on with what I have. Poor me. And to think I'll actually miss out on the experience of hearing the only absolutely perfect, neutral preamplifier in the whole, wide world. Sigh. Well, you enjoy the perfection, while I go suffer through my poor experience.

Better yet, play your preamp through one of Winer's comb filters. Maybe you can get DUP to play the kazoo...or the wazoo.

SAS Audio
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Re: Upgrade Paths.

Hi Clifton,

Are we reading the same posts? I like music and enjoy the concert just like you. I don't see what the problem is except I do not agree with you. Sorry about that.

"I can "suffer through" my music, while your superior listening "methods" allow you to enjoy yours.
Huh? Who said anything about suffering?"

>Nobody said anything about suffering, so why the misconception? I merely proposed a different and I feel better method and you go all bonkers? Sorry I don't agree with you.

"Okay. That's fine. You start with the preamp (yours, of course). I'll start by listening to speakers. I suppose you can stare at the preamp, or (better yet) stare at a few graphs that abstract its performance out of the world of sound."

> I think we are all seeing another side of you we did not see before. Anyone see me state that I use graphs and not listen?

"Keats was right, and they hadn't even invented this shit in his time: heard music is sweet, but unheard music is sweeter. "Pipe to me ditties of no tone." I give you the Urn -- the world's first and last absolutely perfect preamp."

>So you are jealous because I actually spent some 30 years of my life dedicated working hard and long hours and developing listening tests to check and then develop components that actually sound like live music. You hate me for trying to help audiophiles by helping them save money?

"Sooner or later you're going to have to hook that thing up to something that makes some music, or noise, or sound of some sort. How, pray, do you decide on where to start? Aww, what the hell -- just hook it up to an oscilloscope and watch the wavy lines."

>See above. When have I stated I use specs, an oscilloscope, and do not perform stringent listening tests?
Do I need to say more?

>I have connected the preamplifer since that is the only way to perform listening tests?

"Live sound is neither accurate nor neutral. It just is."

> So live music is not accurate or neutral. Wow, now that is a revelation. But it is the standard by which we judge music systems. But if you want music to sound differently, go right ahead.

By the way, do you know Miklorsmith (Mike Smith) or Srajan of 6 moons by any chance? You guys could be triplets.

"I'll just have to suffer on with what I have. Poor me. And to think I'll actually miss out on the experience of hearing the only absolutely perfect, neutral preamplifier in the whole, wide world. Sigh. Well, you enjoy the perfection, while I go suffer through my poor experience."

"Better yet, play your preamp through one of Winer's comb filters. Maybe you can get DUP to play the kazoo...or the wazoo."

>Make sure you milk your sarcasm and deception for all it is worth. Quick, let me get you a hanky.

>So now I am in the Winer and DUP camp? Well, well. DUP or Ethan, do you feel I am in your camp?? I did not think so.

>I see companies are advertising they are trying to get closer to the music and new models are coming out. So what IS wrong with getting closer to the music, more lifelike?

I see you paid big bucks for the Levinson and other preamplifiers. I suppose they are closer to the music, are they not? Or did you just pay to get the name?

gkc
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Re: Upgrade Paths.

You wrote, and I quote,

"My listening methods offer a better way, but if you don't want any advancement, that is your problem, not mine. You can suffer throught music while I enjoy mine." In your screed, this is paragraph 30 -- if you want to call them paragraphs. I just counted the double-spaced clusters.

You offer a better way. Those who do not take it will, somehow, have to suffer.

What arrogance.

I have no idea who or what a Miklorsmith is. Don't bother to enlighten me. But to say I sound like him, as a rebuttal of the point, is an evasion of the issue, a run for the back door. Go ahead -- it's always open.

When you performed these listening tests, did you listen to speakers? Headphones? How did you choose them?

The auditioning sequence, when seeking upgrades, is personal. There are no "methods" that offer a "better way." And those of us who have upgraded, over the years, do not "suffer" from having started at a point other than the preamp you are flogging.

