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Vantage Technology Magazine
The great Best Buy guide

The advanced HIFI school, that explain everything...

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The advanced HIFI school

This school include practically everything you need to know, before you buy some HiFi equipment and especially, to get a truly natural sound...

First some basic facts about the main specifications...

Since 1990 have middle class or higher Hifi equipment, made by fine companies, normally clearly finer specification than you can hear... Except turntables, cassette decks and especially loudspeakers, but almost no company show any distortion specification for speakers... And some micro systems, can also have finer specs than you can hear!
But it can naturally be good to know what you can hear, anyhow...

The S/N (signal to noise) dB and dyn (dynamic) numbers are extra easy... That specification show you how low the main noise are, under the music level... And when you play music can you normally not hear any noise, that hide 60db below the music...
But you can still hear some noise 80db below, between tracks and at very quiet parts... And that hiss, can also be distortion... But you hear half as much noise, when the S/N or dyn are 10db bigger... So simply avoid equipment that give less than 96db s/n (or 106db with headphones) if you don't want any hiss between tracks, or in the most quiet parts of classic music!

Frequency response... Was almost only a problem with cassette deck, if you wanted to use normal tapes... Because you naturally want to get minimum 20 to 20.000hz, which also is what you maximum can hear... And then could you only buy a 3 head machine from Denon, if you didn't want to spend 2 to 6 times as much...
But average Humans hear only 31-19000hz and if you wonder, Elephants hear 17-10500hz, Cows 23-35000hz (!) Dogs normally 67-45000hz and Cats 55-79000hz, according to Wikipedia
Then can fine subwofers also go under 20hz (if something is recorded there) which you then can feel, but normally not hear... And note that a speaker that can produce over 20khz, may more easy produce finer details... At least from that tweeter!

Distortion in equipment... Are simply the extra tones you get, beside the original music and less distortion can also give you a more open and clear sound, with finer details... That is also why some add different distortion to electric guitar's, to get extra wild tones... But you can normally not hear any extra tones, when it is under 0.5% distortion at 1khz... And very few can hear just 0.1% distortion... According to many blind tests...
**** But with four different parts in the sound chain, that each produce 0.1% different distortion, may you get 0.4% errors totally, which then are possible to hear sometimes... And things that give more than 0.05% distortion use to be very badly constructed... So you should avoid equipment that give more than 0.05% distortion!

Then does loudspeakers normally distort a lot more... Even if they normally do that in a nice fuzzy way... They use to give 3-9% distortion at 1khz and often up to 20% over 20 to 20000hz... But people don't notice that high distortion in the bass area... And that kind of fuzzy sound, may even hide any distortion from the electronic parts... But they makers show normally no distortion specifications - so you must simply listen for a very open and clear sound, with many micro details...

My amazing loudspeakers give less than 0.5% distortion at 96db and that can explain the extremely open sound, even at very low levels... And headphones give dramatically less distortion... And that is also why they normally sound dramatically more open and clear, with many micro details!

And the WATT specification from amplifiers, are shown in many different ways, that give very different results and you can read about that here in a new window...

Then was CD players originally made to measure clearly better than you can hear, with 16 bit resolution and 44.1khz sampling rate (or 44,100 samples per second, which give 1441kbps) so any higher specifications, should only give a difference that is practically impossible to hear (!) if the player are fine in every other way... And tons of blind tests confirm that fact!

Yes, turntables have also the very important wow & flutter and s/n (or rumble) specifications, which you can read about here in a new window... And finally are there actually worse kind of distortion, that also is easier to hear, as IM distortion and the now very rare crossover distortion, but very few maker of HiFi equipment use to show those numbers... So the best way is anyhow to listen for a open and clear sound, with many micro details... And the second best, is to look for similar reactions in reviews!

And that is what you normally need to know...

On a side note... Some believe it's would be better to write distortion with DB because 10% distortion is the same as -20db under the music, 1% is -40db and 0.1% is -60db but what is then 0.5% in db?? Yes, that is not -50db (it's actually -46db) because the distortion scale is linear / straight and the db scale is logarithmic, a growing curve!
So just remember that ten times less distortion in % make the distortion half as easy to hear 2 times, because -10db is simply half as loud...And half as much distortion in % make it clearly less easy to hear, because half the distortion is -6db and a -3db difference, is just easy to hear and -6db is clearly easy to hear, until we get down to -46db which is 0.5% distortion!

