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High-End Audio / Audiophile Gear Question???

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posted on Jan, 25 2021 @ 06:02 AM
Anyone who's into high-end audio or considers themselves an audiophile has heard of names like Mcintosh, Kipsch, B&W, Cambridge, Denon, etc.

Today, even a single component from one of these manufacturers can cost several thousand dollars. A high-end audiophile 'system' can easily set you back $100,000 dollars or more.

Many of these same systems exist today, things like tube amplifiers and preamps, spectacular analog equipment and the list goes on.

Here's my question...

Back in the day (late 60's, 70's and 80's) we had things like virgin vinyl, reel to reel tape decks and laser discs to use as a 'source' for our fantastical music listening systems. Today, it's almost impossible to find full-bandwidth source audio, what with compression techniques and CODECs like MP3 and many others. Source audio is a fraction of what it used to be 'back in the day'. I'm not talking about the music itself, or the genre, but the quality of the source (i.e CD, old vinyl, etc.). Frankly, much of the source material is complete garbage, to put it bluntly.

So, while technology today is better than it has ever been, even with legacy tube technology reinvented, how could anyone ever justify spending that kind of money on a true audiophile type system when there's no quality source audio to run through the system? It's all noisy, digitally altered garbage. Where would a person go about finding good quality, audiophile grade, source material, yes, in analog format, to use on one of these systems today?

Just wondering because I used to have mountains of excellent quality gear many moons ago. Much of it I've gotten rid of over the years. Recently I contemplated getting back into it though. I don't mind spending the money, but then I ran into the question of...well, what would I listen to on it?

Thoughts / comments welcome!
edit on 1/25/2021 by Flyingclaydisk because: (no reason given)

posted on Jan, 25 2021 @ 06:50 AM
Now days, they destroy the quality of the music to get a "louder sound" when mastering the music. I'm not really good with words to explain what I mean so I'll leave some links instead.

Basically, they make music sound worse than necessary.

posted on Jan, 25 2021 @ 06:52 AM
Agreed, I love looking for old hi fi, I have an old pioneer quadraphonic amp, the only record I have is pink floyds dark side of the moon, it is a really amazing experience listening to it.

I have several nakamichi cassette decks, in my opinion these are the best decks made, especially with a high quality metal casette.

I hate mp3, I tunes, the audio quality is so poor. Less than acceptable, give me a real cd any day.

Compare say the matrix laserdisc to the blu ray, the laserdisc audio is superior as it is full range dolby digital, not compressed like the dvd, plus the colours look terrible on the dvd. I have both and compared, the lobby shoot out scene audio is superb on laserdisc

I have an older boston thx speaker system, with an older pioneer thx amp, it is a great system. I have looked at newer systems, and they appear to be all show no go.

I still record onto minidisc, the compression is less brutal than newer alternatives.

I guess the reason is people dont want to shell out for quality, and prefer to use cheap systems for 99 bux on a cheap foreign made product.

For example people want cheap televisions, back in the early 2000, toshiba and canon developed sed technology, a tv with the depth of a plasma though with the superior qualty and contrast ratio of a cathode ray tube, these werent cheap though were superior to lcd.

Its a sad state of affairs where people think ani phone is high quality hi fi.

Even my old bose 901 series 4 are still kicking and sound great.

Even old marantz power amps are sought after, it took me about three years to find two ma 700 power amps, they sell like hotcakes in australia.

edit on 25-1-2021 by robsmith because: Incomploete

posted on Jan, 25 2021 @ 07:01 AM
a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

It is a good question. I have a home built system using a stereo tube amplifier & preamplifier, with several sources; record player, CD player and yes, even ordinary direct input from my phone for when I am feeling lazy. I find plenty of records and CD's from thrift stores, garage & estate sales at very low prices most of the time. Believe me, there is a profusion of this stuff that most people are more than willing to get rid of for pennies on the dollar.

A good circa 1982 CD player is the thing to find. Sony made a few that weigh over 20 pounds; they built these early models onto a machined, solid copper chassis. Marantz also made a few good ones. The early CD players were often very heavy to alleviate vibration which causes skipping. If you are lucky you'll find one at a yard sale for cheap...these old CD players command very high prices on Ebay. Same for record players; Dual, Thorens, Miracord are some good names and they also can be very pricey on line. The problem is much of these items will need repair; new belts and such which can be a pain to do yourself, but many Youtube videos are available where people will show you how to do it.

