What Makes your System Special?


Could be anything but interested in what makes it special for you.   Is there something you would want to change?
B64f85c0 1cfb 4d90 ae35 4d30613964ddAg insider logo xs@2xmapman
Mine is its musicality... how seductive it is. After, about forty years of ribbon and electrostatic speakers, and massive amplifiers that gave me incredibly detailed and realistic paintings of the venue and each instrument... and of the musician that moved his foot. I have a system that changed the highlights from the details to the sound of the music, the emotional gestalt. All the details are still there, it is just that they are not in the spotlight. I am drawn into listening for long periods of time, finding it difficult not to tap my foot. I don't listen to my system any more, I listen to music. I happily have moved to a much more rewarding system than I have ever had before. 
@ghdprentice very nice! I’ve found Audio Research gear in particular to be very good at what you describe. Sonus Faber as well. My favorite local dealer featured both a few years back....everything he sold excelled in "musicality". My setup took a swing in that direction as well when I added a sp16 pre-amp acquired there a number of years back. I have it in my mind that I would like to compare it with some of the latest and greatest alternatives known for pure technical execution, specifically Benchmark, just for the fun of it, but every time I listen I think "why should I change this"?
One of a kind. 
No. 
My low ceilings. I've done a lot of work to deal with them and the response curves and listening tests make things sound very good. But, bottom line, 6.5 ft ceilings are major impediments and are the main reason I'll get into a new space when I can.
Musicality….the music flows from note to note more like live music. 
I have been in this hobby since the early 70”s in university.
As I’ve aged and now retired, my tastes in music genres has changed and evolved with age.

With it, I made very recent move to new speakers excelling with an exquisite airiness and best-of-breed mid-range and tight bass for jazz, easy listening, classical, instrumental et al.

Now it’s HARBETH 30.2 XDs that paves my Yellow Brick Road to Audio OZ.
Musicality and system synergy is the key.  By using a Mac amp and preamp, the music just flows.  
What makes it special: tubes.     

I'd like more compact gear to replace the separates, as I age and move towards smaller living spaces, and newer gear, which could be more reliable.  But everything is a trade-off, and an integrated could not equal  the tube amp, preamp and phono pre I have.  Tubes are inherently higher maintenance that ss (but more repairable when things go wrong.)  Contra, modern KT-150 and 170 tubes have the potential to shorten the signal path and reduce phase issues.  You pay when you sell old gear and buy new, so "downsizing" will involve paying a lot of money for lower quality sound.    Can't make myself do that until it's unavoidable.    
First system I've had that is virtually distortion free. Also first system I don't feel needs to be upgraded. I'd like another pair of Wireworld Eclipse (have 7s, would like to add 8s for bi-wiring). Maybe Eclipse Silver 8s if they make a difference in my system). Otherwise I'm done.
BTW, looking to replace my KEF 201 stand mounts with Klipsch Forte IVs (home theater system). 
The time i spend with my system makes it special, and being able to listen every single change i perform makes it more so.
What i would change, i cannot change the small room i have but i could experiment with some kind of room treatment like diffusers, resonators.

The ability to listen all day and into the night with absolutely no harsh treble, or teeth gritting ear searing painful treble. 
  Just smooth , smooth, smoooooooth.

zero fatigue at any volume. Great detailed and flawless midrange.
And, yes it’s all mine!!!
@lalitk That setup does look very special!


@akg_ca  I've heard those Harbeths and agree completely.
What makes my current system special for me is that even though I am fully aware that it could be improved in many ways, when I am listening to it, I am always far more aware of the music than I am of the system. 
I attribute that to my current speakers which I have owned for about 13 years. I have had 19 other pairs, far less than some audio guys here, and the only others that were near as satisfying were Spendors that I had for some years.
I do believe that in my experience, speakers are probably the most important ingredient in a satisfying system. They are not the soul of the system, but they have the ability to express or impair the expression of what comes before them.  
Several things make it special.

First off, the fact that my speakers are DIY, based on the (late) great speaker designer, Jeff Bagby’s "Kairos" monitors, sitting on his woofer modules designed for the Kairos. These use the extremely good SB Acoustics, ring radiator tweeters, and 6" Egyptian papyrus mid/woofers.

The fact that I only have about $1600 total invested in them, and my own labor, and they easily sound as good as speakers that would cost about $10,000, with no exaggeration, is also a big plus. Ah, the glories of DIY speakers from great designers.

And from a sound quality standpoint, the design is extremely phase and time accurate, so, they disappear as well as any speaker available. In my room, (depending on the recording) images and soundstage extends well beyond the outer edges of the speakers, and the depth is freakishly good.

