Hi-Fi Research

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Hi everyone,

I'd like to ask a couple of questions regarding Hi-Fi equipment, only as I am starting a final year study in Product Design, and am looking to design a new Hi-Fi system.

I'm starting at the research phase currently, and I would like to know what the best manufacturer or product is for a typical home set up, consisting of a carpeted floored living space, standard rectangular shaped room say 12ft x 9ft, with a TV/DVD set up (say 32' for average users sake) on one wall, and two sofas on opposite wall and to the side of. I've tried to describe as best I can to give you an idea of the room, I'm happy to add to it if you feel I might have left some key parts out. I know the acoustics has a huge part to play.

The setup could be a 2, 2.1 or 5.1 set up, and the system would consist of:

Amplifier

Tuner (FM/DAB/Internet) (Whichever is best, and most popular)

CD deck

Hard Drive or other Storage

Other modern day connections (Aux In / iPod)

Classic Sources (Turntable)

Essentially, all I would like to know is what the best manufacturer is for this type of product listed above, for someone who is looking to spend around £2,000 to £3,000 on the whole system. Obviously I know there are a lot of variables here, but I'm hoping that you would have some sort of answers to help my research on this.

Thank you all for your time in reading this, and any help would be much appreciated!

HefinDavies
 

bluebrazil

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are you interested in designing a hifi system that is normally only 2 speakers or a home cinema system that would incorporate more as your question is very vague to begin with. i guess i'm asking would it be primarily for music from various sources or for watching films?
 
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Anonymous

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I'm keeping options open at the moment, I only started the project a few days ago and want to keep my options open. Personal preference is a 5.1 surround set up but I'm looking to design a system that will be for music playback. If a consumer wanted to listen to movies and use the system as a souce for the sound then that could be their decision, but my primary aim is to find out what the best system/separates are for someone looking to spend £2-£3k. Sorry for being a little too vague!!
 

chebby

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You need to go to the shops (especially hifi/AV specialists that stock £2K - £3K systems) and see what is there and listen to some of it.

At this price-point you are looking at - frankly - mostly middle aged men as customers. so don't scare them too much :) Most of them don't want to move too far beyond the kind of system aesthetics/topology they grew up with in the 1980s or thereabouts.
 

John Duncan

Well-known member
First, read this, and understand what people are buying (and therefore, presumably, what people want). Plus, couple of observations (all of them generalisations):

£2k-£3k is way too much. Think sub-£1k. Maybe even sub-£500.

People don't sit and listen to music anymore, they 'have it on'. People do sit and watch films though (obv).

iPhone connectivity is a must. Doesn't matter what it does :D

Use the TV as the centre of it all.

People don't put 32" tellies on the wall. Actually, people don't put tellies on the wall generally, they put them in the corner.

People hate wires.

People hate subwoofers.

People who are just buying the first pretty thing they see shop in John Lewis and Dixons and Argos and Tescos (sorry to link to the Daily Mail). Look at what they sell.

People who are buying "proper" systems and have an informed opinion shop in Richer Sounds and John Lewis. Look at what they sell.

Of the remainder (ie the rich ones), hardly anybody (outside of here) actually goes to a proper hifi shop. They go to the B&O store next door.
 

bluebrazil

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ok, i get ya, most here would not connect the phrases 5.1 surround and music playback together for a few good reasons. one being music is recorded in stereo mainly and best listened to like that, ( i think there is dvd audio and other formats that do 5.1 music replay taking advantage of the surround channels but its a rare thing). also 5.1 surround amps/processors that are known for being good with music on the front two channels are quite expensive (a lot just add a good stereo power amp on the front 2 channels to a modest reciever), and the fact that you need 5 high quality speakers plus a sub would mean 5 to 6k would be more realistic for getting a good hybrid system than 2 to3k. i listen in a slighty larger room than you mention but with only a 2 channel system with speakers either side of my tv and everything in a rack underneath. it works for me as i can listen to the tv through the system and it sounds great, listen to cd's and radio or stream from my laptop to my dac
 
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Anonymous

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Thats exactly what I want to find though, I want to see whether people are still into buying separates (I certainly would be, i've grown up around them!) or if they have gone to typical Hi-Fi systems (Stereo systems really!), or to the new systems like the Naim Uniti, but I thought it best to make a post on a speciailist website just like this and get a few good reviews!!

Thanks to all help so far by the way!! :)

HefinDavies
 
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Anonymous

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I did think more people would be going towards the 5.1 system, and I have seen it myself as well. I wasn't sure how much the good system would go for, so if you reckon £5k is a good estimate then that is exactly what I want to hear! There's the market, make it a bit cheaper but not compromising the quality. Lets see if I can find the right details and equipment to do it! I've looked into the music types, and I know from a stored data point of view (again, Naim Uniti), the Lossless formats are the way forward.

