Imaging and Detail.

I am curious as to what everyone feels is the best sound they can achieve from there cd players.
Do you prefer a highly detailed sound with exceptional imaging or do you prefere a more warm sound( some would call it muddled) that subdues the detail and give a more overall smooth listening experence but still retains most of the imaging?

I listen to alot of 70's rock.Led Zepplin, AC-DC,Pink Floyd,Allman Brothers,ect....
This music just does not sound right to me on a very detailed system.The music just does not flow for me with all the detail.Why does everyone put such emphises on all this detail?

With smooth jazz it is superb but with the stlye of music I prefere it is crap.
Shauup, IMO it's not all the detail, it's that some systems have tipped up treble that passes for detail. Also, many high end systems have completely eliminated bass since it's problematic and expensive to reproduce well. 70s rock without adequate bass is boring. Hyper treble isn't fun to listen to even with good recordings.

BTW, I don't know how you can stand to listen to that old rock. I agree that much of that music was brilliant and unsurpassed by future rock artists, but it's been so overplayed that I can't listen to it at all anymore. The internet has made it possible to find lots of new modern recordings that are extremely good and I'm not talking about smooth jazz. Rock, pop, folk and alt country that is extremely good. I highly recommend searching out new music. It's well worth it.
Detail and warmth are not mutually exclusive. Its not a contest. I like systems with both best. In fact I like systems that do it all best, but others can still be listenable.
What about clarity, air, space? Where do these reside for you. As long as the flow is not broken up being able to hear it all is what drives me.
I was in the same boat as you. All my rock recordings from the 70's and 80's sounded like crap. I was using Vandersteen speakers, switched to DeVore speakers with a sub and still wasn't satisified and had sesigned myself to the idea of not playing any more rock on my system. Blues, jazz and classical all sounded wonderful. That is....until the day I took delivery of a pair of Odyssey Kismet Reference loudspeakers off of Audiogon for 1250.00.

I just now finished my listening session which included "The Yes Album", "Wish You Were Here" by Pink Floyd, "Led Zeppelin 4", Santana "Abraxas", "Mott" by Mott The Hoople, "This Was" by Jethro Tull and "Demons and wizards" by Uruah Heep. Up until 2 months ago (when I aquired the speakers), all of this music was totally unlistenable on my system. Today, I couldn't get enough of it, the volume was loud and the sound was so clear and right sounding.

Now, if I only had some of that stuff I smoked back in the 70's....................

Shaunp, many of the recordings you listen to just sound terrible on audiophile systems, with Led Zeppelins albums being near the top of the list.

It's not the fault of the system.

If you want to listen to 70s rock recordings, you're better off with a less resolving vintage stereo system, IMO.
I prefer and have a speaker and cable that is detailed and images well(Thiel/ANTICABLE) and love tight lows that distingush the bass guitar from the bass drum(JL Audio Subwoofer) and a warm sounding amp/preamp(McIntosh MC206/MX118/MX134
"If you want to listen to 70s rock recordings, you're better off with a less resolving vintage stereo system, IMO."

Hmm, can't agree with that logic.

I listen to a lot of that stuff on cd, remastered and otherwise, and it is most enjoyable, the best sounding ever on my current setup. If the vinyl and setup is good, that can also. If it doesn't, then something is wrong.

Coincidentally, I noted on my system page just the other day that having heard PF's WYWH on many systems over the years, my standard issue CD now sounds as good or better as I have ever heard it and I heave heard it on many systems vintage and otherwise over the years, so it serves as a good reference for me.
08-08-10: Mapman
If the vinyl and setup is good, that can also. If it doesn't, then something is wrong.
No. I don't agree with the statement that something is wrong. In fact, something is right. The system is revealing what's on the recording (if that's the system goal).

Many, many 70s recordings are bright, tizzy and downright annoying; EQ'd to car radios and portable radios. Led Zeppelin in particular...and I really like Led Zeppelin.

If Led Zeppelin sounds good on an audiophile system, then it's not an audiophile system in the common definition of an audiophile system.
Oh you can just muddle me.. sort of like the mint leaves in a mojito.
If being an Audiophile means not listening to the music I love, I'll pass on being an Audiophile.. If you're doing the Audiophile thing while listening to Zepplin then I think either you need to turn it up or not listen to LZ when you're doing the Audiophool thing.. or maybe as Steve Winwood would say "either light up or leave me alone" By the way my Proac/Rel/Plinius/PS Audio/Cardas/Kimber/Shunyata, system sounds mighty good playing Zep,The Dead, Jackson Browne, The Who, Joni Mitchell, Dave Matthews, Coldplay, Marc Cohn, The Band, The Beatles, The Allman Bros, CSN, etc, etc, etc...
"If Led Zeppelin sounds good on an audiophile system, then it's not an audiophile system in the common definition of an audiophile system."

