How do you get the "real" feel of music?

There is a certain "real" feeling that I get when I go to a live concert. It's more of "feeling" the music instead of "hearing" it. That feeling, I think, comes from percussion instruments. I'd like to get that feel in my home stereo but it's not there. In my home, snare drums don't pop, I don't feel the bass drum in my chest, and rim shots don't exist. Is there a way to get that presence in a small system?

I'm not rich, and I don't want to hear, "Scrap all your sorry equipment and get a Krell, Bryston and HSU..." so with that in mind, I've got a 12x16 room with:

Sony DVP-NS500 DVD
Harman Kardon AVR80 II as a pre-amp
Parasound HCA-1205 power amp

I have used
Definitive Technologies BP-6
Polk Audio R40, CS-175, and PSW-250
Bose Accoustimass 5
Bose R-41

Is there any hope?
Ok Beetle63 the first thing is you need to have a few drinks, after that your system will blow your mind regardless of what gear you have. Secondly depending on the type of concert your attending, there may be a certain amount of halucinogenic substances minlging with your air supply, which well make concerts seem oh so much more "special". But I wouldn't hesitate to have a few drinks and let it rip I have a feeling that may help you Cheers ~Tim
I remember walking into the shopping mall, where group of old pensioners, apparently from some homes for pensioners amateur music enthusiast performed some old standard tunes. There was brass instuments, clarinets, tube and strangely couple of violins, viola and bass. This, half band half orchesta worked hard. They worked hard on it, and it could be heard and seen and they went on, and the conductor wasn't frustrated, just oposite he encouraged them and went on over the mistakes, pretending they were no mistakes and he absorbed it all. They did some old "stuff", like from "Guys and Dolls", and some not very memorable 50's work. I was about to leave, when familiar first couple of notes struck. Hungarian Rhapsody no. 2 by Franz Liszt.
I stayed, and from the odball band/orchestra that minutes ago sounded like un-rehearsed school band, MUSIC emerged, with all the passion, fire and gamble. These old man, at that moment didn't think about their small pensions, broken dentures, skin cancer, doctor bills and their dead wives. The sons and daughters that called once a year were forgoten. They had it all at that magical moment. And I knew it and their conductor knew it and they knew it. It was the most beautiful live music event i ever heard.

Other than that i would suggest some ESL or planar, if you want to 'feel'.
No: In reality, there is no hope at all of getting the "real" feel of live music through your - or my - or even HP's - stereo system. But much as you may not want to hear it, I think you already know that you could come *a lot* closer with gear other than what you have listed - otherwise, you would not be hanging around A-Gon with the rest of us audiophools! But if that's simply not an option, then drop out and attend as many concerts as you can, and then laugh at us behind our backs!
Spend most of your money on speakers. It's 75%-85% of recreating that feeling.
The "book" response is to replace your stuff with expensive stuff. Setting that aside, if you choose to stay with your current setup, you could try adding a signal processor of some kind. For example, a dynamic range expander might give you a pleasing effect. I remember a long time ago Phase Linear and dbx made expander/compressors for consumers. I don't know if anybody makes them any more for consumer use, maybe for pros. Perhaps a more accessible addition would be a graphic equalizer. While an equalizer would let you play around with the sound and choose your emphasis, I'm not at all sure that this will get you the type of result you're looking for. Lastly, it's a good idea not to spend too much time with Bose. Good luck.
Without being a defeatist, let's just say that you will never be able to recreate in your home the experience of live music, it's just a fact of life. The better the system, the smaller the gap, but a gap will always remain. A better system, unfortunately, means more money. The good news is that the amounts bandied about around here are greatly exaggerated. Strange that you focus on percussion as being what sets real vs. recorded apart for you. I agree with you, though I know of other parameters were even the best systems fall short of the real thing. When I changed to a tube preamp, I felt the cymbals lacked that sharp, brassy sound on the initial attack and then some of the shimmer as the sound fades out. One thing that I can say is that you need volume to approach the effect of live music. For that you need a system that is dynamic, in the limited and true sense of the word, that is a system that can play at a realistic level the loud passages without distress. I would start with the speakers. Get the most efficient, best sounding speakers you can afford. If you go shopping though, don't be too impressed by tizzle, it will, in all likelihood, get to you after a while. Stay away from processors: they may boost the treble, but will surely add to your problems by introducing distortion, ringing and phase problems. Make sure the path from your speakers to your listening position is not obscured by furniture. Removing the speaker grille can help, if simply psychologically. Make sure that the speaker height is correct by using proper stands, repositioning them, so that the tweeter is at ear level when you are seated at your normal listening position. Make sure that your room is not overstuffed with, well, stuff, especially upholsthered furniture that can make it too dead. In closing, I have found that big, powerful, good quality power amps do wonders for percussion, my theory being that they can deliver the burst of energy required to properly handle both the thumping bass drum, the sharp attack of a snare drum and the metallic sound of cymbals, especially when hit closer to the centre, without smearing them into one, mass. BTW the other thing that clearly distinguishes live from recorded, to me, is the way notes just appear and disappear in live music: I always get the impression that even great systems are a step behind in terms of this. The initial attack and the decay of various instruments is simply not the same. Planars (some) seem to get that better, but at the cost of certain problems elsewhere. The other parameter that is given short shrift, is the ambiance and the need for more channels, but that's a different kettle of fish. Enjoy the music. Regards.
1) Try to simplify you system !!!
2) Get rid of your preamp!!! And get a Wadia Cd Player with digital volume control and connect it directly to your amp. You will get to feel the music. I have the best system and I could not feel anything, until I connect my Wadia's directly to amps. Let me tell you, my preamp used to be the Mark Levinson No.26S. That many consider it is the reference preamp, by today standard. Hope this help.


