I’m not an audiophile.
In fact, I don’t know who would be the ideal audiophile, in the present consumer market. In most forums, a person spending a ton of money on Hi-Fi equipment is considered an audiophile? That’s the impression I got.
The reason behind this little rant is that when I started looking for a basic stereo amplifier, 2 years ago, all these entry-level Marantz and Cambridge Audio weren’t recommended a great deal on popular hifi forums. Reason: They’re not considered as audiophile amplifiers.
Do you even need to be an audiophile? If you have a pair of good speakers, and if your favorite music sounds fantastic to your ears when these speakers are paired to an amplifier — you’ve found the best sounding setup at a price that makes sense to you. I have a pair of JBL Control One speakers, and I had them paired to my 8-year old Onkyo home theater amplifier (also known as, AV receiver). Pure stereo mode. The output was quite decent. Of course, I had an Onkyo sub-woofer connected to compensate for the lack of low frequencies from the JBLs. It made a good 2.1 setup. Though music sounded good with this setup, it wasn’t good enough. Clearly the Onkyo amplifier didn’t sound musical enough for my ears. Stereo image separation was evidently missing. The voice and instruments were peanut-buttered — spread flat.
Before the Onkyo, I had a Kenwood stereo mini system, and have an idea what stereo imaging and separation mean. The Kenwood served a good 13 years, before giving up.
So, in the quest to find the right amplifier, I signed myself up on a few high-quality audio forums. This was 2 years ago. And, until a couple of months ago, after following a few posts, and getting umpteen recommendations, I was still undecided. These were some of the recommendations:
- Go for a high-end audiophile system — Arcam, Rotel, NAD, Marantz 6000 series, Cambridge Azure series, etc
- If you can’t afford a high-end system, look at the used market
- I wouldn’t buy an entry-level amplifier, if I were you — because, they may not drive some of the floorstanders that you may buy in the future
- Get a pair of brand new floorstanders (starting at an insane price of INR 27,000/-) and get a used amp at less than INR 10,000/-