Upgraditis vs. Reality; Whats your take ?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by John Spicer, Feb 28, 2003.

  1. John Spicer

    John Spicer Agent

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    Im fairly new to the Home Audio / Home Theater arena. I just put in my first 5.1 system this past December now that I finally own my own home. The system is by most standards pretty modest (HK320, B&W DM series, SVS). Anyway, the wifey and I have been wearing out our Netflix subscription and Ive finally been able to listen to not just music, but its musicality at home. Needless to say I am quite pleased and the B&W's still make my ears melt.

    The question though is that while I *love* my total setup which is probably in the $5K range with monitor, how much more (if any) do you really get going the upgrade route? If say I were to go the route with seperate amps, processors, sterio gear, how much return or gains would be recieved ? I understand and believe that there are many benefits that are not necissarily tangible. Things like pride, excitement, the chase of finding new hardware, the "whos got the biggest" phenomenoa, are all drivers to upgrade. Its a real hobby and addiction for some, which I feel is really quite valid. However, as far as performance, I also believe in the theory of diminishing returns, which, Im sure many here are familiar with.

    All this comes down to I guess one underlying curiosity. Anyone who honestly knows what good sound is (maybe because of past jobs or experiences) and who wants an excellent system at home for entertainment but who doesnt want to necessarily persue HT as a hobby, does following the upgrade route really give them enough performance to justify the cost? Basically, taking away the fun of the hunt and installtion, does the show really get that much better going past the mid-fi arena in a personal application ?

    What are your thoughts ?

    -- John
     
  2. Angelo.M

    Angelo.M Producer

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  3. BrianWoerndle

    BrianWoerndle Supporting Actor

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    Seperate amps will make a big difference. Past that, you are right. The law of diminishing returns kicks in.

    The biggest benefit for me is the giddy factor. You know how giddy you get after you get new gear. My only problem is the giddyness is wearing off faster now. It has only been 2 months since my last big purchase, and I want more. :b
     
  4. John Spicer

    John Spicer Agent

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    Ooops, I should add something. I really have no inclination to do any upgrading. Im totally satisfied. This was just a point of conversation and curiosity for me. As pointed out, the only real thing that I would consider down the road is SACD or DVDA and since Im a fan of 2 channel stereo it will be a while before I go that route.

    As for adding more power, your right, Ill see the face of God. But only because my wife will kill me.

    -- John
     
  5. JamieS

    JamieS Stunt Coordinator

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    Very interesting subject. Especially since I recently got the upgrade bug. When I was yougher and single I comiled what I thought was a decent mid Fi system. Def Tec Dr7 fronts and C1 Center Axiom rears and PDR 12 sub and an AVR 2600 AmP. At the time of purchase it was probably over $3000 add in the DVD and CD plyaer (since sold) and the VCR and the TV (not up to date now [​IMG] ) and I was probably looking at over $5000 CAN for just little old single me in an apartment.

    Once I got married it was a major coupe to get Atom rears new satnds and rewire my room. I only got to do that because the wife wanted to move things in the room forcing a rewiring etc. I finally managed to convince here I needed a new reciever because the remote on the reciever gave out and it would have cost $$$ just to replace it. However my "Upgrade" was give a $600 budget which meant my $1200 reciever now was replaced by one costing half as much. I finally got to lookt at new speakers and while my OLD speakers and sub cost about $1600 over 7 years ago my NEW budget was $1500 once again my upgrade budget was less than my origional budget. Some fancy dancing got me Monitor 7s CC370 and PW 2200 just over budget.

    The pijnt is that although my budget was LESS than the cost of my origiona equipment I feel I now have a superior system. I think there is a lot more for your dollar today available then 5 years ago.

    I thnk of course the law of dimishing returns applies BUT it think it kicks in a lot higher than the system you or I have. I KNOW if I went to separates I would notice a substantial difference. I know a new HDTV would be a substantial and worthwhile diffefrence.

    I do think you get more tangible benifits form some upgrades than others. If you have preouts and add extearnal amps you'll notice a difference. If you upgrade you cables maybe maybe not. I think that as far as audio goes Speaker and amp upgrades make the biggest difference whaile other may make a difference but not as notable.

    Sorry i was so long you just hit on a point I have really been thinking about lateley. [​IMG]
     
  6. Bryce Miner

    Bryce Miner Stunt Coordinator

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    if you don't have HDTV or High Resolution Audio you need to upgrade and taste the technology! IMHO.
     
  7. Andrew Pratt

    Andrew Pratt Producer

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    The problem is you're trying to apply logic to something that is illogical...music is about feelings which means its hard to quantify. The very fact that we talk about the power of the placebo effect means that for many of us we perceive benefits regardless of if they are really there or not...but that doesn't seem to matter so long as at the end of the day you believe your system sounds better. If you could "listen" to your system in a very logical sense then it would be pretty easy to say yes the new amplifer has given me 0.03 percent less distortion then before...fortunatly other then some die hard geekers most of us also use our eyes and ears to evaluate purchases.

    So what does this all mean? Well I guess education is the key to helpping us to better understand what's real and whats perception. If you learn to understand what benefits a power amp will really have on your system then you might be better able to judge in a logical sense if its worth doing or not. For example if you own Klipshe speakers that are 98 db effiecient adding a 300 watt power amp wouldn't make that much sense. Without doing your homework though you might convince yourself that the new amp really does make a big difference just because you "believe" it does.

    *disclaimer - the klipshe and amp was just an example of could happen.
     
  8. Carl Johnson

    Carl Johnson Cinematographer

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    If you get make wise choices when buying gear upgraditis shouldn't be much of an issue. There will always be something newer and more powerful than what's in your entertainment system but there's no need to upgrade if you're satisfied with the presentation. I've been using the same speakers for six years. I've only upgraded my receiver twice; once to add 5.1 when I got my first DVD player and secondly to add DTS when the 5.1 unit died.

    Some people get new cars ever year. Others get a whole new wardrobe every spring. If you can afford upgraditis then more power to you but even if I had extra cash laying around (which i don't) I'd add a new hobby before I'd replace perfectly good gear.
     
  9. Scott Oliver

    Scott Oliver Screenwriter

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    Well I certainly think there is better sound out there but of course everyone's point of diminishing returns is different.

    Anyhow as a recent purchaser, I would advise you to listen to as much as possible over time, then decide if what you have is what you REALLY like. You might just decide that you prefer a different presentation to the music then what you have.

    It happened to me. Some listening sessions at dealer's or other people's houses gave me a whole new insight on what was possible from a stereo system, and put me on a path of a complete reoganization of my system that I am still working on.

    Then again if you are happy with what you got, like you say, then maybe you don't want to go out and listen to a lot more stuff. Just to make sure no musical revelations occur.[​IMG]
     
  10. Douglas_H

    Douglas_H Stunt Coordinator

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    Excellent point Scott.
    You stole mine.
    The point of diminishing returns is as you put it,
    different for everyone.
    For some, the first 90-95% is enough.
    For others, that last 4% is what it's all about.
    Another thing to consider is that your expectations
    canwill change over time.
    My first exposure to Dolby Pro-logic was a revelation.
    Then the HTB, WOW! This is what DVD is all about.
    Next, that 32" that once seemed so large is dwarfed by
    the sound eminating from 5.1.
    Hmm, maybe I can sell that receiver and get one with
    7/6.1 and some more power. And that center channel...,etc., etc., etc.
    Constructing a home theater system is exponentially
    more complicated than 2-channel. But the same rules apply.
    Spending what your willing to achieve a balance.
    Hopefully when building a system it gives you the perception of reality.[​IMG]
     

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