What's holding you back?

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  • 09-05-2005, 06:29 AM
    Feanor
    What's holding you back?
    I am curious to know what other people feel are the two or three factors that most hindering their enjoyment of reproduced sound???

    To be sure, there is lots of discussion of equipment and media. And for me there have been time when these things have been my biggest irritant. (Still is with my HT set-up where speaker quality awaits my time & money for a DIY project I have in mind). But where my main system is concerned they have cease to be the big thing (for now).

    My list follow; let's see yours:
    1. A distant first for me is recording quality. To be clear I'm not talking about medium, (vinyl vs. CD vs. high-res); good and bad recording exist on each. As a mainly classical listener, I'm looking for a realistic semblance of an actual ensemble performing in a good performance venue. Is this too much to ask? It isn't; and I can say the obviously because such recordings to exist. Just last night I listen to a good Naxos recording: Witold Lutoslawski's Symphony No. 3 and other works, 8.553423, (Antoni Witt/Polish National Radio Sym.Orch). This is an unexceptional recording in some ways; it is a standard Red Book CD that was recorded ten years ago and its reproduction of, e.g., string sound isn't as almost perfect as some SACDs I own. However it has the essential quality I mention above, plus more than decent performance I would say: recommend. By contrast, last night I also listened to Elgar's Enigma Variations and Pomp & Circumstance Marches on Sony Essential Classics, SBK-48 265, (Barenboim/LPO): murky, airless, and lacking in dynamics -- a disgraceful reproduction that does not do justice to these colorful works. (IMO, a second rate performance too especially of the Pomp & Circumstance.)
    2. Second for me is my general listening environment. My main system is located where too much general household noise intrudes. Improvements will be difficult and costly.
    3. Third is listening area itself. There are bass resonances and, I suspect, secondary reflects that are significantly detracting from idea frequency response.
    You can see that my equipment is nothing special, barely beyond entry level, but I have no serious problem with it. The tube versus solid state and digital versus vinyl debates are farcical from my perspective. My SS equipment can reproduce the best CDs almost ideally -- apart from the factors I mention above.
  • 09-05-2005, 07:10 AM
    Wireworm5
    For me the limiting factor is the quality of the recording. I am fortunate that I lucked out on good room acoustically speakering. And I have the luxury of playing the tunes at loud volumes. With 9 speakers and a sub, a good remastered cd or DTS recording is as close to live as I can imagine. My best reference disc would be The Blue Man group Complex dvd, the 3 DTS tracks on side two. It is freaking awesome!!
  • 09-05-2005, 07:58 AM
    Kaboom
    Time.
    certainly time.
    I don't usually have the time to be able to sit for two hours or more and just LISTEN to music. hopefully when i've passed the 8 courses i failed i'll have a little more.
    ATM, my speakers are definately pulling down the rest of the equipment. These will be replaced soon, but i had a string of expenses during the summer which has seriously hit my account.
    Also lack of decent vinyl here in spain. The little vinyl there is are crappy spanish pressings which are usually very worn. on top of that, they are expensive. Not that getting decent pressings off ebay makes the situation any cheaper...
    Oh yeah and in spain stuff like Porcupine Tree's back catalog or Wobbler's release are absolutely impossible to find. If it weren't because the economist says otherwise, i'd definately qualify spain as "third world".
    Cheers!
  • 09-05-2005, 01:54 PM
    Florian
    Well to truly judge a recording one needs a reference system. Unfortunatly these are very rare. But the new recordings are generally not very good. Before i say all recordings are bad i have to establish a world reference. In order to get there i need the following

    2x Modified Conrad Johnson P5's,
    1x Modified Jadis P80
    2x Krell Digital Active Crossovers specifically developed for my speakers
    1x Krell X64 DAC
    1x Goldmund CD63
    1x 75m2 room, fully treated.
    1x Forsel Airtight TT
    1x Goldmund Ref.3 TT
    1x Audio Reseatch Reference Phono

    So the biggest thing standing in my way is the money. But its only a matter of time :D
  • 09-05-2005, 04:20 PM
    Feanor
    So it's dough, eh, Florian?
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Florian
    Well to truly judge a recording one needs a reference system. Unfortunatly these are very rare. But the new recordings are generally not very good. Before i say all recordings are bad i have to establish a world reference.
    ...
    So the biggest thing standing in my way is the money. But its only a matter of time :D

    Seriously, though ...
    1. You don't actually need a "reference" system. My pile of crud is sufficient for the purpose;
    2. Generally, newer recordings are better, at least in the classical genre.
    Point 1 really gets to the root of the issue for me. Basically I can enjoy good recordings pretty much to their potential with what I've got; it's the good records that are too scarce.
  • 09-05-2005, 10:26 PM
    Florian
    I cheerfully disagree with you on point one, there are many recordings where i found nothing special about them until i heard them on the equipment mentioned above.

