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What was your best (and worst) audio purchase for the dollar?

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Mar 24, 2021
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#41
Best purchase:

JVC UX-D150 for ~£250 ~5 years ago https://www.amazon.co.uk/JVC-UX-D150-Wireless-Micro-Amplifier-Silver-Black/dp/B01DACR3FY
It is an integrated/compact unit that punches waaay above its weight. I have seen the same unit with other brands (Nordstrom, TEAC) but the original manufacturer, I believe, was in Turkey.
The tube stage gives it a sprinkle of tube sound but the massive final stage (150W with a monster toroidal transformer inside) has no problem driving anything I connected to it. The stock JVC speakers are ok, but I pair it with Klipsch RP-600M and Wharfedale Diamond 220 and it does beautifully.

Worst purchase:

JVC UX-D150 The analog connectivity is limited, the speakers' connectors clunky, the remote is clunky AND plasticky, the DAB antenna ... I stopped listening to dab.
My first one, branded Nordstrom, stopped working right after the guarantee expired (It is as if it has no gain anymore: crank up the volume and you can still hear the source. If someone wants it for a fun repair project, just contact me).

But the sound...in the past I had chains costing 4 or 5 times as much that would blush in comparison.
 

Vict0r

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#42
Best:
- Blon BL03 in-ear monitors for $35. Stupid value and I'd rather wear them than my $XXXX Hifimans. You don't have to baby them because they're dirt cheap to replace and they just sound right.
- NAD 3020 stereo amp for $60. Thing's as old as me and still runs like a daisy. Solid, sounds great and hasn't ever let me down.
- DIY acoustic panels for my cinema room. Room treatment does so much for my listening experience. Instead of upgrading my cinema gear, I now tweak and expand my treatment. The differences are way more noticeable than buying an esoteric cable. ;)

Worst:
- Quad 12L speakers. They're fine, maybe a bit boring, but I just couldn't use them for my purpose and wish I hadn't spent the money getting them in the first place.
- buying about 25 different pairs of headphones and around 25 different pairs of IEMs and then just settling on a cheap BL03 and a Sennheiser HD600. :p
 
Joined
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#43
OK, here goes ...

Best:
  • Zaph Audio ZRT DIY speakers: extremely good (-sounding) speakers for about 1/2 of what one would pay for commercially finished.
  • VTV Purifi stereo amp: amazing resolution, transparency, and dynamics for cheap.
Worst:
  • Phase Linear 400 power amp: an atrocious sounding amp typifying the worst in late '60s solid state
  • B&W DM7 speakers: dull, lifeless speakers with no dynamics regardless of the power fed to them
  • Bel Canto eVo2 integrated amp: Ok-sounding Class T (Tripath) amp, simply 'way over priced.
 

sergeauckland

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#44
The best ever audio purchase for me was my Squeezebox Touch. For £200 it completely changed the way I listen to music, very much for the better. Having my entire digital music collection available controlled from a tablet together with more recently Spotify integration, means I have everything I need in one place.

Probably the best value for money purchases were my two main turntables, AEG and EMT. Both came from radio stations in Paris that were throwing them out so I got them for very modest amounts. They did need some work, but that was time rather than money.

The worse purchase I ever made was my Linn Sondek LP12. I bought this because of all the hype at the time, thinking it had to be better than the £15 Connoisseur BD1 kit I was using. It wasn't! Fortunately, in those days I could buy the LP12 for around £80 (1976) but even so, that was about 2 weeks salary after tax, so a significant amount.

S.
 

Moonhead

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Denmark
#45
Worst:
Schiit Mjolnir & Gungnir
JMR Trente
Fostex TH900
Stax 009
Rega Planar 3
Beyerdynamic T70p
Alessandro Grado MS1
Yamaha HS7

Best:
Sennheiser HD800
Avi DM12
 
Last edited:
Joined
Dec 19, 2020
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#46
Best--really tough! I've had my Revel M22 speakers for 10+ years and still love them. I also still have my first non-disposable headphones, the AKG k601, and those are 15+ years old. They were relatively cheap at the time through a friend who is a pro dealer, and they have taken an absolute beating. Still love that open, spacious sound, though they are quite light on bass.

Worst--it's probably a tie. I bought a Corda Jazz headphone amp ~6 years ago (before Amir's review) and regretted it right away. Lost a good chunk reselling it. The other contender is the Grado Sr60 headphones. I was reasonably informed about the objective side of audio by that point but was curious about the cult following, and the demo price was right. Gotta be the most uncomfortable headphones I've ever had and quite shrill sounding. I should have cut my loss but decided to try different earpads and ended up throwing good money after bad.

