Distinctly Different Upgrades. Surprisingly Similar Musical Outcomes?

Deliver more of what you want.  And, less of what you don’t want.  Seems simple enough.


I’m not sure about you guys/gals, but it appears that many sonic upgrades produce similar aural characteristics.  When we make something better, the sonic benefits can span a wide terrain regardless of what phenomenon was responsible for the improvements.   I’d like to set aside the quite obvious bandwidth extension created by adding subwoofer(s) or increase in dynamic range from a serious amplification upgrade and concentrate on the improvements created by projecting a more correct version of music information into our listening space.  This could include, but not limited to: cable upgrades, better DACs, AC power delivery, amplification, better (not bigger) speakers, and higher resolution source components/processors.


We all have our own ways of defining what happens when a sonic breakthrough happens in our systems.  I certainly have my own words to describe what’s going on in my musical world.  And you all have distinct musical vocabularies of your own.  I use a term I call “pinching the midrange.”  This occurs when the fundamentals of voices and instruments fall off the map and upper midrange is exaggerated when energy/volume levels increase.  This has a cascading effect when poor AC power delivery is the starting point, handed off to inadequate source components, further damaged by poor cabling, made more anemic by not-ready-for-primetime amplification delivered to speakers that don’t have “the boys under the hood” to stay linear at/near concert hall levels.  Improving any aspect of this system would provide a plethora of benefits and would be very similar in many regards.


Am I underthinking this a bit?  Or, are any of you experiencing similar outcomes?






Not really understanding the question here.  This could be because I am home with Covid and a dull headache is making it difficult to concentrate.  I think you are trying to say that certain audio enhancements tend to emphasize stuff around the margins and do so at the expense of messing with the midrange, where most music actually lives.  

@mahler123 That's what it sounds like to me as well. I used to hear this effect at times, many years ago on prior systems. When trying to figure out what I wanted out of a system, I'd go from analytical to romantic, really all over the place, I tried so many tweaks, diy mods, changing equipment, all kinds of issues, this pinching of mids OP speaking of, just one of them. Simple change of capacitors could cause this to happen, say Mundorfs with silver, or  silver anywhere for that matter.


I've not heard this effect in many years, even with a relatively high content of silver in my system today.  So yes, one has to get system fundamentally right, as OP states, in order to not experience this pinching.

The only time I hear this effect these days is burn in , such as 300B tubes I'm presently burning in, finally, in last ten hours or so, bloom coming on. This pinching no longer an outcome, simply temporary position.



Yes, I can understand the ambiguity of the question.  I'll try to do better next time.

The broader point is that when we legitimately upgrade something, regardless of piece of hardware/software we insert, we experience something better.  Our perception of those upgrades may take on similar characteristics although the new equipment may be quit different.  Cable upgrade?  More detail.  Less grunge.  More relaxed, etc.  DAC upgrade?  More detail.  Less grunge.  More relaxed, etc.

I used the "pinched midrange" as an example.  Improving power delivery would help add "body" to the music and tone down an aggressive upper mid.  And, so would a better amplifier, cabling, etc.  

I was just curious if anyone else, after inserting a new of hardware in place of a current one had thought:  "Hey, the improvements are similar to a past upgrade."


Thanks for the thoughtful response.  Hope this helps?