Recommend a good stereo amp or integrated under $1000 - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 95 Old 03-12-2012, 11:37 AM - Thread Starter
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Hello everyone, new guy on the forum and I hope to learn much from this site. I'm in the process of purchasing my first stereo amp, a Parasound A23. The unit is used but appears to be in flawless condition. Owner described it to be in excellent working condition and has had it for 3 years. My question is, how much should I be paying for this? He's asking for $600 + shipping would come out to $648. Am I getting ripped off or does Parasound hold their value this well? I thought I made a reasonable offer of $550 shipped but he stands firm with his asking amount.

:Edit:

After reading what commsysman said about the a23s, I thought i'd edit the title to get more opinions on different amp recommendations. Post #5 will give some detail on my setup or what i'm looking for.
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post #2 of 95 Old 03-12-2012, 12:07 PM
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I ordered one of them a couple of years ago, and after a couple of hours listening I shipped it back. It stunk; sounded lousy. I wouldn't buy it if it was $100.

The A21 is a great amplifier; the A23 is a dud.

You would be far better off with a Vincent SP-331 for $1300; that is an EXCELLENT-sounding amplifier that has a lot more power.

If that is too much money, an Emotiva XPA-3 is only $700 new, and would sound much better than the A23.





Quote:
Originally Posted by astromoose View Post

Hello everyone, new guy on the forum and I hope to learn much from this site. I'm in the process of purchasing my first stereo amp, a Parasound A23. The unit is used but appears to be in flawless condition. Owner described it to be in excellent working condition and has had it for 3 years. My question is, how much should I be paying for this? He's asking for $600 + shipping would come out to $648. Am I getting ripped off or does Parasound hold their value this well? I thought I made a reasonable offer of $550 shipped but he stands firm with his asking amount.

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post #3 of 95 Old 03-12-2012, 12:17 PM - Thread Starter
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Wow, I was not expecting to hear that lol Are you sure we're talking about the same a23 here? I've checked out numerous sites that stated this was a good amp. And I remember reading that the a21 and a23 were very similar... I believe it was from this site where I read that.

I've also seen great reviews on that particular Vincent amp and I've considered the Odyssey Khatargo but both go beyond my original budget. It seems that the more time I spend researching, the higher my set budget goes up. I have to draw the line somewhere, lol.
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post #4 of 95 Old 03-12-2012, 01:09 PM
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If you look into that carefully, you will find that the A21 and A23 share very little. The A21 costs nearly 3 times as much for a lot of good reasons.

Do you expect a $20,000 Ford Fiesta to perform like a $60,000 Corvette? Lots of luck on that.

In any case, I certainly listened to the A23 and it sounded crappy in my system; my NAD C356BEE integrated amplifier that I use in one system sounds a LOT better and cost $800 new. A LOT of integrated amplifiers I know of for under $800 sound better than the A23.

If you want the best sound for your buck, I suggest Emotiva, NAD, and Cambridge.

What are you going to be feeding into this amplifier, a preamp or a HT receiver or ?? You are aware that this is only a power amplifier and requires a preamp or some other source for volume control and switching?

Perhaps what you should be looking at is an integrated amplifier, not just a basic power amp. If so, the Cambridge Audio 550A is available on sale right now for $400 new and might be a perfect solution for you.

Do you already have speakers?






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Originally Posted by astromoose View Post

Wow, I was not expecting to hear that lol Are you sure we're talking about the same a23 here? I've checked out numerous sites that stated this was a good amp. And I remember reading that the a21 and a23 were very similar... I believe it was from this site where I read that.

I've also seen great reviews on that particular Vincent amp and I've considered the Odyssey Khatargo but both go beyond my original budget. It seems that the more time I spend researching, the higher my set budget goes up. I have to draw the line somewhere, lol.

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post #5 of 95 Old 03-12-2012, 02:21 PM - Thread Starter
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I guess you make a good point... For now, i'll be using a cheap HK AVR 325 Receiver but I would like to eventually upgrade to PreAmp that's under $800(new or used) My audio sources will be a Playstation(1001), Macbook Pro(using a t.c. konnekt 24d as my dac) and a cheap vinyl player with rca outputs. My current speakers are KRK Rokit 6 but I will be upgrading to either the Ascend Sierra-1 or the Swan 2.1SE+. I believe both are pretty efficient speakers that don't require much power. Buying an expensive 1000+ amp might be overkill but i'd like to keep the amp for awhile without the need of upgrading.

