i think Steve and electro have it right , if I was still trying to eat and drink myself into a comma I would more to say
Airport express > NAD C390DD > Dali Evidence 470
Sony BDP-S790 > Pioneer vsx 922 > KEF 2005.3 > Old Sony 32" widescreen CRT
all kinds of stuff in the attic
HiFi is what you want it to be , everyone has different priorities and ultimate goals when they buy equipment to listen to music .
I love live music and I go to live music events regularly and my aim when choosing and buying HiFi equipment is to reproduce at home the closest to that live music feeling that I can afford .
I am sure some people would hate the way my system sounds , others might like it , but to me it does a very good impression of the real thing .
I love the power and dynamics and the way I can literaly feel and hear the music , I look forward to listening to music every day and I constantly search for new music to listen to , the whole thing just gives me so much pleasure .
For me HiFi is a means to a musical end and I love HiFi because I love music .
And then there's fishing ..... but that is a different forum
This times ten! At least.
I have been immersed in live music all of my life, both profesionally and for pleasure.
Many systems, and almost all budget ones, sound soft and woolly, lack scale and presence and sound horribly compressed, even when the recordings are not.
I am accutely aware that trying to recreate a musical event in a domestic situation is extremely difficult and different people seem to find accuracy (as far as possible) in different aspects of the playback performance more or less important than others.
Anybody, even me, can play some music on a cheap system and happily play or sing along to material you know, but play something unfamiliar, a little more complex maybe and the better system will allow you greater insight and enjoyment.
There is an other issue too, for me anyway, and that is the clearly audible limitations of most budget (sub £2k) systems. I find it all to easy to get fixated on this issue, which I think (hope) I understand and make some adjustment for when expressing my opinion.
We do so many shows in a row,
And these towns all look the same,
We just pass the time in our hotel room
And wander 'round backstage,
Till the lights come up, and we hear that crowd,
And we remember why we came.
I can sympathise with what you are saying Dave. I have heard and disliked that overly soft and compressed sounding quality from some of the budget gear I've owned over the last few years. It is what always, in the end, leads me to part with affordable NAD amplifiers - along with the slightly hollow quality they almost always have in the bass (I haven't heard the new D3020 so can't comment on that one). However I have also had the same complaints about some very expensive set-ups I've heard.
Like you, I also have lots of experience of live music, both as a performer and an audience member and I work with some of the finest acoustic pianos in the world on a daily basis. I am yet to hear any hi-fi equipment of any price that can convincingly bring the sound of a piano into the listening room, even on the rare occasions where the recording makes that a possibility. Most hi-fi just does not have the scale or the tonal clarity and many systems don't even do enough to enable the identification of piano by maker - whereas if someone plays say a Bechstein grand followed by a Schimmel grand in real life I can easily identify which is which because of their distinctive characteristics. The closest I've come with hi-fi was hearing a very expensive Sugden set-up which incorporated huge monoblock power amplifiers and was massively expensive. The next best was a system put together by UKD using equipment by Unison Research and Opera, at the best part of £20k. Most of the 'normal' higher-end stuff I've heard (particularly Naim) just doesn't come close.
I'm sure Electro's system is something very special, but again, it runs into thousands of pounds. I don't be-grudge that because I'm quite sure it has been achieved through a lot of hard work, but that sort of equipment is way out of reach for the majority of us on this forum.
So therein lies the difficult decision, and one which I know you have had to grapple with yourself with your kit locked away overseas. Do you continue to pursue the realism target, knowing full well that you will never be able to spend the amount needed to get close to achieving your ends, or do you accept that those ends are unachievable, stop wasting time worrying about it, and settle for enjoying music through a neat and affordable music system?
Sources: Rega RP3/Elys 2 - Roksan Kandy K2 CDS Phono Stage Cambridge Audio 540P
Amplification: Exposure 1010
Speakers: Dynaudio DM2/6
Listening to MUSIC!
A number of very interesting points Mathew.
