Poll

What component made the most significant improvement to your system?

Source: Turntable, Cartridge, CD player, Music Server, etc.
2 (5.4%)
Pre-amp or Amp
6 (16.2%)
Speakers
20 (54.1%)
Sub-woofer
1 (2.7%)
Wires: Interconnects, Power Cord, Filters
0 (0%)
Room Treatment
8 (21.6%)

Total Members Voted: 37

What component made the most significant improvement to your system?

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twitch54

My stereo has been evolving since I was 15 years old, I'm now 71 (how the heck did that happen?) and I might have reached the point of saying "I'm done". It think all the improvements over 56 years have been incremental except one or two.

The source has improved. A DIY music server with many linear regulated power supplies beats any CD player I could afford. I still use a circa 1985 Harman Kardon T55C turntable with a Goldring 1042 cartridge. The improvements are nice but would be hard for anyone but me to hear.

Amplification has definitely improved over the years. Music emerges from the Van Alstine Fet Valve CFR and Vision Set 400 amp from a black background, great imaging with terrific dynamics and tone. But although the improvement from my previous Van Alstine electronics is very important to me, in the big picture the change would still subtle to most ears.

Wires made another subtle improvement, ZenWave Audio makes great wires, nice but not significant.

I am fortunate to have a room that does not need much room treatment plus it's a common space and not a dedicated listening room

Speakers are #2 in my list. Salk speakers are amazing, any change good or bad can be easily heard but they do require clean amplification and the more power the better. The HT2-TL are 2-way speakers that image like a small stand mounted speaker with excellent coherency but with the performance of a full range.

Finally, the #1 component that made the most significant improvement is a sub-woofer. Subs are misunderstood, they do more than low notes. They add space, the room opens up along with the ability to hear into the music. An example is when the music fades at the end of a song, the point when the tape is stopped plus all that super low level musician chatter can easily be heard. And for some strange reason mids and highs are clearer too.

What component did it for you? Not just listening from the sweet spot but the entire system. Not just in the music room but heard in other rooms too. Something your wife said "Wow".

the fact that a subwoofer is in fact a 'speaker' still shows that 'speakers', in part or whole of ones system are in fact #1, followed by the environment (acoustically) in which they live. IMO, there is no debate on this

Freo-1

Synergistic.. they ALL matter. BUT...
In my last round of upgrading, I have to say buying Magnepan 20.7 speakers ALLOWED many of the other later upgrades to matter. Without the speakers to start with, I doubt I would have heard the rest of the changes in the upgrades.
And naturally many prior improvements allowed me to hear how good the Magnepan speakers could be, and allowed me to see there was more to be gained.
So I chose Speakers.
After the speakers, I have to say the most interesting and unique advance was from suing Exotic wood footers and Maple /Walnut butcher blocks. As a final touch they made a great and subtle tone adjustment.
In between are the Furutech Duplex everywhere in the system. magical.
And the Marantz SA-10 which just was right for me.


Have had a similar experience when obtaining the TA Criterion speakers.  They sounded better even with a Yamaha A/V receiver.  The sound got a lot better with McIntosh gear, but reached full potential with the Devialet gear.


The Devialet provided even more of an improvement with the Dynaudio speakers,  as the SAM function further improved the bass response. 

fredgarvin

  • Full Member
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Speakers, by a wide margin.

kmmd

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 170
Hearing aids.

I don’t have them yet, but maybe they might help.

Seriously though, I’d vote for front end components as well. 

rollo

  • Industry Participant
  • Posts: 4911
  • Rollo Audio Consulting -
  Front end components.

charles

Dieterle Tool

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 238
  • I don't know what it is, but I wunt it.
My vote is for the room and correct damping and diffusing. I have been through four or five rooms over the years and from just moving into the room and adequately treating said room, there is a huge difference. I enjoy three entirely different speaker designs, and as long as I pair the right amp with speakers, I get similar results because the room is the same and properly treated.

Cartridge would be next.

-Dieter

WGH

I want to hear from the Cheap and Cheerful HiFi crowd. When I was young and starting out seems like every component I bought made a significant improvement, now I have a cranky old man's system and almost everything sounds more like a tweak than a revelation.

The KLH 17's I bought in 1969 were a revelation.

Here is my Cheap and Cheerful system from 1969:

Dual 1009F turntable  $129.49
Pickering XV-15 cartridge  $50.00
KLH 17 speakers  $157.40 pair
Dynaco FM3 FM tuner  $94.46
Dynaco SCA-80 integrated amp  $136.50
Koss Pro4-AA headphones  $45.00

111 albums @ $5.00 each, I have a lot more now. And yes, I have an audio diary with receipts and lists.

How did I discover all these amazing components before the internet you ask? Magazine's of course.
The February 1969 issue of High Fidelity magazine is a must read for audiophiles young and old. The ads are amazing plus they have one thing missing from today's ads - prices.

Russell Dawkins

Thanks for the High Fidelity link.

My vote for the most influential component is speakers. I'd rather hear great speakers in a lousy room than lousy speakers in a great room.

The actual sonics of the recording is the second biggest influence on the sound but nothing else in the chain, including the recording, can be effectively judged through poor speakers.

jgerber4

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 9
An interesting question.

Up until last year had a system that I set up in 1990 with Rotel electronics and Essence Amethyst Gem speakers; a stand mount transmission line speaker with 6 1/2" woofer, Dynaudio drivers.  I thought that it all sounded pretty good through several moves to different locations.

