Source First?

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Baptist999
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Source First?

Post by Baptist999 » 23 Sep 2008 10:18

Whilst I've always had a keen interest in music from an early age, my interest in its production by hi-fi at home has had two or three "peaks".
The first was in my late teens whilst trying to put together a real budget system. Mistakes were made that included a disgusting "AMSTRAD" receiver bought from COMET. I'm just surprised it took Alan Sugar as long as it did to sell Amstrad! :roll:

After settling down with an adequate collection of kit that had been bought more on looks, budget and tech spec rather than listening to it, I blundered on for a few more years.

After experiencing a bit more of life, including job change, children, house purchase, divorce etc I found myself with more experience and a much better idea of life, what I wanted and how to be more selective.
After finding the love of my life, Debbie, we sold respective houses, bought our corner of paradise and moved in.

I'm slowly getting round to my point... honest... :oops:

After a year of sorting out the house, my hi-fi moved from the back bedroom to the lounge following the purchase of a nice pair of AE Aegis 3's.
(Again purchased without listening to them, just on strength of review!)

Thankfully they sounded wonderful and they really suit the rest of my kit and the room. The sound revived my interest in all things hi-fi.

Thoughts then went towards the replacement of my Amp. It's currently about 17 years old, a Technics SU- V470. Technics made a range of amps back then, across a broad range of qualities, abilities and prices. The reviews of this particular one at the time of purchase weren't particularly stunning, it was supposedly average sounding, reviewed as being a little too "steely” sounding for some.

I therefore recently went off to the hi-fi emporiums looking / listening to amps. When I took my Denon CD player in to listen to as a source thru a Cambridge Audio 840 amp, I also listened to a new CD player....

Wow! Amp on hold and CD player purchased...
Since then I've "upped" the sound of my system by "rediscovering" the source first principle. A new cartridge for the deck and new interconnects has improved the sound beyond all recognition.

I will still be looking at changing my amp, hopefully in the next few months.
Before then though I found that with some careful listening an comparisons I've improved the sound no end from what it was...


(Or is it that my hearing has changed over the years???)

I see from reading various publications that it's recommended that you should split your budget equally on source, amp and speakers leaving some for interconnects and spk wire.
However I think that any improvements you are going to make should be Source first...

Any thoughts?

JaS
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Post by JaS » 23 Sep 2008 11:39

Hi,
It's a difficult one that. I like to have a system where I can easily hear improvements when I try a different source, but it could be argued that I should have spent less on amplification and speakers and more on the source as they are under utilised? Having said that, any link in the chain can have quite dramatic changes on sound quality (cables less so), the trick is finding which area you feel needs improving and which component is holding it back :-k

FWIW the cost of decent sounding CD players has come down a lot in the last 15-20 years so I'm not surprised you heard an improvement!

Regards,
JaS

Finger Painter

Post by Finger Painter » 23 Sep 2008 12:32

I'm with you there brother (seems strange satan and the church working in harmony). I'm very much from the school of 'source first' and depite numerous attempts to change my thinking I'm stuck far too deep in the mud.

There was a rather active topic on system building recently (a few lines below this) which threw up some interesting ideas and thoughts on whether it should be source or end first. Worth browsing through.

And I still think it's source first.

bauzace50
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Post by bauzace50 » 23 Sep 2008 12:43

HI,
yes, the related thread is titled "the art of system building". Interesting posts. Quite illustrative of irreconcilable positions.
Good luck,
bauzace50

Alec124c41
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Post by Alec124c41 » 23 Sep 2008 14:44

I did notice that it was the speakers you got first...
You have to have both ends of the chain supported, or it all falls flat.

Alec

Guest

Post by Guest » 24 Sep 2008 20:10

I think that equal spend on all components is a bit of a cop out personally. My own experience, and I don't claim to be right as it depends on the actual effects in your own system, is that source and speakers are the two most important components when it comes to producing accurately detailed signals and presenting them in the most realistic way within your listening room. The amp, whilst important seems to matter less, providing its a decent enough amp in the first place.

If your speakers are wrong, then you'll never benefit fully from the best source component, nomatter what you spend. Money wise, its true enough nowadays to get away with saying that most money can be spent on the source, less on the speakers and less still on the amp, so from that premise, yes, the source matters most. If we're talking lala land here for a moment and hypothetically have 5K to spend, I would say that almost half should go on the front end, about 1500 buys a great set of speakers and the remaining 1000 buys a great amp. Thats about a good enough guide....50% front end, 30% speakers, 20% amp.

