Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Does Today's Equipment Sound Better Than that of Years Ago?

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Does Today's Equipment Sound Better Than that of Years Ago?

    Found something interesting

    Two letters from readers (see below) started us thinking again about something we’ve mulled at, off and on, for the past year or so: Does today’s high-fidelity equipment, for all its vastly improved performance, actually sound that much better than the best of the early components?
    Certainly, the best of today’s pickups, amplifiers and loudspeakers are objectively far superior to anything available ten, or even five years ago. Pickups trace more cleanly at lower forces, amplifiers have lower distortion and higher stability, and speakers have wider range, smoother response and lower distortion than ever before. Yet increasing numbers of long-time audiophiles are complaining that today’s sound reproduction is not as natural as it used to be during the golden age of monophony
    J. Gordon Holt, 1963

  • #2
    I hope so, otherwise I just wasted $20,000 assembling what I have!
    Dynavector DV20x2L MC cartridge - Genesis G7.1f speakers - Marantz Reference PM-KI-Pearl Int. Amp. - Oracle Audio Paris MkV turntable - Various Morrow & Valab/King cables

    Comment


    • #3
      It's always a worry for me. If I make a mistake, I have to live with it for a long time. Been there, done that.

      Comment


      • #4
        Yes it sounds better no question the best gear of today is better than what was best. No question in my mind

        Comment


        • #5
          Garth - on the whole yes. And still when auditioning something all to often I don't notice the revelatory improvements in sound staging, the depth of detail, the increased air, or the ability to bring me a beer.

          Well, the exception being the improvements in affordable turntables and cartridges. That is another story, one that I am happy to say has lived up to the promise, those things were immediately apparent to me. A new turntable is about second or third down my list after a first priority new phono amp. Getting closer to pulling the trigger there.

          Comment


          • #6
            Just to play devil's advocate:

            Digital: Yes

            Analog: Not necessarily (especially with some updating). But arguably biggest improvement is macro and micro-speed control.

            Speakers: In the majority of circumstances.

            Amplifiers, solid-state: Yes

            Amplifier, tube: subject of a long discussion here

            Preamplifiers: In the majority of cases.

            Phono sections: a unanimous yes.

            IC and speaker cables: absolutely without question in my experience

            Tubes: no.
            Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
            Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
            ________________________________________

            -Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers with SPod feet
            -Goldmund Telos 280 stereo amp
            -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
            -Doshi V3.0 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, 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 racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

            Comment


            • Garth
              Garth commented
              Editing a comment
              old iron well Myles you had a couple of Kondo I will gladly find you some mint 1950s Heath kits for a even trade because I am willing to let you have the old iron for the kondo . Or any other 1950 amp always glad to help out. The stuff is better today a few great NOS tubes is even a maybe with what is coming out now. Because NOS is rare . A lot more talk about Unicorns than there are Unicorns

            • MylesBAstor
              MylesBAstor commented
              Editing a comment
              Garth: JC raised the old iron point! My point was that almost all (all?) tube amplifiers derive from a couple of basic circuit designs.Years ago, a designer I knew looked at the Jadis circuit, measured the amp and commented it was basically a Mac circuit with the best measuring output transformers he had ever seen. And some of these old designs can with some updating, acquit themselves pretty well. I recently heard the VAS amps made in China that are based on the Hegeman design driving some Blade 1s. I was shocked by how good they sounded.

          • #7
            When it comes to amps the old iron is really hard to beat, it has that tonal quality that sounds so real!!!

            Comment


            • #8
              Originally posted by jcmusic View Post
              When it comes to amps the old iron is really hard to beat, it has that tonal quality that sounds so real!!!
              I guess what I was thinking is that all tube amps derive from just a couple of basic circuit designs. Now there have been improvements in parts of the circuit such as lowering driver stage impedance, output and power transformer design, parts, etc. and of course Ralph continues to push the envelope in OTL tube amp design too.

              But several years ago, Dick Sequerra played for me a Marantz 8b (that of course he was involved in the design of) driving his Sequerra speaker and it was magical.
              Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
              Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
              ________________________________________

              -Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers with SPod feet
              -Goldmund Telos 280 stereo amp
              -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
              -Doshi V3.0 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, 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 racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

              Comment


              • #9
                Myles the key factor here would be the iron used in the amps, today's is just not the same or the tooling is different... Yes the improvements have been substantial but I have not heard an improvement to the old iron used in the 50's!!!