Firstly I think some perspective is in order, reproducing a pian (solo) is extremely difficult, but it can be done pretty well if you have the room and the budget. One thought that consistently comes to my mind is the expectation that a quality piano costing many thousands can be accurately reproduced by a hi-fi system costing just a few hundred, not really logical but the way I see it.
Top end systems in decent rooms are expensive but then so is a Bechstein grand so I have no problem with that but it is worth remembering that a lot of top end hi-fi is designed to sound like top end hi-fi. The industry has created it's own set of standards that have little to do with the music being played, 'soundstage' for example is an entirely hi-fi construct as is the idea of 'warmth' and 'naturalness' that is held in high regard by so many, particularly vinyl enthusiasts.
So few enthusiasts appear to have any idea how far from musical reality their systems actually are but then this has been the case for as long as i can remember. Taking 'civilians' into a recording studio or even onto a concert stage is invariably a salutory and often amusing experience, the number of times I have been asked to turn down live unamplified instruments..........
You mention my primary system, valves and ribbon hybrids, but expensive as that system was it has some sever compromises that I have had to learn how to deal with. The small speakers and (very) limited power means that large scale orchestral works are out of the question other than as background and even Mrs DDC's favourite Muse albums sound pale and anaemic even played quite loud. (And no, it is not the recordings in this case)
The trick to getting a system to work well for you is to determine what aspects of the playback is most important in making the music sound real to you and for me this does not appear to include too many of the 'classic' hi-fi atributes.
.....something for blokes to pontificate about, and then argue over......the enjoyment of music comes a distant third.
i hope you had a great Christmas CnoE! I can remember someone posting in a thread, either here or PFM: "...of course we all love music here..." - I burst out laughing. Sadly, I know a few who have a very, very narrow field of musical interest that's decidedly mainstream & never settle down with their system for long before changing something. They are usually rather vocal in stipulating their love of music. I take my hat off to those folk that really enjoy music without spending much outlay - maybe they'll discover the delights of a decent setup, maybe they won't.
I don't take issue with others' taste in music or how much of their disposable income they spend on playing it but the pretence of loving music sometimes grates. I'll start the ball rolling by admitting that the equipment is equally important to music. Having said that, I'll continue to listen to music that's poorly recorded rather than abandoning it as some suggest. Fortunately most of the music I listen to is well enough recorded.
as for defining what "Hi Fi" is, it's very simple - giving the purchaser the sound they like is far more important to most than "accuracy". Whether or not their friends agree is another matter.
"The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds - the pessimist fears this is true."
James Branch Cabell
MAIN: Apple TV2, Mac Mini (controlled from various iThings using Remote), CA Azur 751BD & Panasonic P42V20B into audiolab M-DAC, feeding a Primare A34.2 class D power amp via XLRs, 2x 5m of Atlas Ascent 2 firing up Totem Arros. DALI Kubik Free in my kitchen
ON THE HOOF: iPhone 5S/Sennheiser MM450.
I hope my post did not appear to be me showing off because believe me I am not a wealthy person . ( all relative I suppose ) .
I believe if you are passionate enough about something you just find a way to do it and make sacrifices elsewhere as I have done .
The most important thing when putting a HiFi system together is to know what you want to achieve before you start , otherwise it can lead to a road of constant swapping ,dissapointment and wasted money IMHO ,
Electrocompaniet EMC1UP Cd player , EC 4.7 pre , AW120 DMB power amp , PMC PB1i speakers . Isotek Titan / Nova , Nordost SPM speaker cable , Kimber KCAG balanced interconnects .
Linn LP12 Lingo , Ittok lv3 , Lyra Lydian , EAR834P .
"Everything should be as simple as possible, but no simpler." Albert Einstein .
That is of course completely correct in defining modern "Hi Fi".
The playback does not have to bear any relationship to the music as played and recorded as long as it is pleasing to the listener.
Glad we got that straight, it is something I have suspected for many years.......
i hope you had a great Christmas CnoE!
Thank you my friend, and the same back to you.
IME. A system stands or falls by the way it conveys the intention of the musicians, and stirs emotion in the listener. This is unlikely to be achieved by simply looking at measurements, or throwing money at it without practical experience.
