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What advice you wish you could have given to your younger self or someone new to this hobby?

CleanSound

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EDIT: After this thread has been around for a while, I realized that some of these are not advice one can give to their younger self as certain things didn't existed back then (such as spinaroma.org). So I am changing this to advice one can give to your younger self or to those new to the hobby.


Here is the list of HiFi advice I wish I could have given to my younger self:

1) Speakers makes the most difference, spend most of your budget on your speakers despite the fact that electronics may come across as sexier for some people.

1a) Know that the overwhelming vast majority of the time, the speaker's sound performance corresponds to the measurements. Do not buy any speakers that either the manufacturer does not publish their measurements or the speaker has not been properly measured by a reputable third party (or both). Some of these reputable third party for speaker measurements includes, ASR, Erin's Audio Corner, Audioholics and Soungstage (although rather limited in data). And most of that can be found on spinorama.org.

1b) Know that some manufacturers avoid getting their speakers measure.

1c) Spend time and effort to understand speaker measurements and how speaker works, I am constantly learning just by watching Erin's videos. I personally find that this Audioholics article by James Larson is an excellent starting point. As a side note, I find a lot of newbies making this mistake: if you hear any speakers in the showroom or anywhere else that produces a lot of "detail," know that this "detail" is really nothing more than elevated high frequency and can cause listening fatigue. For me personally, elevated high frequency is ear piercing torture after 20 mins.

2) Using REW to measure in room response and tweak with DSP and room treatment can make a big difference. Most of us don't have the luxury to make our listening space the perfect space, so by having room treatment, it can "correct" some of these room acoustic issues. To be transparent, I still haven't gotten around to doing this myself, but I have witness the before and after with other people and holy moly, what a difference it can make for some situations.

3) This one is trivial but sometimes emotions can cloud one's judgement: Don't always buy into brand recognition and brand history, some of the less marketed products are better, such as Ascend Acoustics, Benchmark, Philharmonic Audio, Hypex and other new generation of Class D amps and of course the Chinese brands (you know the usual suspects), they offer phenomenal value.

4) When in doubt, follow the science (but don't let science suppress personal preference).

5) Do it right the first time around, otherwise, it will cost you more in the end. I was cheap buying equipment and other things, but after all of the selling to upgrade, I must have lost thousands of dollars over the years, whereas I could of afford the more expensive equipment from the start but I was just being cheap.


What advice would you give to your younger self or to someone new to the hobby?
 
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Dunring

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Buy cheap cables, they all sound the same.
Get the Yincrow X6 ear buds for $10 to use as a baseline how good something can sound for that price, also the Salnotes Zero:2 for gaming and call it a day.
If you see a site saying in a review how great an expensive AC 3-prong power cord sounds, don't trust them for advice.
 

Keith_W

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When I started in hifi in the early 90's, there were precious few measurements available and I did not know how to read them. I wanted something better than my computer speakers and then it developed into a lifelong obsession. It was almost impossible for me to be an objectivist, because I was not exposed to any objectivists. And even if I was an objectivist, it would be almost impossible to make any decisions on any gear because very few measurements were available!

What I am doing now has only become possible in the last 20 years, but especially in the last 5-8 years - i.e. an active, DSP controlled, digital crossover speaker system. 20 years ago, the first DSP products aimed towards consumers appeared on the market. Storage was expensive, and lower bitrate MP3's predominated. There was no such thing as streaming, but there was Napster.

So I would say to my younger self, who was deprived of any measurements:

1. Priorities for hi-fi are room, speakers, and DSP in that order. The room is what you start with because you can not change it easily, and it has a major influence on the sound. Speakers should be selected to match the room, and then DSP implemented to dial the speakers into the room.

2. Everything else is less important as long as they are "adequate". You need "enough" amplifier power, and CD players / preamps should be selected for functionality above any other consideration.

3. Buy a mic NOW and learn how to interpret your measurements! Getting a mic and running REW was the single biggest eye opener in my entire journey.

4. Oh yes, while I am still talking to you, here is a list of girls you should never have dated and some investments you should have made ...
 

eddantes

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Find a way to do a volume matched DBT (even a really weak efforted one - but blind and volume matched) with expensive and cheap equipment as soon as possible!
 

Anton D

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Here is the list of HiFi advice I wish I could have given to my younger self:

1) Speakers makes the most difference, spend most of your budget on your speakers despite the fact that electronics may come across as sexier for some people.

1a) Know that the overwhelming vast majority of the time, the speaker's sound performance corresponds to the measurements. Do not buy any speakers that either the manufacturer does not publish their measurements or the speaker has not been properly measured by a reputable third party (or both). Some of these reputable third party for speaker measurements includes, ASR, Erin's Audio Corner, Audioholics and Soungstage (although rather limited in data). And most of that can be found on spinorama.org.

1b) Know that some manufacturers work really hard to prevent their speakers from being measured. Industry insiders tells me Tekton is one of them and PS Audio's new speakers are another (no surprises with PS Audio). Upon learning this, you should be very suspicious; while reputable speaker manufacturers may not publish their measurements, but they have no issues with third parties measuring their speakers.

1c) Spend time and effort to understand speaker measurements, I am constantly learning just by watching Erin's videos. I personally find that this Audioholics article by James Larson is an excellent starting point. As a side note, I find a lot of newbies making this mistake: if you hear any speakers in the showroom or anywhere else that produces a lot of "detail," know that this "detail" is really nothing more than elevated high frequency and can cause listening fatigue. For me personally, elevated high frequency is ear piercing torture after 20 mins.

