The Case for Choosing Electronics from One Manufacturer

soundman

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When Joan Rivers had her Fashion Police show she was fond of making fun of outfits that were too coordinated; she would say disparagingly “matchy matchy!”

Ron I saw that you are selling your VTL mono blocs and have announced an upcoming surprise.

I am wondering if on the heels of your new Gryphon speaker purchase will you be revealing a Gryphon preamp and Gryphon amp to go with it?

The reason I am asking goes to a larger question.

I recognize the fun of the hobby is mixing and matching; finding the best phono cartridge that corresponds to your taste; same with a phono stage; perhaps you like the work of a one designer’s amp but he is not the best on preamps so go to another brand; all understandable.

I have always believed if I were at the point where I could afford upper echelon separates it would always be from the same brand. Why? Because I realize that I am buying into that designer’s outlook.

So if I were a Pass Labs fan it would Pass phono stage Pass line stage Pass amplifier. Similarly it would be VTL + VTL or CJ + CJ, D’Agostino + D’Agostino or Naim – Naim, T+A + T+A.

In this way it would avoid impedance mismatching between preamplifier and amplifier although we like to consider ourselves pretty savvy about not making those kinds of mistakes.

More importantly I believe there would be a kind of cohesiveness to the overall sound. Joan notwithstanding it WOULD be matchy matchy in the best sense.

I have a sense that you do not subscribe to this idea. More like you are making a soup and the various components are ingredients coming together to make the result.

Of course the speakers can be different because that are not many firms that manufacture electronics and also manufacture speakers to go with those electronics but increasingly we are seeing more of this.

Tidal comes to mind and I am certain you can name many more; https://www.tidal-audio.com/philosophy/

I have long held that this approach makes sense. I would love to know your take on this approach.

Most recently I came across a review by AHC where he reviews three pieces by the same manufacturer. The idea being so the reader gets a feel for what could be the heart of a system.

The Case for Choosing Electronics from One Manufacturer

The number of different electronic components that can add their own special sound character to a high-end system has also gotten higher. Many setups now have a separate front-end component for streaming, another for phono playback, and a separate SACD/CD transport or player. Some add a fourth to a preamp and power amp. This means four to seven active components—not counting the phono cartridge—and each then has its own cable connections, which also often involve different manufacturers, generations, levels of sophistication, and coloration.

A Determined Lack of Coloration

Regardless of the intentions and skill of the designers, mixing and matching means buying equipment designed to meet at least slightly different standards, and adding at least some low levels of coloration. Moreover, the chances of one coloration properly correcting another are slim. This makes a strong case for at least considering a “suite” of electronics

I appreciated this from the summary:

A preamp is a preamp, and I’ve already described the sound character of the Mark Levinson units. I also realize that calling an audio unit neutral, transparent, and uncolored lacks excitement, and will, to some, sound a bit bland and unexciting. It is more fun to claim that the product under review generated an epiphany bordering on a seizure, brought tears of joy to the eyes, or transformed the entire performance. Put differently, however, “neutral, transparent, and uncolored” means an excellent capability to actually reproduce what is on the recording, which I greatly prefer to saying that a unit revealed some unique aspect of the music that, in practice, is often a set of codewords for some form of coloration.


Thank you in advance for sharing your particular point of view on this subject



 

Ron Resnick

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I think going with a same brand matching preamplifier and amplifier is a reasonable presumption, but an easily rebuttable one.

With a little bit of basic electronics understanding it is not difficult to match preamp output voltage and amplifier input sensitivity, and to match preamp output impedance and amplifier input impedance.

It is very common to want to match a tube preamp from one manufacturer with a solid-state amplifier from another manufacturer, or the reverse, to get a better personalized sound than can achieve from one brand alone.

Presently I am using a VTL TL-7.5 Series III preamp (hybrid/solid-state output stage) and Jadis JA100 amplifiers (tube amplifiers).
 

soundman

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I think going with a same brand matching preamplifier and amplifier is a reasonable presumption, but an easily rebuttable one.

With a little bit of basic electronics understanding it is not difficult to match preamp output voltage and amplifier input sensitivity, and to match preamp output impedance and amplifier input impedance.

It is very common to want to match a tube preamp from one manufacturer with a solid-state amplifier from another manufacturer, or the reverse, to get a better personalized sound than can achieve from one brand alone.

