What show was this? Was the listening room optimized for the setup? I feel that we at home have an advantage of optimizing our rooms. we go to crazy lengths of positioning the speakers, chairs, panels, etc to within 1/8th or less of an inch. I do not know if those demo folks or even shop where multiple speakers are setup in one room do that.
I have learned over time, how important the placement of a speaker is.
And yes, it is not true that higher the price means higher the enjoyment. If your system is musical and the $$$$$ system is analytical, I would rather have the less expensive one than fall asleep sitting in front of the $$$$$ one.
Enjoy your new setup!!
Hey Milpai! It was a local show with about 8 different rooms; I was only able to listen to three rooms and two of them sounded fabulous, but the one with a pair of really expensive Sonus Fabers and the new Wadia intuition sounded pretty bad for $30k, in my oppinion. It was funny because the girl doing the demo was like "you'll notice on this next song how deep and wide the soundstage is" and as I was listening, I was thinking "geez this soundstage sounds flat" lol. And then she played another song but started by saying "many people don't think Sonus Fabers can get up and rock, but I'm going to prove otherwise with this next song" and while the song was playing, I was thinking to myself "really? Thats all these speakers got ?". When it was over she was like "so, what did you guys think? You could really feel them thumping you in the chest, huh?" And the room fell silent. I swear you could hear crickets, so being polite, I said "oh yeah, that sounded great". The first chance I had to excuse myself in a discreet and polite manner, I did so.
And then... whats up with the music they play? Do they sit there and ask themselves "what's the most boring crap we can find? Lets play that!". I mean, c'mon guys, we don't want to hear music that we didn't even like when it was new in the early 80's and 90's. there's so much good music out there. Why do they always old crap, and then throw in a stupid track from yello and think everyone likes it? One guy actually interupted a speaker and asked him if he'd just play some music and shut up about telling us what the nautilus's sound like and play some clapton or Hendrix and the speaker said he'd have to buy a pair if he wanted to listen to that stuff, so he got up and left.
Who wants to hear some audio / electrical engineer talk for 30 minutes about why and how these $80,000 speakers sound so great and then play a crap song for a minute and a half?
I think part of the fun of this hobby is using knowledge to make up for your lack of funds. It's like showing up to the race track with a stripped out supercharged M3 and spanking all the rich guys in there Ferrari's and Lamborghinis.
A couple of quality IPA's will solve that issue for you mate. When you are properly buzzed, you can imagine spanking all the rich guys you want. Eventually the buzz wears off and you are back to reality though. ;)
I disagree Jmc, just because you're rich doesn't mean you have taste, know how to drive, or can pick out and properly set-up audio equipment. My brother and I spanked 911 turbos at the track in a mini, and it's not because the mini is faster, trust me, I know. Equally pertinent, I've (now) heard $35,000 systems that don't sound as good as my $7,000 (?) system. Beating a 911 turbo around a track in a mini, configuring a stereo that beats the pants off another that costs 3-4 times as much, both equally fun and rewarding :-)
And I do agree with Milpai when he mentioned set-up goes a long way but I'd take it further and say thought, research, trial and error and passion for something you love can go a long way.
I'd like to say, though, that in the looks department, the sonus faber / wadia intuition room handed it to me, but if there spokesperson wants to hear what a black background, deep and wide soundstage, and dynamics that punch thump you in the chest sound like, she can come over to my house, or yours :-)
I remember a Stereophile show at the NY Hilton that I attended about 8 years ago. One of the demonstration rooms was sponsored by a well known NYC dealer and was featuring components from Musical Fidelity, Thiel, and Focal among others. The presenters were reps from MF's US importer at the time and they were very strong in their assertions that MF and Thiele went well together. In fact, they were claiming to all be proud Thiel and MF owners. I had never read of these two brands pairing in any periodical or web-site, so I was psyched to hear the demos.
I was in the market for new speakers. I owned 3 MF components; a power amp, preamp, and cd player. I was seated 3rd row center for an hour's worth of demos of MF and Thiel, both CD and vinyl sources, and I just could not get what they were claiming, even with prompting by the presenters. The speakers were in my price range, so it was not a mismatch based on price.
I walked away from this demo thinking that this had to be some type of marketing ploy. I know that there are those who will say that show demos rarely sound good and when the demos bomb, any number of room issues are cited. And yet, I have been to rooms where the sound was right on and the room was pretty much identical to every other room.
