When planing to enter the world of high end audio, what do you think of first? The budget of course!, nothing matters without budgets. So now you're prepared to spend the $$$, what do you have to think about first?

Many newbies whom I posed this question to answered with which gear to buy! Some even think to the extent of which cable they wanna buy. Not one person thought about where are they going to set up the system, once purchased.

Now, this is the most important factor of them all! Before anyone even think about buying any piece of audio equipment with the aim of achieving realistic high end sound, think about where you'll likely want to set up your system, because you're likely going to spend many hours of your waking time, in the place with the aim of enjoying music.

Be it in a dedicated room, or in an open area of the house, like the lounge or hall area, be sure the environment is quiet, and reasonably conducive for music enjoyment. Once the area is identified, think if you wanna pull a dedicated power supply line to the said room or lounge?, however that could be fixed at a later date, sometime after you've set up the system.

The room or space where the audio system is to be set up will very likely influence the final sound you'll hear thru the speakers, due to a factor called speaker/room interaction. The speaker cones acts like a moving piston in the room thereby, exciting room modes. There's an exact science where the dimensions of the room will indicate the room mode frequencies. But let's just take it easy for now an leave the science to the pros. Look at the link here, taken from http://www.audiophysic.de/technik/index_e.html , look thru the spec sheet, and you'll see from the 4th row down to the left of the speakers line up technical spec, noted as , "Require Space" and you'll see that it clearly indicates the minimum room sizes suitable for each model. From my experience with Audio Physic products, your room size can be slightly exceed or reduced, use the chart as a guide. You may even find that some room sizes able accommodate 2 or 3 models, in that case, an in room demo would be required, and your ears will determine the final choice. More speaker companies should provide this crucial information, which in my opinion makes speaker buying so much easier.

Good, now that you have your room, and speaker choice, based on the speaker specs, again looking at the technical chart provided by Audio Physic for is various models, you can then shortlist a few amplifier models, that will in theory be mode than adequately power your pair of speakers. Amps should in theory be a "wire with gain" and nothing more. It's job is to take a low level signal, amplify the signal with minimum of distortion added or signal corruption. Ideally it should also be very transparent in sound, and not lose information along the way.

Finally, you can work towards your choice of source, be it digital files streaming system, CDP or Turntable. A source's job is to extract the maximum information out of it's carrier. The source may even be slightly tonally coloured, if you're in to that sort of a thing.

Finally, you can look into your choice of auxiliary equipments, like cables, power conditioners and equipment racks. If you followed the speaker to room size ratio as per advised by Audio Physic(if you're in to Audio Physic stuff like me), you should require very little room treatment. But in the quest for perfection, some room treatment can enhance the whole listening experience.

Once all the above has taken place, you can then look at tweaks, if that's your kinda thing. It can be some crystal bits on top of speaker's corner, or sound tuning beak, as Totem speakers calls them, Shun Mook, cable evalators, like Shunyata Dark Field, you get the idea. Non essential items that do help to squeeze the last ounce of performance from your system if implemented effectively.

I don't know how true this is, but my personal experience tells me this is a better way. More experienced sifus may have other ideas, perhaps?

12 comments:

maggielurva 愛美姬 said...

panzer, you didn't touch on this bit. an even more fatal move done by audiophiles is to have the room or listening area ready - carpeted, furnished, decorated - then only move their hifi there!

system building should start from scratch, with bare room, no nothings, no treatment whatsoever. start adding the rest (curtains, drapes, furniture, potted plants, acoustic treatment etc) one by one using your ears as the ultimate guide.

Anonymous said...

Maggielurva,
Its apparent you are not married.

Panzer said...

ML,

Another good advise!

Anonymous 12.04PM,

You're right about that! ML lives an uncompromising lifestyle indeed.

hifikaki said...

Panzer,

An interesting contrast and an absolute opposite to the 'source first' philosophy!

Should we meet in the middle and choose the amp first instead hehe :-)

Anonymous said...

hifikaki,
agree with panzer on this, arriving at this from own experience. many would not have understood nor accepted the advice at beginning of hifi journey. infact a well known sifu visited me in early stage of my hifi journey, gave me the advice but never took it. "the room" he said. and to me now the cdp is the last. how would a grand piano sound in a small room, even with room tune ? all said, how sad we all have our own ideas in hifi and some of us, like me pay to learn. The speakers need the given space in order to sing.

gg said...

another hand sp for Panzer.
i also share and learn fromy eperince

f8. said...

Hi Panzer,

It appears the audio physic required space is not really an indication of room size but just dimensions slightly larger than the speakers.

For eg for the Tempo:
Speakers are 7.4 by 12.6 inches and required space is 11.4 by 16.9 inches. I don't think anyone will have a room merely 2 by 1.5 feet or even double that.

No offense, just thought to point out.

Anonymous said...

It is probably space/footprint for the speakers.

sting said...

if you thinking of buying a house in near future, to find an area that has good power supply is essential as what happen in ML finding about Bandar Utama. Soon the housing prices will dictate by good power supply as anything that has a "hifi" label sure will increase its price...he..he.

Ken said...

Sting,

Only if the buyer is an audiophile. If the buyer is not an audiophile, he will just buy another house in the vicinity for a much lower price. There is always a lot of BU houses on sale.

sting said...

Ken,

I was exaggerated thing only..he..he.

who knows one day in hifi4sale there will be an advert on house for sale with excellent power supply...he..he

cheers!

Panzer said...

f8.

You're right! My mistake. Audio Physic used to provide the typical room size for each model on the tech sheet. Looks like they no longer do. I am a little disappointed. Thanks for pointing out, other wise, I would have done us readers some diservice.

However, my point about room first still stands though.