What It Really Means To Be Real, i.e. What Gear Do We Actually Use

Discussion in 'Tales from the Bully Pulpit' started by purr1n, May 17, 2023.

  1. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    About a year ago, someone on Reddit asked me to help them navigate the morass or products out there, to write a guide. To do this comprehensively would be difficult if not impossible, but as I thought more about this, I came up with some ideas. I will eventually write a Newbies Guides to the Galaxy of Personal Audio, but not today.

    Somewhat related to this, I felt it may be a good idea to discuss what I am personally using (members please chime in). I've slipped hints to readers here and there: the secret to knowing what is good is not necessarily what reviewers say is good, but to ask the reviews what they actually use themselves. Case in point: we all know Amir has some pretty awesome shit in his house that isn't Topping. :)

    BTW, it's frustrated me that so few people have asked me what I actually use (keeping in mind that I have stuff at various price points lying around the house). What it comes down to is that most people see something shiny and new - and want confirmation that they made the correct choice. Whatever people want, I will oblige.

    I will go first:


    COMPUTER AUDIO SYSTEM

    Syn + x4 JBL monitors (or headphone of the day)

    I would love to say that I used Magni Pi ever since I had prototype board seven or eight years ago. This however has been replaced by the Syn. The problem is that that Syn is too neato! Sure, I personally wouldn't call this pure audiophile grade grade high-fidelity; but I've accepted that I cannot live without the surround effect. Besides, the Syn is actually pretty transparent. It's the DSP'd-to-death cheap JBLs which are holding the system back. (I'm using a Yggdrasil LIM for FWIW). In time, I will construct speakers. But seriously, this does the job when it comes to fidelity for YouTube videos and gaming, and adds a whole lot more. The icing on the cake? On video calls when I plug in the headphones, the lineout turns off automagically. Jason is a genius.

    [​IMG]
    IMG_0878 (1).jpg
     
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  2. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    BEDROOM SYSTEM

    Pi2 Design Mercury Streamer
    Gungnir MB + Cinemag XLR to RCA line level transformers
    -or- this TT / Mani 2
    EC Studio B
    Cheap EH 300B
    ZMF Caldera

    I came into this system by accident because of numerous factors. One is that one of the WE 300Bs broke. If we read the review carefully, I never said that I loved the WE 300s without question. This was one of those cases where the WE 300Bs did some good things and I tried to make it work. The fact is, I prefer the cheapo Electro-Harmonic 300Bs, something that I probably would not have tried or revisited had one of the WE 300Bs tubes not exhibited problems. The second accidental finding was the ZMF Caldera. I reviewed it and thought it was pretty good, set it aside, and kind of forgot about it. This was until I couldn't find the JAR600 or random Grado that I had usually had lying around during an unexpected video call. The Caldera was on a headphone stand off to the size, so I picked it up and plugged it into the Magni Pi (this was a while ago before I started using the Syn with the JBL monitors). What happened is that I started to appreciate subtleties of the Caldera from forced usage. I ended up bringing the Caldera into the bedroom because I wanted to check out if the EH tubes were decent enough as a replacement. I guess I found good synergy. The Caldera is the planar magnetic headphone for people who like ZMF's take on dynamics.

    I'm on the waitlist for the Elrog (this will go out on loaner), which based on descriptions from people I trust, I think I will like and be a suitable drop-in for the EHs. FWIW, the WE 300B are to classic WE300 for my taste. Too warmpoo in the lows with a slight sharpness in the highs.
    DSCF0377.JPG
     
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  3. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    PORTABLE SYSTEM

    iFi GO Blu
    CFA Ara IEMs

    Sure the iFi Golden Brick sounds better, but I don't remember the last time I charged the GO Blu. Nothing more needs to be said.
    IMG_0880 (1).jpg
     
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  4. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    TRANSPORTABLE SYSTEM

    ZMF T-shirt. Hey, not fair! Why do you support ZMF by wearing their swag? Umm, because @zach915m sends me shit? Sent me shit and I will wear it. I'm not playing favorites here. I love my Ts.
    IMG_0876.jpg

