The slippery slope

Page 2 - Seeking answers? Join the What HiFi community: the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products.

nopiano

Well-known member
One of my Facebook memories this morning is a post where I was listening to vinyl, and the turntable pictured is a previous PL12D I had. In the 8 years since, I've had several different turntables, and now I'm back with a PL12D and happy as anything.
I recently found the original receipt for mine. In 1973 it cost £39 from Reading Hifi. It was superb and I would love to still have it. Fantastic engineering for something not much more than budget price.
 

podknocker

Well-known member
Feb 5, 2021
1,006
867
6,070
Many people are a bit snooty and dismissive when it comes to all in ones, particularly the smaller 'lifestyle' models. I think this Denon CEOL N12DAB looks amazing and if it sounded terrible, they wouldn't sell any.

I'd go for something like this, if my system ever failed. I know I won't buy separates again. All those expensive interconnects I've bought will end up in the bin. Spent a fortune.

I think people expect miracles when they buy an expensive system, only to find it sounds odd, due to the room acoustics etc.

Many expensive components, especially speakers, can't reach their full potential due to limitations, which can't be improved, unless Dirac correction is used for example. Expensive. messy, fiddly and unfulfilling.

If we all had a Fibonacci shaped room, with perfect acoustics and no bass boom, then you could easily buy a system knowing it would sound great.

People are buying all this stuff and they're never happy, so perhaps it's their surroundings and furnishings causing the dissatisfaction.
 
Last edited:

matthewpianist

Well-known member
Feb 18, 2022
786
977
2,770
I recently found the original receipt for mine. In 1973 it cost £39 from Reading Hifi. It was superb and I would love to still have it. Fantastic engineering for something not much more than budget price.

According to the Bank of England inflation calculator that's £405.21 in today's money. That doesn't even buy a Project Carbon EVO or Rega Planar 2.
 
This is where I differ from most audiophiles (whatever that means), I've always been a music first person. So I could listen to my sounds on a cheap £50 all-in-one and still enjoy it. The fact I have a very good midrange set-up is nothing more than the icing on the cake. As a consequence I've never fallen into the trap of upgraditis that usually leads to spiralling costs of improvements. More often than not you're not getting something better, just a little different.
 

podknocker

Well-known member
Feb 5, 2021
1,006
867
6,070
This is where I differ from most audiophiles (whatever that means), I've always been a music first person. So I could listen to my sounds on a cheap £50 all-in-one and still enjoy it. The fact I have a very good midrange set-up is nothing more than the icing on the cake. As a consequence I've never fallen into the trap of upgraditis that usually leads to spiralling costs of improvements. More often than not you're not getting something better, just a little different.
I agree. People are chasing the perfect sound, but perhaps there isn't one.

I love my current system, but it doesn't give me the midrange transparency, especially with voices and I did prefer the sound of my £600 sale price NAD T585 / NAD C355BEE / KEF Q35.2 system many years ago, but things broke.

I used to read HIFI articles and they mentioned 'holographic soundstage' and I had no idea what this meant, until the old NAD and KEF system gave me that.

I doubt I could find 3 components that would give me that amount of clarity and detail again, so I've stopped looking.
 
Last edited:

podknocker

Well-known member
Feb 5, 2021
1,006
867
6,070
Another review years ago, on 6 moons I think, stated 'this system has an etched in air quality' and I really thought this was pretentious BS and then again, not hearing any cabinet noise and no odd sounds from the partnering kit, would give you that 'floating between the speakers' sound. It makes sense.

I don't have the time, or funds, to spend the rest of my life listening to and hunting down the sound I know I really like and want.

It's hopeless really, so It's best to get a decent system and not obsess, or worry about that 'audio nirvana'.
 

nopiano

Well-known member
According to the Bank of England inflation calculator that's £405.21 in today's money. That doesn't even buy a Project Carbon EVO or Rega Planar 2.
I know, it was meant to be about £50 I think, but there was rampant discounting! It was the era of Comet, Lasky’s and Hifi shops in every town. Even so it looked so much like a class above, with that classic chromed tonearm and wood (vinyl) finish.

I‘m guessing that a Planar 2 might sound as good or even better, but it looks like DIY job alongside the Pioneer!
 

Cricketbat70

Well-known member
Feb 2, 2023
298
175
1,070
I worked for a Sony Centre franchise for 2 years back in 2007-2009, just at the point where the LCD/Plasma battle was nearing its conclusion. We were running CRT trade-in deals too, and towards the end of my time there I saw the early Sony 3D screens being launched.

The technology was more expensive then and TVs did less (I remember selling KDL-52X3500s at over £3k), and it's amazing (but perhaps not surprising) how different the market is now. Also to see which tech has been and gone - 3D, curved TVs etc...

I watch very little TV, and none of it live. I much prefer listening to music, but we're a household of 5 so a good TV is essential.
I've worked for Harry Garlick the TV centre for 20 years. When I started 42" Panasonic plasma were still £5000 and they weren't even HD. 19" LCDs were over £1200 now we sell Samsung 4K 85” for as little as £1350
 

podknocker

Well-known member
Feb 5, 2021
1,006
867
6,070
I think people forget, or don't realise just how good modern kit really sounds and it's a world away from hissing, noisy systems and radio, decades ago.

