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Is HiFi getting better ? Or stagnating?

Discussion in 'audio' started by Middlemex, Sep 12, 2021.

  1. TheDecameron

    TheDecameron Unicorns fart glitter.

    I find it near impossible to judge because I couldn’t afford the high end stuff when I was younger and only occasionally heard it at dealers and shows where it was clearly better than what I had but compared with current equivalents? Don’t know.

    One thing is certain the sound quality inflation for each new generation of the same manufacturer’s products has to be fairytales
    John Phillips likes this.
  2. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    Which V15 do you have? I ran a V15 III for a while (Spacedeck, Hadcock 242SE) both with its original tip of unknown age and a Jico SAS (modern Japanese Shibata/micro-line replacement). Nice cart, but I’d not swap my MP-500 for it. I suspect there is a clear advantage in getting rid of the aluminium cantilever for a lighter more rigid material. I’ve certainly liked the carts I’ve heard with boron, beryllium, ruby etc cantilevers (I’ve owned a Nagaoka MP11 Boron, my current MP-500, AT33 PTG, and very briefly a Dynavector D17).
  3. Jim Audiomisc

    Jim Audiomisc pfm Member

  4. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    FWIW I rate the preceding Ortofon 540/II over the 2M Black and by some margin. It is a much lighter but no less rigid body, has an easier to meet capacitance requirement and just seems to track better. It always sounded a little warmer, fuller, and without the treble-lift to me. I really like this cart and have kept my low-mileage example even though it doesn’t match my Verdier preamp well. High compliance and works stunningly well in a fixed shell 3009 Improved (I have one, though it isn’t on my turntable at present as the Nag prefers the medium mass pre-Improved). I think I prefer the 540/IIs Geiger tip to the Black’s Shibata too.
  5. S-Man

    S-Man Kinkless Tetrode Admirer

    The state of the art is getting better.
    "Hi-end" audio is just getting weirder and more extreme.
    RJohan likes this.
  6. tones

    tones Tones deaf

    To me, "better" = more like a live performance. I am predominantly a classical listener, and it is simply impossible to reproduce an orchestra in a concert hall in the average living room. Not only that, but you wouldn't actually want it! So, it comes down to what you can live with at your particular price point. It seems to me that most equipment these days gives a good quality of sound, but improvement becomes asymptotic - you pay increasingly large amounts of money for increasingly small improvements, some of which may be entirely in your head (which is fair enough - it's the only head you have to please, and if it hears an improvement, that's all that matters). So, I got off the treadmill years ago, and am very happy with what I have.
    poco a poco, Durmbo, marshanp and 3 others like this.
  7. davidjt

    davidjt pfm Member

    We are a tiny minority, of no economic interest to the industry. Sonos has probably delivered better quality sound to more people than any other outfit recently - more power to them. At the other end of the spectrum, bling is where the money is.

    Which is one reason why DIY is such an attractive proposition. The accepted wisdom (before grey imports, and then Chinese cloning) used to be that retail prices tended towards (cost of materials X 10). There are many amp, pre-amp and speaker designs out there (and I don't just mean from California ;)) that can be built for far less than the equivalent retail cost, perhaps still as little as 1/10th depending on aesthetics, WAF etc., and they can be chosen to suit your particular preferences.

    I used to think that dsp was guaranteed to be the future of hi-fi for everyone, as soon as mass production brought it within reach. Now I can see some of the obstacles.
    So I'll carry on melting solder and enjoying sound I couldn't possibly afford otherwise.
    Middlemex, Woodface and RJohan like this.
  8. timpy

    timpy Speaker Abuser

    Heartfelt, and yes, not just the audio industry to be fair but the way of the world unfortunately. Having the right partners is key, and far more difficult than it sounds.
    CJ14 likes this.
  9. herb

    herb music live

    The V15III was so undynamic even when new in my ESL system it had to go. Trackability was a ridiculous 1970s conceit, most unmusical. ADC10EMk4 got me back to listening to music again. Shure techie nonsense in the real world.
    chartz and Rockmeister like this.
  10. Hcanning

    Hcanning pfm Member

    Amplifiers have been basically transparent since the 80s. Obviously a cheap black plastic crap 80s special is going to pale in comparison with a mid-range priced unit of today, but the inverse is also true. I'd have to spend a fortune to "better" my late-80s Sony ES gear.

