Its not you speakers its the music your listening to

Discussion in 'Home Cinema Speakers' started by @@@@, Jan 9, 2008.

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  1. @@@@

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    I am a bit miffed Lots of us asking about speakers never think the ones we got are any good. Because one thing or another we ether read to many magazines and to much on the Internet. guilty here!! Or think the grass is always greener on the other side of the speaker front. so we want to change them. or the wiring or the connectors or whatever

    Do you ever think its not your speakers its the music you listen to that is rubbish? As in quality its fair comment. Imagine there is someone who only listens to say 40' and 50's band music. Thats their knish. But there never happy with the sound and always coming on here. Saying hey how can i improve my speakers. See where this is going?

    The reason i ask this is Please do not scoff ok. No matter what you think of her or what your taste in music, you really ought to try and listen to Madonna American Life Cd no matter if you hate it. Listen to the quality. There are tracks on there your speakers will love. Some tracks make your stomach wobble with bass some make your tweeters sound so good you cant believe its your speakers reproducing that sound.

    I have five pairs of speaker in my house in the attic three sets of floor standers and two sets of book shelf. All very diffrent all diffrent cost price range DB gain and output and speaker configuration. Using my daughters Music Fidelity amp none of these speakers sound rubbish producing this one Cd. Is there a lesson there i wonder for all of us.
     
  2. Badger0-0

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    I've said similar before, so I know what you're saying.

    Give George Michael's "Patience" a whirl.
    I reckon you'd love it.

    The bass on "Spinning the wheel" is superb and a real test as to whether your sub is any good or not.

    Superb production will always yield better results IMO
     
  3. Member 96948

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    Years ago on a dull afternoon in the shop, we hooked up some MkII Wharfedale Diamonds onto the end of Mark Levinson pre/pro driven by a Meridian two box CD player. You could have bought nearly 50 (yes fifty) pairs of Diamonds for the price of the amps alone.

    You would never have believed how refined, three dimensional and loud the little buggers sounded.

    I wouldn't have recommended it as a relistic budget split, but the point was made - Garbage in garbage out. A really good source will extract the most out of any disk and present it in a way that will give the amp and speakers a fighting chance.

    These days the bottle neck is seldom the speakers and increasingly less so the source. Some DVDPs are very good with the humble CD. No it's AV amps.

    I'm still amazed that people can't understand why a £600 pair of floorstanders sound decidedly average on the end of a £1000 AV amp. Even if you completely ignore the cost of the preamp/video/audio processing and divide that £1k by the seven power amp channels, you end up with a £285 stereo amp and of course the reality is considerably worse than that

    If you hung the same speakers on the end of a £2-300 integrated and got a sibilant, lifeless performance, lacking rhythmic drive, scale and depth, it's not the speakers you'd blame. For some reason this goes out the window with AV amps with advice on new speakers regularly failing to point out the real weak link.:confused:

    Russell
     
  4. Badger0-0

    Badger0-0
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    I strongly suspect you're right.
    Especially where my so-called "top notch" audiophile POS Yam AVC-1AD is concerned (I really need to dump it).
    How it ever passed muster with the hacks, I don't know.

    However, and to get back to the point a bit, what do you think about the actual quality of the music in the first place?
    You seem to think the sources are getting better and perhaps they are, but I agree with the op in that some are noticeably better than others.
     
  5. evo97

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    Intresting Thread :thumbsup:

    Ive recently at the start of last year upgraded my AV gear starting with a bigger LCD Sony telly (which this site helped me choose) and the same time got a XL201 media centre and ripped all my CD collection on to for convenience etc

    Just before xmas upgraded my all in one system with a Onkyo 605 and Aego T 5.1 speaker system but i just know im not getting the best out of the audio due to my ripped music but still very happy compared to my all in one system

    But the sound is awesome when playing a Bluray via the PS3

    Such is life where equipment is getting better and better but we always forget about the source of the material which matters the most

    I dug out a Dire Straits album the other night (Alchemy Live) and played direct from disc which was a huge improvment
     
  6. BlueWizard

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    I presume we are talking about the quality of the recording and not the style of music.

