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What's your WTF hifi moment

Discussion in 'audio' started by Dean Jordan, Feb 7, 2023.

  1. JensenHealey

    JensenHealey pfm Member

    My WTF moment was at a hifi exhibition in London in Autumn of 1975. I was able to listen to some music (Mike Oldfields Ommadawn was just released) on some electrostatic headphones. I was stunned at the sound quality.

    At the time I was a poor student, my music was courtesy a kit turntable built into a chassis holding some modular Sinclair amplifier bits, and home made speakers with KEF drivers (they were not actually that bad, lasted me a fair number of years!)
  2. tricky1

    tricky1 pfm Member

    Moving from an AR EB101 to a used LP12/Valhalla/lttok/K18. Even though I'd heard what a good turntable could mean at hifi shows, experiencing it in the comfort of my own home was another thing.
  3. Whaleblue

    Whaleblue Southbound

    Several over the years. Read the following with the understanding that room interaction is a given need to comprehend and account for.

    ATC active 50s. That midrange driver is almost peerless. But - and I know others disagree - my lived experience is that these speakers just don’t give enough of their absolute potential at lower (subjective, obviously) volumes. Still an utter WTF when cranked to the right level. Speakers rule.

    Next, more actives.

    An evening with Nick Mason at the V&A which involved a quadraphonic setup to here the mix on Neumann KH420s (times four, obviously). Great evening, and stunning sound. Speakers rule?

    Now (and apologies as I’m repeating myself these recent days) I’m blown away by the combination of the B&W 802 D3s now paired with an Avid Integra. I’ve had the 802s for a few months whilst waiting for the appropriate amp. My utter WTF was in finding that a really good amplifier can be as much of an upgrade as replacing speakers for better ones. Amp plus speakers rule!
    Darren likes this.
  4. halvis

    halvis pfm Member

    Pass Labs x250 powering my ATC SCM 20SL standmounts in a fair sized room. I bought them over to a neighbour who was using big Kef 207s at the time. He laughed as I carried them in, thought they were tiny boxes. He quickly leaned forward the second we fired them up in total disbelief. The sound was completely neutral and so fast that percussion was just phenomenal, couldn’t believe it. Never heard anything like it. The rest of the frequency range was a little too vivid for my tastes though. You could see from the power meter on the front of the amp that they were sucking more power from the amp than the big KEFs. Anyway, he has 100 actives now.

    Also, the first time I heard proper imaging and soundstage. A Roxy Music album played through Audioplan floorstanders, I was mesmerised. Should have bought those, not the best looking speakers though.
  5. Joe

    Joe pfm Member

    A very great deal of what is sold in the hifi world lists amongst my WTF moments...ludicrous stuff like the overblown power cords, interconnects , digital cabling ( all these priced sometimes up in the thousands ) and Belt-like offerings that I won't list because someone on here is bound to have some and jump in on the attack.
    My first true wtf moment was a dealer open night demo of the brand new ,just released Linn Keltiks, Linns Isobaric replacements . They were dreadful, awful , shocking. I remember shooting a look disbelief at the dealer during the demo and he clearly felt the same.
    Funnily enough you never hear about Keltiks now.
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2023
  6. Bas V

    Bas V pfm Member

    Over 20 years ago I visited a well-known hifi-shop to listen to some Naim and Sonus Faber stuff. They wanted to impress us by showing their most expensive Mark Levinson set-up with the most expensive Sonus Faber speakers. The power cords alone were EUR 9.000 a piece; the whole setup way over EUR 100.000. So ok, we sat down. I gave them a cd from TOOL, they pressed play and I could only think "WTF?!". The whole musical experience had just vanished. No excitement at all, just some boring sounds. Maybe it was a wonderful experience, as it made clear that you don't need lots of money to get decent sound!
    narabdela likes this.
  7. Darren L

    Darren L pfm Member

    Tara labs USB cable at £5,300 WTF! Who buys this stuff.
  8. slavedata

    slavedata pfm Member

    Went to a show at the NEC, Ideal Home or something. Walked onto the BBC stand and thought where is that fabulous sound coming from? Looked up to see a pair of LS3/5A cable tied to the top of the stands metalwork aiming down. Literally gobsmacked. How can that sound be coming out of those little boxes? I had to buy a set one day and a few years later saw a pair of Spendors for sale second hand in a HiFi shop window not long after I had received a year end bonus. I've never regretted buying them.
  9. Joe

    Joe pfm Member

    I used to have a pair of Ram LS3/5A's....cost pocket money at the time....wish I had them now given what they sell for.
  10. Gomers1607

    Gomers1607 pfm Member

    What were the 2 amps out of interest ?
  11. Gomers1607

    Gomers1607 pfm Member

    narabdela and Darren L like this.
  12. rontoolsie

    rontoolsie pfm Member

    The CDS(1) was the star of the CDS* range-although it was the most colored. But colorations aside it always seemed to thrill. I only got rid of mine when its transport started to fail and not only was disk access intermittent, but the sound quality took a huge nosedive. I took advantage of the Naim 'innards swap' that converted it to a CDS2, keeping only the outer chassis and swapping the inner chassis with all the boards for a CDS2 one.
    While the CDS2 sounded better than a failing CDS1, it was not in the same league as a fully working one.
    The CDS3 also was a step in the wrong direction, sounding more clinical than even the CDS2. It took massive amounts of mods to the CDS3 for it to even equal the CDS1, let alone beat it (details are on a very old thread).
    Likewise the XPS1 was a backward step from the took the XPS2 to be at least as good as the CDSPS.

