Are audio companies all involved in a huge conspiracy? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 3048 Old 08-18-2012, 10:12 PM - Thread Starter
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Ok, just from my observations, this is what I've seen.

Scientifically speaking, among the scientific side of people who have talked about audio, $50,000 amplifiers are the same as $500 amplifiers, speaker interconnects scientifically cannot explain perceived audible differences, and speakers like the Anat Reference II Professional $107,000 speakers really only use a couple thousand dollars worth of 3rd party components and cabinetry while marking vastly marking up the price and $20,000 speakers doing similar practices. Considering most audio companies are buying massive bulk and saving 50% off msrp, it's even cheaper to build.




Now, I'm really not here to start an argument so no one get mad.

But isn't this sort of like a conspiracy? That if you even dug deeper like a 20/20 or 60 minutes research team, they'd find even more bizarre things?

I mean if you think about it, all the wiring in speakers, audio processors and amplifiers are generic non-expensive wiring so even if you used expensive wiring, this wiring would be a break in the chain.

It's like if you have water pipes and 10 feet of the water pipe is crystal clean piping while 2 feet of the pipe is groggy, disgusting piping means your water is now contaminated.

I mean, many people who buy in to this stuff could buy $40,000 speaker wiring RCAs and battery cable, $50,000 monoblock amplifiers, $15,000 processor, $5,000 CD player and $100,000 speakers and spend $250,000 total.


Many people who feel that audio decoding components, interconnects and processors are very, very similar could spend $75 on interconnects, $1,000 on amplifiers $1,000 on processor/cd player and build similar YG acoustic knock offs with active crossovers for $5,000 or hire someone and spend an extra $1,000.

That'd be $250,000 vs $10,000 for very similar sound.

Factoring in how much companies spend on buying 3rd party audio components and actually cost to build these things even interconnects, it seems pretty crazy.

The cost to building $20,000 wiring can't be any more then a hundred dollars.

Just curious what you guys think like maybe 20/20 or 60 minutes should do an episode on this.







I thought it'd be interesting to add this scientific look at the placebo effect and the power of suggestion proven in several different trials in this multi-page article:

http://socyberty.com/psychology/the-power-of-the-placebo-effect/
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post #2 of 3048 Old 08-19-2012, 12:35 AM
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60 Minutes did an episode on modern art where simple household items sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars. I think one was a blank canvas. Here is the updated episode by the way: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7403948n

Explain that and I will explain the bit about high-end audio smile.gif. When you are done with that, explain why we need an SUV to drive to work rather than a bike. Why we need anything more than a tent to live in. Or why we spend money on bottled water that is filtered city water which at one time, cost as much as gasoline in US! smile.gifsmile.gif
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post #3 of 3048 Old 08-19-2012, 08:34 AM
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The thing you need to understand is that the $100,000 turntables and speakers and amplifiers are mainly sort of like the concept cars that are sent to auto shows by manufacturers.

They are mainly engineering exercises to test new concepts and production techniques.

Yes, they will usually sell them to you, but the main point is to demonstrate a technological tour de force, and the production run may only be in single digits.

Wilson Audio is one company that is an exception; they actually produce lots of speakers that cost over $50,000. Some people buy Ferraris and Rolls-Royces too.

Personally, I find my Corvette, for $50,000, just as satisfying in every way as a Porsche or Ferrari for 3 to 5 times the price, and peformance comparisons are often inconclusive overall. My Prius is very satisfying and practical too; enjoyable to drive and I get to thumb my nose at OPEC.

I also find my Gallo and Vandersteen speakers, for less than $5000, nearly as good-sounding as speakers costing much more.

In general, there are usually MAJOR differences in sound quality, to my ears, between low-priced components and some costing several times more, but when you get above $5000-6000, the point of diminishing returns sets in fast. My main system probably cost under $20,000, and the sound is to die for; pretty hard to beat in any way IMO.

Time changes technology, too. In 2006 I reluctantly spent $6000 for the Ayre C5xe SACD player, because it sounded so good to me. The $1000 OPPO BDP-95 is now a (slightly) better-sounding player. Anything more expensive is essentially obsolescent.
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post #4 of 3048 Old 08-19-2012, 09:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ComputerTech0903 View Post

maybe 20/20 or 60 minutes should do an episode on this.