2) Using REW to measure in room response and tweak with DSP and room treatment can make a big difference. Most of us don't have the luxury to make our listening space the perfect space, so by having room treatment, it can "correct" some of these room acoustic issues. To be transparent, I still haven't gotten around to doing this myself, but I have witness the before and after with other people and holy moly, what a difference it can make for some situations.

3) This one is trivial but sometimes emotions can cloud one's judgement: Don't always buy into brand recognition and brand history, some of the less marketed products are better, such as Ascend Acoustics, Benchmark, Philharmonic Audio, Hypex and other new generation of Class D amps and of course the Chinese brands (you know the usual suspects), they offer phenomenal value.

4) When in doubt, follow the science (but don't let science suppress personal preference).

5) Do it right the first time around, otherwise, it will cost you more in the end. I was cheap buying equipment and other things, but after all of the selling to upgrade, I must have lost thousands of dollars over the years, whereas I could of afford the more expensive equipment from the start but I was just being cheap.


What advice would you give to your younger self?
Buy something more portable.

Focus on used gear. (I did that, but this is for the younger me who is other people.)

Enjoy what you enjoy, you are striving to please yourself, no one else.

General advice that didn't apply at the time...

Anyone who tells you the hobby should only be done their way is totally FOS.

Everybody: from pure objectivists to pure subjectivists is wrong. If anybody who tells you different, just refer to the first half of the sentence. Be happy and confident with your path to enjoying the hobby. It's a hobby, not a death march.

Stay off the internet.

If you do go onto the internet, don't listen to anybody named "TatersnGravy" or some similar affectation fake ass name that someone can use to hide behind.

The hobby used to be a big tent, now it's armed camps. Don't join any of the camps.
 

Open Mind Audio

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Advice to younger self:
  • Don't believe that guy named Dennis selling a BIC speaker with a DIY modified crossover. It's still total crap.
  • Always start with two awesome stereo speakers that you think you want to have for awhile. Build out from there.
  • Plan for bass. Make an equipment plan that will include either full-range-ish speakers or 1-2 subs for bass. You're missing a lot of sound quality (and electronics quality) if you aren't able to musically reproduce the low end of the spectrum.
  • Where you place your speakers, where you sit, and how you set up your room will affect the sound about 10 million times more (scientifically speaking) than your amplifier. Learn to tune the room and make sure your listening position sounds good to you.
  • Experiment and trust your ears.
  • And don't buy those in-wall speakers for the kitchen, thinking you can compromise for the aesthetics. They really won't sound as good as the sweet pair of bookshelf speakers you used to have mounted on the wall, and you'll ALWAYS regret it.*
*Possibly from personal experience.
 

Purité Audio

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Learn the technical basics of the hobby, you will have a better system and not be ripped off.
Keith
 

Bjorn

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- Spend more money at earlier stage and not throw it away on mediocre or poor products. Better to save up for something great. For instance: I should have bought Dynamic Precision power amps back then, they were probably the best measurable amps before Hypex Ncore came
- Go active and with a separate bass solution
- Don't buy a speaker with crossover in the presence area
- Focus on broadband uniform directivity and learn the difference between wide vs narrow dispersion
- Spend much time on optimizing the acoustics of the room and placement - based on both meausurements and listening
 

Purité Audio

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- Spend more money at earlier stage and not throw it away on mediocre or poor products. Better to save up for something great. For instance: I should have bought Dynamic Precision power amps back then, they were probably the best measurable amps before Hypex Ncore came
- Go active and with a separate bass solution
- Don't buy a speaker with crossover in the presence area
- Focus on broadband uniform directivity and learn the difference between wide vs narrow dispersion
- Spend much time on optimizing the acoustics of the room and placement - based on both meausurements and listening
Choose partner who doesn’t mind you ‘optimising the room and placement’.
Keith
 

ahofer

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Look more closely at Stereo Review and AES. Believe what controlled experiments are telling you.
 
OP
CleanSound

CleanSound

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- Spend more money at earlier stage and not throw it away on mediocre or poor products. Better to save up for something great. For instance: I should have bought Dynamic Precision power amps back then, they were probably the best measurable amps before Hypex Ncore came
100%, I estimate I have probably wasted around $5k in upgrading at an income level that I could of afforded the upgrade from the onset. And I estimate I wasted $15k on upgrades in my entire lifetime of being in this hobby.
 

DVDdoug

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I was never an "audiophool" and most of my life I've had a limited budget so I didn't waste a lot of money or make big mistakes.

- Don't believe the audiophiles/audiophools/reviewers. Their hearing probably isn't better than anybody else's. I knew I couldn't hear the things they were talking about but I thought they could. (My stereo has always been for me and I never upgraded because someone else might hear an improvement.)

- Don't worry too much about trying to upgrade/improve the sound of vinyl. (I grew-up in the analog days.) The records are the biggest limitation. I knew that, but I thought it could get better. Now that we have digital, my advice is to avoid analog altogether! ...I didn't need THAT advice once I got my 1st CD player. (I still have a turntable for occasionally digitizing a record that's not available digitally.)

- Don't feel like there's "something wrong" with your system if you have to use tone controls or EQ. (That's especially related to analog... I was upgrading, or wanting to upgrade my cartridge when I should have been happy with adjusting the tone controls).

- Don't skimp on the woofers! That's not really advice... Most of my life I didn't have enough bass, but I knew it and I didn't need anyone to "advise" me.
 
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