    Supreme Shorts. We know this is real because there is no gigantic SUPREME logo. I didn't appreciate the quality of their stuff until I fell and realized the skin on my ass wasn't peeled off.
    IMG_0875.jpg

    Air Monarchs. Got them on sale for under $50. Cheap, replacement, and flatish sole. Will get more appropriate stuff, but this works.
    IMG_0879.jpg

    Pantheon Quest Longboard. A bit of a boutique brand that costs a little more than the others, but not really when you realize the components are curated already. No need to buy fancy cables, USB decrapifiers, roll tubes, etc. It's all done. Highlights: big soft wheels that will go over the shitty pavement of CCTX, well chosen angles on the trucks for directional stability, drop platform for stability and ease of skating miles, not excessively wide board with wheels that stick out (accidently kicking a wheel means faceplant into street - basically not possible with the design of the board).
    IMG_0871.jpg
    IMG_0872.jpg

    Planet Earth
    IMG_7552.jpg
    Yes, I am going very slow until I get my protective gear. I fell off the other day being aggressive (my daughter thought I was nuts) and was bedridden after smacking my elbow (blood), wrist, ass, and shoulder on the left side. That hurt and I'm too old for this. Had to resort of my hidden stash of Vicodin.

    The fact is, I really don't give a f**k about audio stuff these days. Those who know me personally know what I've gotten into really taking care of my health. I started years ago with my insane outdoor hiking / running adventures until I got sidetracked by Valley Fever that almost killed me and parts of my lungs. My dad visited me last year and recounted how his peers, our family friends, had bit the dust (or turned senile - even worse). The one commonality with these sad cases was that people did not take care of themselves. They let their bodies and minds rot. We can't stop aging because our bodies, being biomechanical parts, do break down. But this doesn't mean we shouldn't do regular maintenance and abuse ourselves.

    The reason I am saying this is because I've seen what happens to old-fogey audiophiles. A few I knew back in California, members of the various audio societies, are dead or lived horribly debilitating lives before they died. We can't fully control everything, but don't let yourselves go. It's too easy for geeks to fall into this trap.

    And yes, we can do this or even start in our 50s. My dad is in his mid 80s - he swims and golfs. I'm stronger than most guys at the gym, 95% of them if they are my size, this includes guys 20-30 years younger. This is not because I have superpowers, it's because I've made it a habit (also because my daughter works out and gets me off my ass to go to the gym at 9:30pm on weekdays).
     
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  5. wbass

    wbass Friend

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    I think a lot of what we lust after and what we end up actually using has to do with the often pretty vicious way consumerism intersects with something as (seemingly) pure as loving music.

    Probably most of us on here have had the experience of hearing a great system or just a better pair of HPs than usual and thinking, Whoa, I never heard that detail or that nuance or that expressiveness (or whatever) before. And then we end up chasing that moment, sometimes finding it again with moar or better equipment, sometimes being disappointed (and sorely out of pocket). It's just hard to sustain that whoa, even with the best gear, and it's probably not even the best way to listen to music: expecting to be continuously blown away by sound quality.

    Really deep experiences with listening are likely as much to do with frame of mind as they are equipment choices. I do think a great system--or one that matches my preferences anyway--increases my listening pleasure. But, damn, do my anal retentive tendencies often get in the way of that. And the hi-fi industry, such as it is, is more than happy to continually pitch me moar, moar, moar.

    The professional reviewers are the worst in this regard. It's never, "Hey, this was by a very small increment better (or different) to what I've currently heard." It's always "the veil fell from my eyes, I witnessed the revelation of the Christ child," etc, etc. On behalf of the marketing teams of various companies, the reviewers stoke our never-ending search for another whoa. And they're almost always men of a certain age. (Why is that?)

    Of course, as Marv says above, it's always instructive to see what they actually have in their personal systems. Often not a $100k pair of Wilsons or a $5k USB cable, but relatively modest stuff you can actually live with. Always surprises me how many hi-fi reviewers have a pair of Quads or some old Altec horns or whatever. Often stuff that doesn't even get made anymore.

