What features do you think are missing from high-end audio components?

What features do you think are missing from high-end audio components?
Here's what I'd like to see
83% (85 votes)
Can't think of any
17% (17 votes)
Total votes: 102

Reader Mike Agee wonders why displays on disc players don't default to "time remaining" or why more power amps don't come with attenuators. What features do you think are missing from high-end audio components?

Jim Tavegia's picture

I would like to see output meters on CD players and DVD-recorders, like the old fluorescent displays on cassette decks, and for all power amps to have output meter displays to allow the owners to know exactly now much power they are using to achieve their current listening level. I would also like to see a lower output on CD players, or a second one that would be in the 500mv, the range of most of our other source gear. And it should not be the sound-degrading type as on the Quad CDP-2 CD player.

SMK's picture

Stand-alone, defeatable, variable loudness control.

Stephen Scharf's picture

Value for money. Most high-end components are ridiculously overpriced.

Hoser Rob's picture

Defeatable EQ on preamp sections. Some of us don't like the vast majority of audiophile recordings. With many everyday ones, you need EQ.

audio-sleuth@comcast.net's picture

A mono switch. On almost everything; tuners, phono preamps, line stages, even CD players. They could all benefit from time to time. Now, I'm not against stereo, but there are a few recordings that sound less artificial when played in mono. Tuners, well of course, depending on reception and material.

DG's picture

Off switches for all light sources on disc players, phono sections, DACs, preamps, tuners, computer servers, etc. Then nothing would distract from the amp's beautiful tube glow.

JRG's picture

Almost no high-end preamps, and very few high-end integrated amps, come with a headphone output. (God knows why Burmester puts one on the rear panel.) As an apartment dweller, I require headphones for late-night listening, whether music, TV, or DVD. A separate headphone amp is not very convenient, in terms of space-saving, but mostly because very few come with remote control. With a headphone output on a preamp or integrated amp, I can switch between sources and adjust the volume from the couch.

JT's picture

On integrated amplifiers, balance and well-done tone controls. Sometimes you just need to tweak things at the margin to greatly improve the pleasure.

Dismord's picture

Interchannel balance controls and (defeatable) well-executed tone controls on high-end preamplifiers. If we lived in a world of prefect recordings, these would not be necessary. We don't live in such a world. I'd also like to see high-end manufacturers design proper mains regulation and filtering into their components so that add-on power filters, etc were unnecessary. How would the public react if BMW sold cars with suspension so inadequate we had to replace it with add-on shocks, springs, etc? There's something very wrong with the high-end at the moment, apart from the insanity of minimalist puritanism when it comes to balance controls, etc. Do the fools who design these things imagine that recording studios avoid all such devices?

Nathan's picture

I'd like to see fewer. I'm surprised to see so many preamps that have tape in/out. I'd forgo the tone and balance controls, too.

Doug Bowker's picture

It'd be nice for high-end turntables to have arm lifts at the end of the record. CD players should all have digital in by now—no excuse at all.

OvenMaster's picture

I'd like to see prices that accurately reflect the true costs of design, parts procurement, manufacturing, assembly labor, shipping, and a reasonable profit for both the maker and the dealer. "High-end" too often means "high-priced." It sure looks to me like there's a secret "gentlemen's agreement" in place to deliberately keep decent audio only within reach of those with deep pockets. $10,000 components are a joke.

Jared Gerlach's picture

Low volume bass boost ("loudness" compensation) would be welcomed on integrateds and preamps for late night listening down low. That's the single feature I miss most.

Justin's picture

More speakers with active crossovers.

James Kontol's picture

Tone controls on amplifiers.

Mads O's picture

As you said: Attenuators in amps/preamps (or source components). Separate power on/power off buttons on remotes (for programmable remotes). One more thing: I won't buy a new CD player without digital inputs!

Aden's picture

Features that cater for the modern day. Why are disc players still in existence? Also, three feet/supports on equipment—this is always balanced, where four feet are nearly always unbalanced. Why not something simple like this?

Christian's picture

More digital inputs on CD players. Why buy a good sounding source for a lot of money and have all the other things at home still poor sounding?

djl's picture

High-quality DACs in the DVD players and better capacitors! They make 'em better than ever now! There's no need for a manufacturer to use standard grade caps in an audio component anymore! If they do, they're cheapskates and just cutting corners to save a buck. Nonsense! Build 'em to last! And above all else, stop using lead-free solder! If you use lead-free solder, you're building in an automatic short lifespan of the item. Lead-free solder turns to powder after about five years or so. Then you have to buy another unit. Poppycock! Do it right the first time and you will have more happy customers!

Mark's picture

It's the value that's missing. Too many "high-end" audio components are sold with considerable mark up to attract those who feel that higher costs are indicative of better performance.

thad's picture

A mode switch: right, left, reverse, mono, blend for stereo separation—also, tone controls or a tilt knob.

Lila's picture

I agree with both of those features. I understand the fewer components in an amp the better, but removing a whole preamp out of a system would improve sound quality much more than leaving out a simple potentiometer. I don't use a preamp since my high-end sound card has 2V output. Most amplifiers would clip far too easily. Input sensitivity should be slightly less sensitive on the power amp to avoid any clipping and maintain dynamic range.

heretic's picture

Tone controls.

Heikki S.'s picture

Possibility to switch power on/off by remote control.

sam's picture

Mono/Stereo switch on integrated amps and preamps.

John's picture

Power amps that turn off and on when the preamp comes on.

Harris Hat's picture

A source component able to play digital content with sample rates up to 192kHz stored on network servers or USB storage devices or served via Internet radio. This device would have the ability to decode a wide variety of formats (eg, FLAC, MP3, WMA and output LPCM over HDMI to an A/V receiver.

Paul J.  Stiles, Mtn.  View, CA's picture

Affordability, that is, without selling the house—that is, for those of us that still have one.

jeromelang's picture

Something to remove and something to add: to remove: the RAM of servo systems inside CD players. This is the real cause of the sound fatique in digital sound. Enterprising digital designers should take note. to add: wired remote commander system. the infrared remote control system is a source of sound degradation. why don't more designers have more courage to admit the inherent problem with infrared remote control systems?

Rich's picture

I'd like to see DAC or DAC/preamp components with digital processor loops, so they can be used with digital equalizers, etc, without giving up input switching.