The wonders of starting a Hifi journey

Hifi Newbie status report. Any similar stories out there?

Does anybody remember their mental state after their first 2 major upgrades? I mean: Amplifier and Speakers, and care to share that memory?

I’m 13 months into what I would call my ‘real’ Hifi hobby now. First upgraded the amp, and last month my speakers.

Next to that: I am a skeptic. My default position is that I don’t think sound can get any better, and everything that promises sonic bliss is just marketing. One of my favorite threads here was ‘share your stories of contentment’, that says it all really.

But today I need to admit it can, and I am glad my ears are still good enough to notice at 51.

Here’s the story so far.

Step 1, amplification. 3 years ago I had already bought Dynaudio EMITs. I didn’t audition them (I had never heard of that term anyway), I wanted something new for my new office/cave. And the stands looked cool. What triggered the amplification? That’s the Muso QB. How then? Since I moved the stereo from the living to the office, we needed something in the living, small WAF friendly footprint. All our friends are on Sonos, but the Sonos 5 was the only option for me sonically, and I just hated the looks. Googling away I found the QB. That made me wonder if there would be integrated amplifiers out there with similar features, 10 years after buying my TEAC receiver that had internet radio (wow, how cool that was in 2010). Enter the Uniti, March 2020.

SQ shock number one: The Dyns, until then basically getting bored by not getting any challenge from my old TEAC started to light up, and show what they were capable of. Most of the speaker review cliché’s were there. What a great way to survive lockdown #1.

Step 2. By then I was hooked to several forums, vlogs etc. New reviews on speakers speaking of improvements I frankly didn’t believe. Last month my skepticism turned around. It could get better. In my case with the PMC Twenty5.21i. Disclaimer: everyone has a sonic preference. Mine is -in short- bass punch and PRAT but also analytical. The Uniti+Dyns didn’t do bad on items 1 and 2 at all, but boy do the PMC’s provide better separation / soundstage. This after just passing the prescribed 50 hrs of run in. They are in a 2.4 x 4.2m room firing down the ‘long end’ to my seat at 2.8m, with about only 5 degrees of toe in. drivers are 50 cm from back wall, but respectively only 15 and 30 cm from the side wall. Only the floor is so far sonically treated with a rug, and the far end with curtains. If I turn any speaker up too loud, the reflections more or less blow up the room. I’ve got a small sub too, but that is humming along very modestly, mostly I try to configure in a way that it decreases the major 42Hz room mode bump a little on my listening position.

The best way to describe the difference with the Dyns: I loved how Paul Simon’s ‘Take me to the Mardi Grass’ outro showed off the virtues of non-compressed recordings with the Uniti+Dyns combo, thanks mostly to the Uniti, but with the PMC’s I had the odd sensation that I could point my finger to single out the Tuba player. Two months ago I would not have believed that to be possible.

I could go on and on based on all of the listening notes I made to keep track of new amazements, like how this little PMC -which doesn’t have a particulary flat frequency response to be honest- makes me happy by magically stopping the bass frequencies to bleed into the vocals in some psycho acoustic way, but I am mostly interested if there’s other initially skeptic folks out there that had similar revelations after their first major upgrades when they were still Hifi Newbies. Or still are.

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My first ‘wow’ was going from a ‘music box thing’ to a NAD 3020A, Kef Coda III and an AR EB101 turntable. It was music.
If you like Paul Simon, try Papa Hobo from the Paul Simon LP. There is studio noise all over and on my PMC 23i’s, bass thumps that seem like someone kicking cables.

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As a newbie my first revelation was the Grado SR125 headphones.
Even with an audiolab 8000 integrated headphone jack and technics sl1200 as source, they completely changed how I thought about “looking into” the music.
Like a forensic magnifying glass that left my at that time speakers playing in the room sounding almost comical in how they managed to fudge everything.
Still striving to get in the room that sound which totally captivated me back then.

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In my childhood I had saved up and when I was 12 this Philips separates system became reality, as was the fashion of the times in the mainstream:

Lots of Kiss, Motörhead, and Deep Purple was played on this one.

