Not sure what to think

This weekend I spent A/B testing a new preamp. My system: OPPO 105 (I only  have CDs), Bryston 9B-SST amplifier, B&W 801 loudspeakers (circa 1980) no special cables, non-sound treated room. My current preamp is a Krell-KAV 250p recently serviced. I have always wanted to test a McIntosh preamp. My dad had McI equipment when I was growing up and recently visiting local stores with McI in their listening rooms blew me away (as would be expected in a vendor-setup room). I borrowed a McI C-49 to try out.

I spent 3 days putting different CDs in and out. Rock, jazz, classical, house. In rock, 80s rock, prog rock, anything I knew super well. I tried a few SACDs, too. I had to keep switching the cables so there was always about a minute or so going between the equipment. 

I wanted BADLY to hear a difference. I really did. Between the childhood nostalgia, the looks of the McI (yes, I know music is for listening, not watching what it comes out of), and the vendor visits, I was ready. I had to believe my "vintage" Krell would not stand up to a modern, much more expensive McI. I spent hours going back and forth and back and forth. I kept telling myself I would hear something different on the McI and I just did not. So many discs, keying in on different types of passages, focusing on the bass or the vocals or the mids. You name it, I was ready for that one tiny moment to say "drop the money on a McI and don't look back."

Alas, as much as I still have a passion for the McI for the non-auditory reasons above, for the moment I will be sticking with my Krell. I am not here to knock McI - I still love the thought of it, or any type of equipment that might upgrade my listening experience. I guess I should feel good that the Krell is still working and maybe something else will come along in my future. My sound producer friend suggested I spend the dollars on room treatments. :-)


I have VAC tube amp and ARC tube preamp that i bought them back in 1996 and they are still going strongI sometimes switch out the VAC for my Bryston 5B-St 3 channel power amplifier  I'm very impressed with the Bryston ARC combination I also own the Oppo BD105 and love it! I do bypass its internal DAC with my external DAC  I also use the Oppo to connect my two Subs in stereo mode via pre out for my 2 channel stereo rig  

@hilde45 because it’s possible that the acoustics of your room are masking differences you might hear with a better treated room. It’s also possible that your speakers are not revealing the difference,

Could you explain the physics behind that contention? If all other parameters are the same, simply swapping any one component will absolutely make an audible change if there was one to be made.



@olfac87 I think you can apply the following motorcycle racing analogy to audio.

You can throw more and more money at the motor and gain a few tenths of a second a lap but if you throw the same money at suspension work, you'll gain full seconds a lap.

Same with audio for the most part IMHO. You can spend tons on gear which powers your system, but unless you spend money on your sonics of your room, you're not going to get the best out of it. 

I respectfully suggest you work on some sound treatments to get real change.

Happy listening.

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I will not take away from any of the above responses but simply add a few things. 

You are at the mercy of the Microphone that picked up the sound from the instrument and or Vocal, along with the Recording Consoles Electronics also included in the chain is the 24 Track Tape Machine (If not done digitally) then the playback monitors and finally the Half track mastering tape which is used to create the Mother Stamper that presses the Vinal Record.

Also take into account the Engineer and or Artist that did the final mixdown. What were his or her ears (The Brain Does The Hearing) hearing when they mixed it.

What were the Studio Acoustics and Control Room Acoustics Like?

What kind of Monitors were they listening thru?

It goes on from there. There are so many variable's involved in the making the final product. This would also to some degree apply to a "CD". So I would say.. Enjoy what you have and crank it up. No two records or CD's will sound the same. Just tweetle the knobs until it sounds the best it can.

Having good equipment and the room set up and speaker placement goes a long way to enjoying your equipment. ENJOY!!