Welcome to Agon, there are members who strive for a system based on a narrow set of musical taste, but more common we love music of all forms and will try to experience many flavors, so the goal is to get a great system, set-up, room and material to enjoy it all.
My system sounds best with more organic material, Classical sounds really good but my speakers are pretty revealing so distortion from rock and pop can be a bummer at times, but I just try to accept that my sytem reveals more than others and enjoy it all the same, I would love a great room and ideal set-up someday down the road, a guy can dream right?
I didn't give any thought to one particular type of music when I set up my system. And I think that one that is well put together will do justice to anything you throw at it.
My speakers are well into the room, no need for boundary reinforcement. Unless you have super small bass shy monitors, most speakers will sound better well away from walls.
I listen to just about everything imagineable and this didn't factor into my equipment purchases. I am a tube kinda guy, but have no qualms about throwing a hard hitting, slamming rock or metal seedee or rekkid on.
You bring up a very good point many people don't think about. Optimization is a very interesting thing and I rarely find one system that does everything well. Some very expensive systems can just about get there but short of having $100k to spend, I have two pairs of speakers and two amplifiers and two CD players so as to combine them in the right way to suit a particular genre of music I fancy at one time. I listen to all kinds of music so I have to cover many bases.
People will say "oh, my system can play everything well" but then they will have all sorts of tools in their toolbox, all sorts of clothes in their closet, all types of shoes, etc. You get the idea. We optimize all the time but then when it comes to the stereo, all that gets tossed out the window. There are many forces at work here - otherwise, every cable would sound the same, every amp would sound the same, etc. To think that one setup does everything well is to miss the most obvious.
My two speakers make the case very well. Their specifications look basically identical but they sound completely different. My big JM Labs have immense space and soundstaging, have kick-you-in-the-face bass, and never seem to get loud no matter how much I turn up the volume. My little Monitor Audios are basically the opposite in all aspects. Which is better? Ah ha! There is no answer of course, other than "it depends on the music." Jazz and acoustic music in wonderful through the MAs and sounds kind of lost with the JM Labs in comparison. But then I will slap some bombastic techno and the MAs sound like they are choking when the JM Labs are stretching their legs.
I also want to point out that if I didn't own the two pairs of speakers, CD players, and amplifiers, I NEVER would have been able to realize their individual strengths. The accuracy of human auditory memory sucks so you never know what you are missing unless you experiment with your system.
I suppose it is my career that is to blame but I tend to optimize way beyond simple cable and component selection. I even have my speakers on brass cups so I can move them around to adjust the soundstage to fit a particular recording style. I also move my listening chair quite often. Some music clearly favors near-field sighting whereas other music falls apart in that circumstance. Afterall, no two recordings are done exactly the same way.
So, you are definatley heading down the right path if you ask me. Philosophy of the big picture is a key ingredient in this hobby if you don't want to get lost. My advice to you is to trust yourself. You are on the right track - now all you have to do is jump in. Enjoy!
Did you set your system up for rock, jazz or classical from the get go?
I am setup to play anything from movies to Telarc classical recordings, from AC/DC to Duke Elington, from Black eyed Peas to Sara K. It is a myth that you need different systems for different genres... aim for accuracy & neutrality rather than a warm or harsh system and you will be ok. On a good system, if it sounds bad then it is a problem of the recording quality (which can be bad in all genres and is only consistently bad in modern pop music that is made "hot" or loud for CD's = try google on "CD Loudness Wars" and you may discover why vinyl is still popular with people old enough to remember how good pop/rock used to sound)
The old bell curve rule applies here....if your system is setup right then the maximum of recordings will sound good (center of the bell). Any system set up for a particular target type of sound will be entirely limited to sounding good on a smaller portion of recordings (somehwere in the tail of the bell).
Oy vey. I set my system up to play klezmer music. This European, Yiddish folk music sounds just great on my rig but nothing else does. But I really shouldn't kvetch.
I suppose we all set up our rigs with our music tastes running through our blood, but it has been my experience (and I love everything from Vivaldi to Kraftwerk and the like) that if my rig does right by ACOUSTIC jazz (and that's getting the 4 string bass at its' visceral heart thumping best up to the brushes on the cymbals) all my other music else into place for me. Yeah, SET is very hard to do justice to earbleed rock, but it's a sacrifice I'm willing to endure. Being over 50 makes it a lot easier.
Mine is set up to play exclusively:
Gospel and Religious
Electronica and Dance and others I've forgotten to list.
It's important that my system is for just these music types because that's all I play.
Hey Albert your gear cant play Polka or Celtic? Say it aint so!
All kinds. I think what Shadorn said describes my system, like bell curve. If recording is bad, no matter what type of music, would sound bad. I listen to as much Rock , Jazz, Classical and Electronics music. And it sounds realistic. More so with Vinyl than digital :). Okay last sentence was not called for.
Mostly marching bands which I record live off the halftime shows. Just got a doozy from the Sugar Bowl.
Every system is a compromise of one sort or another. You cannot play 18 holes with 3 clubs, run a restaurant with 3 knives, or hear every genre at its best with one audio system. I have experienced a number of systems that sound very good across all genres, but never without a caveat of "if only"...
Music runs as vast as a person's emotions, and no one system covers that much terrain while maintaining straight A's. That said, I need at least two systems: a low-powered tube amp/high-efficiency horn system for when I need to weep to the sound of a cello, and a high-powered SS/hybrid/full-ranger for when I need the kick drum to mess with my heartbeat.