And you should first select the main speakers - which you can read more
about below - and then figure out, what's most important for You

And after you select the main speakers, plus maybe a subwoofer and headphones - are following parts the most basic HiFi sound equipment...
A fine home cinema AV Receiver (with a manual adjustable digital Equalizer and radio) and you can read more about receivers here on the Audio page of my Best Buy guide, that open in a new window... And IF you want a nice home cinema (in your living room, as I have OR in a separate room) will you also need a center speaker, plus some good surround speakers...
And a fine BluRay player... That also handle DVD and give you 2 - 4 times the movie quality... And now comes also music on DVD and BluRay, which sometimes give you a higher sound quality than CD and you get in addition the possibility to look at films, for free... Click for the finest BluRay players, in a new window...
And maybe a fine old CD player because you can't even see which song you play (!) or any "music calender" in a modern BluRay player... And you find deep advice about all that equipment, in the best buy guide... And if you not get a fine AV Receiver, should you anyhow get a great amplifier and a fine separate Equalizer - which you can read more about below...
Then you should naturally connect your BluRay player, digital TV box and any old HiFi video to your sound equipment... Because even a HiFi video give almost as good sound as an CD and if you record radio programs, can you fade away the talk and copy the best to your MD collection or Lossless Data recordings...
And finally a digital DAB radio... But strangely enough was they extremely expensive, until recently and you find also more about them in the best buy guide...

And if you want to spend almost nothing?!? May you simply buy a second hand Marshall Kilburn (the first original version) connect it (with Bluetooth or 3.5mm signal cable) to your smartphone or something else and enjoy a truly nice HiFi sound... As I do in my power catamaran... Version one goes actually down to 40hz (tested with my test record, officially 55hz) in the bass and sound often magnificent, even if you close your eyes... It get it's power directly from the net, or trough it's 4x Li-ion batteries, that give up to 20 hours play time and the 4" woofer seem to be digitally controlled... More data: 2x tweeters, 30 watt, 14x24x14cm/hwd and 3kg... But you should turn up the treble to max and bass to 9-12 a clock... They are constructed by Zound Industries in Sweden, are made in China and the second version, goes down to 45hz (officially 55hz) and are slightly smaller, but look plastic... I bought the first one new for 1690sek and two more used for 1tsek/ each!

Click the picture, to see the big one!

Marshall Kilburn - the first original version

Some problems, to avoid... You should naturally spend most money on the parts, where the difference really matters and to get some great possibilities... So spend first and mainly on great speakers, plus maybe a subwoofer... And then on nice headphones, a fine AV receiver (with a manually adjustable digital equalizer and radio) a fine basic BluRay player and possibly a good CD player...
And spend less on equal things - as too expensive signal cables and any silly expensive CD player, AV receiver, headphone or BluRay player... And do not buy a record player, or at least a silly expensive MC pickup - see why below...
Then does small speakers normally sound rather bad and never complete... With the Marshall Kilburn above, as the extreme exception!

LOUDSPEAKERS

The loudspeakers, is always the most important... And the absolute first thing, you have to select... Even before you can see, how strong AV receiver (or amplifier) you need and if you also need a subwoofer...
And you must also decide if you want a separate home cinema setup OR only play music OR have a fine setup in the living room, that is great for both film and music?!?
Remember that almost every film and even television, sound great in a good home cinema - which doesn't have to be incredible expensive and naturally can be in your living room (as in mine) and you will also be able to play any music as delicate surround, with help of the excellent multi channel function in Yamaha or the Dolby ProLogic's music function... And music can especially sound bigger and more natural, in a fine home cinema setup...
But the main speakers IS always vital and you should normally avoid very small front speakers (even if they cost little less) that anyhow need an expensive stand and desperately need a subwoofer - because they use to be too restricted and are normally more expensive (with the stand) than they sound... Yes, any HiFi speaker should stand free and they sound clearly worse in a book shelf, so that is a very bad location and if you have small speakers, should they be located on a stable stand!
Most small speakers, give you especially a very limited bass... Either in depth OR how loud you can play AND normally in both ways... And if you compensate the missing bass with a subwoofer, get you often a slightly "split up" sound, when some "high" bass comes from a sub woofer (if it not is located exactly in the middle, right between left and right speakers) and you get often a strange annoying "hole" in the sound image, when the high bass is missing from the front speakers...
And it is also important that the right, center and left speaker sound very similar, when you look at movies... So something that move from one side to the other, simply sound the same all the way... But the back surround speakers, can sound very different, without getting slightly annoying...
Then is fine low cost headphones (see my Best Buy guide) naturally an excellent alternative and in addition dramatically cheaper!

There are over 1000 different makers of loudspeakers (!) and every one try naturally to make very fine loudspeaker...
But creating excellent loudspeakers, seem to be extremely difficult and some companies invest millions of Pounds, without producing any really fine loudspeaker, at a nice and competitive price...
And that fact may be the main reason that - different loudspeakers, sound VERY different and there is also a HUGE variation on the sound quality... Especially if you compare with any other rather fine HiFi equipment, that sound almost exactly the same...
And there was suddenly many new promising models 2024 so it was naturally very complicated to find out the best alternatives...
But we have anyhow manage to find over 22 excellent loudspeakers, that sound from great to magical and cost from 7000 sek (about 650usd 2024) to 60.000sek (about 5500usd) brand new...
Yes, really fine loudspeakers are normally VERY expensive... Most really fine cost actually from 3000 usd and some cost several millions sek... But the extra fine speakers I recommend sound normally dramatically finer, than other speakers at that price and you can also find some of them second hand, at around half the new price.

