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  • High End Systems for regular music sources?

    I read an interesting thread on another forum and looks at an important topic: does the higher quality system you put together make your ordinary recordings sound worse? The original poster stated he had put together a very nice system of over $75000, and sounds fantastic with high rez and audiophile vinyl pressings. But when he listens to ordinary pressings, redbook CDs, etc. it make the sound of them worse and not better. The more a system is able to extract, the more the defects and poor recording will come through on a higher end system. So I wonder, unless most of your music sources are higher quality LP pressings and high rez digital sources, is there a point to going after upgrades and making improvements on your system? If you own a lot of original pressings from the 50s through 80s, is it worth getting an extremely expensive cartridge, analog setup, speakers, etc? The trouble with audio shows again, that feature high end system, the sources they are playing are premium and wonder how the systems would sound with an ordinary LP or regular digital file. As I gradually build my system, the last thing I'd want to do is make a lot of my favorite LPs that aren't available in high end pressings to sound worse. Just wondering what your thoughts are on this topic.

  • #2
    Not that my system is the be all end all. I have a great number of records some on the lists of the best recordings out there others on no ones list of any kind.

    lesser recordings sound better on a good system than a lesser system great recordings just have the magic that I like. Good music poorly recorded is still good music it is just better well recorded. Not sure that helps any but I can put on any record I like the music on and enjoy it .

    You need the great recordings to get the magic of space depth and hearing things you had not heard before.

    Comment


    • #3
      As a rule of thumb the more revealing a system is, the more apparent the differences in the quality of recordings becomes. For instance, my current speakers have an extra octave of bass (20 Hz) compared to those they replaced.On a few of my formerly favored recordings this has revealed overcooked very deep bass that formerly wasn't apparent with the previous speakers. To me it seems that during production bass was cranked to sound good with speakers of lesser bass response.

      This is one reason why I prefer a preamplifier with tone controls which seems to be an anathema to the high end. Many recordings of the music I like are shall we say less than optimally recorded and produced. In many cases (certainly not all and unfortunately not the recordings described in the preceeding paragraph) use of tone controls makes the listening experience more pleasant. With better quality recordings the tone controls are bypassed.

      Which is why once the price of equipment you may be considering starts to become a little "uncomfortable", personally auditioning the gear you are considering is a must. Preferably in your system if at all possible. Reviews are nice but the reviewers personal tastes in music or sound may not align with your own.

      Comment


      • #4
        I don't agree that a better playback system actually makes inferior recordings sound worse. They sound better, (not as good as great recordings) than they do on mediocre playback systems.
        Magnepan 1.6 QR Loudspeakers, Amherst A-2000 MOSFET 150 WPC Amp, Conrad Johnson PV-10A Modded Tube Line & Phono Stage, Electrocompaniet MC II Class A Head Amp, Audio Technica AT-OC9XML Cart (Stereo) , Graham Engineering 2.2 Tonearm (Stereo) , VPI Aries-1 Turntable (Stereo) , VPI Clamp, Denon DL-102 Cart, (Mono) , Luxman Tonearm (Mono) , Kenwood KD-500 Turntable (Mpmp) , Michell Clamp, Marantz 20B Analog FM Tuner, Pioneer SACD, Onkyo DX-6800 CD Transport, DIY 24B/192K DAC, Sennheiser HD-650 Headphones, Headroom Max Balanced Headphone Amp, DIY Silver Interconnects

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Analog21 View Post
          I read an interesting thread on another forum and looks at an important topic: does the higher quality system you put together make your ordinary recordings sound worse? The original poster stated he had put together a very nice system of over $75000, and sounds fantastic with high rez and audiophile vinyl pressings. But when he listens to ordinary pressings, redbook CDs, etc. it make the sound of them worse and not better. The more a system is able to extract, the more the defects and poor recording will come through on a higher end system. So I wonder, unless most of your music sources are higher quality LP pressings and high rez digital sources, is there a point to going after upgrades and making improvements on your system? If you own a lot of original pressings from the 50s through 80s, is it worth getting an extremely expensive cartridge, analog setup, speakers, etc? The trouble with audio shows again, that feature high end system, the sources they are playing are premium and wonder how the systems would sound with an ordinary LP or regular digital file. As I gradually build my system, the last thing I'd want to do is make a lot of my favorite LPs that aren't available in high end pressings to sound worse. Just wondering what your thoughts are on this topic.
          That is a great question/observation and I think the problem is when one gets into generalizing about things.