The Levinson, CJ, and VTL preamps offered slight improvements, at the margin, over other preamps I was considering at the time. Dollar for dollar, the Adcom GFP-750 is still the champ, but only in its passive mode. I am happy with my choices, even though they were made over the past 5 years.

The buy/sell traffic at Audiogon proves nothing about customer satisfaction or dissatisfaction. Like E-Bay, it has become an outlet for quick turns for sellers who want cash (true, some offer to trade, but relatively few), rather than a graveyard for impulsive buyers who, somehow, bought wrong. Many of these sellers simply need the cash. Times are tough.

It is true that I can afford the best. I take advantage of that. I worked hard and traded smart, all my life, to get into this position, and I have no regrets. Your smug assumption that I buy logos couldn't be further from the truth. This is merely another insult from a disgruntled salesman, whose product I have rejected out of hand, that I would routinely expect.

You go your way, I'll go mine. Once again, you'll have to excuse me. Music calls, and I am compelled to endure the suffering that is surely in store. After all, after 30 years of concert-going and making good and bad choices, concerning the equipment I want to recreate those experiences, I have apparently not advanced a whit, since you weren't there to enlighten me with "better methods."

Let it go. If you don't care to, then have the last word. This is a waste of my time.

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Re: Upgrade Paths.

"You wrote, and I quote,

"My listening methods offer a better way, but if you don't want any advancement, that is your problem, not mine. You can suffer throught music while I enjoy mine." In your screed, this is paragraph 30 -- if you want to call them paragraphs. I just counted the double-spaced clusters.

You offer a better way. Those who do not take it will, somehow, have to suffer."

>My apologies for poorly chosen words. I was thinking in terms how your system could sound even better, but you obviously are satisfied which is all that counts. My apologies.

"What arrogance."

> That is the way I feel about your attitude as well. Look back, as I will do below and see how you responded to both Buddha and me. Talk about arrogant and bossy.

My first comments in my first post started out:
"I do things a little differently when it comes to my system. Of course I can work on any part of my system, making adjustments."

>As one can see, I clearly stated my example is different from most others since I can tweek each component myself whereas others cannot. It was meant as a one time post. But boy you sure did come after me, and Buddha I might add.

"When you performed these listening tests, did you listen to speakers? Headphones? How did you choose them?"

>I can tell by your very question you have no idea of the procedures or special listening setup required. It is not simply "voicing" as you do, which is totally inadequate.

>I will say the listening equipment has to be specially designed with special parameters. I am sure you will be attacking this comment, right?

"There are no "methods" that offer a "better way."

>Based on what? You? That is the arrogance I mentioned earlier and used against Buddha and me. Maybe you should go back to your major (English or whatever) instead of trying to flaunt yourself as an expert in another field.

"And those of us who have upgraded, over the years, do not "suffer" from having started at a point other than the preamp you are flogging."

> And how would you know your system would not sound better following my suggestions? You don't. And you are the one who contintually mentions my preamplifiers.

>Buddha believed the same thing I did but you were quick to point out our "errors".

Buddha: "Hey there, SAS!
You raise another of the great audio issues - the impact of the preamplifier.
I am inclined to think about it as you do!
Great point."

>Your response, was to correct Buddha and me. Your very next post.

>"Buddha, you start with the speakers and the amplifier you must drive them with. THEN you do the preamp, for transparency and compatibility."

>My response was easy, cool and not in any attack mode.

"With an accurate preamplifier and ICs, one is automatically forced to choose the most accurate source, amplifier, and speakers since the wrong choices will add/sub artificial flavors. If one wants a different sound than accurate, simply choose the component to give such. A clear preamp shouldn't cause any problems."

>My comment was based on your listening to orchestras and trying to obtain an accurate reproduction. I see that is the case. If one wants a different sound, simply choose another component to give that sound.

>So as one can see, you are the one who pushed us, and continues to do so, although changing tatics.

"The Levinson, CJ, and VTL preamps offered slight improvements, at the margin, over other preamps I was considering at the time."