I once suggested to Penn & Teller that they do a "BS" show episode on high-end audio.

It's probably not a conspiracy, but a lot of companies understand very well what Mark Twain and P.T. Barnum told us more than 100 years ago.

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post #5 of 3048 Old 08-19-2012, 09:59 AM
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Conspiracy implies that they're working together. That's not apparent, or necessary. They're just a lot of little companies that have discovered the power of selling via suggestion.

As for why this doesn't draw the attention of the media--or, for that matter, law enforcement--how do you argue that cable X doesn't make a system sound better if every customer who's ever bought one thinks it does? It's not like patent medicines where people wind up spending their money on a non-cure rather than a real cure. The harm is only in the price paid, and people freely and willingly paid that price.

I'd love to see a Penn & Teller bit on this, though.

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post #6 of 3048 Old 08-19-2012, 12:25 PM
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Originally Posted by mcnarus View Post

Conspiracy implies that they're working together. That's not apparent, or necessary. They're just a lot of little companies that have discovered the power of selling via suggestion.
As for why this doesn't draw the attention of the media--or, for that matter, law enforcement--how do you argue that cable X doesn't make a system sound better if every customer who's ever bought one thinks it does? It's not like patent medicines where people wind up spending their money on a non-cure rather than a real cure. The harm is only in the price paid, and people freely and willingly paid that price.
I was going to say much the same. It doesn't need for them to all join a club and have clandestine meetings to work out how to collectively dupe the customer, just one manufacturer do it, and others see them get away with it and hop on the same bandwagon.
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I'd love to see a Penn & Teller bit on this, though.
So would I - Penn's blunt expression and colourful turn of phrase, aka swearing like a trooper would make for unmissable hilarity.
The best three episodes of BS were bottled water, 'the best' (with Robin Leach) and the one where they got the ecotards to sign a petition to ban water.
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post #7 of 3048 Old 08-19-2012, 02:19 PM
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Originally Posted by ComputerTech0903 View Post

Ok, just from my observations, this is what I've seen.
Scientifically speaking, among the scientific side of people who have talked about audio, $50,000 amplifiers are the same as $500 amplifiers, speaker interconnects scientifically cannot explain perceived audible differences, and speakers like the Anat Reference II Professional $107,000 speakers really only use a couple thousand dollars worth of 3rd party components and cabinetry while marking vastly marking up the price and $20,000 speakers doing similar practices.

I see a lot of similarity between this segment of high end audio and other boutique businesses.

Prices asked seem to have more to do with the egos of the buyers and sellers than actual production costs. Are the asking prices ever paid? Who knows?
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Considering most audio companies are buying massive bulk and saving 50% off msrp, it's even cheaper to build.

Of course, but unit costs versus selling price margins are required to recover other costs.
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But isn't this sort of like a conspiracy?

Let's take the legal definition of conspiracy:

"An agreement by two or more persons to commit a crime, fraud, or other wrongful act."

The key is proving the existence of a crime, fraud or other wrongful act. Most who sell high end audio somehow manage to avoid legal guilt of an actual crime or fraud by whatever means.

In the end, some knowledge of actual state of mind would seem to be required.

When we invented ABX and realized how much revealed truth about high end was wrong (and this was in the middle 70s when the BS quotient was only a fraction of what it is now.) we spent some time thinking about this. Are the perps honestly mistaken, or do they really know what is going on?

I think that varies with the individual.
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post #8 of 3048 Old 08-19-2012, 02:43 PM
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.... explain why we need an SUV to drive to work rather than a bike. Why we need anything more than a tent to live in. ... smile.gif
Well, let me see: I don't want to get wet riding to work or taking so much longer to get there. I don't think other drivers want to force you off the street. Listening to music or news while driving to work is a good task. Not much stuff flies into your face or on you while driving. It also has multiple other tasks it can handle instead of having multiple transportation vehicles, one for each task. I am sure there may be a few others?