          Sure the quality of recordings is all over the place and some LPs/CDs/Tapes have a much higher ceiling than others. There are recordings that reveal their limitations on any scale system and others that continue to reveal more and more about themselves as the system improves. I think a bad recording sounds bad on any system and personally sometimes a bad recording sound worse on a lesser, than great system too (such as when the system has an issue in the exact same area as the recording). But isn't it natural that we are drawn to those recordings with higher ceilings and better sound? But I will say that there are an awful lot of good to great recordings out there! More than we think as one continues to explore music.

          That said, I think one of the issues is when a system becomes "unbalanced" or "tilts" toward one particular area say just the borderline of edginess in its presentation, thus emphasizing flaws. Such as when a system becomes too detail oriented (we could also have a thread over whether ones system falls into the category of "everything should sound good" or "hearing the recording as it stands."

          One would also need to know what things are deal breakers to the listener and what flaws we are talking about. For me, I can listen through just about everything but edgy or bright recordings. Those I deal with by turning down the volume knob. But I can often listen through other issues such as too much or lack of bass, compression, two dimensional soundstage (well that does bother me too), lack of midrange presence, etc.
          Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
          Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
          ________________________________________

          -Zellaton Plural Evo speakers
          -Goldmund Telos 300 stereo amp
          -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
          -Doshi EVO and Goldmund PH3.8 phonostage
          -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
          -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
          -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga Mk. 2, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
          -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
          -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 6, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
          -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz 3 racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA OHIO Class 2.1+ platforms.

          Comment


          • #6
            Just to further clarify, the final sound quality when you play a recording is a combination of the recording quality and the playback quality. If one assumes the recording quality is fixed and is poor, increasing the playback quality still improves the final sound quality, however slightly, not makes it worse.
            Magnepan 1.6 QR Loudspeakers, Amherst A-2000 MOSFET 150 WPC Amp, Conrad Johnson PV-10A Modded Tube Line & Phono Stage, Electrocompaniet MC II Class A Head Amp, Audio Technica AT-OC9XML Cart (Stereo) , Graham Engineering 2.2 Tonearm (Stereo) , VPI Aries-1 Turntable (Stereo) , VPI Clamp, Denon DL-102 Cart, (Mono) , Luxman Tonearm (Mono) , Kenwood KD-500 Turntable (Mpmp) , Michell Clamp, Marantz 20B Analog FM Tuner, Pioneer SACD, Onkyo DX-6800 CD Transport, DIY 24B/192K DAC, Sennheiser HD-650 Headphones, Headroom Max Balanced Headphone Amp, DIY Silver Interconnects

            Comment


            • JCOConnell
              JCOConnell commented
              Editing a comment
              I don't follow. What do you mean by well pressed?

            • Johnny Vinyl
              Johnny Vinyl commented
              Editing a comment
              There are plenty of good recordings that are pressed on poor quality vinyl or just badly pressed. Then there are differences (sometimes fairly major) between country of release.

            • JCOConnell
              JCOConnell commented
              Editing a comment
              I don't believe they actually sound better on lower fidelity playback systems

          • #7
            I would not hold back on buying top self gear for fear my records will all sound like crap they will not. Better gear gives in many ways. better recording give more.

            1 lower noise floor this is a ya gotta hear for yourself to believe in it

            2 sound stage depth width

            3 placement the voice is not just heard you can picture where it is coming from

            4 violins sound like violins ect ect

            5 music does not just click on then off each thing that is played starts builds and fades

            6 the way the music is felt heard is richer ( will you are poorer odd about that )

            7 I have never felt bad about buying gear that made the music more life like no matter what it cost.

            8 buy the stuff you like

            9 if it gets the bass right the rest seems to fall into place. not all the time but a lot of the time.