>Fine. But you did choose for better sound. So it is not wrong to want better sound. And what better way than to find and use components that are all
"accurate/transparent/emotional". But that is not right in your eyes? You would rather use components that have problems and try to mix for the best sound. Interesting.

"Dollar for dollar, the Adcom GFP-750 is still the champ, but only in its passive mode."

>So it won't be that good in active mode?? Since you have an intergrated amp I would not either.

"I am happy with my choices, even though they were made over the past 5 years."

>I never said you weren't. When reading my early posts, I never even mentioned your system, not once. So why the manipulation?

"The buy/sell traffic at Audiogon proves nothing about customer satisfaction or dissatisfaction. Like E-Bay, it has become an outlet for quick turns for sellers who want cash (true, some offer to trade, but relatively few), rather than a graveyard for impulsive buyers who, somehow, bought wrong. Many of these sellers simply need the cash. Times are tough."

>Some of it is, but for many others, it is from disatisfaction and upgrading. So people do want better quality sound. How do I know? Because I visit all the forums to obtain my information.

"It is true that I can afford the best. I take advantage of that. I worked hard and traded smart, all my life, to get into this position, and I have no regrets."

>Good for you. So you think your components are better than others, "the best"? Now we are getting somewhere.

"Your smug assumption that I buy logos couldn't be further from the truth."

>See the ?. I simply asked whether for better sound or the brand. That was quite clear.

"This is merely another insult from a disgruntled salesman, whose product I have rejected out of hand, that I would routinely expect."

>Minipulating from the procedure of how to choose a system, to attacking my products. Is that being honest or deceptive Clifton? And who even asked for your approval of my products? I never did. So who are you trying to kid?

>You could have left my one post alone and that would have been the only post. Instead you continue and then bring in my components. We see You started the comparisons.

>>>>Other companies and individuals could develop this procedure as well, but they either can't or won't. That is not my fault. I guess if I were not a manufacturer I could have posted this with no flack?

>All my posts dealt with how to setup a system and the improvements, not seeking your approval of my preamplifier.
You are the one who interjected my preamplifiers and comparisons into the discussion.

"You go your way, I'll go mine.

>Sounds like a good idea.

"After all, after 30 years of concert-going and making good and bad choices, concerning the equipment I want to recreate those experiences, I have apparently not advanced a whit, since you weren't there to enlighten me with "better methods."

>I like the melodrama and the exaggeration "Haven't advanced a whit". So now he accuses me of claiming he has not advanced a whit?

>I think we can sum up what the real issue is by Clifton by two of his phrases.

"It is true that I can afford the best. I take advantage of that." and "whose product I have rejected out of hand,"

>So those who do not have the finances cannot have the best, but Clifton does.

And somehow we have to get your acceptance(?) especially since you have the best. (Although I never asked for his acceptance.)

>Both those statement reek of status. Any audiophile has the right to have the best sound, not just you and those rich enough to afford it.

Notice how it is Clifton who continually brings up my preamplifier.

So what this is really about is Clifton protecting his "status", and that is why Clifton continually brings up and degrades my preamplifier to the conversation.

So Clifton's real aim is my preamplifiers, not the methodology I suggested.

Unfortunately you miss the entire point of audio in which anyone can enjoy the best music, and your equipment is not a status symbol. You don't have the exclusive inside track on the best.

>Adios Amigo

ethanwiner
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Re: Upgrade Paths.


Quote:
1. First I have never measured a room that had that poor of response, or even close, 30+ db variation? One time I did measured 20db.


This is because you don't understand low frequency behavior in domestic size rooms, or the right way to measure LF response. This is not meant as a dig! Most people have no idea how to measure a room properly. So they measure at third octaves, either spot checking at that spacing with sine waves from a test tone CD, or with pink noise filtered into third octave bands. They see a reasonably flat result and wrongly think this is true response. It is not true. It is highly averaged and all the peaks and nulls are glossed over. BTW, microphone and loudspeaker makers also routinely use averaging to hide the true response of their products.