I have my Dell laptop sat on top of my Omnia, with the trailing socket visible and the 2 devices plugged in, along with the 'fancy' TQ Ultra Blue speaker leads.

No mess or clutter, WIFI from my 5G router to the laptop and then bluetooth to the Omnia.

I can play Spotify all day and the AI DJ feature is great. I can even tell my phone to play tunes on my device when I'm out, to make people think I'm at home.

Modern tech, including HIFI is amazeballs and we should all appreciate it a little bit more and not kowtow to the marketing BS, promising perfection.

I'm in my fifties, but thankfully still have half decent hearing. As we age, this ability does diminish.

No point dropping £30k on that NAIM system when you're my age, because you and I probably won't be able tell the difference.
 
Last edited:
I agree. People are chasing the perfect sound, but perhaps there isn't one.

I love my current system, but it doesn't give me the midrange transparency, especially with voices and I did prefer the sound of my £600 sale price NAD T585 / NAD C355BEE / KEF Q35.2 system many years ago, but things broke.

I used to read HIFI articles and they mentioned 'holographic soundstage' and I had no idea what this meant, until the old NAD and KEF system gave me that.

I doubt I could find 3 components that would give me that amount of clarity and detail again, so I've stopped looking.
Spot on.

If there is a perfect system I'm yet to hear it. Hi-fi has always been and will continue to be a compromise. The trick is to find the ideal compromise.

That's not because hi-fi is flawed, but so many other factors at play: Room interaction, acoustics, white noise from many sources and so on and so forth....

It's all about finding the happy place with your kit. We are all so lucky these days because you are hard pushed to find a duff piece of kit. Everything has its merits.
 

matthewpianist

Well-known member
Feb 18, 2022
786
977
2,770
I know, it was meant to be about £50 I think, but there was rampant discounting! It was the era of Comet, Lasky’s and Hifi shops in every town. Even so it looked so much like a class above, with that classic chromed tonearm and wood (vinyl) finish.

I‘m guessing that a Planar 2 might sound as good or even better, but it looks like DIY job alongside the Pioneer!

I've had a Planar 2 with Rega Carbon (essentially the same as the AT 3600 that's currently on my PL12D). It was decent enough, but not as nice to use or look at, and somehow a bit sterile sounding.
 

podknocker

Well-known member
Feb 5, 2021
1,006
867
6,070
To my ears and in my room I think I've been fortunate to find the sound I always wanted. No more rabbit holes for me, my search is over... not nirvana... more contentment :)
I was looking forward to you parting with the Harbeths for half price?

They'd annoy the hell out of me anyway, with no holes to screw in stands.
 
  • Like
Reactions: WayneKerr

podknocker

Well-known member
Feb 5, 2021
1,006
867
6,070
Interestingly, I think the signature of better and more engaging kit is more noticeable in the mids and in particular in the bass, not the very highest frequencies that we lose.
I'm wondering if it's my age, or the fact that CD players and the like, just sound better than 30 years ago and don't have that nasty 'edge'?

I can still hear to 15KHz at 54 as I never bothered with concerts and clubbing much, back in the day.

I do remember being in a classroom at 15 and it was really painful for me, with the chatting and clatter in that room.

It made me wince and I had to go outside for a while. I think I've always had quite sensitive hearing.
 
Last edited:
I've had a Planar 2 with Rega Carbon (essentially the same as the AT 3600 that's currently on my PL12D). It was decent enough, but not as nice to use or look at, and somehow a bit sterile sounding.
To be honest Matthew, are there any brands, other than Leema, you haven't owned or demoed?

We've both being been doing this gig for a long, long time, please don't take this the wrong way. But I'll be very surprised if you'll ever find your happy place, a system where you think to yourself "that's more than sufficient".

I'm the polar opposite: I'll bore the a##e off everyone on this forum and frustrate dealers, faffing around before parting with my money. Once the trigger is pulled I know it's something I can cherish and live with.
 
  • Like
Reactions: matthewpianist

WayneKerr

Well-known member
Jan 21, 2022
1,353
1,306
4,070
I was looking forward to you parting with the Harbeths for half price?

They'd annoy the hell out of me anyway, with no holes to screw in stands.
:LOL: Keep watch on selling sites as Harbs tend to come from good homes. As for screwed to stands... they can always be modified, what's a few more exposed screw heads when there are so many already :)
 
  • Like
Reactions: podknocker

matthewpianist

Well-known member
Feb 18, 2022
786
977
2,770
To be honest Matthew, are there any brands, other than Leema, you haven't owned or demoed?

We've both being been doing this gig for a long, long time, please don't take this the wrong way. But I'll be very surprised if you'll ever find your happy place, a system where you think to yourself "that's more than sufficient".

I'm the polar opposite: I'll bore the a##e off everyone on this forum and frustrate dealers, faffing around before parting with my money. Once the trigger is pulled I know it's something I can cherish and live with.