Thanks for the input, commsysman. I'm still open for more ideas and suggestions.
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post #6 of 95 Old 03-12-2012, 03:21 PM
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OK...have fun!

Vincent also makes one of the few preamps that is worth a damn for under $1000; the SA-31 for $650. You might want to check it out for future reference.

You do get more flexibility by using separates, but the catch is that most good separates tend to be expensive. That Emotiva XPA-3 is one that is good and affordable.




P.S.- A really good speaker that will give you similar performance to the two you mentioned for less moola is the Monitor Audio Bronze BX-2 for around $500 per pair. Those are both good speakers, but there are a few that are as good for less money.




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Originally Posted by astromoose View Post

I guess you make a good point... For now, i'll be using a cheap HK AVR 325 Receiver but I would like to eventually upgrade to PreAmp that's under $800(new or used) My audio sources will be a Playstation(1001), Macbook Pro(using a t.c. konnekt 24d as my dac) and a cheap vinyl player with rca outputs. My current speakers are KRK Rokit 6 but I will be upgrading to either the Ascend Sierra-1 or the Swan 2.1SE+. I believe both are pretty efficient speakers that don't require much power. Buying an expensive 1000+ amp might be overkill but i'd like to keep the amp for awhile without the need of upgrading.

Thanks for the input, commsysman. I'm still open for more ideas and suggestions.

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post #7 of 95 Old 03-12-2012, 03:25 PM
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He is asking too much for the A23. They go for $450 all day on Audiogon.
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post #8 of 95 Old 03-12-2012, 03:46 PM
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I finally had ears on the Crown XLS 1000. For $300 it is tough to beat. Compared to my Parasound HCA1000A I couldn't find fault with the Crown other than Aesthetics (bright LED's).

Has both RCA and XLR inputs with SpeakOn and traditional 5 way binding posts.

I second the Emotiva and would also encourage you to look at the XPA-2.

An audiophile likes to talk about how much they spent and how good it sounds.

A DIY'er likes to talk about how little they spent and how good it sounds.

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post #9 of 95 Old 03-12-2012, 04:12 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by commsysman View Post

OK...have fun!

Vincent also makes one of the few preamps that is worth a damn for under $1000; the SA-31 for $650. You might want to check it out for future reference.

You do get more flexibility by using separates, but the catch is that most good separates tend to be expensive. That Emotiva XPA-3 is one that is good and affordable.




P.S.- A really good speaker that will give you similar performance to the two you mentioned for less moola is the Monitor Audio Bronze BX-2 for around $500 per pair. Those are both good speakers, but there are a few that are as good for less money.

I'll definitely take note of the Vincent SA-31. Love the silver front face on that thing... Have you had any experiences with the Emotiva xpa-3? I've heard about that brand for a couple of years now and it seems to be one of the most talked about budget audio components. Such high praises from the people that own these amps, yet still, a lot of others seem to ignore them.... I guess I kind of skipped pass these as well because I'm not a fan of how they look.(Yes, I do sort of care for aesthetics) but i'll start paying attention to these amps since you suggested it.

Are there any comparison shootouts between the Bronze BX-2 and sierra-1? Did a quick google search and couldn't find anything.

Quote:


He is asking too much for the A23. They go for $450 all day on Audiogon.

Kind of had the feeling he was... I ended pulling some douchebag move by canceling my offer after the listing got taken down... I offered to paypal his listing fees, so i'm hoping I don't get a negative feedback on audiogon.

Quote:


"I finally had ears on the Crown XLS 1000. For $300 it is tough to beat. Compared to my Parasound HCA1000A I couldn't find fault with the Crown other than Aesthetics (bright LED's).

Has both RCA and XLR inputs with SpeakOn and traditional 5 way binding posts.

I second the Emotiva and would also encourage you to look at the XPA-2."

