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Best and Worst things about HiFi

Ajani

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Apr 9, 2008
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What do you consider the best and worst things about HiFi?

For me the best thing is the worst thing; Variety. No matter what you believe, whether it is based on pure Vulcan logic or so nutty that squirrels horde it, you can find HiFi to fit those beliefs.

If you believe all modern tech is about convenience and not sound quality, you can put together a system with a reel to reel tape, SET amp and corner loaded horn speakers. If you want to obsess over whether your AC sockets are preventing you from hearing the separation between the notes, you can buy audiophile approved replacement sockets. If you believe active speakers are just inherently superior to passives, you can buy actives and join forums devoted to talking about them.

If you believe that what is written in a HiFi mag is gospel, then you can put together a system comprised solely of the latest awards winners from the magazine of your choice. If you believe all mags are slaves to their advertisers, then you can easily find dozens of boutiques brands that refuse to ‘sell out’ by advertising, and you can even join their forums and high five other persons with your ‘superior tastes’.

If you believe that FLAC files sound better than ALAC or that WAV is the only way to go, then you can save all your music that way and debate the sound quality endlessly on the forum of your choice. If you believe that the only way to judge whether you like a product is through a hundred rounds of DBT, then you are free to do so and can find likeminded individuals to cheer you on.

If you believe that putting a $50 fuse in a $500 Amp will make it sound like a $5000 one, then you can easily do so. If you want a tiny all in one system that you control from your phone, you can get one. But if you want a system with dozens of separate parts and speakers that look like garage doors, you can do that too. And if you just want to start pretentious, long winded threads to amuse yourself on a HiFi forum, you can (as long as the spam filter doesn’t trigger).

So to me the best thing is the awesome variety in this hobby. You really can find just about anything you want and people to chat about it with. The worst part is all the endless bickering about which personal preference is better than the other. So what are your best and worst things about HiFi?
 

Overdose

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Feb 8, 2008
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Ajani said:
The worst part is all the endless bickering about which personal preference is better than the other.
That's got nothing to do with hifi, that's human nature.
 

Ajani

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Apr 9, 2008
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Overdose said:
Ajani said:
The worst part is all the endless bickering about which personal preference is better than the other.
That's got nothing to do with hifi, that's human nature.
That's sad, but true. HiFi preference is just an excuse for bickering. I suppose if we didn't have HiFi maybe we'd all be arguing about stamp collecting instead.
 

jaxwired

Well-known member
Feb 7, 2009
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If we could definitively measure sound quality, we wouldn't have a hobby. Just buy as much sound quality as you can afford and you'd be done. So I'm glad it's all subjective.
 

Ajani

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jaxwired said:
If we could definitively measure sound quality, we wouldn't have a hobby. Just buy as much sound quality as you can afford and you'd be done. So I'm glad it's all subjective.
Interesting thought, but would it really be that simple?

We can measure time, yet the watch world is crazy. In fact accuracy is not even the main factor when many (possibly most) persons buy watches. So it might not be a bad thing if sound quality took a backseat in HiFi selection.
 

ID.

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Feb 22, 2010
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Best: The joy it brings and the extra dimension it reveals in the music we love.

Worst: The money spent and the upgrade bug, although the pleasure it brings continues long after the bank account has been replenished and I've forgotten about the cost.
 

Electro

Well-known member
Mar 30, 2011
43
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ID. said:
Best: The joy it brings and the extra dimension it reveals in the music we love.

Worst: The money spent and the upgrade bug, although the pleasure it brings continues long after the bank account has been replenished and I've forgotten about the cost.
This say's it all .*good*
 

Jota180

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May 14, 2010
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The worst thing is constantly seeing people confusing their own opinions and tastes with fact, however this is not solely a HIFI problem.

The thing that annoys me most is the lack of pure double blind A/B testing of products by a magazine or website.

The whole world knows the effects of subconscious bias, placebo effect etc etc so why not remove those from the equation when testing and reviewing products?
 

Al ears

Moderator
Jota180 said:
The worst thing is constantly seeing people confusing their own opinions and tastes with fact, however this is not solely a HIFI problem.

The thing that annoys me most is the lack of pure double blind A/B testing of products by a magazine or website.

The whole world knows the effects of subconscious bias, placebo effect etc etc so why not remove those from the equation when testing and reviewing products?
This, unfortunately, is never going to happen. Far too costly and time-consuming to persue. Reviewing is likely to continue to be carried out be one man and it is his opinions that are going to get published.

