How much further can we go ?

Blzebub

Thundering bigot
Wammer
Dec 22, 2015
2,102
1,268
148
Stamford, Lincs
AKA
James
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
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.
I would choose the latest ATC model over any previous version.

B&W make weird-sounding speakers, IMO.
 
  • Like
Reactions: oldius

oldius

Moderator
Staff member
Dec 30, 2008
6,466
3,720
158
Liverpool
AKA
Geoff
HiFi Trade?
  1. Yes
I would choose the latest ATC model over any previous version.

B&W make weird-sounding speakers, IMO.
The ATC I heard at Cranage, driven by a Soulution preamp, was the best sound I have heard at a show. The Tannoy Kingdom, at the same show, was one of the worst.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Blzebub

garn63

Wammer Plus
Mar 3, 2020
8,191
9,066
183
N. Wales.
AKA
Mark.
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
For me the biggest advances have been made with digital playback. I am pretty happy with my set up now & can add flavour with a Dac. Advances in tech do make their way down the scale for a more affordable price a couple of yrs down the line. You seem to have to pay a pretty penny now however for a minor improvement in sound quality with streaming, such is its popularity. Ime this isn't always a preferred improvement...just different.
I also dont think much has changed in the grand scheme of things with amplification and speakers,but will do, and has with active spkrs and room correction. It probably is the future but am "fixed" in my ways reg this.
My buying is going to slow down because of the drive to raise prices, often for a perceived boutique product that isn't that bloody marvellous :) It seems you have to box clever with hifi these days. Vfm is becoming a thing of the past & will make hifi even more niche...which I didn't think was possible. Perhaps we have enjoyed the very best times ?
* There are still good manufacturers that fly under the radar and fair people too. Long may that continue.
* Truly wish I wasn't so heavy handed with a soldering iron.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Steveh

JamPal

Content Provider
Wammer
Jul 19, 2005
32,264
552
173
Sussex, West Side
AKA
James
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
've heard 1950s stuff that is as detailed, accurate and precise as anything today.
Hearing Mr Hyundai's western electric cinema array from the 50s, with flea powered Silbatone valve amps at the Munich show back in the day proved beyond all doubt (in my mind, right then) that hifi was pretty much nailed some time ago..

silbatone-4.jpg


Then I went into the Magico ultimate room and heard something that made me re-define what "good" sounded like. But did I really enjoy that more than the old Western electric array? hmm....



there's a difference between better and more enjoyable.
 

tuga

. . .
Wammer
Aug 17, 2007
12,577
5,085
173
Oxfordshire, UK
AKA
Ric
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
The ATC I heard at Cranage, driven by a Soulution preamp, was the best sound I have heard at a show. The Tannoy Kingdom, at the same show, was one of the worst.

I've listened to the Vivid Giya 2s (by ex-B&W's Laurence Dickie) driven by Soulution monos (if I remember correctly) with a dCS source, one of the top demos ever at a show.
 

plasticpenguin

Legend Wammer
Wammer
Aug 8, 2018
6,195
2,867
148
Bookham, Surrey
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
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 ?
This is great thread. Haven't replied thus far, purely because there isn't one simple answer.

As a person who grew up on my parents radiogram, I've concluded, rightly or wrongly that hi-fi has changed a lot over the decades but not necessarily improved.

Firstly, I think age plays a part in what we hear. How many youngsters analyse the quality of their parents systems? I never did. Only when my dad purchased my first record player did I really take any notice of its tonal and other qualities.

We have to, also, bear in mind that most systems had tone knobs or slides (bass, treble and some also had midrange controls) - there was even graphic equalizers either built-in or as a separate component. So companies IMHO had carte blanche because you could change the frequencies to suit your room needs or mood, to a certain degree.

I believe that nowadays, due to tone controls mostly gone apart from a select few brands, speakers and amps have to be voiced differently.

When I briefly owned Wharfedale Denton 80th Anniversary around 18 months ago, they sounded very modern compared to the Denton XP2 I heard in the late 70s.

There are other reasons... but this is my interpretation.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: JamPal

MartinC

Wammer
Wammer
Jul 29, 2005
8,793
4,984
158
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
Hearing Mr Hyundai's western electric cinema array from the 50s, with flea powered Silbatone valve amps at the Munich show back in the day proved beyond all doubt (in my mind, right then) that hifi was pretty much nailed some time ago..

silbatone-4.jpg

This photo brings to mind what has been the single biggest modern(ish) change in performance terms for me: the ability to get better sound in smaller rooms by means of DSP to help compensate for the inevitable room resonance issues. This makes a full-range sound now a viable option, rather than the old-school compromise of small speakers with limited bass extension to best try to avoid issues.

My guess is that the 'not much has changed' argument holds up rather more for those with larger rooms.
 
  • Like
Reactions: dave and JamPal

MVJ

Wammer Plus
Wammer Plus
Apr 9, 2020
9,625
17,186
183
Guiseley, Leeds,
AKA
Steve,
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
This..

My Accuphase has some hidden fine tone controls, and just nobbling the bass down a touch allows me to have much bigger speakers than my room would normally take.
I remember in the 80's having some B&W DM3's which had to be backed right up to the rear wall & my Pioneer integrated amp thankfully had tone controls which did the same for me at the time which made it listenable in my limited space.