PS. Get rid og you Bose's. depends.
i recently listened to praxis in my lincoln town car(1987) with new installed bose system. it is no certainly my home rig but just the music was driving me to the trans. i admit that i was smoking "j" during listening but that's the whole different measure of pleasure. "j" can bring you so close to the music that you won't have to play it at all on any rig and the other way arround: listining to some music you can get transed without "j". now imagine that i've combined two things: excellent music that can get you transed without "j" mixed with nice and natural hydra "j" played on piece of $hit car audio system still gives you double-trans! now imagine that in addition to that double trans you have instead of car-bose mark levinson/verity rig!

what i'm trying to state here that there are bunch of different ways even without spending megabucks on electronics and speakers.

...and finally, replace HK and Parasound with NAD or Marantz electronics that you can(i'm sure) afford. i believe that you will feel and listen with better comfort and for the less price.
If you're only willing to spend a reasonable amount of money, it cannot be done. One work around would be to get a high quality headphone and run it from a dedicated amp. It'll run you in the neighborhood of $1,000, but it will give you a very dynamic sound. One thing to remember, virtually all recent pop/rock recordings are extremely dynamically limited. In order to maintain a high average recording level the explosive peaks have been removed from the music. It takes alot of the life out of the music.

Good luck!
Beetle: Your electronics aren't the problem. Three things really matter: speakers, room, source material. If you like certain music, there's not much you can do about the last (though you owe it to yourself to buy a few XRCDs just to hear what good source material really sounds like). There are certainly a lot of speaker options out there that might sound better to you than the ones you've tried so far. Playing around with your room arrangement, damping first reflections, will also help. But part of what makes live music sound great is that it's live--and it's almost never played in a 12x16 room. So don't expect miracles.
Indiana & Bomarc above probably offer your only hope here. You want *dynamics* Beetle - that's what you're missing now, but don't despair because you can get that too. It will take some experimentation, but you can approach the dynamics of live music with the right speakers. Yes you can feel the music at my house, bathe in it, become involved in it, revel in it, not simply hear it.
My primary "secret" to live dynamics is horn speakers (Klipsch's horns) vs. the direct-radiator designs that have failed you. There are some other older horn offerings that also offer high sensitivity/efficiency, such as the old Altec's, JBL's & or perhaps even Cerwin Vega. Avantgarde has some fantastic new horn designs but they're pretty expensive even at used prices.
Some audiophiles advise against horns because of their shortcomings, yes they do have some horn coloration sound (that just takes awhile to get used to & then you hardly notice it) but the transient attack speed and dynamic impact more than make up for it. And looking at other affordable speaker designs (such as those you mentioned above) they all exhibit some shortcomings & compromise tradeoffs, so this charactaristic of horn speakers becomes just another of those; it's no big deal. Also, you can install some basic tweaks in your horns to fix the resonance issues, so again no big deal. I even have high-end crossovers modded for mine.
Try to get out to a shop that sells Klipsch & hear some of their newer designs. They're not as sensitive as the older classic LaScala's, Belle's, or K-horns, or even the Heresy, but have still been recommended by members here with higher end equipment. If you can find any way to audition the older classic Klipsch designs then you'll probably buy one.
Be advised that these horns, being so sensitive & revealing, will show you any shortcomings of your upline equipment. The balancing act is tricky, but when you eventually arrive at the right combination of equipment & cabling, you'll be thrilled I guarantee.
