What is the Best "Bang for the Buck" Sound-Quality Upgrade? - Page 7 - AVS Forum
View Poll Results: What is the best "bang for the buck" sound-quality upgrade?
New speakers 318 52.13%
Upgrade AVR 71 11.64%
Acoustic room treatment 168 27.54%
Multiple subwoofers 45 7.38%
Replace generic cables 8 1.31%
Voters: 610. You may not vote on this poll

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post #181 of 264 Old 07-25-2013, 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by bd2003 View Post

I think I'm using 12-14 now...the difference in price is so tiny, when it comes time to wire my new theater (prob in-wall - max run maybe 30ft?), I guess there's no reason to use less than 12?

If you really want lowest DCR over a long run, I would recommend a double run of flexible 14 or 12 awg, and then combine them into one at the ends. 2x14 = 11awg
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post #182 of 264 Old 07-25-2013, 12:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Eternal Velocity View Post

If you really want lowest DCR over a long run, I would recommend a double run of flexible 14 or 12 awg, and then combine them into one at the ends. 2x14 = 11awg



I've heard of this but someone is going to have to prove to me with some measurements that it actually works. To me the current taking two separate paths to your speaker and joining at the end sounds very suspicious. Why not use 10 AWG wire?
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post #183 of 264 Old 07-25-2013, 01:12 PM
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I know I'm jumping in here late...maybe somebody else has already said this. In manufacturing we used the 'theory of constraints' to break bottlenecks and thereby achieve higher productivity. As an example if you upgrade an item that is not 'the constraint' you wont get more productivity. Likewise if you have a bad component that is your primary sonic constraint you will almost always get better sonics if you upgrade thast unit.. If you upgrade a 'non primary constraint' component you may or may not get better sonics. You certainly wont get the most bang for the buck. The trick is to find the primary constraining component. Easy way to do this is to borrow a component from a dealer, friend... and substitute it into your system and see (hear) what is gets you.

That is the only way I have learned to move the system to a higher level of sonics. Make sure you listen over good/bad powerline conditions to make sure you are not making a decision on a a brief 'bad powerline' day. Give it a week or so if you can. Or listen late at night or early in am when powerline is less likely to be carrying a lot of noise. Money is not always a solution. Voicing your system is the best solution.
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post #184 of 264 Old 07-25-2013, 01:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by comfynumb View Post

I've heard of this but someone is going to have to prove to me with some measurements that it actually works. To me the current taking two separate paths to your speaker and joining at the end sounds very suspicious.

I don't see why? It's just 14/4 speaker wire.
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Why not use 10 AWG wire?

Because it's not very flexible and overall frustrating to work with.
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post #185 of 264 Old 07-25-2013, 01:21 PM
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FWIW, I was worried when I switched from 12awg to 16awg on one longer run (45 ft - which is not supposed to be the right thing to do) and I can't hear the difference.
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post #186 of 264 Old 07-25-2013, 01:24 PM
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I know it's a little tough to work with but once you have a system down it's not bad. The rocketfish banana clips from BB work great even though they say they will except up to 12 AWG the 10 fits perfect. I'm not looking to undermine what you said I'm just giving my opinion and you could be very well be right. But look how purddy they are biggrin.gif





A 250' roll is less than 200 bucks at Parts Express. I'm on my 3rd rewire job and still have plenty left. When I bought mine around 7 years ago it was less expensive, but IMO much cheaper than expensive cables and you'll never hear a difference.
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post #187 of 264 Old 07-25-2013, 02:32 PM
 
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Originally Posted by imagic View Post

Audyssey is not the only product out there, it's just the only one that claims to be the only one that actually works... which is silly. Room correction is fairly standard these days. My Pioneer Elite sounds great, and I've heard plenty of non Audyssey-equipped systems that also sound great. I happen to only EQ my subs with dedicated DSP on my external Crown XTi-2002, so I have EQ set to off on the receiver.

What do you think Audyssey does, that makes it better than competing room correction systems? So far, all I gather is that Audyssey has a supremely confident marketing department.

