General discussion

Integrated Receiver/Amp vs. Separates vs. Monoblocks

This is mainly a question for the sake of curiosity. Stewee got me wondering with his question about analog vs. digital audio....

I know a bit about amplification, but mainly from online research. For example, I know that "better" amplifiers are bigger, heavier and more efficient. I know that means that the power output into a 4-ohm load should be roughly double the power into an 8-ohm load for a very efficient amplifier, for example. I also know that "cleaner" power is less likely to damage speakers and that more power, ultimately, translates into louder playback depending on speaker sensitivity.

What I don't know, and I'm hoping people can provide references, links or just good stories about, is what happens to sound quality as you move to better amplification? Does it improve imaging or soundstaging? Will a simple separates setup (e.g., pre/pro + 5.1 or 7.1 integrated amp) make a big difference over a receiver amp of similar power rating? Finally, what kind of incremental gains do you get moving to monoblocks?

I'm asking partly because I'm really quite happy with my receiver/amp and the sound quality I currently get from CD, DVD movies/concerts and DVD-Audio. It's hard to imagine the sound getting much better, but then that's been true of every improvement I've made so far, and those kinds of surprises are always pleasant. Happy


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Some factors

Moving up to the higher end and having separates should result in better performance, and sound. BUT, a pair of 200.00 speakers won't justify the expense, nor will they likely benefit from the change.
A good speaker system can sound much better with a pre/amplifier combination.
Movies are recorded with a very wide dynamic range, from the softest whisper to an explosion.
A good system will sound good, you will hear almost everything, some quiet moments you may have to strain to hear, and explosions, although loud, may be straining the output of a receiver.
Separates, in most cases, will sound much better.
The whispers don't require you to lean in to hear, the dialogue is always clear and explosions or other effects seem to be alive.

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Great Thread.....

.....Speleo. We could go on forever on this classic question. I am fundamentally an objective sceptic. I want someone to prove it to me in an objective sound demo (blind). All things being equal, I don't think you will hear any difference at all in sound 99% of the time. Any actual sound differences will be extremely small.

By all things being equal I'm talking about a reasonably average speaker to drive. One that is not of low impedence, not of low sensitivity and one that is not going to be played extremely loudly. This is the situation that a fairly large percentage of HT owners find themselves. In this situation I don't think 99 out of 100 trained listeners will be able to tell any difference.

Where the real differences lie are in the performance levels and limitations. Separates and monoblocks can have a much higher potential for demanding circumstances and speakers. For example: Low impedence speakers and special types of speakers like electrostatics, etc. Speakers that have very low bass response when not using a powered sub. High volume/power requirements especially from low sensitivity (efficiency) speakers. The separates have higher capabilities to produce enormous amounts of peak power. The monoblocks can be matched to each individual speaker and can produce huge amounts of power into especially low impedence speakers.

There are many fine receivers out their but they cannot match the quality separates in ultimate performance. Can you hear a difference? Only when the receiver is pushed beyond its normal operating performance or frequency response and begins to clip, distort and overheat.

So my answer is that for most of us the receiver is the best bang for the buck. I remember (just can't find the actual test specifics) the general facts about a test I read a number of years ago in a pro magazine. Expert listeners where given a blind test. All components except for the amps were the same. They consisted of very high quality and expensive high-end speakers that were not designs that put an extra strain on the amp.

The comparison was between a top quality separate amp and the amp in a medium priced Pioneer receiver. The panel could not tell any difference in this controlled test, much to their amazement. Unfortunately I can't remember all the specifics but have never forgotten the lesson in this test.

I think this also applies to being able to hear differences between comparable receivers from different brands. Some people state that brand X receiver sounds different than brand Y receiver. Many also claim that certain receivers sound better with certain speakers. My opinion of this is nonsense, when considered within reasonable performance levels. Some receivers are able to handle lower impedence loads, but this does not affect the sound in normal applications. Boy, will this cause the hair to stand up on many people's backs!

