ultra high end home theater gear - what's the difference?

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pixeltarian
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ultra high end home theater gear - what's the difference?

Post by pixeltarian » Wed Apr 30, 2008 1:52 am

why would a product like this:
http://www.stereophile.com/solidpreamps/308para/
(a $4,000 preamp with XLR i/o)
not be used in a studio?

is it because it's not made to sound neutral?
what's different about the mindset of quality-conscious audiophiles that would not create a good choice for use in a studio?
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Post by rwc » Wed Apr 30, 2008 3:38 am

a line level preamp like that is typically used between the source(cd player, computer, mp3 player) and the power amplifier.

That's a four thousand dollar volume control...

There are better things to spend money on in the studio, IMO, than a 4 thousand dollar volume control.

I could get two pairs of earthworks tc30s and a pair of 451s, or 451s and a pair of 414s and a 4047.. or I can have a $4K volume control.

What would you choose? What would make your recordings better? A lynx aurora over a behringer ada8000, or that over a pan pot you wire yourself?

Also, unlike microphones and speakers, that's electronic.. most of that can be measured. http://www.stereophile.com/solidpreamps ... ndex4.html

It's pretty neutral and low in distortion. But so is a lot of stuff that costs 5% as much. Line level preamps that are made to be neutral aren't rocket science.
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Post by pixeltarian » Wed Apr 30, 2008 4:16 am

rwc wrote:a line level preamp like that is typically used between the source(cd player, computer, mp3 player) and the power amplifier.

That's a four thousand dollar volume control...

There are better things to spend money on in the studio, IMO, than a 4 thousand dollar volume control.

I could get two pairs of earthworks tc30s and a pair of 451s, or 451s and a pair of 414s and a 4047.. or I can have a $4K volume control.

What would you choose? What would make your recordings better? A lynx aurora over a behringer ada8000, or that over a pan pot you wire yourself?

Also, unlike microphones and speakers, that's electronic.. most of that can be measured. http://www.stereophile.com/solidpreamps ... ndex4.html

It's pretty neutral and low in distortion. But so is a lot of stuff that costs 5% as much. Line level preamps that are made to be neutral aren't rocket science.
... shootman, I sure as hell don't want one! I was just pondering the notion today. hi-fi vs. studio gear and if there is any bleed over.

I honestly don't get the point of preamps in general. If all of them are a big volume knob, why would some engineers think anything under 1k is a junk preamp? Look at that whole $5 preamp business. it's ridiculous.
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Post by chris harris » Wed Apr 30, 2008 8:05 am

there's more crossover between audiophile gear and mastering gear. Mastering engineers typically use audiophile monitors and amplifiers in their studios.

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Post by Professor » Wed Apr 30, 2008 12:30 pm

The gear exists for the same reason that we have a variety of gear choices in the studio. Keep in mind that a stereo preamp, and a microphone preamp are different components despite the similar name, but consider options in recording preamps. You could get one of those cute little $29 one-channel mixers from Behringer or you can get a Groove Tubes ViPre for $3500, and both will act as a preamp for one single microphone. Why would you choose one over the other? Well those are the same reasons someone would choose high-end home stereo gear over low-end gear. And it's the same sorts of reasons some people will spend $1k on a new scooter, or $10k on a sub-compact Hyundai, or $25k on a minivan, or $35k on a Prius, or $60k on a Hummer, or $100k on a new Jag, or $250k on a Lamborghini, or $300k on a new tractor. Reasons like, "because I can", or "because I want to", or "because it performs this function better than anything else", or "because it's all I can afford", or "because my wife wouldn't let me get the other one", or whatever.

The crossovers between the gear happen in more places than just mastering studios (I hope). Manley Audio actually builds both recording studio and high-end home stereo gear - check out their website. JBL makes speakers for studios, homes, bus terminals, arenas, and cars. Same for Dynaudio, or Tannoy, or lots of other folks. In my studio at the school, I installed Bryston monoblock amps for the 5 main speakers. In my living room at home, I have a surround setup of TB2 speakers from PMC (Professional Monitor Company). Who buys more Sennheiser headphones, the recording community, or the general public?

Audio isn't really as separated into these two individual and non-related worlds as most folks seem to think. It's one big industry that functions in a symbiotic way. Improvements in one part of the industry benefit those working in another part. Hell, most of the biggest advancements in the first 50 years of our history came from the telephone industry - we can thank them for everything from the patchbay & 1/4" phone connector, to PCM digital, DSP engines, and fiber optic cables. (Yeah, I know, gotta throw some credit to the Roswell UFO crash there too.) Today we benefit from technology & concepts developed in the hi-fi world, the live-sound world, telephone, computers, radio, even stuff pulled from the medical industries (look at the new ribbon mic from Crowley & Tripp).


So standing there wondering 'why' at a piece of hi-fi gear is like a farmer standing next to his Ford F-350 Power-Stroke pickup wondering why Ford would make its GT supercar - after all, it can't haul any hay, or even make it down his muddy & rutted driveway. It's not meant to haul hay bales, and it's not meant to bounce over dirt roads, it's meant for road & track, speed & style. But the F-350 benefits from technology developed in the GT, and the GT benefits from the F-350 technology. And Ford couldn't afford to build supercars if it didn't have a good enough business in pickup trucks. Just like many audio manufacturers couldn't keep building high-end gear if it weren't for all us little guys buying the cheap gear. Neumann can build a $10,000 mic and sell 50 of them a year because they also make a $1,000 mic and sel 1,000 of those a year, and the $1k mic is better because of the what they learned from building the $10k mic.