Here's another category--sale I most regret. Like may here, I bet, I've bought and sold a lot of equipment over the years. My first decent AV receiver was the Marantz SR7300 OSE. Man, I wish I still that thing. Well built and had great power. Yes, it was full of audiophile marketing fads that ultimately don't matter, but it was a cool piece of gear. Most of the AV receivers I've had since had much weaker amps!
 

ThatM1key

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#47
I'm gonna count the stuff that I bought with my money not what my father bought me. Used & New


Best:
Creative Soundblaster X-FI Titanium HD- $60 (First DAC)
Topping E30 - $130
Topping D10 - $10
Polk S55 - $350
Polk RTi6 Black & Cherry- $100-$130
Polk CS400i - $100
Polk PSW505 - $110
Sony SSCS5 (2 Pairs) - $75-$130
AKG 7XX - $100
Pioneer CT-W606DR - $65
Pioneer CT-W205R - $15
Technics RS-TR575 $20
Technics SL 210 - $70
Realistic LAB 390 - $65
JBL Loft 20 & Loft 30 - $85 Combined
Realistic Minimus 7 (Multi Pairs) $3-$70
Elac Debut 2.0 B6.2- $180
JVC QL-A7 - $30


Mixed Feeling:
Polk RT55i - $150 (Bass is lacking but sounds great)

Worst:
JVC HAMR60X- $25 (Horrible Bass)
EVGA NU Audio- $130 (Very Terrible Drivers, Best ADC for the money though).
 

JeffS7444

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#48
Best buys
Technics SL1200 Mk II turntable purchased secondhand from a DJ for less than $300 (hello pitch accuracy, goodbye Linn LP12)

Mini DSP EARS measurement device and HA-DSP headphone amp which taught me lots about getting better headphone sound, though the amplifier seems underpowered and rather beta-quality. Was much pleased to find that Siegfried Linkwitz's 1971 article on headphone crossfeed can be implemented very well in software with HA-DSP.

Behringer DEQ2496 + measurement mic: Downside is that this older design doesn't have web interface or support apps. But on the upside, it doesn't have a web interface or depend on apps (they tend to be the first things to become obsolete). The RTA display is useful too.

Linkwitz Pluto speakers: Using some scraps of wood and plumbing supplies purchased from the local hardware store, I built the speakers that I'm still using today: I'd say Mr. Linkwitz earned his licensing fee from me.

Listener magazine: The late Art Dudley may not have come across as being keen on measurements, but he sure could write! I suppose a bit like the Pass ACA, his point was to have fun doing stuff, as opposed to simply consuming it.
 

Descartes

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#49
Best
- Classe CA-M600 amplifiers
- OPPO BDP 205 & BDP 105
- JVC NX7

Worst:
- Expensive HDMi cable when I didn’t know any better...

now I shop Monoprice for cables unless analogue then Canaree, Belden or Mogami
 
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#52
Best: MiniDSP Umik-1. Without it I wouldn't be able to integrate a subwoofer at all. No excuse not to get something like it unless you just don't have access to any form of EQ.

Worst: I actually didn't post in this thread at first because I couldn't think of anything "worst" but that's because I literally erased this piece of crap out of my mind. Moondrop Spaceship. It cost me $25 and it''s still the worst purchase for the dollar I bought. The sound itself wasn't offensive, though it was worse than measurements suggests(because of fit issues) - it was the form factor. Moondrop Spaceship is an extremely small IEM with a fixed cable, designed to fit pretty deep in the ear canal(I think it even comes with a little graphic that shows you need to really shove it in there). I'm no stranger to small IEMs - I used Final Audio E3000 before, and I liked them a ton. But this thing just didn't want to stay in, and required constant readjustment. If it wasn't seated properly the sound was awful, they sounded like cheap earbuds. Foam tips helped a little, but not enough. But that's only half of the problem - because it's so small, and because the body of the IEM is very smooth and rounded, you basically have to hold it partially by the cable to put it in. And the cable is not removable. At the time I was trying to use them on my commute daily, and the result was predictable - because of the constant adjustments, the cable failed within a month. I didn't even bother getting a replacement.
 

jhaider

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#53
Best:
-Sennheiser HD580. It has to be first, because it’s the only audio thing I bought in the 1990s that’s still in regular use.

