Sound Quality or Convenience?

OK, asking this question to audiophiles might seem inane, but I have read enough threads (not to mention For Sale ads!) that make me think that we sometimes feel ok sacrificing sound at the altar of convenience.

Would like to hear your experiences, along with perhaps some theoretical quantification... such as how much SQ can be let go for how much convenience, etc. For those who chose this path, was it a keeper or did you want that SQ so much you went back to it?

My own is a probably a familiar one: Maggie 3.6, which were not just visually er, challenging, but also required a lot of work to yield that magic. I gave up on the magic in favor of much easier speakers, and then did it again a couple of years later. I now own Zu Druids, which are as diametrically opposite to Maggies os one can get. They look and sound great (to my ears, this is NOT repeat NOT a Zu thread) and are easy to work with in terms of space, weight and amplification.
We prefer the sound of SET amps, but have opted instead for the convenience of a SS amp with a tube preamp so we can leave the system on all the time. We also added a hard drive and Squeezebox, so we don't have to change the CD's any longer. Since making the switch, we've not made any system changes in over 8 months, which is unheard of in our house. I used to futz with the system all the time. Now, I just enjoy the music.

I hope that answers your question.
Interesting Boa2: Converting my front end to a digial music server (hard drive and laptop) has definitely changed the way I listen and changed my system. I'm getting less and less fussy and am currently assembling what is probably the least expensive stereo I have had in 15 years -- and still really enjoying it.
I sold my ARC LS3 because it had no remote control. However I replaced it with TAD 150 Sig. preamp and it also sounds great, and I don't have to cross the room to adjust the volume any more. I did it for convenience though.
a squeeze box is a remote......there are so many great components available, convenience is paramount....the greatest part of my thorens td147 is the autolift.
A Squeezebox is a unit that you connect to your system that you can operate remotely in order to read/select/play (it has its own DAC) music files stored on a hard drive. You can read about it here .
I have been using a Squeezebox for about 6 months, mostly for Internet Radio on my 2nd system. I have found great, commercial-free classical feeds from all over the world. The only problem is that the announcers speak 100 different languages.

I did try a side by side comparison of a hard drive copy of a cd and the cd, using both the toslink and the 75 ohm digital out and the DAC in my CDP. I found the direct cd sound more open and preferred it.

So, to answer your original question, I found the convenience to be not as important as SQ.

This may be because, for me, changing the cd is no big deal, so any lose of SQ was not worth it. Also loading all those CDs takes a lot of time and disc space.

The biggest reason the SqueezeBox did not remain in my main system is that I didn't like the added complication and cables etc. I love the SB and it lives happily on my second system with my turntable and CD changer.

I also tried a TacT 2.2s and liked what it did for the sound. It made a real improvement. In the end I returned it because it was so distracting and complicated my rig.

For me simplicity and ease of use are a big part of convienience and the overall quality of the experiance.
Kenyonbm, spoken with the self-contradiction of a true audiophile! Not raggin' on you, just amused that I am not the only one. Hope I didn't misunderstand though.

Score so far is 5:1 in favor of convenience (kenyonbm counted once in each).
Oh dear, here's another vote for convenience.

Sold my Maggies for the much easier to place and position Alon Vs, and I just sold my beloved Herron VTSP-1 preamp which I will replace with the Herron VTSP-2...and I swear it's not because the 2 has remote control, HT by-pass and polarity switch - honest!
Help me out here first. What do you mean by "sacrificing sound at the altar of convience".??
Also what is SQ?
I heard Maggies yesterday, along with Spendor and Cabasse.
SQ,down;convience and saving money are UP!! With 16 el34'3 (CJ 8 monos) the heat factor,the power usage,and the cost of replacing the tubes all factored in; compared to a SS amp__priceless. My power bill drops 50 a month and I listen 3x's as much.
7:1 for convenience so far. Manufacturers take note...

