What's the worst speaker or stereo set-up you've ever seen?

I used to do home delivery and installation work and had access to some pretty high-end homes. I was amazed at how few of these well-heeled owners had nice audio systems, although many had some nice home theaters. One home owner had a basement stereo with small Maggies hinged on a wall like cabinet doors so he could direct the sound and, I guess, tuck them away when not in use. I also saw a pair of Bose 901’s pointed the wrong way. What’s the worse set-up you’ve seen?
Err.. a friend of mine has serious hoarding issues and over time was running out of storage space for his DVDs (+X-Box / PS3 games). Eventually he began stacking them on the floor on front of his Eltax Symphony speakers.

Eventually the pile began to grow upwards and slowly block the bass driver of his floorstanders. Finally came a point where the entire left speaker was operating from behind a wall of stacked DVDs.

Did it still sound good? Surprisingly yes, given that he had doubled carpets on his floor and the speakers stood very wobbly on top, either side of a large TV cabinet. Or maybe that helped with isolation!?

In any case no one complained when watching DVDs and the switch from TV sound to speaker sound was always welcomed by everyone.
At two different dealers I heard Wilson's which had the phase reversed.  Kind of the worst because of the expectations.
Two, decades ago.

A San Francisco audio system with Quads in a largely glass room. The apartment was high-end and striking visually, but the stereo sounded horrible.

At the Stereophile show in Miami in 1991, B&W was debuting their Nautilus line with something like $500,000 of Krell amplification (maybe tri-amped)? So loud and hard was the sound that I left after 15 seconds.
I was demoing two of the most popular products mentioned on this site paired together.  A very expensive ($5K+) pair of stand mounts and a popular Chinese manufactured tube amp.  
They were poorly matched and I am sure can sound good with other equipment.  The shocking part was when I asked the retailer why it sounded so bad he said it was because “my music sucked”.  He then payed some obscure music that sounded good.  I informed him I wasn’t planning on changing my listening tastes so I could have the pro ledge of owning these products.  
Shockingly, I didn’t buy either item.  

Fabio's system. Four channels of giant Martin Logans set up in a marble-floored and glass-walled room.

Then on the Planar Speaker Asylum Forum a while back, there was a knucklehead running Maggies and Klipsch together, side by side.

A very high end dealer in NYC and another high but not quite as high dealer in North Jersey.

Both setups were probably defective.

I heard new Wharfdale Linton Heritage speakers on the bundled stands last week. Not sure about that. Sound was tizzy and just weird. Very disappointed.  A very mid fi A/v amp was used.   Maybe that. 
I know a guy who shall remain nameless, and I know this is hard to believe, but he has a whole bunch of speakers just spread willy-nilly around the room and that's not all, they are pointed at the wall. A total schemozzle.
This was close to 20 years ago, I forget which forum it was posted to. The proud owner had a 5.1 speaker setup, all Martin Logan, in a small bedroom-type room. The rear speakers were Martin Logan towers (smaller than the fonts, but still towers), suspended by cables from the ceiling and hanging roughly horizontally to hover right above/behind the audience’s heads, above the couch smashed against the back wall.
I saw a 25 x 40 x 8 room FULL of panel exciters around 25 or so.

NO stereo... It was like the house of mirrors at a carnival, but with sound.
Crazy sound, weird looking, no idea what the object was.. true tweaker (I think) but I mean the drug tweak... That guy was forever moving those panels around.

He was a great metal fab guy, I mean crazy good... 

He used HUGE folded horn bass units... 3-500 pounders..
That's what I was interested in.

I know someone who had a set of Focal Grand Utopia’s facing the wall, in their kitchen.

The rest of that story shall remain untold....

At least a great number of audio systems are like mine 4 years ago, never mind their ratio price/quality....Not being rightfully embedded their sound is the shadow of what they would sound if they would have been rightfully embedded....

People often dont know what to do except upgrading... I repeat myself I know....But this upgrading myth is an illusion that push people to invest money at the wrong places most of the times....

The worst audio systems I listen to were mine before I have  discovered the 3 embeddings dimensions, the best were also mine, same electronic components, after my 2 years of continuous experiments in refining the sound.....The best in a relative way for sure, not in the absolute sense....My system is way cheaper than most here but the S.Q. is pretty high for this low cost audio system now.... :)

The concrete effect of a good audio system is: all files or cd sound good even the worst one....The music is sublime at nearfield position and very good at regular position filling the 3-d space of the room forward and in all the room, with a good imaging and natural timbre, and the sound is not mostly between the speakers ….It is impossible to change a files or a cd before his ending because it is so beautiful....You begins to love some music that you thought was poorly recorded and it is not at all.... You begins to love music out of your usual taste....You dont recognize any files or cd that you listened to in the past with your wrongly embedded audio system....You cannot pinpoint defects in sound even if they are there, because passed a certain threshold of quality, these alleged defects dont intrude between you and the music at all, these not so evident defects are only there to be refined in the continuous embedding process and listening experiments...But you are no more in the frustration and you relax with the music.... It takes me 2 continuous years of homemade low cost creations to go there.... You can also.... That cost nothing and this is easy.... You must only learn to listen to yourself mainly and stopping to read reviewers .... You must pay attention only to your ears, a new kind of attention to the sound to reach the music at the end of the embedding process... :)

I dont listen to my 6 pairs of headphones at all they are under par with my speakers now on ALL counts....This was not the case before the embeddings process....
Oh 20 years or so back I was doing some electrical work for multi billion $ car dealership owner in Reno,Nv...Stunning 2 million $ ranch,a dozen or so amazing muscle cars in the garage & a Yamaha rack system in the living room with huge tower speakers I could lift with 1 hand..Sounded like listening inside a wet cardboard box...
All one has to do is browse the speakers for sale ads here on Audiogon to see some of the worst set ups. Speakers against walls, in corners, three ft. apart, etc. There is even one member here who posts frequently that admits one of his speakers is 8 inches forward of the other one. That might be fine for the unwashed masses with big screen TVs and cheap HT speakers, but is unthinkable to the serious hobbyist. I just have to shake my head.........