Most people with non-Audyssey AVRs are using one of the other mass produced ones (such as by Pioneer or Yamaha) and not some high end system. In such a case, Audyssey XT32 is superior. It handles the subs, which most people need but most non-Audyssey XT32 systems cannot do. Having had both a Pioneer and an Onkyo, I can say Audyssey XT32 does a better job than the Pioneer's system. By better, I mean the results was more pleasing to me. My personal pleasure in the sound is the most important thing to me. smile.gif

LastButNotLeast said it best - it depends on what your weakest link is.
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post #188 of 264 Old 07-25-2013, 02:34 PM
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Hmmmm...how about the input side of things e.g., Hi-Res 192kHz/24 bit digital audio files Blu-ray / DVD-Audio / SACD (multichannel and/or stereo) FLAC, WAV (PCM), DTS HD Master Audio. CD quality 44.1kHz / 16 bit is so '90s...LOL

My list has some new stuff and some really, really old stuff...LOL

What I like (so far) is being able to play 2.1 / 5.1 multichannel lossless FLAC / WAV (PCM) music files from my wired NAS via the Oppo BDP-103 thru my Onkyo TX-NR 3009...nothing like listening to 96kHz / 24 bit lossless...
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post #189 of 264 Old 07-25-2013, 02:38 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eternal Velocity View Post

Anything over 12 awg is annoying to work with.

Real men use 0000 awg

stockxpertcom_id30568511_jpg_6bfbace24d74fd2b8f83858b8c5d54bc.jpg

RAWR!!!
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post #190 of 264 Old 07-25-2013, 02:41 PM
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Room treatment. It can make an average set of speaker sound first rate.
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post #191 of 264 Old 07-25-2013, 03:03 PM
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I think so much depends on the quality of where you are today as to where you can get the best bang for your buck. If your whole system is fair or worse, I think you have start with a new AV Receiver. I get that most people would enjoy better speakers, and with a crappy reciever is perhaps a good short term win, but I think it's a long term loss. The only reason to go speakers would be life cycle of technology savings over time, if your crappy reciever doesn't destroy your better speakers first. But if you still have a crappy reciever and other parts, how good are the "best bang for the buck" speakers you're going to afford whareas a decent reciever can last a long time and move from room to room over time as your systems improve (i.e. nice to be able to relegate the Onkyo to the garage or kids area later in its life)? Now if you already have decent or better stuff, I vote for adding more subwoofers. Smoother, tighter, better bass makes up for a whole lot. Room treatments would be next as I think that's last on most people's original to-do list, but even a great room treatment with only one sub can't make the bass consistent throughout the room...and I hate walking through the void of bass in the center of a single sub room. Just my thoughts, not my money.
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post #192 of 264 Old 07-25-2013, 03:04 PM
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well i have a sizable chunk of $$ invested. was able to build a dedicated room (22' x 14' x 8') with double 5/8" sheet rock and 3/4" sound dampening board inclosure- no nails, all screws with sound dampening glue between each sheet all on double studded walls and 4 tons of bagged sand in the elevated rear seating section. no 90 degree angles except for the picture wall. have a 120" screen and ceiling mounted HD projector all 12g insulated home runs to each speaker- (Fronts, Mid's, Rears, (in wall) 1 sub, and Center) all from HT Direct. did my entire home with their speakers - and I am very happy with quality and performance
Just upgraded AVR to a Yammie RX-A730 from a RX V661 - obtained all my ideas and construction tips from this site - great people excellent knowledge and ideas. Biggest asset was I had a "clean piece of paper" to work with. I am still fiddling with AVR - however I have noticed a good increase in sound quality (separation and quality) and I am told that is because each speaker has it's own amp.
I am going to install 1 more sub in the rear of the room, behind the seating (as suggested here) - so my bet would be on the AVR device and always has been FWIIW.
My biggest complaint is I have a hard time finding HD 7:1 BluRays.
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post #193 of 264 Old 07-25-2013, 03:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by randallhill View Post

Hmmmm...how about the input side of things e.g., Hi-Res 192kHz/24 bit digital audio files Blu-ray / DVD-Audio / SACD (multichannel and/or stereo) FLAC, WAV (PCM), DTS HD Master Audio. CD quality 44.1kHz / 16 bit is so '90s...LOL



I'm no Audiologist but I have to clear the air to what I know to be true. Humans can hear up to around 23,000Hz, that said most red book CD's can do around the same. This is why most AVR's and pre/pro's do not process above that level with Audyssey engaged. Because you can't hear it. High res will pass in direct, pure direct or the 7.1 outputs only. In most cases. Including my new pre. Some high end Anthems pass high res with ARC engaged like the D2v. So why do SACD's sound so good on most of our gear? Good remastering. How else can you explain a 40 year old recording of Floyds DSOTM sounding so good? That's most of them, but I have 15 year old red books that are really good also. Sadly a lot of new music is recorded loud but sounds like crap after half volume.
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post #194 of 264 Old 07-25-2013, 03:18 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by comfynumb View Post

I'm no Audiologist but I have to clear the air to what I know to be true. Humans can hear up to around 23,000Hz, that said most red book CD's can do around the same. This is why most AVR's and pre/pro's do not process above that level with Audyssey engaged. Because you can't hear it. High res will pass in direct, pure direct or the 7.1 outputs only. In most cases. Including my new pre.

