AUDIO HI-FI EQUIPMENT
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HOME AUDIO EQUIPMENT

Table of Page Contents


Turntables

Turntable Info Links


Turntable Makers


DJ Turntables Turntables


Weird Looking Turntables


Vinyl LP Disc Recorder


Turntable Tonearms


Phono Cartridge

You can get any tonearm, cartridge, and needle you want at dealers Brooks Berdan, Acoustic Image, Shelley's-Woodland Hills, NeedleDoctor, Audio Advisor, Radio Shack, Goodwinshighend.com, AudioOutlet.com (addresses below)

Vinyl Record Cleaner

I can't really recommend a fluid because there's no consensus on what's the best. I'd just buy a gallon of whatever the machine's brand sells. The biggest dealer of record sleeves for LPs, 78s, 45s is Far West Record Supply which is listed on my "records" webpage.

Phono Needle Cleaner

I can't recommend a fluid because there's no consensus on what's the best. A few people recommended using plain distilled water and/or a little dry brush. These are popular:

Turntable Accessories


Turntable Pictures


Phono Preamp

Cassette Decks
The best cassette decks still in production today are by Tascam, their Tascam Tascam CD-A580. These cassette decks will not be in production for much longer so get one while you can. You can buy brand news ones online at Amazon.com


Cassette Deck Info


Cassette Decks In Production


Cassette Decks Out Of Production


Reel To Reel (mostly for professional recordings)


Blank Cassette Tapes
Ametron sells normal blank cassettes. MusiciansFriend sells blank Trutone and TDK tapes online. J&R sells blank cassettes online. There are many old mom and pop businesses and pro-audio stores that have old stocks of high quality cassette tapes. Metal and chrome tapes are better thank normal tapes. Pro-audio stores sell pro-quality tapes. The best blank tapes were TDK MA-EX which were only sold in Japan. Blank metal tapes and chrome tapes are becoming scarce so buy them while you can. Radio Shack sells cassette head cleaners so buy them while you can; at their stores they sell cleaners by Trackmate and Radio Shack, online they also sell cleaners by Maxell. WalMart sells Normal Sony blanks.

DVD Players - SACD Players - CD Players

Digital Playback Info Links


DVD Audio / DVD / SACD / CD Players


SACD / DVD / CD Players


DVD / CD PLAYERS


DVD / CD CHANGER


DVD-RECORDABLE, DVD-R, DVD-RW

This is an emerging technology which at once will obsolete DAT, CD-R and CD-RW. Mini Disc is already obsolete. The best digital still does not have the musical qualities of the best analogue.

CD MUSIC SERVERS


CD Transports


Digital Clocks


CD CHANGERS and CD PLAYERS with HDCD DECODING


CD RECORDERS


CD REPAIR


MP3 PLAYERS & ENCODERS
The computer you're using right now is a MP3 player, you just need good amps and speakers to hear it. The advantage of the MP3 format is that you can get all the songs you want for free, the disadvantage is that the quality is inferior to that of CD and worse than MiniDisc, the mitigating factor is that most CHR "Top-40" pop music is highly compressed for radio airplay so you can't hear an audible difference for most pop recordings. It's a disposable format where people download from the internet to their computers free MP3s of the current ephemeral pop charts and later delete them and write over those files the next batch of current ephemeral pop chart songs. It's the perfect erasable format for disposable music.

Speakers

Speakers Info Links


Studio Monitors


Dynamic Drivers

I don't know if Axiom, BIC, and Dahlquist are actually the same brand because they sure look alike. You already know that Harman is JBL, Revel, Infinity, Harman Kardon.

Crossover



Horn Speakers


Supertweeters

This was trend in hifi for a while. Some hifi enthusiasts added super tweeters to their speakers to accomodate the improved dynamic range that DVD-Audio and SACD formats are supposed to have. Caltech professor and musician
James Boyk has pioneered research in this field at the Caltech Music Lab and has written this report which suggests the need for super-tweeters, "There's Life Above 20 Kilohertz: A Survey of Musical-Instrument Spectra to 102.4 kHz." He also runs the Caltech Music Lab Auditioning Facility for subjective evaluation of components for the audio industry. Now that some manufacturers are selling seperate "suptertweeters", all high-end speakers ought to have "suptertweeters" built in; high-end manufacturers certainly charge enough.


