Does your system take you there or...?

Happened to purchase a Cary AES Super Amp (original) and AE-2 pre for my office. While I was breaking it in, I noticed it does the detail thing a little better than my Manley 300B/Steelhead combo.

After listening a little while and reading some reviews, I noticed that someone had made the distinction between gear that "takes you there" and gear that brings "there" here. After some more listening back-to-back with the same music, I came to the conclusion that the AES equipment does a better job of "taking you there" but the Manley gear brings "there" here into my room in a big way. Definitely different presentations.

Would appreciate others thoughts.

Since the room is different, and all the otherstuff is too. I ask how do you know it is the amp?
(Just curious and not starting up trouble.)
Very often it depends on the specific recording.
'Just curious and not starting up trouble'

Yeah, right
I guess I need to clarify. Both systems are in my listening room at the moment. I bought the new system for my office, but break-in is occurring in my listening room. Same source, same cables, same speakers, same rack, same recordings. While there is some variation from recording to recording, the overall effect is that the AES equipment is much more likely to transport you to the event and the Manley equipment brings the essence of the event to my room.

The effect is especially interesting with some of my Ani DiFranco recordings.

On the AES gear, it is like I am at one of the local clubs listening to her perform. I can "see" the room and where the music is in the space. There is a real sense that music is being performed.

On the Manley gear, the essence of the performance appears in my room. You can still get an idea of the space, but the experience is like the performance is in the room-- in front and behind the plane of the speakers. Like you can walk around in the music.

My wife prefers the AES presentation. She describes it as being able to pick out more layers of the music. I generally prefer the presentation of the Manley where it's slightly fewer layers (all the important ones are there), but more intense layers.

I'm curious if others have had a similar experience. None of my previous solid-state gear did what either of these do. On my solid-state gear, I had great imaging and soundstaging, but there was a definite sense of the listening to a recording rather than a performance-- even if I didn't realize it at the time.

Just like Elizabeth to throw doubt into the mix. We all know 'doubt' is the virus that infects all in this hobby. Let us all face it, 'knowing' is just never going to happen.
I have experienced the effect you describe, but can't explain it at all. One might generalize and say that if the system brings the musicians into your room as opposed to you into their recording site, then it is less accurate and editorializing on the signal. The point is reproduction of the original event in it's original space. The musicians are not recorded in your room, they are in their recording site. I like it when the system gives me everything needed to map out the recording site and present it in my room, but I also enjoy conjuring up musicians in my room as if they are here right now. It can be spooky and subjectively more successful as a HiFi experience. I think both approaches are valid since HiFi should also be fun and a pleasure. Sounds like both amps have similar levels of attainment, but just different presentations. This speaks highly of the AES/Cary's which sell for alot less dollars. Good thing one is destined for your office, or you would have a hell of a time deciding which to keep. Now, if you are listening to Ani in the studio, then by all means let her play right in your room in front of you. This is how my Vintage tube system presents her and it is an absolute gas. When I play her live, like on "Living in Clip" she is transported into my room along with the venue's sound. Sort of like the hall is now in my room along with her singing and playing right in front of me... also a gas.
My thoughts:

The more a system can retrieve micro details, the more it's going to give you back what the microphone picked up "at" the recording making it easier to create the illusion of being at the venue. Also important, the more your equipment reproduces the correct harmonic structure of the notes, the more it will seem like you are there. This puts a lot of it on the recording itself and how much gets lost on its way to the final product you listen to. Mikes, mixing, phase, mastering: lots can get stripped.

I hear what you're talking about. It isn't the highest thing on my bias list but I'm thinking it's more important than I thought. My goals have been to have a system that could do the best recordings really well and still make the lesser ones fun to listen to. So far, so good.
I have to honestly say that in my current system it really depends on the recording. Some recordings absolutely put me in the venue to the point where I feel I can describe the exact dimensions and characteristics. With others There`s a sublime presence of the musicians and vocalist definitely in my room, living breathing flesh and blood.
It`s become very addictive.
My system often takes me there but sometimes forgets to bring me back. Once I was virtually stuck in the Village Vanguard with a bunch of hard drinking circa 1963 "Madmen" era glass clinking smokers for almost 6 hours after Bill Evans had gone home.
I've been struggling with this issue but was unable to conceptualize it. Well done and thanks.