This next graph shows the very same measurement data expressed as 1/3 and 1/12 octaves:

The LF graph I posted earlier is at an even higher resolution. And that is even closer to the true response arriving at your ears. By the way, these graphs are absolutely typical for home-sized listening room. Much of the HF fall-off is the response of the Radio Shack SPL meter used, but the peaks and nulls are very real.


Quote:
I see you also did not post measurements above 200hz.


Yes, the biggest frequency response problems are at low frequencies because it takes substantial bass trapping to improve peaks and nulls and ringing below 200-300 Hz. Problems at higher frequencies are simple to fix with "thin" absorption placed in a few key places.


Quote:
2. The frequency response graph of the amp does not take into account the sonic characteristics of the design or parts such as film and electrolytic capacitors, different types of resistors, inductors, volume control, etc.


Well, let's keep this discussion to fact. There are only three parameters that affect the accuracy of a power amplifier or preamp:

1) Frequency Response
2) Noise (including hum)
3) Distortion

So whatever effect different components may have, only the above three parameters are affected. And all three are easily measured.


Quote:
One simple example is a solen capacitor. It sounds totally different than a auricap due to its thin metallized material, size, construction, terminations etc. Electrolytic caps have high DA and ESR problems. In fact, different voltage rated and value rated Solens sound different.


If this is true, it is easily verified by measuring the above three parameters. I can't imagine any competent circuit designer using a typical +80/-20 percent tolerance electrolytic cap in the signal path. Or a ceramic disk cap either. Once you're using appropriate components, any differences or artifacts will be way down in the noise.


Quote:
3. The frequency response of the amp does not extend well below or above 20hz and 20khz.


Yes, a good design will have a wider bandwidth. But only to make the response within the audible range flatter. Bandwidth is defined by the -3 dB points, so obviously an amp that's 3 dB down at 20 Hz or 20 KHz is not acceptable.


Quote:
The changes in a room are generally limited in bandwidth. Any changes in an electronic component covers a much wider bandwidth.


On what do you base that? Please be very specific!


Quote:
Harsh sounding resistors or capacitors cover the entire audio spectrum.


There's no such thing as a harsh sounding resistor or capacitor unless it's broken. To me harsh is either a boost at upper midrange frequencies or added distortion. So this too falls under the three parameters I described and is easily verified.


Quote:
Film thickness, voltage rating of the cap, size and shape, terminations, materials used in resistors will all affect the sound even though a simple sinewave sweep will show flat response.


Sorry, no. But I'm open to evidence if you have any evidence.


Quote:
It had better be much flatter than that and extend well beyond as well. That leaves inexpensive gear out.


A friend of mine bought a small Behringer mixer to record voice-overs. He paid $39 for this mixer, and it's quite flat over the entire audible range. Or maybe you mean stuff that's even cheaper?

--Ethan

Buddha
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Re: Upgrade Paths.

Wow, an argument about whether all gear sounds the same or not!

That's novel!

SAS Audio
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Re: Upgrade Paths.


Quote:
Wow, an argument about whether all gear sounds the same or not!

That's novel!

Unfortunately, I have to dredge through the quadmire of self proclaimed experts who have never taken even one electronics class or exhibited even one stringent listening experiment except with a room meter.

SAS Audio
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Re: Upgrade Paths.

I will make this as simple as possible.

Again, I have tested my last two rooms and the response has not even been close to what your graph indicates. So you want to try again?

Secondly, no one is going to change your mind or prove anything because you would have to completely change your website and beliefs. And we both know, from your past experiences, that you will not.

In fact, although you have only accused us of not being truthful concerning, say parts and their sonic effects, I have not seen you perform even one experiment on the subject. How many years?

So it seems quite evident to me that you have already made up your mind, as any scientist performs experiments even if they lead no where.

The fact that you don't even understand the concept of limited vs wide bandwidth response and the effect on the ear justify's my response even more.

