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post #1 of 50 Old 06-14-2017, 02:30 PM - Thread Starter
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Was J Gordon Holt Right?

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Audio as a hobby is dying, largely by its own hand....

The full quote from Stereophile: Audio as a hobby is dying, largely by its own hand. As far as the real world is concerned, high-end audio lost its credibility during the 1980s, when it flatly refused to submit to the kind of basic honesty controls (double-blind testing, for example) that had legitimized every other serious scientific endeavor since Pascal. [This refusal] is a source of endless derisive amusement among rational people and of perpetual embarrassment for me...
I might be on a whole different theme but I don't believe audio is dying at all. I think it is changing direction. People are spending the same amount of money but it is spread over a multi channel system, a video display and digital sources and maybe we should include the smart phone and the data plan into that also. There is more selection of 2 channel components than ever before. It's a great time to have some form of audio as a hobby/entertainment system.

Edit: Inspired by a sig line.
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post #2 of 50 Old 06-14-2017, 03:07 PM
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I might be on a whole different theme but I don't believe audio is dying at all. I think it is changing direction..
Audio is fine and will have longevity.



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Audio is fine and will have longevity.

Vinyl record sales are increasing and when all these millennials finally buy houses they will move from audio from their phones to dedicated listening rooms.
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post #4 of 50 Old 06-14-2017, 06:06 PM
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I might be on a whole different theme but I don't believe audio is dying at all. I think it is changing direction. People are spending the same amount of money but it is spread over a multi channel system, a video display and digital sources and maybe we should include the smart phone and the data plan into that also. There is more selection of 2 channel components than ever before. It's a great time to have some form of audio as a hobby/entertainment system.

Edit: Inspired by a sig line.

He helped the hobby by


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post #5 of 50 Old 06-14-2017, 06:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Russ69 View Post
I might be on a whole different theme but I don't believe audio is dying at all. I think it is changing direction. People are spending the same amount of money but it is spread over a multi channel system, a video display and digital sources and maybe we should include the smart phone and the data plan into that also. There is more selection of 2 channel components than ever before. It's a great time to have some form of audio as a hobby/entertainment system.

Edit: Inspired by a sig line.
JGH was far, far, ahead of his time. He was not wrong about too many things in Audio, as a hobby.
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post #6 of 50 Old 06-14-2017, 06:22 PM
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Think of it this way

In the 60's was when the audio boom took off--it started to mellow by the late 70's/early 80's then the CD took off. Audio peaked in 1990 and went into decline where it bottomed out in 2009 at about a third of the sales. The great audio boom would then be calculated as 1965 to 1990. The numbers I saw had audio sales rise by ten times from 65 to 75 so that is a boom in my book.

Then VCRs, computers and movie sales would start to cut into disposable income for most people. The 90's continued the drain with laptops and internet connections followed by cell phones.

As far as a dedicated music only room, that is fading away. Priority is the cell phone for most people, a big screen TV would follow and audio takes up the rear. To figure out priority, what are the items most people purchase first? For me, it was a giant boom box when I was a kid but if I was a kid now, it would be a cell phone. Throw in a laptop and I'd have computer speakers/sub to get some SPL in my bedroom.

Consumers vote with their dollars and I've noticed a sharp decline in audio only stores over the years. Two things are happening, video is a priority and audio gets thrown in. The audio industry is outstanding in shooting themselves in the foot. Go to an audio store, get the big push for cables, wires, snake oil and so on...people can google that and not only did they lose a customer, they make the entire audio industry look bad.

My audio only system is in my garage, sure--I hook my tablet to it all the time but it is a party/gonzo mode system for BBQs. The local kids like to play with a very large sound system, they think it is cool but don't want one in their bedroom.

Audio is changing, it will never recover to the boom years of 65 to 90 because of telecom and video. I, for one am happy that all three of those are merging--no complaints. It was fun catching the tail end of the boom, CDs used to be cool!
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post #7 of 50 Old 06-15-2017, 07:19 PM
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Originally Posted by dave2002ti View Post
Vinyl record sales are increasing and when all these millennials finally buy houses they will move from audio from their phones to dedicated listening rooms.
I don't see this happening. I think it's way off, honestly.