-FuzzMeasure. I mostly use REW now, because FM unfortunately hasn’t come close to keeping up - Røde bought it like 3 or 4 years ago and hasn’t done shit with it - but I learned how to measure loudspeakers and rooms with it. The UI is still the best in the genre.

-Macs/iDevices/AirPlay. I still prefer Music (nee iTunes) to any other music file player. AirPlay changed the way I conceived of an audio source, very much for the better.

Worst:
-Archos DAP ca 2001 (?). Unreliable and hard to use. Bought because it held 20GB and the then new iPod maxed out at 5. Difference was, iPod did something more than crash and need to be reindexed.

-Onkyo (?) 6-DVD carousel DVD player. Unreliable, but I was happy when it broke because Oppo has released HDMI players. So I didn’t need 11 or 12 cables between player and processor.
 

devopsprodude

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Beaverton, OR
#54
Best: Kenwood 5.1 channel THX system (3 LCR, 2 surround, 1 passive sub, amp and prepro) I bought back in 1995 at Air Force BX discount. I still have the 5 main speakers. The amp is still working powering brother-in-law's Klipsch corner horns.

Pretty good: 2 x Monster Cable THX subs that are also speaker stands. Got them for employee discount when my friend worked at Monster Cable. Unlike a lot of Monster Cable products, they are excellent. Only issue I have is that you can't set them to be always on. Worth noting that these would not be on the list if I had paid MSRP, but with the employee discount, it was money well spent.

Pretty meh: OPPO portable headphone amp. Didn't improve performance of OPPO PM-3 cans, and you couldn't charge it while it was charging iPhone.

Worst: MIT and Monster Cable interconnects, and speaker cables. Horrible snake oil nonsense products. The day that I replaced it all, was a happy day indeed.
 
Last edited:

617

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#55
Best buys
Technics SL1200 Mk II turntable purchased secondhand from a DJ for less than $300 (hello pitch accuracy, goodbye Linn LP12)

Mini DSP EARS measurement device and HA-DSP headphone amp which taught me lots about getting better headphone sound, though the amplifier seems underpowered and rather beta-quality. Was much pleased to find that Siegfried Linkwitz's 1971 article on headphone crossfeed can be implemented very well in software with HA-DSP.

Behringer DEQ2496 + measurement mic: Downside is that this older design doesn't have web interface or support apps. But on the upside, it doesn't have a web interface or depend on apps (they tend to be the first things to become obsolete). The RTA display is useful too.

Linkwitz Pluto speakers: Using some scraps of wood and plumbing supplies purchased from the local hardware store, I built the speakers that I'm still using today: I'd say Mr. Linkwitz earned his licensing fee from me.

Listener magazine: The late Art Dudley may not have come across as being keen on measurements, but he sure could write! I suppose a bit like the Pass ACA, his point was to have fun doing stuff, as opposed to simply consuming it.
I forgot my sl1200. Paid about the same amount. Very hard to stomach paying more for a turntable with an mdf base and a belt drive.
 

Maki

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Oct 24, 2018
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#56
Best:
Parametric EQ (Free!)
STAX SR007/009
Sennheiser HD800S
Topping 90 Stack

Worst:
STAX SR007/009
Hifiman Arya
Every FOTM junk headphone hyped by youtube shills I've ever purchased
 

SimpleTheater

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#57
BEST
Yamaha WXA-50 (three of them) - $500/each
BLON BL03 iem’s - $34

WORST
Anthem MRX-700 - $2,000

The hundreds of other purchases have performed as expected.
 
Joined
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#58
Best:
- Original Quad ESLs because for all the obvious faults, they were the speakers that made me realize what was possible.
- Tandberg 3026A amp because I've had it for maybe 30 years and it still does 200W clean per side -- on a fully amortized basis, it has cost me low double digits per year!
- Boxed CDs of Brahms symphonies: Sanderling/Dresden. Priceless.
 

Vict0r

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#59
Behringer DEQ2496 + measurement mic: Downside is that this older design doesn't have web interface or support apps. But on the upside, it doesn't have a web interface or depend on apps (they tend to be the first things to become obsolete). The RTA display is useful too.
Oh, that looks like a really complete unit! Never seen it before. Could you tell a little more about how you use it? As a DAC with built in EQ, or do you use the other features as well?
 

LTig

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#60
Oh, that looks like a really complete unit! Never seen it before. Could you tell a little more about how you use it? As a DAC with built in EQ, or do you use the other features as well?
I used one many years as DAC with slight room EQ. Still sitting around waiting for the next task.
 
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