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  • Top Heavy? Middle heavy? Bottom Heavy? Equally Proportioned?

    Top Heavy? Middle heavy? Bottom Heavy? Equally Proportioned?

    Depending on whom you know and where you are on your audio journey, the idea of proportional spending (“investment”) in the three core sections –I limited them to three on purpose– of the audio chain have always been around. There are strong opinions going in either direction. This leaves the user to decide what to (and how much to) invest in said areas of the hobby from an equipment perspective.

    For this thread, let’s keep the music (software, vinyl, and tape) out of the equation since this one is about equipment (inevitably, someone will say the room or power or cables, or name something different from the core items mentioned).

    So, here we go:

    Are you top heavy in investment? (CD/SACD player, server/streamer system, DAC, turntable, tonearm, cartridge, phonostage, tape deck, tape stage/preamp, etc.)

    Are you middle heavy in investment? (Preamp, Amplifier or integrated)

    Are you bottom heavy in investment? (Speaker and/or Subwoofer)

    Are you equally proportioned in investment? (Source, Pre/Amp, Speakers/Sub)

    Or

    Are you proportioned in some different wat among the three?

    ***************

    What’s your strategy?

    How did/do you decide?

    The thread is free to go where the subject takes us. Remember to have fun with this.

    Dre
    **************************************************
    Every day is a good day to play analog.
    - 12" 33-1/3 RPM or 45 RPM vinyl
    - 10.5" 15ips or 30ips tape
    **************************************************
    Every day is a good day for live music.
    **************************************************

  • #2
    I'm a source first kind of guy. Always felt philosophically that as you feed the signal downstream, you want the best feeding into an equal, or slightly less capable component. Otherwise, if you feed the signal into a "better" or more capable component, you more easily hear the flaws upstream. Always looked at it from a quality, not a price standpoint though.

    I remember setting up a demo for a group of this concept back in the 80s. We did two systems. One fronted by an excellent table, a pretty good integrated amp, and inexpensive (but good sounding) speakers. The second system was a lower quality (but better known to non-audiophiles) table, better quality electronics and speakers that cost more than 50% of the total system, price. The first system sounded better.
    Steve Lefkowicz
    Senior Associate Editor at Positive Feedback
    -
    Analog: Linn LP12 (MOSE/Hercules II), Ittok, Dynavector 19a, iPhono2; Pro-Ject RPM-1 Carbon, Sumiko Pearl, iFi iPhono.
    Digital: Samsung 300E5C notebook, JRiver Media Center 26, Tidal HiFi and Qobuz Studio), iFi iDAC2, iFi iUSB3, iPurifier2.
    Electronics: Burson Conductor Virtuoso, DIY switch-box with TKD 10K pot, Antique Sound Labs MG-SI15DT-S, Burson Timekeeper Virtuoso, Jolida JD1000P, B&K ST140.
    Speakers: Tekton Double Impact, Tekton Lore, Magneplaner .7, ELAC Debut2 B6.2, Debut F5 and Debut B6, Emotiva Airmotiv B1, Sound Dynamics 300ti.
    Interconnects: Morrow Audio MA1, Vermouth Audio Black Pearl, Nordost Solar Wind, Audioquest Evergreen
    Speaker cables: Morrow Audio SP4, Vermouth Audio Red Velvet, Nordost Solar Wind, Nordost Flatline, Audioquest Q2.
    Digital cables: Straightwire USB Link, Aural Symphonics Digital Standard xxv USB, Belkin PureAV.
    Accessories: Sound Organization turntable shelf, Mondo racks, Pangea Audio Vulcan racks, Pi Audio Group Über BUSS, Monster HTS2000 power conditioner, Sound Organization speaker stands, Pangea Audio speaker stands, Kinetronics anti-static brush, Pro-Ject VC-S record cleaner, Spin Clean record cleaner.
    Headphones: Schiit Valhalla amp, Meze Audio 99 Classic and 99 Neo, Beyerdynamic DT770Pro, 1More Triple Driver Over Ear, 1More MK801, 1More Triple Driver IEM

    http://www.audionirvana.org/forum/ti...ounding-system

    Comment


    • #3
      I used to like 'em top heavy, tastes change with age I'm more of an 'equally proportioned' type of guy

      Now, regarding audio gear (haha) im more spendy with my TT/analog rig, then speakers and the rest on electronics. Cables are DIY and that cost is mostly sweat equity.
      Simon Yorke S10 | My Sonic Lab Eminent GL | AcousticPlan PhonoMaster | Wadia X32 | Innuous ZEN Mini Mk II | Valvet Soulshine2 | Linear Tube Audio ZOTL10 MkII | Avantgarde Uno Fino XD

