Hi-Fi Manufacturers slow to adapt?

stevedster

Active Member
Have many traditional mid range manufacturers missed the 'digital boat' ?

There does not seem much choice at all for the keeper of digital album collections (FLAC / MP3 etc) from these makers. Most have come 'over' from the computer industry (i.e. my squeezebox, amazing kit, love it)

There no longer seems to be many recorders on the market. Also I.e. Denon, Marantz etc etc etc have not to my knowledge produced such an obvious device (hi-fi separate) which could read USB sticks and media cards for the playing of these files. Coupled with their high end electronics under the bonnet I am sure these would be sure fire winners if ever produced at an affordable price point (i.e. £2-300).

Discuss. :D
 
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xsf350

Standard Member
I think you must have misunderstood what HiFi is? High Fidelity; something that mp3s aren't.

Perhaps that goes a long way to explaining why manufacturers of HiFi equipment haven't sold their souls to jump on the lossy codec bandwagon?
 

stevedster

Active Member
I think you must have misunderstood what HiFi is? High Fidelity; something that mp3s aren't.

Perhaps that goes a long way to explaining why manufacturers of HiFi equipment haven't sold their souls to jump on the lossy codec bandwagon?

A very blinkered response. You have heard of lossless codecs right (i.e. FLAC)? I am sorry your response is a non argument here.

A Compact Disc is simply a medium for storing the music, it is no different to a lossless codec on a digital divice such as a USB stick. Apart from the latter will allow far more flexible usage of your music collection.
 

Badger0-0

Distinguished Member
I was immediately going to agree with xsf350, but had to sit and have a think about it.

Having done so, I recalled Arcam's decision to refuse to go to sound via HDMI.

Imo, it's purely down to the fact that digital is digital and it's extremely difficult to improve upon at worthwhile cost.

There are improvements to be made with analogue, but it's a dying thing and the manufacturers are going to have to get their heads around it.

Given that young kids are happy with the quality they get via an MP3 at 96K or whatever, I think it might prove to be a bit of a problem.

Just an opinion :rolleyes:
 

stevedster

Active Member
I was immediately going to agree with xsf350, but had to sit and have a think about it.

Having done so, I recalled Arcam's decision to refuse to go to sound via HDMI.

Imo, it's purely down to the fact that digital is digital and it's extremely difficult to improve upon at worthwhile cost.

There are improvements to be made with analogue, but it's a dying thing and the manufacturers are going to have to get their heads around it.

Given that young kids are happy with the quality they get via an MP3 at 96K or whatever, I think it might prove to be a bit of a problem.

Just an opinion :rolleyes:


Thats the thing, if Hi-Fi does not adapt, there is risk of it dying out completely. I feel these companies need to adapt now. If for example Marantz / NAD / Denon or someone brought out a 'digital media player' componant with card reader / usb interface and perhaps a small lcd in front for displaying tag info / album art I would jump at it. Such a device could play both the lossy formats but also more importantly for us Hi-Fi users the lossless formats. I am sure many others would like to add such functionality to their Hi-Fi's without the need for a wireless streamer as this is not ideal for everyone (tho I love my Squeezebox, best thing I have purchased in a long time).
 
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GW43

Well-known Member
I'm with the OP on this one.

I also see my Squeezebox as the best bit of kit I've bought in a long time, and it is the front end of kit more expensive than itself.

I also agree that lossy MP3 or other codecs sound a bit horrible at the lower end of the bit-rate scale, but at 320kbps they are perfectly acceptable - some would argue indistinguishable from the real thing. However, for most non-portable applications there is little reason not to use lossless, as storage media is so cheap, and getting cheaper.

My 500GB HDD cost me about £80 2 years ago - 1TB can be had for that now. Who's to say in 2 years time it won't halve again? My 570 or so CDs only take up 160GB in lossless WMA, and on the same disc I store the same CDs in a lossy codec for use on my MP3 player, or to burn multi-album compilations for use in the car.

I don't think the argument can be polarised to digital = lossy (bad!): analogue = hifi (good!). Lossless digital can and does produce superb sound at a modest cost. Perhaps it's this "modest cost" that gets up the noses of the purists!:devil:
 

alexs2

Distinguished Member
I don't think they are slow to adapt....the number of traditional HiFi manufacturers who have offered iPod or similar interfaces on their gear shows that they have appreciated the number of people using MP3 or other portable devices,and when Krell and Wadia sit up and take notice,then you can be sure that even the high end has seen what's going on.