Electrostatic, Planar Magnetic, Ribbon Speakers, Flat Panel


Bookshelf - Small


In-Wall Speakers

Nothing! Every in-wall speaker I've ever heard, every installtion that had in-wall speakers, regardless of the price and cost of installation, sounded terrible. The problem is that the entire wall that the speaker is attatched to vibrates with the speaker creating one giant rattling, buzzing, distorted noise.


Computer Speakers

There are many self powered speakers sold at pro-audio stores such as Guitar Center and Sam Ash Music.

SUBWOOFER - subsonic woofer

Bass is directional. So the left and right speakers need one placed close by or under them. For movies, you only need one placed under the center channel as in a movie theater. Harman brand's Infinity subwoofers have the worst reputation for reliability, almost as bad as BIC's subwoofers; Harman's JBL and Revel subwoofers are much better and the former Infinity founder's Genesis subwoofers are much better than those sold by his former company.

Center Channel

Your choice for center channel speaker depends on the kind of speakers you're using for your left & right channels. Get whatever brand's model that matches the same price and series tier as your other speakers. Most of the sound from movie soundtracks is in the center channel.


Rear Channels

Use whatever speakers you're upgrading from as your rear channels. If you want new ones, your choice for rear channel speakers depends on the kind of speakers you're using for your left & right channels. Get whatever brand's model that matches the same price and series tier as your other speakers.


Junk Speakers


WEIRD LOOKING SPEAKERS


Perfect for weird music. I need links to more speakers that look like rocks. I'm looking for links to a speaker which is supposed to have an oxygen/gas tweeter that you're supposed to ignite to listen to like the Acapella and Magnat Plasma speaker. Gas tweeters are the most perfect and neutral tweeters with a frequency response extending up to 100kHz (thus they also cover the area of a supertweeter without a crossover point). The use of plasma tweeters was abandoned many years ago due to the fact that they produce Ozone (O3). Ozone is very useful at the stratosphere levels but not in lower levels due to its aggressiveness and corrosiveness. It attacks nearly everything including our lungs!

PREAMP STEREO
Audio Research, VTL, and VAC are the best, ultimate, hi-end preamps, the benchmark for all others. Sony's Japan-only products are great. As much as I love Audio Research's sound, their control knobs and remote controls are terrible.

AMPLIFIER
Audio Research, VTL, and VAC are the best in production, ultimate, hi-end amps, the benchmark for all others. The best amp I've heard was the now out of production Wavestream Kinetics V-8 Monoblocks which were outrageously expensive. The most expensive amps are made by Wavac. For efficient and/or small speakers, you can use smaller amps less than 100 watts from 8 watts to 60 watts. Manufacturers and magazines ought to list the products' current in Amps, or Amperes. Some larger speakers and electrostatic speakers require more power. AR amps use vacuum tubes and produce crisp and clean signals. The best solid state amps are by Audio Research and Sunfire. The edge that makes Sunfire better than oversized, overdesigned, and overpriced brands like Mark Levinson, Krell, Boulder, Spectral, Conrad Johnson, Theta, Pass Labs, Tact Audio, Sim Audio, Audio Note, Audire, FM Acoustics, Burmester, Accuphase, etc., is that Bob Carver is a genius.

INTEGRATED PREAMP & AMPLIFIER STEREO
Audio Research, VTL, and VAC are the best, ultimate, hi-end integrated stereos, the benchmark for all others. As much as I love Audio Research's sound, their control knobs and remote controls are terrible. Sony's Japan-only products are great. Manufacturers and magazines ought to list the products' Amps, or Amperes, to indicate their current.

Home Theater

Mini Stereos - Micro Stereo Systems
These mini stereo systems consist of preamps, amps, tuners, CD players, and speakers. Unfortunately, most mini stereo systems' selling points are their size and are usually lacking features such as HDCD, CD-TEXT, phono preamp inputs, and Nakamichi-level-quality tape decks. Bang & Olufsen created this niche market and Japanese and other companies have been copying B&O's style for years, this is especially evident with Sony, Sherwood, Fisher, and Pioneer mini hifi systems. If you have the money, Bang & Olufsen is the best. A lot of these products are made in China so they're annoyingly overpriced.