    -Flo
  • 09-06-2005, 05:06 AM
    GMichael
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Feanor
    Seriously, though ...
    1. You don't actually need a "reference" system. My pile of crud is sufficient for the purpose;
    2. Generally, newer recordings are better, at least in the classical genre.
    Point 1 really gets to the root of the issue for me. Basically I can enjoy good recordings pretty much to their potential with what I've got; it's the good records that are too scarce.

    Crud? Can I have your hand-me-downs?

    Time is the biggest hold back for me. That and the cash needed to buy some of the "crud" you don't like. Dibs on the planners......
  • 09-06-2005, 05:12 AM
    Feanor
    No! 'Fraid not
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by GMichael
    Crud? Can I have your hand-me-downs?

    Time is the biggest hold back for me. That and the cash needed to buy some of the "crud" you don't like. Dibs on the planners......

    Mine might be "crud" relative to Florian's stuff, but I do like it. Really, it was my main point that other stuff, not my equipment, that's restricting me.
  • 09-06-2005, 05:15 AM
    Sir Terrence the Terrible
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Florian
    I cheerfully disagree with you on point one, there are many recordings where i found nothing special about them until i heard them on the equipment mentioned above.

    -Flo

    Word on that Florian. To take your thoughts further, I think you need reference equipment, and a reference room.
  • 09-06-2005, 05:15 AM
    Feanor
    Time is a biggy for me too.
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Kaboom
    certainly time....Cheers!

    Nevertheless I left it out my list of complaints.

    I do you have an iPod Mini with decent AKG headphones that let's me enjoy music when I otherwise couldn't, e.g. commuting to work. Granted, the enjoyment is not as great.
  • 09-06-2005, 05:18 AM
    Feanor
    I'll concede this, Flo
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Florian
    I cheerfully disagree with you on point one, there are many recordings where i found nothing special about them until i heard them on the equipment mentioned above.

    -Flo

    Equipment of sufficient quality can be a revelation. Indeed, that was the case for me when I when from NAD amp to my current Bel Canto.
  • 09-06-2005, 05:25 AM
    GMichael
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Feanor
    Mine might be "crud" relative to Florian's stuff, but I do like it. Really, it was my main point that other stuff, not my equipment, that's restricting me.

    Dang! I was already making room for them.
  • 09-06-2005, 11:16 AM
    Florian
    I am not saying that you cant tell the difference on good equipment, just saying that on a reference system some recordings that i didnt like were actually pretty good.

    Thats all

    -Flo

    PS: I rocked too once to a 500$ stereo :p Its all good.
  • 09-06-2005, 11:54 AM
    daviethek
    a bit of both....
    Interesting discusion. For me the grief is having a huge number of badly engineered CD's. Top be more exact, a large number of CD of my favorite music that may or may not have been recorded properly digitally or transferred properly from analog. Since CD quality varies so much, and my system has improved, reviews are now an important prerequisite for my purchases. My new system has more resolution than I am used to and I am finding some merit even in the bad CD's. Anyway, the second problem is listening enviornment. It is difficult to achieve perfection in this area. In the systems photographs I see on this site and others, audio hobbyists have really set aside some large dedicated listening spaces, most of which would not pass the wife test in the real world. I would like to design a room just for 2 channel listening. This can be done by giving the wife substantial leeway in maintaining an equally expensive hobby. Dedication is another thing. I am making a firm committment to watch less TV. It is largely drool and has not improved in my lifetime. After the news the TV goes off and the listening begins.
    FM listening has improved significantly since getting a Dynalab tuner. dk
  • 09-06-2005, 01:36 PM
    ToddL
    Mine is simple: It is me. Some days I can listen to 20 year old skipping records through by buddy's minisystem and I love it. Some days I can listen to $10,000 Klipsch Horns with NAD amplifier hooked up with well recorded music and I hate it. Your brain is what interpretes music and mine is very day-to-day.
  • 09-06-2005, 03:50 PM
    theaudiohobby
    Room!Room!Room
    What's holding me back

    1. Room
    2. Room
    3. Room


    A dedicated listening that is acoustically treated will greatly enhance my musical joyment.
  • 09-06-2005, 04:56 PM
    Feanor
    I understand this well
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by theaudiohobby
    What's holding me back
    1. Room
    2. Room
    3. Room
    A dedicated listening that is acoustically treated will greatly enhance my musical joyment.

    I lost my (semi-) dedicated listening room when we move to a smaller house about a year ago. Now the living room is doing double-duty as a listening room. My wife isn't super fussy and has no real problem with my Magneplanars in there -- thank goodness for that. However as I mentioned, household sounds are a big problem, especially TV and video for the nearby family room.
  • 09-06-2005, 07:06 PM
    gonefishin
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Feanor
    I am curious to know what other people feel are the two or three factors that most hindering their enjoyment of reproduced sound???


