What does "good" sound like?

I'm not sure where this topic should go, but here's the deal....My old roommate had an Adcom 5400 on my Kilpsch kg 3.5's with a Yamaha receiver and player(don't know the model #'s). We went our own ways and I decided to buy another 2 channel amp. I loved the way the Adcom sounded, but that was all I had ever heard. I did a little research and found many people loved to mate Aragon with Klipsch. So I ended up getting a 2004 mkII. It sounds way different, apples and oranges. I had no idea an amp could sound different. The problem is I don't listen to what most people listen to on here. I listen to mostly alternative/hard rock. Plus, it's in a different room with different components and wiring, although my wiring is better. I have a Yamaha htr5250 receiver and I had a Sony dvd player, it crapped out. I used to dac's from the Yamaha anyway because I thought they sounded better. With the Adcom I could really hear the guitars, they really stood out. Now with the Aragon the lead guitars are set really far back and the bass guitar and kick drum are really brought forward. I have to say, I like the Adcom better. The bass was pretty weak but the mid's and hi's were so much better. It seemed much more "alive" as you could hear guitar plucks and finger slides and much more detail. The Aragon is much better through the entire spectrum though, that thing will slam. I had no idea those little Klipsch's would go so low. So what am I missing here? Is it just that the Adcom was strong in the right frequencies and was more suited to the music I listen to? Or could it be the dac's are different? The room is different, but I doubt that's it. I don't think I have the right words to describe what it is I'm trying to say. Like, do I need better mid range or top end? I kind of want to swap out the Aragon for an Adcom 5500, but I love the aragon with movies because it has such great bass. Any suggestions? Thanks.
tstan, I am a little confused here, but will offer some comments anyway. I am not clear on what the Yamaha receiver is doing in this chain,...are you using it as a pre-amp? You also mentioned that your Sony player "crapped out",...are you using a different cd player?

To answer your questions, amps DO have significantly different sounds, soundstaging, etc. However, I would not be sure the different sounds are due to the amp. It sounds like you changed rooms, cd players, wires and interconnects, and possibly other factors. The only way to be sure the different sounds are due to different amps are by listening to the exact same system, in the exact same room, and changing ONLY the amps. If your friend will let you, borrow his Adcom and put it in your current system and compare. If you still like his better, sell your Aragon and buy a used Adcom. I personally think Aragon makes a great amp for the money,...but it is what YOU like that sounds "good".
If the differences are really substantial, as opposed to minor or subtle ones, don't underestimate the effect of your room boundries and speaker/listening position set up. Usually differences in electronics are relatively minor. Why not provide the dimensions of your room, describes its openings (doors & windows) speaker placement and listening position, as well as any refelective surfaces on the walls or floor. Some folks here are really good at set up and should be able to tell if the set up or room dimensions are part or all of your problem.
It sounds to me like a room thing. I find speakers sound MUCH different in different locations, especially in the bass. My guess is that the mids and his aren't recessed as much as the bass is overwhelming them. Are the speakers closer to corners than they were before? Is the room smaller? Both of these things can boost bass. Also, check to make sure that none of the drivers (individual speakers) are damaged. Maybe you have a midrange or tweeter that isn't working. Maybe you were so excited about the new amp, you cranked it to 11? Or maybe damaged in the move? Put some music on QUIETLY and listen to each driver up close to see if sound is coming out. By the way, many of us listen to various types of popular music. I understand the stereotype (pun intended)- boring middle-aged guys closing our eyes to see if we can picture Diana Krall standing in our living room (which we do), but most enjoy a wide variety of music.
Also, what you describe is not what many people would call good. Most audiophiles value a clean, articulate, non-fatiguing midrange over all else, and would prefer weak bass to booming thumpy bass that obscures everything else. So, No, this is not what "good" sounds like.
Buy a tube pre-amp, keep the aragon, and youll be 90% there with those speakers.
"Good" is relative. No two sets of ears are the same. The point of this addiction is to please your own ears.