So you can simply click here to find the finest loudspeakers, in the best buy guide...

Or first - walk around and listen, with help of a familiar CD or an own MD recording (which especially have a very clear fine sound, in good headphones) and don't be satisfied before you have found loudspeakers, that sound almost as good as fine headphones ... OR buy simply any speakers I recommend, in the speakers section!
You should also adjust the bass and treble, for any speakers... Which first then, may sound lovely and in a mini stereo, must you almost always compensate the bad speakers (with xbass, equalizer or tone controls) to get the most natural and balanced sound...
Okay, the perfect speakers in a perfect location, doesn't need any compensation - but we don't live in a perfect world and the music, may not be perfect recorded either...

Click the picture, to see the big one!

The sublime electrostat speakers from Martin Logan

Your speakers should in first hand give you an clear, open and not very "boxy" midrange (type not hollow voices, as in a bathroom or cave) plus an airy, very detailed and still silky soft treble (the high frequencies) and a tight deep dynamic bass, with details and absolutely not soft or boomy...
And the best is actually if you not hear any trace of the speakers, only the music... So the perfect speakers will simply disappear, if you close your eyes!
OBS: Your brain does forget 50% of the sound qualities in just a few seconds, so if you compare speakers - should you first adjust the volume and tone controls, before you shift directly between the speakers... The best method is to first listen for a clear open sound, with deep dynamic bass and then compare the best ones, at exactly the same volume and any necessary tone adjustments...
You can also select some reference models (that you then find in most shops) so you can compare speakers in different shops, with help of the known reference...
One extra problem, is that a locations of the bass element, very close to the floor (or 10cm inside on a shelf) give normally a more "boxy" sound and the speakers should always be directed straight at your head, so you must sometimes kneel a bit! And another even BIGGER problem is the sad fact that there are less and less fine HiFi shops, the last 30 years...
Then sound most loudspeakers, more and less cloudy (as under a cover) at low volumes, mainly because too weak magnet systems - so the amplifier / receiver can't control the cones movement... And only a few speakers, have magnificent magnet systems that really lock the movement, to the signal... So compare loudspeakers, both at normal and very low volume... And if you often play low, should you especially look for that in my recommendations... You may otherwise get a speaker with very muddy sound, at a low volume!

Or click simply here to find the finest loudspeakers, in the best buy guide...

How to place the speakers... To get the best sound image, should you have exactly the same distance between the main front speaker, as the distance to your ears and the speakers should normally be directed right at your head... Or sometimes, to a point just in front of you... Speakers with port holes at the back, should also be placed 30 to 80cm away from the back wall, to avoid too little or too dominating bass...
If you buy speakers for a home cinema... Should the speakers naturally sound "very good together" and mainly have a similar sound... Especially the centre and front speakers, otherwise will movements from one side to the other, sound strange in the middle... But the centre, may anyhow be smaller and the surround speakers can be even smaller and sound very different, without any problems... Even if I have the same giant speaker as centre, as the two front speakers, to get exactly the same amazing frequencies response...

Click the picture, to see the big one!

Home cinema speakers from Klipsch, with the monumental RF-7iii
as front speakers... But I prefer darker mahogany or black wood!

And if you like to play both loud and clean... Must you normally play with less deep bass OR select very big and well made loudspeakers, with at least two 8" to one 15" bass element, if you in addition want deep dynamic bass... Sub woofers are also a smart alternative, but they may produce other problems, especially if you let them work above 70 to 90 hertz - even if you place them exactly between the front speakers...
Then is the speakers sensitivity also important Because you actually need a 50 watt amplifier (!) with ordinary low sensitive 87db/w/m speakers, to get exactly the same 98db sound level at 3.2 meters (which give max -6db indoors) that I get with only 2 watt, with my very sensitive speakers...
We measure the sound level in DB and 3db is the smallest volume change you easy notice with normal music, according to the experts and 10db is twice as loud or half the sound level... But if you select directly between two sources, can you actually hear a difference of only 1db... Then is a 3db change the same as twice (or half) the power in watt... Plus 1db is watt x 1.26 and a 10db change, need actually 10 times more (or less) watt... That may appear strange, but you can see the same effect on any recorders VU / DB meters and if you want to raise the volume with 10db from as example 20 watt, will you need 200 watt and that's the same 10db as 3+3+3+1db, which also will need 40, 80, 160 and finally 200 watt...
And because many home speakers, give only 87dbWm to incredible 104db with one watt at one meter, can the speakers sensitively sometimes be a lot more important, than the amplifiers power... My loudspeakers gives for example 101db/watt/meter and need just 4 watt for 101db at 3.2 meters (that give max -6db indoors) distance...
Because the double distance is -6db (in free air, but only -3db to max -6db anywhere in a normal living room, simply because the sound bounce around there) 2.5 times distance -8db, 3.2 times -10db (still in free air) five times -14db, and ten times is -20db... And my loudspeakers can also handle 400 watt continuously and give then incredible 127db clean soft sound, with deep bass... Yes, up to 140db clean sound is not dangerous... And ordinary 87dbWm low sensitive speakers need actually 10.000 watt for the same volume!
And music have also peaks, that normally are from 6 to 12db stronger (and 20-40db for classical music) than the average level... And that may be important when you choose your AV receiver... So if you want to play 85db in average at 2 meters on parties, which will be 97db including 12db peaks and you have a speaker with "rather high" 91db/watt/meter sensitively, will you first need an amplifier that give you 1 watt rms and 4 watt dynamic (peak) including the -6db for the average 2 meters dancing distance... But if you have an ordinary 88dbWm speakers, do you need 2 and 8 watt... And if you then sometimes want to play at discotheque levels, which is 98db in average (or 110db with peaks) do you need 13db more and totally 40 watt rms and 160 watt dynamic... And my very special speakers need only 1 watt for 101db at 1 meter, so they needs only 2 watt (!) for 98db in average and 32 watt for 110db, at 2 meters distance!