    1. Lumbar surgery a month ago (l4,l5)
    2. A two level cervical fusion next week


    I've got a lot of the pieces downstairs waiting for me...but they've got just a bit longer to go. So I suppose I need a little more time. Soon though...soon :)

    take care all>>>
    dan
  • 09-06-2005, 07:28 PM
    Woochifer
    The room acoustics, the setup, and the quality of the source recordings are probably going to be the biggest culprits IMO for anyone who owns a decent component based system.

    The room acoustics are typically lousy in most homes, and are small enough to create huge nonlinearities in the bass response. Dealing with the acoustics IMO is priority #1, because it can uniformly detract from enjoying any system, whether it's an entry level system or a high end system.

    The setup is also important because getting the "sweet spot" optimized and making sure that everything is setup correctly (especially with analog components) is another frequently overlooked aspect that detracts from enjoying a system to the fullest. With multichannel setups, this is even more crucial because improper levels, delay timing, and subwoofer settings can significantly degrade what a system is capable of.

    For all the talk about recording quality and whether a "reference" system will bring out their best, the thing to keep in mind is that plenty of recordings nowadays are not optimized for playback on "reference" quality systems. And that probably includes most pop, rock, and hip hop recordings.

    The issue is that the majority of the audience for those music genres does not listen to music while sitting at home in front of an audiophile system. They listen in the car, on a portable device, through computer desktop speakers, through mini systems, etc. The recording engineers are well aware of that, and one of the most commonly used monitoring setups over the last decade was the Yamaha NS-10 near field monitor. The NS-10 has numerous inaccuracies in its tonal response, yet it gained in popularity in professional circles because it provided a great reference for optimizing recordings for car audio systems and smaller speakers. While that approach compromises the sound quality when played on higher resolution audio systems, it provides a sonic benefit to the majority of the listeners who buy (or download) those particular titles and mostly listen on the go.

    In the 70s, much of the sound in pop music tended to be optimized for the big JBL floorstanders. I recently heard a demo of the Eagles' Hotel California DVD-A (two-channel version), and was floored by how much better it sounded through a pair of Definitive Technology BP7002 floorstanders than on the Vienna Acoustics Mozarts and Martin Logan Montages. In listenings I'd done with other recordings ("better" recordings, if you will), I always thought that the Viennas far outclassed the Def Techs. But, this seems to be a case where a particular recording was optimized for how rock audiences in the late-70s likely listened to their music (i.e. the vintage JBLs and their many imitators), and it shined with the Def Techs, which better emulate the dominant approach of that past era.
  • 09-07-2005, 05:11 AM
    Feanor
    Good luck with that, gonefishin
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by gonefishin
    1. Lumbar surgery a month ago (l4,l5)
    2. A two level cervical fusion next week
    ...
    dan

    Best wishes for a successful procedure and quick recovery.

    (I'll be facing a coronary artery by-pass operation in a few months.)
  • 09-07-2005, 05:18 AM
    Feanor
    Gad! I hate to think ...
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Woochifer
    The room acoustics, the setup, and the quality of the source recordings are probably going to be the biggest culprits IMO for anyone who owns a decent component based system.
    ...
    The recording engineers are well aware of that, and one of the most commonly used monitoring setups over the last decade was the Yamaha NS-10 near field monitor. The NS-10 has numerous inaccuracies in its tonal response, yet ...

    Of my classical works being monitored with Yamaha speakers :( . Could explain a lot, though! But I guess most classical are done on speakers like B&W 801's (??).
  • 09-07-2005, 06:06 AM
    Worf101
    Ouch.....
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by gonefishin
    1. Lumbar surgery a month ago (l4,l5)
    2. A two level cervical fusion next week


    I've got a lot of the pieces downstairs waiting for me...but they've got just a bit longer to go. So I suppose I need a little more time. Soon though...soon :)

    take care all>>>
    dan

    Kinda puts it in perspective don't it. However, nothing like good, soothing quality music to speed and ease one's recovery eh wat? Get well and be well...

    Da Worfster :D
  • 09-07-2005, 10:26 AM
    topspeed
    Hey Dan,
    Best wishes for your surgery. I'm sure everything will be fine and now you can look forward to not enduring that constant pain you've suffered through.

    On topic, my biggest problem is room and time. I don't think I'll be completely satisfied until I can have a dedicated music room with enough space for a dedicated 2 channel rig and my drum kits. This way, I can play whenever I want, as loud as I want, and not worry about bothering the wife and kids.
  • 09-07-2005, 10:33 AM
    Woochifer
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Feanor
    Of my classical works being monitored with Yamaha speakers :( . Could explain a lot, though! But I guess most classical are done on speakers like B&W 801's (??).

    I don't think that classical recordings were monitored through the NS-10s. Like I said, it was primarily pop recordings, and the NS-10 provided an effective reference for the likeliest playback systems that would be used for those particular recordings. The NS-10 was discontinued about a year ago, and near field monitors from other companies such as Mackie are now more commonly used.
  • 09-07-2005, 11:19 AM
    gonefishin
    Thanks guys :) it's odd to say...but I'm really looking forward to it.


    Can't wait to get the downstairs system up and running again :) Oh happy days

    dan