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Old 02-28-2005, 02:06 PM
Reeder Reeder is offline
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Whatever happened to component stereo systems?

All you can find nowadays is those all in one ugly things. I had some nice systems in my younger days.

Reel to reels, cassette deck, turntable..all plugged into a receiver.


Do they even make stereo components anymore?
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Old 02-28-2005, 02:22 PM
Mister Rik Mister Rik is online now
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I think what may have happened is that technology has become advanced (and cheap) enough that they can build small, all-in-one units that sound very good. At least compared to similarly-sized units of the past. I can compare this to the state of electric guitars/electric basses now.

Back before the 1980s, there were two kinds of electric guitars: cheap, piece of junk, under-$400 guitars, and high-quality, over-$1000 guitars. Now, thanks to improved manufacturing techniques an cheaper technology, there is a whole range of instruments from under-$300 to over $3000 in price, but even the under-$300 instruments are still pretty darn good.

With stereo equipment, there used to be a choice between cheap, "adequate" systems for the masses, and expensive, high-quality, high-fidelity component systems for the audiophiles. But again, with improved, cheaper manufacturing techniques and better technology, there are now a lot of mid-priced stereo systems that are far better than the cheap stuff of yesterday, and almost as good as the audiophile equipment of yesterday.
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Old 02-28-2005, 02:23 PM
JerH JerH is offline
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They do - go to any higher end electronics store (i.e., not Best Buy). The big difference is that many moons ago, the component systems were all that was available so that's all you saw. Better electronics technology = cheaper, compact, all-in-one systems. The all-in-one stuff is generally fine for casual users, but serious audioheads will buy the separate components.
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Old 02-28-2005, 02:26 PM
Maus Magill Maus Magill is online now
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Sure. I just got a very nice Tuner/pre-amp/amp from Kenwood a couple of months ago.

It is very hard to find them in Best Buy and other stores. Your best bet is to either check out a specialty store, or I like the Crutchfield catalog.
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Old 02-28-2005, 02:26 PM
friedo friedo is offline
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I know that these days you can still get a pretty good receiver and components, but does anyone make pre-amps and component amplifiers anymore?
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Old 02-28-2005, 02:27 PM
FatBaldGuy FatBaldGuy is offline
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IANA Audiophile, but it seems to me that the individual components you mentioned, reel-to-reel, cassette deck, turntable (and let's not forget the 8-track) have all been pretty much usurped by the CD player. It's been my observation that people now are more likely to put their money into an audio/video receiver with components such as DVD, Cable / Satellite receiver, VCR, big-screen plasma display, etc. with surrround sound, and then have a CD player as one component in this overall setup.
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Old 02-28-2005, 02:33 PM
daffyduck daffyduck is offline
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Stereophile Magazine
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Old 02-28-2005, 02:35 PM
Maus Magill Maus Magill is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by friedo
I know that these days you can still get a pretty good receiver and components, but does anyone make pre-amps and component amplifiers anymore?
Those are much tougher to find. The afore mentioned Crutchfield catalog is about the only place I've seen them lately. Even there the pickings are slim.
  #9  
Old 02-28-2005, 02:47 PM
Danalan Danalan is offline
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This has never been a problem for me -- I've always had component systems. I currently have an Aiwa receiver, 2 Sony CD changers (a 50 disc and a 300 disc), a Teac dual tape deck, Kenwood turntable, Panasonic DVD player, Samsung HDTV monitor, Aiwa sub-woofer, and KLH & Memorex speakers. The receiver was part of a surround system that included speakers & sub-woofer. I put the speakers to use in the shop on my old RCA receiver.

Admittedly, this is a low-end component system. For example, you don't see a separate tuner, pre-amp, equalizer, or even amplifier listed. The receiver handles all that, and does a most adequate job -- my media room is only 12x12, and I use wireless speakers for the rest of the house (from Radio Shack. What?).

I see shelves and shelves full of components whenever I go into a decent store -- K-mart and Target aren't where to look. I got my stuff from all over. Look around, it's out there.

I'll throw in my classic advice when buying audio components: Everything important in audio reproduction is heavy. Transformers, power supplies, speaker magnets, etc. Given two otherwise similarly priced and feature-laden components, go with the one that's heavier. IIRC, Kenwood used to make a really crappy amplifier that sold well because it had an iron plate in the base.
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Old 02-28-2005, 03:00 PM
Gaius.Cornelius Gaius.Cornelius is offline
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I don't know for sure, but I suspect that the answer lies in Digital Signal Processing (DSP):

If a manufacturer puts together a system, he knows exactly the characteristics of the entire system - something that cannot be done with individual units.

Using DSP it is possible to compensate for a weakness in the system (for example, a non-linear response from the speakers). Therefore, it is possible for the manufacturer to get a much better quality of sound from less expensive parts.

Indeed, all the parts can be designed with DSP in mind from the begining so it is possible to get a big sound from small speakers that without DSP would just be horribly distorted.
  #11  
Old 02-28-2005, 04:55 PM
Padeye Padeye is offline
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I don't think digital signal processing is the issue. The "entire system" includes room accoustics so just being programmed to compensate for speaker without compensating for room accoustings. Lots of equalizers do that by playing a test tone and listening with its on microphone. If that can be used to adjust for the room it can almost certainly adjust to a power amp of a different brand.