To me, the more I improve my system the less it feels like the musicians are sitting in front of me, and the more I'm transported to the recording venue. The increase in air, sound staging and detail tends to open a window that wasn't there before. I'm still not sure whether I prefer the more 'intimate' presentation, which focuses more on the individual instruments, or a more expansive presentation that, while having lots of detail, seems to blurr things a little bit, yet give me a better feeling of the whole.

It's kind of like being on stage, as opposed to being a few rows back. It certainly varies by recording, but the general pattern is the same.

Interesting issue. Now that I've spent the cash on the big rig, I guess there is no going back.
Well, the room is there no matter what so that is a factor no matter what.

Different systems will sound different even in the same room. Some may seem to interact with teh room more so than others. It all depends.

Not sure what else to say. If it sounds good, it sounds good. Some recordings may sound live especially if you close your eyes. Others sound like recordings. It all depends.....
are we talking some guy with a guitar, some folk singer or are you speaking of groups such as Wynton's Jazz orch or a Symphony Orch? It don't take much to put a solo guitar in the room.
Thanks for the interesting commentary so far. I used Ani as an example because it's easier for me to visualize walking around in a small ensemble rather than walking around in an orchestra.

As I said, I prefer having the performance in my room, but that's not saying that the cues regarding the original venue are missing. It's more of an experience of my room being partially transformed. On Ani's recording, there is a living, breathing invisible person in my room. It's more like I can walk around in the performance. The same thing happens with larger works like Mozart's Requiem, but to a lesser degree. For me, this presentation is more "real" but not necessarily as "accurate" at reproducing the original performance. There is a real experience that a performance is happening rather than listening to a recreation of a performance.

Some may not like it that way-- my wife, for example. She likes being able to see the details of the venue like she is there but looking over the railing from a balcony seat. But there is a boundary that can't be crossed.

Yep, different strokes for different folks for sure....
Good point Rok2id.

I'd also say that the recording plays a big part in how we might perceive the presentation as well.
It wold be pretty horrible to have a Symphony Orchestra sound as if it were in my 18x13 room - in general I would think approaching the sound of the recording venue would be the goal. And every recording would approximate the sense of the difference between venues - I think in good system sounds quite different from recording to recording, sameness is usually a bad sign IMHO.
I may the the only one here who LIKES my "untreated" room sound...and admits it! Reflections be damned! I'm gonna find out what Ani DiFranco smells like and send some essence to Pmburnett...I assume it's pachouli any case, spread some around the room and close your eyes! OFF YOU GO....
Agree with Pubul.

I like to be about one section back dead center at the symphony and I like something similar when I listen to a symphony at home in my MUCH smaller (than the symphony hall) listening quarters.

Also I am with Wolf regarding untreated rooms. You can fit the system to the room or fit the room to the system. I prefer mostly the first approach because it is a lot more practical and will likely deliver better results for lower cost in the end.
It takes me there and back again.
When it returns me I often make it stop at the store so I can pick up some stuff. Now THAT'S realism.
I'm of the opinion that the pursuit of excellence is encrypted in the DNA of an audiophile.With that thought don't we all want the musicians to be here as opposed to us being there? Why else would you spend a gazillion dollars on audio gear,unless of course you're an equipment freak,but that's a subject for another thread.
"Why else would you spend a gazillion dollars on audio gear,unless of course you're an equipment freak,but that's a subject for another thread."

I can't imagine anybody would spend a gazillion on audio gear unless they are an equipment freak. Doesn't mean they are not also a music lover, but you don't have to spend that much usually just to get really good sound IMHO.

Of course, its also all relative depending on finances and priorities as well I suppose, so who's to say.
I'm most satisfied when the system takes me there. From experience this realm is the most difficult to achieve.

A system that can replicate that experience reliably is a system to be admired. I also feel this is a more accurate representation of the recording itself.

My system is very groovy, baby, yeah!

It really takes me there, no doubt.