Memory stick readers have a variety of formats,as do compressed music sources,and by settling on what has become the de facto market standard( iPod) as the interface for mass storage,but more importantly,mass storage with it's own user interface bulit in,which means that each manufacturer does not have to go to the expense of designing in an interface for external storage drives.
 

stevedster

Active Member
I don't think they are slow to adapt....the number of traditional HiFi manufacturers who have offered iPod or similar interfaces on their gear shows that they have appreciated the number of people using MP3 or other portable devices,and when Krell and Wadia sit up and take notice,then you can be sure that even the high end has seen what's going on.

Memory stick readers have a variety of formats,as do compressed music sources,and by settling on what has become the de facto market standard( iPod) as the interface for mass storage,but more importantly,mass storage with it's own user interface bulit in,which means that each manufacturer does not have to go to the expense of designing in an interface for external storage drives.

I am not so sure, I see cheap DVD players with this function (card readers, USB). There is no reason this technology cannot be implimented into a Hi-Fi 'deck' and a better interface and build quality added. The i-pod is the most popular portable player, but this is lazy imo, each company should not depend on apple, there are few main codecs that ARE industry standard and it would not be rocket science to build a good quality deck to play them on.
 
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scorpion88

Novice Member
(tho I love my Squeezebox, best thing I have purchased in a long time).

(I love my Oppo Oppo DV-980H Universal DVD player: Audio Performance Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity , best thing I have purchased in a long time.):devil:

Seriously, I have ripped my entire CD collection to my PC which is connected to my amp (Phono - RCA) and this is perfect for playing random tracks quickly and the reduction in quality is acceptable/adequate for party situations and other such gatherings.

However, if I want quality or more ctitical listening, or for more intimate:) occasions, its my CDP every time. Horses for courses I guess:devil:
Cheers
 

alexs2

Distinguished Member
One other point may be that certainly in the high end,you could say that not a huge number of usrs are really interested in either MP3,or indeed many other lossy,or even lossless codecs,and the relative resurgence in the vinyl market would tend to go with that.

I wouldn't neccessarily call mine high end,but like many others,lossless coding on an iPod is about as far as I'd go,and having access to my files via the HTPC and Apple remote is fine,but no way does it compare with the originals.
 

stevedster

Active Member
(I love my Oppo Oppo DV-980H Universal DVD player: Audio Performance Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity , best thing I have purchased in a long time.):devil:

Seriously, I have ripped my entire CD collection to my PC which is connected to my amp (Phono - RCA) and this is perfect for playing random tracks quickly and the reduction in quality is acceptable/adequate for party situations and other such gatherings.

However, if I want quality or more ctitical listening, or for more intimate:) occasions, its my CDP every time. Horses for courses I guess:devil:
Cheers


Yes I understand, however your CD Player does not sound better because the songs are stored on a disc. They sound better because of the electronics between the information being read by the laser and the output to your amp. If you had a good manufacturer that put those same quality electronics between a USB stick and the output and you are listening to FLAC then the result would be the same, only you would have the flexibility of digital files. I mean cassette decks used to be a mainstay of Hi-Fi and they are god awful at best IMO.

Try to get away from 'it sounds better on CD' as if you get the files in a lossless format then is will sound exactly the same no matter what media it is played from.

The main players of the Hi-Fi industry need to get a move on, it is now a very much smaller sector than it used to be, all I am saying is products like this would give this shrinking sector a welcome boost, a look around your local Richer Sounds will tell you this where you would be forgiven to think it was a TV store.
 
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scorpion88

Novice Member
One other point may be that certainly in the high end,you could say that not a huge number of usrs are really interested in either MP3,or indeed many other lossy,or even lossless codecs,and the relative resurgence in the vinyl market would tend to go with that.

I wouldn't neccessarily call mine high end,but like many others,lossless coding on an iPod is about as far as I'd go,and having access to my files via the HTPC and Apple remote is fine,but no way does it compare with the originals.
I would go along with that. I have an iPod touch and therefore of course have the same music on the IP as well. Obviously can then plug the iPod into the amp using the same lead with the PC not even switched on or involved in the party type situation described. Probably a better chance of not incurring damage to either CD's or equipment this way also (accidentally of course).;)
 

Badger0-0

Distinguished Member
Another thing I would like to throw into the discussion is, does anyone else feel that some modern tracks actually sound better when played via MP3? :rolleyes:

I know that's a terrible thing to say, but I've compared many of my CD albums and actually preferred the compressed version on quite a few occasions.
I suspect it's something to do with the dynamic range being boosted for CDs???

Perhaps I just have rubbish ears :D :(

That said, although I can't say why, give me vinyl anyday. It's just a cleaner sound to me :smashin:
 

BlueWizard

Member
I think to some extent there is too much flux in the market right now. But I think in the end pure digital formats, meaning never in physical form, are going to dominate. But which ones.