    I read here in this group that some recording engineers are tweaking their recordings based on their assumptions of what equipment they think the user is using. They assume typical users are using (pardon the expression) crappy equipment and they try to compensate for that. That doesn't sound at all wise to me. You make the recording the best you can, and I'll deal with the equipment; good or bad.

    Let the artist give me his vision of what HE intended the music to sound like, and I'll take it from there.

    I'm still listening to a lot of old vinyl, and if you can overlook the staticy sound, they are very nice. Right now I'm listening to Hendrix "Axis: Bold as Love". I'm a big Hendrix fan. I notice a Hendrix CD on sale, I plan to buy it just so I can compare. Now the technical dynamic range of vinyl may not be that great compared to a CD, but I'm here to tell you that the general dynamics of my system playing vinyl will take your breath away.

    I've generally been told that CD's sound hollow and lifeless compared to vinyl. I haven't noticed that that much. My CD's sound great.

    But I do agree, fantastic equipment, truly fantastic equipment, sounds fantastic. But no system is any better than it's weakest link. Fantastic speakers on a marginal amp, if still going to sound marginal.

    I've frequently found my self wondering why £500 buys me an 80 watt 2 channel stereo, and for the same £500 I can get SEVEN 150 watt channels in an A/V Receiver? I'm sorry but that just doesn't add up.

    I think it is entirely possible to get decent surround sound with a crappy surround system, or at least, for watching movies anyway. But that same system simply doesn't hold together for serious music listening.

    So, in a sense, I agree on both points. A brilliant recording engineer combined with a brilliant artist can produce recordings that will practically make you weep with joy. When those recording are played on brilliant solid well balanced equipment, it is practically a religious experience.

    Sadly though, even many people who consider themselves 'Audio Savvy' are fooled by the psychology of acoustics. On an initial listen loud thumping bass sounds impressive; it can actually give you a false impression of a set of speakers. A certain phase relationship in the mid-range can also fool you into thinking a speaker sounds good. When two speakers are played side-by-side, you will always prefer the louder speaker even if it is not the better speaker. Even certain types of distortion can fool you into thinking equipment sounds good on first listen. But in all these cases, and many many more, the level of listening fatigue builds quickly. After hour of listening, instead of minute, that same stereo, that same set of speakers, actually sounds painful to someone knowledgeable and discerning. The sad and terrible fact is that some people actually prefer this distorted sound.

    This is one of the biggest pitfalls of buying speakers. Even when you audition speaker in person, your psychology can override your good judgment. People who review speakers for a living, have to work very hard to force their mind to be objective and not let various psychological factors sway their opinion. That is also why speaker reviewers test the technical specs of a speaker. Just to confirm to themselves that their mind wasn't fooled by some gimmick.

    For what it's worth.

    Steve/BlueWizard
     
  7. Badger0-0

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    That is also why speaker reviewers test the technical specs of a speaker. Just to confirm to themselves that their mind wasn't fooled by some gimmick.

    It didn't work with the Tannoy FX1s though did it?
    I've even read good reviews for those :rotfl:
    Me, I'll use my own lugs, as supposedly super duper stuff sounds awful to me on the whole :)
    I have listened to my speakers for double digit hours no end of times and I've never felt strained, so they obviously suit me :smashin:

    I do mostly agree with what you're saying though :)
     
  8. RossFlet

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    I recently "repossessed" a pair of kit set Wharfedale Lintons from my parents having lent them 25 years ago. Stuck on the end of my MF A5 they sounded absolutely amazing. Not quite a clear as the bi Dyns I have now but hey. we're not comparing apples with apples. Give a modest set of speakers a quality signal and hear them perform.
     
  9. @@@@

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    Point i guess i was trying to make to with my original thread is That Only speaking for my self. We have a massive music collection. When you actually sit down and try to work out quality wise. How much of it is top notch.