Last year I built a pair of LX521 open baffle dipole speakers and purchased the low level crossover, amplifiers, and interconnects that it took to use them. I was astonished at the difference.

I don't know for sure what the explanation is, but I suspect that it is a combination.  I think part of it is the distribution of sound in the room from the dipoles.  But I also think that the greatly improved low end (4 x 10" woofers @180 watts) contributed to the music in a way not immediately obvious. It feels like there is something about the way that my brain interprets the relationship between the sounds across the audio spectrum that makes the experience much more realistic with the improved low frequency fidelity.

Personally, I think that even fairly modest electronics is good enough now that I am hard pressed to differentiate between components, but these speakers made a big difference. I am sure that the room is also extremely important, but I think that I just got lucky there.

WGH

Thanks for the High Fidelity link.

The review of John Hartford's Gentle On My Mind album on page 124 is priceless:

"Poet" and "genius" are big words among show business phonies this season....
"Or John Lennon is a genius" You can substitute at random in the last example the names of Jim Webb, Bob Dylan, Rod McKuen, Paul Simon, and several more."
"Not one of the aforementioned is a genius, and only two - Jim Webb and Paul Simon - even have a touch of the poet. In all current popular music there is, in my opinion, only one lyricist fit to be called a poet, and that's John Hartford"
-Gene Lees

Russell Dawkins

The review of John Hartford's Gentle On My Mind album on page 124 is priceless:

"Poet" and "genius" are big words among show business phonies this season....
"Or John Lennon is a genius" You can substitute at random in the last example the names of Jim Webb, Bob Dylan, Rod McKuen, Paul Simon, and several more."
"Not one of the aforementioned is a genius, and only two - Jim Webb and Paul Simon - even have a touch of the poet. In all current popular music there is, in my opinion, only one lyricist fit to be called a poet, and that's John Hartford"
-Gene Lees

I'd say Gene Lees was misguided and too full of himself!
It occurred to me, reading this time capsule, that the man I had just finished a two year recording project for (Bach Partitas for harpsichord) had already been recording for 8 years by 1969. At 86 years of age it might be his swansong.

Back to sonic epiphanies...

Don_S

As I started reading this thread I kept thinking "transducers people". Finally at post 19 Letitroll98 mentions transducers. Changing one form of energy to another is the most difficult task.
Just think of the diversity of loudspeaker designs. How can they not sound quite different. OB loved here.  :banana piano:

 

Tom Bombadil

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 134
Great speakers, which are properly positioned, make a huge difference.

Over 20 years ago, I had a chance to purchase a pair of Von Schweikert tower speakers at a considerable discount.  Even at the discounted price, it was a real reach for me.  I listened to them and had to have them.  So I did it.  A few years later I had the company apply an upgrade to them.  Still have them.  Still love them.

Just to try something, a few years ago I decided to drive them with inexpensive components.  I had a Marantz CD63SE CD player laying around, which I bought back in the 90s.  And a Rotel RB-850 amplifier, made in the 80s, which I purchased used for a song.  50 wpc, nice dual mono internal design.  Used a simple passive volume controller between them.  Von Schweikerts were in a big room and positioned to my preferences after years of listening.   Popped in a CD and hit play.  Sounded great!  Not as good as my primary system, but surprisingly good. 

Find speakers that you love and spend the time necessary to set them up correctly.   It's hard to go wrong after that. 

Mudslide

Where the rubber meets the road...speakers, of course.  And in my case, the wonderful Philharmonic Audio speakers.

RPM123

  • Full Member
  • Posts: 509


                     


koolblue2

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 3
My stereo has been evolving since I was 15 years old, I'm now 71 (how the heck did that happen?) and I might have reached the point of saying "I'm done". It think all the improvements over 56 years have been incremental except one or two.

The source has improved. A DIY music server with many linear regulated power supplies beats any CD player I could afford. I still use a circa 1985 Harman Kardon T55C turntable with a Goldring 1042 cartridge. The improvements are nice but would be hard for anyone but me to hear.

Amplification has definitely improved over the years. Music emerges from the Van Alstine Fet Valve CFR and Vision Set 400 amp from a black background, great imaging with terrific dynamics and tone. But although the improvement from my previous Van Alstine electronics is very important to me, in the big picture the change would still subtle to most ears.

Wires made another subtle improvement, ZenWave Audio makes great wires, nice but not significant.

I am fortunate to have a room that does not need much room treatment plus it's a common space and not a dedicated listening room

Speakers are #2 in my list. Salk speakers are amazing, any change good or bad can be easily heard but they do require clean amplification and the more power the better. The HT2-TL are 2-way speakers that image like a small stand mounted speaker with excellent coherency but with the performance of a full range.

Finally, the #1 component that made the most significant improvement is a sub-woofer. Subs are misunderstood, they do more than low notes. They add space, the room opens up along with the ability to hear into the music. An example is when the music fades at the end of a song, the point when the tape is stopped plus all that super low level musician chatter can easily be heard. And for some strange reason mids and highs are clearer too.

What component did it for you? Not just listening from the sweet spot but the entire system. Not just in the music room but heard in other rooms too. Something your wife said "Wow".


installing 2 dedicated power lines (one for digital gear one, one for amplification) and Blue Circle filters cleaned up the sound, opened up the dynamics, and made each recording new again