A couple (or maybe three) years ago, NG, RH and CM did an article titled 6 Great-Sounding and Affordable Systems. I have yet to purchase a system based on your recommendations (hindered by financial struggles, I am using a late 90's Kenwood surround receiver with a pair of Boston Acoustics VR1s that I got on clearance), but still am planning on making a purchase. There are a few companies whose products I intently wait for reviews on (and for obvious reasons for any audiophile on a budget) : PSB, NAD, and OPPO Digital.
First of all, I wanted to ask if you guys plan on reviewing the successors to NAD's C 162BEE and C 272BEE pre and pro, the C 165BEE and C 275BEE. So...are you? I ask this because, although I'm sure there are new products just waiting to push the envelope, this combo has been on your "best of" list, at least for the past couple of years; and, since they have been replaced/updated, it only makes since that you would report on the changes and improvements between them and their predecessors. I am also interested in purchasing them in the future, especially if the phonostage is everything it was cracked up to be on the older models, as I would like to pair them with a Rega P-24 turntable. Really, in my opinion, reviewing the successors to all entries on your "best of" list should be a priority, but that is just my $.02.
Now, to the point of my post. I have read many times on this site, as well as in Mr. Harley's book, The Complete Guide to High-End Audio (which, by the way, are you working on a fourth edition?) that there is a synergy that exists between certain components, regardless of whether they are the same brand or not, that causes the system's overall performance to far exceed the performance of the individual components themselves, when their cost is taken into account. I, for one, would like to see more articles revolving around this "synergy". Considering the fact that, at least recently, the vast majority of the reviews that I have read about the products that the companies mentioned above put out (and I know that there are other brands as well that fit into this group of over-achievers) claim that they could be put up against products costing anywhere from two to several times their price. And, for example, if the OPPO BDP-83 could be compared to products costing four times its price, and you paired it with an amplifier and speakers that compete with products costing two to four times their prices, connected them with the "perfect" cables, THEN they all (together) have that synergistic component to boot, would you not end up with a system who's sound is worth many times the cost of its individual components? I mean, who WOULDN'T want a system like that? I know that this is what you guys are after as well, but I think that it would be in your interest to start another publication, or maybe a quarterly or semi-annual article, that focuses specifically on gear that not only performs well, but competes with/outperforms more expensive gear. Then you might somehow include a section that states how the component relates to other components synergistically. I know that in Playback, you have a list of "Playback Recommended" components. Maybe you could just take those products (products that have an exemplary performance/cost ratio), along with any other products that fit into the category that are/were not reviewed in Playback, highlight specific systems that have great synergy, and make it more accessible to readers. Or maybe you don't have a warehouse full of all of your favorite products from the last few years (or maybe you do), which would understandably make a task such as I have laid out somewhat impossible. Maybe the best we could ask for is a more frequent and updated version of the article "6 Great-Sounding and Affordable Systems" to give some of us more of a starting point in putting our systems together. So, could you please take this request into consideration. I KNOW that you guys are always busy following the ever-evolving industry that is high-end audio, but that is an article that would, in my opinion, be even more helpful than some of your reviews, especially to readers who don't have access to all of these components for auditioning, and to those of us who are on a tight budget as well (which, I presume, is a great percentage of us).
Specifically, I am curious about the synergy between the NAD pair and Rega turntable referenced above, Oppo BDP-83SE (which I know Mr. Martens is currently reviewing) and PSB Imagine speakers (probably Bs with a 5i or 6i sub), as well as a system consisting of the recently reviewed C 326BEE, Oppo BDP-83/BDP-83SE, and the new PSB Image speakers (all of them should be similar in all respects down to their individual capabilities in the bottom end, right?) or Alpha B1 (which I'm pretty sure, at some point in the next couple of years, Paul Barton and friends will be refreshing, which will be interesting considering the new Image B4's price in comparison). I realize that the latter system is similar to the "The Ground Floor" system of the original article, but it'd sure be nice to see how the newer components "synergize" with each other.
WOW!! If I were you reading this, I'd feel as though the person writing this was not only complaining, but telling me how to do my job better. Please know that I think what you guys ARE doing is awesome, and reading your reviews of these types of products makes me downright giddy. I am only sharing improvements that I think would benefit your site. Maybe what I am suggesting is too much. Maybe it wouldn't be as beneficial to your site as I think. But for sure I know it would benefit your readers, especially those of us who are on a budget and can't wait to assemble a system whose sound quality very much exceeds the system's cost; and I think you gentlemen would agree.
On a side note: Mr. Harley, in your book you give a list of the best dimensional ratios for a listening room (according to M.M. Louden). However, I noticed that your listening room, which you built from the ground up, was not necessarily built according to the ratios on the list. You say the dimensions were chosen due to modal distribution. Also, I've seen other ratios around on the internet. I'm a bit confused about that, but understand that there are many, many factors that go into designing a listening room. In any case, at some point in the future, I am going to build a dedicated listening/home theater room. Can a single room effectively accomodate both purposes? I would like to custom build a room for the speakers that I am going to purchase. Is this possible? Practical? One last thing: In your book, you talk about how a surround audio environment is best served with identical speakers in all positions. I've read several reviews where the reviewer used SACD or DVD Audio in their review of a "surround package" from a particular brand. My question is this: If the speakers all the way around are "timber-matched", can these systems compete with other systems where all speakers are identical?
I realize that this post is an article in itself. I apologize for any excessive commas and parenthetical statements. Thank you for reading my words. Thank you also in advance for considering what I have said. I am a big fan of your site, especially where it concerns over-achieving components like the ones I've mentioned above. I hope to finally have that "dream" system, or at least a budget "dream" system, soon. I also hope to join your GEC club when financial obligations allow. Thanks again.