And finally some real life sound levels...
1db The minimum you can hear...
3db The smallest different in sound volume you can hear, when you play music
6db The sound volume difference at twice the distance, outdoors
10db Slight rustle from leaves, some distance away / calm breathing / twice or half the sound level, at the same distance
20db Inside a forest, with no birds nearby / a fine music studio / the sound volume difference, at ten times the distance outdoors
30db Whisper 1 meter away / distant birds chirping / a quiet bedroom at night
35db Quiet suburb / very quiet park area / my living room, without any delicate music
40db Very low conversation 1m away / a normal living room / quiet library / very quiet office environment, without machines / birds chirping close in a park / very quiet ventilation
45db Inside a modern city apartment
50db Low conversation 1m away / buzzing bumblebees / a bad fridge
55db Normal conversation 1 meter away / Swedish limit value for a good outdoor environment / normal lively office
60db Lively conversation 1 meter away / noise in a modern car, that not drive away
70db Average volume from a TV about 3m away, except when older people view / restaurant / inside a car on a highway / old dishwasher / old washing machine / normal classroom
71db to 73db is a very nice listening volume at 3.2 meters distance, for both music and films, if you have a very fine speakers and receiver, which give a very detailed sound...
80db Lively busy street environment / normal hair dryer
84db give a truly MAGNIFICENT orchestral crescendo, if you sit at 20 meters distance and you need only 2 watt (!) even if your speakers have the low sensitivity of 87db at 1 watt at 1 meter, to play 84db loud at 3.2 meters distance (which indoors reduce max -6db from 1 meter) at your home!
85db Average for noisy industry and the limit value (close to the ear) for hearing damage, after long time exposure
88db Ordinary normally low sensitive speakers with 1 watt at 1 meter / an electric lawnmower / someone screaming 10 meters away
90db A train passing close... Or a truly MAGNIFICENT orchestral crescendo, if you sit at only 10m distance...
98db Average value beside the dance floor in a disco
99db Give 92dbWm sensitive speakers, with only 20 watt at 3.2 meters distance... Or my 101dbWm speakers, with less than 3 watt... Or 87dbWm low sensitive speakers, with 64 watt
100db Modern jack hammer / compressed air drill at 1m
101db Give my speakers, with only 1 watt at 1 meter... Or with just 4 watt at 3.2 meters distance... But many speakers give only 87db with 1 watt at 1 meter, so 101db at 3.2 meters (which reduce max -6db indoor) require 100 watt... And mine can also play 127db continuously with 400 watt (or 121db at 3.2m) while ordinary low sensitive 87dbWm speakers require 10.000 watt for the same volume!
103db Max for a petrol powered lawnmower
105db Harmful with unclean sound after a maximum of half an hour... Record scream at a distance of 1 meter and it was 135db at one inch or 2.54cm!!
107db Give my speakers continuously with 400 watt at 10 meters distance, perfect for a garden party!
110db Max allowed at disco / old compressed air drill 1m away / thunder rather close / noise that causes discomfort after only 10 minutes.
112db Harmful if it's noise after only 10 minutes
115db A petrol chainsaw 1m away / when many people start to feel pain... Depeche Mode exceeded this level 603 times in Gothenburg!!!
117db Concert by Deep Purple 1968
120db Propeller plane at 50 meters distance / Vuvuzela horn at 1m / direct discomfort with unclean music and the pain threshold for noise, but NOT for clean music / max for an unmuffled Harley Davidson engine
121db Can my speakers produce continuously at 3.2 meters distance (which reduce max -6db indoors) with 400 watt
124db Trumpet 1 meter away... Jet engine 20m away
126db Official concert world record 1976 by The Who at 32m distance... Or incredible 140db at 6.4 meters (!!) because 10 times the distance, is 20db difference and twice the distance is minus 6db...
127db Can my speakers produce continuously, with 400 watt on 1 meter... Ordinary 87dbWm low sensitive speakers, need actually 10.000 watt for the same volume!
130db Riveting hammer / direct pain limit with noise / Led Zeppelin did play the song "Heartbreaker" at this level 1969 according to a deaf association
134db Dire Straits concert 1992
136db Kiss concert 2009
137db When the band Leftfield did damage a concert hall roof 1996
140db Max pain limit for PURE music (at the ear) but that limit is only 110 to 130db for some people
142db a jet engine only 3.2m away / pistol shot rather close
170db A space rocket lifting
171db Shot with heavy ammunition, without protection 1 meter away
180db A canon shot and direct ear damage!
191db The absolute maximum sound level, because of the atmospheric pressure

Consider also following aspects and possibilities

Why do I need an Equalizer?!