Presently I am using a VTL TL-7.5 Series III preamp (hybrid/solid-state output stage) and Jadis JA100 amplifiers (tube amplifiers).
I did not know the VTL TL-7.5 Series III preamp was a hybrid with a solid stage output stage; have you sold your Siegfried Reference monoblock amplifier?

 

Ron Resnick

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soundman

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I think going with a same brand matching preamplifier and amplifier is a reasonable presumption, but an easily rebuttable one.

With a little bit of basic electronics understanding it is not difficult to match preamp output voltage and amplifier input sensitivity, and to match preamp output impedance and amplifier input impedance.

It is very common to want to match a tube preamp from one manufacturer with a solid-state amplifier from another manufacturer, or the reverse, to get a better personalized sound than can achieve from one brand alone.

Presently I am using a VTL TL-7.5 Series III preamp (hybrid/solid-state output stage) and Jadis JA100 amplifiers (tube amplifiers).
I agree you can get personalized sound, whether it is better, is a matter of well, personal taste.

I think you are conflating what is being said. He is, I am, talking about mixing and matching as it relates to and how it can lead to many colorations versus one voice if you opt to choose a particular brand; an all Luxman system or an all ...

The number of different electronic components that can add their own special sound character to a high-end system has also gotten higher. Many setups now have a separate front-end component for streaming, another for phono playback, and a separate SACD/CD transport or player. Some add a fourth to a preamp and power amp. This means four to seven active components—not counting the phono cartridge—and each then has its own cable connections, which also often involve different manufacturers, generations, levels of sophistication, and coloration.

A Determined Lack of Coloration


Regardless of the intentions and skill of the designers, mixing and matching means buying equipment designed to meet at least slightly different standards, and adding at least some low levels of coloration.

Moreover, the chances of one coloration properly correcting another are slim.

This makes a strong case for at least considering a “suite” of electronics
 
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soundman

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Got it when you wrote you are now using the Jadis you meant that you are using them in lieu of the VTL for now; good luck on finding a buyer.

I have heard there is an equivalent of a Blue Book but it is for audio gear what is it and do you use it to determine a selling price or do you simply look online for the history for what the same component in the same condition is selling for; sort of like market comps?

I have also been told that when selling to a dealer they disregard the values shown in said book. They go online and check prices; is that accurate?
 

Ron Resnick

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I agree you can get personalized sound, whether it is better, is a matter of well, personal taste.

I think you are conflating what is being said. He is, I am, talking about mixing and matching as it relates to and how it can lead to many colorations versus one voice if you opt to choose a particular brand; an all Luxman system or an all ...

The number of different electronic components that can add their own special sound character to a high-end system has also gotten higher. Many setups now have a separate front-end component for streaming, another for phono playback, and a separate SACD/CD transport or player. Some add a fourth to a preamp and power amp. This means four to seven active components—not counting the phono cartridge—and each then has its own cable connections, which also often involve different manufacturers, generations, levels of sophistication, and coloration.

A Determined Lack of Coloration


Regardless of the intentions and skill of the designers, mixing and matching means buying equipment designed to meet at least slightly different standards, and adding at least some low levels of coloration.

Moreover, the chances of one coloration properly correcting another are slim.

This makes a strong case for at least considering a “suite” of electronics
I think that if the "house" sound of a brand is a certain "coloration" multiple repetitions of components from that manufacturer might exacerbate that sound.

I don't agree that different components from different manufacturers necessarily are each adding their own "coloration" leading to a cumulative coloration mess.

You are suggesting this results in an accumulation of colorations which is more "colored" than multiple instances of a single brand's house sound coloration. I just don't know if this even makes any sense.
 
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Ron Resnick

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I have heard there is an equivalent of a Blue Book but it is for audio gear
I have never heard of such a thing. I don't believe this exists.

The used audio component market is too illiquid for such a thing.

Who told you this?
 

soundman

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I think that if the "house" sound of a brand is a certain "coloration" multiple repetitions of components from that manufacturer might exacerbate that sound.

I don't agree that different components from different manufacturers necessarily are each adding their own "coloration." You are suggesting this results in an accumulation of colorations which is more "colored" than multiple instances of a single brand's house sound coloration.
You are suggesting this results in an accumulation of random colorations which is more "colored" than multiple instances of a single-brand house sound coloration.