I say, let them wear the blindfold and now see (no pun intended) what differences they can hear.

Good topic!


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There are some..

Having spent many years in higher end retail, and playing with wayyy too many systems, I have heard differences in "some" brands. I will agree that many, in fact most will sound pretty much the same. And if using common speakers the difference from a receiver to a separate amp driving them will often not be heard under normal listening conditions. BUT, there is an awfull lot of talk on this site about buying efficient (Klipsch?) speakers. In some cases when I connected Klipsch speakers to various receivers I did find sound quality differences. Because they are sooo efficient they also will display any poor qualities of a receiver. Much like people are now seeing just how bad their cable signals are when connected to am HD plasma or other HDTV.
If all receivers sounded the same, they wouldn't bother using all sorts of different components inside, it would be cheaper and more efficient to build them all using the same parts. But other than features, there are quality and sonic differences between brands, thats why you can find receivers selling for 200.00, and then there are some that sell for 6,000.00.
You want a 1.6l engine? or do you want the Hemi? They both drive a car, but performance will be worlds apart.

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(NT) (NT) Get The Blindfold Out And Report Back (ha)
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Thanks for the detailed reply

I suppose I'd have to refer to myself as an open-minded skeptic. That's probably an oxymoron, but I do tend to go into evaluations expecting purported differences in sound quality to prove themselves to me. I started out more plainly skeptical, but I've been surprised enough along the way that I'm now more open to new possibilities than I used to be.

This (receivers/separates) happens to be one area where I simply don't know what to think yet. I do have excellent performance in my system today with just a receiver, and yet there's a whole marketplace out there for separates--why is that? Can separates really help me realize yet another amazing step in audio quality, or, as you've suggested, are the average listening conditions so well-met by my receiver that separates would provide me with little more than a large bill for a little extra headrooom I don't need?

Personal experience with friends and family has taught me that people are both unaware of sound quality better than what's familiar and able to appreciate it when they hear it. By extension, I have to place myself in that same category. Furthermore, having had dinner over the weekend at a steak place with live singers (local college choir--not just the usual waitstaff birthday serenaders), I made a point to confirm there exists a level of presence and clarity in live music that I haven't yet achieved at home.

Of course, I also have to wonder just when I'll run into physical limitations of some sort in the system as a whole. It's hard to know where the ''bottlenecks'' are. Plus, I find myself wishing there were more DVD-Audio titles available. That's a huge leap in audio quality I can realize today, and the limitations of CD audio become ever more frustrating for that fact.


In any case, you made an excellent point about low impedence, low sensitivity speakers. That's actually one factor that pushed me away from electrostats toward relatively more sensitive cone speakers--I really stretched my budget and didn't want to compromise too much on either the speakers or the amplification. Instead, I went overboard on the speakers and ''good'' on the amplification, and that has worked out splendidly.

For the sake of continuing the discussion in the context of my own experiences & gear, here's what I'm driving:

The important published stats include:
Impedance: 4 ohms, nominal
Sensitivity: 90dB 1W/1m, 2.83V
Power Handling: 50-300W, without clipping

And my receiver:

A few more stats here (many more in the manual):
150W @ 1kHz into 8-ohms
0.09% THD at 1kHz
1200-watts max power consumption


It does seem (looking at the specs) that my speakers have the ability to tax the receiver I have now, although I've yet to run into any serious problems. There's no audible distortion at louder levels, and War of the Worlds last Saturday was scary-loud at points (lightning, tank shells, etc.).

I may look into separate amplification in the future, but I may not. The next big improvements I'm thinking about are HD movies and a 1080p projetor, but the way all that stuff is developing I think I'm in for a long wait before I buy anything. Happy


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Very nice..