To this end equipment reviews should be taken with a pinch of salt, although if you consider the experience of the reviewer to generally agree with your own findings, then these reviews can be used to draw up a short-list. Ultimately, as with all things, its down to you to go and audition as much as you can before parting with hard-earnt (or otherwise) cash.

After years of reading reviews and going to listen to equipment I know there are 2 or 3 reviewers from various hifi publications whose opinions I value. There I others who appear to me and my ears to be talking a load of cobblers.
 

Native_bon

Well-known member
Nov 26, 2008
180
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The good thing about hifi is the joy I get from it listening to music.

The bad..?.. Hifi mags knowing what they are about two review. This cousres bais reviews.Most of the so called outstanding products are not outstanding. Just well marketed. Also its not easy to judge all the totality of sound.. Musicality, tune balance, clearity, dynamic range. Needs a lot of experience in the hifi world.
 

boshk

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Jun 23, 2014
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The good: I could sit for hours listening to my vinyls, CDs and hi-def on my new system. I thought my old system was good (200pound speakers with AV amp) until it died but my current one is light years ahead....

The Bad: I guess it isn't just related to Hi-Fi, its human nature. I got a taste of what music can sound like with 'better' equipment.........

Now I'm curious (I wont replace current system yet), but that itchy bug........I wonder what does that higher end would sound like.......

Sony Xb930 cdp------->Roksan Caspian CD

CM1----------> PM1 or PMC 22 or floorstanders

Project Debut Carbon 2m red---------> 2m blue OR VPI Scout??

External DAC to replace RA-1570 internal DAC
 

Rethep

Well-known member
May 2, 2011
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18,520
The best thing to start with: 'dreaming wide awake' listening to good sound!

The worst thing: The expensiveness of it, though every hobby may cost money of course. And the doubt if it still could sound better somehow, but that is being cured by age too ;-)
 

relocated

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Jan 20, 2012
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Rethep said:
The best thing to start with: 'dreaming wide awake' listening to good sound!

The worst thing: The expensiveness of it, though every hobby may cost money of course. And the doubt if it still could sound better somehow, but that is being cured by age too ;-)
That's brilliant, great description.
 

relocated

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Jan 20, 2012
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The best thing about hifi is, enabling you to hear your favourite music recreated before your very ears, as close as possible to how you'd hear it live: actually often better than live.

The worst thing is, the cr*p that magazines and websites roll out as 'fact' [current and historical] and kidding people that certain types of product are EVER going to be any good, whatever money you throw at them.

ps., You don't have to 'believe' that 'active' is "inherently superior to passives". That is just a plain and simple fact that can and has been proved, over and over and over again. It is not disputed by major speaker manufacturers of any worth.
 

matt49

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Apr 7, 2013
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relocated said:
ps., You don't have to 'believe' that 'active' is "inherently superior to passives". That is just a plain and simple fact that can and has been proved, over and over and over again. It is not disputed by major speaker manufacturers of any worth.
Ah yes, careless generalizations. Surely one of the best things about hi-fi.

I have a pair of hybrid speakers (passive above 350Hz, active below). I'd be prepared to wager a large sum of money that these speakers are measurably better across the passive part of their range than any dynamic active speakers that have ever been made (assuming by "better" we mean that they distort less).

One of the things about the active/passive debate is that it tends to work on the assumption that you're using dynamic speakers. Which is fine. But active dynamic speakers fail to address the biggest source of distortion in the audio chain: cones chuffing in and out, all that mass that needs to be controlled. Silly really, when you can design a transducer that's effectively mass-less and so reduces the amount of distortion hugely.

And then there's the crossover in the "presence" zone. Sure, an active dynamic speaker may be better than a passive version of the same speaker, but an ESL panel that has no mid-range or HF crossover at all and therefore doesn't need to be active has an advantage over any active dynamic design with crossovers.

There's a good reason why Martin Logan (a major speaker manufacturer, I think) make hybrid designs like this. The bass cone benefits from being driven actively. The 'static panel doesn't. In other words, here's a major speaker manufacturer that sees no advantage in going fully active.

So yes, active speakers are always better than passives, except when they're not.

Matt
 

Rethep

Well-known member
May 2, 2011
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relocated said:
Rethep said:
The best thing to start with: 'dreaming wide awake' listening to good sound!

The worst thing: The expensiveness of it, though every hobby may cost money of course. And the doubt if it still could sound better somehow, but that is being cured by age too ;-)
That's brilliant, great description.
Thx!
 

Paul.

