Bay73

An idiot’s guide to audiophilia

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2 minutes ago, Bay73 said:

From what I have read I would run the sub through the Lyngdorf but as I’ve said my technical knowledge is somewhat lacking.

Will ask the expert about that whilst demoing this weekend.

Do ask. I believe the complication will arise because I think you'll want a connection from your AV amp direct to your sub for movies as well.

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Super Wammer

Covid has put the kibosh on things a bit - but another way of expanding knowledge and appreciation of others choices is by contacting members in your area and visiting each other to listen to systems.  Also shows and bake offs are a brilliant way of seeing stuff and asking questions of the suppliers or manufacturers demonstrating.

For many of us when we started out on this journey and it is true today - a good dealer who is friendly and knowledgeable and not into force selling is worth his weight in gold.  So be a pain when you can and visit dealers in reach and make a nuisance of yourself - provided you are not in the shop at a busy time (do they have busy times now?) then chewing the fat with a prospective customer is a welcome relief to a decent shop - and building rapport and relationships helps in making decisions in the future ...

Edited by uzzy
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Super Wammer

Making mistakes when doing anything is all part of the learning curve of life .HiFi is no exception ,If there was only one way it would be very boring...We on here may have many different ideas but we all have a love of wanting to hear music at its best for our ears. The knack is hoping it doesn’t effect the bank balance too much and your emotions remain intact....

kindest regards Julian 

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7 hours ago, bigrod said:

Making mistakes when doing anything is all part of the learning curve of life .HiFi is no exception ,If there was only one way it would be very boring...We on here may have many different ideas but we all have a love of wanting to hear music at its best for our ears. The knack is hoping it doesn’t effect the bank balance too much and your emotions remain intact....

kindest regards Julian 

Keeping the bank balance relatively intact and wife happy is a real incentive to try and avoid mistakes if possible... 

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10 hours ago, uzzy said:

Covid has put the kibosh on things a bit - but another way of expanding knowledge and appreciation of others choices is by contacting members in your area and visiting each other to listen to systems.  Also shows and bake offs are a brilliant way of seeing stuff and asking questions of the suppliers or manufacturers demonstrating.

For many of us when we started out on this journey and it is true today - a good dealer who is friendly and knowledgeable and not into force selling is worth his weight in gold.  So be a pain when you can and visit dealers in reach and make a nuisance of yourself - provided you are not in the shop at a busy time (do they have busy times now?) then chewing the fat with a prospective customer is a welcome relief to a decent shop - and building rapport and relationships helps in making decisions in the future ...

Ideally I would like to find a local dealer that will cover both HiFi and home cinema, as in the next 12 month I hope to be self building (not personally building it) a new house so I need to design in the cinema/media room at a very early stage. 

Can anyone recommend a good dealer within an hour of Guildford? PJ HiFi are on my list and were helpful when I demoed the Rega Elicit. 

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On 22/10/2020 at 19:15, Bay73 said:

What would be useful is an idiot’s guide that I could help my technical understanding and guide me on my first steps to audiophilia heaven.

I can make a few suggestions:

1. Ignore reviews and vloggers, it'll save you time and money.

2. A great part of this hobby is spent performing comparative listening so go to local retailers, shows and bake-offs to listen to different speakers and rooms, train your ear and find out what is the best that can be achieved in audio reproduction.

3. Never replace or compare two pieces of equipment in one go, familiarity is paramount and you mustn't lose your references; likewise, if you move the system wait a couple months to accommodate to the sound of the new room before making any changes.

4. Don't swap boxes until you know what's wrong or unpleasing about it and have at least a rough idea of the cause(s) and how you can deal with them.

5. The room plays as big a part in the final result as the system, if you cannot make physical changes to the room at least consider using some form of EQ correction.

6. Speaker and listener positioning have a major impact, make time to optimise them and choose speakers that will work well in whatever possible location you have available.

7. Learn a bit about the technical stuff and how to interpret measurements.

8. Any serious money spent on cables will be better spent somewhere else on the system; cables are in the accessories category for a reason. If your budget is limited, just buy something robust.

Edited by tuga
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These links will you help you interpret speaker measurements:

.

