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Items that give the least improvement

muljao

New member
Jul 18, 2016
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Just an "out of interest" question.

Doing some reading between here and around the interwebz, and it seems fairly much agreed that Speakers can give the most difference to how a system sounds (be it quality or indeed type of sound). At least that is how I interpret the various articles.

I have seen some say that an amp is not very important as long as it has the power to drive the speakers without distorting etc, where others say an amp is of great importance. The one thing that seems to get major plus signs and major negative signs are DACs which some think are brilliant, while others question the difference between a 100 pound one vs a 10,000 pound one.

Have you ever spent money on an item and realised afterwards that your hard earned cash may have been used much better?
 

plastic penguin

Well-known member
Apr 28, 2008
1,635
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muljao said:
Just an "out of interest" question.

Doing some reading between here and around the interwebz, and it seems fairly much agreed that Speakers can give the most difference to how a system sounds (be it quality or indeed type of sound). At least that is how I interpret the various articles.

I have seen some say that an amp is not very important as long as it has the power to drive the speakers without distorting etc, where others say an amp is of great importance. The one thing that seems to get major plus signs and major negative signs are DACs which some think are brilliant, while others question the difference between a 100 pound one vs a 10,000 pound one.

Have you ever spent money on an item and realised afterwards that your hard earned cash may have been used much better?
IME speakers and amp are THE most important. Not only are they the heart and soul of a system but if the synergy is wrong they'll sound awful. Get it right and it's great.

The least important are sources and cables.

And yes, I purchased an Electrocompaniet CDP and was underwhelmed by it. There wasn't anything fundamentally wrong with the sound, but it didn't better any CDP I had before.
 
S

SemiChronic

Guest
Ive no doubt all of us, have or will loose oodles of money along the upgrade path. Many things do make a difference but often is the case, they somehow dont make a difference forever and the upgrade disease takes over yet again. :/

I know commercial hifi rentals are available, but havent seen anythng relating to domestic/personal hifi, although i havent searched.

If you could rent a hifi for say £100 per month, do you think youd be getting worse/similar/better products then you currently have? Considering what many of use may spend over a year would a ballpark £100 per month seem like a good deal?

There must be shed loads of older high end hifi out there, sat around gathering dust that could be enjoyed and generating business and also giving the music lover a choice and potentially a money saving option.

oh, el cheapo interconnects i wasted money there
 

muljao

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Jul 18, 2016
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On cables, I do remember spending a good bit on a hdmi cable when blu-ray players first arrived. I think the first player I got had a cable but I read on a magazine such and such a cable made so much of a difference. I convinced myself it did after purchase but I don't think it made an ounce of improving on my freebie one
 

steve_1979

Well-known member
Jul 14, 2010
231
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18,795
muljao said:
Items that give the least improvement
Digital audio bit-rates over 16/44.

Cables (unless you have a specific issue with hum or something like that).

Power conditioners (again unless you have a specific issue).
 

stereoman

Well-known member
Mar 22, 2016
144
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4,595
Speakers & amp - give the most ( and in this sequence ! ) improvement. Expensive spikes and all extra support for Loudspeakers ( marble stands etc. ) - the least.

And by the way - you cannot really improve the sound that much ! I mean only very subtly , the good sound will be good straight off out of the box , bad sound can never be improved to the point of being good unless you change one of the weakest links - in most cases they are speakers.
 

MajorFubar

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Mar 3, 2010
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muljao said:
Have you ever spent money on an item and realised afterwards that your hard earned cash may have been used much better?
Having received a £250 long service award from my employer in 2011, I spent it on my first proper HiFi DAC, for my Mac Mini: a £299 HRT II+ which was one of 'the' ones to beat at the time. It does sound different to the Mac's built-in DAC, but IMO with retrospect it wasn't great use of £300. While I'm fairly confident I could ABX the HRT and the Mac's native DAC in side by side tests, the difference isn't so great that if I walked into the room one day and one of them was playing I could tell you which one it was.
 

Infiniteloop

Well-known member
Jul 23, 2010
48
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steve_1979 said:
muljao said:
Items that give the least improvement
Digital audio bit-rates over 16/44.

Cables (unless you have a specific issue with hum or something like that).

Power conditioners (again unless you have a specific issue).
Sorry but I disagree about bit rates. To my ears, higher bit rates give better aural clues about the recording venue and the sound is generally more organic, deeper and richer with acoustic instruments displaying better timbre and bass notes having more defined texture.
 

busb

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Jun 14, 2011
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My personal order of importance (SQ):

Speakers

Power amp

DAC or other source

Preamp if separate

Speaker wire

Interconnects/Racks

Mains cables

I've never played with mains leads nor intend to. I put the power amp 2nd 'cos it has to properly drive the most important item. Any system is as good as its weakest link.
 

MajorFubar

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Mar 3, 2010
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Infiniteloop said:
Sorry but I disagree about bit rates. To my ears, higher bit rates give better aural clues about the recording venue and the sound is generally more organic, deeper and richer with acoustic instruments displaying better timbre and bass notes having more defined texture.
I doubt t. Convert the same file to 16/44 and if you can prove to me you can hear a difference in blind tests then I'll eat the contents of my cat's litter tray. To blur the issue though, there is the possibility your DAC sounds better playing at higher bitrates, irrespective of the bitrate of the file. This is rarely (if ever) offered as factor in the hi-res vs CD debates that crop up now and again, but I believe it to be a potential reason. I keep thinking my HRT II+ sounds better at 96KHz even when just playing CD rips, so much so that I've taken to leaving it at 96kHz no matter what I'm playing, but I haven't ABX'd it. If my ears aren't fooling me, the difference is down to the circuitry in the DAC, not the files themselves.
 