Vinyl sales will level off very soon (if it hasn't already) because few more will be willing to deal with all that vinyl entails.
Even at it's current height of recent reemergence, sales are still a drop in the sales bucket vs digital sales, streaming and pirated material.

Plus, I think most projections I've encountered predict that millennials will be living in smaller spaces. And for those who do manage to have a spare room to work with, only a very small percentage will opt for a "dedicated listening room". That's in part because a bigger obstacle to that vision of more abundant, "dedicated listening rooms" is their youthfully developed reliance and preference for personal audio and video displays (smartphones, tablets) which will remain intact for most of them.

The only remaining avenue for truly large old-school hobby growth is on the international front. Rapidly growing economies and their newly created wealthy classes with lots of disposable income to indulge themselves with many audio toys and the space to contain them.

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post #8 of 50 Old 06-15-2017, 10:46 PM
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It's changing, but far from dead. Home theater systems boomed after 2-channel declined, and now soundbars and wireless lifestyle speakers are the hot item. I'm not a fan of the whole soundbar and bluetooth speaker thing, but I will admit some cool things with DSP are being done to create immersive sound from soundbars, and streaming audio is much more convenient than having to deal with physical media, especially if you can get a lossless setup and hook it up to some good speakers.

As far as the soundbars go, I suppose they're selling to the people who were buying the $499 'home theater in a box' systems before, so they're probably not that much worse than those, and maybe they can be an introduction to HT sound for some people who will then go on to build out proper setups.

One area that seems to be growing exponentially is headphones. Perhaps that's due to the millennial generation living in smaller spaces, or at home, and having less disposable income (though some of the crazy headphone signal chains with multiple independent preamps, dacs, and amps seem to cost a pretty penny) but I'm seeing more and more high-end headphones hitting the market, it's even starting to get my interest. Everyone carrying around devices in their pockets that can instantly access almost any recording ever made also likely has a lot to do with it.

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post #9 of 50 Old 06-16-2017, 05:17 AM
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I don't see this happening. I think it's way off, honestly.

Vinyl sales will level off very soon (if it hasn't already) because few more will be willing to deal with all that vinyl entails.
Even at it's current height of recent reemergence, sales are still a drop in the sales bucket vs digital sales, streaming and pirated material.
Vinyl reminds me of muscle car collecting. Guys from the 60's and 70's loved muscle cars. When they got older nostalgia kicked in. I came of age when muscle cars were our first used cars. They were rusty, unreliable, rattling, poor handling, not all that comfortable and considered junk by 100K miles. And many that are considered good looking today (mid-60's GTOs, 442, Roadrunner) were considered square boring boxes in my day. Today's cars (digital equivalent) are more powerful, more reliable and far better in comfort and handling. But reliving a younger time is inviting. Some younger guys get pulled in by the invigorated excitement and curiosity. I imagine in 20 years tuner cars like Toyota Supra turbo and Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder will become popular because of that generation getting older.

I grew up with vinyl, but never had a desire to go back to all the pops, clicks and hiss. I still have a late 80's NAD turntable with a Shure V15 Type V-MR cartridge and JVC QL-A2 turnatable in storage. I predict, just like the market interest in 1920-40's cars, vinyl will diminish to almost nothing after the nostalgia generation is done with audio.
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post #10 of 50 Old 06-16-2017, 06:35 AM
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Vinyl reminds me of muscle car collecting. Guys from the 60's and 70's loved muscle cars. When they got older nostalgia kicked in. I came of age when muscle cars were our first used cars. They were rusty, unreliable, rattling, poor handling, not all that comfortable and considered junk by 100K miles. And many that are considered good looking today (mid-60's GTOs, 442, Roadrunner) were considered square boring boxes in my day. Today's cars (digital equivalent) are more powerful, more reliable and far better in comfort and handling. But reliving a younger time is inviting. Some younger guys get pulled in by the invigorated excitement and curiosity. I imagine in 20 years tuner cars like Toyota Supra turbo and Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder will become popular because of that generation getting older.

I grew up with vinyl, but never had a desire to go back to all the pops, clicks and hiss. I still have a late 80's NAD turntable with a Shure V15 Type V-MR cartridge and JVC QL-A2 turnatable in storage. I predict, just like the market interest in 1920-40's cars, vinyl will diminish to almost nothing after the nostalgia generation is done with audio.