I just don't think that for most users there is little need for so many discreet components. Most home theaters use satellites plus bass unit instead of traditional speakers that may require a high current amplifier. There is also the added complexity. It's one thing to have a stereo system with seperate pre-amp, EQ and power amp but I have enough damn wires with a single AV reciever and 5.1 speaker system.
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Old 02-28-2005, 05:16 PM
mks57 mks57 is offline
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Sound Quality

I've opened up some of the all-in-one units and low-end components. I found that they relied heavily on consumer audio integrated circuits. This isn't necessarily bad, but most of these integrated circuits are optimized for low cost, not low distortion or high performance. Replacing these consumer audio integrated circuits with more traditional circuit designs can reduce distortion and improve performance. The problem is that the cost of parts and assembly takes a big jump. How many customers are willing to pay that premium?
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Old 02-28-2005, 05:39 PM
Fuji Kitakyusho Fuji Kitakyusho is offline
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I don't have an audiophile quality high fidelity system, but I do have separate CD source, preamp, 2 channel 31 band EQ, compressor/gate/limiter, 3 way stereo crossover and three separate power amplifiers sending discrete frequency bands to each driver in two two-way full range cabinets (1 15" cone driver, 1 2" compression driver & horn) and a subwoofer cabinet with 2 18" LF drivers.

Granted, this is more of a pro audio / PA system than a home stereo, and as such everything comes in 19" rackmount form factors instead of nicely finished shelf-top boxes, but I think it's safe to say that pretty much any gear you can imagine is out there somewhere... it may just take a bit of searching to find what you want.
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Old 02-28-2005, 06:17 PM
fishbicycle fishbicycle is offline
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I haven't checked out any modern all-in-one systems, but I still wouldn't want one, regardless. It hasn't been my experience that any of them could hold a candle to an even half-decent component system. I have a 20-year-old JVC integrated amp (preamp + power amp), graphic EQ, three tape decks, 5-disc CD changer, Dual and Kenwood turntables, custom-built switching panel and signal router with features you can't buy, and Technics speakers. (My Cambers have a burnt-out tweeter and I can't find another one like it.) (I also have backup equipment for all of the above, in case any breaks down.) You can still find components, and you likely always will, because some people won't even consider the alternative. Just don't go looking at a chain store.
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Old 02-28-2005, 08:23 PM
Chefguy Chefguy is online now
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Here is one site I found with a fast search. This is another that compares components and is a source for companies that supply them. I'm in Anchorage, Alaska for cripes sake and can find components in at least two local stores.
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Old 02-28-2005, 08:30 PM
mks57 mks57 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chefguy
Here is one site I found with a fast search. This is another that compares components and is a source for companies that supply them. I'm in Anchorage, Alaska for cripes sake and can find components in at least two local stores.
They have gotten harder to find. There used to be quite a few small retailers that specialized in hi-fi equipment. Most of them have disappeared. The big electronics companies have also seemed to have lost interest in that market.
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Old 02-28-2005, 08:38 PM
danceswithcats danceswithcats is offline
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Comonent stuff can still be had-it's just harder to find. J&R Music World is one of the few places I've seen that still sells turntables and reel-to-reel recorders.

Now if Heathkit was still around, you could build your own...
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Old 03-01-2005, 10:19 PM
Chefguy Chefguy is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mks57
They have gotten harder to find. There used to be quite a few small retailers that specialized in hi-fi equipment. Most of them have disappeared. The big electronics companies have also seemed to have lost interest in that market.
Nonsense. Sony, Yamaha, JVC, Panasonic, Harmon Kardon, Denon, Motorola, Kenwood, Marantz, Pioneer, Onkyo and Teac all still make components, and I'm sure I missed a few. What big electronic companies are you talking about?
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Old 03-01-2005, 10:46 PM
Sam Stone Sam Stone is offline
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Pretty much everyone makes components. If you are defining 'component' as separate amp/preamp instead of a receiver, then you're generally looking at high-end equipment.

What has happened is that the quality of receivers has gotten very good. Therefore, the market for seperate amp/preamps has moved into the high-end audiophile range. Also, the advent of multi-channel sound has complicated matching components. For example, one company might sell a five-channel amp, while the preamp you like has 7 or even 9 channel outputs. Back in the day, it was common for a manufacturer to make a good 2-channel amp, then sell a variety of preamp options for it. Or people would mix and match their own from different manufacturers. Now, it's more likely that the amp is matched to the preamp.

But separate components in general are very common - more common than all-in-one stereo systems. There are just too many different input options today for it to make sense to have everything in one box. The stereo in my theater is connected to: a cable box, a DVD player, a CD changer, a VCR, a computer, and occasionally a camcorder or other device. My DVD player has been upgraded several times to support new formats. It makes more sense than ever to buy separate components rather than all-in-one systems.
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