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what gives the biggest upgrade ?

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matthewpiano

Well-known member
Nov 23, 2007
300
97
18,970
I do find myself agreeing with a lot of what I read from davedotco's pen these last few days. A speaker really does need to be controlled and to do that properly requires a really good amplifier. I'm also inclined towards being increasingly interested in jcbrum's focus on active speakers being the best way forward. When you think it through, active speakers do make so much sense and I'm personally not that bothered if I have a big seperate box called an amplifier or not. In fact, I'm more and more frequently finding my thoughts turning towards a simple system of turntable, phono stage, Squeezebox Touch, and actives. Much less domination of the room, the CDs could be ripped and then carefully stored away from the areas of the home which are in daily use, and the system would do everything I need it to do.

I do agree with those who have said expensive CD players are a bit of a waste. I've got a Roksan Kandy K2 CDS here as well as the Denon in my signature, a Marantz CD63SE, Rotel RCD965BX, Philips CD840 and NAD C521BEE. Is the Roksan clearly the best? No.
 

lindsayt

New member
Apr 8, 2011
16
2
0
MikeFarrow,

Biggest sound quality upgrade that I've had was going from listening to a recording via my CD player to listening to the same piece of music through my best analogue source. Either that, or the difference between a pair of my least favourite speakers and my most favourite speakers. It's different aspects of the sound that were upgraded in the source change and in the speaker change. Impossible to say which was the bigger.

I've used a £15 CD player with £26 solid state amplification with £5500 speakers. Sounded fine. About as good as digital and solid state ever can, give or take a little bit of icing on the cake and the cherry on top.

I've yet to find anything modern, at any price, that sounds better than certain cherry picked 20 to 55 year old components. Equally good sometimes, but never better.
 

MakkaPakka

New member
May 25, 2013
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0
bluedroog said:
Actually the single biggest influence is probably the room acoustics, something most people overlook.
This. No system in the world will sound good if it's in a room with lots of flat, reflective surfaces. I never got anywhere near what my speakers were capable of until I tamed the room.
 
U

unknown

Guest
any other input lads?

does hi fi kit progress like pc computers have ?
 

radiorog

Well-known member
Jan 1, 2013
54
0
10,540
altruistic.lemon said:
jcbrum said:
New expensive CD players are a waste of money.

Since you are posting on this forum one might suppose you have a computer. Use that as a source instead, and rip your CDs.

Put your money into streaming into active speakers.

I use iTunes, Airport Express, and AVI speakers.

JC
Not your most subtle one, JCB. You'd assume that from the computer forum, this is the HiFi one, therefore there's every reason to want a better CD player. I know it goes against the gospel, but some people don't like streaming and (shock, horror!) don't want to rip their CDs.

Also, some people don't like all-in-one systems like yours, they prefer more flexibility.
My issue with streaming is that there aren't large enough catalogues of hi res music to make me want to switch just yet.CDs still offer the better sound quality for most albums I listen to.
 

amcluesent

New member
Mar 8, 2009
25
0
0
CD players still have a role, my Audio Analogue Paganini 24/192 REV2.0 playing a CD will best my Squeezebox Transporter playing the same CD after ripping to FLAC.
 

Native_bon

Well-known member
Nov 26, 2008
180
2
18,595
My contribution is this: If we get all this views and useful advice from people here in this forum why come we never see this from all the HIFI magazines..? Just a thought:? :?
 
J

jcbrum

Guest
davedotco said:
Several reasons, the most important being control.

Try a simple experiment. Take one of your speakers, any passive system will do, and disconnect it from the amplifier.

Carefully, with your fingers placed symetrically around the cone, push the cone in (and let it come out) and feel the resistance of the cone and coil to the movement.

Then link the positive and negative terminals on the back of the speaker with a length of wire and try again.

For those of you not brave enough to try it for yourselves, you will now find it much harder to move the cone in and out, the resistance to the movement is huge. In this situation the link is like the amplifier, holding the voice coil and the attached cone rigid and under control, so not only does the cone move when a signal is applied but stops immediately the signal is removed.