"pops, clicks and hiss"

What pops, clicks and hiss? As I've stated tens or maybe hundreds of times on these pages, I have every LP I've ever owned, dating back to 1947, and I have very little in the way of pops, clicks and hiss. Not zero, but very little. I have had expensive tables and carts most of my life in addition to a cheap one now on a budget system. Even the cheap is quite satisfying on a lower resolution system. True, I've taken exquisite care of the collection and it shows. Strange this is that the vinyl resurgence is young folks not so much geezers. That's where this is real different form the car collecting.

"Vinyl reminds me of muscle car collecting. Guys from the 60's and 70's loved muscle cars. When they got older nostalgia kicked in"

Very true. I look around these event, shows and hangouts, and even I look a little young and that's saying something. The conversations used to be drag racing, drinkin' and getting laid. Now it's Medicare, prostate problems and aches and pains. The cars are pretty much the same, but the owners have moved on a bit. We have to wrap up the hangs outs before dark because the old geezers can't see to get home. The early morning hangouts, such as Donut Derelicts in HB at Adams and Magnolia, if you aren't there by 5:30 AM there's no parking so the guys are driving there in the dark, which is a concern. No problem with the ole dudes getting up in the morning because they have to get to pee anyway.

And true, It's a nostalgia thing. For me too, as these were just used cars up until maybe the mid 90s when I got into it too. As far as the cars go, 50s, 60s and early 70s were pretty reliable. It all didn't get nasty until the mid 70s up until the last 10-15 years or so starting with the early 'computer' controlled carbs and early emission controls. The last of the old technology is better than the new for a while. As far as modern cars being far safer, better performing and improved in all ways, sure, that's a given, however, and old car on infinitely better modern rubber with a few suspension mods and a very tuned engine can be remarkably good. Even running on reproduction, identical in looks, bias play made from modern compound, it ain't bad. Of course with all that extra lateral grip, you gotta do bigger sway bars because lateral grip is so much higher, to keep body roll in check. A carbed car will accelerate just as well as FI, but of course won't be as emission friendly or as nice on cold starts.

For all out performance. Take a look at min 4:00, and no this isn't a 426 Hemi btw, but a 426 max wedge. That would run right with Russ' new Hellcat. And true, the ram charger Dodges and Max Wedge Plymouths were the extremes from Mopar of the day, but so is the Hellcat of today. This Pure Stock Muscle Car series runs under NHRA Pure Stock rules. Any faster than an 11:50 and you get the boot for the day because of the 11:49 and faster roll cage rule. None of these cars have them to stay stock in function and appearance. And this was on skinny, period correct bias plies, probably in an 8.15 x 14 size.



In the stills, sure there are some grandkids with us (such as mine), but for the most part this entire crowd will be gone in five years, ten years tops and then what. That's the big distinction between this and the vinyl fetish. Lot sof young are hugely into vinyl. The cars ... almost no one. It's toast and soon.

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post #11 of 50 Old 06-16-2017, 07:01 AM
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When I was young guy just out of high school muscle cars were new and somewhat expensive. In '73 and working a full time job I wanted to buy a new Cuda but couldn't afford the $4300 price tag. Now that $4300 only gives you an option package. I have no desire to go vinyl again. Been there done that. Apparently cassettes are now gaining interest as well. If one likes the sound of vinyl or cassette that's fine by me but I won't be playing them. What I would like to see is the end of the loudness wars. That's what's killing home audio. Fidelity means nothing to mainstream music.

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post #12 of 50 Old 06-16-2017, 07:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Scotth3886 View Post
"pops, clicks and hiss"

What pops, clicks and hiss? As I've stated tens or maybe hundreds of times on these pages, I have every LP I've ever owned, dating back to 1947, and I have very little in the way of pops, clicks and hiss. Not zero, but very little.
Maybe you just can't hear them anymore?

Seriously, the pops and clicks come with usage, but the hiss was always there for me. But then again, I can clearly hear what the news anchor is saying from three rooms away, so maybe my hearing is attuned to it. It's been so long since I've listened to vinyl with a good cartridge maybe I wouldn't be able to hear it now. And no, it wasn't the amp, because I heard it not only on my cheap receiver, but on a McIntosh, Conrad Johnson, Hafler, Quad and NAD. I remember the first time I heard a DDD CD. I was like "Where's the hiss?"

