What I've learned over the years

drummerman

Banned
I have a bit of spare time on my hands today (doesn't happen very often unfortunately but enjoying being lazy for a day!) so I thought I'd post a few thoughts on one of my hobbies which I have been involved in over many years with varying degrees of success, some disappointments and some surprising discoveries.

This is in no way about name dropping, slagging things off or pretending I know everything there is about this industry. I dont! - This and the simple fact that hifi, like many other things, is a highly individual and subjective subject. One look at some forums will immediately testify to that :). Neither is it about pretending my present system is perfect or the best you can buy at its given price point. I go further and actually won't go into detail about it other than to say it serves me beautifully, came about by coincidence (a replacement for my cyrus system a couple of years back) and has had the addition of a relatively new DAC which I appreciate as it opens up a) versatility and b) offers a very decent soundquality though I'd go as far and say that it is more different than necesseraly better than my cd player even though a mag recently called it 'true high end' whatever that means ... I have had my fair share of 'high end' exposure with ... yes you guessed it ... some disappointment and some genuine admiration. - Subjectability again ... there you go.

Over the years I dabbled with most (though not all) topologies. I had a Class A Valve amplifier in the late 90s and loved it. Unfortunately I had to sell up the whole system which also included a modified player and some beautiful standmounts placed on granite stands. If memory serves right, this was probably the most satisfying, complete system I've owned. Before that I went through a catalogue of products including a Class A solid state amplifier and some other flavor of the year products. None stayed the course long for one reason, I did'nt like the sound and/or it did'nt gel with the systems I had at the time so I kept swapping/changing/upgrading ... at great cost sometimes.

Forward some years (now) and I have a cost effective system which, like I said earlier, came about by 'accident' as I sold my previous one (many times its new price) to start a business. It was recommended to me by a friend which managed a local hifi shop and was a trade in product.

I had it for a couple of years and am satisfied and contempt. A weekend of 'madness' and spare cash made me borrow a well known and universaly highly recommended combination of amp and player from Salisburys finest at one stage and although I very (very) much enjoyed it and would'nt say a bad word about it, I just couldn't justify spending that much on what amounted to a relatively little change is SQ (again, slightly different rather than outright better). What modicum of drive and propulsion it gained was lost by small decrease in both detail and soundstage.

What I like about what I'm using now is the drive and dynamics of the music ... any music. The speakers, the amplifier and source combined make music stop and start in an instant. You might think that should be the case anyhow but I can tell you that is not the case with all products. Furthermore my system is what I'd call fairly neutral to my ears. With that I mean its neither lean or brittle, full or dragging. It doesn'nt project the midrange over the other frequencies nor does it exaggerate frequency extremes over the all important midrange. It has depth if there is any in the recording (use an Opus demo disc to test if you must) and places a well recorded artist (think Naim label ... for recording quality rather than content though the latter is present too of course) in front of me but not in my lap. - The system is capable of showing differences in recordings clearly and makes different ones sound ... different. No frequency abnormalities which impose themselves and would, in a badly matched system, show up on each and every recording. In short, it makes listening to music fun and something I always look forward to. It makes me buy music too which is always a good thing.

Over the years I've 'learned' a few things though again, this is as much personal preference as some 'proven' things.

Speakers; I have no personal preference to materials used in drivers other than that I think there are some fundamental differences which may be worth considering though they naturally vary to an extend depending on the design itself. Paper cones tend to sound 'faster' than polyprop ones. This is probably explained by the weight advantage a well designed example of the breed has over the average plasic one. It is, generally audible as a lighter (papery ... yes, you saw that one coming) and often faster sound. Not necesseraly better but different again. Think what you'd like to achieve (or change from your current set up) and this trait can usefully be incorporated to match the rest of a system.

Vice versa, a good polyprop (or kevlar etc etc) design can be usefull in balancing certain traits a system may have, much more so than cables though I come to that in a minute).