"Everything has been said before, but since nobody listens we have to keep going back and beginning all over again." André Gide
Gents interesting topic going, it's really all about what makes us tick, one man's naim is another man's cyrus so to speak
I've set some great systems (to my ears) up in the past, and have always been amazed at how customers interpret things differently. Likewise the 'there's no way they will buy that' system has on occasions been the one the customer is most impressed with. So the bottom line is basically if it sounds good, and you have the funds, just go with it. Upgrades can come later lol
I think the art to a good system is one that you really want to show off to freinds and family again and again, if you can't do that because something sounds 'wrong' somewhere that's when you know you have a problem! Again, 'problems' within systems are also subjective.
Hope everyone had time for a good festive listen in any case!
Nick Slater (Store Manager)
AudioAffair, now including Faithful Audio
It's a term describing vacuum sucking out your wallet. Although I've heard it used in spousal arguments as "Its either Hi-Fi or prostitutes, your choice!"
I like this
So do I
I think Peter Walker summed it up with his quote “Faithful to the original” unfortunately most Hi Fi Nuts haven’t been to a live concert for ages, so have no idea what a system should sound like, thus they just buy something that suits what they believe to be real.
A good system should be fit and forget, and if you’re constantly tinkering to improve the performance, than you did not spend enough time listening before purchasing.
As to upgrades, then there will always be equipment that gives a better performance than what you have, thus you just buy the best you can afford, making sure it fits together seamlessly
I don't know what hi-fi is in absolute terms, but in relative terms - the more boxes you have, the more air inside each box, the more unpronounceable the name of each box, the less it gets reviewed on WHF, the more wires there are connecting each box, the more space all these boxes occupy in your living room, the more time you spend justifying your purchases, then the more hi-fi it is
Squeezebox Touch | Wadia 151 | Aliante Moda PF
I consider myself fortunate is having being brought up listening to classical music. I went to concerts in the Festival Hall, Albert Hall etc listening to music conducted by the likes of Barbirolli, Klemperer & more recently, Rattle & the CBSO. It certainly highlighted how far even a good stereo system falls short - brass instruments generally lack the most in my own experience. My view is that equipment has got better in the intervening years at reproducing classical. My experience of listening to live acoustic music does give me some idea how it should sound at home so I do want a degree of "accuracy".
This means that some recordings sound poor. Classical music is generally adequately recorded but much pop is nothing short of appalling - usually the overuse of compression is to blame but I'm particularly sensitive to harmonic distortion where say a vocal clips to the point it sounds slightly buzzy. Some people have told that it's supposed to sound like it does - I don't buy that argument, I do know what deliberate distortion sounds like - I built a fussbox as a teenager. Intended distortion sounds like intended distortion. I take a lot of photos, I dislike slightly sloping horizons so correct them during post-processing. I also take many pictures at angles at times - they don't look like I've not corrected them, the angles are too extreme. The same applies to deliberate distortion - it's obvious.
The another area of reproduction that I pay great attention to is bass. It should never be so much as to "overhang" the midrange. This usually means a compromise in speaker placement that means some recording sound bass-light where others still have too much of it. I'm not alone in paying attention to the bass but I don't blame my equipment for recording variations. To my ears, bass should sound taught - quality over quantity. Trying telling many teenagers that!
To my mind, the choices we make regarding the sound we want is partly determined by the sort of music we generally listen to. If purely classical where the recordings are from indifferent to excellent, faithful reproproduction & capturing the essence is going to be very different to someone who listens to reggae at high volumes where power handling is paramount. For those of us with wide tastes requires a system compromised between detail & warmth. Who wants a system so accurate that most of their recordings are revealed in all their highly compressed glory or a system that's never going to move the listener out of a stupor?
That's why I refer to my system as my stereo! I've reduced the number of boxes. Radio duties are performed by my plasma which has a HDD hanging off a USB port. CDs, DVD & BR discs are spun in the same box. My DAC feeds directly into my power amp. I can't be doing with racks of monoblocks, PSUs, preamp etc. I even listened to a CD the other day
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