      "One of the great challenges of this world: Knowing enough about a subject to think you are right, but not enough about the subject to know you're wrong" - Neil deGrasse Tyson

      Comment


      • #4
        Very interesting exercise. To determine percentages I used retail prices since some things have been bought used or discounted. These percentages are only of gear in the three groups, not of cables, cords, racks isolation, etc. But it seems I'm 60% Top Heavy, 25% Middle and 15% Lower. I can't say it was actually a "philosophy" but it does seem to mirror Steve Lefkowicz analogy.
        Speakers: Horning Eufrodite Ellipse III on Stillpoints Ultra 5S feet
        Speakers: REL Acoustics G1 Mark II Subs (pair)
        Amplifier: New Audio Frontiers Ultimate 211 Special Edition Monoblocks
        Preamp: TW Acustic RPA-100 Line Stage
        Phono Stage: TW Acustic RPS-100
        Turntable - TW Acustic Raven AC w/ Black Knight Anniversary Upgrades
        Tonearm: Kuzma 4-Point 14" with Air Tight Opus-1 Cartridge
        Tonearm: TW 10.5" with Miyajima Zero Mono
        Vinyl Care: Furutech DF-2 LP Flattener -
        Degritter Ultrasonic & VPI Cyclone RCM
        CD/SACD: Playback Designs MP-5 to Bricasti M1 DAC
        Tape: Tascam 42B-NB (Refurb by Soren Wittrup)
        Tape Stage: Doshi V.3
        Power Conditioner: (2) Silver Circle Audio TCHAIK 6
        Wire: Custom Furutech PC's + Audience Front Row IC's & Speaker Cables
        Tweaks: Stillpoints Aperture II Panels & Stillpoints Ultra 5S's & SS's sprinkled about - DS Audio ION-001 Vinyl Ionizer - SRA Scuttle III Rack, SRA Ohio Class and Symposium Super Plus Platforms

        Comment


        • #5
          Id say Im bottom "light". My loudspeakers only cost $2k They would be the first thing to upgrade when possible.
          Magnepan 1.6 QR Loudspeakers, Amherst A-2000 MOSFET 150 WPC Amp, Conrad Johnson PV-10A Modded Tube Line & Phono Stage, Electrocompaniet MC II Class A Head Amp, Audio Technica AT-OC9XML Cart (St) , Graham Engineering 2.2 Tonearm (St) , VPI Aries-1 Turntable (St) , VPI Clamp, Denon DL-102 Cart, (M) , Luxman Tonearm (M) , Kenwood KD-500 Turntable (M) , Michell Clamp, Marantz 20B Analog FM Tuner, Pioneer SACD, Onkyo DX-6800 CD Transport, DIY 24B/192K DAC, Sennheiser HD-300 Headphones, Headroom Max Balanced Headphone Amp, DIY Silver Interconnects

          Comment


          • #6
            Except on speakers, I’m pretty balanced... I didn’t put as much in those
            Amp - McIntosh MC402
            Pre - McIntosh C2300
            Phono - JE Audio HP10
            TT - VPI Prime (2 3D Arms and Victor UA-7045)
            CD - AMR CD777
            R2R - Pioneer RT 1020L
            Speakers - PMC OB1i’s or Aerial Acoustics Model 8’s

            Comment


            • #7
              Used to be pretty balanced. With recent acquisitions (last 8 months), speakers (MBL 101E MK2's replaced Wilson Alexias) and electronics (MBL 6010D and 9008As replaced D'Agostino Momentum Pre HD and S250) my system investment in those components is proportionally larger than my front end components (VPI Avenger, Lumin X1 and Esoteric K-05).

              I had no plans to replace my prior system. My wife and I did listen to the MBL 101's as we were curiously listening to a number of transducers. We both liked them a lot. Fast forward a few months and my wife treated me to new speakers. So, there was no real strategy in that regard.

              Once the MBLs speakers were setup and, after a few months, we decided to try out the MBL electronics. I was perfectly happy with the D'Agostino driving them but the synergy of the MBL gear could not be matched by the Momentum.

              What's next? An update to the front end. Either the TT or the Server/DAC next year. Not spending any more on CD players since I have my entire CD collection ripped and stored in a NAS.

              Comment


              • Ritmo
                Ritmo commented
                Editing a comment
                I would consider a Kuzma arm. The SAT is a lot more than I’m willing to spend for an arm. The issue is mounting a non VIP arm on the Avenger.

              • mep
                mep commented
                Editing a comment
                Mike-VPI can make armboards for other arms for the Avenger.

              • MylesBAstor
                MylesBAstor commented
                Editing a comment
                VPI makes armboards for pretty much any arm afaik. Graham, SAT, SME, etc.