Click the picture, to see the big one!

Yamaha GE-60 - the finest analogue equalizer ever made, with double plus & minus 15db sliders...
But that setting, with most sliders above zero, is very VERY wrong!

If you want a completely natural sound, as in real life You must FIRST remove the "boxy" cave like sound, almost every recorded media have* with help of a fine Equalizer... And you can actually find a fine digital Equalizer, that you especially can adjust manually, in every really fine home cinema Receivers - including almost all models from Yamaha...
*And the main reason for this "boxy" cave like sound, is the very strange fact, that the first reference microphone, which was consider to produce a "perfect straight tone curve" actually had a high "bump" over the upper bass and low mid range area (especially at 125 to 250hz plus 500hz) and that bad reference, have then been adjusted slightly every ten year by EBU (the European radio Broadcasting Union, in collaboration with USA and Japan) between 1930 and 1980 when they finally decided to not change the last reference anymore... And I got this (normally hidden secret) confirmed by two recording studio technicians and one technical expert at Swedish Radio, which is own by our government... And this is also the reason why older recordings, sound more and more hollow and boxy, for every ten years back...
But everything did still sound rather boxy 1980 so around 1990 did most film companies adjust the sound curve for TV and movies, to give you a more life like sound... And some headphones companies did also adjust the curve for some budget headphones... But those headphones, TV and movies sound still slightly boxy and need a last adjustment, to sound as real life sound...
And if you adjust a fine Equalizer in a smart way, will you directly get a completely open and natural sound, with exactly the same level of bass... You simply lift the low bass at 64hz with +9db and lower 125hz with -9db, 250hz -6db and 500hz -3db which normally give a perfectly natural sound, when you look at TV or films... As long as your speaker not sound extra boxy, so they need some extra compensation?! And some extra boxy sound, may also come from bad reflexes from the floor, furniture's or side walls...
So you may also need to fine adjust both bass and treble (according to your taste and hearing) to compensate for any bad room acoustics, or if your speakers not are perfect... And you can in addition make miracles with the deep bass... Because you can then raise the deep and 64hz bass, without lifting the boxy high bass!
And when you complete these basic adjustments, should every modern movie sound excellent and especially very very natural...

But that is not the whole story, because almost every music recording sound extra "boxy" or cave like Yes, most film companies did adjust the sound curve for TV and movies around 1990 to give you a more life like sound... But music recordings are still made with the 1980 reference curve... So you must finally adjust the sound curve of CD, radio and Vinyl record, in one more step - if you want a completely natural sound and open up the music, as in fine modern movies... And that last adjustment MUST especially be done in a separate extra step, because otherwise will TV and movies begin to sound muddy or at least very strange!
You have probably notice (even if it's very easy to get used to slightly boxy sound) that practically all recorded music sound more "boxy" or "like in a cave" on CD or Vinyl records, than in real life... And music recordings sound also slightly more boxy, than when you look at films (!) because a natural sound is naturally extra important, when you make a film and want it to sound as real life...
But if you adjust one more time with a fine Equalizer, will you directly get a completely open and natural sound... You simply lift the low bass at 64hz with +9db and lower 125hz with -9db, 250hz -6db and 500hz -3db which normally give a perfectly natural sound... And for fine modern recordings, that already is slightly adjusted in this direction, may it be enough to lift 64hz with +6db and lower 125hz with -6db, 250hz -4db and 500hz -2db...
And many bad recordings need also some extra adjustment, just as very old recordings, which you know sound even more boxy...
So finally should you naturally correct really bad recordings (with very strange bass or treble) before you make a perfect copy... But any extra adjustments is naturally best to do with a second equalizer (that you simply connect between your receiver / amplifier and recorder) so you never have to change the main basic settings... Except if you have a digital equalizer, with a memory for the main setting!
And you should ALWAYS let the equalizers controls BALANCE around the "zero" middle level (so the dB adjustments above zero are the same and balance the dB below zero) otherwise will you get bad distortion or simply just change the volume... And in some digital equalizers, can you only raise max +6db and instead lower max -20db, which mean that the average level may get under the "zero" level...

