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hifi compared through the decades

admin_exported

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Aug 10, 2019
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One of the biggest questions often asked by readers of Whathifi is how does the current hifi equipment compare with that of decades ago. well, the only way you can really know is to listen yourself. this is no use for someone who is reading and wants to hear well-qualified opinions I think that in some areas quality has increased significantly and are worth purchasing the latest stuff. these are Speakers Tvs (not hifi) Alternative media sources Amplifiers (but not much) CD players have improved slightly,but imo are not significantly better. A clear example of something which hasnt improved is headphones. I recently got the 5star rated Goldring Gx200 expecting an amazing sound from my ipod. But the sound was trebly and flat. My old Pioneer SE450 headphones (cost slightly less that the Goldrings) from the 80s sound WAY better There is no doubt that digital music recorded in AAC or similar is a vast improvement over old cassette players and even rival CDs because of their convenience to deliver content when you want it and where you want it.
 

Clare Newsome

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Jun 4, 2007
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Did you - as recommended - use the Comply buds (the grey ones) on the Goldrings? The improvement, with lower frequencies particularly, is notable.
 

Thaiman

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Jul 28, 2007
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£400 in 20 years ago worth about £800 in today money imo. So are we talking pound per pound preformance?
 

Thaiman

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Jul 28, 2007
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[quote user="drummerman"]
[quote user="Thaiman"]
So are we talking pound per pound preformance?

[/quote]



[/quote]

Mr. Hopkins would argue with you

 

John Duncan

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Jan 8, 2008
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I started replying on-thread, but then got embroiled in investigating the retail price index, and then it didn't seem so important any more.

Hifi now is without question better than 20 years ago. Sound quality is better, build quality is cheaper relative to price, and we can afford more anyway as salaries have risen faster than prices.

I keep telling J that my Arcam Alpha cost a third of my monthly salary in 1988, and that's how much I should spend every time..........
 

Anton90125

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Sep 1, 2007
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[quote user="JohnDuncan"]I started replying on-thread, but then got embroiled in investigating the retail price index, and then it didn't seem so important any more.

Hifi now is without question better than 20 years ago. Sound quality is better, build quality is cheaper relative to price, and we can afford more anyway as salaries have risen faster than prices.

I keep telling J that my Arcam Alpha cost a third of my monthly salary in 1988, and that's how much I should spend every time..........[/quote]

I don't know if its as clear cut as that. One of my friends has some Lowthers speakers- 40-50s designed driver. Horned loaded. He has Williamson amplification (valve design from the late 40's). He also has a pair of single ended 300b valve (mono) amplifiers he built himself based on a 1950's design.

The sound quality is amazing, it lacks extream bass (he uses a home built active bass bin to compensate for that) but makes up for it by speed/pace,depth,ambience.The stereo soundstage is much wider then the speakers.When you hear a violin, you can hear the "grain" in the strings,those that have heard a live quality violin performance will know what I mean.

I have heard the Garrard 401 turntable which IMO will beat the sock of most (non exotic ie less then £5000) turntables today.

The quad FM4 tuner will beat most modern designs with ease (IMO). The Rogers A100 is another fine amp that can hold its on. It lacks a bit of dynamics but has superb tonal qualities. The list goes on...

I don't believe Hifi has moved on that far. CD is a step backwards when compared to a modest LP when you look at sound quality alone IMO though SACD has done some work in getting to LP standard (95%).

I am sure that if you carefully choose your older hifi units,you can build a system which is every bit as compariable with modern systems (sometimes better).

I have found a trend in modern equipment towards a stronger top end which is generally not to my tastes- This has shaped my opinion.
 
T

the record spot

Guest
The idea that older equipment is redundant by virtue of its' age alone doesn't hold up for me. If I think about the equipment I listen to today, the main components are at best 7 years old. The oldest is 14. Unless disaster strikes, they should last for a few years yet.

Equally, my hearing is likely to change as I get older, so I need to factor in the possibility of change at some point, but all this means is that change will be forced because of my unreliability, not the gear!

I'd love to get a Quad 33/303 pre/power set up and would be VERY keen on a Leak Stereo 20 or Troughline amp and tuner (the latter are unlikely - GT Audio refurbish the Leak gear, but these aren't cheap items and I probably don't listen to radio enough to justify such a good tuner, nevertheless, it would be good to at least hear one!). Another item of absolute desire is Loriraft's Garrard 501 turntable. Loricraft picked up the name from a Mexican (eh?) parent company who had acquired this classic British marque and subsequently produced this new deck. Admittedly, this is a new deck, but it's a brand with some pedigree.



This picture doesn't do the deck justice, to be fair, but it's pretty clear it's a special item. Loricraft also service existing Garrard 301 and 401 decks, so these classic turntables can still be heard at their best.

Hence one of the reasons why I'll as likely suggest someone considers the used market if they're thinking a change to their system. It might not be for everyone and you have to be careful about what you're buying, but it can turn up some unexpected riches for a very attractive price!
 

evo6tme

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Apr 17, 2008
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I've been out of stereo for about 10 years, slowly sliping down the home cinema slope. But about 2 months ago i had to question the reason for keeping 200 lp's ? so thank god i decided to keep them .

Alought most of the kit i had then was a few years old (prob 15-20 from now) i must say that i have notised little improvement in analog and minimal but noticable digital improvements. over the last month i have listend to many components but feel for £2500 i have built a very good stereo which consists of mainlly older parts

audiolab 8000 c

audiolab 8000 p X2

kef 104.2 reference

rega apollo

and michell gyro se

as you can see most is aging but for me at least is ausome given the sound i had got used to fron my AV based system
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Well in my humble opinion things have certainly changed. But it's really perception that has changed. It depends on who you are talking to. Today things are fast and easy - it's the time of the ipod and 128 kbps bit rate sampling. However some people still really appreciate truly great sound.

I believe that we had (have I just aged myself?) great sound in the sixty's, seventy's etc... Audio enthusiasts were able to find quality equipment and totally enjoy the sound. The biggest thing that I have noticed is that the sound these days is much 'brighter' than in the past. Three way speakers with a 12" woofer etc. were commonplace and the sound was somewhat different. That's not to say that today's speakers aren't great - quite the opposite in fact - simply different.

I believe that music is best listened to in stereo; with a great front end and a 'big' pair of speakers. I have embraced the 'digital age' and believe that is is here to stay. I just a bit disappointed with what many of the younger people consider to be good sound.
 

gregory

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Sep 9, 2007
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valves and vinyl for me every time, with some high sensitivity tannoys or kefs, decades old technology but imo better sounding than today's bright young thing's
 

drummerman

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Jan 18, 2008
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[quote user="WestCoastFun"]I believe that music is best listened to in stereo; with a great front end and a 'big' pair of speakers[/quote]

I agree that there's no substitute for a driver of proper size to move air rather than todays solution of tiny ones in mini life style monitor sized enclosures. You can add subs, quite successfully sometimes, but it kind of defies the point of having shoebox sized speakers for aesthetic reasons and then having one of these in the room. You still dont have the dynamics of a larger speaker, there's a limit of what can be achieved with long excursion small drivers. There's also a school of thought that its beneficial to sound if the drivers 'see' a larger front baffle as opposed to the narrow/wide dispersion ones so favoured today. I tend to sit somewhere in the middle and like speakers with cones of between 165 to 200mm ala dynaudio, some proacs but there are of course good examples in all sizes and sometimes its simply not feasable to go 'big'.
 

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