The Most Expensive System I've ever heard.

Discussion in 'AV Receivers' started by EdNichols, Jul 8, 2003.

  1. EdNichols

    EdNichols Second Unit

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    Before I found this forum and became a little more educated about HT I went into an Audio specialty store and was shown some of the "toys" that were on display. My wife and I were escorted into their fanciest HT room which was about 20 x 30 ft and sat down in some nice comfy theater chairs. I told the salesman I was mostly interested in music so he pressed the touch screen located between the chairs to lower the lights, and selected a couple of songs from the on screen menu. He had mentioned that we were listening to Wilson speakers which, although I was newbie, I knew were about $20K per pair. The salesman started playing a couple of songs and stepped out for a moment and I made the statement to my wife that the speakers sounded nice, but they didn't sound $19,500 better than my Energy XL's. The salesman came back in after a few minutes and started his sales pitch about how good the system was etc, etc. and I asked him about the speakers and he told me what I was listening to was not only just the mains, which were the Wilson Watt Puppys but all of the speakers, the Wilson, sub. which was the size of a chest freezer, the center channel, and rears which were all huge. I asked him if the sub. was turned on since I didn't think the music had enough bass, and he confirmed that it was. I figured with a sub that big the whole building should be shaking. After all I was(am) a newbie. So in reality we were listening to over $40k worth of speakers. After the songs were over and as we walked out of the room I asked him what was driving the speakers and he mentioned something about Meridian monoblocks and processors, players etc.etc. Little did I know how "high end" the system was. Now that I am little more educated I realize now that I was listening to over $100K worth of stuff. Even now that I know that I still don't think it sounded 100 times better than my $1K entry level system. Suppose if I go back again and give it another listen it will sound better now that I know how really expensive it is?
     
  2. JamesHl

    JamesHl Supporting Actor

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    Next time get them to crank it up and watch a movie, you'll probably be more impressed.
     
  3. GordonL

    GordonL Supporting Actor

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  4. EdNichols

    EdNichols Second Unit

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    I actually had a CD with me and he couldn't play it because the music had to be downloaded into the system. I guess it was part of the fancy touch screen system.
     
  5. Frank_S

    Frank_S Supporting Actor

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    At the recent Home Entertainment Show in Sna Francisco, I listened to Meridian's DVD-Audio presentation on a $180K
    system. It was impressive, but not THAT impressive. I must say I'm not a multi channel music lover though.

     
  6. JeromeS

    JeromeS Stunt Coordinator

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    I also went to the HES SF 2003 and went into the same room for the DVD-Audio. Same impression here, it sounded good but not great. The room might not have been acoustically set up right though.

    I think Gordon is right when people get accustomed to hearing an exaggerated bass. It took me awhile to get used to listening to music flat as opposed to increased bass and treble.
     
  7. Doug Brewster

    Doug Brewster Second Unit

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    EdNicols,

    Have had similar experiences. There comes a point when the refinements of the system and the abilities of the human ear meet their maximum. After that the differences mostly revolve around male body part size comparison. Personally, I believe that more than $5000 is as much a waste as 10 inches.

    Doug
     
  8. Burke Strickland

    Burke Strickland Second Unit

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  9. Doug Brewster

    Doug Brewster Second Unit

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    "I believe that more than $5000 is as much a waste as 10 inches" - explained.

    Having either to display, I'd be proud, but it isn't necessary in order to get the job done right. In most cases, bragging about the equipment is more important to those that have it than actually using it.
     
  10. EdNichols

    EdNichols Second Unit

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    I agree, I think there is a point of diminishing returns. Based on my wish list it is
     
  11. EdNichols

    EdNichols Second Unit

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    Brett,

    Supposedly they have pills for that now. At least that is what half of my junk e-mail claims. Come to think of it, size is like audio gear, it's quality that counts, not quantity.
     
  12. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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    I think its dangerous to say what is "too expensive" or not in stereo gear. Different people derive different utilities or levels of enjoyment out of audio. My rig cost all-in around $25,000 but I have slowly improved it over the years with careful choices. I love it. It makes the music come alive, and I listen almost every day.

    Some people who would say this is too much to spend might also think nothing of spending $40K or more on a luxury car, but some music lovers might enjoy having the stereo even more.

     
  13. AjayM

    AjayM Screenwriter

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    I'd have to agree that setting some price point isn't very fair. There are so many variables involved that it's almost impossible to truly judge a system unless you know 100% for sure it's been setup properly. Listening to systems at trade-shows (or similiar) will set you up for a big disapointment almost every time. Even listening to a system at a dealer may not be the best either depending on the dealer.