I almost forgot. I also need a ski mask & a hayseed bank to meet my goals.
I have 3 or 4 pairs of very different speakers to switch in or out of service depending on type of music and what mood of volume I'm in... for example, big mother JBL L-200's for Reggae at concert jackhammer levels. Or Ralph Towner played on my Chario Academy 1 minimonitors for ah, much smaller presentation of much higher quality.
I Live in a small apartment with SET electronics & single driver speakers. I think my system sounds best with small acoustical works (jazz & chamber music mainly) but I listen to all genres. In short, I'm with Warrenh. It's a sacrifice I'm willing to make.
I switch back and forth between a Bryston B60 & an Electrocompaniet ECI3 integrated. The Bryston is better for pop/electronic music with electronically produced high frequencies and clear sharp distinguishable sounds. The Electrocompaniet is better with Jazz and Acoustic Music...the bass & mids are better but the highs are slightly softened with an overall more musical character than the Bryston.
If one were to ask me which I prefer I would have to state that it really depends on the music I'm listening to.
mid-fi systems are helpful in masking many rock (as well as many other) alblums' distortions and mixing errors. these distortions are, again, to my ears, EXTREMELY distracting on a high-resolution system.
example 1. Jefferson Airplane- Surrealistic Pillow (std. cheap pressing)- forget about it- on my VPI/Fancy Rig the sound is thin and noisy (aside from surface noise). i always loved to listen and relax to this record over the years- what happened? example 2.a reel-to reel tape of HAYDN'S london symphony (#104-my favorite) made from an "ok" pressing/thorens turntable- on a less resolving system this tape sounds fantastic, with a pleasant bump in the midbass, some scratchiness in the strings but a pleasant overall sonority non-the-less. same tape on my fancy rig- now the bass bump and the distortion become more artificial sounding and the treble sounds closed in, so i am now wanting to get an SACD version to listen to instead- the economy 2-cd Haydn set i bought for $12 is lacking realism as well.
i even have a JVC boombox which, i swear, will amaze alot of people when i put on hendrix, csn&y, airplane, etc. even cassette tapes sound fine. something happened years ago when a thorens or a dual turntable (garrard, bsr, whatever), a receiver, and a nice pair of acoustic suspension speakers, would sound utterly convincing on rock, pop, classical, virtually anything you could throw at it. but now, not that it's all bad of course, but high-resolution/high definition sound is available but complicated and expensive to acheive.
"okay" sound, whether it's due to the vintage nature of the source, or new compressed formats, are usually (much) better off experienced on a bose radio, a car stereo, or inexpensive headphones. i just get nostalgic when i remember how nice my records, all my records (except for the scratched ones) used to sound back in the 60's and 70's,
on good, affordable equipment. and all through little skinny cables thrown in for free...
Hey Albert your gear cant play Polka or Celtic? Say it aint so!
I forgot to add those, provided Van Morrison, Enya and Loreena McKennitt qualify for Celtic and Brave Combo for Polka :^).
Thank for all the responces to my question now and in the future, even the sarcastic ones. Just thought I would explain how I put my always changing system together.
My system is setup for rock for the most part. That is the music I listen to the most. I do like some blues and jazz. When I buy a new piece of equipment, I usually play rock to see if I like the item. My system does play all genre of music well. But I hope as my tastes change, I will continue to enjoy it with what I have put together. If not it will be time to upgrade yet again. I had to integrate HT in the room also & that work out okay. I have to find a better way to eliminate the problems my projection screen causes but I do have it under control for now with a tapestry I put up while listening & remove for movies. This is a pain but worth it.
Just so you know, Audiogon members like to have a little fun now and then. The posts to your topic are not meant to be disrespectful. My own personal system thread has many jokes and jabs, including those I've put there myself.
What's distressing is the opposite reaction. Put in the work to post a new topic and NO ONE responds. At least you got answers, serious responses and some fun comments that everyone shared.
For what it's worth, my reply was serious. I do play all the music I listed as well as others I've probably forgotten.
I love rock and roll, I grew up listening to it on the radio and have tons of it in my collection today. As I got older I discovered other worlds of music that were worthwhile and as I learned about each new exciting type of music it opened me up to reach for another to add to my collection.
If a stereo has very low distortion, enough power to avoid clipping at all your listening levels and is reasonably flat (or runs toward the warm side), lots of types music works, or is at least pleasant.
That's what I strive for with my own system and although it's impossible to get every album tonally perfect, it's a goal worthy of pursuit.
The more kinds of music that sounds good on your system, the more likely you are to included it in your collection, adding to your enjoyment and choices.
Life is too short to take things like this personal.
Like I said thanks for the responces.
Acoustical instruments and voice from analogue. If this don't sound right chances are nothing will... Happy Listening!
R f sayles, laconic indeed. You said in one line what took me an entire paragraph. warren :)
Just for fun I put on some of my teenager's pop music on my system, and it was very shrill and nasty sounding. If this was the primry music I listen to, I would not have the eqipment and overall balance that I have now. So I think that yes, the choice of music can drive one's equipment choices.
A system in which modern, overcompressed pop that is pervaded by that horrible wall of simply distorted guitar-grunge noise sounds listenable will be simply lifeless for any genre that is well recorded.
System set-up is dictated by the compromizes required to best satisfy the choice of source material.