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I'm interested in finding out the 'professional view' on audiophile equipment. Based on your professional experience, would you spend hundreds on an HDMI lead, thousands on an amp etc?

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I do.

I would, and do, spend a lot of money on speakers, amps, a decent television, etc... but all within reason. I wouldn't drop $40k on a pair of "perfect speakers", even if I could afford it. I might spend $400 on a pair of headphones, $2000 on speakers, etc...

I would also never spend more than $30 or $40 on an HDMI cable. It's all 1's and 0's. No analog signal, no EM interference. Expensive HDMI cables are a bunch of crap. As are $500 IEC cables for your amps. And $500 speaker cable to do a 10 foot run.

I spend a lot of money on audio equipment, but there's some stuff that just isn't worth it. A/B an amp run with a normal IEC cable vs. one of those hundred of dollars ones... you won't hear the difference. People who do have fallen victim to their own mind thinking they hear a difference.

What it all comes down to, however, is living within your means. I'm not going to buy a pair of $5000 speakers if it means I'm going to struggle to eat or pay my bills for the next few months...

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Here here, Colin. Well said.

I realize that my home is also where others need to live and inhabit, so I won't acoustically treat my living room, thus the point of diminishing returns on home audio gear starts to be reached a lot faster. I'm listening to a 5.1 mix now in my living room with an exercise bike, reflective tiles, etc. etc. ... in such an environment, really nice speakers make a huge difference, but the truly mega-expensive speakers or cables won't. Too many other variables. Most of my audio pumping through my house is encoded as MP3's, for cryin' out loud! :-)

I strive for value above all else. Some cheap stuff is a great value, and some pricey stuff can also be a great value. Obscenely pricey stuff is often not such a great value, price:performance wise.

  • Good point, Nathan - while I do have a room that is treated, it is not treated well enough to merit spending an inordinate amount of money on gear. I guess Value would be a good way to sum up how I feel about nice equipment as well. Also, a good portion of my music is encoded in AAC or MP3 as well. – Colin Hart Mar 7 '10 at 6:37
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The audiophiles I've got to know all care about gear that sounds musical (often at the cost of looking weird) to their ears. The sound people that I know all care about equipment being truthful, reliable, and razor-sharp, if not sterile, in terms of quality (sometimes gear that audiophiles smirk at). To me this looks like two different groups of people who therefore want different things.

anyone who'd spend hundreds on a HDMI lead ought to read this page, if not for the outcome, at least for how funny the idea sounds.

myself, I prefer gear that I know to gear that costs a ton, any day.
as for home, if I'm the only one who can operate it, it's the wrong piece of equipment.
oh and don't get me started on the looks of these things....

  • haha, love the article. I very much agree (regarding the cables, speakers and amps are different). The only time I spend a bit more on cables is if I need them to be shielded because I'm picking up a bit of a buzz or a radio. I also don't mind spending a bit on cables for the field, as I want well built XLRs so they don't break on me when I'm far from a shop... – Andrew Spitz Mar 8 '10 at 0:11
  • great comment, this is actually the situation , when you are a race car driver you might find peace and happiness driving a 1.4 caterham.Professionals tend to get amused by things that touch them in certain ways. – frcake Jan 21 '16 at 16:12
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I wouldnt think of spending money on audiophile gear unless I had a room which was purpose constructed for monitoring.

  • I agree! I have a pretty decent hometheater system, but it is in my living room. I refuse to move beyond the type of stuff you can find at the local Best Buy. It would be pointless to spend loads of money on gear unless I was willing to put money into "fixing" the room. – Chuck Russom Mar 10 '10 at 17:32
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I agree with Charles... while I might spend some good dollars on a nice set of headphones, my living room speaker system is pretty run of the mill (good for their price, but nothing crazy).

Since I do a lot of mixing for TV, I feel I have to listen to my mixes back off the air in the same way most of the audience will be listening (straight from the TV or simple consumer products) - best to try and hear what they're hearing (ambient noise and all!)

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I produced, edited and mixed the first Keston and Westdal album on a $400 JVC shelf system. Mind you, I did a lot of comparisons to other music using that system. Although it was cheap and not intended for professional use, it had a "direct" button that I could use to turn off all the crappy DSP built into the the unit. I also listened carefully to the mixes in other environments. Finally, I had it professionally mastered by Tom Garneau of Audioactive. Although I wouldn't think of using it to mix now, at the time it's what I could afford and the record was a success never-the-less.

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I have active studio monitors plugged in to everything, TV, laptop and iPod and it works great when the source is high quality. But sometimes it is actually a pain, too much sibilance on the presenter of a national broadcaster's documentary, phase issues on a mainstream classical recording, seat squeaks and plosive popping on the same broadcaster's flagship radio news programme. You can also play spot the ADR and library sound effects, when it is like that I tend to prefer much lower quality reproduction systems (earbuds, hi-fi system) which 'smear' the sound so that the mistakes are hidden, then I can go back to just listening to the excellent content.

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If I didn't have such an overactive conscience, I'd definitely be in the audiophile business instead of the pro audio business. Ripping people off seems far more lucrative. ;)

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I'm not sure who it was (I think it was Elliot Scheiner) who made a remark on Audiophiles judging music mixed on Yamaha NS10Ms/average studio equipment. Other than having a good pair of headphones (which I can always trust wherever I work) and having decent speakers at home I haven't invested in gold plated fuses (check this link out, hilarious, http://bit.ly/9jJMy3) or cables that would cost as much as a house! To me the home environment is a good place to listen to my/someone else's work just like the rest of the world.

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