But yeah, source material is easy to find at the places mentioned. Finally, at 55 years, my hearing isn't audiophile quality either, so there's that. I need my music to sound crisp and clear, with good dimensionality, and without the dreaded listener's fatigue caused by solid state, especially at high volumes, where I like most of music to be playing.

posted on Jan, 25 2021 @ 07:15 AM
I have a pretty neat Musical Fidelity set up with Sonus Faber loudspeakers. All my kit long in the tooth, but still first class. Recently, so I could stream, I invested in an inexpensive iFi bluetooth streamer which is pretty good.

I think it's a pleasure to listen to good music through decent kit. Some of the crap "hi fi" stuff on sale nowadays does not do music justice, but then much of the music produced is poor! If you spend your life on an iPhone and in-ear headphones then you are missing "real" music IMHO.
edit on 25/1/2021 by paraphi because: (no reason given)

posted on Jan, 25 2021 @ 07:31 AM
a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

You can buy non mastered or non compressed tracks online. Designed just for audiophiles.

The best way is to order the original media online. Which can get expensive quickly.

I've been collecting audio since the analog days and I can tell you that the prices aren't tò bad if you want to build a small collection. Unless you go with real to reel or adat which can get expensive.

Used electronic stores and flea markets are a good place for gear. You can get it cheap since people don't know what to do without WiFi and an mp3 jack.

Vinyl still rules...

edit on 1/25/2021 by MykeNukem because: rock and roll

posted on Jan, 25 2021 @ 07:46 AM
a reply to: Flyingclaydisk know who I am, and where to find me off-forum

I have your answers. Direct questions there. Best, MS/HDT

posted on Jan, 25 2021 @ 08:02 AM
a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

I've been using the same Bang & Olufsen amplifier and speakers for 30 years and it's even 20 years older than that and while I may not play vinyl or cassettes through it anymore, I'm still using it through my computer because quite simply, it's quality

posted on Jan, 25 2021 @ 08:37 AM
a reply to: Jason79

It's called "compression", in its various forms.

The full bandwidth of the music is basically hacked off in order to favor the louder elements of the song. It's essentially the same technique they use with advertising, and why advertisements seem louder than regular programming when in actuality they are not (dB wise anyway).

posted on Jan, 25 2021 @ 09:31 AM
I listen to vinyl probably 25% of the time. The rest is from my huge 40k+ song lossless digital library. A majority of those tracks are standard redbook 16/44.1. I do have several hundred "high definition" tracks that are anywhere from 24/96-24/192. You can purchase them at sites like HDTracks. Honestly, I can't hear to much of a difference from high bitrate compared to standard CD. My system does reveal flaws in low bit rate MP3's. Vinyl tends to be warmer with better dynamics as expected.

All in all, I am perfectly happy with my lossless digital collection. I think the biggest factor is the mastering of the material.
edit on 25-1-2021 by jtrenthacker because: (no reason given)

posted on Jan, 25 2021 @ 09:46 AM
Almost all major recording studios record at 96khz 24bit audio. Some record at 192khz but there's no reason to, as the sound difference is minimal, it takes up a lot more hard drive space, and 99% of consumers don't have equipment to reproduce that quality in the first place. So, that's going to be the maximum quality available - the final master produced in the studio.

Amazon Music HD, Tidal, others offer this 96/24 streaming option. There's exactly zero reason to spend $100k on an 'audiophile' system, unless that person is a complete idiot. The human ear can only hear so much - and after the age of 25 even that gets reduced. That $100k would be better spent funding music equipment for creatives who can't afford it.

Even an MP3 at 320kbps is going to sound virtually indistinguishable from the original source. Of course purists will have a heart attack at my saying that, but biology is biology, sorry. I've been a music producer, audio engineer, and recording artist for 20+ years with several major published albums.

posted on Jan, 25 2021 @ 10:51 AM
Wellll, there are lossless digital formats (like FLAC).

Im a big fan of vinyl though. You should know that vinyl, tubes, etc have made a big comeback
The distortion inherent to the format is wonderful.

You can get everything from hybrid amps to DIY tube amps & speakers. There are even pretty nice software packages for designing your own speakers and things like that (still requires the knowledge). Havent been there in a while, but there is ListenUp audio.

Generally with digital, I go with some type of variable bitrate around 192kbps. Its a bit of a rare recording where I can actually tell the benefit of moving to bitrates that take up more space.
edit on 25-1-2021 by Serdgiam because: (no reason given)

posted on Jan, 25 2021 @ 12:06 PM
I mainly stick with lossless files just so I have a bit for bit copy of it. You never know what other software/file technology will be coming in the future and I've spent way too much time collecting and cataloguing my digital music to start over.