Percussionists in the back of an orchestra, for example, vividly sound like they are coming from the kitchen of my next door neighbor’s house, 30 feet behind my speakers.

And detail is top notch, and the midrange is extremely natural.
“Is there something you would want to change?”

Oh my yes. Always changing. Ever evolving. 
The music makes mine special (having Harbeth 30.2 helps) More music is the change I’d want. Never enough.
Musicality and Value

I moved away from trying for ultimate resolution (often at the expense of listener fatigue) and built a more musical, listenable system. 

Additionally, I got lucky and heard a pair of Infinity qA speakers playing in a thrift store and ended up buying a pair. They were so good for the price ($116) that I decided to move up the vintage Infinity chain. I found a pair of Infinity RS1.5s on eBay, bought them (for $264) and picked them up while traveling through Western PA on a long ski weekend.

My current system is not as resolving as many of my past systems, but I enjoy it more. And I listen to a much broader range of music on this system as lessor quality recording do not cause the fatigue I experienced with many of my higher resolution systems.

This is all IMHO and YMMV. But it works for me.
@lloydc 

Yes I am in process of plotting to downsize over time as much as possible.  I’m a Class D amp fan so that will help. 
@dweller 

I’ve heard Heresy IV and Forte III.  Like them both very much.  Cornwalls appeal to me also.   Which to go with would depend on room and setup options.   Nice to have so many good choices. 
Nothing to change here. Moon by Simaudio 340ix, 280d, 260D, Clear Audio TT, Sf Olympica Nova 3. And a great collection of CD and Vinyl. 
Enjoy the music 
The time we spend together. And it never forgets my birthday.
It is special to me because i spent the time to make the system sound how i like to hear music and the fact that other people can share in the experience and tell me i am doing a wonderful job is music to my ears.
I love my 35 year old Tannoy monitors. When I learned that Pass voices his amps with a hybrid version of a Tannoy,  I mated mine with his INT 25.
Sold the separates to simplify. Sold the TT and phono stage too.
Now happily streaming Qobuz via Roon. Bought an Innuos Zen 3 streamer which also burns and stores. Less boxes again. 

Enjoying new music everyday.

DACs still catch my attention as the improvements are so rapid.

Using one of Vlad's AM Tubadours coupled to the Uptone Ether Regen.

Love to listen to as many speakers as I can. So far only one
I have heard that I may like more than what I have.
All details / complete soundstage even at low volume
Will reduce cartridges (Lyra Olympos will go)
It sounds like someone is playing a freakin’ banjo in my living room.  And then it sounds like Nick Cave is getting it on in my living room.   My dogs bark at it.   My kids think I’m a little weird, but I catch them using it. I guess it must be working!

What makes my system special? It transports you to another place and time. Actual video https://youtu.be/wxN2Mewamj0?t=228 yes this was from a while back. Even better now.
One ring to bind them.
One ring to blind them.
One ringy-dingy, two ringy-dingy

...or just dingy...just plain dingy...

(*rib poke*  Someone's' gotta do it...;) *g*)
ghdprentice agreed, I have never been 1 for measurements or listening to the hifi for me it's always been about the music, do I lose my self in it, what is my emotional response, do I get frisson aplenty and does it make me want to keep listening.
Great post! Hard to pick one thing, especially as my second go round journey (had to sell off my original system 20 years ago after divorce) has evolved so much especially only recently. My temptation is to say either my Dynaudio's or my Bifrost 2, or my Simaudio Titan...They would be the obvious, easy choices. But right now I'd have to say my Brennan B2 as crazy as that may sound. It has given me a way to not only listen to all of my cd's again (something I haven't really been able to do for 20 years) I am now buying and expanding my collection. Even my old cd carousel back in the day did not have the capacity or convenience even close to the B2...
It sounds like someone is playing a freakin’ banjo in my living room.

Or porch? https://youtu.be/NFutge4xn3w?t=45
Nice topic, mapman!

For me, it is that my hodge podge of components, wires and speakers all work together synergistically to make music I love listening to, even when the source material is not up to audiophile standards.  I have heard many systems, at shows, stores, and homes, and the only time I have any envy is on rare systems that cost multiples of what I have spent on mine over the years.  

@hilde45... I have 6 foot ceilings in my man cave, and although it's hardly ideal, I have done only a little work on the room acoustics.  I think my quasi omni speakers have helped in this regard.  And since it's a super quiet basement, I can crank it without disturbing the rest of the house or the neighbors.
Most of my electronics are in a pine cabinet my father built around the time I was born - 1954 - for our family's first TV.  It used to have a front panel with little cut-outs for the TV's controls. I've removed that, but otherwise the cabinet has been in more-or-less continuous use for nearly the whole history of home audio-video systems.

