Skip to main content


Please note that most of the software linked on this forum is likely to be safe to use. If you are unsure, feel free to ask in the relevant topics, or send a private message to an administrator or moderator. To help curb the problems of false positives, or in the event that you do find actual malware, you can contribute through the article linked here.
Topic: Help me spend my money wisely on a new “hi-fi” system (Read 1788 times) previous topic - next topic
0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Help me spend my money wisely on a new “hi-fi” system

I am looking to upgrade my home music listening system to something that would be considered “audiophile“ quality. 

I currently listen to music in several rooms in our home on little Amazon Alexa units.

I was recently a guest at the home of a friend who received a recent gift of a stereo system whose value is over $100,000.  The gift was a present from a professional musician with a household name.  I listened to some vinyl LPs, and the sound was breathtaking.

My principal foray into the world of “hi-fi” I was in the mid-70s when I was a teenager.  The be-all and end-all of that era was equipment with beguiling blue meters made by McIntosh of Binghamton, New York.

The system that I listened to had a 450-watt power Mcintosh amplifier of recent vintage, and speakers made by a German company called MBL, which currently sell new for about $70,000.

When I look at modern stereo equipment websites and magazines, it is clear to me that the hype of yesteryear has metastasized into something that is beyond ludicrous: tens of thousands of dollars for so-called “interconnects“?  5000-word Stereophile magazine reviews of $50,000 amplifiers that attest to the necessity of $10,000 interconnects versus $2000 interconnects? 

So, I was pleased today to run across this website when I went down the rabbit hole of researching “no BS audiophile information”.

I know that somewhere between $1000 and $100,000 there lies “audiophile“ sound equipment that will provide good value for money and sound spectacular.

I realize this is a very wide open topic, and I hope that it is appropriate to post it on this website. But if anyone here wants to weigh in, this community appears to be one where I can get sound advice without a lot of marketing BS. 

Ideally, I would like to be able to call out music to the Alexa system, and have it play through a very high-quality amplification system into excellent quality speakers.

Many thanks for any advice or input anyone here would care to contribute.

Re: Help me spend my money wisely on a new “hi-fi” system

Reply #1
I won't attempt specific recommendations.

So, I was pleased today to run across this website when I went down the rabbit hole of researching “no BS audiophile information”.
Unfortunately, the audiophile community is dominated by nonsense!  Audiophoolery is worth reading.

The main thing is speakers (or headphones) and enough power to drive the speakers.    With headphones there is almost no correlation between price and sound quality,    ASR has headphone & speaker measurements and objective reviews (other components too).    ASR is one of the other few minimal-nonsense audio websites.

And the main difference between speakers (and headphones) is frequency response and all speakers (and headphones) sound different.   It's probably worthwhile visiting an audio/video store to listen to a variety of speakers before you buy anything.   Even if you don't buy from that store, or even the speakers you listen to, it will give you an idea of how different speakers sound.

Since home theater is popular and most people don't want several large speakers, the "trend" is toward smaller speakers and a separate subwoofer.

Most electronics are very good.   Frequency response and distortion are almost always better than human hearing  unless you over-drive an amplifier into clipping (distortion).     Sometimes  there is audible noise in the background (hiss, hum, or whine).

You get the most bang-for-the-buck with a receiver or AVR (audio video receiver).   AVRs all have digital inputs for the DVD & Blu-Ray formats, and remote control, etc.     Separates have become a specialty item.  They cost more, you usually don't get better sound and usually you get fewer features.

I listened to some vinyl LPs, and the sound was breathtaking.
It wasn't because it's vinyl.  It's up to you if you want to play records but vinyl is technically inferior to digital.  The biggest issue is surface noise.    There are also frequency response variations (sometimes slight and not a problem) and sometimes there is tracking distortion.   Some people do prefer vinyl and they might even prefer the sound of vinyl...   They are not bothered by the noise (or other defects) and to them it may "sound better", but it's technically lower fidelity.   (Vinyl can go higher in frequency but CDs are flatter over the audible range...   And most of the ultrasonic information may be noise...)

Oh...   Some older records may "sound better" than the CD release because many of the recordings have been loudness war re-mastered for CD and the dynamics have been destroyed.    It's a sad trade-off but personally I'll take the noise-free digital version, or maybe I won't listen to either one.        Most newer records are cut from the same digital master (sometimes with some additional processing to accommodate vinyl limitations).   The process of cutting and playing the vinyl can increase the "measured" dynamics (depending on how they are measured) without changing the sound of the dynamics.    MP3 also tends to increase the "measured" dynamics without changing the sound of the dynamics. 

Re: Help me spend my money wisely on a new “hi-fi” system

Reply #2
I use the following hardware.

Hardware: Infinity Alpha5 HCS II & Sony STR-DB790
Software: FreeBSD in bitperfect mode with real-time sound + music player daemon

It obviously sounds much better in reality than in the recording.
I'd say it has sound quality that most audiophiles would be quite happy with and it's an affordable setup.

MOD edit: link removed TOS 9

Re: Help me spend my money wisely on a new “hi-fi” system

Reply #3
In my experience, the most important part of a system are the speakers. Find ones that sound good to you, and if you can, have a listen to them in your home. You can power them with inexpensive amplifiers, you don't need McIntosh amps for system to sound good. Just make sure that they have enough power. Yamaha, Marantz are a good choice for amps and you can build up from there. 
Next - room. Or first. Often neglected, room treatment is essential to good sound. You won't have good experience with a lot of reflecting surfaces - highs or mids too loud, non-existent bass, these are all things you will have to consider. That's the reason why you'll want to have a listen in your space first.
Interconnects - don't buy cheapest for the sake of quality, but you don't need expensive ones, too, you are paying branding and snake oil with them. I don't know, 10-20 € ones are OK, but I haven't bought them for a long time. Same thing goes for speaker cables.
Source is also important, but that's up to you. I ran away from vinyls and cassette tapes two decades ago, never looked back. You might like the feel and procedure for making them play.
Error 404; signature server not available.

Re: Help me spend my money wisely on a new “hi-fi” system

Reply #4
I have heard many high-end speakers, and settled for B&W personally, the sound was exceptionally clear and not overly bass as some try to do. Had CM series for the last decade, the equiv would be 600 series today:

Once you reach a certain level there is a law of diminishing returns, so $10K speakers are not 10x better than $1K speakers, but $1K speakers should wipe the floor with $100 speakers...