You already have the makings of a very nice system.
Many around here may be confusing others that are reading this thread. As much that is written here relates to brands like Yamaha, Denon and others which would be concidered lower to middle of the road equipment. And paired off with AT or one of the many other common brands of speakers. To say that there would be little to no difference between a system of separates and good speakers, and a typical Yamaha receiver with some average speakers is not right.
Even what you have should be hitting the peak performance range of what a receiver can do, matched with those speakers will put together a sound that should please most people.
Because the B&K could be used as a great pre amp, your first choice would be to try out something like a pair of Bryston's or other like minded amplifiers.
You may find that you are also hitting the max that your room will allow without some sort of room acoustic treatments.
To go to electrostaics (Martin Logans?) would have produced an entirely different type of sound stage, just as enjoyable, possibly better depending on your tastes, but speakers like these demand power to achieve any levels of performance. Running electrostatics of a receiver is just not right...

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The next leap...

What you're saying makes a lot of sense, thanks to a little field trip I took yesterday. There's a very high-end custom installer right around the corner from me who happens to sell (or have sold) all the electronics I currently have in my system. He specializes in McIntosh stuff and other highly regarded names like Linn. I figured I'd pop in for a visit and get his opinion on what separates could do for me.

He had a pair of Cremona Auditors (the bookshelf version of the speakers I own) hooked up to a McIntosh MC252 2-channel amp.

We started with a Beatles LP--it was an older song I wasn't familiar with (maybe "Kansas City"). It was clear, warm and inviting, but the high end was rolled off. Of course it's an old recording, so that didn't surprise me at all.

Next we tried a CD version of the same album. I was a little surprised by how much alike the two sounded--not identical, but both were excellent. I'd have to do more listening to pick a favorite.

Neither of those tracks impressed me much, but then we popped in a Diana Krall CD ("When I Look In Your Eyes") and out came a soundstage as vividly defined as anything I've ever heard. I could effortlessly pick out not just the location of the drum set, but distincly different sources for each of the cymbals!

I've done enough auditioning now to realize how inaccurate my listening memory is, but I do think that was a new peak of audio clarity. I found it reasonably believable that Diana was in the room, whereas few elements of music have hit that very demanding peak of realism at home. As good as many recordings sound, they still sound like recordings. The CD playback from that McIntosh gear sounded comparable (probably a bit better) than what I've been able to eke out with DVD-Audio.

While I was listening, I was aware of just how precise the sound was and how much more relatively important things like room acoustics and speaker placement have become to the overall illusion. I guess this might sound like the usual audiophile delerium to some, but I can only say it makes sense to me now given exactly what the next leap in quality means in practical terms. I'm already so far beyond "good enough" by most peoples' measurements that it's difficult to even describe what's left to improve. It's like putting a high-powered lens on a tripod and trying to reach absolute perfect focus--the kind that can let you read the time off a wristwatch a block away.

In any case, it's fair to say that I now believe better amplification can improve my sound quality, but I also need to make sure the little stuff isn't getting in the way.


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nice isn't it...

Listening to music often ends up like watching TV. After you have a system, you typically don't start looking for another. It sounds good, or looks fine.
I go to peoples homes all the time, and can't believe what they are watching. They just accept a bad cable signal as being just the way it's supposed to look. Or their TV picture leans towards green or red, and again they think nothing of it.
Music can be the same, even when you have a very good set up, there is always something better, or something you can add or change that could improve the sound.
All it takes is to go out and listen to something extreemly good, and it will remind you that there is a next level to achieve. Of course there comes a point where you have to be happy because the costs of getting to that next level may be too far out there.

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"Of course there comes a point..."

Yes, I've nearly reached that point with the audio now. Happy

I really enjoyed listening yesterday and learning that there's probably more I can do with the sound, but I have a few other major enhancements in mind first.

The big one is a 1080p projector (theoreticaly at least) for the sake of getting a video source that can give me the best of True HD programming and movie sources (assuming the format war sorts itself out before everyone gets tired of both formats). There are very few on the market so far, and even if I had a 1080p projector I'd have no 1080p player yet, so I'm waiting this out.