So the point of all this? Other than the story, admittedly I am now very skeptical of the pairings at these shows as I don't think they prove anything about component cost and synergy.
B_Limo - I used the M3 analogy with a local dealer recently. For some unknown reason he had it in my head I wouldn't be satisfied with anything except a boutique name. I tried to explain that the upgrades I was thinking about weren't to impress anyone except my ears and it wasnt getting through, so I lit upon the concept of the M3 versus exotic. Sure you can squeeze more performance out of a quarter million dollar car but I was happy to be satisfied with the daily 'driving pleasure' of the performance of an M3 (I've owned one and they provide a LOT of daily driving pleasure and a ton of performance).
He took me into his demo room where amongst other things he demo'd his own speaker creations and tried to convince me of the holographic soundstage. All I heard was volume. If you had blindfolded me and spun me around ten times I'm fairly certain I could have shot a bb through the woofer of either speaker. I didnt even bother to reach for the CDs I brought along.
Visceral and emotional experience is the joy of this hobby. Technical achievement is honorable and necessary to keep the pursuit alive and healthy. But I don't care what the specs say, if it isn't fun to drive then I'm going to move on. And if its fun to drive stop telling me about the engineering and give me the keys. Seems simple.
Jmc, that was some funny shiznit!
B_limo, be careful how you word. Some may think turbos are what they are calling rich guys these days and you spanked 911 of them in a mini.
Just havin some fun ;o)
In one of the rooms at the recent Chicago show, a dealer and an equipment rep were talking as if they were presenters at a brain surgery seminar about how the rep made the CD that was about to be slid into a $40k CDP. The dealer summed up the obviously planned conversation saying with great authority
so were talking about integrating pro equipment valued at well over $100k to transfer this music from your turntable to this CD were about to hear
the rep smiles
pushes the play button
and seconds into the music a wave of people hit the door.
Sales involve a bit of showmanship but some dealers forget the sophistication of their buyers, especially in audio. Many years ago I witnessed a salesman at a high end salon doing his level best to convince a potential buyer of what he was hearing compared to what he was hearing. It was just the two of them up front and I was at the back but well within the better listening area which allowed me the luxury of moving around as the salesman spoke. What was described as a very wide and deep soundstage with great dynamics and extension had all the size effect of a TV screen. I had to bite my lip and walk out before the urge to say anything overwhelmed me.
The poor customer just sat there, nodding with his head but his face betrayed the motion and I think the salesman had a sale that day. We're talking Martin Logan speakers and AR separates with exotic cabling in an optimum set up in a room dedicated to stereo and it sounded like crap. So when I hear of problematic room set ups at audio shows I take that with the smallest grain of salt as there are others at the very same shows under the very same conditions that can sound fantastic. I believe that near field listening can pretty much help in determining the potential of most systems but in the end, you'll never really know until you hear it in your system.
As to B_limo's point, yes, I experience that most of the time. Even when I hear something markedly better that would require a sacrifice, of sorts, I'm quite content with what I have, in the context of where I listen, and wonder what all the fuss is about.
All the best,
Perhaps the reality is just this.... there is essentially NO correlation between cost of a stereo system and the performance of the system... at least after a certain level.
I have heard (at shows) $100-200,000 systems (dozens of them)that, on average, do not sound any better than did the average of the 25K systems (again dozens of them). And some 10-15K systems equaled or bested some 200K systems. There are limits to this... but generally, after a 20K system or so... there is no correlation between cost and sound. Cost is, at that point, not correlated any longer to performance... or at best a 2-3% (subjective) improvement doubles the cost. A typical 25K system is 97% of the way of a 50K system and 94% of the way to a 100K system... something like that. And that is on the average... so much variation occurs that again... no correlation.
Funny, had just that same conversation with a friend leaving the NYC audio show last weekend. We're both running relatively rarified and very different gear, but both adjourned to the bar thinking that there really wasnt anything wed heard that we would trade for what we had.
I have always found that surprising. Ive been to three large shows in NYC, and have never really heard anything that blew me away, including any of the $1/2 million+ room-bruising monsters. Last weekend, thought there was really only one setup that came even close, and it was not the one I would have expected (although it did leave me with an abiding infatuation with Raidho speakers). Never did put my finger on why, but the why of it all has come to concern me a whole lot less. All in all biased or no just about the best reaction I could hope for. Hope it keeps up.
A couple of comments and observations.