    Speakers are where huge advances have been made, in my opinion. Particularly in power handling and miniaturisation. It's now easier than ever to design a high-performance driver in a perfectly-optimised enclosure thanks to extensive modelling and measurement ability. If we went back in time to the 1980s, handed a hifi enthusiast a pair of Kef LS50s, and fired them up, he'd wonder what planet he has been transported to. Of course I feel there's no replacement for displacement, but small speakers are awesome too, nowadays.

    Of course, manufacturing costs and economies of scale also help hugely. It's very difficult to buy a bad-sounding separates system nowadays. Even the cheapest CD player, amplifier, and pair of speakers from Richer Sounds will still sound very good, all things considered.

    Everything else, I think, is just the technology behind the source material. I still love the act of popping a CD into one of my players and enjoying the music, but you can't deny how easy it is to pick up your phone, instantly choose from a library of 70 million songs, and press a button to cast it wirelessly to a device connected to your amplifier.

    Old is cool, and new is cool too. They're just cool for different reasons.
  11. davidsrsb

    davidsrsb pfm Member

    Cartridges seem to have got into the loudness wars. Dropping output from 5-6 mV down to 3-4 mV would drop the inductance and reduce the capacitance fussiness.
    Durmbo likes this.
  12. deaf

    deaf pfm Member

    As I see it the industry has moved on in different ways

    These day's there's an awful lot of marketing hype, convenience, cost cutting and price hitting at the expense of good sound but also solid engineering based on long understood practice, fine tuned to the nth degree, creating some great kit. Sifting through then finding stuff that actually works together in the space available is another story altogether. Probably not so different to back in the day!

    On the other hand there are plenty of state of the art companies pushing boundary's and ideas. The reality is very few have heard a state of the art system in a well set up environment, the cost has become so utterly prohibitive and shows are generally a poor representation.

    Soulution, a classic example, the pursuit of feedback tech is new and interesting... at a price... and their systems are often slated as cold resolution freaks. I've heard that plenty with their 700 series amps, in the same room with much the same kit. When that system was right though it was fabulous, a physical experience with a depth and richness of tone that drew you in, very special. This was a dealer who changed things regularly and in all the times I visited I only had that experience once with the Soulution gear. Mostly it was good to really quite poor.

    There's excellent vintage stuff about. Is an SP10mk2 stunning value for money as compared to a modern TT??? Absolutely if you get a good-un. I enjoyed mine immensely but is it the last word in TTs today, I think not, just you'll have to spend big to do better.

    Goes for much of the vintage v modern in my experience.
  13. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    Yes, I suspect there is truth in that, though there have always been some crazy loud MM carts Shure M3D, Pickering V15, various Grados etc, though mainly at the lower end of the market.
  14. davidsrsb

    davidsrsb pfm Member

    I have never come across a loud Grado. They are generally low inductance/medium output
  15. Woodface

    Woodface pfm Member

    I think we are in the golden age of hi-fi. You can run vintage kit or modern & easily incorporate a digital front end which allows streaming/hi-res downloads. I've been playing around with an Innuos Zen Mini, it sounds incredibly good, better or equal to any CD player. I still run vinyl which also sounds great. Nothing to moan about.
    RJohan likes this.
  16. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    I thought they were 5mV or more, though maybe I’m mistaken. The wood body ones are a lot lower, though I’ve still yet to hear one of those.
  17. ToTo Man

    ToTo Man the band not the dog

    In what ways is the A-S3200 poorer? The A-S3200 shares tech with the flagship, wallet-busting C-5000 pre and M-5000 power amps so one would hope it not to be a downgrade from the A-S3000!
  18. Paul L

    Paul L coffee lounge for me

    Yes, as a fellow A-S3000 owner loving the amp I’m intrigued too.
  19. Robert

    Robert Tapehead

    My feelings entirely.

    I've nothing against expensive high end kit where you are buying genuine innovation and/or superb engineering where it matters.
    However so much of the uber high end is just hideous, mass-extravaganza bling.
    Turntables and amplifiers rising up from the ground like monuments and costing north of £100K in many cases. Just hideous statements of excess.
    Paul Burke, chartz, Brian S and 3 others like this.
  20. Dowser

    Dowser Learning to bodge again..

    what a strange statement to make in response to a post from someone who has suffered the worst the Hi-Fi industry offers. Why so against software developers, and why disgusting in a world where software rules?

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