If the amplifier is not optimum then not only does the cone not move quickly but it does not stop quickly enough either, compromising transient response and producing overhang, two of the primary reasons the cheap amplifier concept is flawed from the beginning.

I could also talk about dynamic compression, amplfiers unable to cope with awkward phase angles at the crossover point, impedence variations around the bass resonance and the effect of back EMF from out of control bass drivers.

Just some of the issues that amplifiers have when driving real world loudspeakers.
Agreed, control is of prime importance. In properly designed, active speakers, the drivers are connected directly to an individually specified amplifier, thereby affording the necessary control which you describe.

As soon as you employ a passive speaker model then that degree of control is lost, because the passive crossover intervenes and control is weakened or lost altogether. The very principle of a passive crossover is to disconnect the driver from the amplifier.

JC
 
J

jcbrum

Guest
Native_bon said,

" My contribution is this: If we get all this views and useful advice from people here in this forum why come we never see this from all the HIFI magazines..? Just a thought".

Hmmm, the thought that strikes me is that most HiFi magazines exist to makes money to pay their staff, overheads and produce profit.

What do you think produces the biggest revenue stream, the cover price (readers contribution), or the advertisers and commercial market information purchasers ?

JC
 

davedotco

New member
Apr 24, 2013
20
0
0
jcbrum said:
davedotco said:
Several reasons, the most important being control.

Try a simple experiment. Take one of your speakers, any passive system will do, and disconnect it from the amplifier.

Carefully, with your fingers placed symetrically around the cone, push the cone in (and let it come out) and feel the resistance of the cone and coil to the movement.

Then link the positive and negative terminals on the back of the speaker with a length of wire and try again.

For those of you not brave enough to try it for yourselves, you will now find it much harder to move the cone in and out, the resistance to the movement is huge. In this situation the link is like the amplifier, holding the voice coil and the attached cone rigid and under control, so not only does the cone move when a signal is applied but stops immediately the signal is removed.

If the amplifier is not optimum then not only does the cone not move quickly but it does not stop quickly enough either, compromising transient response and producing overhang, two of the primary reasons the cheap amplifier concept is flawed from the beginning.

I could also talk about dynamic compression, amplfiers unable to cope with awkward phase angles at the crossover point, impedence variations around the bass resonance and the effect of back EMF from out of control bass drivers.

Just some of the issues that amplifiers have when driving real world loudspeakers.
Agreed, control is of prime importance. In properly designed, active speakers, the drivers are connected directly to an individually specified amplifier, thereby affording the necessary control which you describe.

As soon as you employ a passive speaker model then that degree of control is lost, because the passive crossover intervenes and control is weakened or lost altogether. The very principle of a passive crossover is to disconnect the driver from the amplifier.

JC
Whilst active drive can be a huge advantage they do not address all of my points. The bass resonance for example remains an issue whether active or not, as does the back EMF issue.

Anyone who has seen the huge excusions made by bass cones in ported enclosures may fear for the drivers but you rarely see anyone discuss the effect that the high levels of back EMF can have on the amplifier output stages.

That said active drive is superior in other respects, particular in those issues around the crossover point.
 
J

jcbrum

Guest
davedotco said:
Whilst active drive can be a huge advantage they do not address all of my points. The bass resonance for example remains an issue whether active or not, as does the back EMF issue.

Anyone who has seen the huge excusions made by bass cones in ported enclosures may fear for the drivers but you rarely see anyone discuss the effect that the high levels of back EMF can have on the amplifier output stages.

That said active drive is superior in other respects, particular in those issues around the crossover point.
Hmmm, I don't agree on those issues.

Bass resonance is a function of driver design, which is controlled by the enclosure characteristics, and the applied electronic damping factor, all of which is under control in a competent active design.

Most modern drivers are designed to be installed in ported enclosures, and most properly designed amplifiers for active speakers are designed to apply the correct damping control to properly absorb the back EMF.

