too laid back, or deeper soundstage?

With every equipment upgrade I do I notice the sound is more and more laid back. I guess you can say the stage is getting deeper. But on some recordings I miss the immediacy, especially on vocals. My upgrades were as follows, Adcom amp to CJ, MIT 330 to new shotgun cables, and MSB DAC to Sony SACD. Each upgrade improved the sound in every other way. My speakers are likely next to go. I currently have Spica TC-60's. I listened to Audio Physic Tempo's and they seem even further laid back. Any suggestions on speakers? What about cables? Cables seem to have made a big difference and are probably easiest to upgrade. Opinions? Don't audiophiles want performers in the room? What is this, "it sounds like your sitting in row Z" talk?? Do listeners prefer this?
People usually are bothered when their usual soundstage changes. Why don't you keep it for some time first before you tweek some more? If you want to go the IG (instant gratification) route, I suggest you change the tubes to a more richer variety if your CJ is a tube pre/amp or try different power cables.
Hello Joe, I think what is happening is that as your system improves and you increase its resolution it resolves more of the venue in which the recording was made. This a "GOOD" thing. The idea is to transport you to where the recording was made not the other way around. The lowest level information on the source is the ambient and imaging clues, as your system improves and becomes more resolute the spatial information should increase. It's not that you're hearing less detail of the instruments or vocals, you should actually be hearing more details on the instrument in ? plus have a better insight into the actual space where the performers were recorded. I hope this explains to you what you are hearing as your system improves. Good luck, Tom
Joe, there are a number of test CDs out that you could use to test how accurately your system portrays depth. The test track usually has a person walking around a room talking and/or striking a percussion instrument. At different points in the room the speaker announces how far away he is from the microphone. XLO, Chesky and I think Stereophile have test discs with this type of track. As a rule of thumb, there are two types of audiophiles. The first type wants to know exactly what's on the disc. Their motto is accuracy. The other type of audiophile wants all the detail and nuances of the music, but they want to music to still sound "nice". A recessed soundstage can contribute to the nice sound. A true high end system will make some records sound very good and other very bad. There's a wide range of sound quality in recorded music. A good system should reveal these differences. Part of the reason there is a resurgence in single ended tube amps and high efficiency (horn) speakers is that some people want the immediacy, the in your face sound, back. It reads like you are really listening to your equipment and chanllenging what your hear. It's hard to go wrong with that method.
i have the same problem ,i just changed my speakers this week.from hales rev 3 to jmlab electra 920.the diffrence is so great that i'am confused at this point.the hales sound was very natural but the the jmlabs let you hear things that were not there before.the voices are so centered now and so deep like there was another speaker behind them.i changed the interconects from the pre to the power from nordost blue heaven to vampire cast copper and some naturality came back but the imaging was reduced and so was the depth.i am as joe confused as what to do.
You complain that your system is too laid back, and it seems easy to see why. You are using Conrad Johnson electronics and MIT cables. These are very laid back and polite components. You did not mention which C-J products you have(please let us know), but they can all be more or less described as lush, warm, and polite. MIT(and Monster) cables are best with solid state electronics like Krell or Mark Levinson(to my ears). My suggestion, first change your cables. I would look into Kimber, Straightwire, Audioquest. Kimber and Straightwire will liven things up the most(the opposite end of the spectrum from where you now are). I personally prefer Kimber. If you want to do this cheaply, try PBJ and 4TC(both used), you can do this for $100(or less). If this combo makes you happy move up the ladder to KCAG(bypass Hero) and 8TC down the road. Audioquest is more middle of the road in sound, this will not open things up as much as the other two. Try this if you want to back it off from where Kimber is(but, I suspect you won't). After you have the cables right, eventually you may want to upgrade your speakers. Stick with easy to drive models, as they mate best with C-J. Audition this type of speaker in your price range, and try it in your system before buying(if at all possible). Compare metal dome tweeters(to see if they are you style - sounds like they may be) to soft domes. Although you do not seem to be an ideal candidate for tubes, it is still too early to tell. If you are using KimberKable, and a metal dome tweeter, and are still not happy, then look into solid state(but I hope you can be happy with your C-J stuff).