Before I install a projector, I'd also like to do some pretty significant remodeling. My theater room looks something like this:
| |
|<-screen |
_| |

It's a big room, 27' deep x 25' wide, and the way it's set up now it's open along one side. The south wall has doorways to bedrooms & such. I'd like to turn that southern edge into a hallway and enclose the theater into more of a rectangular room, but the ceiling lights and ventilation will need to move. Also, as long as I'm tearing the ceiling apart anyway, I can get a dedicated circuit run for the theater. Right now I share electric with a bathroom and some other stuff in the basement.

A this point I'm leaning toward doing the renovation at the same time as installing the theoretical projector because running cables while the ceiling's down anyway will be a lot easier, and so will redecorating around the projector mount. Both are really on the "Nice to Do" list at this point, but they're higher priority than a new amp.


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Go Back Speleo.....

....I understand those Diana Krall CD's are extremely well recorded.

I would ask: how do you know that the super soundstage and imaging was not due to the Auditors themself, or the position of them in the room in relation to the wall, or the sound absorption material in the room, or the speaker cables that they were using, or the audio cable that they were using, or the CD player that they were using, or the anti-vibration mat under the CD, or the spikes they were using, etc. rather than the Mac gear. I personally think that many times between two different speakers from the same brands series that the smaller bookshelfs like the Auditors have better imaging and soundstage than the full size Cremona's due to the smaller enclosure which inherently tends to improve these qualities.

I hate to say it but the answer is that I think you don't. You contribute the new super sound that you heard to the Mac's alone the way I read your post. The objective sceptic (yes, I think sceptics can also be very open minded) in me says that you have jumped to a somewhat illogical conclusion that I think many ''high-end audiohpliles'' commonly reach. Don't get me wrong. Mac equipment is wonderful but I think those superb Sonus Faber speakers that mix both excellent sound and artistic Italian craftsmanship (I own a beautiful Italian Bello' component rack) are the reason you heard that great sound. The other reason is a finely recorded CD and the superior sound acoustics in the dealer's room.

Try going back and asking him if he can to play the same CD hooked up to a top receiver if he has any like a B&K or Rotel or whatever he might sell. Close your eyes (no peeking) and see if you can tell when he is using the reciever or the Mac's.

This would be time consuming and is probably something he could not or maybe even would not want to do. But this is the ONLY way you will really know if it was the Mac equipment. Seems like it sure would be worth his time for an already good customer for a potential sale. Better than than the switching routine might be to come in on two consecutive days at opening or closing when he might have time. Again, blindfolded, one day have him use the Mac equipment and the other day use the receiver. Can you tell clearly which is which? Do it a second time to be sure. If you say that is too hard for the mind's short sonic memory then I would say that if you think it sounds superb both days then stick with your B&K.

Sorry to be my objective self but then I think the marvelous alure of those Mac hypnotic blue lights might be getting in the way of clear evaluation (I would certainly understand because I feel a rush every time I see Mac equipment). It looks almost the same as 36 years ago when I first saw Mac stuff. If money was not a pinch as it is for me, I would first go and buy a complete set of Mac equipment. Forget the Bryston, Krell, etc., there is nothing quite as gorgeous as a Mac to me.

Anyway, just some food for thought from this objective audiophile. Yes, I actually do consider myself an audiophile. It is because of my knowledge base rather than the equipment I own.

I do really enjoy your posts, great stuff to stimulate differing opinions; thanks.


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No worries--I *know* I don't know!

OK, I suppose I should clarify my last post by saying the Mac equipment was presented to me as being the cause of the improved sound, and certainly listening on the same brand / line of speakers cut down on a number of major variables. I think the demo was close enough to my own setup that I'm entertaining the possibility that the Mac amp was the major contributing factor to the awesome sound I experienced. It's not a conclusion, although I may have described it like one.

Objectively, I know there are a huge number of variables yet unaccounted for, not the least of which is that I've never heard that Diana Krall CD on my own system at home! At the very least, I need to give that a whirl to see if the soundstaging I heard was due more to that specific recording than the Mac hardware. That's just bare bones due diligence.

