Expensive doesn't always mean better sound

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by Grayson Dere, Jan 6, 2019.

  1. ddude003

    ddude003 Senior Member

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    Pardon me, and you are quoting an article from 2013 about the Momentum... My comments above are about the current Relentless mono blocks...
     
  2. Matthew J Poes

    Matthew J Poes Staff Writer
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    I understand. No measurements on those. But all of the D’Agostino amps that JA measured had the exact same characteristics. Is the Momentum a clean sheet design? If not, i would expect it to measure similarly.

    You’re calling it a state of the art amp, but other than their own marketing claims, how so? What makes it revolutionary or special?
     
  3. Matthew J Poes

    Matthew J Poes Staff Writer
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    Thanks Tony!

    The best advice I ever got was to never be afraid to speak your mind about this industry or products. It’s a real balancing act. We don’t exist without these manufacturers, and sites like ours can’t easily survive without sponsors and supporters. At the same time, what good is a reviewer if they can’t be honest.

    I’m not against boutique brands or expensive amplifiers. A lot of audio is luxury and that can be about the beautiful jewel like craftsmanship, something you want to show off. I’m ok with that. I get exclusivity too, totally reasonable.

    Where I tend to want to speak up is when something doesn’t seem to live up to my expectations. Equipment today is so much better than it used to be. The active semiconductors along with all the passive resistors, caps, and inductors are many times better. More precise, more stable, etc. This allows even cheap amplifiers to be pretty good. Amongst the cost no object designs, there are some really killer amps out there that impress me. Boulder, Moon, Constallation, etc all make some pretty wicked high end amps. I’m also quite curious about Cherry amps, which the designer has shared specs from measurements that seem unbelievable. I’d really love to see third party tests on these, if they are as clean as he says, I couldn’t measure them.

    For reasonable money, Benchmark and NAD make amps with really impressive measured performance. I’d love to see the tech in each of those made even more affordable.
     
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  4. Jack

    Jack Moderator
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    It would appear that Dan was involved in only the first very first Aragon amplifiers, the 4004 (which came out in 1987). Since that time he has had no involvement.
     
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  5. Grayson Dere

    Grayson Dere Moderator
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    I'm surprised about the reliability issues that have been noticed. Has your friend mentioned much about Dan's older lines being much better? I'm curious if there's some cost cutting going on in the electronic components section.
     
  6. Jack

    Jack Moderator
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    I am surprised as well.
    I am sure we all would tend to agree that these types of products are designed and priced for a certain segment of the buying market. This falls in line with anything else that has more inherent value for those of the population that has more disposable income than me.
    Is a Cadillac worth so much more than an equivalent Chevy Impala ? Not to me as they are almost identical cars, with some extra bling thrown into the Caddy. I do thinks that a Bentley Continental GT has more value for me at least than a set of relentless mono blocks.

    It seems all relevant.
     
  7. Matthew J Poes

    Matthew J Poes Staff Writer
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    Actually I get the impression there is no cost cutting going on. I don’t think that was the issue. I think it was related to some teething problems in the complexity of the volume control. He had some amps arrive dead, probably shipping damage (I think it may have been blown fuses so minor). It’s not the end of the world, it happens, but he said it was not common with other brands he sells. Stereophile has a damaged amp as well. One melted down during preconditioning and one was damaged in shipping. The only reason this bothered me was the cost no object nature of these products.

    The technical performance was really unimpressive and that bothered me. Especially since his description of the designs was supposed to address specific problems found in the measured performance. His newest crazy amp does have better specs and may be better. I don’t know. I will be skeptical at this point. For that kind of money I think it needs to be the best.

    I mean, don’t get me wrong, lots of companies have amps with problems. I worked for a while in a high end shop that was one of the largest McIntosh dealers. They had a bunch ofmodels over the years that seemed prone to needing repair. One of their powerful monoblocks had a parts failure that took out an equally expensive line array from them. One of the techs that repaired the amp said he had seen that failure before.
     