I would have to agree with Bob, I have klipsch KG4 ($225 horn, 2 8" mids and 12" radiator) series speakers with MIT cabling and the first thing I do when I come home is turn on the stereo and it stays on till I go to sleep, on weekends all weekend long. I listen to mainly spanish rock, and the klipsch I think really mate better with this genre of music than any other affordable (in my case) speaker that I auditioned. The klipsch really bring enjoyment (so much that I will never sell them) to listening and their dynamic punch makes you feel the music.
I agree with Indiana, although having enough clean power to drive the speakers is important too. However, and this is my opinion, I have never heard a natural sounding horn speaker in my life. I know of no good studio that uses horn monitors, and in fact the speakers I use go the the extreme oposite in design to get as far away from the horn or even box effect by putting the mids and tweeters in seperate smaller enclosures so the enclosure is not a factor at all. I am speaking about B&W 801's and 802's, which I would highly advise you listen to. The list of top rated studios that use these is almost endless. Tom
Sorry to condradict you Pe3046, but long ago, in a stereo system far, far away, I used to own a pair of KG4's. They were the most hopelessly colored speakers I have ever had to depend upon for my daily listening. Just all kinds of spurious artifacts, response anomolies, and general masking of musical information. Did it matter that they were fairly efficient? Sure, they rocked out more than the pair of little EPIs I left home with, but who would want to listen to this degree of error at a high volume anyway? About the only good thing I can say for them is that they looked pretty cool for the cheap price. I replaced them as soon as I could with pair Allison CD-8s, which sounded virtually like 801s after the KG-4s, which I'm sure are somewhere, still ringing from an impulse they received in about 1988! (Please don't extrapolate this criticism to the K-Horns, or other classic full-size Klipsch models.) In fairness to you, though, my current speakers are Thiel CS 2.2s - not the most dynamic in the world - so have at 'em!
Indiana Jones and Pbb have given good advice. Because I think (or imagine) that I know exactly what you mean, I would be more specific:

You are above all looking for sensitive (efficient) speakers with excellent dynamics and transient response. I'd recommend professional studio monitors, whether vintage or new: Altec 604s; a range of configurations from the JBL Professional line; Tannoy DMT 12 or 15s; certain Klipsch. My personal opinion is that dollar for dollar, Tannoy DMT would be your best bet. A clean, high-current amp will get the most out of the speakers. Overall, for what I'm guessing you spent on your current set-up, you could put together a quite satisfying system. Regards, Dr_joe.
Fully horn loaded is definitely the way to go. If you can spend several thousand on the speakers, it's probably the way: K-horns, Altec VOTT, Tannoy Westminster and Autograph, Avant Garde, not to mention many extraordinary DIY horn speakers.

But I think if you're limited to paying, say, US$650-2000 for a pair of speakers (used naturally), the ones I mentioned--which generally have horn loaded HF and basss reflex loaded LF--require of the listener fewer compromises.

Happy listening all!
Great suggestions Joe: I forgot about the Tannoys especially & I do like them! But B&W's no way - extremely inefficient. Flat response yes, nonresonant yes, accurate yes, but slam & dynamics - no.
go to LIVE concerts, no way a home system sounds better than a in your face sound, besides those are memories that are worth sharing, at home is at home, LIVE
Not that I'm here to just slam Klipsch or shill B&W, Bob B., but I have to disagree about your assessment of the 801's dymanic capabilities. First, let me say that I am a big promoter of the idea of higher speaker sensitivity, and would not personally buy a speaker with less than at least "average" sensitivity (86-87dB range), and would like my next pair of speakers to go even higher if possible. I also think that increased system efficiency is more responsible socially from an energy consumption point of view. I myself don't want to own monster power amps, to deal with their size, heat, and cost, or to feel that I need to play my speakers at concert levels just to make them wake up and come alive.