    I actually wonder what the percentage is. Bet we would be very surprised. I mean they we all by CD's and records now of Amazon ect You can not try really before you buy its totally impracticable really.

    There must be a good few of us that are judging our valuable much love 5 star equipment (cough) by our Crappy Record collection. Quality wise,

    We wonder why we are not pleased with the results. As i said at the beginning of the thread when we do play that one disc as i gave the Madonna example of my own experience of this.

    In my case It actually shines above the rest like a pair of knickers on a Jaguar Ariel. You sit in your chair and go 'Kin hell'. It dose not Really say much for all the money we spent on the rest of the music collection really.

    And out of that music collection we are expecting top notch results. Coming on hear like we all do going My speakers need changing not very happy do you think i should bi wire. Do i need to spend thousand pound on speaker cable. gold plated bits

    Funny you can take all the advise spend all the money you can, and in the end, you made your groggy records or CD's sound ten times worse. Should we be really paying more attention to the source before we if and but about our speakers. Makes one think.

    Loved the guy who said about The AV amp and its real cost in the respect of the speakers that are attached to it. My work colleague spent an absolute fortune on monitor audio speakers for his £120 sale price av amp from richer sounds he bought a good while back. Never looked at it the way you explained it Before.
     
  10. iainsilvester

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    Re music you cannot beat a good stereo pair and good stereo amp. I never got the surround music thing and don't listen to music on my HC set up. I totally agree you just cannot expect an AV receiver full of bells and whistles to impress the spec sheet boys to compare with a similarly priced 2 channel amp.

    Speakers have always and will always be personal. They all add their own flavour, usually driven by cabinet colouration, are generally poor at producing quality bass and few prodce a good stereo image due to mid range colouration. We choose speakers based on the flavour of distortion we like, which as someone above said is often the biggest, loudest, bassiest on test. Then we try to hook up our telly, hear the BBC's 10 o'clock news and our world falls apart 'cos the foxy Fiona Bruce sounds like a man with a terrible nasal problem. Then we buy a centre, which because it is small and therefore bass limited will do a better job of spoken voice and everything is fine again.

    Michel Jackson's Thriller was a step change in audio engineering when it first appeared.
     
  11. eviljohn2

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    There's an interesting thread in the music forum about "The Death of High Fidelity" based around an article that was written in Rolling Stone.

    I don't think people expect an AV amp to compare to a similarly priced stereo amp. In either case it will still sound better than 90% of normal all-in-one hifi systems. :)
     
  12. GW43

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    The "Loudness Wars" - (Google for more info) plays a big part in this.

    The three biggest influencers on how your hifi sounds are (taken from the source end) - the quality of the recorded material, your speakers, and your room acoustics.

    I've been using a bit of software that looks at the waveform of my lossless files, and it's pretty shocking to see how compressed many recent recordings are.

    You can get the software here - it's free and very illustrative:
    http://www.download.com/Expstudio-Audio-Editor-Free/3000-2170_4-10784115.html?tag=lst-1

    It's commonly mentioned in many articles that two of the biggest culprits are "Californication" by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and "What's The Story..." by Oasis. These albums are so compressed as to be almost unlistenable, and a quick analysis with the above software bears this out.

    Many modern pop or indie CDs have been compressed to sound loud, and to grab attention. The downside is that after a few minutes you want to switch them off.

    CDs have been set to stun!

    There's loads of interesting stuff on the web on this; hopefully a turning point in the loudness wars will be reached, and proper dynamics can return to
    music. Used properly, the CD has a bigger dynamic range than vinyl, and on this basis alone, should sound better. That they don't is not down to the medium, it's down to how the music is mastered and processed.
     
  13. eviljohn2

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    Audacity is an excellent program for viewing and editing audio files. :)
     
  14. Badger0-0

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    What's The Story..." by Oasis.

    I couldn't agree more. That was the one album that started me on a very expensive upgrade path :mad:
     
  15. GW43

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    I think this is one album that is beyond redemption, in that upgrades make no difference to the sound.