A tent is rather difficult to heat or cool? Setting up your audio and video system is not so easy. I doubt many tents can survive nature as well as some homes can. If you think your audio room has a low enough noise floor, what would you do in a tent???wink.gifbiggrin.gif

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..., but a lot of companies understand very well what Mark Twain and P.T. Barnum told us more than 100 years ago.
--Ethan
Refresh my memory wink.gifbiggrin.gif
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post #9 of 3048 Old 08-19-2012, 03:43 PM
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Lets face it, if you got it to spend, and its your most important hobby, your going to spend it. Are super expensive components cost effective? Of course not. Is a $5000 amp better than a $500 one? Usually. If you want bang for the buck, go ahead and keep your mid-fi audio system. If you seriously cant tell a difference in sound between a Sony receiver and a Classe power amp, then I feel sorry for you. If you dont think a $50,000 speaker is worth the money, dont buy it.

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post #10 of 3048 Old 08-19-2012, 04:10 PM
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..... If you seriously cant tell a difference in sound between a Sony receiver and a Classe power amp, then I feel sorry for you. If you dont think a $50,000 speaker is worth the money, dont buy it.

Why would you feel sorry for him? I am also sure he will not buy those speakers wink.gifbiggrin.gif
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post #11 of 3048 Old 08-19-2012, 04:20 PM
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Originally Posted by jim19611961 View Post

Lets face it, if you got it to spend, and its your most important hobby, your going to spend it. Are super expensive components cost effective? Of course not. Is a $5000 amp better than a $500 one? Usually. If you want bang for the buck, go ahead and keep your mid-fi audio system. If you seriously cant tell a difference in sound between a Sony receiver and a Classe power amp, then I feel sorry for you. If you dont think a $50,000 speaker is worth the money, dont buy it.

this post is a good example of why there's no need for a conspiracy, as there are more than enough enablers out there...
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post #12 of 3048 Old 08-19-2012, 05:53 PM
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I just want to weigh in on the OP's observation on the Anat Reference speaker. They are "in house" products and are largely CNC milled into existence. if you want a speaker system fabricated from aircraft aluminum, then you have to pay the price. I agree many speakers are made from sourced products, but this is not one of them.
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post #13 of 3048 Old 08-19-2012, 06:40 PM
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Originally Posted by jim19611961 View Post

If you seriously cant tell a difference in sound between a Sony receiver and a Classe power amp, then I feel sorry for you.

We can all tell the difference with our eyes. Every time people are asked to discern differences like this based only on SQ, they fail. Go figure!
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Is a $5000 amp better than a $500 one? Usually.
You mean it looks better?
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post #15 of 3048 Old 08-19-2012, 07:17 PM
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Some of you people must live in a different reality than I do. You go on believing there is no difference in different price levels of gear. Its sad that those of you in this crowd will never know what the difference is because your minds are made up on the matter ahead of time. Believe what you want. But I have owned more than a dozen amps ranging from $100 12w receivers to $5000 200w Class A amplifiers. At least I can say that I have heard and owned these and a myriad of others priced inbetween and each has had a unique sonic signature and capabilities. No testiment or proof that I could offer would make any difference here so I am not going to present you with any.

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post #16 of 3048 Old 08-19-2012, 07:32 PM
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Some of you people must live in a different reality than I do.
This is true.
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No testiment or proof that I could offer would make any difference here so I am not going to present you with any.
Quite the contrary. We've been consistent and clear about the nature of the evidence that would change our minds. (That's the true definition of open-mindedness.)

But what about you? What evidence would be sufficient to convince you that the differences in amps you think you've heard were really just a psychoacoustic illusion?

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

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post #17 of 3048 Old 08-20-2012, 04:32 AM
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Originally Posted by jim19611961 View Post

Some of you people must live in a different reality than I do.

Seems to be true. Unlike many others we understand how to compare audio gear and control the more obvious sources of bias. Make no mistake, when we do sighted, non-level-matched listening evaluations like many audiophiles, we perceive the same things that they do.

However, you might want to ask yourself - since we know that equipment sounds considerably different and in unexpected ways when levels aren't matched, why do people persist in comparing equipment that way? I would be ashamed to admit that I was advising people based on such obviously flawed evidence!
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You go on believing there is no difference in different price levels of gear.

It is not merely a matter of belief, it is a matter of experience. Many people say that it is important to follow the evidence of our ears, but apparently there is something wrong when that evidence tells a story that they don't want to hear!
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Its sad that those of you in this crowd will never know what the difference is because your minds are made up on the matter ahead of time.

