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Muscle cars vs. high-end audio: practicality ain't their forte

Let's face it, a high-end audio system makes about as much sense as a 425 horsepower muscle car. You got a problem with that?

Steve Guttenberg
Ex-movie theater projectionist Steve Guttenberg has also worked as a high-end audio salesman, and as a record producer. Steve currently reviews audio products for CNET and works as a freelance writer for Stereophile.
Steve Guttenberg
2 min read

I'm a middle-aged guy, so sure, I read the CNET review of the new Dodge Challenger SRT8 just to get vicarious kicks imagining what it's like to drive a 425-horsepower muscle car. It sounds like a real thrill ride, and sure it's a serious gas guzzler: "The EPA rates the Challenger SRT8 at 14 city mpg and 22 highway mpg. However during our leadfooted testing, we only managed 13.7 mpg over a mixed city and highway cycle."


Even so, I suppose the Challenger's tested price of $43,730 will place it in the affordable range for a lot of folks, or let's be honest, guys. It's a car to get noticed in, but no one's fooling themselves into believing the SRT8 is merely reliable transportation. It's a toy, and if you can swallow the fuel bill, it's a heck of a ride.

Same can be said about high-end audio. It's not practical and it can be expensive to run, but once you get used to what it can do when it's playing your favorite tunes, a $500 HTIB won't cut it anymore. High-end audio isn't an appliance, it's supposed to get your heart pounding and blood flowing, not so different than the SRT8.


Thrill seekers lusting after a muscular audio system equivalent of the SRT8 should check out the following system.

Muscle cars are as American as apple pie, so I went for American made hi-fi where I could. I reviewed Klipsch's mighty RF-83 tower speaker ($2798/pair) for Home Theater magazine last October, but it's still a current model. With three 8-inch woofers and a 1.25-inch horn-loaded titanium diaphragm compression tweeter, the RF-83 mos' definitely will rock your world. Add the 12-inch Klipsch RT-12d subwoofer ($2,199) to ensure the deepest and tightest low bass.

Next, I'd go for a Parasound P-7 stereo preamplifier ($2,000) and P-21 two hundred and fifty watt stereo amplifier ($2,000).

To play music get an Ayre CX-7e CD player ($3,500). I've used an Ayre C-5xe SACD/DVD-Audio player for years as my reference.


So sure it's an expensive rig, but will provide years of high-octane fun. If you love music and have the space and dough, search out a dealer and listen to at least some parts of this system. If you never heard what a well setup high-end muscle system can do you'll be in for a treat. It makes at least as much sense as the Dodge, that's for sure.