What floats your boat, sound wise that it?

A recent thread explores the significance that 'neutrality' (aka accuracy) plays in creating a home audio system. Many folks feel that accuracy cannot, as a practical matter, ever be established because of the divergence created by rooms, speakers, amp's interface or design, pre-amps, and probably as important as speakers/room, the sources used.

I took a shot at the 'accuracy' goal and found it, after many years, frustrating and unrewarding. I veered off that path and started a pursuit of establishing those things that had real meaning for me.

It seems we all talk the same talk but we walk different paths. It might be fun to talk about what things we find important in our systems - what keeps us engaged and coming back for more.

For example I love to hear the lower octaves of a solo piano resonating cleanly and having a physical sense of presence. I like the highs to be equally clean and clear and standing out against a black background. Think about being able to hear brush strokes on cymbals without hearing a peakedness in other high frequencies. And most importantly I want the upper bass thru the mid-range to have the 'warmth' that I would associate with an old fashion symphony hall when sitting in the front/mid section of the main floor. And, to the extent that I can obtain it, I want a system that can recreate the information on the disc which allows me to appreciate the spatial effects put there by the recording engineers. For me a system's 'resolution' is paramount, a distant second to other system characteristics. That is my goal and I measure my success by it.

Anyone care to share their goals?

I like to be able to hear the musicians. I am not really into coloring the sound in any particular direction - too often this muddies the details on a good quality recording (distortion adds frequencies that are not there and unwanted system resonance messes up timbre by prolonging certain frequencies). All coloration or added emphasis tends to detract from a good recording.

For me the midrange is all important as that is most of what you hear, dynamics are also extremely important whilst the bass is crucial in so far as bad bass just wrecks everything.

For example, warm resonant bass (which is pleasant and impressive sounding) detracts from our ability to hear other details in the music. Technically this is called "masking". I am in the camp that prefers good quality bass with less bass extension over bad quality bass with amazing extension.
My goal is to get my toes tapping and my head bobbing. If I also happen to nod off to sleep at some point, then that's an extra bonus.

Pretty simple, really.
I'm alot like Tvad in this regard.

I'll toss out that I want to enjoy listening and not want to stop or lose interest, mainly not be fatigued by listening.

There are many systems with various strengths and weaknesses that I have heard that all sound different yet all were pleasant to listen to and not fatiguing. Some are not very expensive. Some are.
Musical for sure (toes tapping and my head bobbing as Tvad says)....very good tone ( I like a thrill every time I listen...goose bumps if in the sweet spot.

I must have full range reproduction (or very near it) to enjoy my wide range of musical taste....bookshelf types are fine at my computer though.

I like a large soundstage ...dipole, bipole, and omnipole types mostly.

I could care less about most of the other audiophile distractions....been there and done that.

Oh, and also I should be able to play most anything from old 78s transferred to digital, to 33 1/3 records or decently recorded old cassette tapes, to the latest and greatest digital recordings and be entertained by whatever that recording has to deliver, and not be offended as I outlined above.
I'm with Sogood1 insofar as I like a large, full-range image, therefore I listen at volumes that produce this experience.

Believe it or not, I can nod off to music playing at high decibel levels.
Large full range images do float my boat also!
Musical first choice,accuracy,then the add the extras♫
I want a system that draws me in. I am not one who likes overblown bass but when I hear a kick drum, I want to hear a kick drum if you know what I mean. I want it to sound organic and feel it. I love the sound of an unamplified kick drum.
I find listening to a well done, well reproduced recording to be a real "upper" (meaning very stimulating), and in fact I avoid listening if I want to get to sleep within the following couple of hours. I don't generally listen to my system as background music; I want to be able to concentrate on it just as I would in a concert hall.

Which means first and foremost that the system has to be able to reproduce music, in this case mostly classical music, at realistic concert hall volumes cleanly, including in the bass region. And that means bass peaks in the range of 100 to 105 db, which can easily be reached on well recorded examples of a lot of symphonic music.

At the same time, I want harmonic and timbral accuracy in the mid-range. If there is a basic rightness in the midrange for the predominant instruments on any given recording, I find that my attention is drawn to them by their realism, and faults elsewhere in the spectrum, or even in the mid-range on other instruments that play subordinate roles, are less objectionable to me because my attention is grabbed by what is right about the recording (if it is REALLY right), not what is wrong. That is particularly so if any shortcomings elsewhere are subtractive in nature, rather than being additive colorations.

Next in line in my order of priorities are clean transient response, followed by imaging (it should be both large and well-focused).

I tend to think of pretty much all of these things as correlating with accuracy, resolution, and neutrality, but I don't pay a lot of attention to terminology and semantics. My feeling is that if something sounds really right, it is easy to recognize, and I don't pay a lot of attention to analyzing or characterizing why. It is when it doesn't sound right, and when what is wrong about the recording or its reproduction is bad enough to overshadow what is right, that the difficulties in analyzing and characterizing the problem arise.

Frankly, since the time I reached the point at which my system attained some semblance of high-end accuracy (which was in the 1980's), the biggest variable in all of this (at least with the classical music which comprises most of my listening) I have found to be the recordings themselves.

Consequently a disproportionately high percentage of my collection and my listening is to recordings that are either on audiophile-oriented labels or labels that are otherwise high quality. Examples being Chesky, Wilson, Sheffield, Telarc, reissues of early RCA and Mercury, Harmonia Mundi (both France and Germany), Astree, Valois, Accent, MoFi, Lyrinx/Syrinx, Reference Recordings, etc. Some of these labels I believe are no longer around, btw. Typical heavily multi-miked, heavily processed recordings from the major labels are usually a big letdown to me, no matter how good the performance may be.

That said, I also can very much enjoy some mono recordings from as far back as the 1940's and 1950's, such as a lot of Toscanini's, and recordings by vocalists such as Kathleen Ferrier and Renata Tebaldi.

Newbee -- Excellent thread idea!

A very happy Thanksgiving to all.

Best regards,

-- Al
Ok, this is what I do..
I plant my big butt in the sweet spot, give the attenuator a slight twist to hear the music, and close my eyes. I try to erase or ignore the vocalist and concentrate on the instrumentation/orchestration of the piece. This takes effort and I can only sustain it for one or two cuts of the album. Of course, one can't ignore the vocals but by focusing on the instruments, more of the music gestalt seems to fill the senses. I tend to hear more of what is offered, and for the rest of the album/listening session, I am more attuned to the music behind the words.
The system needs to be crisp and clear, with good soundstage. It works only with well recorded pieces, such as Mark Knofler, Aaron Neville, Rickie Lee Jones, etc.
Just a fun thing to try sometime.
Newbee, your whole narative just about nails it... just about the same here.
What Farmdoc says: I don't think I have ever done that with vocals but that's what I do with Jazz. I focus in on one instrument and kind of hear how the rest fits in with that instrument and the rhythm. That's what helps me forget about work, stress, stress at work...