It's Not the World's Best Audio System -- But "It Certainly is Great"

To Doug Schneider,

The answer, of course, is “No.”

I’d love to say that it’s mine, but that would be boastfully wrong. Like “Trump wrong.”

There are several things to consider and I’m sure you know all of them:

  • The room is as important as the audio system and that’s not really mentioned. It’s like talking about a sandwich and not mentioning the bread. I’ll assume that you have a well-treated room (had and done those), but did it sound really good before you did anything? If not, you need to spend a lot of money to make it sound great. Luckily, my odd-shaped basement sounded really good to start and I’m slowly improving it to being truly great. I’m about 80% there. Hopefully, you have that covered.

  • The computer is meaningless. Honestly. Personally, I prefer the Mac OS and hate Microsoft, but, after years of working both sides as a web developer and doing audio engineering, the CPU, its box, and OS are meaningless to the audio output if all the bits are being sent properly. Playing music is effortless for any modern computer.

  • EMM Labs makes superb shit and I’m doubtful there is anything that can do better in any meaningful way on a test bench or in a listening test.

  • Sorry, but the Constellation Audio monoblock is a fucking brick. Sell it and replace it with Benchmark Media Systems AHB2s run as monoblocks. You’d be sacrificing 1 or 2dB in headroom and get several orders of magnitude less noise and distortion, have a shit ton of money back, and use way less electricity. On this count, sorry, but you fucked up.

  • The Vivid Audio Giya G2 speakers are fantastic, but they can be improved by being actively multi-amped and DSP’d. Spend the money to do that and those speakers would be about as great as a speaker can be. Passive crossovers are akin to incandescent light bulbs (i.e., obsolete).

Here’s a thought in a few parts:

  • Sell the Constellation monoblocks.

  • Buy five AHB2 amps -- a pair for each tweeter and upper-mid unit, one for the lower mids (in stereo) and one for each woofer as monoblocks.

  • Get a DEQX HDP-5 for speaker processing and room correction.

  • Bypass the stock, passive crossover networks.

Had you done this initially rather than buying your current monoblocks, you’d have saved around $14,000 and have a better-sounding system -- almost perfect.

“It hasn’t been my experience that power cords or conditioners make a significant change in the sound of a component unless there’s something wrong with that component.” Amen, brother. Personally, I don’t spend exorbitant amounts on cables, but I do want to guarantee that they aren’t adding noise to my rig. Speaker cables don’t do that, but they still need to be well made.

My choices for wiring are:

  • Supra PLY3.4, bulk square wire that runs about $4/foot connected to good rhodium spade connectors. Each conductor is made of 192 individual strands of tinned copper. Each individual strand is tinned before winding, not just the whole conductor at once. These are forever cables.

  • For less crucial stuff, I like what Blue Jeans Cables offers for speakers.

  • Mogami Gold for XLR and RCA cables -- can’t beat their construction and 100% shielding. And, yeah, they are the studio standard.

  • Pangea Audio makes a really nice power cable for a reasonable price. Using their least-expensive model gives me great results.

  • If I need a custom length, I go for Supra LoRad and their IEC connectors. They are a bit more expensive, but also fantastic.

When objective, scientific tests prove the validity of more expensive cables, sure, I’ll consider them. I don’t foresee that ever happening.

So, again, no, yours isn’t the best system in the world, but, even at present, it certainly is great. I can understand why you feel no need to look any further.

All the best,
Jeff H.
United States