I AM suggesting this results in an accumulation of random colorations.

I do not agree that a single brand house has "multiple instances" of a certain coloration.

A Baldwin piano will never sound like a Yamaha piano. A Kwai piano will not sound like a Steinway. Each house has a sound. I do not view them as colorations; they are of a piece across the board from Grand piano to upright.

But if you were to take the soundboard from one company and the frame from another etc you have a mess.

I do not agree that multiple repetitions of components from the same manufacturer might exacerbate meaning to make worse their house sound.

Another analogy; if the ABV from a distillery is 40 meaning 80 proof the flavor of that "house" is there but light. If it is cask strength there is a great deal more flavor; it is still the same house. It does not make it worse, just more of what you love.

When you try to blend different malts from different distilleries too often you have a mess; that is the best analogy I can come up with now.

A person can purchase I an entry level preamp from a brand paired with the entry level amp from the same brand and they are happy because they achieved a taste of what they want; later they might buy the flagship preamp and the flagship amp and achieve more of the flavor they want but it is homogenous and that to me is a good thing; the homogeneity the sameness has a purity to it. I love an all Audio Research system; HP used to say of transparency some brands have what he called an "irradiated transparency" meaning no meat on the bones. No matter. I can appreciate and swoon over an all Conrad Johnson system same with VTL. The designer is conveying to me this is how I believe music should be replicated and it is as free from all the issues that get in the way of that as I am able to do.

Sorry that it does not make sense to you. I am not doing a very good job of conveying the issue apparently.

Again this is self evident and i do not understand how you with your wealth of exposure to the innumerable components from different components are unwilling to recognize that yes

Different components from different manufacturers are each adding their own coloration.
 
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soundman

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I have never heard of such a thing. I don't believe this exists.

The used audio component market is too illiquid for such a thing.

Who told you this?
Audio Bluebook's extensive database of high-end audio products offers instant access to everything you need to know to set the right price. Year of release, retail price, private party value, trade-in value and our own Agon Average, which uses Audiogon's proprietary market data to determine the recommended real market value.
 

Ron Resnick

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Of course a manufacturer is going to say that your system will sound best if you use all of that one manufacturer's components.
 

Ron Resnick

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Moreover, the chances of one coloration properly correcting another are slim.
What is the evidence for this assertion?

Rightly or wrongly a lot of people seem to use this balancing approach.

In contrast MikeL's view is to aim for neutrality in each component, and he does not agree with the balancing view or with the assumed "net neutrality" view.
 

soundman

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Of course a manufacturer is going to say that your system will sound best if you use all of that one manufacturer's components.
I am not paying attention to what a manufacturer is saying! I am saying from my own personal experience that the instances that I have visited rooms where all the components were from the same manufacturer had a cohesiveness, as in all of a piece, a rightness to them; they were satisfying to me and it made sense, whether it was a room of all entry level or in another room where it was all flagship. It was not a hodge podge where I had to discern what piece is contributing to what here to achieve this sound.

Pass Labs once had an entry level room which was fine and from there you went into their top of the line room and everything expanded out a block in each direction; when my wife and I walked in we were like holy smokes we get your vision. All the qualities that were suggested in the entry level room were magnified a hundred times and that is not hyperbole; it was not a .00001 difference. There was no need to A-B something am I hearing a difference scenario and if I am what are those differences. Whole brand rooms allowed us to identfiy whose vision we liked best. Carnegie Hall (before the renovation) or Lincoln Center.

David Wilson toward the end told a story that he felt something was still missing from the sound he was looking to achieve. He said he flew to the The Royal Concertgebouw in the Netherlands and there, sitting mid hall, he had a realization of what it was. So for him, that concert hall, music, as heard in that concert hall, is how he wanted and what he wanted people to hear when they played music through his speakers in their homes! He wanted them to have The Royal Concertgebouw!

To this day I always have in mind, since I am not of the upgrade my system every year consciousness, who out there matches me? I can appreciate all VAC system; in other words the strengths of each brand but when it comes time to settle down and as they kids say if you like it so much why don't you marry it, then it is not easy. As you yourself pointed out an all VTL system is not the same as an all Jadis system, but I am not interested in becoming a master blender mixing and matching.