A head-to-head Mac vs. B&K demo at the shop is a great idea. He sells B&K, so I may be able to work up that exact demo. My only hesitation is that I don't think I really want to sink the money into separates now, anyway, so there's really no point yet in figuring out if the Mac is better if I'm not going to buy it! I'd merely be satisfying my curiosity at the expense of his time--bad karma there. Happy

In the near-term I can buy that Diana Krall disc and maybe play with speaker placement (the Auditors were much closer together than my Cremonas are, and I was sitting much closer than I do at home). That's some cheap & easy stuff I can do to get a better idea of what's really impeding any difference in sound quality I thought I heard.

Some time later, before I buy any more expensive equipment, I may also spring for a professional evaluation of my listening environment. I'm not too worried, but I've never had it done and I think I'm reaching the point where even minor room acoustics could potentially become a factor. It's something to think about, anyway.

Ultimately, I'm really not too worried about any of this, because I'm really quite happy with the sound I have now. The biggest improvement I can make in my theater is bumping the screen size up from a 60" TV to a ~120" projection screen, but I'm sort of stubbornly waiting to see what happens with 1080p. The good news is I have time to save up, I think. Happy


P.S. You may enjoy hearing that the Mac demo used a normal thick-guage speaker cable--probably along the lines of a Radio Shack or something (it was a simple copper pair in clear insulation). These did have nice quality terminations on the ends. Great ammunition for saying that expensive cables aren't required for awesomely clear sound.

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.....I forgot to mention besides the obvious difference in room acoustics is the placement in the room. Many high-end dealers seem to very wisely keep the speakers in their demo rooms quite far away from the wall which almost always seems to me to enhance the imaging and soundstage.

Of course many times at home we are limited in the ability to do this becuase of obvious aesthetic and space limitations. Just a thought. If you do get that Krell CD, I would really be interested in hearing an update from you on your opinion of the sound of this recording thru your Cremona's.


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Speaker placement

Strangely enough, that demo setup was kind of tucked in the corner of a hallway jog. It certainly didn't seem like an ideal placement to me, although it wasn't quite butted up against the walls.

The auditors have got to be near the absolute bottom of what this guy deals in, and the better locations are reserved for speakers like the top-of-the-line 7-foot-tall McIntosh Speakers and the Stradivari Homage (Sonus Faber's $40k/pr flagships). It's kinda cool just to see that stuff in person. Happy

Anyway, with my current setup my Cremonas are 3' out from the walls, and while I do have a coffee table that probably interferes with the sound a bit, I'll drag that out of the way for any real critical listening. My biggest concern with speaker placement at home is the distance between my speakers. I have them positioned as to leave room for the monster projection screen that I'd like to eventually. At 110" the visible screen is 8' wide, and I'd need a little buffer on either side. It's a large soundstage to fill, and I wonder if I can improve the sound by tweaking the speaker angle or rake a little bit. It might also be worth moving the speakers closer together temporarily just to see what that does.


I do think I'll look for that CD, one of these days, and will be happy to let you know what I hear when I do.


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Integrated Receiver/Amp vs. Separates vs. Monoblocks

What I found out over forty years ago, Is that SPEAKERS make the biggest difference in sound quality, then the amp.
Bob Carver did some experements about 25 years ago. What he found out is that when the distortion of the amp gets below .5% it becomes increasinly difficult to tell the difference between amps.
But with speakers it is a whole different story.
I have done live sound reinforcemant for about 45 years.
Most home Hi-Fi or 5.1 speakers can't hold a candle to pro sound spekers when it come to SPL levels, A decient $400~660 pa speaker can produce 115db at 1 meter with a 250w amp. This will be about 95~100db in a large room. and they are BIG speakers!!!!
If you tried to use home speakers in this setting they would go up in smoke.
A good 100w mono block amp is about $250. Using a powered sub you would need 4 of them for 5.1 sound. now add $300~400 for HT 5.1 preamp. Cost $1400, will you have lots of power YES!!! Since most of us probably spent $400~600 on HT reciver, that will give us plenty of volume in a typical living/meadia room. But if you have one of thoes big rooms,,,30'x40' with 15' cellings you may want to consider this option.
Just FYI, if you double the amp power it will only make a 3db difference in the sound level. John

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sirroundsound, speleofool, jcrobso and others for an uplifting thread beyond the everyday help topics.

