Ramblings about system goals, listening fatigue, diminishing returns

Discussion in 'General Audio Discussion' started by corbin, May 10, 2018.

  1. corbin

    corbin Active Member

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    A few audio-related thoughts have been swimming around my head lately, and I thought why not put them down onto paper. If some fellow audio nuts find what I say interesting or resonating, all the better.

    I guess I'll start by saying that the overarching theme to my upgrades has been trying to achieve a system with minimal harshness in the upper registers - in other words, to achieve that smooth, warm eminently listenable quality that we all hear so much about. My current setup is a Sony STR6060FW with EPI Model 70 - a nice small bedroom system that requires minimal upkeep, doesn't act like a spaceheater like tubes, and is relatively portable. Perfect for my lifestyle.

    I'd say I'm about 70% of the way to my goal of smooth, fatigue free listening. While the Sony is by no means harsh, it is the most detailed, resolving amp I've owned, and has made me realize that perhaps even a relatively smooth, well implemented solid state amp can be too analytical - not because it is producing distortion, but because it is producing more accurate reproduction than my tastes prefer. I may be better served by a more "colored" component, even if it comes at the expense of accuracy. Now I'm open to having my mind changed on this - I know some are of the opinion that there are systems which are detailed and smooth. This would obviously be the ideal, and maybe it exists in the promised land of high end modern gear, but I've not experienced it.

    The other thing to recognize is that some instruments and music are just going to sound harsh - that's how they are SUPPOSED to sound. It's hard to make rock or modern electronic music not a little fatiguing because that's just how it is.

    Another thing is that I don't think sound quality is correlated with cost past a certain $ amount. In other words, severe diminishing returns. Contrast the quality/value relationship in audio with a similar relationship in the car world - horsepower/$. Horsepower is an objective, measurable quantity that for the most part requires more money for more horsepower. With stereo equipment, the quality/$ relationship holds up to a certain point - perhaps the point at which a system can reproduce exactly the source recording - after this point people can spend tens of thousands of dollars on a system that doesn't necessarily reproduce the source material more accurately, just differently. And I don't think there's any reason that a speaker or component with a particular coloration should cost any more than one that has a different coloration or is neutral. So my conclusion is that in this hobby, it's better to be frugal and spend judiciously for 90% of the quality for 20% of the money. Case in point: $20 Playstation 1 sounds like a $6000 audiophile CD player.
     
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  2. sberger

    sberger Hard Core Geezer Subscriber

    Well that's why a lot of us enjoy vintage gear, especially vintage tube gear.

    While I basically agree, this is the one that I am betting you'll get a lot of response on. Both yay and nay. Just preparing you for the possible onslaught.

    Sony 6060 is a terrific receiver, btw. Enjoy.
     
  3. quiet

    quiet AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I think that pretty much sums it up for a lot of music lovers and gear junkies. Just what does it cost to have great sound and fun?
    Not much.
     
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  4. hemiram

    hemiram Active Member

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    If I could get the punch I get from my middling car stereo, just a little smoother on the top and bottom end, I would be just thrilled.
     
  5. nj pheonix

    nj pheonix AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Some thoughts.
    Maybe the combo of the receiver. The speakers , and the room make sound too bright (harsh)
    Some material is just recorded that way.
    It certainly makes an argument for systems with high and low filters and/or tone controls .
    While going to a system that may be somewhat less resolving (?) might cure your comments, you might (likely?) find you're missing detail you enjoyed before.
    You can adapt how you choose. I do suggest you don't knee jerk with the moves and if possible keep old pieces to switch back and forth and see which you actually enjoy more.
    My 2c
     
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  6. Djcoolray

    Djcoolray Addicted Member

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    I think your looking for something with more sonic quality that has more tonal qualities that better define the frequencies your listening to. Instead of frequencies emanated from horns and lead guitars being harsh they should be shrill and tonally well defined. I think of a harsh fatiguing sound as being the result of an equation and stereo components being separate values in the equation. Based upon design, as you have found out, some components and speakers don’t go together. Try a Carver M400t amplifier or a Jolida JD 1000 tube amp and a pair of Klipsch Cornwall speakers. If you want a particular sound improvement swap out the Carver for a Luxman R-117 paired with an equalizer the Yamaha EQ-630 and never let go of the Klipsch Cornwall speakers. Then there is a member of AK that does a serious modification of the ARXA turntable that I would highly suggest. Who says it takes allot of money...
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2018

     

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  7. markn2wae

    markn2wae Mark T N2WAE

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    I think speakers and their choices may be a better choice than changing the receiver for the best sound, as my thinking is that speakers have a larger effect on the sound than amplifiers (unless the amp. is a real "low end unit").

    I seems that you are happy with the receiver and a different set of speakers would make a better choice for a better "choice" of sound.

    Mark T. :music:
     
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  8. UncleBingo

    UncleBingo AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    You can often reduce treble harshness by changing the way speakers are set up in a given listening environment. It's free.
     
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  9. savatage1973

    savatage1973 Addicted Member

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    These are points that I have been harping on for years--the most absolute perfect reproduction of the recording might not be to your tastes, and some recordings were just not done well, so a highly resolving system fore-fronts all of the flaws and that's all you hear--not the music.

