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What was the best value purchase you've made and why?


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This is an expensive pastime. Most of us are seeking improvements and following upgrade paths and it's an endeavour seemingly without end.

 

Whilst I love seeing threads about $100k+ setups or seeing that someone got a great deal from a retailer and paid $15k for a $20k pair of speakers, some of the best value ("bang-for-buck") upgrades and purchases happen a lot further down the spend-spectrum.

 

What was the best value spend you have made? What gave you the most improvement at a price-point that didn't get you a weekend in the shed for upsetting your spouse? A stand-alone entry-level DAC? A set of interconnects? A new cartridge on your turntable? What was it, and what made it great value in your eyes?

 

Here's mine:

 

I bought a Pro-Ject VC-S2 vinyl record cleaner for about $850. The results have been way beyond my expectations. Whilst it can't repair scratches or other physical issues, I have resurrected records that I thought I would trade-out to the $5 bins at record fares. Records that had so much crackle and associated static caused by ingrained dust and dirt down in the groove that a simple spray-and-wipe product did nothing for them. After running them through a cycle on the VC-S2, I experienced results way beyond my expectations. I'm quite fussy with the quality of my vinyl, so I do trade-out anything that doesn't meet my standards; my trade-out rate has dropped by about 80-90% since I got the VC-S2.

 

 

Edited by El Tel
Idiocy. And spelling. Mostly idiocy.
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For under 6 bucks a pack of four the benefits by reducing vibration induced distortion is hard to beat value.  

A pair of perfectly preserved Proac SuperTablettes, bought from a s/h furniture store in Adelaide several months ago. Apparently they had only just been dropped off and were sitting atop sundry other

This is an expensive pastime. Most of us are seeking improvements and following upgrade paths and it's an endeavour seemingly without end.   Whilst I love seeing threads about $100k+ setups

Nice idea for the thread.  Think for me in order of price paid:

1. ~$300 new SMSL M8 DAC; silly cheap for something that does a tremendous job - now delegated to the son's system which sounds way better than it oughta;

2. $350 second hand SSD MacBook Pro.  I know there are better servers and streamers and stuff out there; but it is just so easy to use as a music server and streamer.  Love the idea of an Antipodes setup but haven't got around to ditching the Jobs jobby yet.  Listening to the Vampires on Tidal now (cos Qobuz doesn't seem to have 'em.  Loverly.

3. $1600 second hand Consonance Cyber 800 monos.  My first valve power amps and likely to be around as long as I am.

Cheers - A

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Four Au-2900's and three Au-4900's all bought in one foul swoop on Gumtree for peanuts. They all sold for good bucks and they got me an LP12.

Au-7900 bought for $228 at a Tender centre just sold it for $1100 and it's helping finance either a new amp or a new cart.

 

And in keeping with the OP's original thoughts then I'd name the LP12 late model table for $1700 a bargain, with Cirkus and Ittok and Denon DL-304 LOMC. Still dining out on those Sansui's

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5 minutes ago, Luc said:

I'd name the LP12 late model table for $1700 a bargain

Yep. It is.

 

Whilst those a great acquisitions at low prices, and used in the most part to finance other spend, I was interested in intrinsic benefits as opposed to financial benefits.

 

One other revelation I had was how much benefit I got from a cork turntable mat that cost me less than 10 pounds back in the late 80s. That gave clear benefit for not much cost.

 

Keep 'em coming!

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I bought a DYNACO FM-3 valve tuner for $500 from Trevor Lees in Melbourne back in the day (1990s). It was modified to receive the proper FM signal here in Oz, and came with Telefunken 12AX7 output tubes and a complement of other excellent radio tubes. I connected it to my roof aerial and heard the most sublime sounding music  I had experienced from my system to date! This led to a deepening of my lifelong love affair with 2-MBS FM, and especially their live broadcasts; all this goodness was running into a Trevor Lees valve preamp and VTL stereo 75 amps driving the Martin Logan CLS speakers. 

 

I played it night and day for 25 years. Even now I miss it. It might have sounded a touch romantic and lush--but quite unforgettable on vocals, and with correct timbre of instruments.

 

[I have it in the garage but the tuning and sensitivity has 'drifted' and nobody can align it/fix it...several techs have tried] ?

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For under 6 bucks a pack of four the benefits by reducing vibration induced distortion is hard to beat value.

 

54fa3159-ba4b-4a68-b5cb-60186e73af09.jpg.4873018917598abef8e47a57ce04442c.jpg

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27 minutes ago, El Tel said:

One other revelation I had was how much benefit I got from a cork turntable mat that cost me less than 10 pounds back in the late 80s. That gave clear benefit for not much cost.

Look at 3mm cork/nitrile from a gasket supplier, works even better.

