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Choosing Hi-Fi Systems, Criteria, manufacturers, vintage vs new
edga
post Jan 23 2013, 11:37
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I would like to find out about the criteria that should be used or choosing HI-FI system. I've got some money to spend and already browsed through forums and sites to get at least a bit of the facts in this world. I would like to buy Sony or perhaps Technics, not older than 10 years I think (I am into the vintage units, I will find the space for it!). But what would I look out for if I buy it from someone strange. I do care about quality of sound, of course, so I intend to buy speakers separately later on but the main focus right now is on amplifier and turntable (hopefully I can get both together). In the future I would like to expand it to CD and Radio units.

Is it better to buy everything at once from someone who has it all, or get it from different sources and buy one by one.

Any help would be greatly appreciated
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DVDdoug
post Jan 23 2013, 20:10
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10-year old stuff should be fine (assuming good condition). The specs/performance of solid state electronics hasn't changed that much. The internal designs have changed, and the electronic components are getting cheaper all the time... But in general, the sound is not better. If you get truly vintage tube equipment, you are likely to get sub-standard performance (unless you get really top-notch gear).

With a more modern receiver (or amp, etc.) you are likely to get more power. Most cheap receivers now have around 100W per channel. Also, home theater receivers have digital inputs (for a DVD or Blu-Ray player) and surround sound.

QUOTE
...and turntable.
Modern receivers (even one that's 10 years old) may not have a "phono" input. So, you'll need a phone preamp, or a turntable with a built-in preamp. Most new turntables that have USB also have line-level outputs, so you don't need a separate preamp if you get one of those. Direct drive turntables seem to "last forever", so if you buy a used direct-drive, hopefully it will not give you any trouble.

If you get a used turntable, it's probably a good idea to get a new cartridge (which will of-course, will come with a new stylus). Most new turntables don't come with a cartridge (except for the cheaper ones, which are often "ready to go".) Shure's best cartridge sells for under $100 USD, and I wouldn't spend more than that since no matter how much you spend, you are still playing analog vinyl.

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I intend to buy speakers separately...
Speakers are the most important thing for sound quality. Speaker design hasn't changed that much. The "style" has changed to smaller speakers (sometimes with a separate subwoofer) but a good 40-year old speaker can sound just as good as a modern speaker (assuming good condition).

QUOTE
In the future I would like to expand it to CD and Radio units.
I wouldn't hold-off on that. CD (or other digital sources) are better than analog and a cheap CD player usually sounds just as good as a high-end one. And, if you get a receiver (instead of a seperate preamp/power amp), it will have a tuner.

This post has been edited by DVDdoug: Jan 23 2013, 20:14
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Arnold B. Kruege...
post Jan 25 2013, 13:51
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QUOTE (edga @ Jan 23 2013, 05:37) *
I would like to find out about the criteria that should be used or choosing HI-FI system. I've got some money to spend and already browsed through forums and sites to get at least a bit of the facts in this world. I would like to buy Sony or perhaps Technics, not older than 10 years I think (I am into the vintage units, I will find the space for it!). But what would I look out for if I buy it from someone strange. I do care about quality of sound, of course, so I intend to buy speakers separately later on but the main focus right now is on amplifier and turntable (hopefully I can get both together). In the future I would like to expand it to CD and Radio units.


I would never buy used equipment or past generation equipment. Used equipment, particularly easily damaged components such as speakers are a pig in a poke. How do you know that what you buy will meet original specs?

Today the canonical home audio system is composed of a multichannel AVR, at least 2 main speakers, a subwoofer, and a digital player. Ideally there would be at least a small HDTV display if for no other purpose than operating the other equipment, most of which is at least partially dependent on on-screen displays for setup and operation.

The multichannel AVR may seem like a waste, but in fact you can buy a 5.1 AVR with a given level of performance for less money than a similar device (if it exists) with 3 power amps (and usually quite a bit more) missing.

If you configure the AVR for the speakers you actually have including just 2, it will become a reasonable exploiter of them.

Other than bottom dollar AVRs with street pricing well below $250, just about every modern AVR has some kind of automated system tuning facility that will check out your speakers and their connections, and adjust levels, delays, and spectral response for better sound quality than you are likely to achieve for yourself without good measuring tools or lots of experience.

The AVR has a wealth of digital audio inputs and flexible bass management so that much of the fiddling and guess work involved with integrating a subwoofer is optimized as well. If you want serious bass you will have to get a fairly competent subwoofer because most modern speakers, even those in tower format are based on drivers that are physically incapable of effective response below 50 to 120 Hz, depending.

QUOTE
Is it better to buy everything at once from someone who has it all, or get it from different sources and buy one by one.


If you take up a retailer's time with questions and demonstrations then you may have some kind of moral responsibility to buy what he has recommended from him. If you do your own research and make your own decisions then you should feel free to obtain the system components from the sources that are logistically and economically advantageous to you.
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DonP
post Jan 25 2013, 15:32
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QUOTE (DVDdoug @ Jan 23 2013, 14:10) *
QUOTE
In the future I would like to expand it to CD and Radio units.
I wouldn't hold-off on that. CD (or other digital sources) are better than analog and a cheap CD player usually sounds just as good as a high-end one.


If you have a TV associated with all this, then just get a DVD/Blu-ray, which will also handle CD's. You can also, of course, just rip any CD's and play them through a connection to your computer or portable player.

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