Optimistically! Take the "frequency series" test here: http://www.audiocheck.net/blindtests_index.php

Very enlightening. All of the tests on that site are very enlightening. It's going to be a rare person who can even discern 20,000Hz. CD's can go to 22,050Hz and that's it. Half the sampling rate is the limit.
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post #195 of 264 Old 07-25-2013, 03:21 PM
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Why are cables even on here? It's telling that all the other categories talk about measurable improvements; the cable category is the only one that talks about what people "think" rather than what can be measured by science! It's embarassing for AVS to present a sound improvement quiz that includes upgraded cables as an acceptable answer.

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post #196 of 264 Old 07-25-2013, 03:27 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Tnilsson View Post

Why are cables even on here? It's telling that all the other categories talk about measurable improvements; the cable category is the only one that talks about what people "think" rather than what can be measured by science! It's embarassing for AVS to present a sound improvement quiz that includes upgraded cables as an acceptable answer.

I included cables as a category because I had a feeling that it would not be chosen by the vast majority of voters. You should be happy, since essentially (almost) everybody voted that overpriced cables are not worth the money—by voting for the other categories. cool.gif
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post #197 of 264 Old 07-25-2013, 03:30 PM
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Originally Posted by comfynumb View Post

... I know to be true. Humans can hear up to around 23,000Hz

I can barely hear 15khz, and I'm 24. My 14 year old cousin's hearing drops off around 19khz. Humans that can hear 23khz must be in the minority as it is, and certainly don't necessarily appreciate it.
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post #198 of 264 Old 07-25-2013, 03:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tnilsson View Post

Why are cables even on here? It's telling that all the other categories talk about measurable improvements; the cable category is the only one that talks about what people "think" rather than what can be measured by science! It's embarassing for AVS to present a sound improvement quiz that includes upgraded cables as an acceptable answer.

Really, makes no difference? Can you please tell my client that his audible (although slight) hum from his 15ft cables is just in his imagination. Once we changed to a better built cables, the hum disappear.

Cables do NOT make sound sounds better, I agree, but inferior / cheaply made cables do degrade sound quality.
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post #199 of 264 Old 07-25-2013, 03:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eternal Velocity View Post

I can barely hear 15khz, and I'm 24. My 14 year old cousin's hearing drops off around 19khz. Humans that can hear 23khz must be in the minority as it is, and certainly don't necessarily appreciate it.



Good discussion thanks smile.gif
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post #200 of 264 Old 07-25-2013, 03:36 PM - Thread Starter
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Really, makes no difference? Can you please tell my client that his audible (although slight) hum from his 15ft cables is just in his imagination. Once we changed to a better built cables, the hum disappear.

Cables do NOT make sound sounds better, I agree, but inferior / cheaply made cables do degrade sound quality.

That's true, analog interconnects do need adequate shielding, that's one are where paying for a bit more quality can yield some dividends... but like you say, only up to the point where the cable no longer degrades the sound. Then, there's nowhere to go.

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post #201 of 264 Old 07-25-2013, 03:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eternal Velocity View Post

I can barely hear 15khz, and I'm 24. My 14 year old cousin's hearing drops off around 19khz. Humans that can hear 23khz must be in the minority as it is, and certainly don't necessarily appreciate it.

Although I can not hear 23 kHz, last month when I checked my hearing (which I do at least once a year), I can still hear 18 kHz according to the audiologist...and I'm 40.

I have to admit, however, I truly take care of my hearing which includes wearing musician's earplugs wherever I go except at home, and/or doubling them with over-the-ear ear protector when I go to my clients' construction site etc.

