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Has hi-fi become boring?

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plastic penguin

Well-known member
Apr 28, 2008
1,614
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Can I just make clear that this thread is an observational thread. We all know that looks are very subjective, as such I would never knock anyone for choosing a product that I don't particularly gravitate to.

As regards the new Yamaha amps, they do look quite retro and stylish, but at £1700 worth changing the Leema for? I doubt it but I could be hideously wrong. Experience tells me that the difference between a good £1300 amp and a good £1700 is negligible when listening in isolation.

The Leema, by modern standards, looks okay... nothing more or less.
 

andyjm

New member
Jul 20, 2012
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Back in the day, form was (to a certain extent) driven by function - you needed the knobs, lights and buttons to make the damn thing work, and it was the shape it was to fit all the innards in.

To an ex-engineer, these days it is embarrassing to see empty bloated cases, pastiche fittings and nonsense displays. The truth is you can put the amps in the speakers (where they belong) and drive the whole lot with a circuit board the size of a credit card (the Raspi being a case in point).

Why have all the boxes and cables all over the place? none of it is needed.
 

Blacksabbath25

Well-known member
Sep 20, 2015
252
51
10,970
manix said:
Blacksabbath25 said:
Just buy a Yamaha amp .

well engineered , sounds fantastic , looks good , well built ...... What more do you want

it's a work of art the best sounding and realistic sounding amp I've ever owned .

And that the gods honest truth .
Your particular amp model may well be good but on the other hand I think plenty of people have had experienece of Yamaha amps which would be best described as 'it's OK not great'. The only time I can remember Yamaha was the go to people was for cassette decks if you couldn't afford a nakamichi back in the 80's and early 90's.
I understand that Yamaha is not taken seriously by some people for not making very good amps but the S-2100 and S-3000 are something very special . Yamaha have been making Hifi for over 50 odd years and make some really good home cinema amps too as well as making musical instruments for even longer . Any Hifi company can make some not so good amps but you can not tar them all the same .
 

Benedict_Arnold

New member
Jan 16, 2013
661
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I can remember my dad's home built stereo from the 60s, comprising of a Garrard turntable, a pre-amp with an on/off switch, four selector buttons, a volume knob, bass and treble knobs and nothing else, plus a valve power amp with, gulp, an on/off switch you had to push by hand, and a pair of mid size Wharfedales.

In the 70s that got replaced with a Goodman's Module 90 with more buttons than the space shuttle and VU meters, then by a Technics SU-V5 with selector kobs rather than buttons, but yes, still with dancing VU meters.

In the 80s brands like NAD appeared with a minimalist approach, so say eschewing lots of buttons, tone controls and VU meters in favour of cleaner signal paths and more money spent inside the boxes.

This trend hasainly continued, cheap high street kid and hard of thinking customer targeted products aside, ever since.
Some brands have an in house style or case design that they've stuck with, some good, some bad. B&O gets a thumbs up from me for their neat clean, classically Scandinavian lines. Some in house styles, however, have possibly been kept for far too long and which is now hampering, preventing even, upping performance.

And some brands have come and gone with really off the wall styles that probably looked "cool" for about a week. I can think of one amp, can't remember the brand, that had a finned case that looked like an electrocuted hedgehog and was painted with bright green Hammerite!

For me, if children are supposed to be seen bit not heard, hifi is the opposite, heard but not seen. No scratch that. The music should be heard, not the hi-fi.
 

steve_1979

Well-known member
Jul 14, 2010
231
7
18,795
andyjm said:
Back in the day, form was (to a certain extent) driven by function - you needed the knobs, lights and buttons to make the damn thing work, and it was the shape it was to fit all the innards in.

To an ex-engineer, these days it is embarrassing to see empty bloated cases, pastiche fittings and nonsense displays. The truth is you can put the amps in the speakers (where they belong) and drive the whole lot with a circuit board the size of a credit card (the Raspi being a case in point).

Why have all the boxes and cables all over the place? none of it is needed.
Do you think there's a market for a funky looking brushed aluminium box with back lit VU meters that you plug into your hifi and does nothing apart from look cool?