Al ears

Moderator
MajorFubar said:
Infiniteloop said:
Sorry but I disagree about bit rates. To my ears, higher bit rates give better aural clues about the recording venue and the sound is generally more organic, deeper and richer with acoustic instruments displaying better timbre and bass notes having more defined texture.
I doubt t. Convert the same file to 16/44 and if you can prove to me you can hear a difference in blind tests then I'll eat the contents of my cat's litter tray. To blur the issue though, there is the possibility your DAC sounds better playing at higher bitrates, irrespective of the bitrate of the file. This is rarely (if ever) offered as factor in the hi-res vs CD debates that crop up now and again, but I believe it to be a potential reason. I keep thinking my HRT II+ sounds better at 96KHz even when just playing CD rips, so much so that I've taken to leaving it at 96kHz no matter what I'm playing, but I haven't ABX'd it. If my ears aren't fooling me, the difference is down to the circuitry in the DAC, not the files themselves.
My findings also. It must be down to design. if you're a cow you function better when fed grass, if you're a DAC designed to play hires DSD files then you'll function better when fed with same.... Simples!
 

tonky

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Jan 2, 2008
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I really think there should be a seperate thread just for the outstanding metaphorical examples that are used to describe/model (help us understand?) the nuances of hifi descriptions/equipment etc..

Moooooooooooooooo! Love that grass - tonky (only joking!)
 

MajorFubar

New member
Mar 3, 2010
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Al ears said:
My findings also. It must be down to design. if you're a cow you function better when fed grass, if you're a DAC designed to play hires DSD files then you'll function better when fed with same.... Simples!
There could very easily be something in that. When BD first surfaced it wasn't long before compaints started to roll in that some of these new fangled machines were worse at playing DVDs than the DVD player they'd just skipped. In fact some people kept both players.
 

Gazzip

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Jan 15, 2011
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Most important to least in a digital source setup. All effect the SQ to a degree...

Recording quality > Speakers > Pre-Amp > Power Amp (spec to drive speakers) > Digital Source > Support Systems > Speaker cables & other cables
 

stereoman

Well-known member
Mar 22, 2016
144
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4,595
Gazzip said:
Most important to least in a digital source setup. All effect the SQ to a degree...

Recording quality > Speakers > Pre-Amp > Power Amp (spec to drive speakers) > Digital Source > Support Systems > Speaker cables & other cables
 

Al ears

Moderator
tonky said:
I really think there should be a seperate thread just for the outstanding metaphorical examples that are used to describe/model (help us understand?) the nuances of hifi descriptions/equipment etc..

Moooooooooooooooo! Love that grass - tonky (only joking!)
I try to avoid car analogies. :)
 

nopiano

Well-known member
Feb 15, 2009
276
162
19,070
I always learned that transducers make the most obvious difference. These days, many of us only have one type - loudspeakers. Back in my youth, everyone had a pickup cartridge too, and they were more variable even than speakers.

As of today, and whatever our sources, there are microphones over which we have no influence. They too affect what gets recorded.

Moving on from transducers, the benefits of different amplifiers, and devices like CD players or streamers, are much harder to classify. There is certainly some merit in the thinking that most modern Amps, used as intended are remarkably similar, or that differences are mostly a frequency response matter. But I'm still wedded to certain traits, which I seek.

Digital cables and mains cables are probably the least effective way to spend your money.
 

daveh75

Well-known member
Jul 31, 2008
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18,895
Infiniteloop said:
steve_1979 said:
muljao said:
Items that give the least improvement
Digital audio bit-rates over 16/44.

Cables (unless you have a specific issue with hum or something like that).

Power conditioners (again unless you have a specific issue).
Sorry but I disagree about bit rates. To my ears, higher bit rates give better aural clues about the recording venue and the sound is generally more organic, deeper and richer with acoustic instruments displaying better timbre and bass notes having more defined texture.
Seems the pair of you don't know your arses from your elbows...
 

Al ears

Moderator
daveh75 said:
Infiniteloop said:
steve_1979 said:
muljao said:
Items that give the least improvement
Digital audio bit-rates over 16/44.

Cables (unless you have a specific issue with hum or something like that).

Power conditioners (again unless you have a specific issue).
Sorry but I disagree about bit rates. To my ears, higher bit rates give better aural clues about the recording venue and the sound is generally more organic, deeper and richer with acoustic instruments displaying better timbre and bass notes having more defined texture.
Seems the pair of you don't know your arses from your elbows...
Not too sure what that comment has to do with this thread.
 

steve_1979

Well-known member
Jul 14, 2010
231
7
18,795
daveh75 said:
I'll put it another way then, bit depths and sampling rates from bit rates
I do know the difference, but yes well spotted, I did use the wrong phrase in my post.

You aren't getting a prize though. ;)
 

Electro

Well-known member
Mar 30, 2011
43
2
18,545
Gazzip said:
Most important to least in a digital source setup. All effect the SQ to a degree...

Recording quality > Speakers > Pre-Amp > Power Amp (spec to drive speakers) > Digital Source > Support Systems > Speaker cables & other cables
Spot on imo . *good*
 

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