BANG for the BUCK

For most of us it's all about value. Except for the relatively small number of folks who can afford not to worry about how much things cost.

For the rest of us it's all about the price/performance ratio. How much did you pay for what you got in terms of performance? The bang for the buck. I have found some excellent values over the years. And some terrible ones as well, alas. If we look at each class of components and various price points, what good and bad values have you experienced along the way? I'll give a few examples from my own experience to get this thread rolling. These examples are just for starters. They do not represent a complete list. If more come to mind I will add them to the thread later.

My caveat is that my comments are subjective and refer to my system -- and YMMV. I am only speaking for myself and my system here.

In the realm of DACS -- Antelope Gold, AMR DP, Berkeley 1 and EMM CDSA SE are in my price/performance dog house. My current NAD M51 takes the price/performance prize. It is the only DAC that has, so far, given me good value.

In the realm of speakers -- Merlin Monitors and Joseph Audio Pulsars represented good value for my system. But my current Raidho C1.1 monitors take the price/performance prize.

In the realm of cables, power products and power conditioners -- Gabriel Gold and Synergistic Research Tesla Series and Speaker Cells, Interconnect Cells and power conditioners are in my price/performance dog house. David Elrod and Shunyata cables, and the Shunyata Triton power conditioner take the price/performance prize.

In the realm of tweaks -- some of Jack Bybee's products, Schumann resonance devices and Audio Magic products take the price/performance prize.

How about you and your system? What stands out in terms of price/performance -- on both sides of the ledger?
In the realm of amplifiers -- my Atma-Sphere S-30 takes the price/performance prize.

In the realm of preamps -- my Audio Horizons TP 2.3 takes the price/performance prize.

In the realm of power regenerators -- my Monarchy Audio takes the price/performance prize.

In the realm of transports -- my PS Audio PerfectWave takes the price/performance prize.

In the realm of tweaks -- Kemp products also take the price/performance prize.
REGA Osiris integrated amp
REGA Isis valve cdp

As a unit together for the requisite synergy, ..... Goliath killers that match up or best rivals at multiples of their price.
Based on the current used prices:

Forte 4A power amp
Audible Illusions M3 preamp
Samadhi Acoustics Ichiban speakers
Naim CD3 disc player
Usually what's owned is considered an exceptional value when it comes to performance. Who wishes to be considered a fool who overpaid to achieve good sound?

What Doug said.

Price is easily quantified. Performance......not so easily. Its highly subjective. So there you go.

FWIW, I put my current rig with the big OHM F5 speakers in place with the goal of no compromise in performance but keeping budget to a minimum to accomplish. List for all the parts involved is between $15-20K. Buying used, on sale, applying trade-ins, it ended up costing me significantly less than that.

It is always with hindsight that we revise earlier opinions. It is not a matter of being considered a fool -- unless one's ego is that important. If one considers a decision foolish, with hindsight, then this can lead to improved decision making. For me, the music and what gets me there is the most important thing. Making mistakes and learning from them is essential to the process of getting one's system to a higher level. And yes, sometimes one pays too much, in hindsight.


Yes, this is necessarily a highly subject discussion. But the point of this thread is simply to try to help others make better informed choices, hopefully -- by giving others an idea of what values -- good and bad -- we have discovered along the way.
One key to getting "bang for the buck" is to move forward in small, carefully planned increments. Look for things that appear to add clear value towards achieving your goals for reasonable marginal cost.

Worst thing to do is to just throw money at the problem or use cost/money as the measuring stick. IE, the more expensive option is necessarily the better one. Guaranteed you will overestimate what it actually costs to achieve your goals that way. Many tweaks that have the biggest impact cost next to nothing or nothing at all once the problems to address are well understood.
My old JBL L890s, no longer use, replaced by the mighty JBL S4700s (which are not really bang for the buck)

Bryston BP6 + 4BSST---$4000 for both! new!

Onkyo DX-7555---$699 new

Technics SL-1210M5G---$500 new

I agree completely. Small increments are often the best bang for the buck. Throwing money at the problem can be the worst choice. I recently added a used $100 Kemp plug to my system. The improvement in SQ was worth thousands of misspent audio dollars. Live and learn.
In the realm of tweaks -- DIY HFTs also take the price/performance prize. I have not tried the SR HFTs, so I have no basis for comparison. But I can say that my own HFTs are very effective. Thanks to Ozzy for some very creative ideas here. At about $1 each my HFTs are very cost effective. I hate to think how much my system would have cost if I had paid MSRP or the going retail price for everything. I would not have been able to afford a system -- certainly not the system I now have. I estimate I paid about 60% of retail for everything.

I have cut down on costs by finding unusual (inexpensive) items that improve SQ on a level with a component upgrade -- such as the Noise Eater from Holland and Kemp products.

I have cut down on costs by finding retired products such as QRT symphonies that are a fraction of the cost of the Nordost Qx4 that incorporates the same technology.

I have cut down on costs by doing a lot of other special DIY things. Sometimes a little tweak here or there can produce an improvement equal to a component upgrade. This is the kind of cost saver that cannot be quantified.
Replaced audiophile grade power wall sockets with Maestro (brand)....the difference was amazing.

I replaced my Tesla Plex SE with Furutech GTX-D. Amazing results -- takes the price/performance prize.
Sabai- I apologize in advance for my ignorance. can you explain what a HFT is please?

Thanks, Jack

Kindly Google the Synergistic Research site for detailed information. A Google search will also turn up information from other sites.
Bryston BDP-2 player.
With a few Anker powered USB hubs connected to it, I now have (27) 32 GB flash drives and (2)1TB Hardrives connected to it. Awesome unit. Every song, Hi-Def or regular that I own at my finger tips to play. It evens can do internet radio.
Awesome unit.
+1 on the Apt Holman Pre Amp. Picked up one in the late 90’s used for $200. I may still get another but the prices are starting to climb as people discover them.

Found a pair of JBL 4435 speakers at a pawn shop in the late 90's. They were perfect. $500. I sent all four 15's to Bill Legall for new surrounds. I had the JBL L-300's at the time and those 4435's could do a kick drum like nothing else I have heard.

Just (today) picked up a pair of used Apogee Centaur Minor speakers for $300. They are in perfect shape. Hard Bop is my drug of choice and they do horns very nicely. They were designed to work with lower power amps so I don’t need an arc-welder to drive them. My Roksan KA-1 works nicely. I think I’ll keep them.
Audioquest Dragonfly and Audioengine B1

They do what there’re supposed to do extremely well for the price.