Question Is hi-fi like wine?

Crams76

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Dec 10, 2023
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I am wondering what you think, or what your experiences have been.

With wine, at supermarket / wine shop prices, going from the cheapest £3 bottle to £5 to £6 usually makes a decent improvement. Then noticeable quality starts to kick in at £10-15.

Beyond this price point I have always struggled to really taste a worthwhile difference for the additional cost. Admittedly the most expensive wine I have drunk has been around £50 for a bottle and I didn’t enjoy it (as much as I had hoped, maybe judging because of the price.

There is a lot of fuss and effort to review and give high accolades to very pricey wine. Is it real?

I wonder if hi if is the same. I remember upgrading my first richer sounds hi fi set up, going from £150 per item to £300 in the early 2000’s. I noticed a big step up In the first system from an all in one system we had a teenagers, then another big Jump when I doubled the value. This was the Cambridge audio 640a and c range at the time.

Kind of feels this first step was going from plonk to a £6 bottle, then the next upgrade to £10.

I have stepped up again recently with a new arcam sa 20 amp, ca cxn v2 and kef q750 speakers. So around £700-1000 per item. I hear a step up in detail, soundstage etc. and it feels like going from a £10 wine to maybe £15.

Have you made the jump to equipment costing £2000 per item and what the jump was like And whether the improvements versus the price point really justified it.

Or is it more of a hobby to be enjoyed?
 

Dom

Well-known member
I would say Hi fi is more like coffee, where the more expensive beans tend deliver a better coffee experience.

Whilst, fast food outlets like McDonalds provide a very delicious cup of coffee very cheaply, its not at the same level as coffee you get at Nero's coffee shops.

I would say Hi fi is very much like this.
 

twinkletoes

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Nov 16, 2021
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Beyond a certain point yes there are diminishing returns and it happens with some products quicker than others.

And then you get to point where life just doesn’t allow it ie you physically can’t set the hifi up the way it need to be in the room. Speakers to close to the wall and all that jazz.

Then then room itself can’t take upgrades I mean what’s the point of upgrading to speakers that can provide a 28hz tone but the room itself can’t reproduce it, so room nodes. You will get more out of any hifi if you can treat the room and all honesty many can’t or won’t as the case might be.

Can you hear the difference from 1k-2k pieces. Well I argue the price in the grand scheme of things is so slight that it’s more of a side step. Eg some brands are just more expensive to buy. One maybe made in china the other in the uk, being made in the uk will instantly make it more expensive but not necessarily better.
 
No, I dont think its like wine, as I've never known anyone lay down hifi hoping it will improve!

But it definitely has diminishing returns, as does wine. A £1500 amplifier is usually much better than a £500 one.

Doubling the price, gives you a rough idea of what it costs to get a significant improvement. But as ever, there are exceptions.
 
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Oxfordian

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I am wondering what you think, or what your experiences have been.

With wine, at supermarket / wine shop prices, going from the cheapest £3 bottle to £5 to £6 usually makes a decent improvement. Then noticeable quality starts to kick in at £10-15.

Beyond this price point I have always struggled to really taste a worthwhile difference for the additional cost. Admittedly the most expensive wine I have drunk has been around £50 for a bottle and I didn’t enjoy it (as much as I had hoped, maybe judging because of the price.

There is a lot of fuss and effort to review and give high accolades to very pricey wine. Is it real?

I wonder if hi if is the same. I remember upgrading my first richer sounds hi fi set up, going from £150 per item to £300 in the early 2000’s. I noticed a big step up In the first system from an all in one system we had a teenagers, then another big Jump when I doubled the value. This was the Cambridge audio 640a and c range at the time.

Kind of feels this first step was going from plonk to a £6 bottle, then the next upgrade to £10.

I have stepped up again recently with a new arcam sa 20 amp, ca cxn v2 and kef q750 speakers. So around £700-1000 per item. I hear a step up in detail, soundstage etc. and it feels like going from a £10 wine to maybe £15.

Have you made the jump to equipment costing £2000 per item and what the jump was like And whether the improvements versus the price point really justified it.

Or is it more of a hobby to be enjoyed?
Many years ago myself, Mrs Oxfordian and some friends enjoyed dinner at a local 5* hotel, we knew the head waiter and a lot of the staff at the hotel as we all drank at the same pub, the offer of dinner had been on the table for a while, the hotel staff promised to look after us, we would only pay for food, wine would be provided by the hotel from their stock of bin ends.

The evening was exceptional, the food superb and the wine just rolled down our throats, each course was accompanied by the right wine to match what we were eating, we chose nothing drink wise Joe our head waiter organised the wine based on our food choices.

As we enjoyed post meal coffee Joe came across with the bill, each bottle of wine was priced then discounted off, the cheapest bottle was the desert wine at £85, the white for the starter coming in at £120 and the two bottles of red consumed with the main course were just shy of £150 each.

This wine was the most enjoyable that I have ever drunk by some margin, but I will state that the atmosphere and company contributed to the enjoyment. An unopened bottle of Red that Joe accidentally left on the table went home with me, when opened a week or so later it tasted nothing like my memory suggested it would, in fact it was quite ordinary and no better than a bottle off the shelf at the supermarket..

What has this to do with Hifi, well simply put if you are in the mood, the atmosphere is right then you can enjoy your choice of music at its best, but if your mind isn't in the right place, you have life things distracting you then your listening experience can be no different from that expensive bottle of wine that tasted so ordinary and mundane when it was drunk one evening watching TV.

In essence it is not the price that determines the enjoyment.
 
Spend a decent amount on a few bottles of a classic vintage and you can be assured it's going to be a worthwhile investment.
Spend the same on a badly chosen bit of kit and it isn't.
There's a point where value for money enters the equation but that differs hugely.
True enough! Unfortunately almost no Hifi appreciates. But if I’d known forty years ago what I know today I’d have bought Comet’s entire stock of Garrard 401 and also a load of LS3/5a speakers!
 

Gray

Well-known member
True enough! Unfortunately almost no Hifi appreciates. But if I’d known forty years ago what I know today I’d have bought Comet’s entire stock of Garrard 401 and also a load of LS3/5a speakers!
I've always thought Currys entire stock of Chromecast Audio at £15 each would have been a good buy.
But your examples could have made millionaires out of people by now.
 
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Fandango Andy

Well-known member
I would say Hi fi is more like coffee, where the more expensive beans tend deliver a better coffee experience.

Whilst, fast food outlets like McDonalds provide a very delicious cup of coffee very cheaply, its not at the same level as coffee you get at Nero's coffee shops.

I would say Hi fi is very much like this.
I would take your coffee analogy a step further and say McDonald's coffee tastes better than Starbucks. You can spend more and get the same or not as good. This is very true in HiFi.
 
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Dom

Well-known member
Hi-Fi is like alchemy.
taking things, putting them together, mixing them up, trying to create something magic from simple materials.
if you are lucky, sometimes you make a fantastic mix and make magic.
most times you end up less well off and a bit perturbed.
Coffee is like alchemy too, you know.

As long as your Hi fi is good then it should sound pretty good regardless.

I think your Hi fi should aim for pretty good rather than best in the world.
 
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