            10 it is just more




            Comment


            • #8
              I am aware of that thread, and had posted to it. The overwhelming majority of records that I am interested in are not "audiophile" records- they include standard issue pressings from the major labels in the US and abroad, and more obscure or forgotten stuff, including material on small or independent labels. Most are older releases. Some of them are just spectacular sounding, some are OK, sonically, and some, not so good. In other words, all over the lot sonically. For newly released music, I'll buy the standard issue and yeah, sometimes it just sucks. Flat, dead, lo-rent digital source, crappy mastering, crappy vinyl.
              I've also had so-called audiophile remasters that sound far worse than the original pressings- one was the Janis Ian record that Myles and a few others will remember that prompted Janis herself to join the forum and post an explanation/apology of sorts; another is a blues record on a small label -Leo Records- the original is great, the piano is recorded in full bloom, though the vocals are overloaded. The audiophile re-do, which was labelled with all the right nomenclature, down to the fancy wire used in the mastering suite, sounded dead and lifeless, no, weight, heft or harmonics to the piano.
              If I limited myself only to "audiophile" branded remasters, I would probably lose interest in listening. Not that i am against them-- some of them are great sounding and/or are way cheaper than finding a mint original. But, you are limited, because in most cases, the quality reissue houses re-do records they know have a market. That's why you see the same warhorses getting reissued for the thousandth time. Makes sense, since some obscure record, even if super collectible as an original, probably won't sell many copies. These get bootlegged, or reissued by some iffy labels out of Italy which are basically needle drops from a CD. They sound, for the most part, awful.
              A lot of the rare, obscure and offbeat stuff just doesn't get reissued or reissued by a good label. (I'm not bitching here, just making an observation). So, the sad reality is, you are going to have records that are better and worse. It doesn't stop me from buying or listening to the lesser ones if I care about the music- I just take off my "audiophile" hat.
              This is also what forces me to hunt down better pressings of older records that I like. And I will wind up with a dozen copies of the same record. Dumb, I know, it's "audio obsession" with records as opposed to gear.

              Comment


              • JCOConnell
                JCOConnell commented
                Editing a comment
                yeah, but to get to the point, do you believe these lesser quality recordings sound better or worse on a high end system compared to a low end system?

              • Bill Hart
                Bill Hart commented
                Editing a comment
                I dunno. I don't have a low quality system for vinyl, and I'm not saying that to be a snob. There are other systems in the house for listening to streaming/CD that are more of the HE variety, but none with a turntable. And since I am turntable only in my main or serious system, I have no basis to compare. A bad sounding record is going to be a bad sounding record, no? But, sometimes, I guess, records that are juiced or analytical can make up for deficiencies in a system, so those might sound better on a lower quality, less neutral system. I could argue it the other way too, I suppose. You get to hear more on a really good system, so what you think is a bad record may not be so bad. I think to some degree, sometimes a large degree, people's perceptions of a particular recording are based partly on listening bias and partly on system synergy. I know some people will swear that those Led Zep remasters on vinyl from a few years ago sound terrific- quiet, clear, punchy. To me, they sounded very much like a CD in the negative sense- arid, lacking in air, very flat presentation. So, just as there is no absolute in gear--probably no absolute in particular recordings. Some are recognized as great consistently across the board, but once you get into the weeds- stuff that is not a known sonic killer- i think there are degrees of acceptability that may jive with the system it is being played on. Did I answer your question JCO?

              • JCOConnell
                JCOConnell commented
                Editing a comment
                I guess you could luck out in a few circumstances, i.e. playback a record with too little bass on a low end system with too much bass that corrects the problem. But on the whole, I believe that the higher the quality of the playback system the better overall sound, regardless of recording quality.