    Not long after its release I used it to demo a new CD player. Nothing flash, just a NAD 501 I think. WTS...MG sounded crap. The guy in the shop suggested we go to another demo room to try it on a £15k system they had set up. It still sounded crap.

    You can't polish a turd - and a lot of current "popular" music comes into that category unfortunately.
     
  16. Member 96948

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    Add manic Street Preachers 'Send away the Tiger' to that list. No dynamic range and ends up sounding like a big transistor radio.

    It sounds great in the car though......

    Russell
     
  17. RugbyAl

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    Stereophonics latest 'Pull the Pin' is the same. My hi-fi and AV system have been 'out of action' for over a month as I am currently decorating the lounge so I have only listened to this album either in the car or on my little kitchen system. Really like the album but it was a big mistake taking it with me to demo some speakers last week. Sounded awful, no life at all....

    Sounded bad with every set of speakers I tested (Mon Audio Gold and Silver, Rega R5 and some Focals. The new Eagles album I took sounded great on everything I listened to (just picked up my new GS10s and RSLCR speakers:thumbsup:)

    A lot of artists/producers mix in the studio to suit cheap stereos/cars as thats what they believe most people will be listening to it on.:(
     
  18. iainsilvester

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    Yes but most of what we listen to is the output of a Marshall PA system, whether studio or live. Electronic instruments are not particularly dynamic; loud yes, dynamic no. IMO it has always been the case that a full accoustic orchestra will walk all over any U2 concert in this regard. I'm not a classical fan, but having sat through just one concert they are very very impresive, audio wise. This is what Hifi was always really about.
     
  19. SteveAS

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    We should have a stick thread on great albums with the worst produced sound.

    The Franz Ferdinand 1st album I cannot stand listening to for long even though I really like the beat and lyrics. In the car its not too bad.

    Alot of movie soundtracks don't seem to sound great either - e.g. Kill Bill Vol1&2. Even when using earbuds!
     
  20. Helicon

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    I've come into this one late (nothing new there), but felt i had to reply to a few things.......

    Forget subs, it's a bloody good test of how low your speakers can go. And if you want to hear that album at it's best, get it on vinyl - that track is nothing short of awesome, the bass is phenomenal, and way deeper than you'll get on any CD.

    As long as it's better than her Music album - not sure i heard much midrange on that album - someone bought it in for a dem recently and it made every speaker he listened to sound like B&W 603's.

    Russ, this is one reason why i've been trying to tell people how important amplification is recently. Speakers can only sound as good as the amp that driving and controlling them, and most people either can't understand this, or refuse to understand it because they don't want to spend too much on an amp. I've heard a £250 pair of speakers on the end of an expensive valve amp, and they sounded more like £1,000 speakers.

    :smashin:

    And this causes a problem for people asking advice on here. Somebody asks how good these speakers are for £500, then someone slags them off and says they're crap. Chances are that person's only heard them on an AV amp, or their mates Av amp and has never heard them perform as they should do. And then there's those who're buying £1,500/2,000 speakers and using them on £400/500 AV amps - either they shop at an unscrupulous dealer, or they're taking the advice from the wrong forum members.

    To a point. I remember the first place i worked at, and our front dem room had crap acoustics. Bright sounding, and the bass was awful. You just couldn't control the bass at all. But when you put better quality speakers in the room, because their bass was nturally more controlled, the bass tightened up no end. Of course, this would be affected by the amplifier too as it's job is to tell the speaker what to do.

    I was very disappointed with Californication. Not so much the material, just the sound quality. My favourite album of theirs is BloodSugarSexMagik, which, although a little harsh in parts, i think is quite a nice raw, tight sounding album to test stuff out with. After being used to this, Californication was a big let down.

    CD's already sound bad enough as it is compared to most of their vinyl counterparts, so i agree, more care should be taken in their mixing and mastering! CD's can sound amazing, and i don't think there's any excuse for them to sound lifeless.