Excuses my ignorance, but I thought Crowns were used more for live applications? And for $300? That's a very attractive price.
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post #10 of 95 Old 03-12-2012, 04:21 PM - Thread Starter
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I've been looking into the Cambridge Audio 550A that you recommended, commsysman. It's very nice looking. How does this integrated amp compare to Yamaha's S500?

Also wanted to mention that I'm open to used items as well. So not everything has to be new. If I can get a nice used amp under 1000, that'd be great.
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post #11 of 95 Old 03-12-2012, 04:48 PM
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First, the A23 generally sells on eBay and on Audiogon for $500 to $600, plus shipping. I tracked sales of these for the last year because I was going to sell mine (I ended up selling mine locally though).

Second, I owned both the A23 and two different Cambridge Audio integrateds. My initial impressions were that the A23 sounded better. Then I obtained a selector box, set up the different amps for direct comparison (instead of having to turn off, rewire, etc, each time I switched). I level matched as close as I could by ear, and suddenly my preference for the A23 disappeared.

That is not to say that I preferred the Cambridge either; rather, they all sounded the same to me.

The A23 can drive low-impedance speakers to higher levels, but at "normal" listening levels, I doubt you'll hear a difference.

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post #12 of 95 Old 03-12-2012, 04:49 PM
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I'm partial to integrateds as I think there's little rationale for separating the power and pre stages. There's less clutter and fewer hum issues with integrateds.

As for which, well... Bear in mind that it's not a scientifically validated fact that people can hear ANY differences b/w amps (when precisely volume-matched and operating to spec), so I would be very skeptical of someone's claim that this amp or that sounds awful or great. The lack of evidence doesn't prove that differences are non-existent, but it certainly suggests that if they do exist, they are apt to be very very small. So comment's like "amp A crushes amp B" are pure hyperbole.

So my recommendation would be to buy for features (for me, bass and treble controls are a must), aesthetics, reliability, etc.. My pick: Whatever NAD fits your budget. If you're sticking with the outboard amp plan, I'm quite certain the Parasound is just fine.
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post #13 of 95 Old 03-12-2012, 04:51 PM
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I agree completely. I sold the A23 not for any sound quality reasons, but simply because in my small-medium room, I didn't need the extra power; and since sound quality was the same to me at my listening levels, I preferred the simplicity of the integrated amp approach.

For every new thing I learn, I forget two things I used to know.
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post #14 of 95 Old 03-12-2012, 05:59 PM
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Isn't Emotiva XPA-2 the best suggestion here? for $799 it fulfills everything you desire, am I missing something
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post #15 of 95 Old 03-12-2012, 10:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by syd123 View Post

As for which, well... Bear in mind that it's not a scientifically validated fact that people can hear ANY differences b/w amps (when precisely volume-matched and operating to spec), so I would be very skeptical of someone's claim that this amp or that sounds awful or great.... So comment's like "amp A crushes amp B" are pure hyperbole.

Bingo. This man speaks wise words. When anyone starts making claims of this amp or that sounding like rubbish or sounding great, it is highly likely that he would be unable to prove his abilities if asked.

Before making any decent sized audio gear purchase, one would be wise to first familiarize himself with the concepts of placebo and expectation bias and how they apply to sighted evaluation of audio equipment. It is amazing sometimes how completely fooled we can be by our own mind.

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post #16 of 95 Old 03-13-2012, 10:42 AM
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Best integrated I've heard for a grand is the Rega Brio-R. And I've heard a LOT of integrateds for a grand.
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post #17 of 95 Old 03-13-2012, 11:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by astromoose View Post

Excuses my ignorance, but I thought Crowns were used more for live applications? And for $300? That's a very attractive price.

Crown is a company that makes audio amplification. If they can be used for producing the audio at concerts of your favorite musicians....

I'm not sure where the disconnect is that QSC/Crown/Crest/ etc... make crap solutions with poor SQ.

Here is an excerpt from one of Crowns product lines:

The Crown® Macro-Tech® i Series continues the Macro-Tech legacy of unparalleled sonic accuracy and detail, putting sound quality above all else

Crown also has a longer and deeper institutional knowledge for Engineering acumen and understanding design theory than many boutique brands.
Nethawk likes this.