"Good" is subjective.

LZ sounds good on my system these days.

Has not always been the case though. It has not sounded good to me at times in the past.

A recording does not have to be absolute top notch in all regards to sound good to me. LZ and many 70s classic rock recordings are not SOTA by any stretch yet they all mostly sound good in my current setup.

Good to me means that I can hear what's there clearly and there is nothing bad or blurred going on that hides whatever is in the recording. I've heard them all enough times over the years on enough different good systems to have a good idea of when these recordings are clicking or not. They are clicking with bells on these days including many worse than Zeppelin that never clicked totally before, like Bad Company and some classic 7 Moody Blues for example

Of course what clicks for one may not for another. ITs the nature of the beast.

When you can hear things that you normally do not clearly and the recording can be played loud without offending, that's "clicking" to me.

No doubt for me that these can sound as good or better on a newer system compared to a vintage one. I would not forego a newer system for fear that classic rock will not sound as good as it did on the gear around when these recordings were made.
Point taken, Mapman.

Moving on...
"If Led Zeppelin sounds good on an audiophile system, then it's not an audiophile system in the common definition of an audiophile system."..................................... A cool breeze and two old geezers on the porch, talking with Tvad. Just pulling your leg Tvad, not kicking your cane out or anything. I have all my original copies of Zeppelin and all are in excellant shape and the only two I would agree with your evaluation of is Physical Graffiti and Presence the mid and later 70,s ones. But then I don,t know what gear you had or have to make that conclusion or generalization. I do understand what your actually saying in regard to revealing and the goal. At least the mid to late 70.s recordings were poor for the large part( bad engineers on the soundboard and pressed on sub par vynil ). ...Cheers
I don't know what gear you had or have to make that conclusion or generalization.
Has2be (Threads | Answers | This Thread)

Audio Note AN-E Spe HE (Audio Note AN-E stands)
Audio Note Conquest Silver monoblocks
George Wright Signature AU-15 monoblocks (15wpc Class A, 2A3 Push-Pull)
SMc Audio VRE-1 preamplifier
Esoteric UX-3 Pi universal digital player
Modwright Transporter wirelessly connected to MacBook Pro
Gabriel Gold Revelation II XLR ICs
Analysis Plus Solo Crystal Oval XLR ICs
Oyaide PA-02 balanced ICs
Morrow Audio SP4 speaker cable
BMI Hammerhead MK IV power cord (digital source)
BMI Hammerhead MK III power cord (preamp)
Oyaide Tunami GPX power cords (amplifiers)
Tekline Reference power cord
Alan Maher Designs Reference Power Center
Several Alan Maher Design PE wall filters
Two 20A isolated ground dedicated circuits
Environmental Potentials EP-2050 whole-house AC filter/surge suppressor
Salamander Synergy Cabinet w/ sorbothane treated shelf supports
Neuance shelf for digital source
Grand Prix Audio Apex footers (preamp and power supply)
Synergistic Research MiG footers (Esoteric and Transporter)
Stillpoints footers (amplifiers)
Timbernation 2” Maple amplifier platforms with 2” heavy brass cones under the platforms

Led Zeppelin I, Led Zeppelin II, Led Zeppelin III, Led Zeppelin IV, Physical Graffiti all are fairly etched recordings, IMO.

The OP mentioned AC/DC. "Back in Black" is an exceptionally well recorded album, as of course are almost all Pink Floyd LPs.


My speakers are B&W 683's .My pre/pro is Rotel RSP 1069 and amp is Rotel 1075.

I did some experementing tonight and moved my speakers around.I did have my speakers toed in to where they where facing my listening position which was a lot of toe in.I noticed by using less toe in I could actually make the speakers sound warmer.The more I toed them in the more the deatil was extreme and it seemed to make the music less musical if that makes any sense.With just a little toe in I was able to achive a more musical, warm sound with out the extreme detail and now it is much easier on the ears and there is no loss of imaging.The soundstage seems to of gotten bigger also.The trade off is that some of the detail is gone but to me that is not a bad thing.

I do agree that a lot of the 70's rock is not recorded that well.I have some cd's that are just unlistenable.

Stereo5...I am also a fan of all the bands you mentioned.Uruah Heep is one of my favorite bands and I was lucky enough to see them many years ago.I am also a big fan of Mountain.

