How much further can we go ?

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bigrod

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Having enjoyed music through 5 decades , I have witnessed the progression of speaker and music production first hand . From the single box record player , through the stereogram era and music centres to separates. Each time there was huge leaps in technology in regards to material physics and dynamics .. speaker enclosures have been made from every possibility imaginable. Some really exotic laminates and metals ..
But the majority are box’s made of wood or wood fibres with particular coatings..
There are still some truly exotic Avant garde speakers if you’ve got the money but I’ve not heard anything personally radically better than 10 years ago ..different certainly , and great sounding but not in leaps and bounds
Are we being duped ?
 

JamPal

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Are we being duped ?
Great question.

When I started in HiFi 15 years ago, I dreamt of the system I have now.. On that journey for every upgrade I made, there was always something "wrong" enough to justify the next upgrade. It's all so subjective, and the truth is the prices we pay in no way reflect the quality of what we get from most manufacturers.

As our dear old friend Serge would say: "in engineering adequate is enough". Having heard his adequate system I realised I didn't want a perfectly flat reproduction of my music, I wanted to simply hear my music in a way that pleased me.

We're in it because we love it. It's literally just a hobby. When I started this place, I truly believed that almost anything could make a worthwhile difference. I've since seen every argument and heard an incredible number of systems.. My experience now tells me that it's just a bit of fun. If it sounds good to you, it IS good!
 

lostwin

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What sticks in my mind from John’s (Lurch) last bake off is that despite all the kit swapping, nothing remotely came close in SQ change as the difference between a standard LP pressing and a very high quality one.

Surely with all the technological improvements seen there must be a way of consistently improving the quality of the media itself. In fact there probably already is, but the actual market demanding it (i.e. us) is so marginal that it will only ever be available as a high cost limited edition format.
 

rabski

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Define progress...

I have a couple of valves in regular use that were manunfactured over 100 years ago. In fact, apart from the 845s (I can't afford NOS), every valve in my system is pre-1960. And I do have rather a lot of valves in my system. But then one of my sources has technology that was only developed in the last few years.

Computers, and computing power, have resulted in some serious progress, both in terms of streaming content and in terms of CAD for manufacturing. There has been substantial progress in what is now possible for small-scale manufacturers. For my own DIY builds, I can get CNC machined stuff produced as one-offs at reasonable cost. Ten years ago, having aluminium panels made and engraved to order would have been way too expensive.

On the other hand, some stuff has changed little. Basically because the best ways to do it were well known decades ago. The laws of physics haven't changed, nor has the way sound moves through air. About 80 years ago, the best sound was produced with a combination of high-efficiency speakers and low-powered amplifiers. And guess what.....

As for James' quote (hello you old f****r), that's one thing I still disagree with that Serge suggests. IMHO, adequate is never enough when better is available, unless costs and practicality come into the equation.
 
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karlsushi

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I agree when it comes to certain aspects of hifi.

I'm not sure speakers have really advanced that much and the marketing of 'different' but not necessarily 'better' materials for cabinets and drivers seems to be the only way speaker manufacturers are staying in the game. Is a diamond-coated or ceramic tweeter really an improvement over a classic silk or paper dome? Maybe not, but they certainly justify a higher price in terms of material costs.

The concept that bugs me is the idea that a manufacturer has 'improved' a particular speaker model design every few years over a period of 20 or 30 years. In a lot of cases, if you compare the original to the 'Mk XII' or whatever version they've reached, has the new one really gained incremental improvements every time? Very unlikely. But bet your bottom dollar that the price has increased incrementally.

However, there are areas where there have definitely been improvements over recent years. The two main examples being digital (especially advances in DSP/Room Correction) and also a notable improvement in Class D amplification.
 

oldius

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My opinion is that turntables, amplifiers and speakers have not improved in the last thirty years or so. I recently went to a dealer and spent the whole afternoon listening to speakers with a friend who was looking for some. He was disappointed with what he was hearing so bought a used set of 30 year old speakers that utterly wiped the floor with what we had heard earlier. Of course, digital technology has brought room correction into the equation and software is capable of resolutions that were previously unachievable. As I now subscribe to both Qoboz and Spotify, it is also clear that resolution is not the chief arbiter of quality. The difference between a well mastered redbook standard production and a poorly mastered high-res file is clearly in favour of the well mastered software, as it always has been. I suspect the difference will next come in the ability for wireless products to deliver the same quality as wired, and we are a long way off from that.
 

tuga

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My opinion is that entry-level is much higher fidelity now than it was when I started in the late '80s.
But many people don't seem to like that kind of sound, either because it's too different from what they grew up with, makes their favourite music recordings sound nasty or just prefer a more "vintage" sound.
Speakers have become a lot smaller and that has impacted the tonal balance, but the sound is clearer and more detailed.
 

bigfish786

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I think I’ve gone as far as I’m willing to go.
Seriously amazed with the quality I’ve got right now. Will my next upgrade give me more? I’ll find out soon. This will be my last upgrade for a very long time. I’m hoping the Marantz + Triangle combination will be everything I lust for.
 

rabski

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I love a good disagreement.

First, sorry Geoff, but I would have to say 'some' turntables, ampifiers and speakers have not improved. On the other hand, some sure as hell have. Component quality has improved in terms of consistency if nothing else, and some has improved, full stop. However, it comes at a price and needs effort.