An audiophile likes to talk about how much they spent and how good it sounds.

A DIY'er likes to talk about how little they spent and how good it sounds.

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post #18 of 95 Old 03-13-2012, 08:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by astromoose View Post

I've been looking into the Cambridge Audio 550A that you recommended, commsysman. It's very nice looking. How does this integrated amp compare to Yamaha's S500?

Also wanted to mention that I'm open to used items as well. So not everything has to be new. If I can get a nice used amp under 1000, that'd be great.

I have a Rega Mira and an Exposure 2010S2, can highly recommend both under budget used.

A couple of integrateds currently listed on AG have my interest, look these up:

Denon DRA-CX3
Yamaha A-S2000

Love the Yamaha in silver, old school, retro look. Plus it is feature loaded.
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post #19 of 95 Old 03-14-2012, 12:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stevensctt View Post

Yamaha A-S2000

Love the Yamaha in silver, old school, retro look. Plus it is feature loaded.

I love this amp, it's a shame Yamaha has discontinued it.
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post #20 of 95 Old 03-14-2012, 10:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aazeez1975 View Post

Isn't Emotiva XPA-2 the best suggestion here? for $799 it fulfills everything you desire, am I missing something

I've got one - I'm very impressed with it. Plenty of power to drive just about any speaker made - and does exactly what an amplifier is supposed to do - and nothing it isn't. No coloration of sound - no emphasis on any one part of the sound spectrum - just beautiful music.

When all else fails - RTFM!

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post #21 of 95 Old 03-14-2012, 12:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jinjuku View Post

Crown is a company that makes audio amplification. If they can be used for producing the audio at concerts of your favorite musicians....

I'm not sure where the disconnect is that QSC/Crown/Crest/ etc... make crap solutions with poor SQ.

Here is an excerpt from one of Crowns product lines:

The Crown® Macro-Tech® i Series continues the Macro-Tech legacy of unparalleled sonic accuracy and detail, putting sound quality above all else

Crown also has a longer and deeper institutional knowledge for Engineering acumen and understanding design theory than many boutique brands.

I haven't listened to Crown amps at all, so I have no experience with them, but my experience with PA in general is that they are built for a very different purpose than home audio. For PA, they need to have a lot of power but noise at low volume level isn't as much of a concern because there is always some ambient noise at live events.

We use Mackie SRM-450's (powered PA speaker) both live and in the rehearsal room. They sound great at shows where there is always some ambient noise, but in a quiet rehearsal room they are NOISY!! -- I added a remote control just to shut them off when we aren't actively using them because the noise, even with no input signal, is annoying. I think Mackie is worse than others in this regard, but I do think the design criteria for PA is different. All this being said, it may well be that the Crown sounds great as an audio amp -- I haven't tried it, but I do see differences in the performance goals of PA equipment and home audio in general.

For amp suggestions, the Yaqin MS-20L integrated seems to be well-loved (http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1283685) and is priced right for a tube amp. I would try one out if I didn't already have too much equipment.
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post #22 of 95 Old 03-14-2012, 01:51 PM
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One killer bang/buck amp that's rarely mentioned is ATI's 1802. Not much to look at, but fairly high power, very low noise floor, and can handle loads down to 2 ohms.

Oh, if it matters to you, they are made in the US.

Classic Audio Parts sells b-stock ATI's (they are ATI) so you can call them and see what price they're willing to let one go for.
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post #23 of 95 Old 03-14-2012, 04:13 PM
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OK, we now have the "all amps sound the same" camp posting their nonsense here again! Be prepared for demands that you must do this or come up with 16 links that prove hoo-hah or diddledy-farp or you must be wrong.

People in the audio business such as recording engineers and musicians routinely buy amplifiers such as Bryston and Audio Research which cost many thousands of dollars.

Either these people spend big bucks for these amplifiers because they hear major differences in the sound quality, or they are just fools who have lots of money to waste; take your pick. They are in it to make a living, so they must just be fools who waste money, right?

I have listened to literally dozens of different amplifiers in my own system in my home evaluating the way they make music sound to me, and I certainly hear major differences in amplifiers. Those who don't hear them can certainly save money by buying some cheap junk and listening to it, and that is just fine with me. That is what they deserve.