Uru975...I do love Imaging and clarity but when it comes with the lack of musicality and warmth then I would trade that off for a more muddled and warm sound.

Thanks for all the opinions.
Why does everyone put such emphasis on all this detail?

By “detail,” I take it the OP means resolution, or perhaps accuracy, both of which have been discussed in the posts above. Although I am an audiophile who values both resolution and accuracy, I believe that there is such a thing as too much resolution or too much accuracy. Or, more precisely, I believe that there is such a thing as…

(1) Too much system resolution relative to the resolution of the software.
(2) Too much system accuracy relative to the quality of the recording.

Re: (1). If a system has too much resolution relative to the resolution of the software, then the limits of the software’s resolution can be apparent, sometimes painfully so. A system with less resolution might conceal those same limits, by not being able to resolve them. In that case, the absence of information in the less resolving system is an asset, rather than a liability. In other words, the absence of information can be more tolerable than information about absence.

Re: (2). If a system has too much accuracy relative to the quality of the recording, then the flaws of the recording can be apparent, sometimes painfully so. A system with less accuracy might conceal those same flaws, by distorting them, perhaps euphonically so. In that case, the distortion of information in the less accurate system is an asset, rather than a liability. In other words, the flawed presentation of flawed information can be more tolerable than the accurate presentation of flawed information.

If the majority of the software played back on a system is low resolution or if the majority of the recordings played back on a system are significantly flawed, then it makes sense to me to choose a less resolving or less accurate system. I myself have not deliberately chosen to assemble a system that way, but it seems to me to be perfectly rational, under some conditions.

Having said that, assembling a less resolving or less accurate system may reduce listening satisfaction for high resolution sources or excellent recordings. I guess the moral of the story is that, if you listen predominantly to one type of music, then choose a system that makes that type of music sound great, even if that means less resolution or less accuracy. For those who listen to a broad range of music whose resolution and recording quality varies widely, then the choice is not so simple, and inherently involves more compromises.
I am a big fan of clarity in my audio systems. However to get the best out of my Cds I added a tube buffer (which definitely cuts some clarity) just from the DAC. My phono stuff does not go through the tube buffer (A VAC Standard preamp)
I actually tried a power cable that made the VAC clearer, and took it off, the cord defeated the purpose of the buffer, to 'veil' the upper frequency grunge into a 'pleasing' sound.
My favorite system for 70's rock is the stock system in my Ford Explorer....with the windows quote Ziggy Stardust, "TO BE PLAYED AT MAXIMUM VOLUME"
Those recordings should sound best when played loud. They should ROCK because they are classic ROCK recordings. They are not Mozart sonatas. They have sufficient detail and resolution to accomplish what they are quite well. Imaging is not an issue. A good system that can rock loudly will still bring out the best in these recordings. Systems built to optimize for classical or jazz or acoustic music in general as a whole are less likely to be optimized for this kind of music. Getting electronic rock/pop and large scale classical recordings to both sound their beston the same system is no easy feat. I feel like I have only accomplished that really quite recently with the addition of the high power Icepower amps.

On the flip side, I suspect Tvad's audio note system is capable of outperforming mine perhaps in the detail and nuance department with music that can really benefit from that. I would agree that a system that is built to maximize that to the nth degree might not show what it is capable of in the detail department with many of these recordings, but I would not expect them to sound bad.

Does bad mean audibly distorted in some way? To me, perhaps. The system is sounding bad if it creates the distortion. If teh distortion is in teh recording (by design on many of these types of recordings) then reproducing it accurately is good.

BTW, a system that distorts the distortion in recordings that include distortions (like fuzz guitar for example or certain synthesized sounds) may not sound very good. There is nothing worse and perhaps even harder to detect than distorted distortion. You usually do not realize it exists until it is essentially gone. It can be the result of intermodulation distortion or deficiencies in transient reponse most frequently I believe.
The recordings I mentioned have sounded etched on every system I have owned, including a system built around Von Schweikert VR4 Gen III HSE (handling up to 1000 watts) driven by a Moscode 401HR. That system rocked to the point of shaking the windows in our house. I do miss that visceral impact, but everything's a trade-off.

My present system is not optimized for any particular music. In fact, I primarily listen to rock and progressive jazz. At CES and RMAF, Audio Note systems are often demonstrated with rock music played at high volume, including Radiohead.

As much as I usually love to disagree with Tvad to rattle his chain some, I gotta agree with him here.

If the intent going in is to formulate a highly resolving system, then that system is going to resolve the playback material (s) for what they truly are. Now that stands to reason no matter how you slice it.