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Post by syrupcore » Wed Apr 30, 2008 10:33 pm

I'm of the "4k for a line amp????" camp but considering how many people listen to our blood and sweat as 128kbps mp3s, we should be sending flowers to the people who will spend 4k on a preamp just to hear our music and mixes in the best possible way. ok, not my mixes or music but you know what I'm saying.

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Post by jaguarsg » Wed Apr 30, 2008 11:33 pm

parasound makes nice sounding shit.

i'm no audiophile snob, but i like stuff that sounds good. alot of those bookshelf hifi speakers blow the shit out of pro-audio monitors in the same price range.

that being said, i think i am going to pass on a pair of B&W Nautilus 805s and get a Peluso 2247LE instead.

:wink:

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Post by rwc » Thu May 01, 2008 4:59 am

jaguarsg wrote:parasound makes nice sounding shit.
Yes! :D
jaguarsg wrote:alot of those bookshelf hifi speakers blow the shit out of pro-audio monitors in the same price range.
FOR REAL! I've had three pairs of hi-fi speakers over the past 3-4 years and they've ALL kicked the shit out of every studio "monitor" I've heard that was either totally unbalanced, or had a smiley face frequency response..

I have the parasound HCA1000 amp. It's the shit. I love parasound, but paying $4K for a stereo, line level preamp...
:rofl:
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Post by rwc » Thu May 01, 2008 5:00 am

syrupcore wrote:I'm of the "4k for a line amp????" camp but considering how many people listen to our blood and sweat as 128kbps mp3s, we should be sending flowers to the people who will spend 4k on a preamp just to hear our music and mixes in the best possible way. ok, not my mixes or music but you know what I'm saying.
that's the crazy part. people will budget out systems with this preamp used for maybe 2K, a 2K amp, and 2K speakers. whereas they could pick up a NAD c372 for $500 used and buy 5.5K speakers.

spend the paper where it counts!
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Post by Professor » Fri May 02, 2008 9:06 am

So is now a bad time for me to say that the Ayre Acoustics K1 preamp I picked up used a couple years ago had a $7100 original price tag?

Oh well, I used to install high-end home theater systems for about 3 years before moving out here for the current job at the University. Most of the stuff I worked on was probably in $10-20k per system range, with one or two $40-60k systems each month, and maybe a $75-150k every two months or so. I like to think I have a pretty good sense of what is quality among that range of gear (and ironically I wasn't really taken by Parasound as much as some other brands), and I have a pretty good sense of the typical customer (and non-typical) for those kinds of systems. Most are really quite smart, or at least smart enough to amass enough wealth to be able to buy an expensive system. Most of them have a tremendous respect for the work we do in music performance, music recording and/or in film production, and they want to hear (or see) our work in the best possible way. Some of them even give some pretty fantastic tips... did I ever mention the guy who gave me a Tascam M-3700 32x8 console? Although the single best example I can think of is the billionaire Microsoft co-founder who built a whole museum to rock & roll, and who happened to donate the money that funded the studio I built at the university.


Beside all that, what's so weird about someone spending $2k each on preamp, amp, & speakers? How many guys on here have spent $100 each on a handful of cheap mics, a 57, 58, MXL 2-pack, Oktava mk-012 or whatever, and then dropped $1k or more each on a couple of mic preamps? Or more confusing, the ones who have spent very little on mics, preamps, interfaces & software, but then drop $2k on a digital clock source? How good are we at spending the paper where it counts?


For what it's worth, I used to have to try to defend recording engineers to hi-fi guys pretty often too. There were some who couldn't understand why we largely seem to not care about quality in gear, cables, etc. Then there were some who couldn't fathom why we would dare use compression, EQ, or other unsaviory manipulations to alter the "true" sound of the music. Others couldn't understand why we would soil our pristine high-end gear on crappy music (like a U-47 on punk rock vocals).
But mostly, they really like the enjoyment we give them.


-J

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Post by 8th_note » Fri May 02, 2008 1:46 pm

Audiophiles and recording engineers are similar in a lot of ways but they have a little different gear asthetic.

The audiophile is trying to improve his listening experience to the greatest possible extent within his financial means. The sonic differences between a $4000 line level preamp and a $500 line level preamp are going to be pretty subtle for most people but if you are trying to recreate a live listening experience or trying to extract every ounce of sonic information from these recordings that we so lovingly produce, the relatively small amount of clarity, depth, and realism that you get from a megabuck piece of gear will be worth it.

For a recording engineer it comes down to a different set of values. The decision on your monitoring chain should be made on the basis of whether or not the high end gear in question will change your mix decisions. If spending several thousand dollars on a particular piece of gear in your playback chain will make a big enough difference so that your mixes will improve then it would be a rational investment.

I have an Onkyo integrated amp driving my monitoring system and I have a Krell preamp and amp driving my audiophile stereo system. Admitedly, I haven't tried this, but if I plugged my Krell gear into my monitoring system I seriously doubt that my mixes would come out any different. I would much rather spend the money on better mics and preamps which would make a larger difference in the finished sound.
FOR REAL! I've had three pairs of hi-fi speakers over the past 3-4 years and they've ALL kicked the shit out of every studio "monitor" I've heard that was either totally unbalanced, or had a smiley face frequency response..
This has been my experience exactly. When I went shopping for "studio monitors" I didn't like anything better than the Polk bookshelf speakers I was using. This is where the audiophile and recording worlds cross over the most. If there's something magic about "studio monitors" I can't hear it.

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