As stated above, playing around with speaker positioning can make a HUGE difference. Start there. If after some experimenting you still aren't satisfied with the results, go for an amp change. The Adcom 555 or 555 mkII are great amps for the type of music you listen to. Plus, you won't find any lacking in the bottom end. The 555s have plenty of slam factor and can be picked up used quite reasonably.
Thanks for the responses. The Yamaha receiver is being used as the preamp, yes. The amp doubles for home theater as well. As far as the dvd player, I haven't bought another one yet. I'm having a baby, my wife and I moved in with my parents as we are trying to buy a house, so I'm using their's. It's a Kenwood, major junk. I think I'm going to go with a Denon 1910 though. I'm trying to find one that has better dac's than the Yamaha receiver being used right now. The Sony I had before sounded pretty bland so I used the receiver's. As far as the room goes---With the Adcom, it was in a town home so things were tight. The room the Aragon was in was 18x12 with the speakers in the corner of the 12ft side. So you were a little too far from the speakers technically. The room was mostly closed in with an opening about 3/4 back on one wall 18'wall, and 2 windows and a door on the other. It was an old house and was very "loose"(old windows, big crack under the door, etc). I just set everything up here at my parents' house and I haven't gotten many oppourunities to listen to it. Let me ask about my wiring. I got it from a guy that makes them(heartlandcables.com). I think he uses Canare wire and they have Eichman Bulletplugs. Also I have his speaker cable as well. Any thoughts on that? One more ?. How much an effect does the preamp section on a receiver have on the sound? Like I say, it was a Yamaha receiver used before, but I think his was a better model than my Yamaha, just older. I've already thought about trying to compare the two amps back to back, but one of the channels is dead on his Adcom. I wish he'd fix it, lol!!! Thanks for the help.
"Good" sounds like real music playing in your room. I also listen to a lot of hard and alternative rock, but nothing will tell you what your system is doing like an excellent acoustic music disk. If you play acoustic music, and it sounds live, your sound is "good". I might suggest a couple disks for that live sound. These aren't wimpy. You'll probably like them both. Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band "Swingin' For the Fences", and The Bad Plus "Give".
TVAD is right. Once you journey into this hobby you can no longer buy music you like- but you can pick something nice from several recommended recordings lists. : )
Joekras, you're post is either sarcasm, or you didn't get my point, which
simply is that hard rock or alternative rock will not give you a sense of
whether your system is "good" based on the definition of
"good" being the faithful reproduction of live music. Rock
music is heavily processed, and as such, it can't be used as an accurate
guide when setting up a reference system. Once the system is in place,
one should be able to listen to whatever one wants, and it should sound

At least one other Audiogon member has mentioned that he cannot play
his entire music collection because his system is so accurate that it
reveals the flaws in many poorly recorded CD's and renders them
unlistenable. That's one approach to system set-up and accuracy. It's
not mine.

Listen to what you like. That's the point.
Tvad, the music you suggest, is it sold in stores(best buy, goody, etc.)? I actually love acoustic music, but not the elevator type. I have an acoustic recording by Fuel I'll have to go find. Any acoustic guitar cd's out there similar to Dave Matthews? I don't like him too much though. I know he had a cd with a guy named Tim something that could really play. Thanks.
Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band and The Bad Plus should be available in stores in the jazz section, but you can save yourself some time and order them from Amazon. For acoustic guitar, check out Pat Metheney's "One Quiet Night", but this may be a little tame for you. Really excellent, but tame. The benefits of the big band and The Bad Plus, which is a piano, bass and drums trio is that you get a more complete coverage of the frequency range of your system. Both CDs go really, really deep in the bass and have crisp drums. Gordon Goodwin's disk has great horns and woodwinds, and guitar (you can hear the pick on the strings). Check them out.
With your wife expecting and short on cash at this time...pick up a cheap passive pre-amp. The Creek passive can be found here used.

For even less money (only one input though) you can pick up one of these brand new.


Your amp an speakers should work well with passive I would think.

TVAD- My sarcasm was not really directed at you, but the hobby. Agreeably a high quality acoustic recording is the way to go to evaluate a system. But A LOT (!) of music is poorly recorded and/or heavily processed. When I listen to THOSE recordings I would prefer not to notice the tone is shrill, the soundstaging is flat etc. It makes the experience irritating rather than enjoyable. So to my ears... "good sound" is enjoyable sound, and a quality system may not always be the best way to reproduce that music.
I know what TSTAN is talking about with the guitars being set back. Higher resolution components, including cables, layer and deepen the soundstage. Typically on rock recordings the guitars are set back and this tends to take the bite out of them. Some times the whole recording is pushed back and you get a presentation that sounds like AM radio.
TVAD-If he buys the music you recomend and it sounds good (as expected)- then what? You proved a good recording sounds better on a better system. What's the next step?

"I don't listen to what most people listen to on here".
It is "apples and oranges".

Ozzie sounds better with the Adcoms, but I can really hear the pick on the strings on "One quiet Night" better with the more expensive amps.

'one should be able to listen to whatever one wants, and it should sound "good"'.
If anyone has a system that provides detail, tonal, and spacial quailities of recordings AND makes the poorer recordings enjoyable, I need to know more.

Just don't make this guy give up his hard rock!

As far as passive preamps- they are highly detailed and dynamically challenged. Great for acousic music. Exactly what this guy doesn't need.