    The 555PS had compromises that the XPS2 did not, and a modded XPS2 smoked a 555PS, including one that had similar mods.

    If I had to choose a Naim CDS* out of the box, it would have to be the CDS1 WITH a Black Burndy (the gray one was apparently a large part of the coloration...who knew!)

    Although I wonder what a massively modded CDS1 would sound like.....
    SteveH and TimF like this.
  13. TimF

    TimF pfm Member

    I bought my CDI right when they first came out, from Promusica in Chicago. I think it was one of the first sold in the US. For me the 4K was a big leap price wise, but what a joy that player was for quite some time, it just sounded right. Even though my system at the time was simple, a 72/Hicap/140 and Kans, I have to admit now, it all worked so fabulously together. Probably a setup I really miss even now.

    The CDS2 was undoubtedly a very good CD player, I just never thought it lived up to the outlay at the time, almost 10K, even with an active SBL system using 82/Supercap/Snaxo/Hicap/2x250’s. I was headed for a 52 and then a divorce hit, and that was that. I have still managed to have a Naim piece or two though throughout my hifi “lifespan”.
    Mr Pig likes this.
  14. Davd

    Davd pfm Member

    Room correction.

    firstly Dirac, subsequently Lyngdorf Roomperfect- changes the game completely for the better.

    other negative wtf moments are expensive kit lusted after for years sounding dreadful- kondo audio note, ATC, Naim, Meridian to name a few….
  15. rontoolsie

    rontoolsie pfm Member

    I just recalled another WTF moment...I lusted after the Meridian M2 as a student circa 1980 at Eulipion Audio on Wilsmslow Rd in M14. Not only were they in the showcase window, but also on demo in one of the rooms. I could not believe how BIG these little speakers sounded.

    So circa 2003 I bought a pair for old-times sake , along with a matching 101B preamp.

    From the very first note it was obvious that they had aged very poorly. I took then in to be measured and their sweeps were identical for the two speakers, so any aberrations were design, not failure.

    I replaced the 101B with a Naim 552 preamp-which required a custom built cable...much better, but still only a pale shadow what the active DBLs could do.

    With my curiosity satisfied, I sold them for maybe $500 for the pair, along with the 101B.

    in retrospect, I would have much preferred the M1's.
  16. Gervais Cote

    Gervais Cote Predator

    Just remembered another negative wtf moment...........
    In an audio show, Naim Statement amp, 6-7 foot tall Focal speakers and the guy doing the demo saying "I will start Money for nothing of Dires Straight in a moment."
    So said to my buddy let’s stay a few minutes then.
    So the guy pushed the green button on his phone and...........almost nothing !
    The p bass into sounded dry without any thump or impact.
    Moved to another room nearby with an Exposure integrated and a pair of Neat floor standers and asked for the same song : bingo ! Huge p bass impact with depth and emphasis.
  17. MJS

    MJS Technical Tinkerer

    I have a couple WTF, and proud moments.

    The Lenco GL75 I bought locally just to see what the fuss was about. I didn't expect such a solid, pace-perfect sound from such an industrially built thing. It doesn't look like HiFi.
    The NAC72 I bought to try some ideas on. It instantly took me back to when I started at Naim, I think it's still one of their best preamps.
    Building the NAC82 Superlink. I was expecting it to be a bit better, but wow.
    Getting some sample cable that was to be the WH Phantom. I was sceptical about speaker cables and wasn't expecting much of difference, but there it was.
    Hearing Shahinian Arcs for the first time at the Bristol show in the early 90s. Nothing else at that show filled the room with music like they did.

    I've tried to like different mains cables, and even built a few, but remain to hear any difference between them.
    kernow likes this.
  18. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    I went the other way. My very first turntable was a GL75 and I was well aware of its shortcomings (the agricultural arm, less than ideal plinth etc), plus the audio press were really hating on idlers at the time, but even though I couldn’t articulate exactly what I knew something was missing in the stream of belt-drive decks that replaced it. I’ve enjoyed many of the stream of belt-drive decks that came afterwards, but it wasn’t until I bought an L70 about 15 years ago that I really understood it and I’ve been idler-drive ever since. I’m certainly of the mindset that I’ll swap a little signal to noise ratio for that absolutely rock-solid pitch, timing and punch thing. The Lenco has it big time.
    MJS likes this.
  19. Mike Hughes

    Mike Hughes pfm Member

    Recently had the opportunity to hear some Fyne Vintage 10 at £18k a pair. Wasn’t alone. There was an absolute consensus between us. They were dreadful.
    Konteebos likes this.
  20. Konteebos

    Konteebos Surfing on the lake of fire

    I heard the even-more-expensive Vintage 12 ones in Glasgow and I thought they were terrible, too. They did the scale thing really well but human voices sounded horrible and the sound was somewhat muddled. I put it down to the speakers being brand new and needing more time to run in. They were being played in a very nice Victorian living room - so I couldn't blame the sound on a crappy dealer dem room.
    My previous experience of another high-end system with expensive speakers was dreadful, too. It was big Audio Physik speakers on the end on some huge Electrocompaniet mono power amps, with top-of-the-range Electrocompaniet electronics to match. Again, the sense of scale was great, but everything else was wrong. On that occasion I was inclined to blame the room but I had heard a similar system, with Luxman amplifiers, in the same room at an earlier date and it sounded better (but still not great).
    Mr Pig likes this.

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