I suggest you take some electronics classes and get a degree in electronics, and then perform some rigorous experiments, hard work.

By the way, the RCA Radiotron Designers Handbook, written by 26 engineers covers bandwidth and the associated sonic effects of resonant peaks and damped peaks well above 20khz. In fact they mention other audio effects in other places as well.

They also mention DA problems with paper capacitors in AC circuits. So the concept is not new by any means.
The book was written some 60 years ago.

So please do some home work before accusing me of not knowing your perceived "facts" (based on your limited knowledge and experience) and lecturing me.

Adios

ethanwiner
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Re: Upgrade Paths.


Quote:
Wow, an argument about whether all gear sounds the same or not! That's novel!


Nah, I agree that all gear does not sound the same. Gear that is competent all sounds the same, but there's a fair amount of junk out there. However all resistors sound the same, and capacitors sound the same too unless you stick a really bad one in the signal path.

--Ethan

KBK
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Re: Upgrade Paths.

Is the stage set for me to make an appearance yet?

ethanwiner
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Re: Upgrade Paths.

Sure, but only if you have something of substance to offer. Not a sighted anecdotal report, but actual specs showing the degradation that occurs in resistors and capacitors.

Go for it!

--Ethan

KBK
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Re: Upgrade Paths.

Actually, them claim to technological/conceptual/perceptive stupidity was on your part, so the onus is on you to prove the true depth of your ignorance, as opposed to the surface bits we see here. It's a bit of a QED on that one, so my involvement would be strictly unnecessary. The bullet has been firmly shot into your foot, as you live by that maxim, "To Thine Own Self Be True..."

SAS Audio
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Re: Upgrade Paths.

What was your speaker setup, drivers etc when you recorded your measurements for graph?

ethanwiner
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Re: Upgrade Paths.


Quote:
Actually, them claim to technological/conceptual/perceptive stupidity was on your part, so the onus is on you to prove the true depth of your ignorance, as opposed to the surface bits we see here. It's a bit of a QED on that one, so my involvement would be strictly unnecessary. The bullet has been firmly shot into your foot, as you live by that maxim, "To Thine Own Self Be True..."


Exactly as I thought - you have nothing of substance, only insults.

ethanwiner
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Re: Upgrade Paths.


Quote:
What was your speaker setup, drivers etc when you recorded your measurements for graph?


Hey, I asked you first.

From THIS article about using the ETF software:

"The graph in Figure 1 at left shows the response I measured in the RealTraps test lab when empty. This room is about 16 by 11-1/2 by 8 feet, and you can see the horribly skewed low frequency response that's typical of all untreated rooms."

Further info: The microphone was placed 38 percent of the way back in the room, and the speakers were a foot or two from the front wall. The setup followed this method:

How to set up a room

Tests were done using the ETF software as described in the first article linked above.

Now, how did you measure your room? And with what software, etc?

--Ethan

SAS Audio
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Re: Upgrade Paths.

We understand where you are coming from KBK.

------------
Ethan,

My room measured +/-6db (12db total variation) from 200 to 20hz at the listening position, no bass treatments. My room is 13' x 26' x 7', short carpet, bare walls and ceiling tile, although not acoustic tile. Table top tv, couch, and outside chair with no padding.

I would be very careful with your insinuations.

My lab includes amongst other equipment, Hewlett-Packard calibrated audio signal generator so I can dial in the problem, Radio Shack meter, and Harmonic Precision Echelon 2, Selah Phast Jr, and System Audio tower speakers. Meter on backless stool.

So I ask again what speaker were you using for your test and graph and did you use a Radio Shack meter?

ethanwiner
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Re: Upgrade Paths.


Quote:
My room measured +/-6db (12db total variation) from 200 to 20hz at the listening position


But at what resolution? Did you measure sine waves at 1 Hz intervals? 2 Hz? 5 Hz? Etc.


Quote:
I would be very careful with your insinuations.


What insinuations?


Quote:
So I ask again what speaker were you using for your test and graph and did you use a Radio Shack meter?


