Which way to spend


Gold Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 4983
Registered: May-04

This is a long post. If you want to cut to the chase, advance to the bottom of the post now. I shall post this in the "Home Audio", "Home Theater" and "Computer" sections of the forum since those seem most relevant to the question.


On another thread in the "Home Audio", "Receivers" forum I got involved in a
"discussion" which began as a question about the value of separate pre amp/power amp combinations as compared to one high wattage HT receiver. The "conversation" drifted onto the issue of how separate components are constructed and configured vs. how the industry has moved to make HT receivers a part of the trend toward integrating the Home Theater system into a whole house "Home Entertainment" system. One side of the "debate" went like this:

"The basic point of the circuitry of the amplifier is to allow for general amplification of the analog signals it receives, hopefully without distorting it. Basically choices are made as to what to do when signals of various designs are received and these are coded into the solid state circuitry that you are used to. The instructions used to be hard coded with the use of the electronics that were available then. The signals have moved from analog source to digital source and the amps made adjustments.

The whole idea behind the process of creating a VLSI chip is not just to pack 350 transistors in a chip and recreate the circuit that already has been working. ... When we get to a point when you have access to a high number of MIPS (millions of instructions per second) you have the ability to create and recreate the circuitry that was previously soldered into circuit board, by programming. In this way you are not limited to the original design of the circuit.

Now part of this flexibility comes through, at this juncture, as what we see when we do on-screen programming of units such as the (Denon) 5803. Speaker placement, lots of pre-set audio and channel settings are still fairly rudimentary use of this technology. It is capable of a lot more. The programming of these chips allow you to completely control the above mentioned signals so that they can be amplified in any way you like them. Warm, bright, high bass, low tones and millions of other settings can simply be programmed to match the taste of the user. Jazz, hip hop, country, rock? Set it up in any way you please. It shouldn't be too far down the road when the receiver will make adjustments as it plays the song because it recognizes the genre and knows your taste for listening to that type of music. I'm sure even you would enjoy being able to tune your amp to do just what you would like and not just how some engineer thought it should sound.

The units such as the 5803 have the ability to receive updated programming through a port in the back. I don't know how often software upgrades are released by Denon, but it sure makes it exciting to know you are not limited to what you got from the factory. I'm looking forward to the day when the manufacturers will release a software development kit (SDK) for these units so owners can do the modifications themselves. Try that with your tube amp and $.28 diode.

Jan there is a reason why, for the most part, amps are not built with the older technology. They don't meet our needs any more."

My own thought was:

"Why don't you begin with the reason there are so many high end (audio) separates not using IC's in the signal path, or even for system management, if they sound as good as discrete component circuits."

Obviously, from the information provided above, you can recognize I prefer to state my case in as few words as possible. But, I digress.

The home entertainment industry has headed in two very distinct directions over the last twenty years. One seeking the highest fidelity from discrete components and the other seeking to intgrate the entertainment experience into a more "complete" and visionary component. As with everything today, common ground between the two camps is minimal and tenuous.

The buying public is also split into groups. Some such as myself, who use forty year old vacuum tube amplifers in my two channel system, have no need for the integration of Ethernet connections, no desire to plug our amplifiers into anything other than an AC outlet and cringe at the thought of "Warm, bright, high bass, low tones and millions of other settings can simply be programmed to match the taste of the user. Jazz, hip hop, country, rock? Set it up in any way you please." To listeners like myself, the way I like it is the way it sounded when it was performed. I have no need for enhancements or alterations. (Naturally, I don't even have tone controls on my pre amp.) I do not look forward to "tuning" my amp anyway I please. I bought my amp because I liked it the way it was designed and have no desire to change it. This seems to be the attitude of the high end audio market where IC's are minimized, if not eliminated, for the "old fashioned" way of building with discrete components and to the point of hard wiring components instead of using a circuit board. Anyone who requires proof that this is the long standing tradition of the high end product manufacturers need only look at an issue of Stereophile (http://www.stereophile.com/)
or any of the online review magazines.

These are articles about the sort of product I would buy. Since I am not an "early adopter", I don't know what the future of audio at the other end of the spectrum offers. I've not really looked since it has no appeal to me. It obviously does have appeal to some people.

