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Progress or Reinventing the Wheel?

Discussion in 'audio' started by Charlie_1, Dec 5, 2018.

  1. Charlie_1

    Charlie_1 pfm Member

    I'm not a businessman but assume HiFi companies can only survive by releasing new products which they can claim are better. They can't survive with the same product line indefinitely, even if demand is maintained, cos the 2nd hand market would eventually saturate and reduce sales.

    For example, a big trend over the past few decades seems to be to provide a more detailed finely-etched sound and there's also been a long-term shift to ported speakers that are more all-rounders.

    To some extent I feel that HiFi is a balance of compromises. If so, are buyers missing out more in any way as manufacturers provide us their 'improved' products?
  2. Purité Audio

    Purité Audio Trade: Purite Audio

    A really good system should be as linear as possible, what goes in is what comes out.
    A linear system in a benign room gets pretty close.
  3. Arkless Electronics

    Arkless Electronics Trade: Amp design and repairs.

    All engineering is fundamentally "a balance of compromises" more than anything else!
    Strictly Stereo likes this.
  4. Minio

    Minio pfm Member

    Funny but during the long term, you mention Charlie, I seem to have shifted to non ported speakers.

    Bass is tighter and perhaps it's that I like my speakers well run in!?

    Some people think I'm mad but I've been happier with my old LS4A'S and Wharfedale 505.2s rather than some more modern (and much more expensive ) speakers I've tried.

    I still use modern amps though, buyer's of modern amps and spesker are getting as good as what was about thirty or so years ago.

    If you don't like ports there's always a way to stuff em, so modern speakers can work either way.
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2018
  5. cjyosemite

    cjyosemite pfm Member

    I think your first statement is true for any product but less so in the hi-fi industry than many others. For example Quad, Rega & Naim generally have quite long product lives, but they also need to keep up with changing tastes & trends due to computer technology applied to hi-fi kit.

    Regarding speakers, I think they have changed significantly due to the development of new materials for drive units which are lighter & stronger, enabling smaller cabinets to be used & higher powered amplifiers. Advances in porting tecniques have also played a part & the difference between ProAc D18s & D20Rs is a good example with significant bass extension in the latter whilst using the same mid-bass driver & same cabinet as the former. On the other hand my sealed box Spendor A5Rs have tighter bass than their ported predecessor, the A5, which were rear ported & slightly smaller in height.

    Whether you feel you are missing out by not "upgrading" to newer models depends largely on whether you simply enjoy your music or whether you are a hooked hi-fi nerd, which most of us on here are in the eyes of the general public. Of course hi-fi is a balance of compromises, but we are addicted to trying to get that balance just right. We have to spend our money somewhere for the sake of the economy & to keep the government in operation through the taxes we pay.
    Minio likes this.
  6. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    The trends I’m noticing are rather depressing. First, at this point in time it seems that conventional two-channel audio is a declining market, the result being that a lot of companies appear to be trying to sell upgraded product to an existing and ageing customer base. Often to my eyes just more expensive and unnecessarily fancy variants on tried and tested themes.

    Secondly there is a huge trend for ‘too small’ speakers. I absolutely love mini-monotors when used in the extreme near-field, so I’m not talking about these as they have always been a valid thing. I’m far more concerned with the trend to try and fill a large space by moving tiny drivers a very long way in aggressively ported hollow boxes. It just doesn’t sound good to me. Part is fashion, part attempts to reduce manufacturing and shipping costs, but this is definitely a step backwards from an audiophile perspective.

    The obvious change in balance/presentation I suspect is the end result from the compromise in speaker format, and decades of subjective dealer dems where people often confuse ‘detail and speed’ with ‘bright and lean’ only to regret it at home later. The days of speakers being designed in anechoic chambers and intended for a subtlety dropping treble response in-room are long gone. An increasingly ageing and correspondingly deaf marketplace likely doesn’t help, but this can’t be the whole thing as I’m 55, an ex-rock muso, and much modern stuff sounds way, way too bright, forward, dry and thin to me despite not having much left over 10-12kHz!

    There is still some very interesting well-made stuff around and some very decent companies making it, but viewed as a whole I find two channel audio to be in a far more depressing place these days than many other areas of electronics e.g. headphone listening, analogue synthesis, guitar FX/boutique amps etc etc, all of which seem to be going through a new golden age.
    JensenHealey likes this.
  7. John Phillips

    John Phillips pfm Member

    All HiFi components embody compromise in one sense or another. But IMHO, over my kit-buying lifetime many products have approached so close to nominal perfection (at least in a technical sense) that manufacturers' marketing departments have for a long time been using all sorts of techniques to persuade buyers to cooperate in keeping up their sales figures.

    And quite often it seems to me that the marketing department's use of the word "improved" means, in Humpty Dumpty fashion, anything but.
  8. Minio

    Minio pfm Member

    That's what I like to think.

    I tell the misses that as well!
  9. I.D.C.

    I.D.C. pfm Member

    Spent far too much on HiFi over the years as much as a hot hatch car. Now I have a system never feel the need to change it's 4 years old now. Great at low and high volume.
  10. davidsrsb

    davidsrsb pfm Member

    I just wish that some makes would have a go at making good wall mount speakers.
    I am going to have a go at making a wall mounting folded TL sometime.
    I cannot stand the frying treble "detail" so common now.
  11. Charlie_1

    Charlie_1 pfm Member

    Thanks for responses. Interesting to read your thoughts.

    I wondered if Hifi has steadily become clearer but more buttoned up and robbed of some rhythm, but I've not heard enough equipment over the years to feel confident this has been the case over time. Clearly that's not so for some of you who are happier than ever before.
  12. peter bj

    peter bj pfm Member

    There does seem to be a trend for speakers to have become apparently more detailed at first listen which you then realise as bright and thin , as mentioned above impresses in the dem room .
    I feel they should go back to a fuller warmer sound but still with detail
  13. Minio

    Minio pfm Member

    I don't see 2 speaker stereo being confined to a coffin in the too near future. Witness the vinyl revival with quite a few new turntable models and accessories coming onto the market which I would never have predicted.

    Listening to music at home, as audiophiles do, has always been a bit nerdy but I see no reason why future generations would stop doing so.

    Like the current youth driven vinyl fashion, there is plenty of scope for a resurgence of the traditional hifi system even if things look a bit sad for the industry at the moment.
  14. misterdog

    misterdog Not the canine kind

    Minimal distortion is my aim, distortion is cumulative so source - pre - amp - speakers it all adds up.

    Electrostatic loudspeakers have some of the lowest distortion specs. So I use amps with THD of
    • Ultra-low 0.00020 % THD (55 W, 8 Ω, 1 kHz). with mine.
    If music still sounds poor I can say I have done my best. Though the design still has impact.

    The listening room can easily undo all the hard work you put into providing the 'perfect' system.
  15. Martyn Miles

    Martyn Miles pfm Member

    Interesting that.
    The modern Wharfedale Denton has a fuller, warmer sound but still with detail.
  16. misterdog

    misterdog Not the canine kind

    Or ESL loudspeakers for open room sound. :)
  17. misterdog

    misterdog Not the canine kind

    The current Quad ESL panels can be changed from the ones fitted in the the first 63's from 1981.

    37 years.
  18. Hiesteem

    Hiesteem Active Member

    I have had Restek electronics and Ruark speakers for over 20 years. This effectively ended my box swapping habit which was proving expensive and not giving the playback satisfaction that I felt it should given the money spent.
    I listen to all the new stuff and never feel moved to spend any money which was my intention all those years ago.
    My view with audio kit is there is good value equipment out there if we choose to look a bit further a field than just the main stream brands.

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