 

You see it sold at a mark up as mats on ebay.

 

Sometimes they have off cuts in their skip :D

 

Edit: While the cork/nitrile worked well on a Sonab 85s i had,  ultimately it depends on the TT, I went through different mats on my SR-838 and the original factory mat was best.

Edited by muon*
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6 minutes ago, muon* said:

Look at 3mm cork/nitrile from a gasket supplier, works even better.

 

You see it sold at a mark up as mats on ebay.

 

Sometimes they have off cuts in their skip :D

 

Edit: While the cork/nitrile worked well on a Sonab 85s i had,  ultimately it depends on the TT, I went through different mats on my SR-838 and the original factory mat was best.

 

This is a brilliant example of what I really want to hear. Great post.

 

TT mats are at the cheap end of the scale and one can experiment using a different medium (be it felt, cork, leather, neoprene etc) with little financial risk for high potential gain. I'm sure that many people new to the pastime would get great kicks out of cheap improvements like these ones.

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Another is a length of heat shrink on the tube of the arm to reduce resonance.

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1 hour ago, doogie44 said:

I bought a DYNACO FM-3 valve tuner for $500 from Trevor Lees in Melbourne back in the day (1990s). It was modified to receive the proper FM signal here in Oz, and came with Telefunken 12AX7 output tubes and a complement of other excellent radio tubes. I connected it to my roof aerial and heard the most sublime sounding music  I had experienced from my system to date! This led to a deepening of my lifelong love affair with 2-MBS FM, and especially their live broadcasts; all this goodness was running into a Trevor Lees valve preamp and VTL stereo 75 amps driving the Martin Logan CLS speakers. 

 

I played it night and day for 25 years. Even now I miss it. It might have sounded a touch romantic and lush--but quite unforgettable on vocals, and with correct timbre of instruments.

 

[I have it in the garage but the tuning and sensitivity has 'drifted' and nobody can align it/fix it...several techs have tried] ?

I went into Soundcraftsman in Caulfield back in the 1980s to buy a cheap tuner and walked out with a Tandberg for about x5 what I had budgeted for. 2021 and I still use it nearly every day.

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Bang for buck, two items:

An LPS for my Mac Mini from @Gieseler Audio

and the Incognito silver tonearm rewire loom I recently fitted to my RB303. 
 

in both cases, the outlay was between $400 and $600 but the return was on par with changing whole components at far higher cost. 

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ORB record flattener I bought 12 years ago from Japan.  I don't ever need to worry about warped or dished records - paid for itself in multiples, especially in recent times.

 

VCygOTo.jpg

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51 minutes ago, proftournesol said:

I went into Soundcraftsman in Caulfield back in the 1980s to buy a cheap tuner and walked out with a Tandberg for about x5 what I had budgeted for. 2021 and I still use it nearly every day.

 

The Tandberg was the top tuner at that time!  :thumb:

 

Graeme Rodwell let me listen to that after the Yamaha T2 ... but I walked out with the T2 - as I couldn't afford the Tandberg.  :(

 

Subsequently, I traded in the T2 for a T1.  Still would like to own a Tandberg.  :)

 

Andy

 

Edited by andyr
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When I was a kid,  saw these paper cone speakers that Tandy was discounting to some ridiculous price that only a 10yr old could afford,  bought 2 for what pocket money I had left,  stripped a 3.5mm broken  headphone jack and wired it with these speakers with 240VAC mains cable from a building site, plugged it into a clock radio and hung the speaker on the end of curtain rods on either side.....  turn on the clock radio and I was blown away by the sound stage.......  best money I’d ever spent ever.....

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15 hours ago, andyr said:

 

The Tandberg was the top tuner at that time!  :thumb:

 

Graeme Rodwell let me listen to that after the Yamaha T2 ... but I walked out with the T2 - as I couldn't afford the Tandberg.  :(

 

Subsequently, I traded in the T2 for a T1.  Still would like to own a Tandberg.  :)

 

Andy

 

I listened to the same 2 tuners, and, like you, couldn't afford the Tandberg.

I walked out with the Tandberg?

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Great thread topic!

 

The best value change I ever made was upgrading my digital front end in 2014 - of which the best value 'component' was the bit-perfect renderer RuneAudio which cost ...$0

The Raspberry Pi, DigiPro hat, LKS reclocker and chinese LPS units were also amazing value aspects of that change.

 

 

 

Edited by tripitaka
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A pair of perfectly preserved Proac SuperTablettes, bought from a s/h furniture store in Adelaide several months ago. Apparently they had only just been dropped off and were sitting atop sundry other furniture items on the footpath outside the shop. When I made an enquiry, the owner asked me what I thought they were worth and I cheekily suggested $120, which he promptly accepted!! Best value purchase ever!

