We had a very interesting discussion along these lines. Possibly of interest. https://forum.audiogon.com/discussions/why-do-some-think-music-not-gear-trading-etc-is-the-ultimate-...
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The habit of expecting/listening for imaging, when sitting centered is in-grained, must be overcome as you say.
After your system is analytically adjusted, and a particular LP/CD/Streamed Track has been ’inspected’ regarding content and how well it is recorded, then knowing what’s there, it’s time to ’let go’, simply enjoy what you know is coming.
Related, is listening to Mono recordings.
I learned here, and implemented:
LP: Stereo Cartridge using Mono Mode on pre-amp is not as good as a Dedicated Mono Cartridge. Mono cartridges avoid any vertical artifacts that Stereo cartridges react to. Those artifacts are more detrimental than I realized.
Next: use only One speaker.
Finally: Listening: get OUT of your primary centered listening position. as the main point of your thread implies.
Mono recording in the 50’s was quite good. Rather than imaging, I find a proper Mono cartridge produces cleaner distinction of individual instruments, players, which adds greatly to both enjoyment, and hearing the greats when they were both young, coming up, creating their individualism.
Over time I went from analysis and upgrade to just listening and enjoying the music. Then after five or ten years, something... available funds / advances in technology... read an article, I upgrade something. This then throws the rest of my system into imbalance (the new component is much better than the remaining)... so I go through an upgrade cycle. I try and make them short, but with break in periods, research, sometimes funds, they can take a year. But I was a scientist... so I like analysis and success at zeroing in on the perfect sound. Then, I sit back and really forget about the sound.
In fact, over the years I have learned... provided there are not fundamental problems with the sound, the best way to determine the character of the sound and if I like it, is to not analyze / critically listen but just to listen to music for a couple of weeks. The overall character becomes appearent with a real draw to the system, or not. Your subconscious works on the overall impact and emotional connection with the music (rhythm and pace) instead of really irrelevant stuff like can I hear the musician move his foot. My systems have gotten much better when I left that detail and really obvious stuff behind and experienced the music in its totality.
This approach took me from ribbon speakers and massively powerful amps to all Audio Research components and Sonus Faber Amati Traditional speakers. My systems are now orders of magnitude more satisfying than when I analyzed the microdetails.
These are interesting responses. I'm not scientist but I know plenty, and to them the kind of back and forth between experiment and experience is part of a happy process. Some people get obsessed and need the advice, "Smell the flowers," but many others are simply content with there being analytical periods and sensuous periods. I enjoy moving speakers around, trying new tubes, analyzing the room -- it's -- what's the word? -- fun. And...I love music. The ability to put one's analytical mind to rest so that the other part of personality can take over is, for me, key to a well-rounded life.
well, I never said stay there...of course the old saw is “ stop and take time...to smell the flowers “.Clearly there is motion. The saw does not say stop forever..
yes....do both... what might be more fun to explore are the intervals..
I know gear changers and I know those in deep stasis.. i am in the middle.