But potential system dynamics have to do with more than just speaker sensitivity. If you have the power to feed your dynamic monitors, and they can handle it, then more than satisfactory results are possible. I have heard systems based around 801's, or Wilson Watt/Puppy's, for instance, that can virtually punch the listener in the ear (and the gut), because sufficient power was available to drive them. One could make the augument, however, that the use of such high power - or the design of the drivers to be able to make the necessary excursions - might possibly compromise some other, more subtle aspects of the sound in a trade-off to get those astounding dynamics.

I was glad to see that Thiel brought out their newest speaker, the smallish 2-way floorstanding CS 1.6 (which sound fabulous, BTW), with a much higher, for them, sensitivity of around 90dB. Maybe this will point the way of the future when Thiel finally introduces the long-awaited replacement for the standard-setting CS 3.6 (I hope they banish the utra-low impedances, too).

Whether they employ horns or not, I believe speaker makers should make a serious effort to provide products that pay attention not just to response characteristics, but also to higher sensitivity, moderate-phase and -value impedances, and just as importantly, flatter overall impedance curves, so that audiophiles can more successfully utilize a wider range of amplifiers with most speakers. Amp designs, tube or SS, that do away with using negative feedback to achieve conventionally acceptable damping and output impedance figures can, in my experience, "un-box" the sound to a similar degree as high-efficiency speakers can - but at the potential cost of more colored response, when used with typical impedance-characteristic speakers (horns included).

For me personally though, it's more the dispersion properties of horns that keeps me away from them (I like mine wide), than any preconceptions about "colored" sound. I guess I weight this preference more heavily in my choice than superior dynamics, but that's obviously not going to be right for everybody - and I would of course love to have it all (but can't afford it!). Happy listening :-)
Hi Zaik your points are well taken & are nicely explained. My rec's however were also meant to be taken within the context of Beetle's existing equipment - he's using "affordable" hardware vs. the 'pricier' equipment that you suggest, which may be beyond Beetle's reach at the moment.
"I'm not rich, and I don't want to hear, 'Scrap all your sorry equipment and get a...'"
Thanks folks. I especially appreciate the comments of Bob-bundus, Jameswei, and Pbb. What I think I'm hearing is that I'm after greater dynamic range?

There were a couple of suggestions I'd like to comment on. The first is using processors. I'm afraid of processors. I've found they blur the music rather than sharpen it. My only experience with sound processors has been surround-sound, DSP, and reverb. I hate reverb. To me, listening to music with reverb is like eating filet mignon with manure on it. Sure, the filet is going to turn to manure sooner or later, but don't add any to it to start with.

And BTW, wasn't that the reason for 5-channel digital? To quit trying to artificially construct the "real" feel of music without the added coloration of DSP? Or is 5-channel a home theatre gimmick? If it's a gimmick, I got snookered.

I'm not sure how a dynamic range expander works, but I like the idea of an equalizer. Unfortunately, I've found an equalizer setting that works for one genre is terrible with another, or even between recording companies.

Second comment. I bought the Parasound because it was a relatively inexpensive, high current amp that I thought could provide the sharp transients of percussion. I still think it was a good purchase. It's a world better than the HK, which was two worlds better than the JVC I owned three years ago. Regardless, thank you all for sticking to the no-"scrap it all"-rule.

Third, my system does sound best a loud volume, but it's too loud for the little room. It's also a very brassy sound. I'm guessing the tile floor, picture window, french doors, and leather sofa don't help that much.

Lastly, my speakers do sound better with the grills off. Likewise, my car gets better gas mileage and runs faster with a fresh coat of wax.

But seriously, the dynamic range expander idea intrigues me. Can it help or is it foolishness? Or would it be better to get different speakers, even if restricted to under $1000 a pair (and the crowd laughed)?

