Your reference system?

What is or was your reference system that you have heard and why?

In recent years mine have been:

1) VAC amplification running Magico Mini speakers
2) Conrad Johnson amplification driving Quad ESLs
3) all mbl system driving mbl 111s

4b9c724a 509c 4bb1 a384 a61b6782a9d0Ag insider logo xs@2xmapman
My current one is my benchmark.

The term comes from a mark carpenters would put on their bench, from which everything was either above or below. 

It keeps me from spending or wanting a lot more, though I have been thinking of upgrading my DAC sometime.
My current main system is my Reference system and I have reached nirvana with it.  I have no desire or $$$$ to change it.   It does what I want and sounds perfect to me. 
My current system is my current reference as well.

ARC sp16 pre-amp->Bel Canto Ref 1000m amps-> OHM F5 series 3 speakers.

Sources are Linn Axis table with Denon DL103R cart, Logitech Squeezebox Touch -> mhdt Constantine DAC or on occasion Iphone to Chord Mojo DAC.

The ones I listed in the OP are the ones that most helped land me where I am.

Details please. What’s in those current reference systems?

My reference "system" is my town's symphony orchestra that accompanies very gifted teenaged musicians at a local church on a quarterly basis. We sit right between the piano and the string section. THAT is the sound I'm trying to replicate in my listening room. Nope ... not even close yet.

Post removed 
To me a reference system is one I have heard that is worth trying to emulate.
My Reference system:

Technics Sl1200G turntable. ZU/Denon MC cartridge
McIntosh C2500 Tube Preamp
Sony HAPZ1ES Music Server
Esoteric UX3 SACD/DVD Audio Player
McIntosh MR88 Tuner
McIntosh MC302 300wpc power amp
Golden Ear Triton Reference Speakers
Shunyata Hydra 2 and two Hydra 4 power conditioners
Shunyata power cords (various)
Acrolink PC, Interconnect and digital cable
Groneberg Quattro Reference Interconnects
Twenty amp circuits (2)
Shunyata ac receptacles.
Solid Steel S3-3 And S3-5 Audio Racks
With spelling/punctuation corrections...
A better question: What IS a reference system?
My definition: A reference system is one that I know so well, that has played all of my important music and makes me confident that if I hear distortion, I know it is embedded in the source medium and not being caused BY the system.
Thank you.
"To me a reference system is one I have heard that is worth trying to emulate."
Grundig Studio RPC 500

Grundig Studio RPC 200

I apologize, but that is the answer.
Not sure how much use this maybe as an answer but the only "reference"system worth worrying about for me is mine.

Even if I hear a setup in a shop that deeply impresses I am always thinking, well ok but what might it sound like in my room, playing my music?

So I just keep plodding along trying to assemble the best I can.

But since I moved to Maggie's, I now consider it a great reference point for sure.
The Infinity IRS V system at PS Audio is definitely a reference system. (if you haven’t heard it, take a trip to Boulder so you can listen to it.)

But at home I need to make do with what I have, which is:

JRiver Media Center running a room correction filter in the integrated DSP engine

An Oppo Sonica DAC

MiniDSP 4 X 10 HD crossover

three Stereo Amps (Aragon, Adcom, and Pass Labs)

A set of Infinity RS1b speakers

plus a pair of KEF B200 drivers in three-tube transmission line cabinets for mid bass couplers

plus an Infinity Modulus Servo controlled subwoofer.
My biggest system i ever built was the Esoteric P-01, D-01's with Rub clock, Nola Grand Reference Speakers, FM Acoustics 266 pre, Spectral 30 SL Pre, Edge NL Reference mono's 2 pairs, various cables Synergistic full loom of Absolute Reference. Grand Prix rack.

2nd system Emm Labs XDS1 , FM Acoustic 266 Pre, FM Acoustic 711, MSB TECH MONO's, JBL Everest, FM cables and Synergistic Research cables, Synergistic Research Powercell 10 SE various Synergistic power cables in both systems Hologram A, D Precision Reference. Grand Prix rack.

The bigger they are the harder they fall. 🐘
My main system for loud listening (88-100 db at listening place):

Bluesound 2 digital out -> Dspeaker Anti-Mode 2.0 -> ATC 150 SL active.

Will eventually change the Anti-Mode for a Trinnov or an Anthem ARC.

The ATC makes you relax at 95-100db. What would beat them? Maybe the 300 version.

Total cost $7,500 bought used. That also included an ATC preamp I don’t use..
What was selected by Dave Gilmour, Diana Krall, Tom Petty, Doug Sax, Sting, Roger Waters, Gordon Holt, Telarc, Mark Knopfler, Ian Anderson, Enya, Beck, The Rolling Stones, Jack White, Kate Bush, Joe Satriani, The Killers, Coldplay, Twenty One Pilots, Omar Hakim, Beka Fleck, Deadmau5, and chosen by over half of the top recording studios in the world.

I rely on a huge number of experts who know more about tonal accuracy and reference sound then I ever could in a million lifetimes. When it comes to “reference” quality you can’t rely on your limited knowledge and experience and personal taste - you got to respect the opinion of industry legends and recording titans.
@shadorne ,

What about (your own ears).?

My ears are equally delighted by what experienced money no object experts go for. If I was to enter F1 as a rookie race car driver, I would accept the decisions of the experts on the Mercedes team too! Nobody has a monopoly on good hearing but experts have all the experience and know-how.
The new Raconteurs with Jack White sounds pretty nice :-)
What value is there in such a vague and an envy-generating question? A more practical question might be: "What was your best-sounding system, given the music you listen to, your budget and your listening environment?"