It is not possible to obtain such effective damping, and back EMF control with a passive design, and general purpose amplifiers may, or may not have suitable output stage characteristics for any particular passive loudspeaker design. It's a bit hit and miss, unless it's a cohesive active design. IMO.

JC
 

davedotco

New member
Apr 24, 2013
20
0
0
jcbrum said:
davedotco said:
Whilst active drive can be a huge advantage they do not address all of my points. The bass resonance for example remains an issue whether active or not, as does the back EMF issue.

Anyone who has seen the huge excusions made by bass cones in ported enclosures may fear for the drivers but you rarely see anyone discuss the effect that the high levels of back EMF can have on the amplifier output stages.

That said active drive is superior in other respects, particular in those issues around the crossover point.
Hmmm, I don't agree on those issues.

Bass resonance is a function of driver design, which is controlled by the enclosure characteristics, and the applied electronic damping factor, all of which is under control in a competent active design.

Most modern drivers are designed to be installed in ported enclosures, and most properly designed amplifiers for active speakers are designed to apply the correct damping control to properly absorb the back EMF.

It is not possible to obtain such effective damping, and back EMF control with a passive design, and general purpose amplifiers may, or may not have suitable output stage characteristics for any particular passive loudspeaker design. It's a bit hit and miss, unless it's a cohesive active design. IMO.

JC
I agree that active drive does it better but these issues do still exist even in an active setup. An impedence peak at bass resonance still has to be dealt with and this requires competent design as do some other factors.

The point I was making is that these issues need to be addressed irrespective of whether the amplifier/speaker is active or passive and some appear to do it better than others.
 
J

jcbrum

Guest
Yes, I see the point you are making.

I do think that the designers and manufacturers of loudspeakers, and in particular drive units, see those issues too.

That's why we have seen technical developments in the last 50 years or so, and in particular, in the last decade, which I feel have brought successes in producing loudspeakers which give better performance, and also utilise the power of solid state amplifiers, and other electronics.

A previous poster referred to a 1950s 3-way loudspeaker, with a 12 inch woofer and horn loaded mid and tweeter, which was designed to be driven by a 5 watt domestic valve amplifier. Such were the needs of the day.

But we now have 6 inch 2-ways with 250 watt active amplifiers built-in (4 amps in total), true book-shelf sizes, and remote control, giving better sound quality, and suiting contemporary domestic living styles, and needing only a tiny digital source.

Such devices, together with digital sources, imo, give the biggest upgrade, - is my answer to the OP.

JC
 

CJSF

New member
May 25, 2011
251
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0
. . . "But we now have 6 inch 2-ways with 250 watt active amplifiers built-in (4 amps in total), true book-shelf sizes, and remote control, giving better sound quality, and suiting contemporary domestic living styles, and needing only a tiny digital source."

OK, it can be the best speaker in the world, but if that 'tiny digital source' is (rap, all you are going to hear is 'hifi (rap'. Its full circle, which ever way you cut it, the source has to be right, otherwise, 'garbage in, garbage out' . . . get the source right, then you have half a chance with the rest of the system, the old ways are still the best, IMHO.
 
J

jcbrum

Guest
I don't understand.

What has rap got to do with it ?

What do you see as being wrong with a (small, by comparison) digital source ?

JC
 

CJSF

New member
May 25, 2011
251
0
0
jcbrum said:
I don't understand.

What has rap got to do with it ?

What do you see as being wrong with a (small, by comparison) digital source ?

JC
Look carefully there is a '(' try a 'c', trying not to offend :? I was seeing small as 'cheap', perhaps not, but there are a good few poor quality (very average) digital sources and amps out there, no amount of quality speakers are going to do anything to them worth getting excited about. How many time do you see advise being sought on the forum, the same questions come up, time after time after time, as people go round and round in circles trying to make a 'silk purse from a sows ear' . . . get the source right, choose an amp you like the sound of, then the 'right speakers' might just sing? It ain't rocket science, but it does need some thought . . . and a little experience.
 