Certainly there are a few standards, but generic MP3 is about like AM radio (metaphoically speaking). The higher bit rate MP3 might be OK though. But there are actually quite a few formats available, and since none of them really hinge on a specific physical format (CD, DVD, BluRay, etc...) it is hard to determine which to support.

Notice that most CD players and many DVD players do support a few digital formats. I have no problem playing audio WAV files burned on to CDs on my home entertainment DVD player.

Also, many CD players now have digital outputs to feed AV amps. Right now digital is dominating the the AV amp market. But, it has yet to make its way seriously into the stereo amp market, though I think it is coming.

But yes, the pure digital interface, stereo is lacking. Even if the purists are down on digital, it is coming whether they like it or not.

If most stereo maker simply included a USB interface on the assumption that in the USB device you were only going to find Audio Files, I don't see that as that difficult to simply play those items as audio tracks.

But for a more sophisticated interface, you pretty much need a complete programmable computer. You need the computer to control the user interface, and to take input from what ever the input device is. Further, you need to be able to update the computer with new audio players are formats improve and new formats appear.

I don't think this is that difficult to accomplish, but it is not easy or cheap to implement. The question is, how much are the MP3 crowd willing to pay for more sophisticated user interfaces.

A basic USB could be implemented reasonably cheap, and if you don't mind skipping ahead through the many files to find the track you want, that could be very easy and reasonably cheap. And would allow any device from external hard drives to CD drives to USB memory stick to USB card readers...etc... to be used.

I suspect, if you are not already seeing it, you will see this soon on AV amps. How long it will take to get to Stereo amps is debatable, but I do think it is coming.

Just some random thoughts.

Steve/bluewizard
 

scorpion88

Novice Member
The main players of the Hi-Fi industry need to get a move on, it is now a very much smaller sector than it used to be, all I am saying is products like this would give this shrinking sector a welcome boost, a look around your local Richer Sounds will tell you this where you would be forgiven to think it was a TV store.
Slightly unfair on Richer Sounds IMO. I fairly recently have purchased, Speakers, CD Player and Amplifier from RS, good choice and value plus about 2 miles from home. I have to say I didn't feel as though I was walking into Radio Rentals or DER on any of those occasions.:rolleyes:
 

alexs2

Distinguished Member
Another thing I would like to throw into the discussion is, does anyone else feel that some modern tracks actually sound better when played via MP3? :rolleyes:

I know that's a terrible thing to say, but I've compared many of my CD albums and actually preferred the compressed version on quite a few occasions.
I suspect it's something to do with the dynamic range being boosted for CDs???

Perhaps I just have rubbish ears :D :(

That said, although I can't say why, give me vinyl anyday. It's just a cleaner sound to me :smashin:

My own feeling is that nothing sounds better via MP3,but that's purely personal!

I think a lot of people agree that a lot of modern output is heavily compressed and EQ'd to sound better on the lowest common denominators of replay,i.e. low bitrate MP3.

The reason it may appear better on such machines is simply that systems with higher resolution if you like,simply reveal ALL of the warts present.

My headphone system for instance is pretty ruthless at revealing all of the imperfections of a poor recording,but shines with good material.

Vinyl,whilst having a relatively restricted dynamic range as compared even to 16bit CD,has the advantage of being an analogue playback format,and within that range,the resolution has been described by some audio engineers as being closer to 24bit,but I don't think that really matters,as it's the overall sound that's the real point.

I have 2 decent CD transports(a TAG and a TEAC VRDS),both with decent DACs,and my vinyl system is an LP12 with Lingo and a Lyra Argo....it could be said that the LP system is more expensive than the CD end,but overall,it does sound better...it's a lot less convenient though!

I think that was a long winded way of saying a lot of modern recordings are very poor!
 

alexs2

Distinguished Member
The main players of the Hi-Fi industry need to get a move on, it is now a very much smaller sector than it used to be, all I am saying is products like this would give this shrinking sector a welcome boost, a look around your local Richer Sounds will tell you this where you would be forgiven to think it was a TV store.

I agree in part.....I think that the middle range manufacturers(the main volume shifters basically),do need to be very mindful of not only the market size,but also being able to offer the flexibility,and formats that the public want,but the high end market is unlikely to be troubled by it.

Krell,Wadia and Manley have all made a gesture towards iPod compatibility,which is commendable,but none of their compatible products are really a part of their core market,more an attempt to widen their market perhaps.