I have always thought that show exhibitors would do better to present modest systems. If a room is showing very pricey gear with unobtainium cables and lots of room treatments and isolation tweaks and whatnot, it had better sound damn good. And as many of you have remarked, it usually doesn't. So what impression does that leave the show-goer with regarding those brands? But if you are getting good sound out of a modest system, you've got my attention.
In the best case, you might get 60% - 70% of audiophiles to agree that a system sounds really good. So it's understandable that some people might be thrilled while you are puzzled.
I think my system sounds good most of the time. I've rarely heard good sound at any dealership. I've heard disappointing sound in some audiophiles' dedicated, custom-built rooms. I've listened to many systems whose owners were proud of the sound but which left me cold. Just as I'm sure that many people find my system unremarkable.
I'm not sure what the takeaway is from all of this, but it's always useful to remember that what we like in audio is very subjective and personal. Different strokes indeed.
"Does your system sound better than most demos?
Are you kidding? There are people here that think their system sounds better than live unamplified acoustic music.
Lol Rrog, that's probably true, but I guess you might be of the camp that all demo's sound better than your bose wave radio and that cables and power cords are all the same ;-)
Don't need cables and power cords with my Bose radio. I'm good to go. I just hope you're not turning your nose up because you have a much more elaborate system than me.
The bose wave radio is actually my reference system!
All jokes aside, that new peachtree radio for $400 is quite dandy :-)
I have been to couple of conferences in last two years. My system sounded better than most. The only ones that sounded better were the 100k plus systems. \
But yesterday i demoed the new Wadia intuition with Sonus faber Olympia III speakers. I was very impressed for 25k including cables i felt that sounded really good. The vocals were big and rich. The instruments were accurate with impeccable timing. My preference has been warm tubey sound with fairly big sound stage. This system had all that and more...
There are several factors why we like our rigs better than the shows or even other systems in general. First humans get attached to their personal items and convice themselves that theirs is the best...that is just pure human intuition...
The other is personal taste. Give you an example i have a friend who did not like any systems a the shows. When i got a chance to demo his system i realized why...he prefers extremely warm sound ..to the point it sounds dull to me..
so that comes down to personal preference....his system is not bad just not my taste...
I can only compare mine to something the local audio emporium had set up...Peachtree amp, Golden Ear speakers, source was some media player. My system blew it away and not by just a little. Very happy with my stuff now.
I heard that amp (Wadia Intuition) with a pair of SF Cremona M (Magnolia at Best Buy, so granted, a not very good environment). Disliked the sound so much though that, even when given the opportunity to take home to try, I declined. Could have been all set-up and/or room issues, but I heard nothing promising in the gear which retailed about twice that of my gear at home. I was glad to get home to listen to my kit instead.
In general, regardless of the higher cost of nearly all other systems I've demoed, I prefer mine.
See, I told you! We all have some bitchin systems, lol. Something else to consider is that we spend months dialing in our rigs and most local shops don't care. Also, I've found that at shows, by day 3 they sound the best because of fine tuning.
Anyways, happy listening!
Yes, and though good ones serve as a reference for me, better than many (but not all) live performances I've heard as well,especially when electronically amplified or from bad seats and/or in a bad venue.
Though I have long hoped to attend an audio show, I have not yet had this experience. It seems to me however that it is difficult to set up a high end system in a fashion that best displays its sonic worth under show constraints.
I have heard many high end systems costing many times that of my own (~$15,000 retail) at dealerships and have come home very pleased with my system. And yes, I often come home feeling that my system sounds at least as good if not better.
I attribute this to several factors:
I am tuning a single system to a single room.
I am tuning a single system to my subjective take on what I want most from a system.
I can constantly play with room tuning, speaker placement, and listener position.
I feel I am at a price point where there is a severe diminishing return on increased dollars spent.
I do at times employ the 'IPA' affect.
I also know that my enjoyment of my system differs across listening experiences. Always a joy but the "wow' factor differs.
Just happy I have a system that allows me to make such an observation. Thanks B for the OP.
Nice accounting for factors that often help make a home system sound good in comparison to others. I am also an IPA lover as well.
Way better than most demos and if it doesn't, I know it's upgrade time.
When i hear a demo system that really impresses me I pay as much attention to how it is set up and how the room was tuned as I do to the equipment. This is from one who enjoys the 'study' of sound pressure flow within an audio space as electron flow though components, as superficial as my 'study' may be.