One of my sons crashed his trike into one of the cabinet doors about 25 years ago. We repaired it. Between the floor-standing speakers there's now a gorgeous coffee table he (my son) later built from African mahogany.  Payback.  

The listening room is in a log structure that dates back at least to the Civil War (based on a newspaper fragment found in the chinking).  The walls are about a foot thick. The floor slopes down slightly; the walls aren't perfectly straight and parallel.  This probably is a good thing for acoustics.  REW shows a nearly flat FR from about 15 Hz to 15+ KHz, without any room treatments other than furniture and carpet.
My Tannoys make it special. I love looking at them and listening to them, they speak to me so to speak, lol. What else? My hana el cartridge, tavish tubed phono preamp and the Jensen step up, just a great combination with out mortgaging the house. I’m amazed at what can be had for the money today. Lastly, the environment I listen in is a real world room. I'm surrounded by things of which I love. I'm at peace in this room.
One of the things I haven’t seen mentioned (unless I’ve missed it) is the sentimental value.
When I look at my almost 40-year-old Klipsch Cornwalls, which I found on Craigslist, I remember the three-hour, one-way trip the kids and I made to Kansas City in the rain (both ways!) to pick them up and eat at a Waffle House (note to Waffle House: add more franchises further north). It was probably the best rainy day I ever spent.

When I look at the McIntosh MX110Z preamp, I remember all the years longing for a McIntosh tube preamp and wondering how I could ever afford something so expensive. Then after my grandmother left me a few thousand dollars of inheritance, after paying off a few bills, I finally had enough to see what all the raving was about. So each time I look at it, I remember the longing and I remember my beloved grandmother.
I hope to some day upgrade my power amp and maybe my turntable, but I’m taking those Corwalls and MX110Z to my grave.
I'm with Hilde on this one, I lived in a house with tall ceilings 24 ft tall or so at the living room area, the living area was 25 ft wide at the speakers wall and 18 from speakers to listening spot, I could move my speakers off from the wall and the tall ceiling made a big difference. The living area opened into kitchen and dining on the sides for reflections to escape. In addition to this less than a mile away there is a hospital and just half mile away or less there was an electrical substation with electrical feed just coming straight to the houses nearby including mine. Sound was magical in that room, no close neighbors,
no buzz coming from my system.I moved to a town home with weird geometry, electric feed passes through 29 other townhouses before reaching mine I have a buzz with 30 dbm peaks at 120, 180, 240 and 300 hz. As good as my system sounds now the old house was much much more forgiving on system quality.
The bright side? I know now how important that is and just looking forward to move to a select place.

All your opinions are valid, in my case, my room and place made it very special.

Nice post mapman


I think my 30 year-old speakers are kinda special.   They still sing, and their looks still set my heart aflutter.
More time to "enjoy the music"! :-)
Finally ENJOYING the cheap system I have.
All the electronics were expensive 1980's new but purchased broken cheap off of ebay. eg, shipping cost more than the unit. Well known brand speakers purchased very inexpensively off of craigslist.  More I listened to them, the more I hated them.  Got better after I replace the tweeters (air motion tweeters for cars) and modified the crossover.  But still marginal.  Small apartment so speakers need to and are mounted up in the corners out of the way.
Years if repairing and modifying the electronics got them doing well.  Thanks to monies from the government got a  decent used pair of speakers, upgraded the speakers wires and interconnects.
Now we spend hours listening to music.  Yes improvements can be made. But from here on will become expensive.  Like a larger home.
Well, a lot of highs really, but the thing that makes it most special for me is the midrange of my Stax F-81 electrostatics. With the POSSIBLE exception of Roger Sanders’ electrostats I have never heard a more realistic rendering of midrange. Soundstaging is also fantastic, but on a smaller scale than many audiophile systems. What would I change? I wish their bass extension were on the same level as the rest of their range. Quality is very good down to the lower mid bass. After that my two REL subs take over with fairly good success. A bit frustrating, but no way would I give up that midrange.
Great topic. DIY Linkwitz LXmini speakers with open-baffle subs makes my system special to me. Each of the 8 channels controlled by miniDSP DDRC-88A/BM. What would I change - does anyone have 4 matching Denafrips Aries2 or HoloAudio/Kitsune DACs they want to sell cheap?
Well, that was a silly typo. 

“a lot of highs, really” should read “a lot of things, really”. Excessive highs is definitely not something to be heard from my system 😱
The liquid liquidity of its liquidness. Oh...and the fact that it's in my house and I can listen to music through it.
I would have say my ARC LS15 that l bought in 1995 I'm still using it to this day and just recently replaced the original tubes Excellent built quality, great sound and made in the US