Equipment limitations? How to listen

What does one listen for in regards too limitations of equipment? Is the CDP, recording, speakers, Amp. Integrated, Pre amp, cables, interconnects? How too listed I guess is the questions.

Initially I went with a "what's not right" approach. Primarily from a personal preff point of view.

MANY SAY EMULATE 'LIVE' MUSIC AS BEST ONE CAN. Mebbe so. I don't feel my stereo emulates live music very much. In some areas yes, but not across the board. I'd buy a public announcing system if I wanted actual live high SPL sound levels. In truth I find a good number of live venues/performances too loud and too harsh, or porrl acoustic venues. So preffs play a good part as well.

I mean after all, it is or will be your rig. Shouldn't it sound as you want it to sound?

That being said, I thought my first system for the most part wasn't too bad. I listened to it a lot. A whole lot.

I suppose one could also approach things by looking at the mighty dollar being invested. It's not a slam dunk perhaps, but on avg. more Dollars means more better.

Another tact might be how much are you hearing? Can you hear the recording venue? How much of it do you hear... or even want too? Are you getting "They're here?" action, or any of the "you're there" business? Could you use your virtual autograph pad and ask for one? Those things take resolution. A pretty good bit of it too. too much however and things become less musical & involving. Resolution for resolutions sake for me, is not what I look too adding into my stereo. there must be a blend.

Get a test CD like the one Stereophile makes, or some other, there are plenty of great ones around... and check things out with it. In doing that process, also get yourself a SPL meter and use it with the CD to see where your possible shortcomings may be.

Lastly... or just saunter into the 'big' room at your best outfitted local audio dealership, if you can, and listen to that. I will caution you here, that proved to be my biggest mistake.... as "If you don't know any better, it don't matter."

Once Pandora's box is opened however, it's possibly too late to close it again without being sorely affected.

The biggest key, and I do mean the biggest key here in this hobby is the simplest one... "Be OK with what you have, rather than what you don't have".

have fun.
Clean, clear, wide range (highs to lows), no emphasis on any part of the musical spectrum (boomy bass, sizzling highs), open sound (does the music sound like it is coming out of a box), can you understand lyrics (forget rock recordings, listen to sinatra, bennett, horne, bassey, fitzgerald, etc.
How do acoustic instruments sound? Look at (and invest in) components thus: (1)speakers, (2)amplification, (3)source.
Cables, power systems, etc. are important, but not as important as the first three. LISTEN to LIVE MUSIC. Go to a classical or jazz recital/concert. If you turn on music as background for reading, and you are compelled put the book down to listen to the music, that is a good system. Above all, enjoy listening to music coming from the system, don't listen to the system itself. There is always room for improvement; but there is always the law of diminishing returns.