Mackie HR824 but I don't recall if I used my Radio Shack SPL meter or my AKG C451 with a calibrated CK22 capsule. I use both, though lately I use a DPA 4090 for everything. Even if it was done with an SPL meter, mine is flat within 1 dB from 20 Hz to 800 Hz. The graph below shows side-by-side tests using my SPL meter and the AKG microphone.

Speaking of which, I have an interesting project in the works. I'm asked all the time what inexpensive microphones are adequate for room testing. I have the Radio Shack SPL meter and two "good" microphones mentioned above, but I've never tried the Behringer ECM8000 or any of the other affordable microphones people often ask about. So I decided to buy three popular inexpensive small diaphragm omni microphones and compare them all against my AKG C-451 with omni capsule and my DPA 4090. When I mentioned this to some friends, many offered to come by with their microphones. So now the test has grown to ten microphones!

I just set up an enclosed "booth" made out of acoustic panels in my large (33 by 18 by 12 foot) home studio. This will hopefully remove the room at all but the lowest frequencies. I stretched a piece of string to mark the exact location for each microphone's tip to avoid any response changes due to position. I'll use a Mackie HR824 as the source because it's fairly full range, and I'll write it up as an article for the RealTraps site. The microphones tested will be:

Earthworks QTC-1
DPA 4090
AKG C-451 with CK-22 omni capsule
Josephson 617 with Gefell M221 capsule
Behringer ECM8000
Nady CM 100
dbx RTA-M
Radio Shack digital SPL meter
Neutrik (not sure of model number)
Mitey-Mike popular DIY microphone

If anyone here is interested I'll let you know when the article is up. The Behringer, dbx, and Nady microphones I ordered will arrive this week, then I have to coordinate with four people who are bringing their microphones. So it will be at least another week or two.

--Ethan

SAS Audio
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Re: Upgrade Paths.

"My room measured +/-6db (12db total variation) from 200 to 20hz at the listening position"

"But at what resolution? Did you measure sine waves at 1 Hz intervals? 2 Hz? 5 Hz? Etc."

>I already posted "My lab includes amongst other equipment, Hewlett-Packard calibrated audio signal generator so I can dial in the problem,"

So what part of that statement don't you understand? Of course 1hz. This is so basic.

You see Ethan, with a normal audio generator, one can easily check to 1 hz, like I do, by simply rotating the frequency adjustment knob. I can do anything, hold at each cycle, which I did for seconds to allow the 'standing waves" to establish themselves, even stop at the pinnacle of each peak and valley, manualy slowly sweep if I want. So your question is meaningless.

"I would be very careful with your insinuations."
What insinuations? "

>>>This one on page 4, near the bottom of page.
Me: " 1. First I have never measured a room that had that poor of response, or even close, 30+ db variation? One time I did measured 20db."

Ethan: "This is because you don't understand low frequency behavior in domestic size rooms, or the right way to measure LF response. This is not meant as a dig!"

>Trying to portray me as average and lacking even elementary skills of measuring is quite childess and of course is self protection.

For those who do not know me or my backround, during my high school years, I designed and built 2kw PEP transmitters, 50mhz (6 meters) to 29mhz (10 meters) converters, antennas, and upgraded other RF gear as a radio amateur. I also worked on old style radios, both RF and the audio sections.

In college took care of the electronics lab, including calibrating different pieces of equipment. After college I worked in the commercial and military arena at Collins Radio Company. I also belonged to the Military Affiliate Radio System. I have been working on audio designs since 1979.

Here are links to pictures of the HR824 speakers Ethan used in testing and plotting his graph.

http://www.musiciansfriend.com/product/Mackie-HR824-Studio-Monitor?sku=605250&src=3SOSWXXA

http://www.studio-central.com/review_of_the_mackie_hr_824.htm

http://musical-instruments.pricegrabber.com/studio-monitors/m/3834895/

And picture of the HR824 MK2, an updated version.

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/HR824mk2/

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