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A few words for budding music lovers...

Wharfedale EVO4.4 Speaker

murali

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This is for those who are seriously considering to take up this hobby because of their passion for good music and sound reproduction systems and willing to invest some money for a 2-channel source-amp-speaker system. My credentials, well, I have been at this for more than a decade now, learned through right decisions as well as several mistakes, spent enough money, and am prepared to share such experiences so that others become wiser. If you are compromising on the music and are looking for a all-in-a-box DVD player cum A/V receiver, 5.1 etc, please stop reading and switch to another forum.

You believe that music is an art to be enjoyed by yourself and are not going to spend money to create some background sound while doing something else;
You don't believe in nostalgia, patriotism and protectionism in the current global economy and willing to look for the best with what you can afford;
You already do, or wish to, sit at least one or two hours in front of your system at least a few days a week and listen to and enjoy the music you love;
You are not building a system as a show-piece in your living room to demonstrate to visitors "I too have it".
You believe that the purest enjoyment of music is to sit in a live concert and no music reproduction systems through various electronics and other hardware are ever going to match that fully;
You believe that the hardware you are going to acquire have to take you as close to the "live" experience as possible and that is why you are going to part with your hard-earned money or ancestral heritage;
You believe in science and the physics of sound no matter what the so-called experts say; hardware design is more of science and there are manufacturers who build equipment more from their passion for the science and less for business (the best example is the decline of those once-upon-a-time high-end brands of U.K. which are now owned by mass market Chinese and Japanese).

If your answers are yes to the above, please proceed, or skip to another forum.

Do you own a vehicle - car or scooter or motorcycle?
Do you have at least one credit card?
Do you have a personal cell phone and if yes, do you change it every 1-2 years to catch up with technology?
Do you avail vacation every year and even if it is on your emplyer's account, do you end up spending more than Rs 10k in personal expenses?
Do you spend more than Rs 10k every year to upgrade your personal things like dresses, shoes, perfumes and all those accessories?
Do you throw parties to your friends?
Are you left with positive balances in your bank account(s) at the end of the year (after the taxes, loan repayments etc)?

If the answers to the above are yes, there is no doubt you have enough money to embark on this wonderful hobby and here is my advice:

The minimum investment I will recommend is a month's income of yours each year for the next 3 years. Add them up and plan as follows:

around 30% for the source, another 30% for amplification, about 30% for speakers, and finally the balance 10% for some essential accessories like interconnects, speaker cables, power cords and racks and footers.

If you are going to spend less than Rs 1 lakh for your source which most probably will be a CD player, go for a single box one (no separate transport and DAC). For amplification < Rs 1 lakh, go for an integrated and forget the pre/pro combination. Similarly, for similar money, get a pair of good floorstanders or stand-mounts which can go deep into bass and ignore a subwoofer for the moment. While choosing cables, remember that good companies selling good and expensive cables (Kimber, Audioquest, Alpha Core etc) also have cheaper cables available which will be better than mass market ones like Monster.

When you invest, do so wisely. Remember that we don't have any resale market in India and what you buy once is likely to get stuck with you for a lifetime. The U.S. is the most competitive consumer market in audio and it is always good to look for value-for-money stuffs in websites like audiogon. Never be skeptical about used items, especially cables, and believe me, I got all my top-end interconnects and other cables as used. You never know what you can pick up once you decide what you want and have patience.

If you have the money to afford to buy everything at one go, fine. Otherwise, in the first year, go for the speakers, next the amplification and finally the source.

Finally, these opinions are personal and have nothing to do with businesses.

I never impose, only advise.

Thanks a lot and happy listening and welcome to the wonderful world of music, music and music.

cheers.
murali
 

unleash_me

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Nostalgia
That was a pretty interesting write-up Murali. Liked the subtle humor as well :) Anyone nourishing serious audiophile ambitions should definitely follow these ideas.

Cheers.
 
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murali

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 5, 2008
Messages
501
Points
63
Location
India
Thanks, my friend, for the kind words.

Having received a few personal messages, let me write about some of my real life experiences for those interested: (easier than responding individually)

After 5 years (by the way, I am an engineer by profession) working in one of the Caribbean islands, I returned to India with a bunch of equipment back in 1996 - Yamaha electronics (those days of Dolby Pro Logic) and Polk Audio speakers. They were good for movies but never simulating for music. I then added a B&W subwoofer from their dealer in Mumbai which produced all expected aahs and oohs through LFE but was a disaster for music. I started studying the subject much more deeply and have got tremendous help and education from some very reputed people in this field like Matthew Polk, Richard Hardesty, Shane Buttner, Chris ven Haus (VH Audio), Michael Wiedmaier (Ayre), Robert Stein (Cable Company) as well as others, plus books like Robert Harley's High End Audio and others. My first major step-up was to Vandersteen speakers (bled through the nose by Customs here) and never looked back. Even when I wrote to Polk people that I was ditching their speakers and moving over to Vandys, they wrote to me that "I was growing up". Next came a Monolithic passive preamp which was quite good (with separate power supply unit) but never took me to that summit. Next came an Arcam CD player (which I chose after listening to Cyrus, Linn, CA, etc in the same system) which was wonderful but still lacked something. Then came the biggest ones, an Ayre power amp and a VTL preamp and the system moved to another level. I thought I had almost reached the end of the journey but still... Meanwhile, the best synergy in cables was obtained by moving to Audioquest (Cheetah IC and Gibraltar biwiwre) from van den Hul, Wireworld, MIT, and some British stuffs. The Flavor series power cables with Furutech and Oyaide connectors from Chris substantially improved the system. A couple of Rel subs from their Chennai dealer further made the Vandys really "sing". Then came a Solid Tech rack and a Taoc rack with several footers from them as well as Finite Elemente, Black Diamond racing cones etc displacing locally made MDF shelves and several Herbie's footers and dampeners. Next came a great deal through audiogon for a pair of Audioquest Volcano double biwire cables (used), another dream of owning a good double biwire to fully realise the potential of biwiring.

Then last year I moved again to outside India (this time alone) and now I could upgrade the VTL to a Audi Research preamp to enable me achieve a fully balanced set-up I have been dreaming all these years. The latest? I just replaced a Grover Huffman silver-plated copper balanced IC ($250) which I found very good to a Audioquest Sky (used but at 4 times the price) which is unbelievably good (already run a AQ balanced Cheetah from pre to power) and now make me perceive the reality that there are several keys in a piano and when a genius like Nojima (a Japanese) plays Liszt, now it is like following his fingers across the keys. Believe me, in some of my older configurations as well as in others' I had listened to, I had often felt that the player was either hitting the keys with his nose or had arms almost 5 ft long!

That is essentially what it has been like so far. Several older pieces lie around, the Monolithic, VTL, several cables, footers, etc etc waiting for someone who understands them and not for someone who would like to get them free and then resell them.

No regrets. A journey worth remembering.

Good luck, folks, and though I may not write again for some time, I may continue to peep into this wonderful forum now and then.

cheers.
murali
 
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murali

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 5, 2008
Messages
501
Points
63
Location
India
Murali,

What do you use to listen to music when you are abroad? I believe you work aborad.

Easy. Just a simple Sony radio with some good FM broadcasting. Life is more peaceful and relaxed than setting up a mediocre system temporarily though there are good opportunities there with Bose, JBL, Yamaha, Onkyo, Pioneer, Sony, Panasonic, Sharp etc etc.

Regards.
murali
 
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