A source of educating info re: intelligent moving up from the so called mid level of stereo of home theater would be oh so welcome. Entering the world of private knowledge of custom installer types seems to bar the underlings.

For instance I'd love to proceed into whatever today's equivalent of the huge old Klipsch corner horns or big Tannoy dual concentrics in a huge infinite baffle box are to be driven by who knows what for an extremely clean power path and some consensus(?) of viable cable connections. Simple elegance for a dream (in my case just stereo) rig.

Then to the next level of transference to tie that into the living room fairly decent home theater by means of maybe a Sonos or Olive unit. The stuff dreams are made of. Guess that extends beyond the ''mass market'' items CNET reviews.

I have ventured into the world of more high fallutin' sites where I am at a loss as they discuss the relative comparative merits of thousand dollar pre-amps. That is an above me level of discussion.

But just to remind myself about the passion of being literally involved in the music when it's being projected at a higher level than the usual everyday mid level equipment.

It presents an eternal question of what are the best heavenly sounding speakers I could ever justify spending my limit on.

Any advice re: absolute audio, secrets of hi fi, ecoustics, etc?

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High end for the budget minded...

Traded in gear, or used on ebay and other "auction" type sites.
People who love audio, and have money, think nothing of trading in their older gear for the latest and greatest. Trying to extract that last ounce of sound from their systems becomes a bit of an obsession.
Their old used stuff would be wayyyy better than 90% of the gear discussed in these forums.
Without going through the roof, you could pick up a used Bryston amplifier on e-bay for around 1/2 of it's retail. Or check out a local high end shop, if they take trade, they will often have a room full of great stuff. Unless they are blown, speakers are speakers, that old pair of Kef reference 2's or other will sound wonderfull, and instead of 4500.00 pr you may be able to find them for around 1500 - 2000 used.
High end gear even used still costs something, but when you compare what you can spend at BB or CC just to put together what they concider TOTL, I'd spend my money elsewhere.

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High end for the budget minded...

Well you can go nuts on this stuff,,and join the "Emperors New Cloths Group".
I tend to be more like Stew "Hignend on a Beer Budget".
The current retail of my speakers main is around $2000+ per box. I stated out buying raw speakers and building cabnets. Around 1981~2 I built my K-Horns and put my JBL's in them. Cost about $850 at the time.
You can reach the point of deminising returns.
Dose that $3000 amp realy sound better than a $1000,, maybe and maybe not????
There have been different fads over time.
Acoustice supension speakers were all the rage in the late "60s.
I remember Stereo Review had some Experts perdict what the future of Hi-Fi would be in the next 10~15 years in a 1970 issue,,,, NON OF IT CAME TRUE!!!!
But speakers ARE the most important part of the system! Good speakers, well cared for will last many, many years. My 1968 JBL 15" woffers still work great. John

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Just good old fashioned listening....

That's how I got started. I really didn't have a clue about audio beyond the typical mass market stuff until I discovered Sonus Faber while auditioning.

I did do a lot of online research, but you're right about it being confusing. Just getting familiar with audiophile terminolgy was an experience in itself (and one I didn't really start doing until after I owned my speakers). Describing qualities of sound with the written word is clumsy at first, but once you experience the phenomena being described the terms make a little more sense.

This disc might be a good investment:

Chesky's "Ultimate Demonstration Disc" features a number of recordings that describe audiophile terms in detail followed by an example recording demonstrating the term. The recordings themselves might not be your style of music, but they can help you learn to listen to your own music in a new way and perhaps make more sense of some of the confusing terms on high-end audio sites. For best results, take this disc to the best stereo you can locate--better rigs will be more revealing.