I personally have generally preferred stand mount two ways to floorstanding speakers. There are many reasons, cost being one but I wont go to far into it as not to start a war here. I am also a friend of the 2.1 solution (stereo and sub) which, if done well, really is an eye opener. The problem with this is that many (not all) of todays subs favor big power numbers and driver size over subtlety, speed and integration. I was lucky that someone suggested a very good sub to me which blends in both domestically and audibly. It was successfully used with a variety of systems as well as active monitors.

Cables; I am in no camp. Spend a bit more and get better finished products which may or may not improve on what you have, make your own mind up about it. Personally I am somewhere in the middle though cables being what they are, you have to look at it as a whole, they dont make or break a system but can usefully fine tune it. My speaker cable is nigh on 12 years old. Thick, inflexible copper strands in an equally inflexible jacket of the spaced variety. Not the most practical but it seemed to suit the systems I had/have so I have no need to change.

Mains 'purifier' conditioners. I use one at the moment but its probably more a questions of 'it has been there for ages so I just can't be bothered to take it out'. If I remember right, it seemed to remove some hash, added a modicum of focus and sweetness and did'nt unduly made the system sound more reticent. I may feel different if I take it out now but I can't be bothered as I enjoy the music I get as it is. In my previous set up I did'nt put it in the chain. - It's one of those things which, once again, you have to find out for yourself.

One of the most contributing factors on how a system will sound is the room but then you knew that. Even an open door can change the balance as can the time of the day you listen to your hifi due to grid fluctuations.

Now, the most important bit so pay attention :). If you reach a stage where you like listening to music ... stop right there and then. There is always something different out there (I didn't say better!). Hifi mags are in the business of testing mostly new stuff and whilst there is absolutely nothing wrong with reading about it/keep yourself updated it doesnt always mean a new product is better than the one you have. It doesnt even mean that a more expensive product is necesseraly better than the one you have. A well matched cost effective system will always outperform a badly put together expensive one. Of course a well chosen expensive one ... :) ... you get my jyst.

Its all about fun so dont get obsessed about it!

As always, my opinion only.
 

Dazzor

Well-known Member
Nice post D'man:smashin:

Lots of stuff in there that rings true and some wise words also.

However, a question begs....

What doth make-up your current system good Sir?
 

drummerman

Banned
Hi Dazzor. Always at hand with either help or praise and as always ... appreciated :)

As to the system ... not important in this particular instance. We all have to find our own audio heaven but it includes denon/rega/MS
 

Dazzor

Well-known Member
Hi Dazzor. Always at hand with either help or praise and as always ... appreciated :)

As to the system ... not important in this particular instance. We all have to find our own audio heaven but it includes denon/rega/MS

Very little on here is ever really important, DM,.....after all, it's Hi-Fi not kidney dialysis technology. ;)

Spill the beans and divulge specifics on your kit, oh go on…:lease:

I want to know what you’re using purely out of interest as you seem like the kind of chap who’s listened to lots of kit and without specifics on your current kit it’s hard to glean any sort of perspective….for me anyway.

Cheers
Darren
 

drummerman

Banned
Ah Darren

Yes, have had and had the pleasure (sometimes) of listening to good systems, should say good sounding music on systems.

I use a Denon PMA350UK amplifier, matching player, Rega DAC and Mordaunt Short M20iPearls/Eltax Monitor 3's on good stands, HP lapy, Sony H/PH. Interconnects by QED, Speaker Cable by ... no idea, bought it with a sytem years ago but similar to Naim's own.

Always puts a smile on my face when people comment on it. A friend, also a Darren, came round and commented on how cohesive and punchy it sounds. He has a decent system but is not satisfied which is a shame.

By the way, I used to have a Pioneer 5090 LX :)
 

Dazzor

Well-known Member
Ah Darren

Yes, have had and had the pleasure (sometimes) of listening to good systems, should say good sounding music on systems.

