Source First?

radio, tape, stands and accessories
andyr
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Post by andyr » 21 Jan 2009 07:39

dragonwhip wrote:
My turn--I had the luxury of buying most of my stereo in a short period (one month of testing with my ears, not my wallet or specs sheets) and I started with buying the pre amp first and then fitting everything with it. The reason is that it is the traffic cop of the whole system. And yes, amps do have their own sound, all of them. What I wound up with is a system that is as neutral and lively a system as I could afford that I am very happy with. Even if I won the lottery, I doubt I would change any of the pieces I bought.

As for the inefficiency of speakers, I had always thought that part of it was a matter of large voice coils and large magnets. My understanding is that they tend to make for tighter, more lifelike sound reproduction than smaller units. Is this correct? The large masses simply need more power to drive them. My speakers are pretty inefficient, but I love their musical presentation. (1 WRMS/90dbs/1 meter) They also have a lower impedance simply because they require a good bit of power before they reach that stage where it sounds like Janis Ian is in my house singing for me. They may not be that loud, but what presence!
Mmm, dragonwhip, can I suggest that, in the interests of your musical education, you should go listen to a pair of Maggies (any of the range) driven by a huge tube amp ... with whatever preamp the dealer happens to have lying around.

You might reassess your complacency. :D

Regards,

Andy

TheArc
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Post by TheArc » 21 Jan 2009 22:07

System building. Two approaches I reckon.
1. You sell/burn/eat all your existing gear and start from scratch and for me that always begins with the source, certainly with turntables. I'm not much bothered with CD players, most seem to have a fairly consistently dry and unpleasant sound. If all of system blew up tomorrow, I think I would definitely start with the primary source - vinyl. That would mean the general sound of the deck, auditioned with a few different amps and speakers, so as ot ascertain it's general characteristics. Then I believe you can start to add the rest. Amplifier and speakers, in harmony. I think you kind of need to identify those together and if you can buy them together. The information fed out is interpreted by the amp. But if what is being interpreted is a particular lannguage then you need a sympathetic interpreter and someone who speaks the right language to voice it. Get the articulation wrong and all you get is mangled nonsense.
once you've established some kind of synergy between those, then I think you can start looking at variations on the the theme of phono stage, cartridge and loom. To carry on the same anlaogy these I would say are the accents on that language, making it sound like a native tongue.
2. If you have an existing system, then identify the component you feel gives you the most satisfaction and if you absolutely can't live without it then build around it. Personally I don't see anything wrong with this approach either as all you're doing is working the same argument from a different angle, finding complimentary components. If it's your speakers hewn from petrified elephant manure that are the apple of your eye and have that lush inviting sound you crave then find a turntable that brings out the best in them, matched with an amp that treats that turnable delicately.
I reckon either approach is valid.
However, i have to say I don't buy the amp last adherents. I feel that every component in a system is of equal importance. If I skimped anywhere it would be on speakers. Modern speakers of a certain level are I feel all capable of returning hugely impressive results as long as they are teamed with complimentary components. You wouldn't for example stick a clearaudio champion with a naim integrated, nordost cabling and mid-market Kefs as the result would probably slice your head off as soon as the needle hit the record. The components must balance but I do believe there is plenty of mid-range speaker choice that will perform beyond what most think when driven by good sources and amps.
My tuppence worth.

andyr
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Post by andyr » 21 Jan 2009 22:12

Great post! :D

( tuppence is obviously worth a lot, these days! :D )

Regards,

Andy

Guest

Post by Guest » 21 Jan 2009 22:28

System building...the curse of the enthusiast...or the making of the enthusiast. I rekon that there's more luck involved than we'd like to imagine but the great thing is the huge variety of variables and sounds that we can generate. Its truly addictive and once you start on that slippery slope its unlikely you'll ever stop tweaking.

Murphy's law has struck me. I have spent the best part of 20 years tuning my system to how I like to hear music and succeeded last year (remember the post which said something like "no more upgrades"?). My wife to be has stated that we are to find another house next year, so no doubt my "perfect" system will be transported to yet another listening room, different from all the rest and I'll have to start again. Looking forward to it already!

My philosophy is that the speakers make the biggest difference to sound and sound-stage and that the front end makes the biggest difference to detail retrieval and accuracy. Front ends are not room fussy...speakers are. I hope and pray that my beloved Lampros 300 speakers will work in the new room...it could be a short marriage if not!

TheArc
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Post by TheArc » 21 Jan 2009 22:56

As an addendum to my previous post, I have to say that system building as Big Ears says, is a curse. For all my preaching, I have yet to build a system I'm happy with. I based my system on a Linn LP12 with modded RB300 and (currently) Ortofon 2M Black. So the Linn is lush but I like that bounce and swing. The Rega takes away a little of that bloom, the Ortofon acts as the detail police, giving everything a bit more 21st century accuracy. That goes into a Graham Slee Era Gold V, which is probably too much lushness now that I come to think of it. That lots feeds a Promitheus Audio TVC, which I like a lot for its transparency and natural way with music despite its budget price, though I feel its soundstage is a little narrow. However, drums sound just peachy through it. Put that lot into an ARC VS 55 power amp and you add back the warmth but allied I think with really good low end retrieval and consistency. The whole shooting match is then fed to Sonus Faber Concerto Domus speakers. I sit back and listen to records and think "oh yeah, sweeet' and then the very next thought is.
"Hmmmm, room for improvement. What would it sound like with Cremonas? Maybe I should have the Linn fully Funked? I think I need a better phono stage? I should get something that does MCs. I need an MC. I should get an SP17 preamp. Cabling needs upgrading."
Doh!!

MonkeyBoy
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Post by MonkeyBoy » 25 Jan 2009 03:24

Andy, perhaps I expressed myself poorly. I tested the electronics through my Stax headphones, which I love, and then I was lucky enough to find a pair of speakers that were open and inviting like the headphones. So, I guess you could say that I really went with the end first and found the sources and amps to fit it. Anyway, I love my new stereo and really can't see replacing it because it sounds so damn good to me. I really don't think I was complacent at all. I looked (listened actually) for that moment when the music invited me in for a visit and I wound up staying for the next umpteen years. One thing that's actually funny about this is that as soon as I finished all my listening tests, my headphones conked out on me and now I'm waiting for a new pair of phones from Stax. At least the amp is still in fine shape. :D