Headphones and Headphone Amps
Some of the best headphones, which I've not listed here, are pro-audio recording studio headphones sold at pro-audio dealers like Guitar Center, Sam Ash, and others. I do not recommend "noise cancelling" headphones because while you're trying to listen to loud music, the "noise cancelling" headphones are blasting your ears with dangerous volumes of 'anti-sound'. When I tested "noise cancelling" headphones in a silent room, I felt pressure on my ears that was uncomfortable. Your ears are being blasted with the SPL of not only the music, but also the cancellation sounds. I do not trust "noise cancelling" headphones at all.

Radio Receivers - Tuners
I recommend Nothing! Nobody makes a receiver that is up to the state of the art specs. It would be great if there was a product that combined the features of the best receivers, could receive internet radio broadcasts, had a timer that could record radio programs from broadcast/internet/digital/cable radio, could digitize signals to clean them from static then send a digital signal to your receiver that has a built in DAC, had an onscreen video output like a VCR so you can set the timer and read the RDS data, had the ability to download recorded broadcasts to a portable MP3 player, and be easy to use like a VCR or digital VCR like ReplayTV and TIVO. Component receivers should have these features:
Many car stereos already have all these features. The hi-er end manufacturers have to catch up to the technology.
Cables

Power Cables And Conditioners

Video Projectors
This technology is improving so fast that I will now only list the brands that are making the best products. Look for each brand's latest models, not nessesarily their most expensive models, for their latest models will have their latest technology. These expensive projectors have to be re-calibrated every few months. All projectors ought to have HDMI, DVI, and Firewire inputs.

Projection - Big Screen TV
Big screen TVs are actually on their way "out" of the marketplace. They are being succeeded by flat screens. Don't bother buying one, seriously. The companies listed below consistently make the higher end models. The technology is improving so fast, there is a new "best" model every few months, but I predict they will all discontinue their models later this year. Remember, for optimal performance, a tv must be color calibrated. Since HDTV with 1080i specs and 16x9 picture is the new standard for widescreen viewing, maybe I ought to stop listing tvs that aren't. The best have VGA-type 15-pin connectors. Actually the computer monitor you are looking at right now has more resolution than HDTV. All TVs ought to have HDMI, DVI, and Firewire inputs.

TV Monitors
These companies consistently make the higher end models. Remember, for optimal performance, a tv must be color calibrated. Since HDTV with 16:9 is the new standard for widescreen viewing, maybe I ought to stop listing TVs that aren't. The best have VGA-type 15-pin connectors. These change so fast, almost monthly, that I'm just going to link to the best brands. Look for the latest top of the line models by Pioneer Elite. All monitors ought to have HDMI, DVI, and Firewire inputs.

Room Padding For Sound
For sane music clarity, unless you have "room treatment", you're wasting your money on everything else. The more experience I gain with audio, the more I'm realizing that the room might be the most important component of all. Read those articles. Maybe you need a padded room if you're going to spend hundreds of thousands on a stereo!

Equipment Rack, Storage Racks
Read this
article on vibration isolation and come to your own conclusions.
LED Meters
Connect the RCA line outs from your preamp to watch a light show.


Audio Calibration

Most Expensive Audiophile HiFi Equipment
Absolutely Cost-No-Object Overbuilt HiFi


Audio Brands For The Rest Of Us
If you aren't a millionaire and want a "serious" audio system, want something better than mass "consumer grade" electronics, want something better than the gimmicky booming junk, and would rather spend money on albums and concert tickets for music, then look into the top of the line products by these brands to hear "Hi-Fi" at the affordable entry level: Pioneer Elite, Sony ES, Rotel, NAD, Harmon Kardon, Marantz, Nakamichi, Sherwood. You can buy complete systems by each of these brands and then use one remote control for everything. For an entry level home theater integrated receiver, the Pioneer Elite is worth listening to. To start entering into the more expensive hifi, look into the brands: Sunfire, Golden Tube, B&K. For speakers, I recommend the affordable models by the brands listed above including: Legacy-Audio, Klipsch, NHT, KEF, Infinity, Joseph Audio. You would think that as technology improves, consumer electronics should be getting better, more endowed with features, and less expensive. When you buy an expensive component, you can usually negotiate buying any accessories at cost or even "thrown in". Many speaker manufacturers "throw in" center channel speakers when you buy L+R speakers. You can usually buy refurbished units, store demos, and trade-ins at any audio store at deep discounts.
Chairs
To vegetate on for hours while enjoying your home entertainment, I recommend the expensive recliners at sold at Superco stores. Some of them will massage your back. See below for addresses. You might consider installing exercise equipment in your listening room or installing stereo equipment in your exercise room.