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  8. Matthew J Poes

    Matthew J Poes Staff Writer
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    Well and Cadillac has pretty bad reliability. Bentley and Rolls Royce doesn’t sell enough cars to be assessed for reliability, but I’ve read some articles that suggest reliability is pretty poor.
     
  9. Jack

    Jack Moderator
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    I guess in a way that proves the point of this thread only on a larger scale. More expensive does not mean better.
     
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  10. Matthew J Poes

    Matthew J Poes Staff Writer
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    I don’t build cars for a living but I do quality improvement in social services as a part of my work. It is my opinion that to build cars or create systems that are highly reliable isn’t about the quality of the materials that go in, the tolerances that are held. It’s about an overall system that focuses on minimizing mistakes and improving these processes in a constant basis using data feedback in a constant iterative manner. This is how Toyota/Lexus makes the most reliable cars. They have a culture that is focused on that.

    I have toured a number of car factories and the main differences I noticed between GM and BMW or Lexus was about how quality was addressed. All focus on quality. All focus on meeting standards. But BMW and Lexus has no problem pulling 100 cars off the line and tearing them down to address quality problems. They seem to focus on ensuring they put out the best quality product even if it slows down prosecution. GM seemed focused on numbers.

    So I would guess that quality and reliability is probably better in cheaper Japanese brands than the high end boutique brands and the reason is that even though the cheaper brands produce many times more product, they spent many times more on the resources to assure quality and reliability.

    I’ve actually owned quite a mix over the years. From the cheapest of the cheap right on up to a Mark Levinson surround professor that I picked up used when it was a bit past it’s prime. I’ve also used quite a range. My experience is that boutique brands have real issues with software development. The more complex they make the device the worse the problems often are. The ML had serious functionality issues. The video board was useless and i has to bypass it. It had eq but the eq was really hard to setup right and seemed to have some little issues with its implementation.
     
  11. Jack

    Jack Moderator
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    I also work in the industry and really do have a slightly different view of things. I am a Quality Control/Large Claims guy for over 30 years now and as you I have been in the factories of both American and foreign automobiles and I will tell you I have no qualm in pulling 100 cars aside for issues that we may find. I also have been known to reject 20,000 tons of metal destined for auto plants as it was sub par. I tend to agree that quality is based on the familial basis of the groups working together to make a quality product as opposed to just saying Quality rules.
    In the good old days I remember watching workers use their air guns to power in capscrews, oft times crooked as the engine blocks were not drilled properly. They had to because they were being timed and they could not make money by shutting down the line. As such when sub par products arrived they would throw the machinery together on the assembly line knowing full well that they would be set aside and repaired at a later date. This mind set has changed now that Japanese, Korean and Germany have entered our market in a big way. US Manufacturers HAVE to make products that work. It too them awhile to change their mind set but they sure enough did under pressure from the population.

    In this line, I know that there is a huge difference in the amount of cheaper products bought vs the outside of reality products. I also know that the cheaper products will have a amount of failures per product sold that may be in line with the more expensive. But to me lets just say a failure rate of 500 units per 10,000 sold is more palatable than 5 units per 100 sold in way of the very high end.

    Lastly, I have a Chevy Impala, new model, with 104,000 miles on it with zero problems from day one. I drive alot. Consumer reports lists the Impala at the top of the quality list just below the Avalon.

    I also have a Lexus with similar miles on it with zero problems as well. So it one better than the other, yes, one but only in the way it runs on the road, and that is the Chevy. Hmmmm.
     
  12. Grayson Dere

    Grayson Dere Moderator
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    I mean, don’t get me wrong, lots of companies have amps with problems. I worked for a while in a high end shop that was one of the largest McIntosh dealers. They had a bunch ofmodels over the years that seemed prone to needing repair. One of their powerful monoblocks had a parts failure that took out an equally expensive line array from them. One of the techs that repaired the amp said he had seen that failure before.[/QUOTE]

    '...even though the cheaper brands produce many times more product, they spent many times more on the resources to assure quality and reliability.'