There's nothing there to take the wrong way, PP, it's fair enough comment.

My perspective on life has changed over the past 12 months, and that includes hi-fi and also extends to CDs and vinyl. I have a massive library of CDs in particular, and for a long time I fell into the trap of scooping up limited edition 'deluxe' reissues and releases. They're nice to own, but in reality most of the extras only get played once and sometimes not at all. Time is finite, and there's plenty of great music to listen to without getting bogged down in the off-cuts and castaways.

I know what system I want if money ever allows, but that's a long way off and I don't feel any urgency at all. There's no point whatsoever in any in-between moves, and I'm content with the level of enjoyment I'm getting.
 

GeoffreyW

Well-known member
Sep 17, 2005
188
25
18,620
I have to admit, I was very happy with a Naim Uniti1 until it failed, and was pleased.to be offered a new Uniti Star, and although it's not the same the extra power has made quite an improvement in sound, so now I have been questioning whether to upgrade my tt or my speakers,
But sanity has prevailed and I'm going to enjoy things as they are. It helps that.I'm not an "audiophile",
 

Al ears

Well-known member
I have to admit, I was very happy with a Naim Uniti1 until it failed, and was pleased.to be offered a new Uniti Star, and although it's not the same the extra power has made quite an improvement in sound, so now I have been questioning whether to upgrade my tt or my speakers,
But sanity has prevailed and I'm going to enjoy things as they are. It helps that.I'm not an "audiophile",
Nor are you an audiophool... :)
 

hifi

Well-known member
Feb 8, 2023
453
167
1,070
Circumstances have led to me selling pretty much all my kit over the past 6 months, and replacing it with the system in my signature. I'm sharing this in case it helps anyone who feels like they are drowning in the hi-fi sea.

Some of you know how much hi-fi I've been through over the past 15+ years, some of it entry-level and some of it stoking aspirations to go higher and higher up the food chain, buying kit that I couldn't really afford in a quest to achieve the best possible sound. If anyone had suggested in the past that I jump off the carousel it would have been over my dead body, but I've recently come to realise how ridiculous that is. The simple fact is, I've rarely achieved any sustained satisfaction, and even when it's seemed I may have done I have not stopped pursuing better. I've had Arcam, Roksan, Michell, Thorens, Quad, Leak, Audiolab, Naim, Rega, Spendor, Mission, Focal, Wharfedale, Triangle, Marantz, Q Acoustics, Dali, Cambridge Audio, NAD, Musical Fidelity, Cyrus, Denon (the big stuff), Monitor Audio.... and nothing has fixed the bug. I've been there with cables too

Being forced (not by anyone else but by circumstances) to jump off the bandwagon and 'settle' for a carefully chosen combination of budget kit has put everything into relief. I'm rather enjoying the music across vinyl, CD and streaming, and I don't feel as though I'm missing anything except the angst of trying to justify the outlay to myself. I'm not saying it would match higher end kit in some audiophile senses, but as a way of enjoying the music and podcasts it is as good as anything I've had. The little Missions are musically engaging like Missions of old and the inverted driver geometry achieves what it is intended to. They are also incredibly undemanding with regards placement. The Denon is 'the old model' (by two generations now the CEOL N12 is out), but the differences aren't all that significant, and it cost me £299 with a 6-year warranty (RS) instead of the £650 RRP of the new version. It's every bit as good as the more lauded Marantz MCR-612 and it drives the Missions with ease. Meanwhile the 45+ year old turntable, which has been serviced, runs more steady than some of the modern turntables I've had (including Rega), and is more pleasurable to use.

The point here isn't to claim that my little set-up is objectively as good as a well-sorted mid-high end system, but to demonstrate that musical enjoyment can be had for what is relatively beer-budget money, to the point that if you're strangling yourself financially in pursuit of 'audio nirvana', it's worth taking a step back. If you're enjoying what you have, whether that's a collection of old separates, a modern compact system like mine, or a high-end set-up that finally satisfies your hunger, do you really need to be eyeing up that next upgrade?
👍
 

DIB

Well-known member
May 21, 2009
166
36
18,620
I've gone down a similar road to Matthew, and having a look through my pics in my "Hi-Fi" folder on the laptop this morning I realised just how much stuff and different brands I've owned over the years, without ever knowingly reaching audio nirvana. It's now over 3 years since I bought anything and it's not likely to change anytime soon. A change around in my front room meant I was struggling to fit a rack and everything so I sold the lot, apart from my speakers and went with a Cyrus all-in-one. I've never looked back and have been wonderfully happy with my Cyrus Lyric and Spendor A5r speakers, both bought 2nd hand at a fraction of the RRP. Even if I came into some serious money I'm not so sure I'd go for some of the high end stuff anymore.

I don't know if you recall Matthew, but I met you briefly at an Audio-T demo in Manchester many years ago where they were showing off some new expensive Naim system with an appropriately expensive Rega turntable and PMC speakers (about £20-25k worth of kit) , and it basically overheated and stopped playing, end of demo :) . I know it can happen but still it kind of put me off expensive kit after that.
 

TRENDING THREADS

Latest posts