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Trends vs True Advances

Paul R

Trend or True Advance  

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One way I personally measure the impact a piece of equipment, software, or even a new tweak - is by how long it stays around.


Take Pono for example - pretty much everyone, including me, bought into it from the beginning. While it turned out not to be to my personal taste, pretty much everyone who listened to one loved it and declared it "the best!"


While of course, I won't dispute that opinion, the number of Pono players that are hitting the used market tells me that some significant percentage of people have already groan tired or bored with them.


That doesn't make Pono just a trend (I would say fad here, but people whose opinions I respect would then poke me with sharp pointy things...) - but it also brings into question was it a true advancement?


Another trend on the sale sites (even here) may be how quickly other "high end" gear is being resold. Like Auralic Vegas. Or the new REGENs, iFi DACs, etc. Or how fast software is adopted the abandoned. J.River MC, iTunes, etc. Or things like Vinyl sales in the digital age, etc.


Obviously, this is really hard to tell, since we do not have solid sales figures or other hard data necessary to make a really authoritive calls, so don't take any if this too seriously!


But do feel free to share your opinion about any product you are interested in!


No pounding on the products, people, or opinions. Respectful disagreement only please.



Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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I think advances are very incremental, and often take a while to show their full promise. CD, transistors immediately come to mind.


I say trends are generally incremental because really good hi fi from earlier eras (e.g. my late father-in-laws giant Heils) still sounds really good. I also no longer believe that you can get the so called "Absolute Sound" out of a hi fi. You can get close, but there's no perfect system that is going to sound just like live, unamplified acoustic music in your house. Horns do some things really well, electrostatics others, ribbons others, "monkey coffins" have come a long way and can do some amazing things.


Digital does some things really well, but to me there's still a palpability to analog that digital can't quite reach. Granted, I don't have a lot of money in my digital rig either.


My latest "advance" was to buy 30 year old electrostatic speakers.

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Paul: Because of its lower cost, I think software can tell us about what likely happens at the hardware end, only more gradually. As the various software players have come out (Amarrra, JRiver, A+, HQP, etc) I have purchased an initial license to each one, hoping it would be the end-all solution. Till the next seeming better one came out. So that led to acquiring Tidal and Roon. Along the way, I stop buying upgrades or new versions of whichever software isn't (in my view) keeping up.


But if the price points were even 2X what they are for these players, I might only have bought one or two of them and waited longer to make a switch. Since great electronics can be 10X to 20X the cost, the hesitation and timeframes become even longer (I haven't joined the buy it and sell it quickly on Audiogon crowd yet). The exception has been lower cost DACs like Schiit or iFi where it again seems worth buying and trying a few because the price points are lower AND the pace of product upgrading is higher.


I will say that in my view the advances of computer audio (both on the software and DAC side) have led to a greater increase in musical fidelity and enjoyment of my audio system than any other set of improvements over the last 25 years. Listening to A+ 2.2 last night, I thought: "This is really the closest I have ever come to full believability of a singer or instrument actually being right here in the room with me."

Synology NAS>i7-6700/32GB/NVIDIA QUADRO P4000 Win10>Qobuz+Tidal>Roon>HQPlayer>DSD512> Fiber Switch>Ultrarendu (NAA)>Holo Audio May KTE DAC> Bryston SP3 pre>Levinson No. 432 amps>Magnepan (MG20.1x2, CCR and MMC2x6)

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While for many, Hi Res and DSD offer something extroardinary, advances in the SQ of portables and speakers in small form factor together with inexpensive yet powerful class D amplification are where it's at for most listeners ( read not audiophiles)......so unless the audiophile community grows ( not trending this way) or audiophiles start replacing all of their music with Hi Res and or DSD downloads ( not trending either), I think both DSD and HiRes will be the causalities of un natural selection at the hand of Redbook streaming services.


The vinyl resurgence is certainly a fad. Once the twenty ( and sadly thirty) something crowd has to move out of their folks houses, those heavy crates of vinyl won't be making the trip to cramped urban living spaces.

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