And Ric. What is a 'vintage sound'? And don't give me the moussaka thing. I've heard 1950s stuff that is as detailed, accurate and precise as anything today. Of course, if you're talking 1970s radiograms that's a different matter. But then I could point your ears at a whole heap of stuff made today that sounds wretchedly poor.
 

MartinC

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Surely with all the technological improvements seen there must be a way of consistently improving the quality of the media itself. In fact there probably already is, but the actual market demanding it (i.e. us) is so marginal that it will only ever be available as a high cost limited edition format.

Isn't it fundamentally a question of what recording engineers are either choosing or being asked to do, rather than there needing to be any particular technical improvements? Or am I misunderstanding your point? A well-recorded CD from 20 years ago still sounds good, and more modern 'loudness war' albums are poor by comparison.

As for the original question, I'm personally exploring rather more modern options currently and am so far enjoying the results.
 

tuga

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I love a good disagreement.

First, sorry Geoff, but I would have to say 'some' turntables, ampifiers and speakers have not improved. On the other hand, some sure as hell have. Component quality has improved in terms of consistency if nothing else, and some has improved, full stop. However, it comes at a price and needs effort.

And Ric. What is a 'vintage sound'? And don't give me the moussaka thing. I've heard 1950s stuff that is as detailed, accurate and precise as anything today. Of course, if you're talking 1970s radiograms that's a different matter. But then I could point your ears at a whole heap of stuff made today that sounds wretchedly poor.
I was referring to a "darker" and "warmer" sound that I remember hearing in more common systems from the '60s and '70s.

I agree that a lot of cheap stuff souds dreadful but in my view I can get better sound for less that I did when I bought my first system.
 
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oldius

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I love a good disagreement.

First, sorry Geoff, but I would have to say 'some' turntables, ampifiers and speakers have not improved. On the other hand, some sure as hell have. Component quality has improved in terms of consistency if nothing else, and some has improved, full stop. However, it comes at a price and needs effort.

And Ric. What is a 'vintage sound'? And don't give me the moussaka thing. I've heard 1950s stuff that is as detailed, accurate and precise as anything today. Of course, if you're talking 1970s radiograms that's a different matter. But then I could point your ears at a whole heap of stuff made today that sounds wretchedly poor.
You make stuff, I just listen. I know very little about parts quality but when I listen to the high end gear of the 80s and 90s and compare to high end gear now, I see little improvement and, often, a decline. For example, I would choose the original B&W801 over the later versions any day of the week. The high-end direct drive decks out of Japan, especially, like the L-07D, SP10, DP-80, and so on, are yet to be improved upon. I recently had a £6k modern integrated in my house on a week long demonstration and it was lovely but no improvement on what I have, in fact I preferred what I have, if only slightly. As for vintage sound, I agree with you. The speakers my friend chose were the JBL L96 and he has them on the end of a Kenwood pre-power (high end) from the 1990s, His system was so much better than what we heard at the dealer that it wasn't even in the same ballpark, but the new gear was £10k.
 

pmcuk

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I ask myself if my system could have been built in 1970 and the answer would be "mostly, yes".

The advances have come in DACs and speaker units - not the boxes, just the units themselves. Plus CDs and digital recording.

Since I use tubes, the amplification could all have come from 1970 or even stretching back to the 1930s in some cases.

But since my source is my computer, then in terms of computing huge leaps have been made and are being made. That's the big focus of improved technology.

On the music side, a LOT of good music has been made since 1970......
 

tuga

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For example, I would choose the original B&W801 over the later versions any day of the week.

I don't think that your example is very adequate; soon after the first generation 80x (F/Series80) B&W decided to take a different approach to design (shallow crossovers, directivity was neglected, maybe an intentional "house sound" was created), but I am convinced that the original design with the current drivers would have performed better.

It would be interesting to compare the NS1000 with the NS5000.
 

rdale

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I have a pair of active KEF LS50Ws which have built amplifiers, DACs and streamer. I subscribe to Qobuz and the LS50Ws can play music in high resolution via the internet. None of that was available 10 years ago, and my KEFs sound fantastic in a large room with a pair of sub woofers, along with posh cables and stands giving total system cost of around 6k pounds all in.
 

oldius

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I don't think that your example is very adequate; soon after the first generation 80x (F/Series80) B&W decided to take a different approach to design (shallow crossovers, directivity was neglected, maybe an intentional "house sound" was created), but I am convinced that the original design with the current drivers would have performed better.

It would be interesting to compare the NS1000 with the NS5000.
I think that David Price may have done that comparison and I seem to remember that both were favourably reviewed but the latter had a different approach with a ported cabinet.

I found the later versions of the 801 far less balanced, with an emphasised treble and bass rather than 'neutrality' through the spectrum.
 

oldius

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Having enjoyed music through 5 decades , I have witnessed the progression of speaker and music production first hand . From the single box record player , through the stereogram era and music centres to separates. Each time there was huge leaps in technology in regards to material physics and dynamics .. speaker enclosures have been made from every possibility imaginable. Some really exotic laminates and metals ..
But the majority are box’s made of wood or wood fibres with particular coatings..
There are still some truly exotic Avant garde speakers if you’ve got the money but I’ve not heard anything personally radically better than 10 years ago ..different certainly , and great sounding but not in leaps and bounds
Are we being duped ?
BTW. What a great thread!
 
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MVJ

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It never ceases to amaze me how you lot can put so much information experience and facts into posts like on this thread and in the process make it thoughly entertaining.

Nice job fellas👌🏻