This is what it sounds like to me ...
https://freesound.org/people/DanielsonIII/sounds/68400/
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Originally Posted by Scotth3886 View Post
"pops, clicks and hiss"

What pops, clicks and hiss? As I've stated tens or maybe hundreds of times on these pages, I have every LP I've ever owned, dating back to 1947, and I have very little in the way of pops, clicks and hiss. Not zero, but very little.
Only speaking for myself but I prefer zero over very little.

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post #14 of 50 Old 06-16-2017, 07:32 AM
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When I was young guy just out of high school muscle cars were new and somewhat expensive. In '73 and working a full time job I wanted to buy a new Cuda but couldn't afford the $4300 price tag. Now that $4300 only gives you an option package. I have no desire to go vinyl again. Been there done that. Apparently cassettes are now gaining interest as well. If one likes the sound of vinyl or cassette that's fine by me but I won't be playing them. What I would like to see is the end of the loudness wars. That's what's killing home audio. Fidelity means nothing to mainstream music.

Well, there is just a bit of sound quality difference between cassettes (or 8 tracks) and vinyl (well done). Vinyl is more work to some than downloads or CD, but I'm fine with it for the enjoyment received.

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Maybe you just can't hear them anymore?


Seriously, the pops and clicks come with usage, but the hiss was always there for me. But then again, I can clearly hear what the news anchor is saying from three rooms away, so maybe my hearing is attuned to it. It's been so long since I've listened to vinyl with a good cartridge maybe I wouldn't be able to hear it now. And no, it wasn't the amp, because I heard it not only on my cheap receiver, but on a McIntosh, Conrad Johnson, Hafler, Quad and NAD. I remember the first time I heard a DDD CD. I was like "Where's the hiss?"

This is what it sounds like to me ...
https://freesound.org/people/DanielsonIII/sounds/68400/
True, I'm pretty well gone by 14K, but the vinyl issues you refer to occur at a frequency far lower than 14k.

"first time I heard a DDD CD. I was like "Where's the hiss?"

And where's the music. Obviously (or should be by now), we'll never agree. And keep in mind that I listen to digital the vast majority of the time. My big reason is that I don't want to get up to change sides every 25 minutes so for casual listening while I'm also doing something else, no doubt, digital. For really focused, lights off listening when I'm doing nothing else, then vinyl.

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Only speaking for myself but I prefer zero over very little.
Well, there are other issues with digital that I don't care for so we're even. Not like we haven't already had this discussion 176,689,341,907,007 times.
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post #15 of 50 Old 06-16-2017, 08:16 AM
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Well, there is just a bit of sound quality difference between cassettes (or 8 tracks) and vinyl (well done). Vinyl is more work to some than downloads or CD, but I'm fine with it for the enjoyment received.



True, I'm pretty well gone by 14K, but the vinyl issues you refer to occur at a frequency far lower than 14k.

"first time I heard a DDD CD. I was like "Where's the hiss?"

And where's the music. Obviously (or should be by now), we'll never agree. And keep in mind that I listen to digital the vast majority of the time. My big reason is that I don't want to get up to change sides every 25 minutes so for casual listening while I'm also doing something else, no doubt, digital. For really focused, lights off listening when I'm doing nothing else, then vinyl.



Well, there are other issues with digital that I don't care for so we're even. Not like we haven't already had this discussion 176,689,341,907,007 times.
Guess you should just ignore these digiphiles and let them think whatever they want...

I knew it was just a matter of time before one of them would start with stale and moldy vinyl clicks and pops talk...

IMO you don't need to convince anyone... Vinyl is exclusively for those willing to give whatever it takes... all others go digital.
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post #16 of 50 Old 06-16-2017, 08:21 AM
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Guess you should just ignore these digiphiles and let them think whatever they want...

I knew it was just a matter of time before one of them would start with stale and moldy vinyl clicks and pops talk...

IMO you don't need to convince anyone... Vinyl is exclusively for those willing to give whatever it takes... all others go digital.

It's a slow morning here in the office. They keep it up, and I'll start recording and posting vids again (no one wants that), and then they can tell me when that pop or click occurred.