    Though I do enjoy nice things, it's weird that we get so emotionally attached to stuff that just rolls out of a factory. Sure, often smaller factories than most, particularly with the likes of ZMF or DNA, where it's more of a workshop. I have some hi-fi stuff that is neat to hold or look at just on its own. But, really, it's hard to feel much long-term satisfaction from the hardware, especially when the software--aka music--is the thing that brings the actual feels.

    I spent way too much time researching my recent purchase of a Susvara and Ferrum stack. Way, way too much. I'm enjoying it a lot, but it's a... complicated enjoyment, especially given the cost. My $50 pair of Bose Soundsport has probably brought me far, far more utility and pleasure--I wear them when I'm running--and if they don't sound good one day or break the next, what do I care? My favorite listening experience ever was in a '92 Toyota Tercel with one blown-out rear speaker still working. I'll probably still go off chasing the whoa, but I think I also need to continuously remind myself that feeling doesn't last. And to be pretty skeptical of those who are trying to tell me a cable or a DAC or whatever will bring it back.
     
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  6. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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    Where can I get one of these? When we moved my wife made me throw out my early 80s G&S board with white ACS mag trucks and red Kryptonites. I miss it for cruising down to the corner store to pick up a cartoon* of milk.

    Edit: Is this it? Is it a European product? Or is Google returning euro sites cuz I'm in Italy right now?
    https://www.sickboards.nl/en/longbo...h-graphic-seismic-365-longboard-complete.html

    *I think I'll leave that autocorrect typo in there.
     
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  7. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    Holy cow, Marv looks like he's actually gotten younger!



    Unlike the rest of us hosers who've aged like yogurt.
     
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  8. Michael Kelly

    Michael Kelly MOT: Pi 2 Design

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    Teeny tiny nitpick, it's Pi 2 Design Mercury Streamer!
     
  9. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

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    Every CA tax that was removed by moving to TX added a year to Marv's life.
     
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  10. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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    The headphones I've been using most are my BP800s, out of my bedroom Piety/M*imby rig. Stellia when I need passive cancellation (either inwards or outwards) from either bedroom or livingroom rigs. Voldemort x dBel84 from living room rig, Galaxy Buds2 Pro at the gym, WH-1kXM5* when travelling.

    *Edit: and at the office to block out noisy co-workers on Teams calls.
     
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  11. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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    Speak for yourself :punk:
     
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  12. YMO

    YMO Chief Fun Officer

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    Can't tell sometimes if Marv is AZN or Spanish. He blends right in Southern TX.

    The bolded part is super true. In "God's waiting room" in FL I see tons of retirees (like my father) who after they stop working they have no hobbies, don't do anything with their life, and prefer to be alone in their own world (in a big house with no one living with them) where none of their siblings are still alive. These retirees are the ones who replace religion with politics that caters to them and well you know the rest.....

    It is pretty sad if I have to be honest. I should take care of my fat body much better, but I know that I need to be productive when I'm older so I don't let my mind rot. It's said that the mind rotting is more common to me than I would like to see in my backyard.
     
  13. Eric Rosenfield

    Eric Rosenfield Facebook Friend

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    Doesn't the Gungnir have RCA outs already? Why would you need to transform the XLR outputs? Are the regular RCA outs that bad?
     
  14. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    https://pantheonboards.com/

    The Pranayama could be better than the Quest for the city. The Quest is a bit longer, but actually not so long physically compared to other boards. I love the Pantheon designs because the dude makes the boards as short as possible while maintaining wheelbase and usable foot area*. I remember you being fairly tall so the Trip could work better for you. The Quest I have may work too (you see the photo above and for reference I am 5' 8"). I ordered the Quest with 50 degree trucks (reverse) in front and 43 in back. For city, I'd go 50/50 for easier maneuvering. I got 43 in the back for more stability, but to be honest I could do 50/50 easy since I don't go that fast.