Bartokfan, hoping you are not pulling my leg, SQ is sound quality. Sacrificing, etc. means giving up some (or a lot of) SQ for the sake of gaining some (or a lot of) convenience, such as remote, more inputs, lighter weight, other reasons as noted in the thread, etc. Obviously a very subjective/personal decision and therefore widely varied results are observed.
I've been using a hard-drive based system for over a year now. Rarely spin actual CD's anymore and sold a big chunk of my collection that was taking up space. In contrast to Kenny's experience, in my comparison(s) of CD transport and hard-drive based system I could not tell the difference. Both are going through the same DAC though with no digital processing/equalization. I use a Waveterminal U24 and a Mac Laptop with files ripped to external drives in WAV or Apple Lossless.

I just recently purchased a Pair of Triangle speakers from a gentleman that replaced 2000+ vinyl recordings for CDs and went from tubes to a tripath amp and is currently using a Mac to burn 1400+ cds for a combination Home theater, uses the 20 inch MAC as the screen, and a player for his two channel system.

The problem is that I REALLY LIKE THE SOUND! Gosh should I combine my 2 channel into my HT and call it a day? It would certainly be less expensive than chasing the sound dog around the table.

No tube changing, no treating my CDs, no tweaking with cables, less is more? I would certainly have more time for other things. But reality tells me that when the Audio hobby becomes less of a hobby or something else replaces it, perhaps that will be the time to just relax and be happy with what I have. Until then CONVIENCE?
funny enough... i just went through this... got rid of my naim cd player and external power supply (hi cap) for a regular transport and Derek Shek non over sampling DAC (shigaraki clone). i liked it better. then got a squeezebox as a transport and liked that better (using a mac powerbook as the server (yes, it does affect sound quality a touch) and a canare digiflux gold cable. the convenience is fantastic on the squeezebox plus (for me) i liked the combo far better than my naim cdp / hicap combo. amps have gotten simpler over the years too. went from naim power/pre/powersupply to a naim integrated to an almarro 205a 5 watt integrated.

i love the almarro. changed the tubes to GE 5751 from the 60s and the thing is sick. oddly, using the naim speaker cable between that and my fostex single drivers was the best for me. punchier and almost as fast as naim! and FAR more musical and organic... all with squeezeboxed front end. analog got simplified too!... Nottingham interspace/interspace arm is sitting unused while a linn axis / akito 2b / shure m95xe cartridge are in use... fantastic.

i guess simpler is better for me. less weird hi fi fabrications (like a notice when i listen to spectral or other gear that sounds like a hologram)... and more harmonic content and meat. my next purchase will be a refurbished Scott 222 from the 60s. should be good stuff.
Kck, no I really had no idea what SQ translated. So sound quality is pushed abit aside when considering a speaker for perhaps looks, a super remote, fancy face plate, big bass in a ss amp, cool looking speaker, 'really hip looking", I guess there are other perks that some here are influenced in their decision. But not me. Not at all.
I researched every amp i could find before deciding on the Jadis Orch reference, all I could afford at $2100. I looked at all amps web pages and read comments. Yep jadis was the amp for me, and paid off. In spite of the fact that jadis was not, still not, a very welcomed topic for discussion. I guess they have their reasons. It could not be any other amp, Jadis is MY amp. At that time. Now things have changed abit, there's anew kid on the block, and she has my undivided attention.
Speakers, once agin, hours of research, and did experiement with a DIYer i met on madisound to build me a 3 way, cost $2300. What a bomb from rick Craig. A total dud. But i did find out through that dud, the Seas w22 midwoofer was the driver for me. saved a few 4's, bought the seas' kit, Thor. Bingo, hit the jackpot. Search is over til death do we part.
cdp, well I knew I was deeply in love with tubes, say a certain lab that I love, and bingo, another winner.
Sorry I don't go for bells, whistles, no tricks no thrills, I look for the 'real deal". straightup, and I avoid all hype like the frickin plague.
Worked for me, each has to find his own way to musical nirvana. And btw, money won't get you there sometimes. You might have $100,000 to spend and still miss the mark.At least to my ears you did.
Nice Day
"looks, a super remote, fancy face plate, big bass in a ss amp, cool looking speaker, 'really hip looking"

Bartokfan, well, maybe. But, and no offense meant at all, your post was a little hard to follow and your examples are a little more, dare I say shallow, than real conveniences, such as:

* remote vs no remote (super not an issue)
* smaller, more portable (for setup) speaker (vs cool looking, not really a 'convenience')
* more inputs for all your sources than one or two.