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Nov 26, 2010
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Going to the Cinema and having it be worse than at home is the best and worst thing about hifi :)
 

matt49

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Apr 7, 2013
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Best things about hi-fi:

1. Listening to Janacek’s From the House of the Dead at home (I’ve not yet managed to catch it live) and feeling: WOW!!!

2. It can be nicely sociable: listening with family and friends is great, but also meeting people on forums (including someone I was at uni with who I re-met after 25 years on a forum).

Worst thing about hi-fi: actually nothing is really that bad. Some of the dogmatism does grate a bit though.

*good*

Matt
 

Ajani

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Apr 9, 2008
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relocated said:
ps., You don't have to 'believe' that 'active' is "inherently superior to passives". That is just a plain and simple fact that can and has been proved, over and over and over again. It is not disputed by major speaker manufacturers of any worth.
All things equal, sure... But all things aren't, so touting their superioty is often misleading....

Put it this way: My cellphone most likely contains an active speaker, but no one in their right mind would claim it is superior to a KEF LS50 or just about any decent passive speaker. Why? because just being active doesn't make a speaker good.

Would an active version of the LS50 be better than the passive version? Assuming the same quality electronics used in both instances, then yes it would be. Lower crossover distortion etc... But since their is no active version of the LS50, it means you would have to compare it to a totally different active speaker (which could well use such inferior parts that even the benefits of being active don't outweigh the disadvantages of all the other parts - like my cellphone speaker).

Personally, I prefer to use actives, but I think that spreading the whole actives are superior argument is more misleading than useful. It just leads to people being dissapointed as they think that ANY active speaker will sound better than a passive one. So when they buy a pair of pro speakers and realize they don't like how it sounds (despite it being active) they write off actives, rather than simply auditioning more carefully.
 

lindsayt

New member
Apr 8, 2011
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Best things about hi-fi: it can provide a valid home entertainment alternative to watching TV.

At its best it is breath-takingly attention-grabbingly captivating.

At its best it is vaguely like listening to a live performance, or a produced version of stitched-together live performances.

Worst thing is that it costs money for the hardware and the recordings, with some equipment and some recording versions being eye wateringly expensive.

It's neither good nor bad that you get dogmatic, absolutist statements like this:
"relocated wrote:
ps., You don't have to 'believe' that 'active' is "inherently superior to passives". That is just a plain and simple fact that can and has been proved, over and over and over again. It is not disputed by major speaker manufacturers of any worth."

Anyone can say whatever they want about hi-fi. Doesn't mean to say they're right or wrong. The real truth test comes in A/B demos.

So far in every A/B demo I've done with fully active speakers, it's been the actives that have lost. If fully active speakers ever actually win one of my bake-offs I might become interested in buying them, depending on the cost and depreciation prospects.
 

relocated

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Jan 20, 2012
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matt49 said:
relocated said:
ps., You don't have to 'believe' that 'active' is "inherently superior to passives". That is just a plain and simple fact that can and has been proved, over and over and over again. It is not disputed by major speaker manufacturers of any worth.
Ah yes, careless generalizations. Surely one of the best things about hi-fi.

I have a pair of hybrid speakers (passive above 350Hz, active below). I'd be prepared to wager a large sum of money that these speakers are measurably better across the passive part of their range than any dynamic active speakers that have ever been made (assuming by "better" we mean that they distort less).

One of the things about the active/passive debate is that it tends to work on the assumption that you're using dynamic speakers. Which is fine. But active dynamic speakers fail to address the biggest source of distortion in the audio chain: cones chuffing in and out, all that mass that needs to be controlled. Silly really, when you can design a transducer that's effectively mass-less and so reduces the amount of distortion hugely.

And then there's the crossover in the "presence" zone. Sure, an active dynamic speaker may be better than a passive version of the same speaker, but an ESL panel that has no mid-range or HF crossover at all and therefore doesn't need to be active has an advantage over any active dynamic design with crossovers.

There's a good reason why Martin Logan (a major speaker manufacturer, I think) make hybrid designs like this. The bass cone benefits from being driven actively. The 'static panel doesn't. In other words, here's a major speaker manufacturer that sees no advantage in going fully active.

So yes, active speakers are always better than passives, except when they're not.

Matt
Matt, My p.s. was written using a 'smiley' so as not to be provocative; but this useless site decided that using one of its own smileys in a post was 'Spam', so I posted without. It was in essence a 'tongue-in-cheek' post, even if true on a like for like appraisal.

I see that brilliant deductive thought has crept in by pitching a phone speaker against an LS 50. With logic like that I am undone, how silly of me. I shall withdraw and lick my wounds.
 