Those who want me to "prove" what I can hear or not hear are as relevant to me as if someone wanted me to prove I can tell yellow from blue. Their claims that you have to do a certain testing method or your opinion is meaningless are a giant pain in the backside in my opinion, and nothing more.






Quote:
Originally Posted by syd123 View Post

I'm partial to integrateds as I think there's little rationale for separating the power and pre stages. There's less clutter and fewer hum issues with integrateds.

As for which, well... Bear in mind that it's not a scientifically validated fact that people can hear ANY differences b/w amps (when precisely volume-matched and operating to spec), so I would be very skeptical of someone's claim that this amp or that sounds awful or great. The lack of evidence doesn't prove that differences are non-existent, but it certainly suggests that if they do exist, they are apt to be very very small. So comment's like "amp A crushes amp B" are pure hyperbole.

So my recommendation would be to buy for features (for me, bass and treble controls are a must), aesthetics, reliability, etc.. My pick: Whatever NAD fits your budget. If you're sticking with the outboard amp plan, I'm quite certain the Parasound is just fine.

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post #24 of 95 Old 03-14-2012, 04:18 PM
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The Cambridge 550A and 650A are both amplifiers I have heard, and they are better-sounding than any Yamaha amplifier I have heard. I have never listened to the S500, though, so I can't comment on it.





Quote:
Originally Posted by astromoose View Post

I've been looking into the Cambridge Audio 550A that you recommended, commsysman. It's very nice looking. How does this integrated amp compare to Yamaha's S500?

Also wanted to mention that I'm open to used items as well. So not everything has to be new. If I can get a nice used amp under 1000, that'd be great.

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post #25 of 95 Old 03-14-2012, 04:58 PM
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I have listened to literally dozens of different amplifiers in my own system in my home evaluating the way they make music sound to me, and I certainly hear major differences in amplifiers.

I'm sure you do.

But no one else has the same biases you do, so your experiences are totally irrelevant to anyone else. They would be well advised to ignore you.

If you can't explain how it works, you can't say it doesn't.—The High-End Creed

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post #26 of 95 Old 03-14-2012, 05:25 PM
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My "bias" is to prefer listening to amplifiers (and other audio components) which have the lowest possible intermodulation distortion possible, which makes musical instruments and voices sound as clear and realistic as possible.

Since this is a forum about audio systems, I think it is reasonable to assume that a lot of the people reading my comments share my "bias", and appreciate good sound quality. I will let them decide whether my comments are relevant to them or not; you might want to do the same.

If someone does not care about sound quality, they are certainly free to follow your instructions.




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I'm sure you do.

But no one else has the same biases you do, so your experiences are totally irrelevant to anyone else. They would be well advised to ignore you.

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post #27 of 95 Old 03-14-2012, 05:30 PM
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Quote:


My "bias" is to prefer listening to amplifiers (and other audio components) which have the lowest possible intermodulation distortion possible, which makes musical instruments and voices sound as clear and realistic as possible.

You don't even know what "bias" means. Another reason people would do well to ignore your advice.

If you can't explain how it works, you can't say it doesn't.—The High-End Creed

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post #28 of 95 Old 03-14-2012, 05:47 PM
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"Bias" is defined as a preference or inclination in the Oxford English Dictionary.
Most of us are aware of that; perhaps you missed class the day that was covered.

It is unfortunate that your knowledge base is as bad as your superfluous free advice to everyone.

But hey; if you think everyone reading these posts needs your free advice on how to think and what to do, you just keep on dishing it out. I'm sure it makes you feel important.


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You don't even know what "bias" means. Another reason people would do well to ignore your advice.

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post #29 of 95 Old 03-14-2012, 05:55 PM
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post #30 of 95 Old 03-14-2012, 07:22 PM
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Quote:


"Bias" is defined as a preference or inclination in the Oxford English Dictionary

Which is not the technical definition relevant to this discussion. The biases we are talking about are subconscious. Contrary to your previous assertion, you do not know what your biases are. You only know that you have them, cannot control them, and must take active steps to avoid letting them influence your conscious judgments of sound.

Quit digging.

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