    Also, $$$ is not THE ANSWER--it certainly helps to open more doors for exploration, but it does not guarantee better quality of build or sound quality. There are lesser known or dismissed "sleepers" out there that can compete (or best) some of the "big boys" for a lot less money. Even the "big boys" have put out some pretty lame gear over the years and sold it for big bucks. How much are you paying for that name on the faceplate?--think about it. Listen to it, and then you decide what it is worth to YOU.
     
  10. triode17

    triode17 Super Member

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    I suggest going to the next HiFi show in your area. You get to listen to great , expensive systems and lesser expensive systems. I take mental 'pictures' of the systems and rush to compare to my own. My lesser cost system sounds about as good as the majority of the overly expensive ones. I do get a kick out of massive turntables with 54 lb. copper platters though.
     
  11. Powertech

    Powertech Active Member

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    I think that the law of diminishing returns definitely applies to hi-fi. It's quite easy, and relatively cheap, to enter into the hi-fi world. As you progress, your tastes change and you become more critical - then things start to become more difficult - and more expensive for smaller improvements.
     

     

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  12. 4-2-7

    4-2-7 Smart Ass Sponsor Subscriber

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    Pleas do show a vid or photos of your testing with these two units. I know I know the $6000 CDP is fictional because you never had one. Clearly your assertations above are based on nothing more than reading others Mythical beliefs on the internet.

    I always love to see the assertion that one can spend a few dollars and get to 90% of the best SQ on earth.
     
  13. dcmfan

    dcmfan AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I think this just about sums it all up. We are where we are and we like what we like. The point of having a stereo for me is to make sounds that are pleasing to me, and my choices won't be your choices and that's fine.
     
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  14. corbin

    corbin Active Member

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    ^ A bit of hyperbole perhaps, but an opinion echoed by those with far more experience than I.

    A lot can be learned through reading and comparing the opinions of others.

    I stand by the 90% of the quality for 20% of the cost comment. That means a well assembled system costing $5000 can be the end of the road for most people. In a cost-no-object system, the limiting factor for many people is going to be having the room size and space to accommodate huge speakers, not cost. The ultra high end is an industry where loudspeakers are constructed out of furniture grade, rare burled woods, or lacquered with multi-thousand dollar automotive-quality paint jobs. Meanwhile the guys at diyaudio.com are building functionally similar speakers that look like they're made of plywood from your local hardware store. I think that's an indication of diminishing returns.
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2018
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  15. 4-2-7

    4-2-7 Smart Ass Sponsor Subscriber

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    Most likely the same experience and reference point, at least that's what I'v seen and why I made my comment above.
    You can if you want but it's mythical numbered persentages to make one feel better about their perceive standing. You couldn't feel all that good if you used a percentage of "I'm 10% of sound quality and just 90% away"
    So can a $25 one, but it has nothing to do with SQ or some mythical persentage. It has all to do with the listeners taste and reference point. Lets assume what you have is the best you ever have owed and spent time working with. That's your reference point and it can make you euphoric, someone else that has move way past that might cringe and run out the room. It still doesn't make it bad for you though.
     
  16. 50nstillhifi

    50nstillhifi Super Member

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    Agree with a few of the posters... you may need to adjust your speaker or speaker placements rather than go for a change of the head.

    Have you tried a good equalizer as well to accommodate the room dimensions or "fine tune" ambiance? I have found this to be a "quick fix" for satisfying tone requirement.
     

     

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  17. corbin

    corbin Active Member

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    Thanks for all the recommendations so far.

    I think the treble harshness issue may be a simple case of system synergy. Case in point, I swapped in the BA A150s today expecting them to be even more revealing and bright than the EPIs, which they are on the Pioneer SX-680 - only to find the complete opposite. They in fact seem to have a smoothness and effortless quality missing with the EPIs.
     
  18. savatage1973

    savatage1973 Addicted Member

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    Synergy is a very real effect--some things just don't play well with others (or at least to your satisfaction)--regardless of price or specs. It is what it is. Synergy also applies to the system and the room. A pair of Cornwalls drvien by a 200 wpc amp in a room the size of a walk-in closet is going to be nothing but loud, and a pair of bookshelf speakers on a 36 wpc receiver in a 25' X 40' great room with a vaulted ceiling isn't going to work very well either. EVERYTHING has to work well together for the intended application.

    Personal preference also plays a big role in all of this--what you hear as a "hot" or "harsh" high end may appeal to others--and we all hear differently and prefer different "presentations" of the music. Again, it is what it is.
     
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  19. Ken Boyd

    Ken Boyd AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    A honest approach would be simply stating the fact that I am settling for this setup because it meets my budget and performs well enough within that budget for my taste. But to then expand on that to say it exceeds some fictional gear with a made up price range with no specific model number, or experience with the actual said gear, is simply a post to help them feel better about the lower budgeted price range that they have settled for. It is no crime to be happy with something that doesn't cost a lot, we all have limits on our budgets, and yet it varies by a wide degree. I usually stand by you get what you pay for, unless you find something on the used market that someone sold far below the market value.
     
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  20. botrytis

    botrytis Trying not to be a Small Speaker Hoarder Subscriber

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    Not another one of these 'Us vs. Them' mentality threads. Just stop, please.

    Do not judge others systems (by your priorities) and they will not judge yours (by their priorities).

    Plain and simple - ALL AUDIO, NO ATTITUDE.
     

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