            • #9
              My system is very musical, perhaps not as revealing as today's state of the art. I only listen to redbook CDs and even the poorest recordings are still enjoyable to hear. When I tweak those CDs with Optrix and degauss them I can hear the improvement. For me it's all about the music. Sure a better recording will sound better, but if the music isn't great, it makes little difference. Great music with a terrific recording is what we are all looking for to get that emotional connection we get from live music we love.
              Thiel 7.2s, Manley NeoClassic 250s, Wadia 850, MIT Oracle V3 speaker cables, MIT MI-350 Oracle interconnects, Black Diamond Racing Shelves and Cones in a dedicated room with ASC Tube Traps, Room Tunes and 3 X 20 amp dedicated circuits.

              Comment


              • #10
                I have to say, the way I built my system up I do tend to rotate the audiophile stuff more often than not. Guilty as charged. I don't ignore the rest of my library because I like the music so much, but the audiophile releases is what I grab for first when I want to melt in good sound and good music.
                Kronos Sparta -> Trinity Phono -> Trinity Pre -> CH Precision A1 -> Magico S7s

                Comment


                • #11
                  there's something to be said for tone controls. didnt we all once use the 'happy face' eq curve, c'mon you know you did. boost the bass, boost the highs and keep the mids flat. It working in the car and it was the only way to listen to a lot of the rock records i played. once i had a proper audiophile system at home (sans bass & treble controls) it just wasn't the same. lets face it, most popular music is mastered poorly and there's few ways around it short of eq-ing it to death.
                  TechDAS | Graham Eng | ZYX | B.M.C. | Boulder | Magico

                  "Listening to Analogue music is an act of rebellion in a digital gulag" - Simon Yorke

                  Comment


                  • MylesBAstor
                    MylesBAstor commented
                    Editing a comment
                    I was thinking the same thing. And so was Mark Levinson when Dick Burwen and he did the Cello Palette. Just put it in the tape loop.

                • #12
                  Just because a system costs a lot doesn't mean its high quality, it's simply expensive! My own experience with natural musical systems is the exact opposite, ordinary recordings are the ones that sound right and one can hear exactly what the engineers did to crap in these so called audiophile pressings. For the most part I find them hifi and unnatural, typically a boosted bass and tweaked top end along with some filtering in the mids to homogenize the sound was much as possible. But depending on your tastes YMMV!

                  david

                  Originally posted by Analog21 View Post
                  I read an interesting thread on another forum and looks at an important topic: does the higher quality system you put together make your ordinary recordings sound worse? The original poster stated he had put together a very nice system of over $75000, and sounds fantastic with high rez and audiophile vinyl pressings. But when he listens to ordinary pressings, redbook CDs, etc. it make the sound of them worse and not better. The more a system is able to extract, the more the defects and poor recording will come through on a higher end system. So I wonder, unless most of your music sources are higher quality LP pressings and high rez digital sources, is there a point to going after upgrades and making improvements on your system? If you own a lot of original pressings from the 50s through 80s, is it worth getting an extremely expensive cartridge, analog setup, speakers, etc? The trouble with audio shows again, that feature high end system, the sources they are playing are premium and wonder how the systems would sound with an ordinary LP or regular digital file. As I gradually build my system, the last thing I'd want to do is make a lot of my favorite LPs that aren't available in high end pressings to sound worse. Just wondering what your thoughts are on this topic.
                  Manufacturer: American Sound Turntables and The Nothing Rack
                  Distribution: NEODIO

                  Special Sales: van den Hul
                  Industry Representation: Lamm, Kharma OLS Speakers, Ortofon, ZYX, Keith Monks, Audio Desk, Jensen Transformer, Venta Airwasher

                  Unique Items: Vintage Horn Speakers
                  http://www.audionirvana.org/forum/ti...stening-room-1
                  http://www.audionirvana.org/forum/ti...earfield-setup

                  Comment


                  • david k
                    david k commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Over time many of us have found out that next best thing is often an illusion or false promise, my own system has stayed more or less the same for the past twenty years, what I've improved on is the setup, not the same thing as tweaks which I avoid like the plague. Musicality and current high end concepts don't necessarily go hand in hand.

