cheap-Fi

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shadders

Well-known member
Nov 19, 2009
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Anyone want to invoke the law of diminishing marginal returns?
Hi,
This is part of my point, although i did not state it. That, the law of diminishing returns assumes that the more you pay the better it is.

This is not the case. You can take a cheap well designed amplifier, modify its distortion profile, and obtain the same sound as a high end piece of equipment.

All we have is a different sounding pieces of equipment. People are conditioned to believe that more money means better.

Regards,
Shadders.
 

Wil

Well-known member
May 8, 2020
347
94
970
Sounds (yet, more accurately, reads) interesting (thus far). Please do cite us examples, case studies where this has occurred.
This is not the case. You can take a cheap well designed amplifier, modify its distortion profile, and obtain the same sound as a high end piece of equipment.
 

Wil

Well-known member
May 8, 2020
347
94
970
Perhaps some of those dismissing the latest Chi-fi as rubbish, should try it first.
I think (in many cases) they might be surprised.
Well, historically, March 2010 issue:
"Hi Stephen - regularly visiting the People's Republic as I do (for reasons of friends and family), I get plenty of chance to see Chinese hi-fi 'at home', and talk to Chinese hi-fi buffs and indeed Chinese hi-fi salesmen when I visit the fast growing network of hi-fi dealerships there. I'm afraid their indigenous product is not universally well regarded. There are, as you point out, some very good Chinese brands, but most - as a number of Chinese dealers have told me (even those who sell it!) are poor. They're highly derivative of Western designs, and often they manage to copy the 'headline features' like chunky casework and huge toroidal power transformers, but miss the subtle things which are just as important to sound such as high quality passive components. Indeed, at the last Whittlebury Show Ken Ishiwata and I were comparing notes; he told me that they simply lack designers who can 'finesse' their products, fine-tune what's basically a box of decent bits into something half-decent. He believes they will moved forward, and in some cases have already done so, but it's (if you pardon the phrase) rather like 'the Wild West' at the moment. As such, buying blind off eBay (or wherever) is risky. It's great if you're tweaky and you want a project, but don't expect hi-fi heaven at a knock down price.
DP"
 

shadders

Well-known member
Nov 19, 2009
248
144
18,970
Sounds (yet, more accurately, reads) interesting (thus far). Please do cite us examples, case studies where this has occurred.
Hi,
I am referencing the Bob Carver amplifier experiment :


He used a generic amplifier and modeled the distortion profile of two other amplifiers and applied it to the generic amplifier. The reviewers could not determine the difference between the generic with modified distortion and the target amplifier.

When you think about it, we have a perfect signal derived from the source and what reaches the ears is the perfect signal + distortions. What people like are the relevant distortions of one set of equipment compared to another different set.

Regards,
Shadders.
 

gel

Well-known member
Sep 24, 2021
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I would say there is definitely a lot going for cheaper products than expensive eg wireless speakers. I have tried B&W Formation Duo and KEF LS50 wireless both RRP above £2000 then there is my Bose Wave system at £500 and it’s better than both the expensive pair of speakers I mention. I don’t suppose you guys can recommend some cheapest wireless speakers that kick way above their price range?

In HC world you have Blu-ray players all the same quality, there is more coverage of amps being very similar within the same range. HDMI cables and cables in general all the same. I once tried a Sony all one one home cinema system for £300 looked and sounded nearly as good as my far more expensive home cinema system.
 

Wil

Well-known member
May 8, 2020
347
94
970
I skimmed it, "experiment" means it didn’t eventuate to commercial products? And “modified distortion” is outside of mainstream-music
Hi,
I am referencing the Bob Carver amplifier experiment :


He used a generic amplifier and modeled the distortion profile of two other amplifiers and applied it to the generic amplifier. The reviewers could not determine the difference between the generic with modified distortion and the target amplifier.

When you think about it, we have a perfect signal derived from the source and what reaches the ears is the perfect signal + distortions. What people like are the relevant distortions of one set of equipment compared to another different set.

Regards,
Shadders.
Your "relevant distortions" last sentence is the antithesis and corruption of what high-fidelity is (meant to be?).

The use of "Hi-Fi" has become a meaningless/all-encompassing byword‽


And I’ll name a commercial example myself, where KI himself said that his KI Pearl Lite is very-close-to-the-same-sound as the original Pearl:
I'd buy it. But I won't be complacent towards higher price point products.
 

Wil

Well-known member
May 8, 2020
347
94
970
cheap-Fi is just cheap—I buy it. We can certainly be good (well informed, discerning) consumers of it.
I would say there is definitely a lot going for cheaper products than expensive eg wireless speakers. I have tried B&W Formation Duo and KEF LS50 wireless both RRP above £2000 then there is my Bose Wave system at £500 and it’s better than both the expensive pair of speakers I mention. I don’t suppose you guys can recommend some cheapest wireless speakers that kick way above their price range?