We all have choices to what degree we take our systems, and the finest line in audiophilia nervosa is that line which separates both musical involvement and excellent resolution. Say your rig is right there… it probably should be if it isn’t, then better recordings will certainly sound better and those lesser ones will be revealed as such. It’s simple logic. Despite logic, it’s true. Truth doesn’t depend on my acknowledgment of it or my subscription to it… it is what it is despite me.

If the resolution and detail orientation of the system exceeds it’s own abilities to be as commensurate with musical sensibility and engagement, your outfit passed that line away from it’s best positioning for whatever reasons. Initial aims or goals, a lack of synergy, room attributes, etc. The recordings you wish to replay can drive your aims to construct a system which is quite gratifying if you build it with those ideals in mind.

I’ve done both sides of that coin so far. My highly resolving and articulate first effort wound up being entirely discarded, eventually. It played only the most well engineered recordings I could find and feed it. Normally jazz and some classical. I then went directly the opposite way, and sought to have a rig which could play anything enjoyably. Well, that idea slowly was replaced with the original one but with some alterations. Currently my main playback affair does a lot of musical genres well. Very good in fact and now & then, simply outstanding! The caveat always remains however… with lesser playback fare, the sound produced by it is lessened as well. With those less than albums, commonly, it seems dry… bass shy… or outright flat sounding to me… albeit, it is indeed listenable still..

The system traits contain none of the above products. It’s not dry, bass shy, or flat sounding…. It’s merely the recordings… 60’s, 70s, and even some 80s rock. 40s jazz, 50s jazz, much older orig blues recordings, bluegrass from the 50s to 80s. etc. I’ve spoken with more than one studio musician who has confirmed much rock, pop, country and likewise genres from some 30 years ago and beyond were scaled to one speaker car raidios, portable radios, and that’s it! Now and then the studio monitor was nothing more than a 6x9 speaker, sometimes enclosed, sometimes not., Bass lines weren’t adequately addressed, and remember stereo wasn’t around forever either. Older stereo recordings IMHO sound better in mono to me.

So what’s an audio hobbyist to do? Just play whatever you like on what ever you have. Just because I’m using my number one setup doesn’t mean I’ll not play a this or a that… I will actually. I simply denote the fact such & such cut or album just ain’t up to snuff… that’s all. I won’t discard either the recordings or my stereo system.

Lesser resolving rigs aren’t a bad thing at all! They’re quite suitable for poorer software. Think about it… in the late sixties those stereos we had then did not sound bad at all. Black Sabbath, Spirit, CSNY, Donovan, Janis, 10 years After, Sly & The Family Stone, and yes… even Joe Cocker sounded great! On a Craig Powerplay 8 track, and a pair of JBL 6x9 coaxial speakers laying in the rear window of my old Chevy. I’m not going to claim that stereo as an outstanding high end audio system but it was bleeding edge tech in 1971…. But it matched up well with the material then available.

I really dig playing Zepplin, James Gang, Supertramp, Steppenwolf, Dylan, etc. on my PC using an Altec Lansing 2.1 speaker system. Past that they do well with my office unit and bedroom arrangement too. But even with some better than average gear comprising my all tube power train, pretty good speakers, and sub, they leave me dry on my best setup. Routinely.

Most pop and rock simply does not have the audio nut in mind. They do have decibels, and well, less sophisticated ideas in mind too..

It’s not necessarily the rigs fault… it can and should only be revealing quite well the info on the disc or in the track itself. Keeping one foot in the high res & detail camp, and one in the musicality & enjoyment bivwac often means concessions are going to be made somewhere. Noting wrong with that at all. I feel it’s a ‘must’ in fact…. IF you want to replay a broader range of music than just the top tier recordings….. Or simply replay poor recordings on less resolute stereos…. Or pay no attention to the man behind the curtains and just dig the content for what it is, instead of critiquing it..
Thanks for going to the trouble Tvad of listing all the equipment. However I wasn,t trying to question your knowledge,the gear or set up itself you had/have. I should of been more clear by stating my general thinking/opinion that an audiophile system in my humble opinion with a slightly less focus on "detail" than one that does, doesn't make it less of an audiophile system.For the purist your staement is probably more accurate for what audiophiles goals are. Cheers
I will agree that these recordings often sound bad even on some really good setups, but I can't agree that that is necessarily always the case. My current system disproves that.

Before my last upgrade adding the Bel Canto ref100m amps, I might have agreed, but no longer.

I played Bad Company 10 from 6 the other day. It was the first time ever this CD sounded good and not bad to me (I've always regarded it as one of the worst recordings) and I have heard this material on many systems over the years.

