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PostPosted: Fri Aug 10, 2018 11:36 am 
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Location: Homestead, PA, US
There is a warning that just came on the radio warning for possible flooding in my area. It got me to thinking of disasters of the past of the audio kind.Years ago when I just got started in the hobby, there was no internet in site. Just magazines. The pages of many of them were filled with ads from mail order places and their lure of lower prices. Back then it was not unusual for people to read a review and buy new audio equipment through the mail. Those that really cared, might go to their non discounting local audio retailer to audition said item first. Little did the salesman know that they were going to the trouble of demonstrating something for the financial benefit of some far away mail order house. Or sometimes there just wasn't a local dealer.
My interest started in the 1970's when I was in my teens. I had looked at Stereo Review & High Fidelity, but a publication of much grander proportions popped up on the newsstands. The Guide To Stereo & Tape Equipment. Remember that? Instead of a handful of reviews, there were equipment reviews galore and they even had an annual with literally many hundreds of items pictured and capsule review summaries from past issues I guess. According to them, the speaker that was the king; that all other speakers must be compared to: The Bose 901series III. Later, many years later it shared top honors according to this publications with the $7,000 (around 1980) Beveridge Electrostatics. Other speakers in their top class included the KLH Baron ( a floorstander with smoked glass tops), JBL 166 Horizon, and Pioneer HPM 200's, ( their High Polymer Molecular film tweeters were said to have less weight than the air in a whiskey shot glass).
They, like the other competing publications were big on measurements, but only a sentence or two (if that) on how it sounded. The Shure cartridges were always ranked tops of course. I bought one of their highest recommendations, a Micro Acoustics electret cartridge. It was to this day the brightest cartridge I have ever heard. Combined with an electret set of headphones, also highly recommended, guaranteed you wouldn't miss the sound of even a single bristle of a drummers brush.
Another late 1970's issue recommended a Philips turntable with heat sensor buttons. I must have came in from the cold one time and when I pressed the button to get things spinning, nothing happened. I later figured it out. My first serious pair of speakers was also influenced by their review. It was a Technics Linear Phase SB 7000. The review said "Live versus tests have fooled many a listener." The review fooled me into parting with a full 2 weeks pay for a very nastily colored sounding speaker. The midrange & tweeter were mounted outside the cabinet with only a fabric grill section over it, (at least only the bass was boxy, boomy sounding). I must have been one of the few people in the world that started out with a phase aligned, sitting in free space, midrange and tweeter speaker. Perhaps it did at least give me a taste of sound without cabinet diffraction smearing the sound. When I went into a high end audio store the salesman broke it to me what an expensive mistake I had made on that one. The speaker that made the often read terms, tone colors and low coloration really have meaning and dawn on me was a Cizek speaker that the same store carried.
My early purchases were at least half mistakes, some costly; based on reviews in publications who you presumably trust for expertise, but whose expertise or politics really were questionable at best. The smart thing is to always listen at length first before buying, and even if you are young or neophyte, if there is something amiss about the sound, it might strike you, even if you are unable to actually put it into words. Many years later I also made a major mistake buying a Robertson Forty Ten amplifier which was deemed as "King" of the solid state hill, when in reality it was only an amp with decent bass but which was white sounding in the mids and highs with bleached tone colors. Unlike some of the other items which were carried by "sale every weekend" type stores, the Robertson was carried by many high end dealers. Once again; expertise ?? The publication that crowned it king had trouble with subscribers dropping like flies after. I guess its all part of the learning process, is one way to look at it. At least The Absolute Sound & Stereophile in my experience steer you better, and wouldn't recommend stuff with such obvious annoying colorations, which you can hear on literally every note.
What are some of your mistakes in audio equipment buying and "WHY", and what influenced you in the wrong direction?