Native_bon

Well-known member
Nov 26, 2008
180
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I would say the same..... All things being equal Active will reproduce a better sound any day compared to passive speakers. Only disadvantage of active is not being able to tailor sound as much as passive speakers.
 

Glacialpath

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Apr 7, 2010
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The best thing for me is being able to play my CD collection but also having th option to stream Spotify from my phone though my AVR and finding even more music to buy on CD when I have the money. I'm a collector so I like a lot of CDs

I also have recording gear. It's not the best in the world and my monitors are passive which I now know is quite a disadvantage.

I also make music so I get all aspects of music instead of just being a listener.

The bad thing is not so much the gear but how a lot of the music I listen to gets recorded then abused in the mixing and mastering stage. Then the listener has no idea how the music is meant to sound.

To me the origin of audio playback equipment at first was just to hear early recordings. The equipment couldn't capture a life like sound unless it was in a controld environment and at reference volume. Then Hi Fidelity came along and things got more life like. Though I think the analogue kit that was used for recording once they got beyond the stage of recording straight to vinyl then sounds started to be more life like.

That seems to have been lost now in the music I listen to. It's all become about how clear you can hear every note being played and every drum hit as if the musicians are machines. That sucks beyond belief.

Only musicians and people privy to being in the room with the musician will know how the instruments should sound. Even then it depends on the room and the musician. So the fact we get lumped with a producers sound design basically who's to interperate how that's meant to sound unless you were there at the mixing stage.

To me Hi-Fi is about what it reveals. If it reveals everything you think should be audible then you got your perfect Hi-Fi if there are dynamic sounds you've heard one a system but can't on your's again you're not going to know which one is correct unless you were present at the mixing stage.

Being able to hear a woodwind musician breath as they play to me is real but that's putting yourself in the room with them and they and the instrument are the only thing emitting sound. You wouldn't really hear them breathing if they were doing a solo at a concert with a full orchestra even though they might be playing the same bit of music. Obviously 2 complete listening instances.

DBTs I get them. Take away one sense to optimise the hearing. Of course some people will listen to music with their eyes closed to get the purest experience possible but without smell our perseption of taste is dulled considerably, the same the other way around just not so much.

Take away sight you might hear a lion roar. Open your eyes and it will be a tiger. Ok if you are around these animals all the time you will get to know the differences. Theres the scenario again, being there.

I was in Isotek for a demo at this years Bristol show. I heard the demo, heard the differences then asked them to put a CD on I bought. It sounded aweful. So though I heard the improvements on the piece of music they used my CD sounded worse than when I have it at home. Of course their system wasn't meant to sound perfect it was just there to play out the differences the Isotek products make. I've been in to PMC one year, put on a CD I had and it sounded awefull.

That's all with my eyes and ears abd OK I wasn't doing side by side comparisson. My point is I hate it when people try to ram home DBT is the only way.

If you listen to one item of Hi-Fi then change it for another leaving everything else the same. It will either sound worse, better or no different to our senses. I mean would you block your ears to see if a painting looked better......Now I'm just being silly ;-)
 

Jota180

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May 14, 2010
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Just sat through a couple of hours of different tracks from different bands and I'm finding the most annoying thing about HIFI is not so much the HIFI but poorly mastered CD's.

If the world's recording and mastering big-wigs could be brought together at one side of a big room and all the HIFI heads at the other side, with big sticks, I'm sure we could come to an acceptable agreement. :D
 

Ajani

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Apr 9, 2008
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lindsayt said:
It's neither good nor bad that you get dogmatic, absolutist statements like this:

"relocated wrote:

ps., You don't have to 'believe' that 'active' is "inherently superior to passives". That is just a plain and simple fact that can and has been proved, over and over and over again. It is not disputed by major speaker manufacturers of any worth."
I think it's bad, as you are more likely to get quarrels than meaningful discussion. Though in relocated's case it seems it was meant to be somewhat tongue in cheek rather than dogmatic.

lindsayt said:
Anyone can say whatever they want about hi-fi. Doesn't mean to say they're right or wrong. The real truth test comes in A/B demos.

So far in every A/B demo I've done with fully active speakers, it's been the actives that have lost. If fully active speakers ever actually win one of my bake-offs I might become interested in buying them, depending on the cost and depreciation prospects.
Agreed. Until you hear an active speaker you prefer to the passive alternatives, then any technical superiority of actives really doesn't matter.

There are pro active monitors with bloated bass and/or overhyped treble, so you certainly have to audition to find the right active for you.
 

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