Don't give up hope people. Its possible to get this stuff to sound pretty good along with everything else if you like it enough to put in the extra effort needed.

I would never go back to a vintage system for this.

BTW, it sounds acceptable as well to me on my second system using a vintage receiver with more modern music server, DAC, and speakers, but not in th e same league as my main rig.

On the other hand, I think my OHM speakers are a big part of the equation for getting the most out of these recordings. The OHMs have modern drivers but are in essence a vintage design. So maybe Tvad is right!
Having heard OHM speakers in my system a few years ago (and decades ago in their heyday), I would say they are forgiving in upper mid and high frequencies, so it doesn't surprise me that 70s recordings that I consider etched would sound fine or even good on the OHM speakers.
If forgiving equates to non-fatiguing, I would agree.

OHM walsh speakers are more etched these days with the newer drivers though than their vintage ancestors. There may be more etched systems out there but I have not heard any that are more so these days than mine without also becoming fatiguing at the same time. Who is to blame then, the recording or the system or both? If a recording sounds right on one system and not on another, I would tend to blame the system, but its a hard call to make definitively because there are so many different factors that come into play from one rig to another and even one version of a recording to another. After all, recordings do not make any sound until you play them on something.
The recording is the recording.

70s rock recordings were commonly mixed and EQ'd to fit the response curves of AM & FM car and portable radios of the time. This is where the songs received the initial airplay that sold albums. Often this meant that the highs and mids were boosted to come across better on the small car and portable radios.

This was taught in one of the early recording classes I took at S.U. when I was studying broadcasting.

So, if the recording sounds good on a system, then it's likely this system has a frequency response that somewhat mirrors the peaks and dips typical in the radios of the time.

I don't think this correlates to one system being better than another, but it does correlate to a system that happens to better match the EQ'ing on those recordings.
...a system that distorts the distortion in recordings that include distortions (like fuzz guitar for example or certain synthesized sounds) may not sound very good. There is nothing worse and perhaps even harder to detect than distorted distortion.

Mapman – I agree that the compounding of distortions can easily result in terrible sound, particularly if the distortions in question are “dysphonic,” like intermodulation distortion. In my post, when I said that, under some conditions, the distortion of information can be an asset, rather than a liability, I had in mind what might be considered euphonic distortions, such as certain kinds of harmonic distortion or non-flat frequency response. Perhaps a better word than ‘distortion’ would be ‘inaccuracy,’ since the word ‘distortion’ conjures up associations of lousy sound. With that in mind, when I said that...

the flawed presentation of flawed information can be more tolerable than the accurate presentation of flawed information

...the words “flawed presentation” could be substituted with “euphonically inaccurate presentation.” And while I'm clarifying what I meant, I should mention that the words “flawed information” in the quote above were not intended to refer to the kinds of guitar or synthesizer effects you mentioned (which are of course deliberate “distortions” created by the artists) but rather things like compressed dynamic range, objectionable equalization, etched high frequencies, and so on.
Tvad. that is interesting point. i remember when i was younger working a couple summers for a friends at his recording studio, and he would like to take a cassette out to his pickup to "hear what its going to sound like".

Most of these recordings are far from perfect. In the words of the great poet Frank Zappa, they "are what they is".

I consider myself quite fortunate that almost every recording I play sounds good to me these days and the great recordings sound great, regardless of genre. I think my audio goals have finally been achieved again for the first time in years since I moved into my current home.
... he would like to take a cassette out to his pickup to "hear what its going to sound like".

Oakleys (Answers | This Thread)
Exactly right. In college, we'd mix on small Auratone speakers that were designed to mimic car stereo speakers, even though the studio was equipped with top-of-the-line JBL studio monitors.

Later, when I was supervising edit sessions at a television network, we occasionally played the mix through Auratone speakers to hear how it'd sound at home on one's TV.
I agree with Tvad.As a guitarist/ band guy playing and recording (late 1970s through the mid 1990s)any studio I was ever in mixed through highend monitors then listened through junk basically to see how it would sound to the masses.The band would then take the pre press home for a week and listen to it in all different levels of gear,mostly low end because thats what most had.It had to sound good on low level gear, higher level systems wasnt a concern.
For me, once I got a Holographic soundstage; everything else fell into place.
If Led Zeppelin sounds good on an audiophile system, then it's not an audiophile system in the common definition of an audiophile system.

Might just be my disc set (remastered collection), but Staiway to Heaven on my system will match virtually ANY Audiophile level recording.

From the opening acoustic guitar, it is enthralling to say the least.

However, I agree that MANY 70's recordings may not sound that good (for that matter even recent recordings)