How Do I Make a Decision on Purchasing Audio Equipment?

Keeping in mind our last blog on the importance of “synergy” within a music system–and how a professional consultant (dealer) can help create an immensely satisfying sound experience–today, we will speak on the resources one has available when creating a synergistic, excellent-sounding audio system.

In today’s audio environment, where “brick and mortar” stores here in Suffolk County, N. Y. and everywhere else are disappearing or have been reduced to a single store in any given town, how is an audiophile supposed to make an intelligent buying decision?  It appears that the choices may be limited to either attending a regional audio show or relying on audio magazines or internet journals when trying to make an informed decision.

Either of the choices above are fraught with peril. In the case of attending audio shows, we all know that the showrooms are lacking when it comes to hearing equipment like it is meant to sound. The rooms are structurally inferior and are certainly not representative of a typical room in a home. Can one really trust that what he or she are hearing at an audio show is typical of what that particular set of speakers or electronics will reproduce in their own home?

As far as relying on audio reviews to make decisions on which equipment to purchase, this route is also fraught with concerns and issues. We here at East End Hi-Fi have found that when equipment we are intimately familiar with appears in reviews, the descriptions by reviewers are mostly accurate as to what each piece will actually sound like. One would then assume reviews would be a good way to make a decision as an audiophile as to which equipment to purchase. But not so fast…

If we dig deeper into this conundrum, we often find we need to determine what “associated equipment” the reviewer chooses to use for the piece he’s actually reviewing. It’s important to address this question because the reviewer’s reference system will color what conclusion he or she will draw about the product you are interested in. So, for example, if you were considering a particular DAC and the reviewer is using McIntosh electronics and Sonus Faber speakers, you can tell right off that he is biased toward a very warm sound. Now, if the DAC is neutral sounding, we believe the reviewer would make statements like “this DAC is resolving, detailed, and high resolution.”  Additionally, if that same DAC were reviewed by someone who had all solid-state circuitry with highly detailed speakers, he or she might say that the DAC is “musical, rich and slightly rounded off” at the frequency extremes. For these reasons, we believe that a reviewer’s reference system is going to bias them toward a particular sound.

One can use measurements of a product to make a decision, provided that the particular publication or internet source takes them. While measurements are an excellent tool, and an important part of decision making, they will not give you any idea what the unit actually sounds like.

There is a process in creating an enjoyable sounding audio system, and this process includes the two options above. But, in addition having your own knowledge as to what musical attributes (i.e. tonality, timbre, dynamics, resolution, imaging, soundstage) are important to you is crucial. You then need to be armed with that information, and take that to a good consultant and have him or her create a synergistic “system”, not just a bunch of disparate pieces of equipment.  

The good news is that at East End Hi-Fi, we offer customers that type of analytical consultation.  We also offer a 60-day, money-back guarantee on any equipment or speakers they purchase to guarantee that a particular piece of gear will enhance the sound of your system. There is nothing better than evaluating equipment in your own home, and we are providing this option.

So, as it turns out, there actually is a solution to finding the best system for your ears! 

In summary, we strive to help our clients put together an audio system that has proper synergy in order to create a superior listening experience!

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