    I like this!
     
  13. Matthew J Poes

    Matthew J Poes Staff Writer
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    I’ve read nothing but good things about the impala but I also think that car is practically a unicorn amongst American cars right now. One of the only cars GM is making that’s competitive with the import brands. If the Lexus you have is one of their front wheel drive models like the ES series then i wouldn’t be shocked you liked the impala better. If it’s a IS, GS, or LS that would be surprising.
     
  14. Jack

    Jack Moderator
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    Hi Mathew,
    It is an RX. My wife wanted an SUV and she loved the vehicle. I am sad tho that we ordered every option but the Levinson audio system as I heard it was not worth the money. I may have been wrong.
     
    #64 Jack, Feb 11, 2019
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
  15. Jack

    Jack Moderator
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    You know this is a good point in that the Buick and Cadillac are the same car with some additional bling as I said before. It makes no sense to me unless it is the bling that is part of the issue..
    Our daughter bought the Cadillac version of the Impala for much more money and already has had to do intense repairs.
    I don’t get it, heck my Impala LTZ cost new about what the bottom line Caddy costs. Could it be that GM makes all profit off the more expensive models while the less expensive are write offs ?
     
  16. Matthew J Poes

    Matthew J Poes Staff Writer
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    Yeah who told you that nonsense! The ML stereo is awesome. I haven’t heard the RX version but the one in the GS and LS is awesome. I helped do a review of different car stereo systems a number of years ago and it was one of the better ones. In the LS it had the largest subwoofer and basically was the only car that didn’t have nasty noises when turned up loud with bass heavy music.
     
  17. Jack

    Jack Moderator
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    I was worried about that Matthew, now I might go pout !
     
  18. Matthew J Poes

    Matthew J Poes Staff Writer
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    Well if it’s the wife’s car maybe she doesn’t care? My wife could care less.

    I was looking at some cars with the new B&W system, which is basically the upper echelon of Harman automotive system, and she couldn’t understand why anyone would spend $3000 or more for that option. I was like, did you hear it!

    Here is certainly where spending more CAN get you more. The car industry isn’t really being fair with their accessory pricing. The stereo upgrades are worth it in that you can’t get that good of a sound for less any other way without a lot of compromises, but geez they are not worth what they charge.
     
  19. Jack

    Jack Moderator
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    True Matthew, she could careless, other than the issue of how loud it will play. (She is almost deaf). I have to immediately turn it down any time I drive it. LOL
     
  20. ddude003

    ddude003 Senior Member

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    Deming taught the Japanese about quality... They took it to heart and the rest as they say is history...
     
  21. Jack

    Jack Moderator
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    I work with a lot of Japanese companies and one of the presidents told me, Japan has almost no natural recourses and as such, everything they do has to be as good as possible and they try to do it right the first time. This belief comes from the top and is spread to the employees.
     
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  22. danzilla31

    danzilla31 Member

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    You know when I got out of college I bought from a work buddy his MX 400 and MX 250's from Cerwin Vega. I think I got the name right it's been awhile. They were special made for the military not Cerwin Vegas normal range of speaker. Those things were awesome still to this day one of my favorite speakers of all time. And I bought them for pennies on the dollar.

    Sometimes I still miss those speakers ahhhhh nostalgia lol
     
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  23. Jack

    Jack Moderator
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    I am sorry to say but I have never heard Cerwin Vega speakers. I know that they were once quite popular though.
     
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  24. danzilla31

    danzilla31 Member

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    Hah normally your not missing that much but those MX speakers were something special
     
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  25. Grayson Dere

    Grayson Dere Moderator
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    Wow! That's really cool you came across quality sounding Cerwin Vegas. I've only seen the brand sold as DJ speakers so it's fascinating why the military would choose them over other brands.
     

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