Edited by Bisguittin
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Best value?

 

How about a cheap piece of plastic? 🤔 

 

Like the clearaudio little plastic clamp?

 

Record clamps are necessary to reduce time-based jitter...

 

 

...due to slippages over the surface of the platter.

But heavy weights made of metallic materials is not the answer - they create another problem, another more insidious problem - that of magnetic field interference.

The solution is a cheap pieces of plastic like the one sold by clearaudio - the souther clamp which grips onto the spindle and platter and prevents record slippage while at the same time, imposes no magnetic field interference onto the cartridge.

 

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2 hours ago, jeromelang said:

Best value?

 

How about a cheap piece of plastic? 🤔 

 

Like the clearaudio little plastic clamp?

 

Record clamps are necessary to reduce time-based jitter...

 

 

...due to slippages over the surface of the platter.

But heavy weights made of metallic materials is not the answer - they create another problem, another more insidious problem - that of magnetic field interference.

The solution is a cheap pieces of plastic like the one sold by clearaudio - the souther clamp which grips onto the spindle and platter and prevents record slippage while at the same time, imposes no magnetic field interference onto the cartridge.

 

Great product, but not so cheap nowadays in my view. 3-D printers are a wonderful thing🙂.

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My DEQX HDP3 purchased in 2010 with the Earth Works measurement mic - cost was between $3-4K...I can't remember exactly.

 

As a pre-amp/3 way active crossover/speaker correction/room correction single box solution it's hard to beat....

 

...after that - layers of Tontine Acoustisorb3 for room treatment.

 

Mike

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Without a doubt the Earstudio ES100 bluetooth/USB dac/amp dongle thingy. The most important piece of gear is the one you use most, that makes you able to listen to music more. I use mine daily. I lost it, and bought it again. 

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If you want cheap improvement to sound then follow these steps... place your fingers on both hands together, place hands behind your ears and gently slide hands forward till your ears are slightly bent forward.  Now hear the improvement.  Currently working on a head band to facilitate this as it gets tiring after 2 min....enjoy  i will keep you posted... ; )

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Trip down memory lane with my first ever purchase of a pair of Kenwood floor stand speakers on specials for $199 which i knocked off $20 when i was at high school.  These were a three way with a 10 inch bass driver.  I was into HT, and so i asked the JB hifi sales guy after what he had in terms of surround amps and rears and if he could do a deal on something.  So he cut me a deal for a Pioneer 50w x 5 dolby surround receiver, and some jensen tripoles all for $650.  And threw in some speaker cables (cant remember how many meters).. but essentially was my first HT setup and journey into audio...   

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I abandoned vinyl a while ago and have been exclusively digital for few years apart from the occasional CD.  I have a decent digital collection and was happy with Audivarna but my brains trust convinced me to switch to Roon, not for playback or library improvements but for its convolution software. I was reluctant to be messing around any further with software but I’d have to say that it has been far and away the biggest bang for buck in my audio life.
At a certain stage you are grateful for small percentage improvements for your arm and leg spending, but a Roon subscription - $150 a year - has  been equivalent to spending several bucketloads on new speakers.

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3, things for me

 

1, KEF 104.2 speakers, purchased new in 1985, I think they were $2,500. Ok, not cheap back then but I still enjoy them, probably still worth $750 so that’s great value over 36 years. (now being refurbished)

 

2. TEAC VRDS25 CD player. RRP $4,000. Circa 1997. Got it for less and expensive in the day but still enjoying it. Still worth a bit today I guess.

 

What makes these great value for me is learning that sometimes you just gotta spend to get what you truly want and when you’ve got exactly what you wanted, you’re less likely to keep changing and getting into the spending more and keeping less cycle. But hey, that’s the fun part.

 

oh and number 3

My first Australian HiFi magazine. Taught me heaps about the basics and improvements that can be gained for free, speaker placement, isolation, arm/cartridge set up etc, best bang for buck and now we get it all for free in this fab forum, pretty lucky eh.

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ME1500 power amplifier - paid $7990 in October 1987.

 

Sold it in 2012 for $6000.

 

Total loss over nearly 25 years = $1990 or roughly $79.60 per year.

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I had posted this but I guess it was in the “lost window” of posts that got deleted in the great hack of ‘21. 
 

Two best value purchases for me:

 

-Topping D10 DAC: got me off the DAC-of-the-month merry go round. Saved me a fortune. 

-BACCH4Mac crosstalk cancellation software. Apart from the speakers themselves this has been hands down, the biggest single improvement to my system (soundstage, instrument separation, tonality, realism). Easily paid for by selling my more expensive dacs 

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A pair of Beyer Dynamic headphones, bought for $50 off a fellow student back in my senior school years when I was a boarder. I had an Onkyo CD player and played it through a ghettoblaster (no prizes for guessing the weak link in the system!). But the headphones were great, and kept me going until I had more space (and money) to buy better components. 