Some extra smart companies as Yamaha, Denon, Onkyo, Harman/Kardon and Pioneer has now fine digital equalizers (you can adjust manually) in their finest receivers and Yamaha have it in almost all models and they even work on every channel and add even less noise or distortion, compared with the best separate equalizers... And that is perfect for the FIRST basic adjustment... But you can normally only see if a receiver have a manual adjustable equalizer, when it is connected to a screen OR in my Best Buy guide OR if you Google the manual!
And then do you need a second equalizer, for the last adjustment of music recordings... But the sad part, is that very few companies sell new and really fine separate equalizers today - that not are very expensive, or add noise or distortion... But you find some in my Best Buy guide...
And remember that some AV amplifier disconnect the bass and treble, when you play in home cinema mode... And you can not even connect a good separate equalizer, to most low cost budget home cinema receivers, so that might be a big final problem...Click here for the equalizer part in the best buy guide...

The mysterious LOUDNESS button...

Why a real Loudness Control is great, on the amplifier... This is (strangely enough) very controversial... Kenwood write: "Loudness Control is a built-in EQ curve designed to compensate for the human ear's lack of sensitivity, to low and high frequencies, at low volume levels.." So a good Loudness function, give you a musically correct balance between bass - midrange - treble, even if your neighbour's want you to play below concert levels OR when you like the music low... Without a real loudness (there are fakes, that just raise the bass in one fix step) you simply must adjust bass and treble, everytime you change the volume, if you want a balanced sound... Kenwood continue: "..giving music a richer, fuller (that should be natural) sound. It automatically defeats when the volume is approximately 3/4 of the maximum level." So they have a real loudness control, just as some models from Harman/Kardon... Yamaha have it on the finest stereo amplifiers and it's even adjustable, but sadly NOT on the audio video receivers, where it anyhow can be automatic... That's because Ray Dolby think that every one should play the films, at the original levels and don't care about any neighbour's!

Music Recorders

There have been may different systems to record music, from metal wire recorders to MP3 - but the latest is simply the best... And I will first explain the systems main advantages and some tiny to huge problems...

Lossless data formats Are the absolute best ways to record music, today and in the future IF you only have a fine sound card... And you can read about the best alternatives, below and in my Best Buy guide...

MiniDisc recorders Give you the easiest way to record with perfect CD quality and the cute MD disc's last also for millions of new recordings, so they last almost forever... But the production of MD recorders and the MD disc's was closed down before 2012 so you can only buy them second hand, today... You can read more about the advantages with MiniDiscs below and discover the finest MiniDisc machines in my Best Buy guide...

DAT Was very popular among studio musician's and offer also CD quality... But DAT is a very complicated tape system, with a tiny drum like DV videos and is not very reliable, so MiniDisc is dramatically easier and more reliable... You may learn more about the problems, below...

Recordable CD, DVD or BluRay disc's Are even more unreliable, because they dies after 1 to 20 years... Except the new lifetime archival grade M-disc's - but they are very expensive and only possible to record to once... You may learn more about the problems, below...

HiFi videos Are actually very similar to DAT - but have the same problems and are not mainly made to record music...

The old cassette tape system Was finally a great alternative to Open reel tapes and some machine was especially magnificent, so I have a nice "legendary and amazing cassette recorders" gallery below... But they offer clearly worse sound quality than any of the system above, mainly because the tape movement over the magnetic heads, always soften the details - even if the finest machines from Nakamichi and Denon finally did reduce this problem, so you finally could get a very fine sound quality...

Open Reel Tape Recorders Was the best alternative for studios until DAT came and many use still one inch open reel tape recorders... But you have still the same problem there, with the fact that the tape movement over the magnetic heads, always soften the details and the tapes don't last forever...

Click the picture, to see the big one!

My two excellent Sony MDS-JB730 QS MiniDisc deck


The ultra elegant Pioneer Elite MJ-17D that sadly don't sound as excellent as Sony's with Atrac type R


The ultra elegant Pioneer Elite MJ-17D above, at angle view


Close up on my first MiniDisc deck, the very rare Sony MDS-102 with exlusive elegant ergonomic


The extremely elegant & smart micro size Technics SJ-HD501 who can be perfect for my kitchen stereo


The very elegant & smart midsize Teac MD-h5001 that might be great for my kitchen stereo

If you like to record music... Then is a fine MiniDisc recorder OR high quality digital computer recordings, trough a fine sound card and you save as lossless files to SSD, HDD or SD cards - completely superior...
Especially compared to any old tape recorder (including DAT, self destroying CD-r, DVD-r or recordable BluRay's) because most MD recorders OR even 190kbps MP3 (with Lame encoding) give you extremely exact copies, that is practically impossible to separate from the original... And lossless files are even better...
You can simply not hear any difference, even if you use very analythic headphones and switch directly between a running original and the copy, with exactly the same volume... Yes, it's normally a bigger difference between different CD players... And tape loose quality with time, can make a nasty tape salad and will even begin to dissolve (!) after 20 to 40 years...
The minimal MD is also extremely durable, last more than one million new recordings and will probably never wear out... Then can you move the tracks, split them up, give them long fine names, delete bad tracks and record new ones, replace a short track with a longer (!) combine two tracks and cut away a part of a song (just like files in a computer) if you like... You can in addition make high quality outdoors recordings, of everything from birds to church organs, if you only get a fine microphone... Read just my microphone recommendations in my Best Buy guide...