Damn, that side of the LP is over already !!!!! Gotta go change sides.
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It's a slow morning here in the office. They keep it up, and I'll start recording and posting vids again (no one wants that), and then they can tell me when that pop or click occurred.

Damn, that side of the LP is over already !!!!! Gotta go change sides.
During my vinyl listening days, a stackable table was a must. Had a Gerrard table with a spindle that handled 5 LP's at a time. Came in very handy, especially when motor skills were a bit lacking.
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Vinyl is exclusively for those willing to give whatever it takes... all others go digital.
Vinyl is only as good as the mastering, pressing and condition of the LP. Each play take it's toll.
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Vinyl is only as good as the mastering, pressing and condition of the LP. Each play take it's toll.
But if you have a good table, arm and cartridge that toll is pretty minor. And with modern record washers albums can sound better than ever. But yes, like any recorded medium, the mix is the thing and with albums, the pressing is important. However, I'm still listening to 50 year old albums that sound damn good on my system. Some are the worse for wear but still sound fine. I have to say recording engineers back then often did an excellent job.
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post #20 of 50 Old 06-16-2017, 09:42 AM
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But if you have a good table, arm and cartridge that toll is pretty minor. And with modern record washers albums can sound better than ever. But yes, like any recorded medium, the mix is the thing and with albums, the pressing is important. However, I'm still listening to 50 year old albums that sound damn good on my system. Some are the worse for wear but still sound fine. I have to say recording engineers back then often did an excellent job.
Yup... but the point being, the 50 year old album that sounds damn good, wears out with each playing. No matter the quality of the table, arm, cartridge, setup and washing/care/cleaning.


Friction takes a toll.
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post #21 of 50 Old 06-16-2017, 10:11 AM
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But if you have a good table, arm and cartridge that toll is pretty minor. And with modern record washers albums can sound better than ever. But yes, like any recorded medium, the mix is the thing and with albums, the pressing is important. However, I'm still listening to 50 year old albums that sound damn good on my system. Some are the worse for wear but still sound fine. I have to say recording engineers back then often did an excellent job.

Although in mono, I have LPs I've had since new dating all the way back to 1947 and some of them are still great with little in the way of extraneous noises. Not like I don't have a few CDs that skip so nothing is perfect.

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post #22 of 50 Old 06-16-2017, 11:30 AM
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Yup... but the point being, the 50 year old album that sounds damn good, wears out with each playing. No matter the quality of the table, arm, cartridge, setup and washing/care/cleaning.


Friction takes a toll.
Yes, but I don't care. I have 300+ albums so one doesn't get played that often.
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post #23 of 50 Old 06-16-2017, 12:17 PM
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Despite having a large library of LPs (and CDs, too), I often find myself playing the same small group of favorite LPs over and over again. All are original releases from the Beatles to the Who to Linda Ronstadt, purchased in the 1960s through 1980s.

To minimize potential damage to my records, I always utilized excellent turntables and phono cartridges, and used all types of LP and stylus cleaners. In the early 1980s I purchased VPI's first record-cleaning machine (I have serial #1). As a result I rarely ever hear any noise from my records. Being picky about sonics, I also bought spare copies of those favorite LPs for the day when the pressings began to show the slightest loss of fidelity due to wear.

Fast forward to the year 2017 and I have yet to unseal one spare LP.
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post #24 of 50 Old 06-16-2017, 12:32 PM
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Yes, but I don't care. I have 300+ albums so one doesn't get played that often.

I can't even find that one album in the 20,000 LPs let alone have to worry about playing it twice. I have on occasion played the same album many times in repetition, and that's when positioning a new set of speakers. I have my 'go to' LPs for certain attributes, and those albums get beat on several times for that purpose, but I've heard no damage to any of them.

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post #25 of 50 Old 06-16-2017, 05:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Scotth3886 View Post
I can't even find that one album in the 20,000 LPs let alone have to worry about playing it twice. I've on occasion played the same album many times in repetition, and that's when positioning a new set of speakers. I have my 'go to' LPs for certain attributes, and those albums get beat on several times for that purpose, but I've heard no damage to any of them.
The anti-analog crowd loves to exaggerate.
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post #26 of 50 Old 06-16-2017, 07:35 PM
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I might be on a whole different theme but I don't believe audio is dying at all. I think it is changing direction. People are spending the same amount of money but it is spread over a multi channel system, a video display and digital sources and maybe we should include the smart phone and the data plan into that also. There is more selection of 2 channel components than ever before. It's a great time to have some form of audio as a hobby/entertainment system.