I'd want one.
 

spiny norman

New member
Jan 14, 2009
293
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Benedict_Arnold said:
I can think of one amp, can't remember the brand, that had a finned case that looked like an electrocuted hedgehog and was painted with bright green Hammerite!
Ah, you've met the relatives then!

 

nopiano

Well-known member
Feb 15, 2009
163
49
18,620
steve_1979 said:
A
andyjm said:
Back in the day, form was (to a certain extent) driven by function - you needed the knobs, lights and buttons to make the damn thing work, and it was the shape it was to fit all the innards in.

To an ex-engineer, these days it is embarrassing to see empty bloated cases, pastiche fittings and nonsense displays. The truth is you can put the amps in the speakers (where they belong) and drive the whole lot with a circuit board the size of a credit card (the Raspi being a case in point).

Why have all the boxes and cables all over the place? none of it is needed.
Do you think there's a market for a funky looking brushed aluminium box with back lit VU meters that you plug into your hifi and does nothing apart from look cool?

I'd want one.
Steve, Back in the 70s I'm pretty sure there was just such a thing. Can't recall who made it but pretty sure it was from the USA. Lindsayt might know?!

Edit:- just found this with a bit of googlage.

http://www.retrothing.com/2013/01/radio-shack-apm-200-power-meter-lets-you-see-the-music.html
 

Infiniteloop

Well-known member
Jul 23, 2010
48
4
18,545
I don't think HiFi has become boring at all. The variety on offer has possibly never been wider.

On the one hand there are beautifully designed and built Valve Amps from Icon Audio, Audio Research, McIntosh etc. and on the other there are exciting new technologies as evidenced by what Devialet is doing with their Expert Amps and Phantom speakers. - Again beautifully designed and built and sound incredible.

Upmarket Turntables have never looked or performed better, nor have speakers.

The boring end is, as usual, the budget end (there are exceptions: KEF's LS50's for example) where price is often the most important consideration. Not to say this means poor value for money or bad sound. It just means the products are more likely to be boring IMO.
 

Infiniteloop

Well-known member
Jul 23, 2010
48
4
18,545
spiny norman said:
Benedict_Arnold said:
I can think of one amp, can't remember the brand, that had a finned case that looked like an electrocuted hedgehog and was painted with bright green Hammerite!
Ah, you've met the relatives then!
Many moons ago, I had one of these - An Alchemist Kraken. Mine was stainless steel and gold. It ran mostly (I think) in class A. got incredibly hot and had an offboard power transformer.

It sounded fantastic and helped initiate my love of claas A Amps and Valves.
 

drummerman

New member
Jan 18, 2008
540
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steve_1979 said:
andyjm said:
Back in the day, form was (to a certain extent) driven by function - you needed the knobs, lights and buttons to make the damn thing work, and it was the shape it was to fit all the innards in.

To an ex-engineer, these days it is embarrassing to see empty bloated cases, pastiche fittings and nonsense displays. The truth is you can put the amps in the speakers (where they belong) and drive the whole lot with a circuit board the size of a credit card (the Raspi being a case in point).

Why have all the boxes and cables all over the place? none of it is needed.
Do you think there's a market for a funky looking brushed aluminium box with back lit VU meters that you plug into your hifi and does nothing apart from look cool?

I'd want one.
:)
 

plastic penguin

Well-known member
Apr 28, 2008
1,614
62
19,770
steve_1979 said:
nopiano said:
That's the badger! *ok*

It looks a bit cheap and tacky though but if there was something newer that looked 'modern-retro' smart like the new Yamhaha amplifier I'd be tempted to buy one.
It was cheap and tacky. The 'Realistic' brand was sold solely through Tandy stores. Overpriced, under developed... and just plain rubbish.
 

Al ears

Moderator
steve_1979 said:
andyjm said:
Back in the day, form was (to a certain extent) driven by function - you needed the knobs, lights and buttons to make the damn thing work, and it was the shape it was to fit all the innards in.