Back to the piano. A perfectly tuned Steinway does not sound like a perfectly tuned Yamaha. The note A is vibrating exactly as it should and yet not the same sound. There was a documentary about Steinway and as consistent as they are in manufacturing it showed how when one of the pianists was about to embark on a world tour he tried out 10 pianos until he found the sound he wanted OMG it wasn't subtle. The audience in the movie theater is flabbergasted as we listen to him play the same piece at the same volume and how DIFFERENT the pianos sounded and at the end he says I want this one and not to let anyone else have it. Not to beat a dead horse but even within Steinway where the tolerances are so tight and the manufacturing processes are so consistent yielded different sounding grand pianos, for me best to find and stick with one flavor.

No doubt there are great cooks on this site who can take 7 different components from 7 different brands and cables and come with up with sound beyond anthing anyone has experienced before; something transcendental. I am not that guy. Just looking for a house that will give me music reproduced how I want to hear it (not the conductor turning the pages) and that list is long :)
 
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soundman

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What is the evidence for this assertion?

Rightly or wrongly a lot of people seem to use this balancing approach.

In contrast MikeL's view is to aim for neutrality in each component, and he does not agree with the balancing view or with the assumed "net neutrality" view.
I did not write that statement. I am a big believer in A-S-K. Imagine my surprise when a Guru quoted Jesus (and I cannot stand people who quote the Bible) "they have not for they ask not." It has always been difficult for me to ask because my ego is far more developed than my wisdom. If you want to know what is the evidence for (t)his assertion, ask! https://www.theabsolutesound.com/contact/
 

Another Johnson

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I have never heard of such a thing. I don't believe this exists.

The used audio component market is too illiquid for such a thing.

Who told you this?
I see others have linked you to the Audiogon blue book. Historically, “blue books” for audio gear have existed dating back several decades. Another good source for sales figures is HiFi Shark. It is actually a worldwide compilation.
Just like with magazine reviews, blue book type compilations are entertaining. The potential buyer uses them to din the seller, and the seller uses the data to justify holding price.
FWIW, if you sign up on Audiogon as a dealer, access to their data has been included as part of the dealer package.
 

soundman

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I see others have linked you to the Audiogon blue book. Historically, “blue books” for audio gear have existed dating back several decades. Another good source for sales figures is HiFi Shark. It is actually a worldwide compilation.
Just like with magazine reviews, blue book type compilations are entertaining. The potential buyer uses them to din the seller, and the seller uses the data to justify holding price.
FWIW, if you sign up on Audiogon as a dealer, access to their data has been included as part of the dealer package.
Thank you for the introduction to Hi Fi Shark. I am not a dealer so I don’t want to represent myself as such to access their data. At this point I have decided not to buy used although many on this site do. I was told it is possible to get 40% off on gear that is 2 years old. I am open however to dealer demo gear; one joked that although a piece had been sitting in the store “2-3 years” if 3 people walk into his store in Vancouver it is a busy day; his way of letting me know the unit was not used much. He said all dealer demos come with full manufacturer warranty from day of purchase versus buying used on Audiogon where I am on my own so that is something. Thanks again.
 

Another Johnson

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Thank you for the introduction to Hi Fi Shark. I am not a dealer so I don’t want to represent myself as such to access their data. At this point I have decided not to buy used although many on this site do. I was told it is possible to get 40% off on gear that is 2 years old. I am open however to dealer demo gear; one joked that although a piece had been sitting in the store “2-3 years” if 3 people walk into his store in Vancouver it is a busy day; his way of letting me know the unit was not used much. He said all dealer demos come with full manufacturer warranty from day of purchase versus buying used on Audiogon where I am on my own so that is something. Thanks again.
You can buy access to Audiogon’s data as a non-dealer. Buying what the Brits call “Ex-Demo” gear is a great way to build a system for a 40% or more discount. Ex-Demo gear generally does come with manufacturer’s warranty, but not always … so get this clarified before plunking down your cash.
 

Another Johnson

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When Joan Rivers had her Fashion Police show she was fond of making fun of outfits that were too coordinated; she would say disparagingly “matchy matchy!”

Ron I saw that you are selling your VTL mono blocs and have announced an upcoming surprise.

I am wondering if on the heels of your new Gryphon speaker purchase will you be revealing a Gryphon preamp and Gryphon amp to go with it?