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post #202 of 264 Old 07-25-2013, 04:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by comfynumb View Post

I'm no Audiologist but I have to clear the air to what I know to be true. Humans can hear up to around 23,000Hz, that said most red book CD's can do around the same. This is why most AVR's and pre/pro's do not process above that level with Audyssey engaged. Because you can't hear it. High res will pass in direct, pure direct or the 7.1 outputs only. In most cases. Including my new pre. Some high end Anthems pass high res with ARC engaged like the D2v. So why do SACD's sound so good on most of our gear? Good remastering. How else can you explain a 40 year old recording of Floyds DSOTM sounding so good? That's most of them, but I have 15 year old red books that are really good also. Sadly a lot of new music is recorded loud but sounds like crap after half volume.

I'm no Audiologist either, I won't debate the science regarding kHz and bit depth. However, I agree that if the original analog master recording was exceptionally engineered and digitally remastered (without obliterating the dynamic range by increasing the volume) then, yes, a 44.1 / 16 bit CD (PCM) should sound "good" and if remastered to 192kHz or 96kHz / 24bit resolution, it may sound "better". Unfortunately, there isn't an industry wide consensus regarding how old recordings should be remastered. Most new recordings 44.1 / 16 bit are just plain loud and there is virtually no dynamic range. Google "loudness wars", Neil Young's initiative regarding the sound quality of compressed audio and when the late Steve Jobs went home to listen to music he listened to vinyl records in stereo. Point being, "garbage in, garbage out" and new recordings and old analog remastered recordings vary widely, so you really don't know what you're buying recording wise. And, yes, a poor original analog master recording and then remastered to 96kHz / 24 bit will mean the bad recording may sound a bit clearer not better.

My list has some new stuff and some really, really old stuff...LOL

What I like (so far) is being able to play 2.1 / 5.1 multichannel lossless FLAC / WAV (PCM) music files from my wired NAS via the Oppo BDP-103 thru my Onkyo TX-NR 3009...nothing like listening to 96kHz / 24 bit lossless...
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post #203 of 264 Old 07-25-2013, 04:22 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm no Audiologist either, I won't debate the science regarding kHz and bit depth. However, I agree that if the original analog master recording was exceptionally engineered and digitally remastered (without obliterating the dynamic range by increasing the volume) then, yes, a 44.1 / 16 bit CD (PCM) should sound "good" and if remastered to 192kHz or 96kHz / 24bit resolution, it may sound "better". Unfortunately, there isn't an industry wide consensus regarding how old recordings should be remastered. Most new recordings 44.1 / 16 bit are just plain loud and there is virtually no dynamic range. Google "loudness wars", Neil Young's initiative regarding the sound quality of compressed audio and when the late Steve Jobs went home to listen to music he listened to vinyl records in stereo. Point being, "garbage in, garbage out" and new recordings and old analog remastered recordings vary widely, so you really don't know what you're buying recording wise. And, yes, a poor original analog master recording and then remastered to 96kHz / 24 bit will mean the bad recording may sound a bit clearer not better.

And on the flip-side I have heard so many great recordings on CD that I would point a finger at the engineer, not the format... every time.
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post #204 of 264 Old 07-25-2013, 04:29 PM
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I run a JBL system, ex-recording studio near-field monitors of more than 20 years old and are still in almost perfect condition (with the exception of a new voice coil on one 12" driver). The front 3 are huge and the rear surrounds are JBL's larger bookshelf models. Plus I also run a pair of tiny 2-way Wharfedale bricks for height and a a pair of 'home grown' bookshelf's for centre back. I removed the front wides after a few weeks of use as being of little use (at this stage), space consuming and they were ugly.

I have been running this setup for about 12 years now in my dedicated 21x15 theatre (now with a 136" widescreen) and have tried/tested/used almost every cable type I could get my hands on (my son is a high-end AV installer) and neither he nor could ever tell the difference between a squillion dollar Monster cable, the cheap twisted pair I use for everything, or even 2-pair telephone wire (it was a test so don't faint).

There are certainly scientific tests that show the inductance & capacitance between cable pairs, over long distances, makes a small difference, on test instruments. But we have never been able to actually prove, beyond perceptions, that there is any discernible audible difference between any of them. So at the bottom of any list of gear improvement needs are the cables. The only factor one needs to be considerate of is cable length. Resistance of the wire, over distance, is the biggest factor effecting performance and this is really just a power limiting issue.