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 10, 2018 2:06 pm 
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Location: Homestead, PA, US
I forgot to mention in the above that many people get hung up on one particular performance category like transient response, and they look up reviews trying to find a really fast cartridge etc..
When my Micro Acoustics electret cartridge needed a stylus replacement, I temporarily fished out and mounted a Shure V15 III which was the cartridge it replaced years ago. My "ears" and evaluation had gotten more mature since I last used the Shure and I soon realized on the 1st LP, that the cartridge I had sitting in my drawer for years was actually the best cartridge. Way more natural sounding, purer, pleasant and accurate. The MA cartridge was faster by far and more effortlessly defined on fast playing, like mandolin etc.,but it was Shure not the Micro which I then realized was overall the best cartridge.
The Shure III was their top of the line at the time. It had a rise time of 23 microseconds, which was actually slower than the lower model M91ed, and a lot slower than the 18 microsend rise time of the then soon to be released V15 type IV. But the III wasn't' about speed. It was about musicality, tone colors, good bass and of course tracking.It was much slower than the Micro, but that's only one aspect of the whole.The Shure stayed mounted !
I also meant to mention that except for the above 1970's speaker, I have used and admired many Technics products.They are back and many say they are better than ever. Their stuff has always been good value and reliable for me.
Always try to listen to whatever you are buying and Don't look for reviews where maybe both you and the reviewer are hung up on certain performance areas. It is the "overall" that really is the most important.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 10, 2018 5:36 pm 
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Hey Upside! Hit that 'enter' aka return key every now and then. Your posts would be much easier to read if they looked like this:
And thanks for your contributions to the USAM forums.
:)

Upside wrote:
There is a warning that just came on the radio warning for possible flooding in my area. It got me to thinking of disasters of the past of the audio kind.Years ago when I just got started in the hobby, there was no internet in site. Just magazines. The pages of many of them were filled with ads from mail order places and their lure of lower prices.

Back then it was not unusual for people to read a review and buy new audio equipment through the mail. Those that really cared, might go to their non discounting local audio retailer to audition said item first. Little did the salesman know that they were going to the trouble of demonstrating something for the financial benefit of some far away mail order house. Or sometimes there just wasn't a local dealer.

My interest started in the 1970's when I was in my teens. I had looked at Stereo Review & High Fidelity, but a publication of much grander proportions popped up on the newsstands. The Guide To Stereo & Tape Equipment. Remember that? Instead of a handful of reviews, there were equipment reviews galore and they even had an annual with literally many hundreds of items pictured and capsule review summaries from past issues I guess. According to them, the speaker that was the king; that all other speakers must be compared to: The Bose 901series III.

Later, many years later it shared top honors according to this publications with the $7,000 (around 1980) Beveridge Electrostatics. Other speakers in their top class included the KLH Baron ( a floorstander with smoked glass tops), JBL 166 Horizon, and Pioneer HPM 200's, ( their High Polymer Molecular film tweeters were said to have less weight than the air in a whiskey shot glass).They, like the other competing publications were big on measurements, but only a sentence or two (if that) on how it sounded. The Shure cartridges were always ranked tops of course. I bought one of their highest recommendations, a Micro Acoustics electret cartridge. It was to this day the brightest cartridge I have ever heard. Combined with an electret set of headphones, also highly recommended, guaranteed you wouldn't miss the sound of even a single bristle of a drummers brush.

Another late 1970's issue recommended a Philips turntable with heat sensor buttons. I must have came in from the cold one time and when I pressed the button to get things spinning, nothing happened. I later figured it out. My first serious pair of speakers was also influenced by their review. It was a Technics Linear Phase SB 7000. The review said "Live versus tests have fooled many a listener." The review fooled me into parting with a full 2 weeks pay for a very nastily colored sounding speaker. The midrange & tweeter were mounted outside the cabinet with only a fabric grill section over it, (at least only the bass was boxy, boomy sounding). I must have been one of the few people in the world that started out with a phase aligned, sitting in free space, midrange and tweeter speaker. Perhaps it did at least give me a taste of sound without cabinet diffraction smearing the sound. When I went into a high end audio store the salesman broke it to me what an expensive mistake I had made on that one. The speaker that made the often read terms, tone colors and low coloration really have meaning and dawn on me was a Cizek speaker that the same store carried.