In HC world you have Blu-ray players all the same quality, there is more coverage of amps being very similar within the same range. HDMI cables and cables in general all the same. I once tried a Sony all one one home cinema system for £300 looked and sounded nearly as good as my far more expensive home cinema system.
 
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shadders

Well-known member
Nov 19, 2009
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I skimmed it, "experiment" means it didn’t eventuate to commercial products? And “modified distortion” is outside of mainstream-music
Hi,
From the article referenced :
"Bob Carver used "distortion pots" to introduce amplifier characteristics, fine-tuned to null-out any sound differences. His modified amplifier sound was so similar, Stereophile Magazine editors could not tell the difference between his amplifier and one costing more than $6,000.[5] This amplifier was marketed as the M1.0t for about $400.00. Carver successfully copied the sound of the target amplifier and won the challenge."

So, he did market the modified amplifier, and the text goes on to say he sold others too.

Your "relevant distortions" last sentence is the antithesis and corruption of what high-fidelity is (meant to be?).

The use of "Hi-Fi" has become a meaningless/all-encompassing byword‽
Yes, high fidelity means no distortion. The problem is, people like distortion. For a very well measuring device, people claim that the sound is bland, emotionless. When you examine the THD for the most liked amplifiers, then you can see that the distortion is a lot higher than it needs to be.

Adding distortion to equipment is how manufacturers achieve their "house" sound. Nothing wrong with that, but if you tell people they are essentially preferring one type of distortion, they get quite irate.

So, for cheap-fi, you may or may not like it, depending on the distortion profile. Just because it is cheap, does not mean it is not fun.

Regards,
Shadders.
 

Gray

Well-known member
Well, historically, March 2010 issue:
"Hi Stephen - regularly visiting the People's Republic as I do (for reasons of friends and family), I get plenty of chance to see Chinese hi-fi 'at home', and talk to Chinese hi-fi buffs and indeed Chinese hi-fi salesmen when I visit the fast growing network of hi-fi dealerships there. I'm afraid their indigenous product is not universally well regarded. There are, as you point out, some very good Chinese brands, but most - as a number of Chinese dealers have told me (even those who sell it!) are poor. They're highly derivative of Western designs, and often they manage to copy the 'headline features' like chunky casework and huge toroidal power transformers, but miss the subtle things which are just as important to sound such as high quality passive components. Indeed, at the last Whittlebury Show Ken Ishiwata and I were comparing notes; he told me that they simply lack designers who can 'finesse' their products, fine-tune what's basically a box of decent bits into something half-decent. He believes they will moved forward, and in some cases have already done so, but it's (if you pardon the phrase) rather like 'the Wild West' at the moment. As such, buying blind off eBay (or wherever) is risky. It's great if you're tweaky and you want a project, but don't expect hi-fi heaven at a knock down price.
DP"
That was 11 years ago. Of course there will always be rubbish, but a lot has changed.
(Not sure some of today's better Chinese brands were even around in 2010).
 
One of the many issues with this cheap stuff is whether things like chemicals used in manufacturing are being used in a safe and legal way, whether waste is being disposed of lawfully, and whether laws governing the likes of toxic emissions etc are being adhered to - all the usual things that most countries and companies do so to stay within the law. In China, many don’t seem to care (just as most don’t care which company’s products they’re blatantly copying). And whether they’re actually CE certified - if it ends up burning your house down and it’s not CE certified, an insurance company may not pay out…
 
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shadders

Well-known member
Nov 19, 2009
248
144
18,970
Hi,
If you purchase from a reputable dealer, or buy equipment that is UK/EU based in design and procurement, it should be manufactured from ROHS components, so illegal chemicals will not be an issue.

If you purchase from anywhere online and do not know where it comes from, then you are at risk.

Cheap hifi does not mean bad components, and as the OP stated, they are referring to the mainstream when compared to the Relentless amplifier.

Regards,
Shadders.
 
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Hi,
If you purchase from a reputable dealer, or buy equipment that is UK/EU based in design and procurement, it should be manufactured from ROHS components, so illegal chemicals will not be an issue.

If you purchase from anywhere online and do not know where it comes from, then you are at risk.

Cheap hifi does not mean bad components, and as the OP stated, they are referring to the mainstream when compared to the Relentless amplifier.