NOTE that what is a convenience issue to me may not be such to you and vice-versa. You may hate to bias an amp while I think such a labor of love, undertaken 3 times a year, is no problem. Just an example... one man's ceiling is another man's floor.

To me looks, while nice to have such as match my tastes, are not dealmakers and very rarely dealbreakers if other things are in place. I once owned a preamp that was so fugly even its mother didn't love it. I put up with it 'cause it sounded nice. When it started to demand that I regularly open it up to tweak the internal pots for balance is when I took it for a long drive in the woods and left it there.

Dear Readers: The poll is so far running heavily in favor of convenience, and the count is suspended unless a whole bunch of SQers chime in.
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Convenience at the source - a HD-based system with a fantastic interface and, to my ear, as-good-as-or-better sound than from a CD player.

For the rest of the system, SQ, as the system requires dominating a whole room.
An interesting thread. I've had a few drinks tonight, but for me the convenience versus sound quality issue has been crystalized in the past year with my return to vinyl. Yes, to put it simply, vinyl is much more work. You have to put together a decent front end which may or may not include a separate phono stage and the extra ic's to go with it, high quality cleaning equipment (which need not cost a fortune but will definitely require a time committment) and a willingness to either shop the thrifts for good music on the cheap or seek out new, high quality vinyl. In the end, it has been the most satisfying thing I've done in my 25+ years as an audiophile. Could I get better sound and musical enjoyment out of digital? Possibly, but at what cost? 5's or 10's of thousands of dollars. I had a reasonable analog front end that was virtually idle for more than 10 years. I've resurrected it with an investment of about $800 Cnd. (for an appropriate phono stage and ic, high quality cleaning equipment and fluids) and can now buy music in the analog format for between 33 cents and $25 a record (and most of it is between 33 cents and $2.00 a record with the new records costing the $25 or so) that is much more enjoyable to listen to than CD's. I'll take quality over convenience any time at this stage in my life.
SQ over convenience any day. That's what brought us all to this hobby....the higher sound quality. I'm not ready to go back to convenience yet. I'm in too deep.

I miss the heck out of my 5-disc changer....the sound quality just doesn't measure up, so it had to go to mothballs. I bring it out a couple of times of year when I'm entertaining guests and don't want to fool around changing cd's.
How many folks would consider buying a preamplifier (or linestage) without a remote control? Not necessarily full function but volume and/or mute capabilities. Like air conditioning, it's hard to give up once you've had it.
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I think you can easily have both. Digital technology and SS electronics have brought us both excellent sound quality and convenience.

I do not miss hours spent cleaning LP's with cleaning fluids and static brushes...not one tincy wincy little bit. Or hours spent searching for Japenese pressings because US versions were often woefully poor. A CD is a CD is a CD and if it has the same bits on it then it all sounds the same whereever it was made....even one burned from my harddrive.

Nor do I miss messing around with CD Jewel cases...the electronics and servos in a CD Mega changer take care of all that whilst my Mac lets me browse, select, stagger, shuffle and cue music from the CD mega changers with no hassles. One day I will rip teh CD's to a harddrive....just waiting until hardrives get big enough to do that cost effectively and without compression.
SQ almost definatly,

I recently setup a music server using a Roku soundbridge and my dac. It is great having the convience I will admit. BUT I had to go and put Celin Dion Falling Into You on the hard drive and sit down to do some critical listening. I noticed the bass was a little shy and the highs seemed a little bright. I have tried three different digital cables to help aleviate this situation to no avail.

So I am back to my transport and dac for critical listening.

