How much further can we go ?

George 47

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As others have hinted at, it depends. I agree with Ric that at the less expensive end of the market there has been considerable improvement, but they do tend to sound very similar, competent in both senses of that word. For DACs, it can be a bit 'cookie cutter' with a nice box, latest ESS chip, set of op amps and a switch mode power supply. Better than some of the older DACs, but much of a muchness. And a few come from the same Chinese factory. But there are some Chinese factories who want to make the best, not the cheapest.

Having spoken to a few dealers recently and a few companies, the hot product is the integrated box. People are getting cheesed off with the mad excess boxes that do not represent good value for money with enormous price increases. With price barriers removed some just go mad and although slightly better at what cost? B&W went mad with their new diamond tweeter. They boosted the HF to show how good it was and things got brighter and brighter. ARC replaced £14K amplifiers with £21K amps. But we are seeing changes, an Audionote all-in-one Cobra. And Unison Research's S6, an oldish design, still sounds superb. But some new speakers have lots of detail but sound thin and unreal. Give me the music, man.

I am in the middle of trying out expensive stuff at the moment, no names no pack drill yet, but hell the musically most satisfying amp is a little Luxman Class A amplifier. It sounds much better than a £20K behemoth and a £13K valve integrated. And as for the speakers....don't ask. No price barriers, no restraint, all excess. And yes I have carefully moved them and measured them and still......

I can't deny the improvements being made but they are musically small and do these significant changes occur every 18 months?

But there are some really, really good companies doing the right thing. No huge detail shot at you, thin sounding 'stuff' but human beings making music that you want to listen to for hours and hours. But they are getting rarer as companies go off the straight and narrow. Hence, the attraction in older equipment where the music was the key issue not a new USP, market hook, or market speak.

There is also a lot of dross old equipment that should remain forgotten. Maybe we need a thread with the really good used equipment highlighted? Get a good example and pitch it against some well reviewed new stuff.
 

savvypaul

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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!
The 'job' is sensory pleasure. Adequate does not adequately describe that.
 

plasticpenguin

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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.
That one of the few selected brands I was thinking about. Luxman and a few budget models inclusive.

Personally like tone controls. This IME is why hi-fi had changed rather than improved, in the main.

I like a nice open trebly sound, nearly always had my Arcams, Pioneer, JVC... on full treble.

This also explains why I have the type of kit today. It's by design errs on the trebly side.
 

savvypaul

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Ah, right, I hadn't realised that you'd gone into your Mystic Meg persona.
Are the crystals on top of your amp coordinated with the ley lines? If not, all hope is lost.
🧚‍♂️🧚‍♀️
sensory
/ˈsɛns(ə)ri/
adjective
relating to sensation or the physical senses; transmitted or perceived by the senses.

Music, food, drink, sex - sensory experiences - if you're using crystals then you're doing it wrong, mate (or, your imagination exceeds mine).
 

andrew s

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That one of the few selected brands I was thinking about. Luxman and a few budget models inclusive.

Personally like tone controls. This IME is why hi-fi had changed rather than improved, in the main.

I like a nice open trebly sound, nearly always had my Arcams, Pioneer, JVC... on full treble.

This also explains why I have the type of kit today. It's by design errs on the trebly side.
I liked the tilt control on my Quad 44 many moons ago. It also had tone controls and filters.

Regards Andrew
 
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bencat

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I consider that what is being done with regard to equipment currently is working round the margins and nothing that I am seeing is really wildly moved on from the basic outfits that started in the 60's . Active with the added DSP options is an area were things can changed and for some real sonic gains can be achieved . I see the next thing as being the next huge leap which will probably not be in my life time but you never know . Anyone who reads Cyber Punk SF by the likes of William Gibson , Daniel Suarez will already know that they view the next thing in both Audio and Video is Direct Stimulation . This is where the video and sound is directed directly in to the brain using at its most crude a set or trodes attached to your head but more likely fitted directly to the scull with sockets so you can plug in and tune out. When we can get a state were any media is directly sent to our brains this is going to be the next massive jump as we the place and acoustic we are sitting in will be irrelevant as the signal will be a digital recreation of the original recording and if video will directly take us to the concert seat , control room of our choice and we will hear and see things as they were recorded. Until we make this sort of jump and dispense with much of what we know now as equipment then progress is likely to be slow and quite small steps .

Oh and for those who think this is just wishful thinking two current Digital Games companies are already working on a small scull cap type of games unit that will feed sound and vision to the user without them needing either earplugs or glasses to stop their current hearing or vision . Yes it is likely 20 + years away from a full production model but it does show that it is possible .
 

JANDL100

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sensory
/ˈsɛns(ə)ri/
adjective
relating to sensation or the physical senses; transmitted or perceived by the senses.

Music, food, drink, sex - sensory experiences - if you're using crystals then you're doing it wrong, mate.
Ah, but you don't appear to understand the sentence "The job can be anything at all".

Our little kerfuffle seems to come down to the definition of adequate.
To me it means that something is up to the job asked of it.
Other folks seem to interpret it by adding an extra word so it becomes "merely adequate". Which is a quite different thing.
 

culturecrammer

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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.
Yes - it's odd that on a forum like this where there's endless discussion of the minutaie of vinyl music reproduction from every possible angle with regard to equipment, there's practically zero discussion of the byzantine world of LP mastering. Re technological advances, none are needed - we were getting this right in the 1950s. Sadly vinyl mastering and pressing is a lost art and these days, with a few notable exceptions, with new vinyl you have to shell out extra on special audiophile pressings (Tone Poet, Acoustic Sounds, Speakers Corner, etc) just to get the kind of SQ and pressing quality (flat, quiet) that was commonplace up until until the beginning of the 80s. Buying vinyl is a minefield and you really have to do your research and hustle to get decent pressings that can do justice to the rig you've spent all that hard earned cash and time on.
 

oldius

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I think Serge was a wonderful guy and so very helpful to many, me included. I spoke to him some time after he left the Wam and he just said that he was frustrated with arguments in favour of equipment that, in his opinion, could not possibly make a difference. We have all bounced around threads that identify equipment with eye-watering prices where the benefits are questionable. He lost the will to argue his point so left for a more science-based discussion.
Barring Rabski's point about parts quality, there are companies now charging tens of thousands of pounds for amplifiers based on 60-year-old circuits and using technology that was around at that time. No matter how many people question the value of that product, if it sounds better to you than an equivalent product using more modern technology, then who can argue with your selection? As someone has rightly said in their signature, I think it may be @JamPal, enjoyment is not the same thing as better.
 

tuga

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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.
That is a very interesting observation.

Did manufacturers ditch tone controls when sound quality reached a high level of fidelity?

Was it because there was no market demand?

To save a few quid / increase profit?

Were users actually adjusting the bass and treble to compensate for recording tonal imbalance issues on a per recording basis?
 

MartinC

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When I first got interested in HiFi about 25 years ago, I'd say the prevailing view was that tone controls were 'corrupting' the true recorded signal and so no discerning audiophile would consider using them. I went along with this view at the time, although in hindsight this was a mistake. The somewhat inevitable consequence was that tone controls became rare I think.
 

savvypaul

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Ah, but you don't appear to understand the sentence "The job can be anything at all".

Our little kerfuffle seems to come down to the definition of adequate.
To me it means that something is up to the job asked of it.
Other folks seem to interpret it by adding an extra word so it becomes "merely adequate". Which is a quite different thing.
As in 'two fingers would be better, but one is adequate'?