Beetle a dynamic range expander is just another 'fix' (like Eq) that you'd be better off without, keeping the signal path cleaner & simpler; 2 fewer pairs of cabling for the signal to go thru as well, not to mention their extra cost. But if you want to try one I'll 'loan' you mine; it's been out of my rack for years now. It's a Phase Linear model 1000; shoot me an email if interested. I used to use it for fixing up bad tapes when I did some vocal-cassette "production-master" dubbing jobs.
Regarding your bright room-response; yes you've pretty much figured out the reasons why - too many reflections. Wall rugs, floor rugs or carpet, stuffed furniture, window treatments, those basic sort of things can help a whole lot.
Yes you want greater dynamic range; speaker replacement will go a long way to getting you there. Cabling synergy & some other tweaks will also help, but I'll not get into that right now as you really need to address the basics first.
Your speaker budget mandates used equipment to get much of anything decent, but hey that's OK. Many of the above suggestions are certainly worth exploring.
An Expander is the *opposite* of what you want! Most live music today is played through a PS/SR system that has both dynamic limiters and compression. Expansion will make your system sound *less* dynamic for 99% of the program material!! (it's the opposite of the intuitive for this one)

There are two main things to gettting a "live" sound in your room:

1) bandwidth - you need a lot of bandwidth, especially on the bottom
2) output - you need enough output with low enough distortion at the high enough level.

These add up to: low distortion at peak levels.

Then you need really GOOD recordings and signal chain to get them to your speakers.

Keep in mind the size and space of the venue that you are hearing the "live" music in. That makes a *huge* difference in the perception of sound!! IF you really want a similar experience you may need a physically larger listening room, and there is no direct substitute.

It is true that a good horn system (not all are "good") will have what I call "jump factor" out the yin-yang compared to other speakers. This can be one way to get more "life" into the playback, but horns too generally sound better in larger rooms.

Small speakers alone generally do not give a "big" sound with high impact because of limited headroom, distortion at higher levels (peaks too) and limited LF response.

Getting the sound of live acoustic music and voices is the holy grail of hi-fi anyhow, and it is extremely difficult to even get a good facsimile thereof...

Welcome to the world of audio! :- )
Bear is of course talking about dynamic range in his first paragraph, and how if you were to use an expander on a lot of the compressed and limited material available, you would wind up with quieter "quiets" for a majority of the playing time. But his comments also happen to point up the fact of what a grotesque parody of "natural" sound most electronically reinforced "live" concerts present today, something John Atkinson commented on in a recent column.

But if you're familiar with (and listen to recordings of) naturally produced acoustic music, perceivability of the really quiet events is definitely a good thing if one is trying to achieve "live"-sounding results. For this you also need low noise (high S/N ratio). This applies not only to the system, but to the listening environment as well. Low-level detail can be easily masked by ambient noise.

Bear's point about system headroom and room size also bring up another aspect, which can be called "absolute volume fidelity". Too often in our systems, it is just easier to ignore this, but for naturally recorded music, you really must be able to reproduce it at the same volume at which it was originally played. The illusion of "live" cannot genuinely be approached otherwise, and this only makes sense. But for something like a piano or a horn, this requires a lot more power than most folks realize not to compress or distort the instantaneous peaks, and your room must be of a certain size, and preferably acoustically treated as well, if it is also not to overload on these and give away the game.

Finally, I would like to point out that while seemingly not high on the priority list of most audiophiles, and not yet attainable for most program material anyway, recreating a believable, immersive soundfield through some sort of multi-channel record/playback scheme will do as much or more to address the "live-like" question as any of the preceding can. Sorry to repeatedly wander so far off-topic on the thread-head's question about how to accomplish "live" given a modest system in a small room without scrapping it all, but I don't know how to do that, so I ramble instead. }:-(
The closest I have been able to come to live music is with Stax electrostatic headphones. Headphones are not everybody's cup of tea but if you haven't heard them, give them a try
Well Beetle, I guess if you want to "sharpen" your sound, horns are the way to go. Not for me... Tom
I fully agree with Zaikesman's comments. I firmly beleive that the "feeling" you refer to from live performances can not be gotten through hi-fi's,HOWEVER, a better system than what you currently are listening to would definitely help you in bringing that feeling you get from live music closer to you in your home. I also think that we can drive ourselves nuts if we continually buy the "next" new component in hopes of achieving the "absolute sound" as opposed to getting the best sound we can afford and enjoy the music.That's not to say we shouldn't upgrade when we can, but to do it reasonably, and basically enjoy what we have. It's all about the music anyway, isn't it?
You need speakers with a fast response, which go down low and which move a lot of air...and for those rimshots ...don't laugh...a tweeter,( and a good midrange driver of course ) which can handle real fast transients.
Always start by getting the most out of the system you have. When you can afford to upgrade components, then you still want to get the most out of them.

