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How broad is your definiton of High-end audio, what qualifies and what doesn't...

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  • How broad is your definiton of High-end audio, what qualifies and what doesn't...

    I'm not good for this industry, I've said it before and admittedly I come off as a wet blanket at times. I'm not a reviewer and I have nothing to promote I just like playing music at what I think is a reasonably high level of fidelity. When I entered the hobby many moons ago I used to think the latest widget has to be the best, its only logical as time marches on all things improve, right? Then it seems there was a backlash sometime around the mid-90s and the hobby bifurcated. Suddenly antiquated technology from years past (way past) is suddenly in vogue again, these proponents even coined a new term "ultra fi" or something beyond hi fidelity. Today there's a significant following of 'philes which swears by horns, SET amps, idler drive turntables etc, etc. and another faction that only takes interest in the newest, latest and most advanced equipment available.

    Reflecting on a "SOTA" system I recently heard that had to cost $500K+ I came away nonplused and didn't think it sounded like a $100k system. I still remember what high end systems used to sound like many years ago and I could live happily ever after with lots of gear from 15, 20, 30+ years ago. maybe its just me venting again or the Horn/Set/idler proponents got it right and the rest of us got it wrong. I guess my question is, what defines "high-end" for you is it by default the latest and greatest or something different?
    Simon Yorke + Zyx + B.M.C .> Soulution > Boulder > Magico

    "Listening to Analogue music is an act of rebellion in a digital gulag" - Simon Yorke

  • #2
    High End Audio is a matter of intention, not price. If you think of it as price, you will be disappointed. This is why an inexpensive system can be put together and still be quite musical. The idea here is similar to what makes makes a person good at their career: do they want to really excel at it or are they just there to make money? If the latter, mediocrity will be the result. The same is true of high end audio. It has to be a matter of intention.

    This BTW is why many SETs and horns (as well as idler drive turntables) can produce extremely musical results. Its also why you can get mediocre results!

    (SETs BTW have a property that is rarely shared by push-pull amps: that of distortion dropping to unmeasurable as power is decreased. many push-pull amps have increased distortion below a certain percentage of power. This is part of why SETs are known for 'magic' and 'inner detail'. I myself am not a particular fan of them as they can't make power and bandwidth, and its possible to build a push-pull amp that does not have that problem, so you can have your cake and eat it too in a sense.

    Horn's properly designed and built can also have amazingly low distortion compared to other technologies including ESLs. This is because their drivers don't have to work very hard and as long as that is the case, the correct shape of the horn will keep distortion down. OTOH improper horn design will still be high efficiency, but distortion can tonal anomalies can result. This is why intention is so important!)

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    • #3
      Bob - I know exactly what you are talking about. Too often the emperor has no clothes, or at least no pants.

      One system I listened to several years back was simply the most pleasing thing I have ever heard for small scale music. The system price was under ten grand.
      Last edited by Rust; 03-10-2016, 01:16 PM.

      Comment


      • #4
        ***Bump***
        Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
        Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
        ________________________________________

        -Zellaton Plural Evo speakers
        -Goldmund Telos 300 stereo amp
        -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
        -Doshi EVO and Goldmund PH3.8 phonostage
        -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
        -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
        -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga Mk. 2, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
        -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
        -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
        -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz 3 racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA OHIO Class 2.1+ platforms.

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        • #5
          If you power up and it plays right away it's not high end.

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          • #6
            My definition Any thing I own is hi end nothing you own makes the grade, mean but it saves me money as no upgrades are needed

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            • #7
              To me, high end audio has always meant and still does mean all components very close to state of the art performance. With todays advancements and sky high prices, winning the lottery is a virtual prerequisite to owning a true high end audio system by my definition.
              Last edited by JCOConnell; 05-05-2016, 01:11 AM.
              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 (Stereo) , Graham Engineering 2.2 Tonearm (Stereo) , VPI Aries-1 Turntable (Stereo) , VPI Clamp, Denon DL-102 Cart, (Mono) , Luxman Tonearm (Mono) , Kenwood KD-500 Turntable (Mpmp) , Michell Clamp, Marantz 20B Analog FM Tuner, Pioneer SACD, Onkyo DX-6800 CD Transport, DIY 24B/192K DAC, Sennheiser HD-650 Headphones, Headroom Max Balanced Headphone Amp, DIY Silver Interconnects

              Comment


              • #8
                "High End" audio (capitalized) has become a "luxury" item, where the ability to pay for it is as important as how good it might be, while "high end audio" in general simply means that sound quality and dedication to real listening pleasure is the principle guiding force. "High End" is always expensive, though not necessarily better than "high end" which is not necessarily expensive but always an attempt at being really good.