Regards,
Shadders.
Don’t be so naive - these cheap Chinese knock off manufacturers don’t give a monkey’s left one about morality, they’re only interested in manufacturing as much stuff as possible, and selling as much stuff as possible, and mostly for export. Most of the cheap Chinese electronics offered on Amazon have probably been manufactured outside of numerous laws. It was shown a few years ago that clothes provided by a large cheap clothing chain contained chemicals that either shouldn’t be present, or shouldn’t have been as high as they were (I forget which). The tough race to provide people with the cheapest of everything is littered with product that doesn’t conform to laws and standards set out for the industry they’re in. It’s all about profit.

”cheap-fi” to me are all these sub £200 stuff you see on Amazon and Aliexpress, which is what I’m referring to. This phrase can’t really be attributed to the budget end of hi-fi as we have known it for the past several decades.
 

gasolin

Well-known member
Mar 17, 2013
1,126
232
19,570
I like cheap hifi, my system is cheap, from my pc to my dac,mixer,amp,speaker + stands and of course cable around 970 euros or 760 pounds.

I have just bought a cheap pa amp an disconnected the fan, now it's a perfect low budget high powered amp around 250 watt in 4 ohm pr channel (4 ohm speakers), didn't expected that it wouldn't sound like crap

I have alot more power than my small class d amps and it soo nice since, the sound is cleaner,it doesn't run out of steam for the speakers im using, thought the mixer instead of a very cheap preamp or one of the ultra compact, preamps from nobsound,smsl,topping,fosi audio, would degrade the sound but sounds fine, the same with the amp which im 99.99% shure is a class a/b amp it does the job very well.

My cheap passive speakers (bigger and cheaper than a pair of dali spektor 1) sound amazing for the price, high are not fatiguing to listen to, not to loud, bass is there never to much and is pretty fast, sometimes it could need a little adjustment and is why i have bough a cheap equalizer so i can adjust the bass, since a different mixer would be to tall because my turntable is above my hifi rack, the best is the good clean midrange and wide soundstage (because of my balanced dac ? )

Only thing i would change if i could, would be my spekers in a 6 og 6.5" version, argon doesn't make one in that size and it would only be because of the bass not spl or the general sound.

Cheap "new" hifi can sound more than okay, you just have to find what matches your needs, experince a little and if you don't like it sell it of keep it for some other day where you might have a different system where it could be a perfect low budget "cheap" hifi
 

shadders

Well-known member
Nov 19, 2009
248
144
18,970
Don’t be so naive - these cheap Chinese knock off manufacturers don’t give a monkey’s left one about morality, they’re only interested in manufacturing as much stuff as possible, and selling as much stuff as possible, and mostly for export. Most of the cheap Chinese electronics offered on Amazon have probably been manufactured outside of numerous laws. It was shown a few years ago that clothes provided by a large cheap clothing chain contained chemicals that either shouldn’t be present, or shouldn’t have been as high as they were (I forget which). The tough race to provide people with the cheapest of everything is littered with product that doesn’t conform to laws and standards set out for the industry they’re in. It’s all about profit.

”cheap-fi” to me are all these sub £200 stuff you see on Amazon and Aliexpress, which is what I’m referring to. This phrase can’t really be attributed to the budget end of hi-fi as we have known it for the past several decades.
Hi,
I did state reputable dealer, example would be Richer Sounds. The equipment may be made in china, but it will conform to ROHS and UK/EU laws.

I specifically stated online with unknown origin or conformity is an issue.

I would not purchase from online unless a UK dealer, or if Amazon, then i would determine the source.

Regards,
Shadders.
 

Wil

Well-known member
May 8, 2020
347
94
970
In 11 days, it'll be the anniversary of KI's passing. He was debatably a-champion-of-cheap-Fi, and “Music is emotions.”

Perhaps I'll next equate the pursuit of high-fidelity to fine dining vs. fast food?
Cheap hifi does not mean bad components, and as the OP stated, they are referring to the mainstream when compared to the Relentless amplifier.
Incidentally, citing Oscar Wilde on price and value (the cynic or sentimentalist) doesn’t mean it has to be from Lady Windermere's Fan.

He wrote this in De Profundis:
"A sentimentalist is simply one who wants to have the luxury of an emotion without paying for it. We think we can have our emotions for nothing. We cannot. Even the finest and most self-sacrificing emotions have to be paid for. Strangely enough, that is what makes them fine. "
 

AJM1981

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Mar 26, 2021
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Roughly spoken. Hifi was a label for both mono and stereo equipment that indicated the output in audio was better than heard on a grammaphone player or anything that was lo-fi. A label that makes no sense anymore these days to underline in a world where everything is hi-fi.

Invented terms like the one in the title and 'high end' try to mystify things around consumer choices in marketing and steer people in choices.

To me a good speaker has equally great sound and great design for a fair price. I can enjoy music on a fantastic sounding ugly speaker but would never buy it, and the other way it also falls short.