For the most part, I believe that "grunge" and noise are additive. It comes from all parts of the signal chain, starting of course with the components of the recording system (some recordings are much cleaner, more dynamic and musical than others) continuing with your source, cables, power, electronics, speakers and room. Faults, flaws and especially non-linearities, along the way add "grunge" which obscures the otherwise dark and spatious background into which musical notes decay.

My point is this: improvements can be made even with imperfect equipment. You may be able to make significant improvements in percieved dynamics by removing some of that "grunge."

There have been some good suggestions in this thread regarding room issues and speaker placement. Another very import potential improvement is in the area of vibration control. The idea is to prevent vibration from your speakers from getting into your room through the floor or wall shelf, etc. Keeping the floors and walls from vibrating can yield impressive gains in the depth, dynamics and "PRAT" of the music. So experiment with some stans, or other concepts for speaker vibration isolation. More refined improvements can be made be keeping that vibration away from your components, even cables. So give it a try, and see what you can do for free.


PS: BTW, when it comes to vibration of components, there was a great design for component stands contributed in a different thread ("Here's How I Make My Equipment Racks") by Caterham1700 *Thankyou Caterham1700* which you might try.
Play an instrument! Or sing! Really.
Go to the Dynavector website and look up Super Stereo. It explains why the most expensive stereo equipment still does not have the real "feel" of music. It also shows why audiophiles are forever pouring more money into their systems, but still not being satisfied with what they hear. Stereo equipment has come close to technical perfection. Unfortunately stereo companies have totally missed the point concerning what makes music realistic and satisfying. The great thing about this concept is that inexpensive speakers can produce results as good as larger more expensive ones.
there is a simple answer to your question.

the reason it's not like a live concert is because the stereo you have can not evoke the emotionality of the live performance. there is only one type of amplifier that can do this and that is a set.
I'm usually passive, but this time I must say something, sounds like you just want a real sounding system, and your getting the run-around from these audio_amateurs, and I like to help. Today's audio world gets 98% of the audio signal accurately, what is missing in the best systems is a realistic dynamic range and presence (ammount of energy in every frequency) the rest has been solved, like resolving power, timbre, sommothness while having enough detail, even most off the speed is there. In fact the industry hit a brick wall about 10 years ago, and the only thing that has improved is speaker quality but at a premium though!
BUT to achieve the MAGIC you seek at home, you must have some magic there to work with, that 1 or 2 magic things that bring your system together, find that magic, it might be a rare electrostatic speaker, a great open tube amp, tube pre-amp, a killer 6 foot tall dedicated power conditioner, or WIRES (I'll give you hints- without the right wire not one system will sound real, and there is almost no good wire other then MIT, HARMONIC TECH. MONSTER SIGMA, CARDAS, TARA LABS, maybe 1 or 2 more, sorry, I heard them all, and owned them all, and we are not talking about the cheap stuff here, but then there is EBAY) I have no problem hooking up a 800.00 used interconnect, to a consumer grade unit, as long as I get the desired results. Stay away from direct advice, and use your common sence. I built plenty of systems under 3 grand, that sound almost as good as my 50.000.00 reference rig that sounds 95% LIVE, and I have compared, but it took me 10 years to assemble it. All equipment is good, all high end is great, the rest is taste and SYMMETRY, and that overkill that will drive the system to the point where you want it, that magic that will break the barrier to the other side, which too me seems , very few have reached here. Is it accustics, power line, speakers, all of the above, I don't know each system is as unique as their owner, for me it was WIRES, without my wire collection, or the substitution of even 1 interconnect, robs my system of that resolving power, and the magic is gone, sounds like any other rack system, clean, but not real.
Me, I'm no one, I love music, I've been doing this all my life, I work in the industry, for probably the biggest retailer in the world, my job is simple, I set up stereo systems for the rich and famous, and make them sound REAL.
My customers worship me, and that's more satisfaction then any financial gain in this world. ENJOY THE MUSIC.
Sasha, what a beautiful post! When I started reading, I thought, prepared to be bored, well just another case of opinionated, self declared "expert" gibberish, however, what a joy, far, far from it! You are the first I've met, who openly stated, what I have also felt for quite some time, that apart from the hype, climbing to ever greater heights, there have been no essential breakthroughs in electronic design in the last 10 to 15 years. And yes, assembling a system which comes close to the real thing, you must be prepared to enter a labour of love which lasts for decades and actually never really ends....and you must know what the real thing sounds like. You must know it so intimately, that it is sort of engrained in your very being. Only then are you able to listen "right" and only then you will be in the position to appreciate the truth in every word you say, as regards speakers, wires, p.-conditioners et al...and the love for music, which is behind it all. As you say, dynamic range and presence from one end of the frequency sprectrum to the other, as well as what you call symmetry, are the things to strive for. It can be done, but in order to achieve this, you must both know and love live music in all its forms. Thanks Sasha for breaking you silence and sharing your experience with us! Cheers,
Yes indeed a beautiful post and not a shred of snobbery either.Cannot add much but listen to live music as much as possible all kinds of music in as many venues as possible and burn it into your soul.
Brucegel and Detlof, sorry, but I can't share your swell opinion of Sasha's post. Where is the iconoclasm in noting that the high end hasn't taken any quantum leaps closer to reality recently, or that everything - plus synergy - matters in a system, or that dynamic fidelity is a big issue? That's stock stuff, true as it may be.