That would not be the case now & maybe if I had tone controls when trying to get my B&W 802d speakers in my present music room to work they would still be here now & I'd be a lot richer but of course much less experienced in this hobby we call hifi/music.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Fullrange

andrew s

Wammer
Wammer
Feb 10, 2014
1,391
1,277
148
Cheshire
AKA
Andrew
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
It's a mature market whose mass audience has be taken over by smartphones, earbuds and TV soundbars.

As @savvypaul say this leave a high margins game of expensive accessories and kit playing to an ageing largely prosperous minority.

For those less prosperous the entry level kit is well a head of what I could afford in my youth which is why I DIYed a lot of my system.

Good fun though.

Regards Andrew
 

JANDL100

Wammer
Wammer Plus
Dec 5, 2006
18,320
4,039
208
Forest of Dean, Glos
AKA
Jerry
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
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.
Ah, but that's because you (and most folks, I think) misunderstood what Serge meant by adequate.

Adequate, by definition, does the job - better than that is not needed. If it was needed, then the job would not be being done.

We then get on to the subject of what the job is. Now that's a matter of personal preference and opinion.
 

Ian

Wammer
Wammer Plus
Aug 27, 2008
4,686
1,679
193
United Kingdom
AKA
Ian
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
Ok, admittedly off topic, but the main improvement for me over the last couple of decades ( or whatever) is the technology that allows us to connect and talk to each other, ie. here !

Whilst gear may not have changed fundamentally, our knowledge base and enjoyment / connection has changed immesurably.

Imagine sitting in your flares in the 70s and not being able to talk about cables to anybody ,!
 

StingRay

Legend Wammer
Wammer
Apr 27, 2016
9,717
5,050
148
Suffolk, UK
AKA
Ray
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
Tone controls are like blood pressure tablets.

The most consistent advance in the hifi industry has been squeezing higher and higher margins from fewer and fewer customers.
A certain HiFi mag making out every new product is much better than the last model when often nothing had changed. It's all to get people to spend more money on HiFi products. Falling sales will increase prices as economies of scale will reduce. I was surprised how expensive some budget stuff is now.
 

JANDL100

Wammer
Wammer Plus
Dec 5, 2006
18,320
4,039
208
Forest of Dean, Glos
AKA
Jerry
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
Music is a sensory experience. Adequate is not enough.
You still do not appreciate Serge's use of the term adequate.
Adequate is enough, if it wasn't it wouldn't be adequate.
Adequate does the job, whatever the job is.

It is not in any sense a derogatory term.
Or it shouldn't be, if it was used properly!
 

bandit pilot

Comfortably Numb
Staff member
Jul 19, 2007
15,238
2,482
173
North Nott's
AKA
Rick
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
I've said for many years that I don't think things have improved in SQ terms.
It's just re branded purely for marketing purposes.
The whole supply chain leaves me cold. Equipment that is form over function and rarely designed to work in your average UK lounge.
Reviews are carried out in barns etc, like we all have one of those!
I'm happy enough trawling through all the things I couldn't afford in the 80s and 90s.
 

StingRay

Legend Wammer
Wammer
Apr 27, 2016
9,717
5,050
148
Suffolk, UK
AKA
Ray
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
Ok, admittedly off topic, but the main improvement for me over the last couple of decades ( or whatever) is the technology that allows us to connect and talk to each other, ie. here !

Whilst gear may not have changed fundamentally, our knowledge base and enjoyment / connection has changed immesurably.

Imagine sitting in your flares in the 70s and not being able to talk about cables to anybody ,!
Probably a good thing, talking about cables is a sign of madness :)

With most products there a levelling off. There is a lot of different sorts of marketing these days.

I don't think some things have changed as much as some people make out.

Not looking to buy new HiFi because compared to used, I think it is poor value and the improvements if any are minor, build quality maybe not so good these days, either, as margins get squeezed.
 

JANDL100

Wammer
Wammer Plus
Dec 5, 2006
18,320
4,039
208
Forest of Dean, Glos
AKA
Jerry
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
Does the music reproduction you listen to totally suspend disbelief, close your eyes and you are there?

If not, there is room for future progress.
And I suspect that substantial progress is still needed, even for the best systems.

What form will this progress take?
I have no idea, I've never been much of a visionary.
 
  • Like
Reactions: savvypaul and MVJ

MVJ

Wammer Plus
Wammer Plus
Apr 9, 2020
9,625
17,186
183
Guiseley, Leeds,
AKA
Steve,
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
I remember in the 80's having some B&W DM3's which had to be backed right up to the rear wall & my Pioneer integrated amp thankfully had tone controls which did the same for me at the time which made it listenable in my limited space.

That would not be the case now & maybe if I had tone controls when trying to get my B&W 802d speakers in my present music room to work they would still be here now & I'd be a lot richer but of course much less experienced in this hobby we call hifi/music.
I have just realised my Event Opals active speakers do actually have tone controls even though they are set to zero atm along with other controls (I don't really know what they do) So I could make the same adjustments that I did in the 80s.