Testing Loudspeakers: Which Measurements Matter

https://audioxpress.com/article/testing-loudspeakers-which-measurements-matter-part-1

https://audioxpress.com/article/testing-loudspeakers-which-measurements-matter-part-2

.

Soundstage/National Research Council of Canada: How We Test Loudspeakers

http://www.soundstagenetwork.com/measurements/test_loudspeakers.htm

.

Hi-Fi World: Tests Explained

http://www.hi-fiworld.co.uk/index.php/loudspeakers/69-tests.html

.

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Super Wammer

You will get a brand range of answers and these depend a number of factors including their preferences/biases.

You know your tastes so just use your ears.  If you are not sure about your tastes then go to a few dealers and listen to different products and go to some shows to hear different systems (tricky in these times). If you like it then other people's opinions don't matter. But the people on here can help you get to a shortlist to listen to.

If there are products that are difficult to demo then get to understand how reviewers (that you trust) and people on forums describe the item's sound.  If enough people comment then you will get to the right answer - for example did you know that Naim electronics are really valve sounding and laid back? Of course they are not - but hopefully you get the point. Two peoples opinion is a lottery but hundreds of people's opinion is statistically valid.  

Don't worry about the technical side of things unless its about setting up a NAS or cartridge.  You probably don't know how your car works in detail but it doesn't stop you from knowing which is more sporty or more comfortable on a long journey. Think about the functionality, convenience and sound you want and go from there.

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3 hours ago, Bay73 said:

Keeping the bank balance relatively intact and wife happy is a real incentive to try and avoid mistakes if possible...

I was worried about this as well, yet I found that moving stuff on second hand, especially in the UK, is not all that difficult. I sold my Mac after listing it for two days.

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Buying used is a good idea, you can try out different things and if they don't suit sell them on without much loss. I wish I had done that more. 

For AV there are different sections or forums.

Edited by StingRay
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My suggestions:

1. Dealer. This is absolutely crucial. They need to be knowledgeable, not pushy, straightforwardly honest. They need to listen and advise. Ideally, I like small, owner run - where they have a passion for music and the kit they sell...and are interested in forming a long term relationship with their customers.

2. Reviews/Blogs. I take a very different view to Tuga. I look for reviewers that generally have the same taste as me. I like ones that have good ability at describing what they hear. You need to get good at reading between the lines. Some products that have a lesser rating, may still have the qualities you are looking for. You should never buy off a review, but it can be a useful part of the shortlisting process.

3. Musical Evenings/Demo Days. These can be very useful for hearing different kit and meeting the manufacturers.

4. Understand your preferences and how to achieve that. This is where the hard yards come in. You have to get out there and dem as wide a variety of stuff as possible. You need to hear different Amp Topologies (Class A/AB/D/G/Valve/Hybrid) and different speaker designs (Sealed/Ported/Transmission Line/Open Baffle/Electrostatic etc)

5. Forums. These are an invaluable source of information and can prevent you kissing a lot of Frogs and wasting money. The secret is narrowing down the people who are on the same wavelength as you and ideally, have the same taste in HiFi.

6. Bake Offs. Find out who lives near by and join in. They are invaluable.

7. Source. Going the TT route requires a bigger chunk of your budget than the Digital route. IMV. The Digital Source does make a difference, but needs to be commensurate with the cost of the system.

8. Where to start. There are 2 schools of thought: 

a) Speakers First......and then get an amp that drives them properly in line with your taste. This is probably the most popular, as speakers make the most difference.

b) Amp First. This can happen if you want to go with Valves....and then then match a suitable Speaker; or you find an Amp that you really like, that you want to make the heart of the system. A while ago, I owned a Full Class A MF AMS35i, which was special enough to get first and then match with speakers.

9. Synergy. This is where my chart above comes in. I am a strong believer in this. Certain components, when matched together, seem to give a performance greater than the sum of their parts. You may also want to avoid paring too overly forward brands together - or visa versa.

10. Technical understanding. A certain amount can certainly help, but lack of it doesn't stop you going out and listening to stuff. This is where Dealers and Forum members can help.

11. Opportunity Cost. In economics, this is what you could have got for the same money. The idea is to spend your money where it will give the most return. eg. I am a Cable believer - but my motto is never spend more on cables than would bring a bigger improvement elsewhere. Think of them as "seasoning for an already good meal". Cables can come into their own, if they are the cheapest way to bring an improvement. Nb. Always dem cables before committing.