My early purchases were at least half mistakes, some costly; based on reviews in publications who you presumably trust for expertise, but whose expertise or politics really were questionable at best. The smart thing is to always listen at length first before buying, and even if you are young or neophyte, if there is something amiss about the sound, it might strike you, even if you are unable to actually put it into words. Many years later I also made a major mistake buying a Robertson Forty Ten amplifier which was deemed as "King" of the solid state hill, when in reality it was only an amp with decent bass but which was white sounding in the mids and highs with bleached tone colors. Unlike some of the other items which were carried by "sale every weekend" type stores, the Robertson was carried by many high end dealers. Once again; expertise ?? The publication that crowned it king had trouble with subscribers dropping like flies after. I guess its all part of the learning process, is one way to look at it. At least The Absolute Sound & Stereophile in my experience steer you better, and wouldn't recommend stuff with such obvious annoying colorations, which you can hear on literally every note.

What are some of your mistakes in audio equipment buying and "WHY", and what influenced you in the wrong direction?

_________________
I think, therefore I am not sure.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 10, 2018 8:59 pm 
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Location: Homestead, PA, US
Ah hey.Wait a minute.That's an awful thing to say to someone on here.Come on.Oh wait a minute.I'm getting 2 things on my screen.hHows. that. Now. ?


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2018 8:50 am 
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@Upside, thanks for your posts. I enjoyed reading them, even though they were packed tight. Often a long post is unreadable, because its thinking is spaghetti or it never really goes anywhere. Yours were the exception and the story grabbed me.

Few things are IMHO more pleasing to know about than other folks' audio mistakes. On top of that, you say how yours happened. Thanks for your candor.

I do agree with hifijones about the Return key. However if trying it gets you into the trouble your latest post suggests, well hey, never mind.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2018 5:30 pm 
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Location: Washington, DC, US
If I can expand this query to my worst Audio/Video Buying decisions, top of the list would be buying that Sony Laser Disc player, followed by a Denon DVD 3300 deck for which I paid too much. I'd also add perhaps the Allison Two speakers, just before I left the audio business. Not because it was bad, but because it was so big I had it shipped to my new home and it was stolen en route. I ended up replacing it with a used Allison One, which was simply too much for my space. Had I gone instead for the smaller Fours, it could have fit in the car and served me better over the years.

And just as with stocks, where one makes errors on both the buy side and the sell side, so too have I made mistakes in what I've sold. Top of the list would be a Harman Kardon Citation 19 preamp which I sold for very little after its equalizer failed. A Sony STR-7065 receiver sold to buy a new digital tuner. A Denon AVD 2000 DD processor, which I sold (again for too little) to get "something better". And giving my Pioneer PL-71 turntable away to an old girlfriend after I bought a Thorens. Those things fetch a decent price today.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2018 6:50 pm 
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My most embarrassing one wasn't for me, it was bad advice to a friend. This is not even blush-worthy. I hope he never reads this.

I told him to ditch his Swiss idler-drive turntable, now what was the brand, umm, I'm thinking... not Thorens, ah got it, it was a Lenco L78. He put it out in the alley and it disappeared.

Dang. He probably could have sold it for more than he paid for it, to Jean Nantais. :(