Plus, storage is very cheap now. Hard drive space is no longer a concern.

posted on Jan, 25 2021 @ 12:51 PM
Most of my music is digital today ... something I'd like to change. Costco sells several receivers for around the $400 range. They also sell Klipsch but am worried about the horns being too bright. Anyway, I just use my failing Logitec 2.1 speakers and a computer or tv. It would be nice to be able to play my records and cd's but the price of the equipment is a bit out of reach for me right now. Cool that I can maybe learn from you guys about this stuff.

You can also get powered speakers but they are limited to maybe two inputs, not great for expansion I think. Better to have a receiver amp don't you think???

posted on Jan, 25 2021 @ 01:10 PM

originally posted by: jtrenthacker
Plus, storage is very cheap now. Hard drive space is no longer a concern.

Storage is cheaper, but it can still absolutely be a concern with larger media collections (pictures, music, video, etc). Achieving data security with 12tb+ is still a bit of a task. Id say that once ~50~100tb options start hitting the $100-$150 mark, then it will no longer be a concern (outside of servers, data centers, etc).

I feel ya on the organization though. Organization and accessibility is one of the most critical factors with lots of data of any kind, but is commonly a bit of an "unsung hero."

posted on Jan, 25 2021 @ 01:13 PM
a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

I've heard nothing but good things about McIntosh, but be prepared to spend. And you're right, without hi-end source audio, the best system won't get you far. Neil Young's PONO is the closest you can get digitally from what I understand, but the labels killed it off, so you will have to find one on Ebay.

Neil then switch to hi res streaming wX-stream - according to him its the closest you can get to native master resolution and hes competing with Tidal, the leader right now is Lossless streaming.

posted on Jan, 25 2021 @ 01:15 PM
a reply to: kinglizard

It really all depends on exactly what kind of system you are looking for, what your budget is, what kind of space you are working with, and if you are willing to do some DIY. Headphones are an option to consider as well, depending on situation & preferences.

Do you want it solely for stereo music? Movies? Do you have to be concerned about bothering other people? That type of thing

posted on Jan, 25 2021 @ 02:17 PM
Im currently running a McIntosh MA252 Integrated Amp in my primary 2 channel system . In that 2 channel system I leverage a Marantz DAC and a Schiit device to clean up digital transmission. From an analog perspective it's a much more simple run...Turntable to Mcintosh, Mcintosh to speakers.

I can stream off of Tidal HiFi or Amazon HQ or Deezer or QBuz or whatever and be blown away by what Im hearing. FLAC, MQA, lossless ..whatever I have digital things I can listen to that sound amazing.
I can spin my most cherished vinyl I have including many original or first pressings and be blown away.
I can move to my other system and play multiple things on my HDCD-DVA 5.1 system and still feel like I am listening to Dark Side of the Moon for the first time. Hell I would say if you are a Floyd fan its a requirement to listen to Time in 5.1 format.

In the end hearing is so specific to a person that I am not ever going to say "modern anything is substantially worse then older anything". I also dont believe in the snake oil components of audiophile gear so please keep the $25k interconnect BS marketing speech for someone else.

Figure out your budget, look at the acoustics of your listening experience, are you a cans (headphone) or speaker person and build it from there. It's easy for "audiophile" folks to get caught up in "that obscure turntable costs $3576634564 because they use hobbit hair in the needle and meteors in the tone arm" vs actually just listening to music.

posted on Jan, 25 2021 @ 02:29 PM
Oh man does this bring back memories. I was stationed in korea in the 90's when they had the Hi-fi sale going.

I had three Adcom 555 amps,, And Adcom pre-amp, Yamaha Dsp 1000 control amp, a Nakamichi dragon tape deck, a seperate Am Fm tuner, a pair of Klipsch corner hors, Klipsch La Scala's an Klipsch T 300's, plus a center speaker.

In the dorm.

posted on Jan, 25 2021 @ 07:53 PM
a reply to: Serdgiam

Damn man I hadn't considered a headphone-based receiver-type thing ... It's for a small space where I was considering a bookshelf speaker + Yamaha receiver ... I was thinking about a $700 budget ... but $500 is know...

DO they make a headphone deal with a couple of optical inputs? Hell I can search as well as anyone but I don't know the name to search ... I guess headphone amplifier ... Really this may be a good option for me.

Don't mean to mess up your thread ... I'm not talking high end for sure... Thanks, bud...
edit on 1/25/2021 by kinglizard because: (no reason given)

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