So, here's the question. Which do you prefer and how would you spend your money (knowing what you know about the current state of audio/computers/electronics) if you were in a position to invest in a new "entertainment" system to last the next ten years? Would you invest your money in a very good two channel system using "old school" technology? Or, would you go for the integration of electronics in your whole house?

(For those curious about the intial thread that raised this question; go here:


Gold Member
Username: Illuminator

Post Number: 1395
Registered: Apr-05
To be honest, I haven't had much experience with tube amplifiers. The oldest amp I own (and have owned) is from 1970 and is a solid state. Naturally, I am inclined to buy amplifiers with the advanced circuitry which come with the plethora of sound-shaping options as you have described. I appreciate the reliability and, contrastively speaking, low cost.

I feel like you are correct however, there is little need for the sound-shaping options due to the fact that they are never needed (Very few scenarios require you to adjust the EQ for different types of rooms from what I have experienced-especially applicable to DJing for larger areas). I believe the greatest part of such technology would have to be the fact that it can handle new media. Mp3 normally has a compressed sound (due to the amount of decoding it requires) and nearly always requires some type of sound-shaping option to revive the original clarity. This would have to tie into your thoughts about the second group of people wanting to use newer technology with their equipment. Given the convenience of mp3, it is going to be mainstream in the future (if it already isn't now) and I would like to be prepared for such a technology as it matures.

In essence, I see tube amplifiers becoming outdated due to the convenience of new technology. Solid state amplifiers, though a mature technology they seem, still have quite a large area for improvement.

Silver Member
Username: Bassfreak596

Post Number: 114
Registered: Oct-04
I can't talk in the manner Jan Vigne or Jexx just spoke. Lack of experience you can say or probably because I wasn't yet born in the year 1970!

The first computer that was built by IBM was as big as a 500 sq feet hall, produced tremendous amount of heat, was noisy and guzzled power with little processing power. But of course over the period of time things changed for the good and better performing, stable, powerful, flexible and feature rich integrated computers were made.

Technology is dependant on each other in a way. It always takes time for something to be completely phased out before the newer takes its place.

Diodes and transistors were minimized by use of IC's. Same goes for the evolution of any other equipment where the aim is to better the present form. Smaller things got incorporated in even smaller spaces churning out better results every time.

All of this is to help you all put your finger on what I am trying to say. E.g.: When a digital amplifier is offering me a 7.1 audio channel configuration then why would I look for the 'old school' which offers me a 2 channel and produces the sound 'as it is'. Everyone has their own preferences. I can make use of Wireless Fidelity (wi-fi) and hook up my Home Theatre system to my TV and my computer, have my speakers which are Bluetooth enabled placed in the position I want when I want and yet get THE sound by selecting the presets on the amplifier or by manually setting it up.
Of course I can make it sound 'as it is' by turning off the presets (jazz hip-hop rock etc) and now it's even possible to control all of this with my pda/phone.

The question is 'why not?'
When all of the things posted are possible then why should I stick to something that restricts my flexibility. I am not adamant on or loyal to a particular type of technology. If the 'old school' amps could do all of this then this "discussion" wouldn't have arised.

Since it isn't of much use why use it at all? It is about I can use it when I feel the need to and that it IS possible. Shouldn't be like I want to use it but I cannot because it IS NOT possible.

Firmware upgrades through data cables or Bluetooth or Wi-Fi are always welcome when you know that they bring along a better instruction set and also bug fixes. They can help your setup be future compliant and raise its future index ten folds.
And all this is possible without opening the amp and resoldering the newer diodes on the PCB.

Also possibly the sound you hear from your vacuum tube amp mite not be exactly as you would like to think it is. Unless of course the efficiency is more than 95% which I doubt. Alongside, I have the flexibility of altering the sound in order to bridge that efficiency loss to make it sound as it did when it was performed.

You know very High Bass hurts your ears but also No Bass can be quite a pain. Knowing this I don't HAVE to hear what is thrown at me, if it's displeasing, I can alter it to make it a little less killing :-)

In the end, my arms are wide open to opportunities today's technology offers me. I will not say that I don't need Ethernet.

I WANT -- ("Warm, bright, high bass, low tones and millions of other settings can simply be programmed to match the taste of the user. Jazz, hip hop, country, rock?")-- BECAUSE I CAN.