What I notice more are his hard-to-defend comment implying that only seven or so brands of wire (which, interestly, bear little relation to one another in their product designs) can truly be called "good", and the claim that his customers "worship" him (what's so "beautiful" about that sentiment?).

More to the point though, Sasha's cliched exhortations about "magic", his declaration that "all high end [equipment] is great", and his claim that he can make a $3K system sound very nearly the equal of a $50K system (apparently through a mixture of mass-market electronics and speakers with high-$$ wires bought used, to judge from the rest of his post), make me wonder what exactly he means when he leads in by offering that the thread-head is "getting the run-around from these audio amatuers , and I'd like to help".

Gee, how gracious of him...Sasha, sorry to have so thoughtlessly provoked a selfless professional such as yourself to need to emerge from the woodwork in order to set us straight. Doubtlessly, the original poster will now know exactly what they need to do after reading your uniquely valuable contribution: Call you.
Zaike, I respect your opinion greatly and I grant you, that Sasha's post can be read and interpreted exactly as you indeed did, but I preferred to concentrate on the points he stressed to listen for, which possibly, as you stated, is "stock stuff", which however I find rarely mentioned here with the emphasis I feel they should have. I rather doubt, that many people realise, that their systems, good as they may be, simply cannot faithfully reproduce the dynamics within the entire musical spectrum of a given piece of music and I agree with Sasha, that only if you get that more or less right, apart from the other things he mentions, your rig will begin to sound musical in the sense of live music played in a real space. Not identical to, of course, but coming closer......
I did also wonder about Sasha's choice of wires, although I would agree with him, that cables are important to get your system to sing. It is probably also "stock stuff" that there are some people around, steeped in the experience of live music, who are able to set up a 5k system and make it sound better that stereos 20 times its cost. I've heard that happen more than once and I don't doubt, that you would agree with me in that point as well. So I wonder, what really irked you and tickled your sarcasm. Sasha's narcissism? His pride in his customer's "love"? Come on, Zaike, these pages are full of that sort of thing in one way or another. His point, that apart from speaker design, there has not been a real breakthrough in electronic design? Whatever, although I do see your argument, I still wonder, what was it that got your back up and I still contend, that Sasha's points are well made and although stock stuff indeed, they should be mentioned again and again, because they are so important. What I still find beautiful in his post is his obvious love for music, so I forgave him that little bit of selflove, because sometimes I'm tempted to think, that music lovers are a rare breed amongst audiophiles.....
Actually Detlof, I had to get halfway through your congratulatory post about Sasha's commentary before I realized it wasn't going to end up being sarcastic! :-) (And yes, I'll grant that anybody can screw up a $50K system as easily as a $3K system - maybe more.)

Anyway, no secrets here: I thought many of the other posts above were more perceptive - *and* more directly addressing of the question - than Sasha's. There was no need to come in with that deus-ex-machina attitude, and then contribute nothing beyond some worn-out warhorses and a passel of unsupportable claims. For the put-down, at least give us something more perceptive than "WIRES"!