Even with the language barrier mitigated, there's still a lot of marketing and opinion to wade through. I can't recall every great article I've read, but sites like audioholics, secrets, and even Ultimate AV / Stereophile have good generic articles that cover everything from room treatments to amplification and speakers to power conditioning and more. I blazed through tons of material online, assuming much of it was simply marketing in disguise. Finding common threads allowed me to form theories to go test. Always, I've returned to my ears to determine whether there's anything to the hype.

IMO, the only way to shop this high-end gear is to audition it in person. It's just too expensive and the claims too outrageous to justify any other way. It just means the "eternal question" becomes: "what are the best heavenly sounding speakers I've heard and could ever justify spending my limit on?"

Start with the speakers, and if you care to mix & match beyond what your dream-speaker-seller offers, work with retailers who will let you audition gear in your home. Some places let me buy gear and return it under their 30-day policy. Others let me put a deposit on their demo pieces and bring them home overnight. Still others refused to work with me at all (and lost my business because of it). It just doesn't make sense to me to spend thousands on a piece of A/V equipment that's playing in a totally different environment over different speakers--there are too many variables to really know what I'm buying.

Whew! OK, did I help, or did I wander too far off the original topic? Wink

Glad you like the thread. Thanks for saying so.


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Yeah, a couple local independents

know me enough to let me home audition, say NHT or B&W speakers. I'd just be afraid I might buy some big B&Ws to the detriment of my way of life for everything else.

When in the service in the 60s I ran into a hi fi shop in The Valley who claimed to have done as lot of installations for show biz folk. But was technology way back then.

Can't help the recurring fantasy of hitting boo-koo lottery so as to casually try McIntosh components drive big Wilson speakers.

OK, so much for half-baked idle glimmers....

Seriously, thanks, I do groove on threads like this beyond the typical stuff that comes up repetitively.

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After years working 2 jobs and $16000 I finally made my dream home theater system come true With my new 72" d.l.p. Toshiba , Atlantic Technology 4200 5.1. speaker system and DENON 3805 amp along with my DENON 2910/955 d.v.d. player I was soo happy with it until one day I went into a super hi-end home theater store Centry stereo here in San Jose ca I went into this room that looked like a real movie theater The only componits I could see was a Sony hi-end projector and 2 huge electrostatic speakers and 5 beautiful Mac tube amps, I wish I had never done this because this set up made my system look and sound like cra-. ha ha Yess money can buy you love. Only problem is folks with that kind of money. really dont care that much because they have the best of the best of everything. where I would wet myself if I owned that kind of system Its so much fun to dream.One nice thing about my system is friends love my home theater system but I know its only averaqge poor old stewee have a nice weekend all

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even the rich...

Even people that can afford "high end" can be left out in the cold by those that have the ability to say "money is no object"
There are some very exclusive electronics and speakers out there that even in the USA are only found in a couple of ultra high end shops.
An example - try a google for Goldmund, check out the first listing.
There are many others like this...

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enter the picture. I took a short trip through the fantasyland called Somehow, I might not really need the Goldmund amp that puts out 2500 w/ch @1 ohm. Hmm, there's a nice new RV I could buy at that price.

I've always liked good sound. My old ears, battered by a life misspent, probably aren't up to discerning the subtly of Sonus Faber Cremonas. Wouldn't mind a listen though...

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Re-evaluation of priorities...

Now there's a piece of truth well-spoken. Happy

When I discovered the Cremonas, two things ran thorugh my mind:


...followed a split second later by:

2. Uh, oh.... I have a dilemma on my hands.


There were a variety of factors that led me to reevaluate the course of my life and take on the project of building my ultimate home theater. I think the most important of these were:

1. I've loved music and movies for years.
2. Nobody I know has a theater like the one I'm building.
3. It's something I can share with my friends & family.
4. I'm still young enough to enjoy it.
5. The high-end stuff holds its value fairly well--I can always sell it if my priorities change again.