You may like what you have. Think of the possibilities you could've had.

It's a personal opinion.

Silver Member
Username: Bassfreak596

Post Number: 115
Registered: Oct-04
Since all this is about personal opinion directed to YOU ie Users.. then, the answer to your question..

"..integration of electronics in your whole house.." , is MY pick.

Gold Member
Username: John_a


Post Number: 3612
Registered: Dec-03
I have a couple of EMI CDs of "great recordings of the century" and the effect of the "sound shaping" used to edit the masters is diabolical. The original LPs were incomparably better. Presumably the actual performances were even better than that.

Do I want to apply my own sound shaping? No! I want the closest approach to the original sound. I want to listen to music, not fiddle with controls.

When you've settled on different combinations of filters and unequalization settings for different genres, how can you ever be sure you've got it right? And what do you do when you hear real, live music, and you cannot control anything to create the sound to which you have become accustomed from playing back heavily modified recordings?

Leave the performance and go home to listen to a "Sound shaped" recording, instead?

"Since all this is about personal opinion....." All these features are for those who prefer to be able to choose their own kind of self-delusion. It is a free world, I suppose.

Silver Member
Username: Bassfreak596

Post Number: 116
Registered: Oct-04
I do not know why everyone thinks that the Presets HAVE to be applied. When you are in a mood to listen to how it sounds 'live' or 'as it is' then just turn it off. No hassels. If you are bored of listening to it over and over again, then use an appropriate Preset to spice it up a little bit.

And the idea of going to concerts is to hear it live. why would anyone want to mod that ? its at home that we are talking about.

I shouldnt compare but as an example, listening to Late Night Tip as it is ? or do you like to push your equipment to its limit while at it ?

call it self-delusion and
without doubt it IS a free world.

Gold Member
Username: Illuminator

Post Number: 1437
Registered: Apr-05
Yeah, Onkyo has the "pure audio" option in which all it does is amplify what is coming through.

Additionally, adding a bit of reverb (jazz club, concert hall etc.) gives the recording the live sound one might be looking for as most recordings are done in a studio of which reverb isn't added as generously if at all. Basically, you're hearing the recording from what a studio would sound like, not necessarily a performance in a large space.

Gold Member
Username: Insearchofbass

Post Number: 3477
Registered: Jun-04
I own an old school onkyo 424 dolby reciever and went to switch to digital 5.1 a few years later and let me tell you....not the same product at all they had to change to cheaper parts so if your looking at onkyo now proceed with caution...ps..i later returned the digital 5.1 onkyo reciever and stayed with my old school 424 dolby reciever

Silver Member
Username: G3nocd3

San Jose, Ca USA

Post Number: 335
Registered: May-05
hahahaha werd sean. You aint the only one that has had negative opinions on the "new" technology. Sometimes true sound comes only from the old school setups. Dont be fooled by gimmics, stay tru, I kno sean does. And thats probably the best thing a person can do. Werd man. You arlight.

Gold Member
Username: Illuminator


Post Number: 1969
Registered: Apr-05
Stay true and never evolve? Dun dun dunn

Silver Member
Username: G3nocd3

San Jose, Ca USA

Post Number: 337
Registered: May-05
hahaha yea, but only with some things. Now computers.... ok well lets just say someone running a 25mhz comp runnin on dos or windows 3.1... well lets just say either you are a nerd or stuck in the stone age. Now audio equipment is diff. I have a zapco amp from the early 90's thats more efficient and more powerful than most amps made in the present. It all depends on the manufacture and well, you of course. I like my old school, just not comps. :-)

Silver Member
Username: G3nocd3

San Jose, Ca USA

Post Number: 338
Registered: May-05
heehee, but man i wish we were all still on dos. Dos pwned. Its kinda sad how the youth of today forget their roots. Like for example, Hacking pay phones and soda machines. I can go up to any soda machine made in the last 5 years and eject all change in the machine. Since even soda machines have bios's now, you just gotta enter the right combo of buttons and you can get into the "OP" mode in the bios. Things like this shouldnt be forgotten. :-) old school.:-)

Gold Member
Username: Illuminator


Post Number: 1971
Registered: Apr-05
lol! What!! That's awesome dude.

Dos days? I don't miss them but I do remember them...only yeah, a lot of newb guys don't...
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