Not quite sure where exactly that is, but at least I do enjoy the ride.
The recording is of "there" not "here" - if it sounds like they are "here" something is wrong, probably lack of resolution needed to convey ambient cues of place (where the musicians are).
If it's not a live venue recording then I suppose "there" is inside the engineer's head. I can accept that usually, and since I listen to a lot of small group piano jazz my only complaint sometimes regards weirdly wide soundstage drums, but I can live with that. I've mixed a LOT of live small venue shows and the goal is to get an even sound to everybody...not so simple...I do minimal EQ if possible and rarely compress anything (kick drum sometimes)...a little stereo reverb makes the crowd feel better than they actually do.
I respectfully disagree with some of you that think going "there" is better. I very much prefer being able to turn off the lights and "feel" the performers in my room. That's not to say, though, that my room remains the 12*16*8 space that it is. The area beside and behind and sometimes in front of the speakers dissolves to differing degrees depending on the recording.

The effect that I am talking about though is still is like there are living breathing persons in the room that you can hear, smell, touch. It may not be some person's ideal, but it sure is captivating.

Wolf, I may just pick up some pachouli oil and other "scents". Although, when I listen to certain live performances, I can also hear/smell bourbon and cigars.

At any rate, I am always excited to listen to my rig. For me, that's the very essence of good hifi.

PMB time I listen to Bill Evans' "Waltz for Debby" I'm gonna rattle the icecubes in a manhattan, smoke a Pell Mell, and try not to ignite the hairspray in Judith From Accounting's beehive while apologizing for causing a run in her stocking from an errant brush with my wingtip.

With live jazz you're only going to get the "being there" mojo by sitting directly in front of the band (usually a good thing requiring luck)...otherwise, although it can still be a way cool experience, sitting anyplace else makes you subject to the whims of an often cheezy sound system run by itself ("set it and forget it"), or by Clem, the disinterested and underpayed hearing impaired soundman glued to his iPhone.
Indeed some prefer one over the other, and if a reviewer is prone to being in the "music came to me "group, themn all his reviews of gear will be different than the reviewer who prefers to "be there in the studio during the recording".

Which is more appealing to you now may not be the same in a few years.

I read all the time about aging audiophiles who long for the old sound of days gone by, definetly not the studio control room folks, but the more romantic types.
They don't mind giving up detail for what they percieve as musicality.

Personally I don't get that.

Nope, I want my cake and eat it too.

I want to be transported to the studio and have all the music that was recorded returned to me in full detail with all the musicality intact.

I've heard systems like this. They were quite expensive.
The gear disappeared and just the music filled the room.
The room was full of detail and musicality.

Then I discovered that it wasn't just about throwing bucks at the components like speakers amps and sources.

That liquid detailed sound was also due to some other things going on in the background that weren't as obvious as the exotic speakers and amps were.

It was upgrade power to the gear that made the music sound more pleasurable.
The upgrading done to the already great sounding pricey components made the sound even better.

This I could afford, and I've been quite amazed and pleased that such improvements are available to we folks who would love to swim with the big fishes but just can't afford to.

You can and do get the best of both worlds if you try.

If the recording is a studio multi track type, you'll know it and yet it will still please the ear.
If it's a more natural,less processed recording,you;ll notice it.

You'll be able to live in both worlds and enjoy both.
You won't be confined to a system that's always in your face, or a system that always puts your face in a studio.

It takes time to assemble a system like this, and personally I spent years floating about in this hobby changing amps and speakers, yet never getting the full measure of any of them.

If it wasn't for my good fortune to be able to listen to some very good systems that paid just as much attention to the "things that can't make a differece"as to the things most of us think matter most, then I would still be out there wandering in the desert of audio discontent.

Now when I listen to the music I let it take me wherever it wants to, and I enjoy the ride.
Onemug - that was a great post.

And Wolf_garcia, I think I was there with the same drinkers and clinkers. Bill Evans LPs can be among the very best.
I was listening to "Waltz for Debbie" again today while breaking-in a new tonearm cable...maybe it was my mood or something but man...I was transported once again by that LP and those ghosty crowd voices were right there with me. I had planned to listen for a few minutes and move on to something else but I was transfixed and had to hear both sides...suffice to say the new tonearm cable works just fine. I have a nice sounding CD of other stuff from the same gigs ("Live at the Village Vanguard") and weirdly the crowd sounds are much less obvious...makes me wonder if they were isolated somehow and edited out...weird.
IMO/E the difference lies in the presentation: forward sounding speakers/gear brings some/all of the players into the room; a less forward presentation takes me to the event (which I prefer); a subdued presentation takes me to the coat room at the event.