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Money, alone, does not promise a great system

Barry

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Money, alone, does not promise a great system
« on: March 02, 2021, 12:19:45 PM »
In 35 years of stereo and home theater shopping I have had good experiences and a handful of bad, some funny with salespeople. But I did have a silly experience with a friend. Well, he was a work friend. I worked at a school and did business with the supplier I will call Bob. Without a doubt he made 10 times as much money as I did. It was a nice guy and I enjoyed our two in-person meetings especially when I got taken out to a nice lunch. One day in his office, about the year 2000, I saw he had both the Absolute Sound and Stereophile. So we began to talk about stereo, home theater was just coming in.
 
One day he asked me if I would go with him to listen to called Divas. These were  electrostatic loudspeakers. They look like they had ribbons where the woofers and tweeters used to be. They sounded very nice but they needed a subwoofer which was not very common at that era.  He asked me if I like them, and I said that I did  but I never suggested that he should buy them. Over the next few months he would ask me if I liked certain speakers and amplifiers and this and that. I did not know what he was planning until the day he invited me to his house.
Get this:
In the front of a room that was 10’ x 20, he put the Diva speakers. Sadly, in the center he placed a large Pioneer rear projector TV. This immediately eliminated the soundstage between the two speakers and the sound was a bit muddled. He did have two subwoofers. This part bothered me the most: He had stereo McIntosh speaker for each. There was a maze of wire on each one to make it monaural. I asked him why he didn’t buy manorial amps. He told me that they had these in stock and he didn’t want to wait. He had a cheap Radio Shack speaker which he placed on top of the TV and it was run by a Bryston.  Nearly 20 feet behind him he had surround sound speakers. Once again he had a Bryston Amp but they were running a pair of RadioShack speakers.  
I cannot give you the brand of wiring he used because he used several different brands. He was using a Krell preamp and, I think (I forgot) a Shure Surround sound unit. He also had a two piece Wadia CD Player.
On a 1 to 10 scale sounded like maybe a three or four. But to this day I think it’s the most expensive system I’ve ever seen in someone’s home.
He was trying to impress me and he asked if he can come over and hear my system.  I had five speakers, three front and, two rear and a sub-woofer, all from Thiel.  My amps, preamps and surround sound unit were all from Madrigal, Mark Levenson mixed with Proceed. Even my CD was Proceed. My system cost about 20% of what his did.
Instead of hearing distinct sounds coming from every corner of the room like he had, you felt that you were in a bubble, surrounded by sound. Movie sounded wonderful then but also music often sounded like you were in an auditorium listening to an orchestra. Needless to say he really liked it and asked me why I didn’t help him put up a system like that. I told him he never asked. Which he admitted. He eventually told me that he didn’t think of buying a system at that time but individual parts that you put together.
 
There weren’t very many lunches after that.
 
 


McIntosh MX170 Controller: Projector JVC DLA-RS3000; Screen: Stuart StudioTek130: Amps: McIntosh MC-611(center),MC1.25KW (lf&rt);  Krell S-1500 Atmos/Surround; 4kDVD Panasonic UB9000; Speakers: Revel Ultima Salon 2, Ultima Voice 2, (Surround) W 990, Atmos C763L; Subs: SVS SB-13 Ultras;  Cable: 4K Verizon; Broadcast: Mediasonic HW-150PVR; Wiring: Shunyata; Apple TV,

tripplej

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Re: Money, alone, does not promise a great system
« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2021, 12:37:00 PM »
Very nice story.

As for me, when I was just starting out with home theater, etc, I had no references to go by. I had the original spot forum and that was it. In the end, I mostly went by what I could afford (which was not much) as well as what consumer reports recommended. lol. :)
Samsung UN75F8000 LED TV, NAD T-777 (7.2 Receiver), Oppo 103, Sony PS4, Panamax MR-5100, 7 Paradigm Reference series 8" in ceiling speakers (AMS-150R) - 30 degree tilting speakers, 2 Paradigm SE Sub, universal remote MX-450, universal advanced RF base station MRF-3501

Re: Money, alone, does not promise a great system
« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2021, 02:54:51 PM »
Your friend put together quite the Frankenstein monster sound system. A lot of potential left behind there. Integration or synergy is so important to get a good and cohesive sound presentation. I listed to those Divas a couple of times in New Orleans, back in the late 80s. I recall hearing a DAT recording made the night before of a string quartet - it was not my preferred type of music to audition but WOW it was mesmerizing and so "there". In a dedicated 2 channel setup the Apogees were at their pinnacle with that material.

A couple of years later, around 1990-91 I had put together an early surround type setup. I had a pair of Mirage M3 bipolar speakers - they were fantastic. Then I got a Yamaha DSP-1 which was one of the first digital processors to try to recreate different venue acoustics, using 4 elevated speakers in the front & rear corners. Problem was, I didn't have money left for anything great, and didn't understand how to timbre match the Mirages. So I ended up with 2 pairs of Infinity bookshelf speakers. It was kinda fun to try the different venues, like small jazz club or church spaces. And it did change the feel, but it was also pretty clearly artificial too and I think a lot of that was the speaker mismatch. I remember a few friends came over one day, one with his girlfriend. I was proudly showing off that I could play my system with it sounding like different spaces, and she just sat down and said "it's gimmicky" or something to the point. I don't recall exactly how I reacted, but she was 100% right.

TRainH2O

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Re: Money, alone, does not promise a great system
« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2021, 04:14:48 PM »
Those speakers look a bit like the Carver Amazing speakers.

As for money, more of it won't always buy you the best sound. The room, planning, and to agree synergy between the different pieces can make it or break it.

You have always had systems with a high amount of synergy. I keep thinking about your old Proceed/ADS combo.

Barry

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Re: Money, alone, does not promise a great system
« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2021, 08:21:02 PM »
You know something Tracy, I think my favourite system of all time was my first one. Of course it was the age I was at, but it was never off. It was a Sansui receiver, a Gerrad 55 turntable and wonderful Advent speakers. I must’ve played it 25 hours a day. I it cost $450, including tax. I would save all of my money waiting for Sam Goody to have a sale. I think records then were about $4 on sale, but who had the $4?
McIntosh MX170 Controller: Projector JVC DLA-RS3000; Screen: Stuart StudioTek130: Amps: McIntosh MC-611(center),MC1.25KW (lf&rt);  Krell S-1500 Atmos/Surround; 4kDVD Panasonic UB9000; Speakers: Revel Ultima Salon 2, Ultima Voice 2, (Surround) W 990, Atmos C763L; Subs: SVS SB-13 Ultras;  Cable: 4K Verizon; Broadcast: Mediasonic HW-150PVR; Wiring: Shunyata; Apple TV,

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