Although I don't listen to my vinyl that much it is still a pleasure and definatly not convient.

Shadorne - I don't know how big your music collection is, but I have to believe hard drives are big enough now to do that now. WMA files in lossless compression get you approximately 2:1 compression. At 300 CDs per 100Gb and 500Gb drives costing $250, it only costs about $500 to store a 3000 CD collection on a music server.

Couple that with removing the need for a transport and being able to use a USB DAC and you've got both convenience and, likely, the best sound quality from your CDs you've ever enjoyed. I have a little small-form-factor PC that is ultra quiet (no fan), with two external HDs (1TB storage) also ultra quiet, all controllable through a flexible and intuitive user interface I can operate from my laptop anywhere in the house. I don't think I've sacrificed much, if anything, in sound quality to get ultra-convenience, at least for red book source material.

You are right! It may indeed be time to consider the hardrive option... a new!
In the past year, I've gone from a lovely Denon micro-system and its "convenient" sound, to an Electrocompaniet integrated SS amp and Cal Audio Labs CL-15 CDP and bookshelf speakers; to an Aragon 8008ST power amp, Rotel RC-995 pre, AR Complete CDP, and Taylo 7U floorstanders (95# apiece); to a computer-sourced system with Sonus Faber monitor speakers; finally to a Cary integrated tube system with a Cary 303/300 CDP and Sonus Faber Grand Piano floorstanding speakers. I still have every piece of these systems and, now, less than a year after I initiated this journey, I can say that what I've been after is SQ and the way music can inspire and transport me. Convenience is convenience, but it is not "SQ"--which I translate to mean that which can create real aesthetic rapture and not mere convenient pleasure.

I don't knock iPods--I have a Nano myself to play on the bus when I commute to work and I'd bought them first for my wife and sons. In fact, a musicologist friend, away on sabbatical to Ruskin's I Tatti Villa near Florence, once said to me, "The ability to bring along one's entire music collection in one 60-gig iPod is nothing less than a gift from God.... Or should I say McIntosh?"

But at home, I want the richness of music to embrace me and to be able to forget that what I am hearing is a representation, a recording. That means I usually go for the best equipment I can afford and much of it is conventional digital and hi-fi rather than computer. It's too hard to learn a completely new system of sound reproduction, no matter how convenient or veritably "LossLess" it may be. I'd rather run the old paths.

In fact, all my friends are predicting that a move to vinyl is in my future. That would be lovely.

I remember well my father's own elaborate hi-fi, his brass and walnut Dual turntable and Empire cartridge spinning Big Band music in our humble living room 40 years ago now. He kept input tubes in the pocket of his shirt and swapped them in and out of his Dynakit amp. He said, "These are called Bugle Boys, named after us GI's I think." Though his perhaps sentimental speculation wasn't true, this love for sound that released feelings of homage and honor in him so they'd found expression in the brief and swift sentences he spoke to me is something I have as a kind of legacy. It is not convenient. It is loving.
I am looking for a new integrated amp . Not because I don't like the one that I have , it is actually quite good , but because it is more work to maintain than I want to get involved in .
Now , if I could get the Prima Luna dealer to answer my email !
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Tvad ;
I answered this yesterday but it didn't show up . Here goes again .
I started a thread asking for recommendations on a tubed integrated amp to replace my well liked Cayin A-88T . I was looking for an integrated that was self/auto biasing and at least as good as my Cayin . The Prologue 2 was the one that I had settled on . The EE M250 was not suggested and I am not familiar with it .
I use an email to 'test' the responsiveness and quality of customer service . I have done this with every company (mail order) that I have dealt with . Of the ones that I have made a purchase from , they have always answered back the same day and usually within a couple of hours . This company (Prima Luna dealer) has not answered in 3 days .
What did you purchase when you called them ? How was the customer service at the time of your call ? How was the product that you received ?
I am a bit taken aback by your comment of this company's ability to gage my purchase desires via one email and their resultant dismissal of me as a potential customer !