                Comment


                • #10
                  I think back to the Stereophile Show at the Waldorf in 1996. It was a big show with lots of vendors. Room acoustics aside, you could have easily sent as many as 40% of the exhibitors home the sound was so bad. So I would say that audio as a sum total without breaking it down into sources, amplification, and speakers has improved dramatically in 20 years.
                  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
                    So some aspects of what I am hearing is that as far as improvements in tube amplification go, the devil is in the details of material science and not basic circuit design. Better wire, better caps, better resistors, better solder. Iron? opinions vary there. And even then some of the more esoteric tube amps use unobtainable NOS parts. And that in most cases ancient NOS tubes are better than new production. Ralph Karsten, Mr. Thunderbolt Pagoda. If I had the money I would have someone make me a pair of BIG 16 ohm speakers to go OTL.

                    No doubt sand amplifiers have gotten better simply due to the fact more suitable transistors have become available with transfer functions more closely approaching that of tubes. I have to wonder where sand amplifiers would be had the resources of Western Electric been thrown behind transistors for decades.

                    But speakers, well. Speakers have been essentially miniaturized for decades, going from 100 dB+ efficiencies to a common 87 dB or so. So to hit 97 dB a solid 100 watts is needed. 107 dB takes 1,000 watts. But watts are cheap, aren't they? If you are referring to quality watts in that sort of quantity, hell no.

                    As far as the design, materials science and construction execution of miniaturized speakers go, they have seen massive improvements. Yet there are a few things they still don't quite do as well as the humongous speakers of the past. Like scale. Miniature speakers take considerably more power to produce realistic sound levels. Think I2R losses causing heating in voice coils and thus compression causing inaccurate reproduction of dynamics. The exception being those rather larger boxes, like the big Wilsons and so on. Their dynamics are always positively mentioned so I guess size does matter. But they are still far short of 105 dB+ efficiencies.

                    A conundrum of sorts. Bigger speakers = smaller amps, smaller speakers = bigger amps. My grandfather once told me you can only hit so hard with a small hammer. So what do you want for the bigger hammer, the speaker or the amplifier? Both?

                    Comment


                    • #12
                      Originally posted by 1morerecord2clean View Post
                      I think back to the Stereophile Show at the Waldorf in 1996. It was a big show with lots of vendors. Room acoustics aside, you could have easily sent as many as 40% of the exhibitors home the sound was so bad. So I would say that audio as a sum total without breaking it down into sources, amplification, and speakers has improved dramatically in 20 years.
                      I know my system has greatly improved compared say to what I owned 15 years ago, much less five years ago. For my system, the biggest improvements lie in the table, phono section, reel-to-reel and especially the speakers.
                      Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
                      Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
                      ________________________________________

                      -Magico S5 Mk.2 speakers with SPod feet
                      -Goldmund Telos 280 stereo amp
                      -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
                      -Doshi V3.0 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, 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 racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA platforms.

                      Comment


                      • #13
                        Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post

                        I know my system has greatly improved compared say to what I owned 15 years ago, much less five years ago. For my system, the biggest improvements lie in the table, phono section, reel-to-reel and especially the speakers.
                        Even if your preference is for vinyl Myles as is mine, certainly your digital would be light years ahead of that 1996 show as is mine.
                        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


                        • #14
                          I went to the 1994 stereophile show in Miami. This was when vinyl was just being reborn. I heard a room with the sme 30 table that was glorious, and right next to it they had another room with CD that sounded like garbage. Digital has come further than analog in the last 20 years only because it was so bad to start with.
                          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


                          • #15
                            Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post

                            I know my system has greatly improved compared say to what I owned 15 years ago, much less five years ago. For my system, the biggest improvements lie in the table, phono section, reel-to-reel and especially the speakers.
                            Also to play devil's advocate, I think it would be hard for me to tell in my case. I think my room and acoustic treatments have a lot to do with the improved sound I'm hearing, as well as the time invested in SP/LP setup. I wonder what my old system (Aerial 10Ts, Rowland electronics) would sound like in this room properly setup. I feel I have better gear now, but significantly better? I used Andrew Jones' Pioneer budget speakers in this room. They sounded pretty damn good. Hmmm...
                            Kronos Sparta -> Trinity Phono -> Trinity Pre -> CH Precision A1 -> Magico S7s

                            Comment

                            Working...
                            X