Native_bon

Well-known member
Nov 26, 2008
180
2
18,595
Room acoustics is the biggest problem of them all. But time & time again no one says much about it.. You could buy a system play it in the hifi shop and it sounds really nice.. When you get home & set it up it will sound really horrible. Another problem is, how many people buy source, amp & speakers all in one go. That also is a problem..

Hifi shops should have services were a full system is tried in the home eniviroment.. with all components available. Whats the piont of buying somrthing that sounds really good but does not sound right in your home enviroment..?

Room acoustics & relationship bewteen speaker & room first, then speakers, then relationship bewteen amp & speaker. In that other.
 

CJSF

New member
May 25, 2011
251
0
0
Native_bon said:
Room acoustics is the biggest problem of them all. But time & time again no one says much about it.. You could buy a system play it in the hifi shop and it sounds really nice.. When you get home & set it up it will sound really horrible. Another problem is, how many people buy source, amp & speakers all in one go. That also is a problem..

Hifi shops should have services were a full system is tried in the home eniviroment.. with all components available. Whats the piont of buying somrthing that sounds really good but does not sound right in your home enviroment..?

Room acoustics & relationship bewteen speaker & room first, then speakers, then relationship bewteen amp & speaker. In that other.
Agreed room acoustics are important . . . I remember I had my own music room/office, 17x10, a 'clap' test indicated one wall, the 10 foot one at the opposite end to the speakers, was a serious problem, hung a large heavy carpet rug on it, and put full length curtains in the corners of the wall behind the speakers. Placed a sofa about 2/3'rds of the way from the speakers, and a large marine fish tank on one of the long walls. One of the sweetest sounding rooms I have ever heard anywhere . . .

It was 'my room', I could do what I liked, unfortunately, domestic bliss is not so accommodating for all, also there is lack of practicality, from which I suffer these days. One often has to make the best of a less than ideal job? I find moving a door angle in one corner of my current room affects the sound stage considerably, a wedge on the floor holds it open at the appropriate angle. The angle is checked with a piece of string tied to the back leg of the speaker stand, then the wedge is inserted under, leaves just enough room to get in to the kitchen to make a cuppa, or prepare the Horlicks As I say, not ideal but its all I can do . . . oh yes, the curtains drawn over the window sounds better too.
 

lindsayt

New member
Apr 8, 2011
16
2
0
mikefarrow said:
any other input lads?

does hi fi kit progress like pc computers have ?
No.

In terms of sound quality it has gone backwards.

This is something that can be quite easily demonstrated by putting together a cherry picked system of components 25 to 55 years old and comparing it to a cherry picked new system.

In terms of small size and fashionable looks hi-fi equipment, in general, has gone forwards.
 

CnoEvil

New member
Aug 21, 2009
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lindsayt said:
This is something that can be quite easily demonstrated by putting together a cherry picked system of components 25 to 55 years old and comparing it to a cherry picked new system.
That's an incredibly sweeping statement........and the result of such a bake off, would be highly subjective.
 

lindsayt

New member
Apr 8, 2011
16
2
0
CnoEvil said:
lindsayt said:
This is something that can be quite easily demonstrated by putting together a cherry picked system of components 25 to 55 years old and comparing it to a cherry picked new system.
That's an incredibly sweeping statement........and the result of such a bake off, would be highly subjective.
No the result would not be highly subjective. Every listener with a non-vested interest would agree on which was the better sounding system and why.

The differences would not be subtle.

I made it more as an empirical statement than a sweeping statement. However there is a chance that my empirical statement would need ammending in the light of new empirical data. Data which I would be happy for you or anyone else reading this to provide. If they can. Data in the form of a new system that can outperform a collection of classic equipment from the state of the art manufacturers from the 1950's to 1980's - all of whom were large to huge companies and corporates. Concentrating in audio equipment at a period when the market was much larger than it is today.
 
J

jcbrum

Guest
lindsayt, Happy Christmas, you do talk a load of old rubbish. :doh:

:roll:

:grin:

JC
 

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