12. Reference points. For me, this is Piano/Violin/Human Voice/Opera

13. Demo Music. Put together an eclectic mix of tracks you know really well, to test various aspects of the system. eg. How does it unravel complicated music; how does it handle Bass, Mids, and Treble; how does it handle poor recordings etc Make sure you listen for long enough to ensure "exciting" isn't in fact "fatiguing". Demo at home if possible.

14. How should your budget be divided? IMV. You should spend roughly the same on Amp and Speakers...but there are certainly exceptions, where you get really good, powerful Amps, which punch well above their weight.....I'm thinking mostly of Class D here, like Gato and Nord. IME. A cheaper speaker driven by a quality Amp, usually sounds better than an expensive speaker driven by a cheap Amp. Generally, you can get away with spending 10-15% of your system cost on a digital Source.

15. Diminishing Returns. This is a big factor and is dependent on the size of your wallet. My rule of thumb, is that (all things being equal), in order to get a meaningful difference, you have to double what you spend on a component. Conversely, throwing money at a system is no guarantee that you will like the difference. A change may not be an improvement.

16. Room, Set Up and Isolation. This may have come last, but is a biggie. A well set up cheaper system can easily out perform a poorly set up, more expensive one.

a) Room. Your speaker's interaction with your room will make or break a system. A room that is the wrong shape, too reflective or too big/small for the system will cause nothing but problems. 

b) Set Up. This includes Speaker Placement (with regard to walls/corners); Toe in; Type of Speaker Stands and how they are filled; Seating position in relation to the speakers and the wall behind; Tweeters at ear height when seated.

c) Isolation. This especially applies if you have a TT, or suspended wooden floors (which can screw up the sound of your speakers).

That's it for the moment - I'll add anything else that comes to me.

Edited by CnoEvil
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36 minutes ago, CnoEvil said:

How should your budget be divided? IMV. You should spend roughly the same on Amp and Speakers...but there are certainly exceptions, where you get really good, powerful Amps, which punch well above their weight.....I'm thinking mostly of Class D here, like Gato and Nord. IME. A cheaper speaker driven by a quality Amp, usually sounds better than an expensive speaker driven by a cheap Amp. Generally, you can get away with spending 10-15% of your system cost on a digital Source.

Good point.

I would add that a vinyl playback source will require spending as much of the budget as on the speakers (unsurprisingly because both use transducers, the most flawed element in the audio chain).

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1 minute ago, tuga said:

Good point.

I would add that a vinyl playback source will require spending as much of the budget as on the speakers (unsurprisingly because both use transducers, the most flawed element in the audio chain).

I touched on that under "Source". 

When I started out, the perceived wisdom was that 50% of your budget should go on the TT, with the rest being divided equally between Amp and Speakers.

The design of the TT was considered more important than the Arm - and the Arm was more important than the Cartridge.

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Super Wammer
7 hours ago, Bay73 said:

Ideally I would like to find a local dealer that will cover both HiFi and home cinema, as in the next 12 month I hope to be self building (not personally building it) a new house so I need to design in the cinema/media room at a very early stage. 

Can anyone recommend a good dealer within an hour of Guildford? PJ HiFi are on my list and were helpful when I demoed the Rega Elicit. 

Please fill out your profile with current kit, it makes it easier to advise if we know, where your starting from with your 2 channel kit.

Audio T in Portsmouth cover AV and 2 channel. 

As for getting to listen to different kit to see what sort of sound your after/like, there are several wammers within an hour of Guildford who'd be happy to have you/you + owner around for a listen. 

I'm in Chichester and more than happy to accommodate a visit. I currently have 3 tts, beltdrive, idler drive & direct drive, valve and ss amplification + electrostic, and box speakers so plenty of variety. 

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25 minutes ago, CnoEvil said:

I touched on that under "Source". 

When I started out, the perceived wisdom was that 50% of your budget should go on the TT, with the rest being divided equally between Amp and Speakers.

The design of the TT was considered more important than the Arm - and the Arm was more important than the Cartridge.

And there's also the phono stage. A lot can go wrong with vinyl playback.

Fortunately CD was able to address most of vinyl playback's problems.

Edited by tuga

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