To an ex-engineer, these days it is embarrassing to see empty bloated cases, pastiche fittings and nonsense displays. The truth is you can put the amps in the speakers (where they belong) and drive the whole lot with a circuit board the size of a credit card (the Raspi being a case in point).

Why have all the boxes and cables all over the place? none of it is needed.
Do you think there's a market for a funky looking brushed aluminium box with back lit VU meters that you plug into your hifi and does nothing apart from look cool?

I'd want one.
Which is why a lot of people now choose to play music from a 12inch vinyl disc on a cheap and nasty turntable apparently, m'lud. ;-)
 

Al ears

Moderator
plastic penguin said:
steve_1979 said:
nopiano said:
That's the badger! *ok*

It looks a bit cheap and tacky though but if there was something newer that looked 'modern-retro' smart like the new Yamhaha amplifier I'd be tempted to buy one.
It was cheap and tacky. The 'Realistic' brand was sold solely through Tandy stores. Overpriced, under developed... and just plain rubbish.
Very true. Anybody remember Tandy?
 

alchemist 1

Well-known member
Mar 28, 2012
78
2
18,545
spiny norman said:
Benedict_Arnold said:
I can think of one amp, can't remember the brand, that had a finned case that looked like an electrocuted hedgehog and was painted with bright green Hammerite!
Ah, you've met the relatives then!
Alchemists designs were brilliant as well as having excellent sound.

I had their Nemesis amplifier with its external heat sinks and gold plated design

Pity they went out of business.
 

tino

Well-known member
Sep 29, 2011
135
10
18,595
plastic penguin said:
Not alluding to sound quality, but pure aesthetics.

Yesterday saw a picture of the Roksan Blak, and along with Hegel and numerous other brands... they call it 'minimalist' - I call it drab.

Before long you'll just get a box and a plug... if I wanted a 'minimalist' set-up I'd go the active route.

Where has the knob twiddling fun gone/going? I know there are a few brands that give you VU meters, but the majority are beyond the pockets of most people (thinking here of Accuphase, Luxman etc etc), including yours truly.

Is this what people want in the real world, or is it cost cutting by the major brands?

What's your view?
I think there is incredible diversity of design and aesthetics out there now that wouldn't have been possible years ago, so hifi design is anything but dull and boring. Actually the only boring hifi equipment I seem to see is the standard 435mm width rectangular black box so beloved of hifi traditionalists (I exclude Yamaha amps from that description as they look retro cool).
 

ID.

New member
Feb 22, 2010
207
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0
thewinelake. said:
Well, these speakers look pretty cool. Expensive, but a work of art in themselves....
Dalek reimagined as art deco furniture?

It certainly is "interesting" and avoids being boring, but at what cost?
 

ID.

New member
Feb 22, 2010
207
0
0
Al ears said:
ID. said:
thewinelake. said:
Well, these speakers look pretty cool. Expensive, but a work of art in themselves....
Dalek reimagined as art deco furniture?

It certainly is "interesting" and avoids being boring, but at what cost?
A lot!
and I wasn't even referring to the price. More HP Lovecraft and the effect of non-Euclidean geometry on my sanity.

Main the whole my preference is for minimalism that fits in with the clean lines and Scandinavian furniture of my home, although I don't mind the idea of a Luxman amp as a feature piece.
 

hg

New member
Feb 14, 2014
0
0
0
plastic penguin said:
Not alluding to sound quality, but pure aesthetics.

Yesterday saw a picture of the Roksan Blak, and along with Hegel and numerous other brands... they call it 'minimalist' - I call it drab.

[...]

What's your view?
My aesthetic tastes in hi-fi were formed decades ago and I guess can be classified as conservative. I recall looking at the supposedly aspirational equipment at the Munich hi-fi show a few months back and commenting how garish it has all become. A great deal of effort had clearly gone into many of the visual designs and there was certainly a wide variety but it was almost all stand out rather than reserved.

I have googled Roksan Blak and Hegel. My reaction is fairly neutral. I don't like the look but neither do I dislike it. If they did what I wanted functionally I could live with them in a room whereas I would struggle with strong visuals that to me looked bad rather than good.
 

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