Novelty Stereos

Audiophile Snake Oil

Audio Links

Articles of Advice


Links of Links
Audio Conventions and Expos
Pictures of HiFi
Audio Magazines
Audio Magazine Critic Cliches
by Michael Gindi @ Fi Magazine and others articulate, as all good fireworks displays must have a grand finale, edge-of-the-art-component, explosively dynamic, icing on that cake, musical, no chain is stronger than its weakest link, palpable presence, presence, punch, quantum leap, quick, reviewer's tool, rudely revelatory, screaming rave-review, superb at sounstaging and imaging, surprisingly seamless, to tell you the truth, transparency, uncolored, utterly transparent, you owe it to yourself to give these speakers a very serious audition, wispy, golden ear, unsurpassed clarity, exceptional value, lacking in body, opens up the sound stage, increases dynamic contrasts and delineates inner voices (or here either), areas of openness and linearity, and lifts a veil enabling previously unnoticed detail to emerge, you are there, they are here
AUDIO STORES
AUDIOPHILE STORES: Very expensive audio equipment can be heard at these places. Always call first to ask for their hours, what equipment you're interested in, and be sure to mention you found out about them via me. Bring your own CDs. When you bring test CDs, pick ones with widest dynamic ranges so you can hear deep bass with bright treble. Also bring CDs that sound muddied so then you can hear how well the audio equipment "cleans up" the sound and you can hear how much more detailed the soundspace image is. Beware that each dealer claims to be the exclusive distributor for each brand, but this is never the case. My audiophile tests are: to listen if the lyrics are more intelligible, if the horns sound more real, if the bass sounds more defined, and if you start feeling like dancing to the rhythm. Some components have "synergy" and sound better combined with others. Good components with a bad speaker will not sound good as would bad components with a great speaker. Sometimes good components just don't sound good together too. Ask to switch components around to make your A/B/? comparisons. I wish you good luck in finding the audio system that makes your music move you.
Freds Sound Of Music Audio Video Inc, Portland Oregon Audio Den, Lake Grove, NY


Southern California Dealers

There are concentrations of hifi dealers in the most affluent areas. In West Los Angeles there are many dealers located on Wilshire Blvd west of the 405 Freeway. In Torrance there are many dealers located on Pacific Coast Highway and on Hawthorne Blvd. Magnolia HiFi dealers are changing the way hifi dealers look with their well designed showrooms. The older dealers may not have stores that look as nice as Magnolia, but they have good prices on trade ins, demos, new-old-stock equipment, and used equipment.

Dealers Outside of Southern California


Internet Dealers


CAR STEREOS

Car Stereo Head Units
Car GPS Units Maybe it is better to keep the GPS external from your car stereo. That way you can take your GPS from car to car and be able to update it easier. A lot of these GPS brands look identical. These devices will probably become obsolete as smartphones have built in GPS.
Car Stereo Amps
Car Stereo Speakers
Car Stereo Peripherals
Car Stereo Sound Proofing
Car Stereo Accessories
Car Stereo Articles
Car Stereo Stores
The best way to find car stereo dealers in your area is to look at websites for the manufacturers you are interested in and check their lists of dealers for dealers in your area. Look at the websites for
McIntosh, Dynaudio Speakers, Nakamichi, and/or some high end brand listed above and look for their dealers. These manufacturers are very picky about the dealers that sell their products.

You could easily go to a place like Best Buy, Fry's Electronics, etc., and buy aftermarket components and put them into your factory slots, but those places will probably not have the capability to "tune" your car stereo to calibrate it so that you will hear the best imaging in your seating position. "Serious" expensive car stereo installation is a process that includes sound proofing, custom speaker enslosure building, rewiring, and calibration.


Commentary on Hi-Fi
Other commentaries:

Audio Standards




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