    Having said that, Lenny Kravitz's The Circus was recorded using an old mixing desk and valve equipment. Quality-wise it's not great. Loads of distortion, a creaky drum stool, most of it sounds pretty distorted. But i think is one of his best albums (much darker than his others as it was written just after the death of his mother, with heavy drum and guitar influences from Led Zep) and i can lsiten to it over and over again and really don't care about the recordings many flaws.

    More information can be stored in the groove of a record than in a 16 bit pit, so CD's not quite there yet...... :)

    We really do need SACD and DTS CD's to make a big push and get popular, as these do sound much better than CD's. The DTS CD's i've heard so far have been amazing - some scary bass on offer!
     
  21. Badger0-0

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    Originally Posted by Badger0-0
    Give George Michael's "Patience" a whirl........The bass on "Spinning the wheel" is superb and a real test as to whether your sub is any good or not.
    Forget subs, it's a bloody good test of how low your speakers can go. And if you want to hear that album at it's best, get it on vinyl - that track is nothing short of awesome, the bass is phenomenal, and way deeper than you'll get on any CD.


    I'd suggest you get next to no output at all unless you have some pretty exotic speakers and some serious power.
    At least we agree, it's a good one :smashin:
    Whenever I mention it, I'm sure people immediately start questioning my sexuality though :D
     
  22. Helicon

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    I heard it from an LP12 through a Densen pre/power through Shahinian Arcs - not huge speakers, but not small either - i think the turntable helped with the depth of bass, but believe me, you'd have thought there was a sub :p

    Par for the course :)
     
  23. Badger0-0

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    I heard it from an LP12 through a Densen pre/power through Shahinian Arcs - not huge speakers, but not small either - i think the turntable helped with the depth of bass, but believe me, you'd have thought there was a sub :p

    I'm not even going to search to see what that combo costs, seeing as we're actually agreeing for once :D
     
  24. Helicon

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    :rotfl:

    The LP12 was about £2k, the Densen pre/power was about £2k, and the speakers were about £1500, if i remember rightly.
     
  25. Badger0-0

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    (Bites tongue) :rolleyes: ;)
     
  26. Helicon

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    But i bet you could get all that for about half the price either ex-dem or second hand.....i'm not even sure Shahinian are around any more.
     
  27. eviljohn2

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    Active speakers are my favourite solution to underpowered amps. :D

    I was listening to the first Rage Against the Machine album earlier; Andy Wallace did a great job with this creating one of the most dynamic albums available I think.

    I have to be honest and say that I've never considered hifi to be about recreating live music. There is no way at all that any recording can reproduce the actual sounds of real instruments. The piano and orchestra's are obvious candidates to me for being impossible to record and recreate as it would be in a live situation.

    The pursuit of high fidelity audio is about many things but to me (and many others) it's about delivering the composition coherently rather than the full live sound. Movies are a different thing though... :)
     
  28. craigd

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    I would certainly agree with that.
     
  29. Member 96948

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    That guy was me.:)

    I did go off at a bit of a tangent, but then you've opened a very interesting can of inter-related worms.

    The best source will extract every last bit of info out of the worst recordings, without being excited into nasties by the recordings short comings. It can make average recordings sound as good as they get. Get it wrong here, and the rest of the system will never, ever get it back.

    A fine example is Jennifer Warnes 'Famous Blue Raincoat'. It's clear, open and spacious but unfortunately bright in that late eighties/early nineties kind of way. A good source just keeps it all under control and lets a bright recording out, rather than the spitty, sibilant one it can be made to sound like.

    You're right, plenty of mainstream 'airplay balanced' recordings are dire, but get a source that will extract 100% of these 90% recordings and as you've found, when you drop a 100% recording in the tray it really knocks your socks off.

    100% recordings worth trying from down the years:

    Harry Connick Jr - We are in Love. (5* this one)
    Micheal Hedges - Aerial Boundaries.
    Dire Straits - Love Over Gold.
    Bob Dylan - Oh! Mercy.
    Steve Earle - Copperhead Road.
    Gary Moore - Blues Alive.
    Blue Man Group - The Complex.