                  • MylesBAstor
                    MylesBAstor commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Sure the LAMM gear isn't 20 years old!

                  • david k
                    david k commented
                    Editing a comment
                    ML3/LL1 are more recent, about 10 years now but the majority of my Lamm gear are pre 2000. I purchased the ML2 in 1998 and is the amp that I listen to most. My most recent purchase is the LP1 phono which came out only a couple of years ago.

                    david

                • #13
                  I rarely buy 'audiophile' recordings. I just get the music I want. I've yet to feel the need for tone controls- and if anything, most LPs (I don't really buy CDs except on rare occasion for the car) sound better on a good system (IME) than on a lessor one. When I play stuff for people that have never heard a high end system before (for example, clients for whom we have masted LPs) the universal comment is how good things sound compared to what they hear at home.

                  Comment


                  • #14
                    Originally posted by david k View Post
                    Just because a system costs a lot doesn't mean its high quality, it's simply expensive! My own experience with natural musical systems is the exact opposite, ordinary recordings are the ones that sound right and one can hear exactly what the engineers did to crap in these so called audiophile pressings. For the most part I find them hifi and unnatural, typically a boosted bass and tweaked top end along with some filtering in the mids to homogenize the sound was much as possible. But depending on your tastes YMMV!

                    david


                    I think David we have to differentiate between good components and putting them in a position to fail. We've both been in this business long enough to see many situations where people do a terrible job of installing or putting good, expensive equipment in horrible rooms (or according to the interior designer) with predictable horrific results. In fact, you could argue that you can get worse results with more expensive speaker more easily than smaller, less expensive transducers. I've seen a few doozies over the years that would have people rolling on the floor.

                    Years ago, I remember either Stereo Review (or Audio?) featuring this custom designed audio system where the Magnepan MG3 speakers were actually put in a closet in the listening room. You just opened the door to hear the speakers and closed it to hide them. WTF?
                    Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
                    Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
                    ________________________________________

                    -Zellaton Plural Evo speakers
                    -Goldmund Telos 300 stereo amp
                    -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
                    -Doshi EVO and Goldmund PH3.8 phonostage
                    -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
                    -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
                    -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga Mk. 2, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
                    -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
                    -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 6, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
                    -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz 3 racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA OHIO Class 2.1+ platforms.

                    Comment


                    • #15
                      Originally posted by Garth View Post
                      I would not hold back on buying top self gear for fear my records will all sound like crap they will not. Better gear gives in many ways. better recording give more.

                      1 lower noise floor this is a ya gotta hear for yourself to believe in it

                      2 sound stage depth width

                      3 placement the voice is not just heard you can picture where it is coming from

                      4 violins sound like violins ect ect

                      5 music does not just click on then off each thing that is played starts builds and fades

                      6 the way the music is felt heard is richer ( will you are poorer odd about that )

                      7 I have never felt bad about buying gear that made the music more life like no matter what it cost.

                      8 buy the stuff you like

                      9 if it gets the bass right the rest seems to fall into place. not all the time but a lot of the time.

                      10 it is just more



                      Great points and why we are in the hobby.

                      It is interesting when we discover what we thought was a flaw in the recording is actually what we are using for playback.

                      I have to say that if you get soundstaging right, you will in a majority of cases get tonality right. When you nail bass, you nail imaging and tonality too. Bass is king.

                      Noise, or the lack of ot in the system, allows everything else in the recording to bloom. It's more than masking because it's a non-linear effect.

                      Just some random thoughts.
                      Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
                      Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
                      ________________________________________

                      -Zellaton Plural Evo speakers
                      -Goldmund Telos 300 stereo amp
                      -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
                      -Doshi EVO and Goldmund PH3.8 phonostage
                      -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
                      -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
                      -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga Mk. 2, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
                      -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
                      -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 6, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
                      -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz 3 racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA OHIO Class 2.1+ platforms.

                      Comment

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