The reason I am asking goes to a larger question.

I recognize the fun of the hobby is mixing and matching; finding the best phono cartridge that corresponds to your taste; same with a phono stage; perhaps you like the work of a one designer’s amp but he is not the best on preamps so go to another brand; all understandable.

I have always believed if I were at the point where I could afford upper echelon separates it would always be from the same brand. Why? Because I realize that I am buying into that designer’s outlook.

So if I were a Pass Labs fan it would Pass phono stage Pass line stage Pass amplifier. Similarly it would be VTL + VTL or CJ + CJ, D’Agostino + D’Agostino or Naim – Naim, T+A + T+A.

In this way it would avoid impedance mismatching between preamplifier and amplifier although we like to consider ourselves pretty savvy about not making those kinds of mistakes.

More importantly I believe there would be a kind of cohesiveness to the overall sound. Joan notwithstanding it WOULD be matchy matchy in the best sense.

I have a sense that you do not subscribe to this idea. More like you are making a soup and the various components are ingredients coming together to make the result.

Of course the speakers can be different because that are not many firms that manufacture electronics and also manufacture speakers to go with those electronics but increasingly we are seeing more of this.

Tidal comes to mind and I am certain you can name many more; https://www.tidal-audio.com/philosophy/

I have long held that this approach makes sense. I would love to know your take on this approach.

Most recently I came across a review by AHC where he reviews three pieces by the same manufacturer. The idea being so the reader gets a feel for what could be the heart of a system.

The Case for Choosing Electronics from One Manufacturer

The number of different electronic components that can add their own special sound character to a high-end system has also gotten higher. Many setups now have a separate front-end component for streaming, another for phono playback, and a separate SACD/CD transport or player. Some add a fourth to a preamp and power amp. This means four to seven active components—not counting the phono cartridge—and each then has its own cable connections, which also often involve different manufacturers, generations, levels of sophistication, and coloration.

A Determined Lack of Coloration

Regardless of the intentions and skill of the designers, mixing and matching means buying equipment designed to meet at least slightly different standards, and adding at least some low levels of coloration. Moreover, the chances of one coloration properly correcting another are slim. This makes a strong case for at least considering a “suite” of electronics

I appreciated this from the summary:

A preamp is a preamp, and I’ve already described the sound character of the Mark Levinson units. I also realize that calling an audio unit neutral, transparent, and uncolored lacks excitement, and will, to some, sound a bit bland and unexciting. It is more fun to claim that the product under review generated an epiphany bordering on a seizure, brought tears of joy to the eyes, or transformed the entire performance. Put differently, however, “neutral, transparent, and uncolored” means an excellent capability to actually reproduce what is on the recording, which I greatly prefer to saying that a unit revealed some unique aspect of the music that, in practice, is often a set of codewords for some form of coloration.


Thank you in advance for sharing your particular point of view on this subject
I bought the Levinson 5101 and 5805 (the integrated alternative to the amp and preamp AHC reviews with the 5101). It was for one of our “vacation” homes near a grandchild, so not for a main system. I bought them before AHC reviewed them based on my own in person auditions.

The 5101 and 5805 definitely had strong synergy. After a couple of hundred hours of break in, they sounded like they could have been priced at $30k+. They were actually msrp priced at the time I bought them at $16200. Harman Luxury products tend to have very large margins, so my deal was even sweeter.

After several decades of mixing and matching preamps and amps, in the last decade, I have generally liked the synergy that comes from staying within brand for these bits of gear. However I have to admit even in this past decade, I’ve mixed and matched and on occasion I’ve been serendipitously rewarded.

The only real lesson, in my opinion, is that you really should trust your own ears. They’re your best guide.
 

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 24, 2015
16,198
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2,665
Beverly Hills, CA
I see others have linked you to the Audiogon blue book. Historically, “blue books” for audio gear have existed dating back several decades. Another good source for sales figures is HiFi Shark. It is actually a worldwide compilation.
Just like with magazine reviews, blue book type compilations are entertaining. The potential buyer uses them to din the seller, and the seller uses the data to justify holding price.
FWIW, if you sign up on Audiogon as a dealer, access to their data has been included as part of the dealer package.
I have never heard of it. Thank you.

Is there enough liquidity in high-end audio components for the stated values to be meaningful?
 

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