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"What can I do to make my music more enjoyable...to make it sound more real, more like the performer is in my house playing for me? What can I do to get the best performance for my money, more Bang for my Buck?"
Naturally we hear this all the time and happily admit that we are here to help you do just that. Everyone wants the most from their sound investment. Well there is no single answer for everyone, no "one size fits all" magic bullet. Everyone needs specific help for their room, system, and ears. That's why we encourage you to visit the store and let us help you on an individual basis. However, there are some basic changes that anyone can do to improve a system's sound and, therefore, musical enjoyment starting at only $65 or so. Here are some suggestions:
Analog lives - Are you rediscovering the joy of listening to records or thinking that it might just be time to do so? LPs are not just for the entrenched audiophile or your parents. They have a great sound that digital has a hard time matching. Be it classical, jazz, country, show tunes or even hard rock, records are being played more and more. You may even have some old vinyl records in your house. If not, they are available used for $1 or less at garage sales. If you are not the garage sale type, many towns have vinyl shows where tens of thousands of LPs are offered for $1 each and up. Often this is music that can't be purchased on CD at any price. Pick up a new cartridge for your current turntable starting at about $50, or buy a properly designed and set-up turntable / cartridge package starting at about $349 and you are good to go. You can even get a set-up that will easily allow you to convert your LPs to digital music for you to store on your iPod or writable CDs. If you happen to need a phono preamp, you can get one in the $129 range or more. After that, buy 35 LPs for the cost of 2 CDs, clean them up, and listen to a sound that, in some ways, trumps the sound of many CD players.
If you are already set up for vinyl, there are a few, “next steps”, that will improve your listening without spending a lot. If you have a decent quality turntable with a cartridge older than three years, you need to replace the cartridge so you don't harm your records and so you get quality sound. If you are already a record listener and are buying used LPs consider getting a record cleaning machine from Nitty Gritty or VPI? These machines wet wash the record and vacuum out the grooves, picking up any grunge and giving you a pristine surface for the best sound possible. We find the semi-automatic machines give the best balance of price and ease of use, but the manual ones do the same job and start at only $389. That's not bad for making those grit-filled grooves, and the music in them, shine!
Personal listening - When was the last time you listened to music through a really good pair of headphones, the type that truly rivals the sound of good speakers, and simply enjoyed your music on your own? It can be a treat with a pair of Grado headphones or ear buds starting at $49. Unlike the cheap headphones that come with portable players, these are true high end transducers that can be used with your home system or with a portable player. If you don't have a headphone output on your system, that's only a minor problem. A headphone amplifier can be added for a modest investment. Give yourself some private time. You deserve it.
Gerry Adds His Personal Thoughts
There are a couple of other items in the $1,000 - $2,100 range that I am convinced can improve even the best of systems. I just love these items. While they are "Bang for the Buck" worthy, the above discussion was confined to less costly improvements. If you are interested in the others, ask us. We will be glad to show them to you.
When you can make a large improvement in your system, you should. We will help make sure the rewards are worth your time and money. If you can't make a large equipment upgrade, try the enhancements listed above. I am sure you will be very happy with the improvements you get. I have tested and installed almost all of them on my home system, and I look for the same "Bang for the Buck" as you do.
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