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Phono stages up to £2K.


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2 minutes ago, Firebottle said:

I also don't like the upgrade approach of offering better wire and/or connectors, capacitors and resistors and hiking the price considerably for each 'step'. Why not fit the best parts to start with and offer a reasonable design in the first place?  

It’s just the same approach as any other manufacturer (including people in this thread) who have products at various price points.

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Everything is a balance, but as others have said, it's a combination of things. Component quality, design and layout all matter, but we all have our 'taste', preferences and favoured ways of doing things. Unless funds, space and time are limitless, everything is a compromise to some extent. Opamps don't have to be poor and valves don't have to be extremely non-linear, but using them needs care and some thought, unless you want average (or worse) results.

The joy of keeping this as a hobby is that I can make my own compromises. I go massively overboard on safety, but I can happily use things like DHTs and battery bias that would be impossible or impractical on a commercial product. I can of course also spend a lot more on components than would ever make sense for something that would have a price tag on it.

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1 hour ago, DomT said:

It’s just the same approach as any other manufacturer (including people in this thread) who have products at various price points.

I fully understand that but what sticks in my craw is the level of price hike for (relatively) small component outlay.

As a designer it is anathema to me to 'nobble' the performance by fitting lesser quality components just to lower the price. 

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1 hour ago, Firebottle said:

I also don't like the upgrade approach of offering better wire and/or connectors, capacitors and resistors and hiking the price considerably for each 'step'. Why not fit the best parts to start with and offer a reasonable design in the first place?  

I have no issues in doing this as long as it is done in the correct order. First build the best you can regardless of cost, this is your maximum cost point adding profit etc. Then for the many that could not afford that, look at what the minimum cost point could be and still maintain a darn good commercial product but with reduced options (say MM only, single enclosure, no load switching, down a level or two in components specifically capacitors (PS1 10x over the PS2). These become the start and end points and adding back some of the options gives a graduation or upgrade path.

Jessica

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20 minutes ago, Firebottle said:

I fully understand that but what sticks in my craw is the level of price hike for (relatively) small component outlay.

As a designer it is anathema to me to 'nobble' the performance by fitting lesser quality components just to lower the price. 

To me, it's not whether it's done, but how it's done. It irritates me a little to see some manufacturers set radically different price points for 'upgrades' that amount to very little, especially as the difference between better components makes absolutely zero difference in terms of time and therefore labour costs.

On the other hand, as Jessica rightly points out, there is nothing at all inherently wrong with offering alternatives when it involves some compromises that will affect performance to a relatively small extent, but open up the product to a bigger potential audience.

I could go and order a new car today if I wanted, and the options list alone would make 'our' market look incredibly restricted by comparison, never mind the choice of engines and body styles. In some ways, it would be interesting to see more manufacturers take note of this approach. I'm excepting present company, because I'm thinking of things that would be prohibitively costly for smaller volumes, but that large-scale production ought to make a lot easier. As a small example, why the hell are consumers in our market offered mostly a choice only between brushed aluminium and satin black, if they're lucky? Neither fits into the colour schemes of most homes, and not everyone into audio and music is blind to aesthetics.

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41 minutes ago, rabski said:

As a small example, why the hell are consumers in our market offered mostly a choice only between brushed aluminium and satin black, if they're lucky?

What, like this:

P1010479.JPG

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9 minutes ago, Firebottle said:

What, like this:

P1010479.JPG

It wouldn't be my (colour) choice, but I love that.

Makes the point doesn't it? You can manage that, yet Sony, Pioneer, et al. apparently cannot.

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2 hours ago, Firebottle said:

I fully understand that but what sticks in my craw is the level of price hike for (relatively) small component outlay.

As a designer it is anathema to me to 'nobble' the performance by fitting lesser quality components just to lower the price. 

Ken Ishiwata spent £7 on some components many years ago to turn a non-selling Marantz CDP into a huge selling CDP and the rest is history. Clearly if someone can build something themselves and knows the component costs then it’s going to drive them crazy. But to the consumers so long as they are happy to pay the difference then good luck to them. 

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In the end it comes down to cost benefit. I guess if we are going to gripe, mine is resting on the name. When a company/designer makes it big then sells everything with a name premium regardless of how it sounds and how much it cost to make 

Jessica 

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As a small example, why the hell are consumers in our market offered mostly a choice only between brushed aluminium and satin black, if they're lucky?


Because that’s what most people want!

I was chatting to the Consonance distributor years ago when they released the ‘Forbidden City’ range. This was styled and named after the gates to the ancient city and the gates themselves were red, so it was offered with black, silver and red front panels.