Here's my advice: If you like the Adcom get an Adcom.
Don't put a component in your system again unless you hear it first -with the music you like. Don't buy recordings just to see if your system sounds good. It's the music that should sound good. As far as the bass for movies you can add a powered sub.

If you don't take my advice you will become an AUDIO-GONER.
I think you may already have the bug.
Joekras, you make very valid points. I don't believe any system can fulfill all the requirements. If someone has such a system, please chime in. I know that my system reproduces live music very well, and that's how I can tell the components are synergistic. I also know that my system loves to play Metallica and Radiohead at high volume, but it doesn't much like Heart's "Greatest Hits", which always sounds better on my GM car stereo. I certainly don't advocate someone switching music styles to build a system.

What sounds "good" is entirely too subjective a question since answers will vary as much as the weather.
The responses I've gotten were what I was looking for. As far as swithcing music, I won't do it. But....if having a little different variety of cd's around to showcase my system, so be it. You know when a friend comes over, lol? I think in the end I'll sell the Aragon, but not just yet. It's not that I dislike it, it has it's strong points. I also wonder if I'm not making the old Adcom out to be better than was in my head. It's been like 4 years since then. I'll wait unitl I buy the house I'm looking at so I'll know what the final room set up will be, and until I get the new dvd player. That way I'll eliminate most of the variables. Thanks for the help.
This may sound sexist but, its the same as asking someone what they consider to be a good looking woman. Many guys go nuts over Julia Roberts but, I wouldn't give her a second look. My taste is more cheeky with strong thick thighs and buns. Some people like bright highs and a forward sound and some like laid back and warm. Just like saying "beauty is in the eyes of the beholder". You have to find your own reference sound....
good sounds like what the adcom set up did for you, in this case. But it doesnt hurt to set this in contrast to another sound, as it seems it has you thinking about what the differences really mean to you. Mentioning the dac in the yamaha and comparing it to the sony player, the types of rooms you have been listening in, and even high lighting the pros and cons of both the adcom and Aragon amps means you are open minded enough to consider the variables of what sounds good to you.Then, you are having a baby! Let your wife help as she can, eh? I have found they like feeling included, and it certainly isnt for you to take the whole challange of this sort of change on your own shoulders.
Yeah, about the wife, lol.....I already owned all this stuff before me and her got together. Well I never really discussed exactly how much it all cost, she just knew I was into it. Well the dvd player goes out and I'm thinking I'll be conservative because I'm about to have a baby. Like $300 or so. She about slapped me, lol. Same thing with the tv. Keep it around $1000. She's starting to understand though. Now at my parents's, I hooked some of their stuff up and showed her the difference one thing can make. She couldn't believe wiring made a differnce. I didn't tell her "only if you have equipment to take advantage of it", lol. I'm definately open minded about all this. Once I get settled for good I'll see what it sounds like. Bascially it comes down to 1)do I want the movies to sound great or 2) do I want the music to sound great, because each amp had their fortes's. So what most people consider to be good sound is if it sounds live? I say most people, not everyone.
I agree with most of the responses concerning the room setup. But don't disregard your original premise. The power amp can make a big difference in how your system sounds. I'm not an audio expert but I have swapped out power amplifiers on my system with everything else the same and heard dramatic differences in sound quality.
Maybe this thread is dead, but I wanted to update my system.

I still own my Chorus II's, but I recently switched to PS Audio Statement cables, Cardas XLR Balanced cables, and upgraded my AMP to the THETA Dreadnaught II 5X225.

I am biased, aren't we all? But DAMN! that AMP has made a mind blowing difference (My system and Theta review is posted).

It does well with Regina Carter, or Art Porter and Ronnie Earl, or at home with James Taylor Jackson Browne and Susan Vega. Or accoustic guitar greats like Don Ross, Leo Kotke, et al. It can play Creed, or Delerium....it doesn't matter they all sound amazing.

ALL the inner detail is there, voclas and background vocals POP....Klipsch are killer with cymbals,bass drum and sound effects.....the THETA, in my experience has helped me fall in love with my Klipsch again and my entire vast CD collection.....you hear what you are supposed to hear...there is NO LACK of BASS whatsoever...it pounds out...and this match can be sweet when necessary.

As I suggested, the what I paid for these speakers...nothing I have ever heard can match their ability to image and "dissapear" in a room. My speakers are nearly 14ft apart. Now maybe if the Theta can do this for my modestly priced Klipsch's, imagine what they good do for some highly regarded speakers such as Legacy 20/20's or equiv.....but right now...where I sit...moving out my Klipsch's is not an option.