The purpose of this website or blog is two-fold. One is to have some fun doing album reviews and such, but most importantly, is to encourage and help you re-engage with music, provide some related information and help you become aware of what affordable high-end or fine audio gear is out there.
I have often wondered why fine audio gear was so un-affordable and why I could not have stuff to help improve sound quality myself. Only recently I started looking far and wide. I really had to dig, but I finally started finding affordable fine audio gear. It was then that I realized, it’s not just about me, there are tens of thousands of folks out there who might wonder the same thing.
This became my mission. First and foremost I want to help you re-engage with your music, but I also I want to make other folks like myself who are non-audiophiles and don’t have deep pockets, but desire better sound quality aware that affordable high-end audio gear is out there if you look hard. Having good sound quality is part of engaging with music.
I want to introduce folks to good sound quality who don’t know they can have it, folks who think they can’t have it or think that affordable fine audio gear does not exist, (like I recently thought).
I want to let them know that they don’t have to spend the mortgage or $10K or $5K on a piece to get quality. I believe that just because something doesn’t cost as much as something else, doesn’t necessarily always mean it isn’t as good or even better in some cases.
When I ask folks if they wish they had better sound quality then listening on their phones or PCs or through cheap poor quality gear, there is often times a hesitation before they answer and say, “No, I just use my phone and I’m fine with that” or similar. Well, in my opinion the real answer is in the brief moment of silence or pregnant pause. It is there that I sense what they really want to say is that they wish they could hear their music in great sound quality, but think they can’t afford it. They don’t say it though because of two reasons in my opinion. One is that they don’t know good sound quality because more often than not, they never heard it. Second, the affordable fine audio gear is almost never reported.
Just like on TV, radio and such for other products, we only hear about the super expensive cars and watches and such. Same with audio, the only thing that gets reported most of the time are the $10K and up pieces or the five and six figure audio systems.
At the end of the day though, we come back around to the true reason and purpose and that is engaging with music, the music you want to hear. Music is the star of the show here. It is what is most important. Music can change mood, attitude, emotions, and even your very essence, gear can’t do any of that.
NOTE: Unless otherwise noted or obvious, everything I write in this website/blog is solely and only my opinion, view and / or experience and not necessarily professional advice or official endorsement and what have you. So please take it as 100% subjective because the audio hobby or world is subjective by its very nature. It’s almost 100% opinion save the real (not pseudo) science behind it.
Finally, but not less important, thank you for reading.
The menu (Fine Audio for the Rest Of Us) is the place where I will list affordable high-end audio gear I find as well as non-high end gear that performs well above its price point. (Just because something costs more does automatically mean its way better especially when taking diminishing returns into account as well).
I don’t do formal professional reviews as I do not have proper facilities and I am not an experienced gear reviewer. That said, I may review a few items I own or perhaps have enough hands on experience with and any reviews I do end up doing will be very casual. I’d rather listen to music and not gear. Gear is merely the way of hearing the music at the best fidelity possible within one’s means (and you’ll be surprised how good that can be for not a lot of dough comparatively).
Aside from the few reviews I may end up doing, I will basically just be listing the item, giving some info from the manufacture and posting a picture and/or the links to the manufacture so you can check it out yourself and contact your local or known dealer if interested. If there is a good honest review on any item from a trusted source I will also post that, permitting. Ultimately, never solely trust a review, it’s your ears, not anyone else’s, try to seek out the item to see and hear for yourself.
Just as important is the fact that in order to have good sound quality you will have to have the appropriate gear to reproduce it. That said, much of the gear I am talking about is considered high-end or fine audio, but it does not have to be expensive. It is possible to put together a very nice complete system for well less than $2000. I’m talking everything, but the records!
I won’t be giving detailed advice on what to purchase, that’s better left up to you and any expert you hook up with, but I will be listing as many affordable high-end pieces (and some that are not high-end, but are incredible value for dollar) as I can. My criteria will vary depending on type of item. Essentially I break it down to maximum this way:
Speakers = up to around $6000/pr
Turntables = Up to around $3000 ($3k If really special)
DACs = Up to around $800
Phono Preamps/Stages = up to around $1000
Amps = up to around $3000
Cartridges = up to around $600
CD players = up to around $1500
Network players = up to around $800
There are certain things you won’t want to skimp on though such as speakers which is why I gave the highest max to them.
As for cables and the like, I won’t even go there. My belief (even though every single audiophile and high-end gear head will absolutely disagree with me), is that cables and such are not the place you want to allocate large money to. I believe as long as you are not using dollar store cables and such you are perfectly fine. Don’t get caught up in the “biggest difference I’ve heard is in cables” argument. I believe that unless you are running inappropriate lengths or gauges and using the wrong type of cables for any said piece, you are fine and there is no worries unless broken. I believe the biggest differences or changes or improvements you can ever make with any system is 1) the recording, 2) the room and set up and 3) the speakers, in that order. Everything else is subtle at best and could get you into nasty diminishing returns. You’ll also note that I do not list prices, that’s because I don’t want it misconstrued that I am selling anything and such. However, trust that I will not list anything dramatically exceeding the affordable list above. You can count on that.
Above all though, my main focus is on the music, because that is were it begins and ends. If the music (quality or otherwise) is not to your liking, then the gear and such doesn’t matter.