Wow, it's interesting that you get a laid back sound with the Audio Physic tempos - I just heard them yesterday with an all CJ system; half art pre, MF 2500 amp and a CJ cd player and I thought it sounded slightly forward and lean. I know that some employees at CJ use cardas, I have the MIT Shotguns and a CJ pre with Classe amp and it is a pretty warm system. I prefer that, you could liven yours up with different cables for sure like Kimber. I've used PBJ's and KCAG IC's and the sound is definitely more immediate on my system. I love the soundstage the MIT's throw, much better laterally than either Kimber that I mentioned. Have you moved your speakers around - I've been doing this for 10 years! Closer to the back wall will pull vocals more up front. SS amplification will difinitely give you immediacy if your CJ is tube.
If the setup of speakers and components in your rack/room has not changed and you did optimize for your previous components this also adds to the difference in presentation different equipment renders (and you're noticing) I've found differences as such in changing power cords as well and without any other changes, I had to reposition speakers and modify toe-in to get back some of the previous presentation I liked and capitalizing on new good things upgrading bring. System balance and cables might have to be adjusted maybe but first give everything a nice break in / settling time and try closed angle for the speakers for example..... Hope this helps
I crave that immediate sound especially on vocal music as well. Try Totem Model 1 Signatures (w/ Cardas Cross speaker cables) if you want that immediate or palpable sound. Having had the upgrade bug like most audiophiles, I was looking to upgrade my speakers. I tried many, many speakers including the highly regarded B&W N805's. As much as I wanted to like the 805's, they had a 'polite' character *in my system* that would keep me disinterested in the music. It may have been bad synergy with my other components but the fact remained that my late night listening sessions would end up with me falling asleep on the listening the Totems stayed. I often enjoy listening to live music be it in a small jazz club or a large hall or even an outdoor concert. I always try and get a good seat, usually close to center a few rows back and my attention is towards the stage. I attend these live performances to listen AND see the musicians play the music. I've heard audiophiles (and manufacturers) preach the tonal balance bible and cast away immaging and soundstaging as some sort of sickness. I say both are equally important. If this makes me less of an 'audiophile' so be it, but if this makes me want to play disc after disc 'till the early hours of the morning with my foot tapping then the sound system has succeded in it's function. If you prefer a more immediate sound then who cares what other people prefer, go get it. I've listened to other systems where the owners claims of the correct timbre and tonal balace are supposedly right on but always felt their systems to be cold, sterile, uninvolving. Their systems may have sounded good but they did not make a connection or attract my attention. It will be you who will spend your money and you who will do most of the listening in your system. Buy the components that will play the music to your liking and forget these 'preachers' of sound. I have and am quite happy.....for now.
GOOD ... now improve the front end and power.....
Also, another caveat - depth of soundstage a result of getting more time-correct low-level detail from your system. It seems that the precise imaging of echoes and the decay of instruments in the apparent acoustic space now appear - like putting on your glasses, if you're myopic. If you like live recordings and classical, you may prefer this kind of sound. Pop, rock and small-ensemble jazz might sound a bit too subdued in this case. (Since most of us grew up listening to that on a totally soundstage-less boombox, old habits and expectations die hard) But 'laid back' could describe a psychoacoustic phenomenon where there is a little dip in the midrange (exactly where, I am not sure, but somebody mentioned this some newsgroup a long time ago), and this gives a 'laid-back' sound. The human ear is most sensitive in the midrange area; with the midrange being attenuated a bit, it makes the bass and treble comparatively louder. In my experience, this is much less satisfying than the first case - having a deep soundstage. I even had 2 power cables that manifest each phenomenon above exactly in my system! You should try and see which one plagues your system, then correct accordingly...