            • #8
              Following timztunz - i’m 60% top; 27% middle; 13% bottom. Overall system Strategy was just to find a combination of components that sounded great to me. W/r/t components ‘strategy’ I went with a tube (integrated) so I can roll tubes/experiment and I chose the Clearaudio TT (years ago) so I could upgrade / build off the base model.
              Magnepan 1.7i, VMPS Large Sub, Belden 5000 Speaker Cable, Synthesis 510 AC Integrated Amplifier, Adcom GFA 555 II Power Amplifier, QED passive pre-amp, Celtic Dragon & Grover EX+ Interconnects, Crown SX 722 R/R, Nakamichi RX 202 Cassette Deck, Fosgate Signature Phono Preamplifier, Clearaudio Solution Turntable, Clearaudio Satisfy Tone Arm, Clearaudio Concerto V2 Cartridge, Clearaudio Smart Syncro, Belkin AP41300 Power Conditioner/Surge Protector, Transparent Power Cables

              Comment


              • #9
                Top to bottom 50% - 35% - 15% (per prices paid)

                Comment


                • seamonster
                  seamonster commented
                  Editing a comment
                  I can't claim to have a particular strategy.

              • #10
                This is an interesting exercise. So in terms of cost from top to bottom I have:

                $$$$ sources analog and digital combined although my analog represents almost all of it.
                $$$$ speakers incl headphones
                $$$ Amplification
                $$+ Mechanical isolation
                TW Acustic TT with Ref motor & controller; Tri-Planar Arm; Ortofon Windfeld-Ti Cartridge, Harmonix-Combak platter matte & weight; Arcam R Phono Preamp; KLAudio Ultrasonic Record Cleaner.

                Bluesound Vault-2 Music Server & Streamer

                VTL 6.5 preamp Series II
                Pass Labs 150.8 Amp

                Piega C711 Loudspeakers

                Symposium Osiris Rack; Symposium Platforms and Roller Blocks plus grade 2.5 Balls

                Acoustic Revive RR-888 Low Frequency Pulse Generator

                Shunyata Hydra 8; Shunyata AC Cords; Synergistic Research Level 3 HC AC Cord and Level 3 power cord, Synergistic Carbon fiber wall plates & Blue Outlets, Furutech NCF Booster Brace, Audio Art Ref balanced ICs, MIT Oracle IC and Magnum Speaker Cables

                Sennheiser HDV 650 Headphone Amp; Sennheiser HD1200s Headphones.

                Comment


                • #11
                  In it's priciest configuration, if I count everything actually running in the system, my speakers are a little less than 10% of the total cost of system, not including the cost of cables.

                  As it sits at this exact moment, since I am temporarily using a $400 integrated amp instead of a $5000 Burson preamp/power amp combo, my cost breakdown based on original MSRP would be:
                  Analog front end - 51%
                  Digital front end - 26%
                  amplification - 7%
                  speakers - 16%
                  Steve Lefkowicz
                  Senior Associate Editor at Positive Feedback
                  -
                  Analog: Linn LP12 (MOSE/Hercules II), Ittok, Dynavector 19a, iPhono2; Pro-Ject RPM-1 Carbon, Sumiko Pearl, iFi iPhono.
                  Digital: Samsung 300E5C notebook, JRiver Media Center 26, Tidal HiFi and Qobuz Studio), iFi iDAC2, iFi iUSB3, iPurifier2.
                  Electronics: Burson Conductor Virtuoso, DIY switch-box with TKD 10K pot, Antique Sound Labs MG-SI15DT-S, Burson Timekeeper Virtuoso, Jolida JD1000P, B&K ST140.
                  Speakers: Tekton Double Impact, Tekton Lore, Magneplaner .7, ELAC Debut2 B6.2, Debut F5 and Debut B6, Emotiva Airmotiv B1, Sound Dynamics 300ti.
                  Interconnects: Morrow Audio MA1, Vermouth Audio Black Pearl, Nordost Solar Wind, Audioquest Evergreen
                  Speaker cables: Morrow Audio SP4, Vermouth Audio Red Velvet, Nordost Solar Wind, Nordost Flatline, Audioquest Q2.
                  Digital cables: Straightwire USB Link, Aural Symphonics Digital Standard xxv USB, Belkin PureAV.
                  Accessories: Sound Organization turntable shelf, Mondo racks, Pangea Audio Vulcan racks, Pi Audio Group Über BUSS, Monster HTS2000 power conditioner, Sound Organization speaker stands, Pangea Audio speaker stands, Kinetronics anti-static brush, Pro-Ject VC-S record cleaner, Spin Clean record cleaner.
                  Headphones: Schiit Valhalla amp, Meze Audio 99 Classic and 99 Neo, Beyerdynamic DT770Pro, 1More Triple Driver Over Ear, 1More MK801, 1More Triple Driver IEM

                  http://www.audionirvana.org/forum/ti...ounding-system

                  Comment


                  • #12
                    I am for sure top heavy with my TT, arm, and cartridge. Then there are my three tape machines, and CD player...