Of course, this is only true if buying new, and only then if one considers that a first rate amp usually starts at (arguably) 6 or 700 pounds, so its horses for courses.

Now the other argument about which component matters most is a different argument altogether.................I would say, in the context of system building, that the hardest one to get right, again through bitter personal experience :oops: is the speakers. Room dynamics, listening volumes, music genre listened to all have a bearing so I would caution great care when selecting speakers and go for the largest boxes that the room/wife can tolerate! Providing one chooses wisely and sets strict goals of tonal neutralness, good bass extension and smooth extended treble combined with good imaging (eaier said than done) then you know that whatever front end you throw at it will work well, so the front end isnt fussy about which speakers are placed at the end, providing they deliver for your listening environment as realistically as possible.

The amp is a little less tricky to get right, but nevertheless one has to consider speaker impedance, sensitivity and have the ability to drive the speakers with reserves of power. When talking vinyl front end, the phono stage, whether built in or separate is hugely important and can have a significant impact on perceived sound quality. This often throws up the chicken and egg dillema....choose the cart first and then match to the stage, or choose the stage first and then the cart? Personally, I would go with the former as it generally pays to invest in the very best phono preamplifier you can afford. It can often make or break a vinyl system.

There you have it. No simple answer, but in budgetary terms I'd go with putting most cash into the front end and least into the amp. In musical terms, the speakers matter every bit as much as the source and need extra careful selection when comparing the relative ease at which a source can be chosen to fit any room.

Guest

Post by Guest » 25 Sep 2008 10:23

Bigears wrote:If your speakers are wrong, then you'll never benefit fully from the best source component, nomatter what you spend.

But you don't buy 'wrong' speakers in the first place.

Wulf

Post by Wulf » 25 Sep 2008 10:46

Easy for you to say in hindsight. A lot of people HAVE made wrong decisions and without accurate unbiased advice they're never gonna know how to fix it. That's the purpose of forums like this and discussions such as this one. Being 'high and mighty' doesn't help :roll:

Guest

Post by Guest » 25 Sep 2008 11:43

Wulf wrote:Easy for you to say in hindsight. A lot of people HAVE made wrong decisions
They have? How have they done that?

DaveMillier
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Post by DaveMillier » 25 Sep 2008 12:39

pobjoy wrote:
Wulf wrote:Easy for you to say in hindsight. A lot of people HAVE made wrong decisions
They have? How have they done that?
Dual cs 505 + rotel 820 + celestion Ditton 100

Basically sounded awful in the room in which it was installed. No bass, raucous mid range, fierce treble.

It was a bad decision.

QED

Guest

Post by Guest » 25 Sep 2008 13:00

DaveMillier wrote:
pobjoy wrote:
Wulf wrote:Easy for you to say in hindsight. A lot of people HAVE made wrong decisions
They have? How have they done that?
Dual cs 505 + rotel 820 + celestion Ditton 100

Basically sounded awful in the room in which it was installed.
Why?

Guest

Post by Guest » 25 Sep 2008 14:36

pobjoy wrote:
DaveMillier wrote: Dual cs 505 + rotel 820 + celestion Ditton 100

Basically sounded awful in the room in which it was installed.
Why?
My guess is combination of the CS505 and the Celestion's. I would hold the Rotel blameless, but I wasn't present at the scene of the crime.
It certainly isn't obvious why the speakers are the culprits, anyway.

uktel
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Post by uktel » 25 Sep 2008 14:37

Pobjoy
I have been reading many of your posts and much of what you write seems credible and intelligent.
Then you begin to ask questions of others that you seem unwilling or unable to add any credibility to other than that you have got it right and everybody else has got it wrong/
you have built your own loudspeakers but do not wish to share any information on them.
The rest of your system is unknown as if you do not wish others to know what you have done to make your own system so great.
i am beginning to wonder what it is that you have to offer other forum members other than showng off your ability to Lord it over them with an invisible pack of cards!
What is it that you are seeking from other forum members?
If you know so much, why do you not wish to share your experience with others?
Why not come out of the shadows and show us all a bit more about yourself and your system?
Then maybe we can try to judge you in the same way you wish to judge others?
Cmon Pobjoy, come out of the shadows and shed some light on yourself by sharing some of that knowledge.

Guest

Post by Guest » 25 Sep 2008 14:53

uktel wrote:shed some light on yourself
You get all sorts.

uktel
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Post by uktel » 25 Sep 2008 15:09

Pobjoy
So I am to assume that you are some sort of AUDIO GURU because:
You get all sorts!

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