"It doesn't impress you at first..."

Hey everyone,

Have you noticed how the above analysis has been a staple in professional audio reviews? I've read so many times that item x won't impress me instantly, but that as I live with it, I'll begin to appreciate "the little things" it does that make it amazing.

Personally, my goal is to get as close to the sound of live music as I can. When I get close, I know it. Instantly. "Living" with a component has never changed my gut instinct about it. If I have to sit there and analyze the sound, thinking about the mid-bass and the PRaT and the soundstage, to me that means something's wrong. If I love a component, I generally know within the first 10 seconds.

I'm sure many people do things totally differently and are very happy with their own methods. What do you think?
I agree with the "living" with ideology, only because it has been my experiences. The best components I have found don't blow you away upon initial listen, but its the fact they do nothing wrong and it takes a while to get used to. I have also found the most fatigueing components are the ones that blow me away upon first listen, the "wow" factor wears off and what ever caught your ear now drives you mad!

Clearly there is a difference between good sound and bad sound, once those lines have been defined its the subtle things that make a system enjoyable to me. This could easily be a difference between the way various people listen and the things they relate with live music.

A classic example which holds true every time I try them are silver cables, I have yet to find one that I don't find fatigueing. Yet at first listen I am blown away and think this is exactly what I need, but it doesn't sound like live music and this wears me down. The funny thing is every maker of silver cables claims there cables don't sound like other silver cables- after all ours went to an ivy league school so they are better then your silver cables:^) I find it funny that if everyone is trying to make silver cables that don't sound like silver cables then why start with silver in the first place!?!?!?

With truly great components it can be love at first note, but these don't come around that often.
Since I have never listened to live music in my room, and you can never listen live music if you are listening to an audio system, I just get the component that makes music sound most enjoyable to me (after I listen a while). Since no two components are identical sometimes it takes a while to sort out the differences and choosing the one which does most of the important things for me well and matches the rest of my system. I envy you being able to accomplish this in 10 seconds. I always get bogged down in this synergy thing. :-)

I agree with Tireguy in general and especially with those Silver cables. They never lasted in my system either, and I'm very suspicious of components (mods as well) which use silver wire.
But music is often an acquired taste. It is the subtle things that often separate a great musician from merely good and you can't begin to appreciate the subtle things that a musician does until you understand more about the music and the instrument. It's like reading a book or piece of poetry. The best books or poetry are ones you can read over and over again and find something new and it's the same with music. Like good writers, good musicians have a vast resource of associated knowledge in which to make references to. If you don't understand or have knowledge of what the references pertain to, you miss parts of the message. When you've figured out what the references mean, you can then come back and perhaps find new appreciation for the work.
Often times a component, be it speaker, amp, pre, cables, etc. have a quality that is quite apparent immediately. Sometimes you notice the bass or midrange, etc or a combination of things that jump out at you and scream "hey look at me". But over time you realize that these things don't necessarily serve the music. They are sometimes exaggerations and can become quite annoying. An artificial detail or something else that while grabs your attention initially just isn't real.
We don't simply listen to bass or treble or midrange or dynamic impact (well maybe some do). It is how the whole is presented. Are you listening to your "system" or are you listening to music. Therein lies the answer.
Awesome responses guys, thanks. We all have our own perception of what "live music" sounds like, given our different concert-going experiences, our own experiences as musicians, or just differences in our ears. But can't you tell quickly when a system suddenly clicks into what your idea of live music is, or at least comes pretty dang close?

Personally, the things that knock my socks off when I first hear them are the systems that sound like my aural memory of live music. Things that do not knock my socks off are improved bass response, less etching in the treble, etc. Or at least I don't think they do... Granted, what makes me hear "live music" is surely a conglomeration of all of those little points, but I would never make an upgrade based on "improved bass response" or "smoother highs". Anyway, just some random thoughts.

And word to the silver cables. Not my cup of tea either.
I once bought a pair of speakers that hooked me on how fabulous they sounded with one particular record. Turned out that was the only record they sounded good with. After a week of trying, I threw myself on the mercy of the dealer and he took them back. Since then I haven't made the mistake of "trusting my ears" that way. Dave
There are two reasons I think why this warning is true:

1. It is possible to engineer features into components, especially speakers, that will impress upon first hearing but become irritating over time. Exaggerated treble or bass will make a speaker stand out and seem more full of life but this becomes evident as a problem over time.

2. Some of the more important qualities of a component apparently really take time to notice and appreciate.

The first time I shopped for high end speakers, I did a quick a/b comparison among several, maybe five pairs. I was able to quickly eliminate one pair, the Gale 401-c, and focus on the others. But on subsequent visits to that store, I realized that the Gale was FAR more lifelike and nuanced than the other speakers, it seriously outclassed them. But these qualities just don't jump out at you, you need time to appreciate them. I bought them and got great joy out of them for over a decade.

And it was funny how friends would come to appreciate my stereo, really love to listen to music on my stereo, but rarely take serious note of it upon first hearing.

Howie Thanks!!! Can't remember ANY post that hits it on the head like that one!! The value of the growth and learning process can't be overstated.
My memory of live music was of wind and mud and stuff- a woman screeching. Everyone was wandering around. Nothing I have listened to since has really captured it.