Edit: Inspired by a sig line.
I believe the competition for fixed disposable income is what has reduced audio to a speciality hobby and not its inherent dishonesty that still runs amuck today. Holt is right about the dishonesty part in the analog world. These same spinsters also try and cheat in the digital realm as well selling uber expensive HDMI, coax, and SPDIF cables and apply very poetic and flowery terms in their performance but do not back it up with measurements or any scientific data to back their claim

Getting back on track, I also think audio has evolved from analog only to a mix of both digital and analog where the two lines have blurred. Most if not all stereo receivers or integrated amps now have digital inputs, some have analog bass management while others employ digital bass management. From a consumer POV, its a win win situation as the choices are greater.

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Last edited by 3db; 06-16-2017 at 10:11 PM.
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post #27 of 50 Old 06-16-2017, 10:43 PM
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I believe the competition for fixed disposable income is what has reduced audio to a speciality hobby and not its inherent dishonesty that still runs amuck today. Holt is right about the dishonesty part in the analog world. These same spinsters also try and cheat in the digital realm as well selling uber expensive HDMI, coax, and SPDIF cables and apply very poetic and flowery terms in their performance but do not back it up with measurements or any scientific data to back their claim

Getting back on track, I also think audio has evolved from analog only to a mix of both digital and analog where the two lines have blurred. Most if not all stereo receivers or integrated amps now have digital inputs, some have analog bass management while others employ digital bass management. From a consumer POV, its a win win situation as the choices are greater.
Smart shopping and buying used can do a lot to stretch your dollar. I wouldn't have been able to get anywhere near the quality of 2-channel system I've built if I'd limited myself to new speakers or the old-guard of components. Ebay, Craigslist, ID companies, and pro-audio gear that cuts through the BS and delivers measurable performance that matches or exceeds the boutique hi-fi stuff are all paths towards audio nirvana while staying within a reasonable budget.
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post #28 of 50 Old 06-17-2017, 06:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Ratman View Post
Yup... but the point being, the 50 year old album that sounds damn good, wears out with each playing. No matter the quality of the table, arm, cartridge, setup and washing/care/cleaning.


Friction takes a toll.

The virtue off poor auditory memory and nostalgia enhancing colored glasses. Only analog savants can truly tell. 'Normal' audiophiles can digitize a new new lp and digitize again after playing it 20 times.
Foobars ABX tool could yield some interesting results.


Many analog master tapes degraded with only little play time!
In modern times a poor backup strategy will be fatal too.

Stereo is simply Multichannel light.
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post #29 of 50 Old 06-17-2017, 09:22 AM
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Smart shopping and buying used can do a lot to stretch your dollar. I wouldn't have been able to get anywhere near the quality of 2-channel system I've built if I'd limited myself to new speakers or the old-guard of components. Ebay, Craigslist, ID companies, and pro-audio gear that cuts through the BS and delivers measurable performance that matches or exceeds the boutique hi-fi stuff are all paths towards audio nirvana while staying within a reasonable budget.
Yep. I picked up both of my Yamaha KX800 cassette decks for $50 and $90 respectively.

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Subwoofers Rythmic LV12-R
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post #30 of 50 Old 06-19-2017, 03:27 PM
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Being skeptical by nature, for my latest system (just for fun and as an experiment) I abandoned the recommendations of the two leading hobby publications and selected professional studio gear for a serious listening system. Products that you will never see advertised or reviewed within their covers. Such a system is a bit different in that it offers independent amplification of each driver with DSP active crossovers, a compression driver with sophisticated waveguide for upper frequencies, and extremely powerful class D amplification. Not you typical Class A recommended system.

I have to say that I am very happy with this system, and so will not go forward with more conventional components that were recently auditioned and under consideration (Vandersteen 7, B&W 800D3, Kef Blade 2, Revel Salon, Mark Levinson, Classe, Pass Labs, etc)

Best of all, my pro gear cost me between 1/3 to 1/5 of what I was willing to spend on high end stuff.
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