    I can tell you though that a well matched, properly setup $50k system will just plain out sound better than a well matched properly setup $5k system or even $15k system. Now the question if the difference's between them present a good value to you or not will all be relative to how much you are willing to spend. If you don't blink at all to spending super-bucks then the high end system may be a good value, if you don't/can't/won't spend that kind of money then the differences may not be so important. Stereo gear spending is definately on a exponential scale, the more you spend the smaller the differences get, but don't make the mistake, there are certainly differences to be had.

    Andrew
     
  14. Yee-Ming

    Yee-Ming Producer

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  15. Brett DiMichele

    Brett DiMichele Producer

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    Ohh I certainly believe it's valid that we become used to
    hearing non flat music.. And when we do hear flat or even
    "close to flat" reproduction it seems lacking..

    I just built my DIY 12" sealed sub (14x14x15" cabinent) and
    it's very tight and clean with a .5 Q and it's almost invisable
    at times.. Certainly not the boom I am used to.... It draws
    no attention to it's self unless you listen to like, rap...
     
  16. Doug Brewster

    Doug Brewster Second Unit

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    To all the over $5000 investors that I have offended:

    1)When I say $5000, I mean in power, processing, and speakers for home theater. It would not include sources, projection/screens, interconnects, etc. (I mean, some plasma displays would exhaust the funds without any other component considered).

    2)I certainly have heard systems I thought superior in to the best that $5000 can buy.

    3)If you've got it, flaunt it - wish I had it and never will because...

    4)It isn't necessary and it doesn't add enough to the sound quality of movies to justify it. You say, "To YOU!!" Ok. But seriously, isn't there somewhere else in you life where $10,000+ could be invested? If you are entertaining groups of people in an organization on a biweekly basis, maybe $15,000, $25,000, or more could be justified as a total home theater investment, including the theater... But for primarily personal enjoyment? You really think it's rational?...

    Remember, I'm talking home theater and not conventional audio. Most of what you experience with home theater is either dialog or special effects; well recorded musical performances are rare to non-existent.

    And, while it really shouldn't be anyone's measure of anyone else regarding what they spend or fail to spend, it tends to become that.

    HOWEVER,

    Not ever seeing any way to have the means to invest more than $5000 in a system probably disqualifies me from being objective about this. I simply never will be able to afford this without neglecting other areas of my life. I have, however, heard some very expensive systems and, while dazzled by the quality, appearance, and power, didn't see $45,000 more enjoyment in a $50,000 system. Quality is expensive, but doesn't actually add much to the experience other than the comfort of knowing you have "good stuff" and knowing others know you have "good stuff"...and a few aesthetic enhancements. Whether it actually sounds better is purely subjective and highly influenced by personal preferences and hype. Whether it's "better" could never be proven. If you get what you think is the best certainly adds to your enjoyment of it, but does that actually justify the multi-thousands of dollars invested? Not in my mind, but since there's no possibility I'll ever do it, it's unfair of me to say that to you.
    BUT, I don't think it's unfair to ask you to really search yourself for the answer...so I'm asking.
    Does that mean you shouldn't invest the money? Hey, it's your money. I'm not jealous. If you have the funds and want to spend them, it's no moral indiscretion and there are much worse things done every day.

    If I have previously flippantly criticized you, I apologize. To me this is a matter of logic, but when I don't have the money this logic comes much easier.

    Doug
     
  17. Scott Oliver

    Scott Oliver Screenwriter

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    I find it funny that you talk of a $5000 price point, but in the same paragraph you seem to give your moral OK to owning a plasma screen.

    This concept of value all has to do with one's point of diminishing returns. And as Chu often argues that a component's price and looks can often make a person think something is better than it really is. It can also act in an opposite way for those whose point of diminshing returns is well below the cost of said component. They can't give an honest assesment of said piece because the cost is so prohibitive and unjustifiable to them.
     
  18. Doug Brewster

    Doug Brewster Second Unit

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    Scott,

    That's what I said.[​IMG]
     
  19. DaleBesh

    DaleBesh Stunt Coordinator

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    Most expensive I've heard was a Mark Levinson CD player and preamp feeding a Theta amplifier. Speakers were top of the line Vandersteens with 2 subs. I didn't stay around to hear the Rega Planet also in the system.
    I can still hear it in my head now 8 years later...
    My first great speakers were the KEF 104.2
    I can still hear that first audition in my head too.
     

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