Edited by Tone Malone
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On 24/04/2021 at 5:01 PM, Luc said:

Four Au-2900's and three Au-4900's all bought in one foul swoop on Gumtree for peanuts. They all sold for good bucks and they got me an LP12.

Au-7900 bought for $228 at a Tender centre just sold it for $1100 and it's helping finance either a new amp or a new cart.

 

And in keeping with the OP's original thoughts then I'd name the LP12 late model table for $1700 a bargain, with Cirkus and Ittok and Denon DL-304 LOMC. Still dining out on those Sansui's

Sansui AU-X1 for $5 on Ebay. Yes, it was broken and cost $200 in parts/labour to get it fixed up, but it was the best integrated I've owned. Unfortunately, it was the early model that was prone to oscillation, so when it went again (about 5-6 years later), I put it up for sale and got $800 in broken state.

 

So, best value purchase in more ways than one!

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PS Audio used to sell to me direct at wholesale, anything I wanted, which was very generous of them. Sooner or later everything broke down, I had it repaired under warranty, and I sold it in working order for what I paid for it. So they were all no-cost turnovers. I no longer get that crazy good deal, and I've since moved on to Esoteric products and haven't had a single break down in 3 years thus far. Except for a PS Audio powerplant which has broken down twice now, but PS Audio has been generous enough to cover out-of-warranty repair for me at no cost. Gotta be happy with that, but I'd rather the stuff wasn't prone to breaking down in the first place. I'm very happy with the Esoteric product.

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Posted (edited)
16 hours ago, Pigpen said:

ME1500 power amplifier - paid $7990 in October 1987.

 

Sold it in 2012 for $6000.

 

Total loss over nearly 25 years = $1990 or roughly $79.60 per year.

 

You could calculate that differently:

 

$7990 according to shadowstats would be over $120,000 today, and the $6000 in 2012 would be about $14000 today. So in todays money a cost of over $4k a year.

 

Alternatively the $6000 in 2012 equates to about $1000 in 1987 dollars, so 200 1987 dollars a year.

 

:)

Edited by dcathro
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9 minutes ago, dcathro said:

 

You could calculate that differently:

 

$7990 according to shadowstats would be over $120,000 today, and the $6000 in 2012 would be about $1400 today. So in todays money a cost of over $4k a year.

 

Alternatively the $6000 in 2012 equates to about $1000 in 1987 dollars, so 200 1987 dollars a year.

 

:)

I think you mean $19,000, don't you? And that's in the US...not here.

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Brought a pair of Audio definition STATIS speakers in great condition for $900 and $ 10’000 when new I love them and are definitely keepers

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I was buying a 10yo rotel amp from gumtree and the guy offered to throw in a "broken" 70s rotel amp which I thought I could play with and maybe get going. 
 

it sat untested in my garage for the better part of a year before I plugged it in and it just worked beautifully. Ran it for days and it never missed a beat. All I did was replace 2 x 50c globes behind the VU meters, dusted it off, chucked it on eBay and it sold for over 600 bucks!

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Posted (edited)

Got too many deals in the past. It's my little secret 😜

Edited by Sansui77
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Really not fussed about the timing factor...nice wallet wise if it happens...but then if your patient you catch up eventually...what comes round goes around...it's always been about the 'want' factor for me...(within reason! :) )

Years ago when the aussie dollar reached the magnificent high of $1.15us I lucked onto a minty pair of rarish Sansui SP-5000 speakers from the states...after much humming and hawing I pulled the trigger and from memory they co$t me around $500 (Ebay) and then another $200 to import...came beautifully wrapped up with cardboard and heavy duty shrink plastic on a mini wooden pallet and survived the trip undamaged and not a mark on the packaging...bloody heavy as, took the two of us to unload them from the back of the ute and carry the pallet inside the house.

Then I decided also to have them serviced and recapped to bring them up to spec sound wise...they were over 40 years old...time to refresh! 

Cost me around another $300 plus the long car trips to the Tech's home. Here they are being serviced...

684902024_SANSUISP-5000ONE.jpg.afdb47aa628cd5286115335d3b8724af.jpg

207564488_SANSUISP-5000TWO.jpg.e568c599716d6cfb424b02fd3ff9c05b.jpg

 

The crossover upgrade and internal acoustic treatment has improved the quality of sound, high frequencies are more refined, mids are cleaner and the bass is lower and tighter.

After the service they just sounded superb hooked up to my various Sansui Amps...just a warm analogue sound with just the right amount of clean detail to pull them out of cloying lushness...loud!!! and with an efficiency of 104db...very happy! Not sure if I will ever let these go...

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