Thanks for that! :)

HefinDavies

(Sorry if it keeps posting things twice, I don't quite know why! Computers eh?)
 
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Anonymous

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John I'll apologise now as your post has only just shown up on my page, I think my computer has some problems!!!

That weblink is brilliant, and has got a great deal of info I will need, so for that I salute you!

As for the other info, I can definately agree with what you say, my example was only an example, and people don't have the fancy systems of yesteryear unfortunately, but like I said in one of my earlier posts, I'm looking to get as much detail as I can, so I can make an informed decision as to what I will design and what market sector to aim for.

Your information is mostly appreciated!

HefinDavies
 

tino

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Maybe your research could also look not just at the hifi components themselves but also look at the human interaction with them and the different types of control points that can be used with them - buttons/dials on the components themselves, remote controls, iPo(a)ds, touschcreens etc.

An interesting take on the design of Hifi is taken by the like of Sooloos and Pathos Musiteca - both very expensive - , where the product majors on the user interface being in the form of a screen, with everything else hidden way.

I think speakers have probably the biggest visual impact in any room so don't forget about them (their visual appearance and how they are connected to your hifi).

PS Why did you decide to include a hard drive player / CD / turntable in your list of components? Do you think all three are required these days?
 
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Anonymous

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Hi

If you are doing this for research / project then you need to be trying to establish:

what features people like in their current system

how people use their systems - location of the system

Are there any physical restrictions (size of seperates) lots of small systems available

what features they wish they had but don't yet

what format their music is in

These type of questions would enable you to establish the users, their listening beahviour and their minimum requirements
 

CnoEvil

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Hi HD

I can only give you the meandering ruminations from the perspective of one of Chebby's "middle aged" folk.

I think that it is only a relatively small group of people that are truely focused on sound quality....it is more about convenience and "quantity over quality" these days.

The group of people who are unhinged enough to spend substantial sums (£10k+) on this hobby are even fewer (I include myself here).

The future is probably less boxes, with "green" power requirements, that stream from some sort of cloud (hopefully at higher bit rates).

There are the main stream players like Linn, Naim, Cyrus, Cambridge Audio, Monitor Audio, Kef and B&W, Onkyo, Marantz, Yamaha etc
Just off the beaton track there are the less known makes like Electrocompaniet, Sugden, Plinius, Denson, Unison Research, Audio Note, Harbeth, Sonus Faber, Adam Audio, Gamut and Art etc These are great products that often slip under the radar.

Most homes have to compromise on AV due to asthetics (WAF) and space, as they have to integrate into family life. This means less boxes and a style type speaker package.

On a personal level, I would rather have a quality 2 channel system than a compromised 5.1.....then I would add an AV amp with pre-outs, at a later stage.

Your average person is totally confused by the speed of new technology, and doesn't understand terminology like HD Ready vs Full HD; Active Shutter vs Polarised 3D glasses; 16 Bit vs 24 Bit; Lossless vs Lossy etc etc

There is a steep learning curve, which involves a basic understanding of room acoustics, componant synergy, the various classes of amps, the different sounds of metal, soft dome or ribbon tweeters as well as infinate baffle vs ported speakers. A good dealer is a must to steer you through this.

If you are still reading, you've done well...So sorry about the ramble, which is probably of limited use; but you never know I suppose. Once I got started, I just found myself waffling on.

Anyway, good luck with your research. You are in a good place to get some interesting, knowledgeable (and probably more relevent) info.

Cno
 

nopiano

Well-known member
You've had some great replies already, so at the risk of stating the bleedin' obvious, buy a copy of this magazine, and (whisper it) maybe one or two others covering hi-fi only and cinema gear.

Streaming seems to be the future, but strangely vinyl (those LP record thingys!) seems to be having a mini revival too.

Richers Sounds would be a good store to look around. They are in most larger towns.
 

John Duncan

Well-known member
I shall say it, I don't think its against the rules (though I haven't read said rules for years).

Hifi Choice and Hifi+ give good perspectives on (generalising) budget-to-midrange and (generalising) high end stereo kit respectively, though the latter is gaining a sense of, dare I say, humility under Alan Sircom's bold tenure. Home Cinema mags have more or less all gone down the toilet, so I really would stick with WHF for the best perspectives there. Look at the gadget mags - the lovable Stuff gadgescamps and (gulp) T3 for style trends.

<grandmothereggs>

Most of all, look to people and companies who have been iconic in consumer electronics (and related) design; B&O (totally), Bose (yes), Apple (obv), Nintendo, Sinclair (yes really), Sony. Look at the Fender Stratocaster. Look at the Mini. Look at what worked and what failed.

</grandmothereggs>
 

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