Click the picture, to see the big one!

The finest portable recorder I own, a Sharp IM-DR410H - that especially sound
truly excellent, have a three band equalizer and use one standard AA battery

You can even buy one of the "old" tiny portable MD recorders, that actually sound delicious... Some say they sound "almost as good" but I can actually not hear any difference (either to my home deck or the original CD music) even with my extremely analytic headphones... And it's even practically impossible, to hear any difference (in a blind test) between analogue and digital inputs... So you can always correct or adjust the tone curve (type bad bass, boxy sound or annoying treble) if you have a fine equalizer and get optimal recordings... Click here for the finest MD recorders, in the best buy guide...

And you can especially make delicious collections (compilations) with a MD recorder (or fine data music files) and then make them better & better... You may first sort the music in logic categories, after different "moods" and then easy play music, that really fit your feelings or to inspire you...
My own categories are (with higher and higher dynamic) Romantic classic, Great classic, Spain, Cool, Sexy, Reggae, Great, Disco, Action, Rock and Test... And I should also have a Dreamy category, but I didn't realize that in time... So I save most dreamy music as Cool, some are more Sexy and a few are especially Great... And I number the disc, with 0-4 for Great to Magic tracks, plus 5-9 for discs with Nice or interesting tracks...
Yes, I grade first each track with help of a natural reference system... Nice and error free music get 5 points, Great 10, Delicious 15, Fantastic 20, Heavenly 30 and truly Magic music get 40 points... And just more than Great get naturally 11 points, for example... And I sort them on each disc, with the highest grade tracks first and then have I naturally separate discs, for some excellent artists who made more than 6 fine tracks (so it is sometimes two three artists on one disc) in the right category...

I do also a very careful equalization, before I record any track, to get as perfect and natural sound as possible, without any of the usual "boxy" effect and I naturally optimised bass and treble, too... With help of a separate recording equalizer and this save many lovely songs, that is almost awful in their "original" state of misery... And that do also mean that I can make a digital copy of my collection, because I did transfer the music analogue and the MiniDisc system let you copy digitally one time... Play then the copy and keep the original safe, so you can make a new copy if the first one get stolen!

You can even select your own sound environment, with a MD recorder... Just record or copy real backgrounds (as birds or a forest stream) place extra track marks, after the fade in and before fade out AND then play the middle track, with continuous repeat!

And If you ONLY want to buy great music... Can you simply GRADE the tracks, with help of my "natural reference" system...
Just give Nice and error free music 5 points, really Great music (you want to buy as single) 10, Delicious 15, Fantastic (as maxi) 20, Heavenly 30 and truly Magic music get finally 40 points... And a track that is almost Great get naturally 9 points, for example... Then is any CD that get totally 30 points or more, really worth buying... And it's also a very accurate way, to sort the music in your collection, so the best tracks really come first!!

Then should a very effective burglar alarm be a vice step, before you continue with even finer equipment...

Discover the future, today

OBS: MP3 can be of lower quality than FM radio IF you not use 190kbps or higher bit rate and record (with Lame codec or as lossless files) trough a fine sound card... And if you not have a player, that have room for your entire collection - will it take rather long time to load new "music" when you want to listen to something else... But if you only record at 190kbps (with a fine sound card and Lame codec) or higher quality and save on a generous player, will you naturally get all the advantages of MiniDisc - plus the fact that you always can have your entire music collection with you, the big display make it easy to manage the tracks and you never have to change discs... And then can you easy do a back up copy of your collection, too!

DAT vs MD or lossless music files Many music studios did use DAT to finally record music... But you can now save music on MiniDisc, with very high quality OR any computers, without any compression IF you only have a fine sound card...
Then is DAT a very complicated tape system, with a tiny drum like DV videos and is not very reliable, so MiniDisc is dramatically easier and more reliable... And DAT machines need regular cleaning and you can't be sure about dropouts... Then is it very easy to damage tape and it will even loose quality, in time... You can't move tracks, or delete a track in the middle and record a new, that is longer or shorter... Or remix tracks, with divide and combine... MD have in addition extremely fast searching, compared to DAT and you never need to rewind the tape... You can finally record just a few songs on MD and play them continuously, without silly gaps...