And to the person listening at 88db to 100db, I have one suggestion: attenuation. Our ears can tolerate 85db for a maximum of 8 hours. Peaks at 95db and quite substantial. Above that, it's just hearing damage.
Last night I found another recording that can be played really loud and still sound clean and that is the first Billy Joel with Piano man, Captain Jack etc. Thay call it the Legacy edition and also includes a very well recorded live radio concert. Especially if you like hard hitting drums.
Very clean and fine voice on Billy. These recodings are very rare.
30 minutes ok?

My reference system:

Wilson Benesch Vertex Loudspeakers
Sutherland Engineering N1 Preamplifier
EKSC Eagle 11 Prime Monoblocks
  Placed on Fondato Silenzio Isolation Platforms with Acapella's     

Custom made W7 Silent HD Audio PC w/ MAudio Delta Audiophile 2496
 PCI Sound Card, used for ripped, streaming & CD/Blu-ray playback
VPI HW-19 Mk3 Turntable w/ mods Ortofon TA-110 Tonearm & Cadenza
   Blue Phono Cartridge
Kimber Bifocal-XL Speaker Cables
Custom made 5' Interconnects
Plateau Rack
I finally own my fantasy system, something I never thought I would have:
Naim 500 amp DR version
Naim 552 preamp DR version
Naim 555 CD player with 2 555 power supplies - DR versionNaim Superline phono preamp with SuperCap power supply DR
Revox PR99 MK II - newly rebuiltKuzma Stabi XL DC turntableKuzma 14" 4 Point tone armKoetsu Rosewood Signature Platinum cartridgeNaim Fraim rack systemGrandinote Mach 36 speakersLuna cables - Black
Total retail value is around $380,000.
I'm on Long Island, if anyone is interested in coming over for a listen.

I'm out of money, so my current system is my reference. The one in the listening room.
SoundSmith Helios cartridge mounted on a VPI Prine Signature with ADS and periphery ring.
BAT VK-P6SE Phono Preamp
Prima Luna Dialogue Premium Pre
Prima Luna Dialogue Premium HP mono-blocks w/ KT150s
ATC SCM19 speakers.
And room treatments (acoustic pamels)

I use a Lynx Hlio Pro Audio A/D-D/A w/ usb to the DAW to rip and edit the vinyl I play on the main system.

The LR is running

Marantz NS-11 S1 streaming via ethernet from an DAW
Conrad Johnson PV6 preamp - completely upgraded
Acoustat Twin 120 power amp - completely upgraded
JBL Century L100's w/ Troels Graveson cross over
And room treatments

Hey Misc-audio

Hi.  Find the topic somewhat ambiguous, as already stated, but well meaning.  I am more camped in the school of subjectivity, guided by the hard sciences.  As I pile into my dotage reading the journals, chatting with active long time members in Audio Asylum and interacting with my local informal hi-fi club, I find that greater exposure lead to paths of preference.  In recent years, I've had the good fortune to hear great SET,  Volti Audio Vittoras in a room built to Klipshorns specs; a massive megabuck Boulder - Magico pairing at Goodwin's High End, given the "keys to the Maserati!" oh boy; an all too brief listen to a cold McIntosh tube mono block system with Thiel 3.7's..(oh the potential!)  A musician pal streams Spotify using a (Brit) Cambridge streamer to a Parasound A21 amp into new Taylor monitors and a REL sub...ya, not a true hi-end source, but, you know what....he happens to love modern classical & jazz and claims he's "done."  Another close audio buddy has wealthy audio friends "from away" who keep making him can't-refuse offers in filling up his three systems.  In the past several years he's had large AR9s, Von Schweikerts, Kings,  Dalis, plus single driver approaches to his HT.  A basement system sports a lovely vintage Majuscule tube integrated driving new KEF LS50's.  His big room has heavily modified corner Tannoys fed by a fluid stack of various Pass Labs, 300B monoblocks & big boy Audio Matiere tube gear, legendary stuff.  He also pushes hard with cutting edge vinyl and digital sources.  For me, it's like living near a start-up 80's brick and mortar!  A hoot.

In conclusion, maybe we need to lighten up on ourselves in making perfect choices for the perfect system which may not exist?  Similar to foods and beverages, I find much joy in keeping less static in my preferences.  Maybe tomorrow will bring new realities and greater profits by venturing down side roads with wider vision, open minds and ears. 

More Peace, Pinthrift     

Interesting to learn peoples thoughts on "reference systems".

It surely has a different meaning to each. Some could care less which is also fine.

"You can’t hit the target until you know what the target is."

I always have a target sound I am shooting for. I also have multiple systems in my house, each aiming for the same target sound and succeeding to various degrees.

Sometimes I listen seriously, other times not. I’m more tolerant of not hitting the target exactly when listening casually.

I’m on lunch break at work now listening to my music server at home remotely via Plex on Iphone with Bluetooth adapter connection to aux input on a very nice mono desktop radio, an older Sangean WR-1 (current model here It’s a nice compact table radio (takes up very little space) with very good sound as table radios these days go, and I am perfectly happy with this as background music. Way off the target of my current reference setup in my house though. Different leagues. Maybe if I added a subwoofer ;^) ....