Given that the original question was about the mid-range,I am going a bit off topic there,but in an effort to show the differences between the markets.
 

stevedster

Active Member
Slightly unfair on Richer Sounds IMO. I fairly recently have purchased, Speakers, CD Player and Amplifier from RS, good choice and value plus about 2 miles from home. I have to say I didn't feel as though I was walking into Radio Rentals or DER on any of those occasions.:rolleyes:

Hey I love RS too, but what I am saying is that whilst they used to have row upon row of Hi-Fi they are now 'pushed' into the corner more and we have far less choice. Most space is given to AV (which I also love btw hehe) I just believe such digital devices as discussed by top quality manufacurers would boost the hi-fi sector, which has shrunk over recent years.
 

alexs2

Distinguished Member
Hey I love RS too, but what I am saying is that whilst they used to have row upon row of Hi-Fi they are now 'pushed' into the corner more and we have far less choice. Most space is given to AV (which I also love btw hehe) I just believe such digital devices as discussed by top quality manufacurers would boost the hi-fi sector, which has shrunk over recent years.

I think that with the advent of AV,hifi has taken a back seat for many of the mid-market manufacturers,and you can see why,with the economics of the market.

Again,to RS's credit,whilst the gear may not be as apparent,they have kept up the hifi end of their range,and introduced some very good products,with the DACMagic,the phono preamps,and the 840E/840W.
 

knucky

Standard Member
I think when cd player sales drop to a point that they don`t make enough money, high end manufactures will jump in with both feet.
 

Badger0-0

Distinguished Member
My own feeling is that nothing sounds better via MP3,but that's purely personal!

I think a lot of people agree that a lot of modern output is heavily compressed and EQ'd to sound better on the lowest common denominators of replay,i.e. low bitrate MP3.

The reason it may appear better on such machines is simply that systems with higher resolution if you like,simply reveal ALL of the warts present.

My headphone system for instance is pretty ruthless at revealing all of the imperfections of a poor recording,but shines with good material.

Vinyl,whilst having a relatively restricted dynamic range as compared even to 16bit CD,has the advantage of being an analogue playback format,and within that range,the resolution has been described by some audio engineers as being closer to 24bit,but I don't think that really matters,as it's the overall sound that's the real point.


I have 2 decent CD transports(a TAG and a TEAC VRDS),both with decent DACs,and my vinyl system is an LP12 with Lingo and a Lyra Argo....it could be said that the LP system is more expensive than the CD end,but overall,it does sound better...it's a lot less convenient though!

I think that was a long winded way of saying a lot of modern recordings are very poor!

I think that probably sums it up :smashin:

Seeing as sound is being downgraded to some extent, perhaps our kids are being trained to accept that less is more??

But it also begs the question that, given the convenience factor which suggests that Vinyl will die a death, does that mean Hi-Fi is finished?

Consider this;
Will a kid carry an armful of Vinyl or have a hundred (or a thousand in a very short time) albums tucked in their top pocket?

I see quality going out the window, which is a shame :(

But I also see much better methods of producing music with codecs that we can't even consider understanding, so all is not lost, imo :thumbsup:
 

alexs2

Distinguished Member
I think when cd player sales drop to a point that they don`t make enough money, high end manufactures will jump in with both feet.

Don't forget that the biggest money in high end is pre and power amplifiers,and speakers.

I think that most of the high end manufacturers have been very cautious after the SACD/DVD-A debacle,and has already been said,there are so many formats around currently,that a lot of people are waiting for the formats to settle a bit.
 

alexs2

Distinguished Member
I think that probably sums it up :smashin:

Seeing as sound is being downgraded to some extent, perhaps our kids are being trained to accept that less is more??

But it also begs the question that, given the convenience factor which suggests that Vinyl will die a death, does that mean Hi-Fi is finished?

Consider this;
Will a kid carry an armful of Vinyl or have a hundred (or a thousand in a very short time) albums tucked in their top pocket?

I see quality going out the window, which is a shame :(

But I also see much better methods of producing music with codecs that we can't even consider understanding, so all is not lost, imo :thumbsup:

Vinyl actually hasn't died a death at all,contrary to what was being suggested in the 80s even,and vinyl sales are actually up which is interesting in the current climate....in 2008,the sales of vinyl were up 38%.

The range of titles being released on audiophile vinyl,both new and old,is also going up,and a good look through the retail sites such as Diverse Vinyl,throws up a lot of names.

Convenience for sure is a very powerful factor,and you need only look at how many of us have MP3 players,iPods etc to see how important it is.

As storage becomes cheaper and formats improve(for instance MP3HD) then the ability to store and play back higher resolution music also improves,and a number of companies are offering high-res downloads now.

Obviously,that will never appeal to those who are happy with 96kHz MP3,but it does offer hope for those that want more.
 

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