Deeper about the big problems with CDr compared to a MD recorder... You may need a CDr, if you produce music (to feel extra safe) when you want to store the end result OR to move a lot of computer data... But they last only 1 to 20 years... Except the new lifetime archival grade M-disc's - but they are instead very expensive and only possible to record to once... And you can now save music on SSD without any compression...
Then can you not move tracks on a CDr and improve the recording, in that way... You can't simply delete any track, you get tired of... Or replace a track in the middle, with a new version, that is longer or shorter... Or remix tracks, with divide (to 2 tracks) and combine, two tracks to one... You can't even erase a complete CDr and use it again... That's only possible with the a lot more expensive CD-rw's, but not as many times... The MD is always protected and you must be very careful with CDr's... CDs are also BIG compare to the practical MDs and Portable CD players are a lot bigger... Most portable MD players, are just as "big" as three stacked MD disc!! You can't make high quality outdoors recordings, of concerts and stuff, as you can with a portable MD if you only get a fine microphone... The re writable Cd-rw's are more expensive than MD disc, but "one time records" CDr's are little cheaper... You can in addition name every track on a MD with many letters and grades... And more friends can play CDr's and want you to "burn" for them (if you have that possibility) but that means, that they let your MD collection be intact...

Stereo Amplifier

But you should normally NOT get a Stereo Amplifier because the new ones, cost a lot more than a fine budget AV receiver from Yamaha... Yes, they cost actually more than an excellent and almost new AV receiver... And fine older amplifiers, may stop working anytime and then may it need a very expensive renovation...
Except IF you have a very advanced HiFi with many stereo sources and one or two MiniDisc recorders... Because then can you use one amplifier (or pre amplifier) with input buttons, just to easy select between stereo inputs - connected to a truly excellent AV receiver... Just as I use my lovely black Denon pre-amplifier, which you maybe can see in the bottom left corner of this photo...
Or if you want / have a second HiFi equipment in another room, as I have in my bedroom... As you can see in next photo below!

Click a picture, to see the big one!

Some of my HiFi equipment - with two Sony MDS-JB730 QS MiniDisc deck, two Pioneer BluRay players, Yamaha RX-A1030 Aventage AV receiver, Denon PRA-1200 preamplifier, Yamaha GE-40 2x15db (the second finest analogue equalizer) Sansui SE-77 12 band Equalizer, Sony CDP-XB720 QS CD player and Denon DP-37F record player, with ultra exact direct drive and the famous Ortofon 2m blue MM pickup


My tiny bedrooms HiFi - with the delicious Luxman 373 amplifier, another
Sony MDS-JB730 QS MiniDisc deck and Luxman equalizer...


A magnificent Denon PMA-920 that I just bought, but it must first be renovated... S/N aux107 mm94 mc75db 2x105w8ohm/ftc/iec 180w4din 270wDyn4 350wDyn2ohm IM dist 0.003% Big round toroid transformer, Loudness, Subsonic, CD direkt, Tone defeat and 11kg

And some of the most delicious old amplifiers... Just to tease you a bit...
BUT you should naturally buy an AV receiver, instead and NOT any old
amplifier - except for another room or to select easy between stereo
equipment... As I wrote more about above!

Click a picture, to see the big one!

Sansui's smart preamplifier C-2101 and delicious Power amp B-2101



Okay, this is the front of an majestic AV preamplifier Denon AVP-A1HDCI &
the minimum 10x150w 8ohm and 10x300w 4ohm Power amplifier POA-A1


And this is the back of the ultra impressive AV preamplifier Denon AVP-A1HDCI &
the minimum 10x150w 8ohm and 10x300w 4ohm Power amplifier POA-A1


Same back for the silver version

Record players - Turntables

And Record players look also very interesting... But vinyl records sound clearly worse after only 20 to 40 times - because the pickup needle always damage the track, everytime you play (so serious radio stations make a note, everytime they play) and even new vinyl records, does not sound any better than good made CD's according to many many blind test's....
So the only reason to buy a turntable today, is IF you already have a record collection (as I also have) that you Don't want to sell and replace with CD albums... Yes, you can simply limit the damage of the records, by playing them only ONCE when you buy them and at that time made a copy, which you then listen to the following weeks and finally copy the tracks you want to save (with perfect equalization of bass and treble) on MiniDisc or as lossless files...
And if you want to buy a turntable... Click here for the finest alternatives, in the best buy guide...

Cassette Recorders

And why NOT a Cassette Recorder?!? They can look amazing - but the tape movement over the tone heads, destroy the finest details and give clearly worse sound quality than DAT which not work as safe and good as MD recorders or Lossless Data Recordings... And the complicated mechanism need also expensive maintenance...

Legendary and Amazing Cassette Recorders

Click a picture, to see the big one!

My first cassette recorder - Sony TC-153SD - which also was one of Sony's first delicious designs


My last cassette recorder Denon DR-M24HX with 3 heads, direct drive closed loop
dual capstan and the same high sound quality as Nakamichi Dragon below!


The legendary Nakamichi Dragon, with the finest ergonomic in history of HiFi


The legendary Nakamichi Dragon, with the finest ergonomic in history of HiFi


The older Nakamichi 1000 ZXL in 24 carat gold


An incredible sexy Aiwa AD-F90M with amazing VU meters


The strangely sexy Teac V-7010 from 1991


And the famous - Sony TC-D5 pro - reporters recorder

Obs: Please mail us, if I did miss any good advice!

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