                    Comment


                    • #13
                      Never put a percentage on it. I look at my room first, then I chose a speaker then a amp and wrap it up with my source components. So I would say my room is top heavy, followed by my speakers then the amp. But of course one can go nuts with a source be it a TT and cartridge or DAC or really high end CD player. Hell some cables people use cost more than some of my stuff..
                      Chris
                      ----------------------------------------------------------------
                      Kef 201/2, Pass xa30.5, W4S STP-SE, Manley Chinook, VPI Classic, Dynavector DV20x2L, ExaSound e32, Acoustic Zen cables. (Office): Vincent SP331 Mkll, Quicksilver Pre, Lumin D1, (Ken Lau Signiture Edition PSU), Bryston BCD-1, Vapor Audio Breeze, WooAudio W6se,Questyle Audio CMA800R LCD-3,HD800s, HD600, Mr Speaker Ether C Flow,

                      Comment


                      • #14
                        Interesting - so far I seem to be a bit of an outlier. I’m somewhat bottom heavy. My speakers are the most expensive part of my big rig for sure.

                        Speakers - 45%
                        Amplification - 30%
                        Analog - 15%
                        Digital - 10%
                        TAPE: Studer A807, A810; Revox B77 MkII; Tascam BR-20; Technics RS-1700; Pioneer RT-707, RT-909
                        VINYL: Denon DP59-L/Benz LP-S MR/ModWright PH 9.0; Pioneer PL-50LII/Dynavector 20xH
                        DIGITAL: Bryston SP-3, Marantz NA6006/Pioneer N-50, Schiit Bifrost
                        SPEAKERS: B&W Nautilus 800, Pioneer DSS-9, Velodyne FSR-15
                        AMPS: Cary SLP-05/Sunfire Signature 600, Pioneer SX-1980

                        Comment


                        • #15
                          I remember back in the day, Stereo Review always telling people to spend at least 50% of their budget on speakers, then buy whatever receiver and turntable they liked because they were all the same anyway Oh, and to get a Shure V-15.
                          Steve Lefkowicz
                          Senior Associate Editor at Positive Feedback
                          -
                          Analog: Linn LP12 (MOSE/Hercules II), Ittok, Dynavector 19a, iPhono2; Pro-Ject RPM-1 Carbon, Sumiko Pearl, iFi iPhono.
                          Digital: Samsung 300E5C notebook, JRiver Media Center 26, Tidal HiFi and Qobuz Studio), iFi iDAC2, iFi iUSB3, iPurifier2.
                          Electronics: Burson Conductor Virtuoso, DIY switch-box with TKD 10K pot, Antique Sound Labs MG-SI15DT-S, Burson Timekeeper Virtuoso, Jolida JD1000P, B&K ST140.
                          Speakers: Tekton Double Impact, Tekton Lore, Magneplaner .7, ELAC Debut2 B6.2, Debut F5 and Debut B6, Emotiva Airmotiv B1, Sound Dynamics 300ti.
                          Interconnects: Morrow Audio MA1, Vermouth Audio Black Pearl, Nordost Solar Wind, Audioquest Evergreen
                          Speaker cables: Morrow Audio SP4, Vermouth Audio Red Velvet, Nordost Solar Wind, Nordost Flatline, Audioquest Q2.
                          Digital cables: Straightwire USB Link, Aural Symphonics Digital Standard xxv USB, Belkin PureAV.
                          Accessories: Sound Organization turntable shelf, Mondo racks, Pangea Audio Vulcan racks, Pi Audio Group Über BUSS, Monster HTS2000 power conditioner, Sound Organization speaker stands, Pangea Audio speaker stands, Kinetronics anti-static brush, Pro-Ject VC-S record cleaner, Spin Clean record cleaner.
                          Headphones: Schiit Valhalla amp, Meze Audio 99 Classic and 99 Neo, Beyerdynamic DT770Pro, 1More Triple Driver Over Ear, 1More MK801, 1More Triple Driver IEM

                          http://www.audionirvana.org/forum/ti...ounding-system

                          Comment


                          • rbbert
                            rbbert commented
                            Editing a comment
                            And "back in the day", that wasn't necessarily bad advice unless you were buying at the extreme high end of the market, in which case you probably weren't paying attention to Stereo Review anyway.
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