Sounds a crazy question but, in this day and age, buying hi-fi is not as easy as it used to be. There’s fewer dealers, more product choice and more advice out there…much of it conflicting and confusing. So, what do you do? How do you get the most from your money?
The Internet has a lot to answer for.
It’s easier to buy a more varied selection of hifi products then ever, there are ever more voices out there whose opinions demand to be heard.
The hifi industry itself offers far more variety in terms of music technologies than, say, the heyday of the genre back in the oh- so-simpler 70s.
The end result of all of this is potential confusion.
What follows is my attempt to untangle it all. It might not be a solution but at least I’m getting the debate up and running.
I’d be interested in your thoughts on the subject.
[Don’t forget to check out my Facebook Group, The Audiophile Man: Hi-Fi & Music here: www.facebook.com/groups/theaudiophileman for exclusive postings, exclusive editorial and more!]
To see the video, click below…
P Hocking15th November 2019 at 5:40 pm
I buy hifi by only trying it on my system, if I cannot try in at home I will not buy it. Firstly I will play a known track using the existing equipment, I will then try the new part and listen again judging any change. I will then change back to hear any change again. I will then invite my local hifi friend to hear his opinion. I recently did this with the NYX mains cable from Titan that you reviewed and then purchased. This is the way I have purchased all of my equipment. Regards Phil
Paul Rigby15th November 2019 at 5:41 pm
Excellent Phil – you’re utilising a methodical approach and that’s great to see. Good to see that you’re seeing your room as an important factor too. Nice one.
Andy Hanson16th November 2019 at 11:29 am
Hi Paul. This might be a difficult question to answer but I’ll give it a try. I’ve been an audio enthusiast since age 14 (I’m now 59) and have – or rather had – a system I was pleased with. I had shortlisted from a cross section of reviews, listened to components at a dealer’s, then taken individual items home to try in my own system. In short, my purchases have come from research, demos and ultimate selection based on my specific preference. I have not-inexpensive cables, including mains cables, from Kimber/Russ Andrews. My room is acoustically treated with GIK panels and I have a Stands unique equipment rack with Iso-Acoustics feet under key components. I also use Russ Andrews power conditioners and a Gutwire earth cable. Even you recommended Ikea shades hang from my ceiling! I think we are like-minded in how to select components and get the best from the overall system and the environment it operates in. Unfortunately something has happened to my system to make me unhappy with it and I don’t know what! Nothing sounds broken as such but there is an edginess that has entered the sound that makes it unpleasant to listen to and the soundstage isn’t what it was. I have gone through quite an extensive process of unplugging items and cables and reconnecting them, all to no avail. My interest in grabbing the latest CD release and listening to it has receded in recent months because of this. My dealer is a long way away (the other side of the country) to take it all over to him and only parts of the systems were bought from him in any event. Do you have any experience or thoughts that might help please? The system is Naim Supernait 2 with Hi-cap DR, CD5XS CD player, B&W 803D3’s, Kimber 8TC speaker cable and KCAG interconnect from CD to amp. Thanks in advance.
Paul Rigby18th November 2019 at 9:53 am
Hi Andy – hmmm, so when did this sound issue begin? What changed in or around or outside of your system? Can you do a sort of regressive memory thing and peel back time, step by step?
Andy Hanson19th November 2019 at 5:26 pm
Hi Paul. I did three things around the time of the change…the Guwire cable, running an Isotek tune up CD (at moderate level) and ran an extension cable around the room to supply a new lamp. I also had a Russ Andrew’s zap DIN plug that I plugged into the SN2, maybe without turning the amp off first. All have been removed but to no avail…the mild edguy distortion remains but as I say is no significant enough to say the tweeters have gone. I’ve inserted different speakers, amp and CD player into the system and this weekend stripped the system down fully and treated all connections with Deoxit. I can only think of three possibilities at this stage:
1. Something has dried within the electronics (although the substitutions mentioned don’t support this).
2. Something on the mains (although I have a Russ Andrew’s fully loaded Purifier box and Absorber that it meant to prevent this)
3. Something has changed with my hearing that applies to music listening only (hmmm).
Paul Rigby19th November 2019 at 5:55 pm
Hi Andy, hmmm – I was going to blame the extension but, as you say, that’s gone now. I was wondering if the Tune Up CD has caused tweeter issues. It’s not supposed to and I’ve never heard reports linking the thing with damage but it’s a remote possibility. But then you’ve used different speakers. So…I know this sounds odd but, can you possibly remove the essential parts of your system and listen to those in a different room and listen to see if those missing sonic elements return? If everything checks out..let’s change the room! If that doesn’t help and, even in a different room, the problems remain, maybe something has failed or is failing somewhere. Then you’ll need to isolate which box is failing.
Andy Hanson21st November 2019 at 11:32 am
Thanks for that Paul. Changing the room sounds like a good suggestion. I’ll give it a try (probably in a couple of weeks time when I have the house to myself) and let you know how it goes. Cheers.
Paul Rigby21st November 2019 at 1:26 pm
Good luck, Andy – yes, please let me know how you get on.
Gareth Tuffery2nd December 2019 at 8:03 am
My most recent purchase was a set of speakers and that was after a visit to the Munich Hi-Fi show.
I made a list of speakers I wanted to hear after reading blogs & articles from the eye watering expensive to value for money speakers. That’s the great thing about visiting a good Hi-Fi show!
I was delighted to stumble upon a set of speakers that literally blew me apart with the wow! factor at a value for money price. In addition I had a long chat with the company’s CEO who invited me to come and see him at the factory which cemented my love for these speakers and the company.
was offered the speakers at a very favourable price, I just wanted to share my experience with your readers.
Paul Rigby2nd December 2019 at 9:58 am
Thanks for that Gareth – so what were the speakers then? Don’t leave me hanging, please! 🙂
Gareth tuffery2nd December 2019 at 10:43 am
I am not allowed to say due to possibly upsetting distributors!
Perhaps best if we leave it well alone.
Well done for your fantastic blog I will try and add something that won’t get me into trouble.
Robbert9th August 2020 at 12:09 pm
Thanks for your informative video!
I’ve spend hours researching my upcoming hi-fi buy but can’t find any advice on what to do specifically when in the hifi store. Do you have any advice on that? I’d like to make sure my time spend listening in the store gives me the best reference for what i will feel and hear when at home. I’m hoping to prevent an earlier failed buy where i was impressed with a speaker in the store, and still was at home, but found it too fatiguing when listening for Longer periods. i returned the speaker. This time I’ll be shopping for speakers, amplifier and turntable at a total budget of 1000-1200 euro. Some pratical questions;
– should i listen ‘blindfolded’, to eliminate prior expectations?
– How do i translate the intense and concentrated listening experience in the store to a more relaxed listening at home?
– when negotiating, what discounts are reasonable at my budget?
Thanks in advance!
Paul Rigby10th August 2020 at 12:47 pm
I would ask for a home demo, first up, if you’ve had prior disappointments between demo room and home then say that to your dealer and ask if that can be arranged. Many dealers will agree on exchange of a refundable deposit.
I’ve never asked for a discount but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. The more you’re spending, the cheekier you can be I suppose. There’s no fixed percentage. The dealer might not entertain a discount and that’s fine. Depends on him, what he’s selling, how much cash is involved, how polite you are about the whole thing, what side of the bed he got out on that morning, etc.
If you’re listening to music at a dealer’s place take music you are very familiar with and know backwards. You know there’s only so much bass guitar on this part of the track, the decay on the cymbals only go ‘this far’, etc. Listen to it before you leave the house to remind yourself, then compare that to the new gear. Don’t forget, his room and his set up will also change things which is why you need to request that he swop over 1 or 2 other items for you to listen to for comparison.
Robbert10th August 2020 at 1:42 pm
That’s good advice. I’ll follow up on that. Thanks Paul!