• 01-17-2008, 08:05 AM
    Most Impressive/Dissapointing Audio Setup You've Heard
    I guess the title sums up the purpose of this thread, so no need for a long explanatory paragraph:

    What's the most impressive and/or dissapointing audio setup you've heard?

    Most Impressive for me (but by no means, most expensive)

    This was almost a three-way tie between the following (I've listed them in order of preference from most favoured, though the differences are very minor).

    1) Monitor Audio GS20 + Musical Fidelity XT100 + Musical Fidelity X-Ray v8 (total cost about $6K)
    2 Monitor Audio GS20 + Audio Refinement Complete Integrated Amp + Audio Refinement Complete CD Player (total cost also about $6K)
    3) Final Sound 400i (Electrostats!!!) + Audio Refinement Complete Integrated Amp + Audio Refinement Complete CD Player (total cost also about $6.5K)

    Most Dissappointing (not so much because of Price but I guess based on reviews and hype)

    Magnepan MG12 + McIntosh Integrated Amp + McIntosh CD Player (Not sure what the price was, but all products were new, in what was claimed to be an 'ideal' listening room at the dealer).... Maybe it was as the dealer claimed 'my musical' selection that was not right for the setup, but for me it was a major dissapointment.

    The weird part is that I always got the impression that planar speakers such as maggies were supposed to sound similiar to electrostats...Yet I really loved the stats I heard but disliked the maggies...

    Anyway, what are your most and least favoured setups?
  • 01-17-2008, 08:20 AM

    Originally Posted by Ajani
    What's the most impressive and/or dissapointing audio setup you've heard?

    Most impressive: HP's Nola Grand Reference based system. Completely recalibrated my point of view.
    Most disappointing: Bozak Grands driven with 70s McIntosh electronics. Not offensive, just dull. Cool light show, however, with wall of lights, meters, and scopes.

  • 01-17-2008, 01:45 PM
    I've heard a lot of wonderful setups. Probably the most "magical" sound I heard was from the Ohm F speakers I owned back in the mid 1970s. I've not heard a pair of those since so it'd be interesting to see what I might think of them these days. Unfortunately, that model is long since out of production. I auditioned the current model in my home a few years back. They still call it a "Walsh" driver but the construction is much different. It was pretty decent but in my book was completely lacking the ethereal magic I remember.

    I think the worst speaker I ever heard (limiting things to those speakers that had a pretense of quality) were the flat panel Bertagnis. This was also in the mid-to-late 70s when I managed a stereo store. I happen to like flat panel speakers (loved the electrostatic Quads I've heard and also owned a pair of Magnepans for several years) but in my book these things had no redeeming qualities at all. Since we had them in the store for a couple of months, it was not like I had only one listen under poor circumstances; there was nothing we could do - position, electronics or source - that improved 'em.
  • 01-17-2008, 04:08 PM
    Ohm F

    Originally Posted by mlsstl
    I've heard a lot of wonderful setups. Probably the most "magical" sound I heard was from the Ohm F speakers I owned back in the mid 1970s. ....


    When I first heard a pair of Ohm F's back in the early '70s, I was blown away. I had to have them and bought a pair after saving up for at least year, (I paid Cdn$1300). I kept them 4-5 years and selling them was the worst audio mistake I ever made. I bought a pair of B&W DM7's; it took me a while to realize it, they were real POS: no dynamics at all.

    My next audio revelation happen many years later when I compared my NAD C270 with a pair of Monarchy SM-70 Pro's, (which I now use). The Monarchys had level of resolution I hadn't experience before then.
  • 01-17-2008, 08:07 PM
    Interesting how different people can have different reactions. I've yet to hear a pair of B&Ws that has truly impressed me and I've heard many of them. They've always had an edge that I've found completely unnatural to me, no matter which model I heard.

    Of course, I'd admit the Ohms were not the last word in dynamics at volume, but they were extraordinarily power hungry beasts with a limitation on loudness. However, for the material I listen to most, well recorded mostly acoustic, I found them very emotionally satisfying.

    However, that just confirms that I think each of listens somewhat differently. I know fellows who never got past bass and sheer volume. I know others who look for imaging and soundstaging that you wouldn't even hear at a live concert. The list could go on endlessly.

    I'm very happy with the Spendor S8es I have these days. They throw a wonderful sound, but unlike the Ohms, their sweet spot is very small. As noted, it'd be interesting to hear a set of the original Fs after 30 years and see what I think these days. However, I suspect that'll never be anything more than speculation at this point.
  • 01-17-2008, 09:03 PM
    Mr Peabody
    I first mostly agree with mlsstl on B&W except some of their entry wasn't bad with Denon receivers and the Flagship Diamond might have been nice with better electronics. I also agree with Ajani on Maggies. The only stats I've heard were Martin Logan which I love but do not see what the fuss is about with Maggie.

    The magic may be when in my life I've heard these systems, I've heard some good stuff since but nothing that still topple these two from memory as the best. A lot could be set up, room and synergy.