    The Pantheon site isn't sorted very well. I found this part of the blog section that explained it all to me:
    https://pantheonboards.com/2021-pan...ngboards-picking-the-right-longboard-for-you/
    [​IMG]

    * Here's a comparison between the Pantheon Trip (smaller board than the Quest that I have) vs the Landyachtz Drop Cat 38 (the other board I was considering). We can see the Pantheon makes better use of the given space, also includes larger wheels, and keeps the wheels in a line with the width of the board to prevent those faceplants when we are not careful.
    [​IMG]

    BTW, I am pretty sure they ship to Taiwan or would have distributors there. I found out about the Pantheon brand from people in Kenya and Singapore. Go figure.
     
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  15. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    The XLR outputs sound better. The RCAs have an extra circuit to convert XLR to SE. I prefer the sound of the passive line level transformers to the active circuit.
     
  16. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    My kids say I look Mexican. Mexican dudes in ratty Toyota trucks come up to me and ask me for directions in Spanish. "Yo no hablo español" I reply. (I took French in high school which turned out to be completely useless in North America, other than Montreal, where it did come in handy). I used to look more East-Asian (Chinese) when I was younger, but I think the Pacific Islander and maybe some Dutch genes took over. I look like I'm more related to Dwayne Johnson or the actor who played Boba Fett / Aquaman's Dad than a random Asian dude.

    Oh gawd. Don't even get me started on this. My wife is dealing with her father's decline. He sits on the couch all day and watches Tucker Carlson, which is the opposite of the Woke Mind Virus. No wonder why random people are so paranoid these days that they shoot up (dark skinned) people who knock on their doors or drive into their driveways.
     
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  17. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    In my defence, that was not misinformation. Yogurt is perfectly capable of looking the same long after it is expired o_O

    I've basically looked the same for almost twenty years with the exception of a few more gray hairs (and bad knees).
     
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  18. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    Fixed.

    I didn't think of that, but it could true. California is simply an incredibly stressful place to live. Don't get me wrong, a good part of me loves California - but that California of the 70s and 80s in my head is long gone. I fly into Burbank, take a ride down near the studios near Alameda St. Look up, see the hills, the Hollywood sign, it's beautiful. That moment lasts until some bitch or dickhead won't let me merge into the highway, rushing ahead to be right on the ass on the car in front, so I have to tap the brakes and duck in behind to merge. Every other driver in California thinks they are qualifying for pole position in a Formula 1 race. This includes the soccer moms.

    I asked a friend in California why Californians are like this, always stressed, rushed. Easy answer: you'd feel the same way every time you filled up your tank at the gas station. In 2035, I would guess that Californians would be similarly pissed off trying to find an available car charger spot and then having to wait 30 minutes for a top-off.

    I was more pudgey and soft during the time of the meets around 2015. The hiking and trail running got me down to 140 lbs. After I got sick and discharged from the hospital, I was a sickly 128 lbs. I'm now anywhere from 165-170 lbs depending upon whether I am bulking or cutting. I look like I'm 150 lbs, but yeah I'm near 170. It's all muscle I've put on. When I met up with an old MPAA colleague in California for lunch, I waited 10 minutes for him. Evidently, he did see me, but he didn't recognize me from behind because I had bulked up so much from my hiking days. He did the reverse and lost a ton of weight himself. Glad to see people taking care of themselves.

    But yeah, going to the gym does wonders. Just don't be like those hosers who skip leg day or don't work on their shoulders, back, and core. I was really inspired by Arnold Schwarzenegger's advice to work on your weak spots. Lots of funny uneven looking dudes at the gym.
     
  19. JayNYC

    JayNYC Friend

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    “This however has been replaced by the Syn. The problem is that that Syn is too neato! Sure, I personally wouldn't call thispure audiophile grade grade high-fidelity; but I'veaccepted that I cannot live with the surround effect.Besides, the Syn is actually pretty transparent. It's the DSP'd-to-death cheap JBLs which are holding the system back. (I'm using a Yggdrasil LIM for FWIW). ”

    1. You cannot live with or without the surround effect?

    2. If Syn is USB to/from your computer, then RCA outs to 4 JBL powered monitors, where does the Yggdrasil LIM fit into this computer setup?
     
  20. caute

    caute Lana Del Gayer than you

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    Not the tastefully modded, legendary, unicorn 445? Or is that in your listening/living room?
     

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