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2018 10:17 pm 
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Location: Homestead, PA, US
There was this kid I knew in grade school. He was kind of weird. Nobody knew where he lived, and he wouldn't tell anybody. His parents would drive him to school and then pick him up at the end of the day in a car. In the middle of the morning for years, the milk truck would come by the school and we would each go up to the head of the class and the milkman would hold out a case of about 30 pints of milk and we would choose for ourselves either a pint of white milk or chocolate milk for our little mid morning break. He was the only one after maybe the first grade,who would never go up for a morning milk.
There was a food store almost right on the playground grounds. I think about 90% of their business was candy and cans of pop. We would all go in and buy at recess, before classes let in after lunch, after school, except you know who. When offered some chips or candy, he would always shake his head no.
One year, I think it was around the sixth grade, the school decided to arrange to put on a musical with the students as the performers and with the parents invited to attend as the audience. The teacher asked if any of us students had a record player that they could bring in to learn the songs on the record. I had a record player my sister had given me & so I lugged it into class. My record player sounded just fine at home, but in the classroom which was 4 times bigger, you could hardly even hear it, even with the volume turned to max. After struggling and making do with it for a few days, the teacher asked if there was anyone else who had a record player.
You know who, raised his hand & the next day with his mothers help, he brought in not only a record player, but something that actually lit up real nice and had all these buttons & switches, and the speakers were separate from the turntable & there was 2 of them, and big, made of real wood. When the teacher put on the oh so familiar record that we all knew by heart, we couldn't believe it. Every one of us was stunned by how it sounded.At the start of our preparation many days earlier, I had been handed a little metal triangle and striker. Each student had his own little part. My part was on certain parts of the song I was supposed to come in by striking the triangle. Now I could barely even hear my triangle. The sound from his stereo was so full, big and clear... and loud & thumping that everyone was in awe.
It suddenly dawned on us and it all began to make sense. All those years of refraining from spending any money at all on milk, candy or pop. His stereo was the coolest thing we had ever seen.
One of the kids sarcastically spoke up and asked him, "you haven't bought any milk, pop or candy for years, that must have been real hard saving up for that; what did it cost you a thousand bucks?" He hesitated for a moment and said "no stupid it didn't cost me nuthin',"my neighbor got a new stereo and put it out with the trash." "My parents said where you all live, they don't put out nuthin' but junk."


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2018 5:24 am 
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Location: Sun Prairie, WI, US
Buying Rega products such cheaply made and under performing kit. Run from rega.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2018 5:37 am 
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Location: Repentigny, QC, CA
Related, but not strictly audio.
I bought a 'fancy' tv., internet enabled, in order to get Youtube etc in my sitting room, with stereo attached.
At the time, 2010, it was a bad move - since I needed to wait. For prices to drop, for the interface to be more slick, the software to link NAS to tv to function well, etc.
Sold that tv. 6 years later, made a huge loss!


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2018 10:53 am 
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Location: Chicago, IL, US
Sold my Linn Kan 2s. I miss them. Had an old Pioneer PL10 turntable that was surprisingly good for the price., Recently bought and returned a highly touted MTM pair of speakers, didn't pay attention to terms like I should.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2018 1:08 pm 
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Location: Homestead, PA, US
I never heard the Linn Kans, but saw a review comment that they were the ultimate speaker for rim shots.I see they went all the way up to the Kan IV. What do they sound like and what did they do that you miss?


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2018 9:17 pm 
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Posts: 105
Location: Portland, OR, US
PS Audio 4H preamp
B&K St-140 amp, 105 watt edition
Audio Technica AT-440 ML
All screachers

ARC SP-3 and D-75
Marantz 8B
McIntosh MC-240 and MA-230 (maybe the worst amp I have ever heard and I owned two of them)
All hazy and wan

Interestingly I still use a Van Alstine Mos-fet 120B from the early 1980s in my video system. It is the amp that the B&K was based on, but is much more load tolerant and has never missed a beat. Sounds much better as well.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2018 9:50 pm 
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I still have a PS Audio IVa with a factory mod. In an ancient TAS the then editor HP reviewed it as the cleanest solid state preamp at the time. Then a bunch of ones like Spectral & Nova Jet came out soon after. I remember sending my 4a back to the factory several times for repair.They were a new company still getting its act together.
I had an interesting AT cartridge.It was the 35e, a low output MC with a snap off user replaceable stylus. It will probably be the cartridge of my life since I enjoyed it when I used it and taped so many hundreds of records with it.When playing tales I feel like I am still listening to it.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2018 5:47 pm 
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My first pair of so-called 'high-end' speakers were some Infinity Quantum Jr.s'. I bought them because I worked at a record store that also sold several lines of audio gear and I got a nice discount. Franklin Music in Atlanta circa '78. The speakers were OK but I was a novice in the hobby and I didn't know much about what made a good speaker.

So as soon as I could afford to upgrade I purchased a pair of Infinity Reference Standard 1.5. They were scarcely better and a total waste of money. Nice looking speaker though but their beauty was only skin-deep. I dumped them shortly thereafter and moved up to a pair of Mission 770s'. Worth every penny...they absolutely kicked the Infinity's to the curb.

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