You're wrong about that. I've heard some of the best amps around, even owned some of them. How can you say that my mind was made up ahead of time when my evaluations were done double blind? Do you think that I have some mysterious way to knowing which amp is the high end amp and closing my ears to how it sounds?
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Believe what you want.

How do you know what I want to hear? Do you think that I should ignore the evidence of my ears and the ears of people that I respect just because you disagree with it?
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But I have owned more than a dozen amps ranging from $100 12w receivers to $5000 200w Class A amplifiers. At least I can say that I have heard and owned these and a myriad of others priced inbetween and each has had a unique sonic signature and capabilities.

So have I. What is your point?
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No testiment or proof that I could offer would make any difference here so I am not going to present you with any.

You would have a very convincing story if you had done level-matched, time-synched, bias-controlled listening tests. Instead all I hear about is non-level matched, sighted evaluations of amplifiers that are often done in different listening rooms with different speakers and recordings and on different days. With all those pre-existing conditions, of course the system sounds different. The same amplifier would sound different from itself with all those other differences and biases in place!
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post #18 of 3048 Old 08-20-2012, 06:16 AM
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Originally Posted by jim19611961 View Post

Some of you people must live in a different reality than I do. You go on believing there is no difference in different price levels of gear. Its sad that those of you in this crowd will never know what the difference is because your minds are made up on the matter ahead of time. Believe what you want. But I have owned more than a dozen amps ranging from $100 12w receivers to $5000 200w Class A amplifiers. At least I can say that I have heard and owned these and a myriad of others priced inbetween and each has had a unique sonic signature and capabilities. No testiment or proof that I could offer would make any difference here so I am not going to present you with any.

Which ones met the important performance evaluation criteria of "the wife/girlfriend/pet goat can tell the difference from another room"? Those would be on my list wink.gifrolleyes.gif
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post #19 of 3048 Old 08-20-2012, 06:38 AM
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Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

Seems to be true. Unlike many others we understand how to compare audio gear and control the more obvious sources of bias. Make no mistake, when we do sighted, non-level-matched listening evaluations like many audiophiles, we perceive the same things that they do.

On this we seem in agreement
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However, you might want to ask yourself - since we know that equipment sounds considerably different and in unexpected ways when levels aren't matched, why do people persist in comparing equipment that way? I would be ashamed to admit that I was advising people based on such obviously flawed evidence!

How do you know in what way ive done my comparisons?
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It is not merely a matter of belief, it is a matter of experience. Many people say that it is important to follow the evidence of our ears, but apparently there is something wrong when that evidence tells a story that they don't want to hear!

My conclusions are based on experience also
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You're wrong about that. I've heard some of the best amps around, even owned some of them. How can you say that my mind was made up ahead of time when my evaluations were done double blind? Do you think that I have some mysterious way to knowing which amp is the high end amp and closing my ears to how it sounds?

No mystery. Simply, some sound better than others
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How do you know what I want to hear? Do you think that I should ignore the evidence of my ears and the ears of people that I respect just because you disagree with it?

Agreed. Your ears should be be your guide
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So have I. What is your point?

That amps sound different
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You would have a very convincing story if you had done level-matched, time-synched, bias-controlled listening tests. Instead all I hear about is non-level matched, sighted evaluations of amplifiers that are often done in different listening rooms with different speakers and recordings and on different days. With all those pre-existing conditions, of course the system sounds different. The same amplifier would sound different from itself with all those other differences and biases in place!

Your assuming a lot as to how I have compared different equipment

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post #20 of 3048 Old 08-20-2012, 06:41 AM
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You are assuming a lot as to how I have compared different equipment

Your post speaks for itself. The results of well-done listening tests are that predictable.
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post #21 of 3048 Old 08-20-2012, 06:43 AM
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Quite the contrary. We've been consistent and clear about the nature of the evidence that would change our minds. (That's the true definition of open-mindedness.)
But what about you? What evidence would be sufficient to convince you that the differences in amps you think you've heard were really just a psychoacoustic illusion?

I am pretty sure that at some point in time, someone has made the claim that they compared two amps just as you would have them do, and found them to be different in every case. The fact that some cling to the view that they still are not and its simply illusion tells me there is no point in me making the same claim.

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post #22 of 3048 Old 08-20-2012, 06:45 AM
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Your post speaks for itself.