I thought the red looked fantastic and said so but at a show a couple of years later, there was very little red to be seen. I mentioned this to him and he said that people invariably fawn over the red ones at shows and in shops but, when it came to signing on the dotted line, they always went with black or silver. As a result, he hadn’t bought any more models with the red panels as they were nigh on impossible to shift.
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16 minutes ago, Beobloke said:


Because that’s what most people want!

I was chatting to the Consonance distributor years ago when they released the ‘Forbidden City’ range. This was styled and named after the gates to the ancient city and the gates themselves were red, so it was offered with black, silver and red front panels.

I thought the red looked fantastic and said so but at a show a couple of years later, there was very little red to be seen. I mentioned this to him and he said that people invariably fawn over the red ones at shows and in shops but, when it came to signing on the dotted line, they always went with black or silver. As a result, he hadn’t bought any more models with the red panels as they were nigh on impossible to shift.

Bright red, or even dark red, is a no-go colour in marketing and design. Offer people a choice of black, red or silver, and I'm not surprised that when it comes to an actual purchase, red is a long way down the list.

The colour thing was anyhow just an example. Customisation and design-led thinking are sadly lacking in audio. Sometimes, hifi design needs to think outside the box, if you'll excuse the pun. Anyway, for someone who is reputedly a touch keen on Bang & Olufsen, you ought to appreciate the underlying point that there is a woesome lack of 'design' in domestic hifi. Stuff is either a plain box, or looks like something from a 1960s low-budget sci-fi film.

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Anyway, for someone who is reputedly a touch keen on Bang & Olufsen, you ought to appreciate the underlying point that there is a woesome lack of 'design' in domestic hifi. Stuff is either a plain box, or looks like something from a 1960s low-budget sci-fi film.


I’m not worried about the design. It’s all about the sound, you know...

;)
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33 minutes ago, Beobloke said:


I’m not worried about the design. It’s all about the sound, you know...

;)

As the old English teacher joke goes, there are no cases where two positives can make a negative.

Yeah, right.

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I’m fairly new to all this hifi stuff but from what I understand (maybe snake oil) keeping every audio component separate on a different shelf makes things function better.

I don’t totally buy that.

Though I do think a £500 amplifier with Phono surely can’t match a £500 amp with a separate £200 phono.

I use these figures as I started direct into the phono input on my Audiolab 6000a and it sounded great. I then added a Rega Fono 3 and the bass was far more focused and everything tightened up (As a bass player I measure everything in low end).

I then replaced the Rega with a Well Tempered Lab phono as I was offered a deal with my new Dynavector 10X5. A/Bing the Rega and WTL again I felt an even more regimented sound: punchy bass and rounded treble with creamy, sweet mids. I sold the Rega.

My local drug dealer (Hifi is most certainly a drug) contacted me to say he had a Moon 310LP in excellent condition and it was what I needed (I had spoke to him about the 110LP).

I bought it and it blew my mind. Tube warmth with Hifi clarity. Balanced outputs were a nice option and multiple options for MM/MC.

A week in I’m mesmerised and once again addicted to vinyl. Going as far as listening to Jazz.

Once again I repeat I am a newbie to the hobbie with the classic “all the gear but no idea” but I can’t not recommend the Moon 310LP at this price point.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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Posted (edited)

Just a few thoughts on this thread. Done well I don't think there's any reason why an on-board phono shouldn't sound as good as an off-board one and like for like can sound better - don't underestimate the impact of all those extra connectors, wires, power transformers and the like, or the cost of having two enclosures.

Good examples of a well-done integrated would be the EAR 912, or the LCR version of the 'Satchmo' phono preamp. Both are excellent and sound all the better for having potentially noisy variables reduced by careful internal placement. This approach goes right to the very high end for example the phono versions of the Kondo M7 and M77.

For me the main reason for multiple boxes is functionality, whether that be a need for variable EQ, or multiple switchable inputs for multiple tonearms, or the ability for functional/matching reasons to run individually chosen head amps, SUTs, phono stages and linestages, retaining the ability to swap each out on its own without changing the others. Going separate is not always a purely sound quality driven decision, in fact managing all that complication around impedance and gain matching, interconnects, avoidance of groupd loops and careful placement to avoid hum, having separate boxes is by no means any kind of panacea.

With regards to LCR vs regular phono stages, I got an Aurorasound Vida about eight years ago and have stayed firmly in the LCR camp ever since (having since owned EAR 912 and latterly Allnic H7000V - both LCR phono stages - and also experimented with the budget priced  Valab and Lounge Audio ones out of curiosity). There are many theoretical/technical reasons why LCR should deliver a better result than a regular design, but as always the key is in the execution and a well-done conventional stage will better a cheap or poorly thought out LCR implementation. Also, it's been my experience that unless you are building it yourself (sadly beyond my skills - but the only really effective way to beat the system) you generally get what you pay for.

Edited by montesquieu
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