Choosing a stereo
I’ve always liked having a good stereo system. My first stereo was a JVC boombox with a CD player. I remember going to the store and testing all of them. I was 11, I was getting it for my 12th birthday. I chose the one with the most bass.
I’m not sure why I wanted a boombox, I guess I thought it looked cool. My first real stereo set I bought from personal ads in the newspaper. A Pioneer amplifier, a Philips CD player, a cassette desk, a record player and old speakers that my stepdad had brought from the US in the 70′s. I still have the same speakers. I don’t know anything about them, there is no brand, they are really ugly and heavy, but they sound great.
Over the years I moved around a lot but I usually brought my amplifier and speakers with me. Unfortunately, portable speakers sound very portable. I need a big stereo system.
At some point my amplifier gave up, it would make weird random noises. I had it cleaned and it was OK for a while but after 12 years of daily usage it was time to say goodbye. I then researched a bit and bought the Yamaha AS-700. I was happy with it. At 350 Euros it was a good deal. It has a lot of power and very few controls. I prefer the amplifier to be very basic, so not much can break. I’m sure there are better sounding amps out there, but I was happy with this one.
Now I moved to New York and I didn’t want to carry all that heavy stuff. I brought some Bose Companion 20 multimedia speakers, to make sure I have something to start. My apartment is tiny so the speakers should suffice… but they don’t. It just sounds small.
I went to a lot of different stores to learn more about receivers, amplifiers, equalizers, solid state, tubes, DAC’s, floorstanding speakers, bookshelf speakers…
Going to the specialty audiophile stereo store made me feel really old, like an old whiny man, whining about wines and cigars… I listened to their more affordable (still very expensive) tube based amplifiers and bookshelf speakers. The set I liked most would be about $4500. I would consider buying something like that, it might be something that lasts… but I didn’t like the way it sounds at all! The sound was so clean… way too clean. You could hear every detail of the recording, which is not what I want. I think after all these years of having an average stereo, switching to super hifi is scary.
It reminded me of this story I heard about impressionist paintings. In the 1950′s the varnish of most Modernist paintings had turned yellow/brown. People were used to Monet’s paintings looking like English breakfast tea. After cleaning the varnish people were outraged! They were not used to these candy colors in the important classic works they had always respected.
I’m not sure if I’m ready for real hifi.. I like sounds to blend…
I went to a midrange stereo store and I listened to a number of options. A friend recommended the Audioengine A5+. A compact active speaker set for audiophiles. Just what I need… portable speakers, high quality sound!
Unfortunately it was too good to be true, they still sounded small. Better than other computer speakers, but not good enough.
I think I will buy a nice midrange set, a Harman Kardon receiver and some JBL speakers. They sound nice, and the whole set costs around $500. If you have some suggestions on what to get… let me know.
There is so much to learn still… I get really obsessed with this stuff…
PS: never talk to girls about stereo equipment, they will be bored to death.