The end of the home stereo system

  1. jtbell

    Staff: Mentor

    I've had one of these since I was in college 40 years ago. Now it's a watered-down "home theater" system that handles both video and audio. It's still only two-channel audio, not surround sound, with decent "upper mid-range" speakers. I listen mostly to classical music, so sound quality is important to me, but I'm not a "golden ears" audiophile who can afford to shell out $2000+ for a pair of speakers.

    And I stream most of my music from iTunes on my computer now, after downloading it or ripping CDs from my collection. Sometimes I listen with a pair of headphones while sitting at my computer, or with an iPod while driving, but usually I listen to the stereo in the living room while reading or relaxing.
  2. jcsd
  3. UltrafastPED

    UltrafastPED 1,912
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    All that stuff became obsolete with the development of microelectronics ... you didn't need tubes, you didn't need multiple systems, and then you didn't need tapes, and then you didn't need CDs.

    And I've left out a bunch of other obsolete equipment (8-track, laser disks, etc).
  4. Greg Bernhardt

    Staff: Admin

    It's amazing! These days the preferred entertainment system is a low profile flat screen, small apple dock for music and an apple tv/roku for movies/tv.
  5. AlephZero

    AlephZero 7,248
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    For some things, headphones just don't do it. See here for a "real" subwoofer system....
  6. nsaspook

    nsaspook 1,388
    Science Advisor

    It's not dead, it's just moved online like everything else. If you like to tinker with audio equipment, today is a golden age. It's the same with DIY electronics, the local stores are gone but the online selection is better than ever.
  7. My friend is one of those record buffs. He has like 3,000 dollar turntable with like 1,000 dollar needle, and it is truly amazing. People who say modern day digital quality is just as good are sorely mistaken. We were listening to Jimi Hendrix "Are you Experienced" and you could literally here what was going on in the studio at the time it was recorded. You can't get that realness of feeling off a digital recording and ipod listeners have no idea what they are missing. I don't think the home stereo is dead. I just think it has been relegated to only hardcore music fans, and no longer do casual listeners have them.
  8. OmCheeto

    OmCheeto 2,240
    Gold Member
    2014 Award

    I still have some of my junk left over from the 70's and 80's. My younger brother told me recently not to throw away my ESS AMT3 Rock Monitors, as their tweeters are selling for >$300 each. The foam around the woofers finally dissolved about a year ago, so they just sit there.

    My Bang & Olufsen turntable cartridge is apparently worth $180. The turntable without the cartridge is selling for only $12. Mine hasn't worked in 15 years.

    My system is now a Boston Acoustics PC subwoofer and satellites, driven from my laptop, with music from PF's "Best Songs Ever" thread. :thumbs:
  9. rcgldr

    rcgldr 7,696
    Homework Helper

    That's the issue with most home theatre woofers and sub-woofers, they don't accurately reproduce low frequency sounds, just make a lot of low end noise. Good quality audio speaker systems are still made, but they are expensive and difficult to find, requiring research via reviews on audio oriented forums / websites or maybe magazines (do they still make magazines?).
  10. AlephZero

    AlephZero 7,248
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    And when you have the speakers, the next problem is that nobody makes commercial recordings with any real bass below about 40 Hz, because there's no point wasting the headroom on parts of the signal that most people will never hear anyway.

    Just push out lots of harmonic distortion at about 3 khz, and everything sounds "real loud" :cry:
  11. jtbell

    Staff: Mentor

    Except for specialist classical-music labels, especially the ones that record organ music.
  12. AlephZero

    AlephZero 7,248
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Even then, you need the right environment to listen. Trying to reproduce the sound of a 32 foot long open pipe in a room less than 64 feet (say 20 meters) long - and preferably 64 feet high as well - is going to be a losing battle.
  13. Most of the dorm stereo are low quality stereo systems. Not scarifying a lot going into computer speakers and all. I notice they managed to make the small components sounds pretty good also.

    BUT you are talking about cheap stereo. Home theater is still popular, that I thing replace the stereo in the older days.

    AND there is always a group of people that are into audiophile. I am kind of knocking on the door of audiophile. I had a surround sound system set up, but it was just not very good in terms of audiophile quality. I ended up getting rid of all the back and center speakers and just have two speakers and a subwoofer. Stereo still rules. Nothing beats a good simple system. Besides it's expensive enough already for only 2 channels.

    One comment, power amp is just as important as any speakers. I never believe this until I did the demo. I first bought a pair of Kef floor standing speaker. I then bought an Acurus power amp that was at the same level of Kef ( middle of the road). Then There was a clearance sale on a pair of JM Lab Focal floor standing that was originally priced at $5000 for half price!!!! I could not refuse. I took my amp to the store and test on the speaker. They used a YBL as reference amp. We switch back and fore the two amp. IT WAS DAY AND NIGHT DIFFERENCE. I wanted to kick myself at the time not buying the YBL.

    Also, the speaker cable. I cannot even think of why, I ended up using 4 pairs of 12 gauge Monster like cable per speaker. Every added pair makes a difference until the 4th pair. Even my wife can tell!! I think it's because of the reactance of the cable in series with the speaker all interacting with the output of the power amp.

    When comes to high end components, new is not better. I have been an EE for 30 years, I even design music electronics. Electronics in audio CANNOT be explain by simple technologies. Human ears are so much more sensitive than any equipments can measure. You cannot quantify quality by technical specs. I had seen a high end design having a battery inside the amp to bias the tube!!!! With all the study and knowledge, I can tell you there are some black magic in audio electronics. I swear, tube still rules, both in audiophile and guitar amp.
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2013
  14. nsaspook

    nsaspook 1,388
    Science Advisor

    That's the truth, people spend thousands for a top end system and just set it up in a room with no understandng of room modes, reflections or absorption. The right room is the first requirement for outstanding sound and room requirements (acoustic treatment) vary if you listen to pure stereo or mulit-channel systems. A crappy boom-box would sound good in a proper room designed for it.
  15. Room is so important. That's the reason if you go to a high end audiophile store, they sell reflective or absorption stuff like a foam roll, panel etc. True audiophile only set up for one spot. I had to move the furniture around to get the best sound.

    My living room is very bad for sound, I am still working on the position of the speakers. A few inches make a difference.
  16. nsaspook

    nsaspook 1,388
    Science Advisor

  17. Ever tried Bose earbud headphones? A good deep bass line really feels like its rattling your brain! :)
  18. The hard wood floor really hurts. I hate carpet, but it's good for the sound. My problem is I don't know acoustics and I don't know what I need.
  19. I forgot to mention, power of the amp does not mean a thing. One high end brand called Cary using single end power tube and it's only about 3W each side. If I am not mistaken, it was over $2000 or $3000 for each side 17 years ago. Those are sweet watts. And it's only getting more and more expensive. the YBL I like so much was only 70W each side. My Acurus is 200W each side and it won't hold candle with those.
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