                My system, where nothing but my turntable had an MSRP over $1000 will never be viewed as High End, but is most certainly high end.
                Steve Lefkowicz
                Senior Associate Editor at Positive Feedback
                -
                Analog 1: Linn LP12 (MOSE/Hercules II), Ittok, Dynavector 10X5 MK.II Low Output, iPhono2/iPowerX; Analog 2: Pro-Ject RPM-1 Carbon, Talisman S, iFi iPhono.
                Digital: Samsung 300E5C notebook, JRiver Media Center 26, Tidal HiFi and Qobuz Studio), iFi NEO iDSD, iFi iUSB3, iPurifier2, Audioquest Jitterbug.
                Electronics: DIY passive line-stage with TKD 10K pot, Antique Sound Labs MG-SI15DT-S, Burson Timekeeper Virtuoso
                Speakers: Tekton Lore, Magneplaner .7
                Interconnects: Morrow Audio MA1, Vermouth Audio Black Pearl, Audioquest Evergreen
                Speaker cables: Morrow Audio SP4, Vermouth Audio Red Velvet
                Digital cables: Aural Symphonics Digital Standard xxv USB, Belkin PureAV.
                Accessories: Sound Organization turntable shelf, Mondo racks, Pangea Audio Vulcan rack, Pi Audio Group Über BUSS, Monster HTS2000 power conditioner, Kinetronics anti-static brush, Pro-Ject VC-S record cleaner, Spin Clean record cleaner.
                Headphones: Schiit Valhalla amp, Burson Conductor Virtuoso Amp, Meze Audio 99 Classic and 99 Neo, Beyerdynamic DT770Pro 600 ohm, DT770 Studio 80 ohm, 1More Triple Driver Over Ear, 1More Triple Driver IEM

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

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                • #9
                  Ralph's point was kinda where I was going with my statement. David K's system provided the inspiration and would be on my short list of systems to hear (if I ever get the chance). The recent system I heard at a dealers showroom was made up of $500k of the latest and greatest gear and it did not roll my socks up an down, if fact the old adage "the bigger they are the harder they fall..." has rung true on too many occasions when I hear systems that are $100k+. Maybe I'm more jaded and was easier to impress in my earlier years but I don't sense today's "SOTA" gear has made that many strides. l've come so close to chucking it all and going with an SET/Horn system, shoot, I'm already an analog 'lifer' (another "dead" medium) why stop now
                  Simon Yorke + Zyx + B.M.C .> Soulution > Boulder > Magico

                  "Listening to Analogue music is an act of rebellion in a digital gulag" - Simon Yorke

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Asamel View Post
                    If you power up and it plays right away it's not high end.
                    Ha ha! Or takes three hours to warm up.
                    Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
                    Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
                    ________________________________________

                    -Zellaton Plural Evo speakers
                    -Goldmund Telos 300 stereo amp
                    -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
                    -Doshi EVO and Goldmund PH3.8 phonostage
                    -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
                    -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
                    -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga Mk. 2, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
                    -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
                    -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
                    -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz 3 racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA OHIO Class 2.1+ platforms.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Something that pays homage to the music? Rather than just making sound.
                      Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
                      Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
                      ________________________________________

                      -Zellaton Plural Evo speakers
                      -Goldmund Telos 300 stereo amp
                      -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
                      -Doshi EVO and Goldmund PH3.8 phonostage
                      -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
                      -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
                      -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga Mk. 2, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
                      -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
                      -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 5, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
                      -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz 3 racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA OHIO Class 2.1+ platforms.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        high end does NOT mean high dollar cost. a good example of this is the NAD 3020 and its direct relatives-1020 preamp, 4020 tuner and 7020 receiver with the electronics being designed by tom holman. incredible value. the schiit phono section now available is another (although i haven't heard one in person, the right people have said as much), and the ELAC b5 and its close relatives along with the pioneer bs22 series (perhaps not QUITE the value of the aforementioned ELACs) all designed by andrew jones. need i mention the magneplanar MMG and .7?

                        those above mentioned products do not have to hang their head in the presence of many of the higher priced spread components.

                        these are but a few high end products with real world pricing. so one can ostensibly assemble a very decent system for a cost that would not choke a Shetland pony.

                        Comment


                        • Garth
                          Garth commented
                          Editing a comment
                          I have never thought of choking a pony I would think the child riding would be vey upset . Island life never really understood it, choking ponys is that a thing in Scotland I thought they just did pup fights on a Friday night.

                      • #13
                        well, of course it was a variation of "choke a horse" but my hands aren't nearly large enough for that.

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