I use a Denon PMA350UK amplifier, matching player, Rega DAC and Mordaunt Short M20iPearls/Eltax Monitor 3's on good stands, HP lapy, Sony H/PH. Interconnects by QED, Speaker Cable by ... no idea, bought it with a sytem years ago but similar to Naim's own.

Always puts a smile on my face when people comment on it. A friend, also a Darren, came round and commented on how cohesive and punchy it sounds. He has a decent system but is not satisfied which is a shame.

By the way, I used to have a Pioneer 5090 LX :)

Quite an eclectic mix of kit you have there….if it works it works is what I say.

I've just recently put a third, budget system in my garage so I can have some half-decent sound whilst tinkering about with my bikes.

I picked up a pair of like new, still-in box Q-acoustics 1020i's for £45 ages ago…then I picked up a Denon DCD 625 for £5 at a boot-sale (fully working). Finally I picked up a Sony Amp (TA-F400) from gumtree for £40 (80wpc…1988
vintage beast)

Total system cost £90 (had some spare cables already)

It sounds pretty good and I've not even got around to properly placing/mounting the speakers anywhere other than on a dodgy wooden rack the amp and CDP are on….so speakers are 8 inches apart. I've also hooked up a 3.5>RCA so my iphone can act as a radio

I now have more than enough hi-fi in my little garage….Happy Days!!

I see you also have the Rega DAC…..are you liking it?

The Pio 5090......love that telly.....why'd you get rid?
 
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drummerman

Banned
It works just dandily and as enjoyable as my last system. Although I'm not really an advocate of 'second hand/or budget hifi is better' it amazes me what can be achieved for little money. - When I had the Naim XS and matching player at home with PMC GB's I really could hardly believe what little difference there was. Anyhow, I'm sure the above will be relegated to the bedroom at some stage to make place for something else again, thats just the way it goes. I'd love a valve set up again incorporating an elegant networking/streaming solution as I use Spotify fairly often. I do like the Rega Dac and it looks nice. As to SQ its just fine in will probably be useful in the future.

What kind of bikes do you work on? Motor ones or the pedal variety?

ro

PS. You didn't have some AVI ADM 9.1s at some stage? - I got 'rid' of my Kuro because I started a business at the time and needed every penny.
 
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Dazzor

Well-known Member
Motorbikes....and only minor stuff like chain adjustment, new clutch-cables..that sort of thing. Until last month I had 3 bikes, alas I had to sell my best bike (KTM SuperDuke) as I wasn't using it and putting the cash back in the bank was the wise and right thing to do (I became a Dad in mid March...and loving it!)

AVI ADM 9.1s?... I wish! No, I'd love to try actives but at the moment I am too busy to experiment and besides, I am happy with the sound from both my main and second system. Like you say, if you're happy, leave well alone;)

Yeah, I think my Rega will be with me for some time to come.....just too handy to let it go really.

Well good sir, thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience...it's what makes these forums tick IMO:smashin:

All the best
Darren
 

drummerman

Banned
Gratulations on becoming a Dad Darren. I asked because I know a Darren (there are a lot of you out there :) with some ADM's ... a very interesting and good product but thats another story. I used to work for Battistini Harley Davidson some years ago and lost interest in bikes a little but we have a Bikers Tuesday here in Bournemouth/Poole where everyone meets up on the quay for competitions etc. Whenever I see that it makes we want to get one.

Speak soon buddy.

ro
 

coruja

Active Member
Now, the most important bit so pay attention :). If you reach a stage where you like listening to music ... stop right there and then.


This is very true; regardless whether the system is expensive or modest, if it gels together there comes a point (very quickly, within minutes in fact) when you play the music and you really do forget about the system and just listen, enjoy and dance, even.
 
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coruja

Active Member
PIEP thanks, that is very funny even with my school boy French. I shall spend time on this with my dictionary and some help from Francophone friends/family
 

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