On top of all that it's a challenging, fun and rewarding project. The task of designing the theater and bringing it all together is almost as enjoyable as re-experiencing my favorite content each time a new improvement bumps up the performance a notch.


P.S. Even old, battered ears should be able to appreciate the better sound. You might not pick up all the subtleties that your younger ears might have heard, but you'd probably still hear enough to appreciate the difference that great speakers can make. My dad wears hearing aids now, and he made a comment about how the sound is cleaner and easier for him to hear than other speakers / theaters. Makes sense, but wow!

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Re-evaluation of priorities...

Well I can't hear dog whistles any more, when I was young I could, It was a little embarrassing at the time.
Distortion in speakers can occure at all frequencis, not just the highs.
Yes, After all thies years most people don't have a setup that rivals mine,, guess this make me a nut. But my whole family can enjoy it. John

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Century Music San Jose Ca/Nad

The person who spoke about Century Music which was near the intersection between Moorpark and Bascom Ave across from Valley Medical Hospital, was a great place to audition audio gear. Last time I visited it was in the early 1970's so I don't know if they still exist. Anyway, I had the chance to audition NAD recievers and amps and they sounded sooooo sweet. Their customer service too was outstanding. Great to hear someone else had experienced that wonderful auido store.

If anyone knows if Century is still in the same location or if it is in another, I sure would like to hear back...

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Thanks, Stew!

The disappointment of having your system humbled like that can be relieved somewhat by realizing what it would actually cost you in terms of time and sacrifices to reach that level, whereas you can rock out with your very-nice-if-not-perfect system for free* right now. Happy

I think everything in life means more when you have to struggle to achieve it. But there's also something to that "stop & smell the roses" line. Happiness is finding the right balancing point and knowing when you're there.


* well, it's not really free, but content and electricity is generally more affordable than, say, massive Mac amps.

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BY H/K Industries.
Just a thought.
Concentrate on the speakers.


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Sound Quality

The benefit to Mono blocks as it relates to power is not normally to achieve higher volumes (more decibels) but for better sound quality. Pro speakers are loud (their objective to produce sound for a big venue) but they do not posses the same sound quality as there high end home counter parts.
Audiophilia: the state of one who listens to high-fidelity equipment solely for the quality of reproduction.
Mono block benefits to an Audiophile are:
Zero stereo cross talk (multiple channels bleeding together and muddying the sound)
Separate power supply to each speaker will give you a shorter cable run for less interference The best speaker cable is no speaker cable at all. So by shortening you have the opportunity shorten your cable run to under 1m (neat benefit)

Cons: Space and Cost

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Interesting Post!

Hey Speleo,

This is quite an interesting question you're posting.

As far as noticing a big difference in sound, well that's all relative. It will vary depending on the quality of the components you choose, and the speakers you have and the ones you would hypothetically replace if you had it your way.

Having had the extreme pleasure of sitting in a room with a pair of B&W Nautilus speakers connected with a set of high end cables and Mark Levinson components along with a separate DAC, the sound was simply impressive. I felt like I was in a concert hall listening to my favorite artist when I was sitting in that room. Needless to say, all the components in that room were in excess of $80K, so there it is..

What usually happens is that when you have a receiver, you're going to have good sound (let's use a Denon 3806 for example), and you're going to be pleased overall. Because of the simplicity factor, most people opt for buying an integrated piece of equipment that can handle the preamp functions, amp functions along with a tuner and a decoder, so they can get the most for their money.

When you go, say with an Adcom preamp and an amp for separates for example, your distortion levels are going to drop some (key word) and your sound is going to be much cleaner. Some people have grown so accustomed to having separates that they can tell the difference when they switch between a receiver and separates.

So, all issues aside, if we lived in a perfect world we would all have separates and then some of us would still argue at that point because you would then have to make a distinction between tubes and all digital circuitry, lol.

Mo' Money, Mo' Money!


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