My first purchase upon going to university (and the foundation of quite some years of debt :joy: ) was a Rega Planar 3 in 1987 and a few months later a preamp and power amp for which the circuit design and board prints were published by the German electronics nerd magazine, Elektor. Here is the pre as I pulled it out of storage recently (the green box is the main amp, the black box is the external power supply - true to form). The power amp had died in the 90ies during a party, its face plate was very blue.

Very shortly after, a large TDL transmission line bought as a kit and painted pink:

After finalizing the internal speaker cabling late one night, stoned up to the gills, I connected it all together and played, I believe, a King’s Singers gospel CD, of all things, that a friend had lent me.

It was utterly amazing, I was floored and so happy. Like you, the sensation of feeling like being able to point a finger at every individual singer in the choir. I had done all this without actually ever having heard a good system before, so what happened came as a huge surprise and I had not expected anything like it.


I bought my first proper system at 18. Technics amp, Systemdek TT, Mordaunt Short MS310 speakers. Nait 3 turned up when I was 20 something. Sounded fine, but through the 310s was always an unbalanced system.

I was 44 before I had the Nait 3 serviced and upgraded to Neat Motive SX3s, adding a CD5 at the same time. I think that was the first time I really noticed proper separation, soundstage, and natural sounding vocals, instruments etc. It was a fine system before, but very outclassed by the upgrades.

I just moved house before Christmas, the new listening room is miles better. And I swapped the Nait 3 for an XS3. Now we really are talking :slight_smile: It sounds flipping great. Very happy. Took a long time from being obsessed as a teenager, reading all the magazines, dreaming about a LP12/Naim system to where I am now. Still no Linn, but the Systemdek shines in its new surroundings, the CD5 is glorious.


Close to mine, which was a dual turntable with a nagawaka mp11 cart, plus nad3020a amp and key coda 2 speakers. Loved it cranked out house, soul, funk and dance music all the time, drove my parents mad!


My first real system Pioneer 512D TT, Pioneer amp (forget which), Wharfedale Dentons. The rest as they say…

When I was 13 I built an amplifier from an electronics kit, and now I think about it, it was powered by an external power supply! (A variable psu, also from an electronics kit.) Hooked it up to a pair of speaker cabinets my dad had built years earlier with KEF drivers, and the headphone output from my portable cassette player. That was the start of my HiFi journey.


Great bit of history. I wish I’d heard of Naim when I was 20 something instead of 40 something!

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That is so well described how I felt it too. You can read all about soundstage depth, width, detail, separation, but you only really get it when you hear it for the first time. And when you do it’s a revelation.

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The hifi magazines of the 80s really did rate Linn and Naim kit. From what I remember a LP12 fronted, active Naim system into Isobariks was about as good as it got. Well, Audionote were there too, but Linn/Naim was aspirational stuff. Still is :slight_smile:

I remember one article about an enthusiast who brought in a dedicated mains spur, as well as taking up their suspended floor and sinking concrete pillars in to sit the Isobariks on top!

Mitch in his Statement thread mentioned a filthy-rich guy in NYC who owns a whole brownstone and dug down in its basement until he reached the bedrock of Manhattan, then poured a concrete pillar up through the stories to place the TT on it :slight_smile:

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And that’s coming from Mitch :slight_smile: What a system he has the pleasure of enjoying! And sharing :slight_smile:

Yes, such a charming guy and impressive system!

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Technically I started at 17 with a dingy AKAI receiver, cannot remember the model, and some cheap-ish Magnat 3 way towers, which I sold to my room mate in college. Then I bought a Technics - SE-CA01 Micro Hifi System (which I just saw being sold on Catawiki for 110 EUR!) and finally that internet radio reciever CR-H500NT from TEAC in 2010 (hooked to Missions. warmish, I think the 700’s).
The Technics system I have fond memories of, because of its portability it served as a DJ set on holidays until it famously overheated and shut itself off in the middle of a dance party. Still the first real noticable upgrade I heard when I bought the dynaudio Emits.

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Mortifying X)

How long till it could reset!?

45 minutes… It was in the south of France, June. around 1:00 AM at still 25 degrees celcius

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Oof :smiley:

The funny aspect is that my wife (then girlfriend) had just turned up the volume up a notch, so she thought she ruined it.

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Very similar to how my mentioned amp died, except everyone kept turning it up and it was done for good, as was the party music :smiley:
Better the amp than the TDLs

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