As Varied as the Audiophiles Themselves...

I'm speaking of their systems, of course! Yesterday, had an experience in just how wonderful and wacky high end audio can be. Leaned a few weeks ago of an audiophile nearby, whom I've become friends with. He's not an "upgrader"; bought his lovely (now) classic system about 20 some years ago: McIntosh 400wpc (or 450, can't recall) amps, pre and cdp. Klipsch speakers with massive 15" woofers and horn mid/tweets. Sadly, he's running them on Monster Cabling and a basic powerbar at the wall. Speakers are not decoupled from floor and worst, he elected to move the system upstairs from a generous living room environment to a tiny 10' by 12' bedroom.
Yet, he seems happy/content enough with it all.

He's after the "concert" effect, which means to him BIG BASS! And oh, boy does he have it! In addition to the Klipsch's, he's using an M&K badass powered sub with twin 12" drivers! This all in a 10x12 bedroom! He puts on the music and all I hear is WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! I told him it seems there's a T-Rex stomping around in the yard! (I wasn't hacking on it; just letting him know HOW much bass there is). He smiles - he LOVES the bone jarring bass!

But to me it was not bass, it was electronic noise. Frequencies so strong that they were almost like an earthquake; shaking things but not being heard well... The bass completely took over the presentation of the music. I could not get my mind off the SLAM! THUD! of it all and just enjoy the sound. Worse, this was all nearfield listening! We were sitting literally about four feet from the speakers! The speakers were along the long wall, and our seating position had us about arm's reach away from the Klipsch's!

Then we went over to my house; I have no slouch system, and plenty of low end, but after hearing the T-Rex for a while, my system sounded really anemic (I have Chapman Audio T-77's with side firing 10" bass and twin VAndersteen 2W subs; in dedicated HT in basement with cement floor, heavy/thick walls, room tuned and 1/2" carpet pad under thick berber carpet). It took a while for the ears to adjust to what I hear as more normal bass.

I just shake my head about it all. Two guys who are both audiophiles in the same neighborhood. One's trying to create a P.A. system like at a concert in a bedroom, the other is out to recreate a sound room at a high end store in his basement. One has got bass to break a guy's balls, and the other's got refinement galore... One's held equipment with virtually zero changes in more than two decades, and the other has just finished a whirlwind cycle of upgrades over two years. One has about a 50 year supply of ear plugs in a closet to preserve hearing so he can sit in the room and blast his concert-level music. The other has never attended many live concerts or ultra-noisy affairs in part because he does not want to lose his hearing prematurely (last concert I did go to, I wore not only foam ear plugs but also ear muffs - I could care less what others think I look like; I'm not intending on going deaf prematurely), and never attempts to play his rig at "realistic" concert levels. One who has a fabulous antique tube AM receiver in museum quality condition (a TRUE collectable; not just vintage, but antique), and the other who kicks himself continuously for not hanging on to some of the older components he had when starting out.

Often, there's much disagreement/division on these boards about what consitutes good sound/components. Give an Audiophool a keyboard and there will be a debate!

I just shake my head about it all. What fun! Two people from different audio worlds growing in appreciation. We both think we've got good sound, but you would be hard pressed to find two rigs that sound so different!

Man, this is a fabulous hobby!
I've read some of your posts in the past with interest. I remember that you constructed your own listening room in the basement which is very commendable. You're right about wishing you had held on to some of that old equipment. I feel the same. In the 70's I owned a pair of ESS Heil AMT 2 that were awesome. The cones dry rotted and I tossed them. (didn't know they could be repaired) I have a friend who is not an audiophile and his stereo consists of cerwin vega speakers, a jvc cd player (which is a single disc unit and not bad) and old Zenith receiver found in a garage with zip cord for cabling. But his system is a real toe tapper. He can't understand all the changes I've gone through with gear in trying to build an audio system. He says I'm addicted.
Well said, Doug. My experience echoes yours 100%. We all own systems that sound different from one to the next, and yet each variation may sound outstanding...or not depending entirely on the listener.

That's why one must put into proper perspective all the suggestions that fly through the broadband. We all have the best intentions, but we all also hear variations on the theme.
Great story, Doug, although I might question whether your new audio buddy is actually an audiophile. In all the years I've enjoyed our hobby, I thought the objective was trying to achieve accurate playback of the recording, using "live" performance as the standard.

Not sure that the "bass freaks" like your friend share that objective. Sounds like he's trying to create the "boom THUD" car audio experience in his home...
Different strokes for different folks. I'll bet he saves a lot of money by not changing or upgrading and he truly enjoys his music!
Fabulous hobby is right!

Being heavy into car audio myself in the '70s and '80s, I can relate to your friend's priorites regarding BOOM, BOOM bass. That extended into my HT phase in the mid '90s, and has become a small venue magical musical experience hunt up to the present.

What fun would it be if everyone's systems sounded similar? Hearing how so many different types of music including Metallica sounded so good on Tvad's tube system was eye opening. It made me realize how focused on a particular type of presentation I was. But then again, I could probably eat at Acapulco Mexican Restaurant every day, heheh.

Hearing Viggen's 47 Labs system a few times over the years has also been enjoyable. Now I'm anxious to experience a low powered SET system!

To me, hearing different audiophile's systems is like traveling to another country and learning about and enjoying a culture different from your own. It's a fun, relaxing vacation.
Nice post Doug!

When we go to the few house's in our "Ears and Beers" club it is always fun to hear diffrent rooms, equipment and ofcourse musical a bad system always sucks but I would never want to hear what I hear at home, a truly boring life that would be!
And, it sounds like you were comparing real extremes in approach. What about systems that are ostensibly designed to be musical and uncolored? And often sound so different from each other?
take your pick music or an acoustic massage
I'll take a deep tissue massage by a lovely lady over listening to my system anytime.
Seems that you got more responces over at AA.
For deep tissue massage only the strong hands of a man will do!!LOL
your friend is a music lover, not an audiophile. today's audiophile is searching for something which isn't there...a music lover 'already had it', before any equipment was even one can buy a rock&roll either got it or you don't.
hiwhart, if two stereo systems sound different, either both are audibly colored, or one is more accurate then another. in theory two accurate systems should sound the same. in fact all "virtually" accurate stereo systems should sound the same.

"virtual" accuracy means that whatever flaws exist, they are not audible. many strive for accuracy and after some period of time claim their system is accurate. yet when such systems are compared differences are observed.

thus most stereo systems are not accurate unless one can honestly say, "i do not notice any coloration". if you listen long enought, you will notice some consistent sonic signature.

i think that all of try to create a "sound" which satisfies our needs and it doesn't matter whether the result is accuracy, which is the theme of this thread.