So my bottom line is - speakers must be first, then you will know how much grunt you require to drive them, testing this in your room, (after an Audyssey setup), not according to a salesman or test paper. That means the amp(s) is next. Then comes the screen, furniture and then room treatment, (in that order), and of course you sound-proofed the place before you started moving anything in.
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post #205 of 264 Old 07-25-2013, 05:07 PM
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Room Treatment easily!
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post #206 of 264 Old 07-25-2013, 06:28 PM
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for me. it all depends. i live in a country where most houses are made out of concrete completely which tends to create reflections easly. my avr is a vr-60rs (weak stuff) and my speakers are some old technics towers which i found in front of a house.
in my case the biggest upgrade i have experienced was a new (old) jvc stereo receiver with a pair of technics a51 speakers back in 2002 . i was mind blown back in the day. one year later the receiver damaged, disposed my a51 speakers and was the end of an amazing audio era. in 2005 i got for holidays a htib (kenwood) with horrible speaker, a small sub with the avr mentioned above. when i installed the speakers. and the sound was fairly loud, you could listen the echo from the speakers (specially center channel) bouncing wall to wall. the speakers got damaged due to being crappy and a weak receiver and too much crank up. finished using only 2. then i found the technics speakers which are very similar to the a51 ones. despite the first good stereo system i had on my bedroom was from a small receiver and only a speaker the reflections stills there which for me are distracting. but in the end this is like a triangular balance. maybe you buy an emotiva xpr-2 amp connected to a pc @ 192khz but you have 2 cheap no brand speakers. or you have an extremely expensive system with a good preamp, an xpr-2, magnepans speakers (the biggest ones), good subs. but if you room is like a cave will sound bad. for me is a triangular mix between the tree main upgrades. and that is my audio experience story.
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post #207 of 264 Old 07-25-2013, 08:13 PM
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Originally Posted by cjvnyc View Post

This is like a trick question. In terms of THD, speakers are almost always the weak link, but they have become the most expensive aspect of the system so the issue of cost-effectiveness is not trivial. By the way, "back in the day," the greatest bang-for-buck improvement I ever made to a system of mine was to switch to a moving coil cartridge on my turntable. Today, with everything digital, it's harder to find glaring weaknesses outside the speakers.
Unless you're someone like me who prefers vinyl over CD biggrin.gif

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post #208 of 264 Old 07-25-2013, 08:15 PM
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Originally Posted by imagic View Post

And on the flip-side I have heard so many great recordings on CD that I would point a finger at the engineer, not the format... every time.
You are correct my Dark Side of the Moon remastered on vinyl sounds amazing and the MP3 320 Kbp/s sounds great too. It's all about how well the engineer masters each format.

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post #209 of 264 Old 07-25-2013, 10:15 PM
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Originally Posted by schroedk View Post

Best bang for the buck is by far speakers. Everything else is essentially tweaking to get the best out of what they produce, either on the front end with source equipment, or on the back end with acoustic treatments.

Not really. They all work together. If your room acoustic sucks, no amount of speaker upgrade may sound really great. But with less than top of the line speakers, the sound may significantly improve with $1000 of room treatments. I know, b/c that describes what I did.

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post #210 of 264 Old 07-25-2013, 10:36 PM
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Originally Posted by theob View Post

I know I'm jumping in here late...maybe somebody else has already said this. In manufacturing we used the 'theory of constraints' to break bottlenecks and thereby achieve higher productivity. As an example if you upgrade an item that is not 'the constraint' you wont get more productivity. Likewise if you have a bad component that is your primary sonic constraint you will almost always get better sonics if you upgrade thast unit.. If you upgrade a 'non primary constraint' component you may or may not get better sonics. You certainly wont get the most bang for the buck. The trick is to find the primary constraining component. Easy way to do this is to borrow a component from a dealer, friend... and substitute it into your system and see (hear) what is gets you.

That is the only way I have learned to move the system to a higher level of sonics. Make sure you listen over good/bad powerline conditions to make sure you are not making a decision on a a brief 'bad powerline' day. Give it a week or so if you can. Or listen late at night or early in am when powerline is less likely to be carrying a lot of noise. Money is not always a solution. Voicing your system is the best solution.

Power line noise wasn't on the list, and it's very unlikely an issue in any modern setup. The receiver itself will have some filtering, esp in the transformer, and I suspect most will have some type of filtering power strip .... if powerline noise is a problem, you should also be able to hear it with the source off and volume up, I would think.

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