Even so, there was one thing he said which I will fully get behind - "Stay away from direct advice, and use your common sense" (to which I'll add, 'And your ears'). He could have been addressing this to Rosypup or a few others, and I couldn't agree more. In one form or another, this is basically what I've been saying around here for two years.

[And just for the record - once more - I've never equated audiophilism with being a truer music-lover. Some are, a heck of a lot aren't. Sasha may be a better audiophile than me, but who's to say when it comes to caring about music...for any of us?]
Thanks Zaikesman for again stating your points. I now understand better and I do agree with your statement about S's deus ex machina attitude. That was indeed uncalled for. For the rest I still beg to differ somewhat, for the simple reason that those "wornout warhorses", which indeed they are for the cognoscenti, still belong to the category of unknown species to many students of our hobby. By the way, what do you think makes for a "good" audiophile and where would you put the emphasis? Technical savvy? Golden ears? An inventive, experimentative attitude?
"Melomanie"? An open mind, ready to learn? Probably all of it and then some....Cheers,
Well, I was mostly referring to experience...
What a wonderful post sasha, pay no mind.
I think sasha's main point is how the quality of components is secondary to how critical tacit knowledge/experience is to making hifi sound good. And, this is something I severely lack but am trying to make up for by experimenting like a mad man with wires wires wires!! and some components and other accessories ofcourse.

Funny thing is, I used to design and install home theater systems for the "rich and famous and they worshipped me" too. But, as I have quit that boring industry and have more time to concentrate on my own hifi system, I seem to run into more walls. I can't seem to make my system *click*. I am not sure whether it is because I have a more objective mind when I am spending other people's money or I am just too critical of my own system thus I lose my ability to just enjoy the music.

I must also say, I was under 17 when I started selling this audio stuff and my colleagues were all over 40 with some over 60. I would say their approach were totally different than mine. I sold the components based on technical specifications and the clients' needs, and the elder guys sold themselves.
Brucegel, do you agree with Sasha's contention that "the rest has been solved" except for realistic dynamic range? I would contend that realistic soundfield (including reverberent soundfield) recreation is at least as big a stumbling block to getting the real feel of live music as is lifelike dynamic range - and an even bigger challenge technically, from the recording, reproduction configuration, and listening room acoustics standpoints. (I'm really not trying to lynch Sasha here - I probably wouldn't have commented at all on his post absent the hosanna's - I just honestly can't see what makes you guys feel that it's so incredibly insightful, helpful, or even reading, Sash?)
I also failed to see the beauty in Sasha's post... I thought
it was pretty lame. There are a lot of people here that
know whats going on and know alot about "cables",
"dynamics" and "system matching" tell us something we dont know Sasha? There might even be some rich and famous people around here?
What I sense running below the surface of sashas comments is a lifelong love of finding and trying to recreate a live experience of inner depth and beauty in the system synergy which is ultimately more satisfying than pure high endness of things.His comments if dissected sound weak,but I don't read them discreetly but rather on whole.As I write this Paul Galbraiths guitar transcriptions of the BACH violin sonatas/partitas is playing and says everything that sasha is getting at for me.Words really do fail to convey the state of grace that music engenders.
Ha! Bruce, I bought that disk and tried my best to love it for years, but finally gave up and traded it in - I just no longer wanted to listen to the machine-like playing, the intrusive breath noises, or the not-so-natural recorded sound of Galbraith's admittedly unusual instrument. Yes, the guy is an amazing virtuoso, and has put in a hell of a lot of work all the way around, but...I dunno, maybe I'd enjoy him more live, but I ultimately had to conclude that this recording was just never going to do it for me the way I wanted it to as a Bach-loving guitar player. Oh well :-)
Zaike, LOL, and sorry Bruce, brother in arms as far as old Sash is concerned, I am one mind with Z. as far as that Galbraith disk is concerned. I found it plainly musically uninvolving. We all hear and perceive differently, have different tastes and we all have EGOS. Lest those go entirely centerstage, I suggest we change the subject and get back to the music and Beatle63's concerns.......
Yes indeed,without our differences what kind of a sad blandness would we exist in.
Beatle seems to have moved on...maybe the latter part of this thread didn't give him a "real" feel!
Got an email from Bruce today:

TO: Zaikesman

Try to find some kind of therapy in the real world, the internet is a terrible substitute.

FROM: Brucegel (a member)

Posting it here will serve as my only comment. Carry on...