Ditto

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post #23 of 3048 Old 08-20-2012, 07:57 AM
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Ditto

Exactly. I believe in science, know the relevant science, and practice that science. My conclusions are founded in science, and represent what the real world actually does when you strip tradition and false beliefs away.
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post #24 of 3048 Old 08-20-2012, 08:00 AM
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I am pretty sure that at some point in time, someone has made the claim that they compared two amps just as you would have them do, and found them to be different in every case.
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That would be among other people me, because I've compared amps that sounded different, and I've compared amps that sounded the same. However. in every known case, amps that sound different do so for fairly obvious reasons that in this day and age are largely independent of price.
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post #25 of 3048 Old 08-20-2012, 08:04 AM
 
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No testiment or proof that I could offer would make any difference here so I am not going to present you with any.
jim19611961, you've been a member of this forum for well over a year and made 60 posts or so which suggests that you haven't interacted much. Try the search function on " amp dbt" in audio section of this forum and you will gain much needed insights on how to objectively compare amps.
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post #26 of 3048 Old 08-20-2012, 08:22 AM
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Originally Posted by jim19611961 View Post

How do you know in what way ive done my comparisons?

Your assuming a lot as to how I have compared different equipment

Why are you doing the non-answer dance? Have you done the type of careful listening comparisons specified by arnyk and mcnarus or not? I don't wish to offend by claiming to know your mind but your lack of specificity makes me doubtful. In fact, the following quote from you confirms my doubt.

Quote:
I am pretty sure that at some point in time, someone has made the claim that they compared two amps just as you would have them do, and found them to be different in every case.

Oh, well just as long as you're "pretty sure". biggrin.gif You're sounding more and more like your own description of someone who would, "know what the difference is because your minds are made up on the matter ahead of time" and who would, "believe what you want".

Mourning the disappearing usage of the -ly suffix. Words being cut-off before they've had a chance to fully form, left incomplete, with their shoelaces untied and their zippers undone. If I quote your post (or post in your thread) without comment, please check your zipper.
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post #27 of 3048 Old 08-20-2012, 08:22 AM
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How about a test where the inside components of a lower end cheap amp like something from Onkyo or Emotiva was switched out with something from Krell or McIntosh and vice versa. The test could be a basic sighted test where the listeners could see what they were listening too, we could even tell them the prices, Emotiva $899 vs the Krell $10,000 just as examples. I wonder how many would choice the expensive looking amp with the cheaper components as the better sounding one?
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post #28 of 3048 Old 08-20-2012, 08:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jim19611961 
I am pretty sure that at some point in time, someone has made the claim that they compared two amps just as you would have them do, and found them to be different in every case.

If you could point to just one confirmed example of this, just one, your argument would have some merit. Otherwise, it displays the closed mindedness you attribute to those telling a story you are afraid to hear.

Just one.

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post #29 of 3048 Old 08-20-2012, 09:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigus View Post

If you could point to just one confirmed example of this, just one, your argument would have some merit. Otherwise, it displays the closed mindedness you attribute to those telling a story you are afraid to hear.
Just one.

There is a lot of generalizing going on here, on my part as well. So lets break this down a bit. It seems to me everyone will fall into one of these camps, or perhaps inbetween two of them.

1) No matter the price, all decently build amps sound about the same,
2) While there are small differences between so called "high end" amps and your generic consumer electronics, the differences are too small to merit the exorbitant costs associated with the really pricy equipment.
3) Between say $100 receivers and $1000 power / pre amps, there is a pretty substantial difference, but after that, their is a steep curve of diminishing returns.
4) At every price level, there are noticeable differences. These differences do become harder to distinguish at the moderate to extreme ($1500+) end though.
5) You get what you pay for. Certainly pricy stuff is better.

I would say I am somewhere between 3) and 4).

Again, citing examples is a waste of keystrokes because any / all of you with strong opinions have probably done your own tests and reached your own conclusions. I too have done this and reached my own as well. Its mind boggling to me anyone can claim a Krell and a Sony sound basically the same. So much so that I wonder why I even engage in such a discussion.
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post #30 of 3048 Old 08-20-2012, 09:45 AM
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your mind is only boggled because you choose not to accept science, and instead choose to look at "price tag" as a "spec"...

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