One of  my speakers is in one corner(no other choice in my little  audio room) but it is possible to compensate that to a great degree with ACTIVE acoustics methods.... :)
Re Fabio’s system

AmPro HD4600 video projector
Stewart custom 12-foot ElectriMask perforated screen
Faroudja VP 400 line quadrupler
Runco LJR 11 laserdisc player
Pioneer Elite LD-52 laserdisc player
Lexicon CP-3 surround processor
Krell KIS Reference A power amps (4)
Krell MDA-600S power arnps (2)
Krell KSA-100S power amps (2)
Krell KSA-300S power amps (2)
Krell KPS 20t CD player
Krell DT-10 CD player
Krell KRC-HR preamp
Krell Reference 64 digital processor/power supply
Martin Logan Statement speaker system (front left & right) w/custom Krell KBX crossovers (2)
Martin Logan Logos speaker (center)
Martin Logan Sequel II speakers (sides) (2)
Infinity IRS V speaker system (surrounds) w/custom Krell KBX crossovers (2)
Velodyne ULD18 powered subwoofers (2)
Grado HP 1000 headphones
Stax SR Lambda Pro headphones (2 pair)
Transparent Audio MusicLink Reference interconnects, MusicWave Reference speaker cables
Transparent PowerLink power cords and power-conditioning equipment
Transparent Audio video cables
This is Hal's (Malcom in the Middle) Hifi...

Start the video @ 8:15 and wait until you see the dozen, or so, speakers hooked up all over the room.


geoffkait23,073 posts06-27-2020 5:54amRe

Fabio’s system


So geoffkait, Fabio is a neighbor, someone you follow? I mean after the the broken beak, on the roller coaster? I kinda, wondered.. Big news, was Fabio, getting his nose broke on a roller coaster!!!!

My dog’s head is cocked sideways.. The goat, still on the SL for eatin’ my hat. So his thought’s don’t count...(the goat)

Could you explain to her (girl dog), why Fabio’s broken nose has anything to do with his system? I think it ruined something else.. AND the big stereo is a cover up.... It’s got to have something to do with the Covid 19 thing too... Look at Italy, they were sure hit hard.......Right...;-(

Got to be some government cover up... How am I doing.. ;-)

She is awaiting your words on this...BTW she's not allergic, to most human breads, some of the long hair though, a little Benadryl, and she's good.

Maybe 25 yrs ago.  A good friend of mine at the time had me over to listen to his brand new Legacy Focus.  The speakers were visually stunning.  But he had them running with a pair of HK 100 wpc monoblocks that made them sound like there was a mattress between the speakers and me.  All I heard was a giant midrange.  No highs, no lows.  Totally sucked, which was a shame because he had the right room size for those speakers.  Needless to say, he got some real amps for those speakers after that, but he moved to another state.  So I never got to hear them again. 
At another and more recent gathering,  the wife and I went to her friend's house with whom she had recently reconnected.  The friend and her husband hosted a pretty nice party in the back yard.  Pool, outdoor kitchen, covered patio, the whole sha-bang.  They had music playing that was so loud and distorted that i had to see what equipment was hiding in the racks and what speakers were hanging from under the patio eaves.  They were Bose outdoor somethings being pushed by a decent Yamaha receiver.  The funniest of all this was that the guy who designed the patio and chose and installed the audio gear was there and was bragging about how long it took him to get the sound just right and couldn't believe how good "it still sounds".  Wake up doooood.  Complete garbage sounding. 
I read about Fabio’s system being that, almost 20 years ago. All of the components are at least that old, some older. If he was that much of an audiophile to own all that top-line gear back then, he’s absolutely certain to have upgraded (or at least significantly swapped out components) by now. And how did Fabio's system end up in a thread of "worst system you've ever seen", anyway. His system, quite frankly, seems "Fabulous"
My brothers system is pretty bad.  He’s got some nice stuff with horrible set-up.  Kef LS50w’s with a pair of sumiko subs.  On speaker is smashed right into a corner of the room, both are 2 inches from the wall behind them and his entire living room, kitchen and dining area are hardwood.  Huge leather couch.  Nothing to absorb sound and the entire area is incredibly reflective.  He has a water feature that is usually on so the ambient noise is around 30-40 db’s. $7000 couch,  $4000 in audio equipment and too cheap to pay for tidal vs spotify.

Then we go over to our buddies house who has the same speakers, 1 rel t9i and he can’t believe how good “his stereo” sounds in comparison 🤦🏻‍♂️
I've heard the same pair of speakers in the same room with the same gear go from embarrassing to addicting just by getting the placement right. That said remember the first bose 5 channel satellite systems? My tone def buddy must have reversed polarity and forgot to connect the subs, or somehow sourced the highs to the cubes and lows to the satellites because. woof. the sad part was he and his wife were so excited about how great their new system sounded I thought it rude to offer to fix it.