    Russell
     
  30. xxGBHxx

    xxGBHxx
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    I had a few hours to kill tonight so I thought I'd reply.

    I know we don't agree on hardly anything Helicon but like you I have no fear of challenging you on what I perceive to be misguided. I'm not going to turn this into a flamewar but I'm not going to let some of these broad statements without at least some balance.


    Me too! See we do have something in common.


    Sorry? Redbook CD's reproduce down to 20hz so unless theres a different mastering been applied to the CD over the vinyl this starts to get into the realms of inaudible sound. Even if you assume that the <20Hz sounds make a difference, which I'll indulge you, you are also saying forget a sub. Show me any speakers that are going to give you meaningful bass under 20Hz without a sub. So where are you getting this assertion from? I'm not saying it's not a fantastic recording but your statement just doesn't stand up to close scrutiny. Oh no hang on, you can hear the <20Hz stuff from your speakers :rolleyes:


    Or they don't necessarily agree with your somewhat narrow approach and have looked elsewhere for other opinions and, dare I say, proof that what you're saying is anything more than placebo?

    I know only too well you refuse to read, accept or even acknowledge any of the testing or scientific research thats been done on all sorts of equipment from "av amps" to high end boutique audiophile gear. You're convinced you've heard a difference and any talk of placebo or psychological colouration is ignored and vilified. Thats fine, I'll keep repeating this for the benefit of those people who are prepared to do their own research on the matter. I'm not going to claim anything either way but I'll be sure, when it's appropriate, to make people aware that there are other (and in my opinion FAR more convincing from a scientific viewpoint) opinions on the matter than yours.

    There has been extensive testing done on all manner of equipment at all different levels and currently almost all the scientific evidence points to there being no human audible difference between amplifiers (caveating that with provided that theres no defects with the amp or that there is radically different technology involved - then again thats only as I've not seen testing done to prove it). There has also been testing proving how strong the placebo effect can be and how people can be convinced they've heard something that doesn't exist (exist in the scientifically provable sense of course). You're happy to ignore all that but I do urge anyone with an interest to do the research before they accept either of our opinions. People can then make up their own minds rather than blindly accepting either of our opinions.

    I agree, but this has absolutely nothing to do with the format and everything to do with the mixing and recording.

    You're right about one thing, you can store more information on a record. Thats great until you take into account everything else that it has going against it like wow and flutter, rumble, dust, warping and so on. I'm not going to enter into an evangelist war with you over it. You like vinyl, good luck to you.

    Again you're back with the bass comment. I'll not repeat what I said above but it still applies. I can accept the mastering between formats can be different, as the following study showed, but if you're listening on a "normal" set of speakers, CD will carry all the frequency variation you'll ever be able to distinguish with human ears.

    Very recently a study was conducted comparing SACD/DVDA with CDA and the conclusion was very clear.

    So, there is rightly a difference between SACD and CD encoding formats but you need to make yourself deaf in order to hear it. Nice one :rolleyes:

    I tell you what heres a radical thought. I'm happy to put my neck on the line here. If anyone here lives near NW London and wants to lug their amps around to my place we'll hook them up to my pair of MA GR20's and compare with my cheap and nasty ;) 605 Onkyo AV amp. I have an SPL meter so we can set it up to the same levels and I'm happy to be proven wrong. I WANT to be proven wrong. I'm open and I'll even try and figure out how we could blind test them. I've read enough scientific based opinion to be confident there will be no difference, anyone else want to find out?

    As for the OP's question, yes I wholeheartedly agree 100% that CD mastering quality is the root of the problem. Hifisponge has been making this point repeatedly to those claiming the MA speakers are bright. The measurements say not but because some recordings assume a response dip between 5000-11000 which a number of speakers have a response dip at some recordings can sound bright. In my ignorance, my MA GR's sound fantastic and I hear no hint of brightness or sibilance, and I really have listened hard to hear it. I think a lot of the problems people find are recording issues and it just goes to prove you should listen thoroughly to the speakers you're after with the material you're likely to listen to.

    G
     
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