Example in extremes
A speaker like that $10.000 TuneTot bookshelves from Wilson Audio are in my opinion where the term high end falls short. I would seriously challenge that their sound isn't in any aspect better than any bookshelf speaker for under a 1000 and even under 400 euros. So let's say they give sound for a reasonably priced bookshelf. Then adding 9600 for design is rediculous.

Unless.. you have too much to spend and treat it as a work of art stating that it is worth its price, the same way any other object sells for unlikely prices. But I don't see that for the TuneTot. Also given design, they seem totally doable for 700 euro.
 
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shadders

Well-known member
Nov 19, 2009
248
144
18,970
Hi,
I read reports from people where they have listened to the very expensive systems and they did not sound good, and significantly cheaper systems sounded better.

In the end, more money does not mean better sound. The high end uses the same electronic components as the cheaper equipment, but the equipment that implements proprietary IC's or software will be a better value for money even if expensive, yet does not guarantee you will like the sound.

Regards,
Shadders.
 

Wil

Well-known member
May 8, 2020
347
94
970
Good of you to name a product, albeit, alone, the TuneTot becomes a straw-man-fallacy.

Name us a few more examples of products you dislike, or better still, esteem.

And recalling how I had cited WHF’s Reference System, please give us your thoughts on each that was listed.
Roughly spoken. Hifi was a label for both mono and stereo equipment that indicated the output in audio was better than heard on a grammaphone player or anything that was lo-fi. A label that makes no sense anymore these days to underline in a world where everything is hi-fi.

Invented terms like the one in the title and 'high end' try to mystify things around consumer choices in marketing and steer people in choices.

To me a good speaker has equally great sound and great design for a fair price. I can enjoy music on a fantastic sounding ugly speaker but would never buy it, and the other way it also falls short.

Example in extremes
A speaker like that $10.000 TuneTot bookshelves from Wilson Audio are in my opinion where the term high end falls short. I would seriously challenge that their sound isn't in any aspect better than any bookshelf speaker for under a 1000 and even under 400 euros. So let's say they give sound for a reasonably priced bookshelf. Then adding 9600 for design is rediculous.

Unless.. you have too much to spend and treat it as a work of art stating that it is worth its price, the same way any other object sells for unlikely prices. But I don't see that for the TuneTot. Also given design, they seem totally doable for 700 euro.
You too @shadders , name us products rather than more plausible theorising.
Hi,
I read reports from people where they have listened to the very expensive systems and they did not sound good, and significantly cheaper systems sounded better.

In the end, more money does not mean better sound. The high end uses the same electronic components as the cheaper equipment, but the equipment that implements proprietary IC's or software will be a better value for money even if expensive, yet does not guarantee you will like the sound.

Regards,
Shadders.
 

shadders

Well-known member
Nov 19, 2009
248
144
18,970
You too @shadders , name us products rather than more plausible theorising.
Hi,
As i stated, i have read multiple times (on different forums) peoples experiences of high end, which did not sound as good as cheap hifi. If you examine Hifi show threads, then you can see who said what.

Regards,
Shadders.
 

Wil

Well-known member
May 8, 2020
347
94
970
I want you to name products. If I wanted to read and discuss with strangers, I'll…
Hi,
As i stated, i have read multiple times (on different forums) peoples experiences of high end, which did not sound as good as cheap hifi. If you examine Hifi show threads, then you can see who said what.

Regards,
Shadders.
 

Wil

Well-known member
May 8, 2020
347
94
970
I'll give people another opportunity to (concretely) discuss-a-product:
Excerpt:
You see, while this may not be the most expensive power amp we've tested, that honour taken by the £250k D'Agostino Relentless Monoblocks [HFN Mar '20], it's almost certainly the priciest per watt (W).

You see, while the Relentless monos deliver 1600W/8ohm, or £156 per stereo watt, the ERIC Encores are rated at 70W apiece, so each stereo watt is costing some £1950! So they'd better be very good watts indeed for these amps to make any kind of sense.



@Gray Chi-Fi need to be taking notes?
 

shadders

Well-known member
Nov 19, 2009
248
144
18,970
Hi,
The Relentless and Engstrom products are hifi in terms of their function, but they are essentially boutique products. Veblen goods. Bragging rights products.

For the Relentless you will never need the power on offer as most loudspeakers would fail at full volume. The THD profile can be modeled (as per Bob Carver) so you can mimic the sound. Same modeling for the Engstrom. Hence the same sound for less than £1k.

For the majority of people, hifi costs from £200 to £5k. £1k gets you a very good amplifier to cope with a reasonable loudspeaker load. Spending more money does not guarantee a better sound.

Regards,
Shadders.
 

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