    1) Krell's kps25, preamp/cd combo, driving 250 watt monoblocks into a pair of older Dynaudio Confidence 4's. I've yet to hear anything come closer to sounding like a live band in front of me, the sound, impact, image, size were all just right.

    2) Wadia digital to ARC preamp (model unknown) into ARC VT-100 driving a pair of Martin Logan ReQuests. I can list flaws with this presentation in coming close to accurate in many aspects but what still haunts me was the presence delivered by this audition. Have you ever walked in the dark and sensed you were about to run into something? It was that type of presence and sense of flesh on the bone given to the artist.

    I have to give honorable mention to hearing the Dynaudio Flagship Evidence pushed by Krell 650 watt monoblocks. Concert level, or higher, bass with the control and clarity of the finest hi fi gear. Probably #1 on the "wow factor" meter.

    The most disappointing was:

    1) A year or so ago I heard the new high end series of Classe components through a pair of B&W Diamond series, not sure which model. It struck me as a very odd sounding equipment. The sound was dead as if being played in a room with thick padding on every surface.

    2) it's odd that the same brand would be in both catagories but I was very disappointed when I brought home an ARC LS16 and their 150 wpc digital amp into my own t2.5's. I can only describe the sound as giving me a sense of gray, industrial and not musical at all.
  • 01-18-2008, 12:55 AM
    I was training in Birmingham and went to a local store that is a bit of a legend to hear
    some paradigm sig series.
    The guy was playing randy travis, and those were the absolute worst speakers I have EVER heard. He played some jazz, I still didnt like them.
    As for the "best", My interest in this was waning in the 90's when I sat down and listened
    to some B&W speakers, hooked to adcom gear.
    I had forgotten just how much I loved music, these sounded really good.
    Not a "hugh" experience, but a hugh effect.
    when I was a kid the store I hung out in (lived in?) had some mcintosh hooked up to some reference JBL, they werent the joke they are today.
    thats what really got me motivated to start this "hobby":1:
  • 01-18-2008, 09:20 AM
    most impressive:

    Avalon Isis, driven by Spectral gear, both amp, pre and cdp.

    Wilson Audio Maxx2, driven by Mcintosh MC501's; a C2200, a Wadia CDP, a VPI Aries 3 tt, Jadis phonostage, and $25k worth of Kimber cable Reference between them :)

    other Avalons, driven by Accuphase, spectral & Mcintosh

    The B&W diamond signature series (you know, those really exclusive new 2 way floorstanders), driven by an Accuphase A-45 poweramp, c2810 pre, and DC801 & DP801 transport & DAC.
    also with alot of kimber between them.

    and my setup, of course :)
    (there are plenty more impressive setups I've heard, but these are some of the more remarkable :))

    the most dissapointing: some really big Triangles, driven by an amp I can't remember. sounded muffled, dead, and without bass.

    and some other things I can't remember.

    Keep them spinning,
  • 01-18-2008, 10:14 AM
    Rigs that left the biggest impression on me: (can't remember model numbers)

    Best (tie):
    Wadia transport
    Wadia DAC
    ARC reference tube mono's
    Wilson WP7;
    stunning in its microdynamics, I have yet to hear a system that imaged as well as this. Auditioned in a dedicated, calibrated, acoustically treated room specifically for this system

    Sony SACD
    Electrocompaniet pre
    Spectral amp
    Von Schweikert VR11se's;
    massive in presentation, massive in sound, easily the most effortless system I've ever heard and more fun than most. Gets to the heart of the music.

    Most disappointing:
    Moon cdp
    Moon pre
    Sunfire amp
    Dynaudio Evidence Temptation;
    Cold, clinical, completely uninvolving. Actually checked to see if someting was wrong (there wasn't). That's how bad it was.
  • 01-18-2008, 09:42 PM
    Mr Peabody
    Topper the weak link in that system was the Sunfire. Put those Temptations on something that will drive them and you will sing a different tune. Also, I've noticed the Evidence speakers the size of the room seems to make a big difference. They must have been made to play in large rooms, that's where I've heard them sound the best. What you should get if driven properly is incredible bass, impressive highs and fast, dynamic response. We all have a preference of what we like but your statement isn't what is usually heard after experiencing Temptations. I also know Sunfire wouldn't be up to the task of driving the temptations to their potential.
  • 01-19-2008, 06:25 AM
    johnny p
    too bad I wasn't around during the Grateful Dead's "Wall of Sound" days........ Regrets.... I've had a few!!!
  • 01-19-2008, 07:15 AM
    At my now defuct audio store I heard the Apogee speakers driven by amps designed by Ed Meitner. This was my first glimpse into high end. The sound was incredible. I have since heard high end systems featuring the Wilson Watt/Puppies and Thiel loudspeakers but that defining moment always goes bact to the Apogees.

    Another great sound at the same now defunct audio store was Innersound electrostats. The speakers were great and the source was a Sony SACD player. Remembering how good that sound was I am wondering why I waited so long for an sacd player. I am glad someone gave me a nudge.