What flavour is your hifi?

Numpty112233

Active Member
WHAT IS THE RIGHT WAY TO COOK AN EGG?



Sunny side up? Benedict? Hard Boiled? or Omelette with chillis? Of course none are wrong if executed competently as desired.

What is the best flavour of ice cream?

This one is easy. Treacle with walnuts and brandy. PM me for the recipe and die of a heart attack, overweight and with a big smile on your face. You may disagree, however, which is entirely my point.



Which hifi system / component sounds best?

Well…. to whom? The answer is personal opinion, not fact. Each manufacturer has its own “house” sound, its own flavour as it were, and some like to mix brands in a system to create their own unique recipe, their own cherry and armagnac gelato or whatever.



Living in the back of beyond as I do, it is a 160 mile round trip to my nearest hifi dealer, the second nearest a fair bit further still. So it is not an excursion I make regularly and on occasion I have been guilty of the heinous crime of buying hifi online without audition - which is a bit like unwrapping a Christmas present or spinning a new LP. I might go WOW… or humph. I have found an encyclopaedia of written equipment reviews cannot accurately convey how product x will actually sound to me in my system in my room and, more importantly, whether I will like that sound. I study reviews intently, read and reread them and then try and reread between the lines and imagine some sort of utopia like someone being told how delicious the above gelato is without previously having tasted either cherries or armagnac.

A wee spoonful or a short listen is utterly more informative and so I find it perplexing that very few written hifi reviews come with a sound file attached. Why do Ortofon, for example, not have sound files for each of their cartridges to enable an informed choice? Doing so would be easy and inexpensive, allowing the customer to compare, using their own amplifier and speakers, in the comfort of their own home prior to informed purchase.



I’m just back from a dirty weekend away where I left her shopping for frilly knickers and scented candles in the forlorn hope of romance to sneek off instead for a quick listen of the Marantz Model 30 duo in the hifi shop. I was toying with the idea of upgrading my second system. I left underwhelmed, but to be fair I just walked in off the street so didn’t get a proper audition.



My main system is the sister company equivalent Denon 2500 and the two have very different sonic characters. My Denon is paired with Monitor Audio Gold 300 speakers and the combined sound grabs me by the balls to demand full, undivided attention, making my senses tingle. Some may find this fatiguing. I don’t - with extended listening I find I am turning the volume up as the evening goes on rather than down and I am transfixed by the full on experience. It ratchets up the conveyed emotion and can be very smooth and musical, as well as powerful and dynamic, with the majority of albums. Play Miles Davis Kind of Blue and delicate detail subtlety has the hairs on my arms standing on end with its aural beauty whilst also allowing the foot tapping rhythm to flow. Play his On the Street Corner SACD, however, as one of the very few examples where this all becomes too much, and the screeches are unpleasant, even painful.



Like the 2500 the Model 30 sound can be described as clean and detailed - but that is where the similarity ends. Instead it is far more civilised, easy going and genteel. After a few minutes of listening in the shop I genuinely stopped myself from being lulled to sleep. By comparison the Denon is an aural adrenaline rush. I stress again it wasn’t a proper audition, just very first impressions. They started badly. It was connected to B&W floortanders. Many folk love B&W. I ain’t one of them. To me B&W major on detail and soundstage but have all the musical emotion - what it is all about - surgically removed. I once described swapping out my CM1s to Monitor Audios as like going from thorough VAT inspection to party in full swing. The salesman quickly swapped in some Monitor Audios and the sound was immediately familiar, despite them being Silver 200s. Brand house sound is even more apparent with speakers and it is fair to say many aren’t as impressed with Monitor Audio as I. It was soon after this I had to jolt myself awake.



I am not beginning to suggest the Denon sounds better than the Marantz, just clearly different, like comparing Thai duck red curry with chicken Korma. Given the Model 30 to listen to for a few months to train my brain to its sonic character then I am sure I would get to fully appreciate its strengths. Likewise Linn, Naim, Cyrus etc. have their own house sound, each with many loyal fans. Written reviews, however flowery the prose, cannot begin to convey house sound in a way that accurately informs whether one will like it as an audition does and so they are therefore basically little more than marketing. I stated at the start that, after (too much) group testing, treacle with walnuts and brandy was the best ice cream, especially at Christmas. You, on the other hand, may prefer vanilla.




What do you consider to be the best hifi sound, i.e. what is it you seek with upgrades, and how would you describe this sonic?
 

3rdignis

Active Member
Floyd says we're all aiming for the same thing.

I like a system that gets out of the way and your left with music.
 

T1berious

Member
Interesting. As much as I'd like to say my system is as neutral sounding as my budget allows the truth is pretty far from that ideal.

My system has to massage ropey recordings and the stark truth is I wasn't in the studio so have no idea what the actual recording should sound like.

Echoing the post above it has to be enjoyable to me and be transparent.

Then again, I also want it to lie and make a recording sound better than it has a right to!
 

Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
I don’t care for hifi systems whose only mission is to highlight small details.

Amplifiers, speakers which highlight the upper midrange, lower treble. No thanks.

As long as it sounds great in your opinion, then don’t change anything.

Life’s to short.
 

Hear Here

Active Member
A system that encourages me to turn up the volume and enjoy the "tingle factor" that good live music offers and good hifi attempts to convey.
 

Flobs

Active Member
My hifi is to my taste, nice deep bunchy bass (could go lower mind), engaging mids and reasonable high end (yes ok that could be better, I'm working on it looking into some Davis Acoustics stuff).
I am an old fashioned minimalist (in general) A and B class amplification (but not valves). Nice simple one way (that's what I'm looking into) or 2 way speakers preferably 'transmission' line charged. Sources are all hand me downs and analogue of preference or ancient computers and PS 3 (as I don't have money to spare) all run through a simple DAC that costs bog all and doesn't do anything but convert.
Must admit it's getting difficult these days with all these modulated thingymejigs and jittery nonsense.
I do like a nice TV and think I did ok with what I got at the time (even if my son out classed me for the same price a year later (I do have sub out from the headphone socket though)).
 

tazzo1

Active Member
I like a full sound with warmth and details. I'm not a bass head but do like the way a sub underpins music.

I'm a bit old school and use a CD player
 

Deaf Audiophile

Active Member
I like to pinpoint where the instruments & voices are coming from. One of my favourite artists is Barbara Streisand or anyone that partners with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra for depth & picking out those details flowing around between the speakers. Now I have found I have that from my test Philharmonic albums I find it works on 99% of the others I play like George Benson., Dire Straits. Gregory Porter to other music. I have only found that sound recently from my new rega planar 3, Marantz 6007 usb/cd & Amp set up. Speakers are q acoustic 3030i, not expensive but look good sound good & fit in the room well. My old system rotel amp, Sony turntable & again but q acoustic 3010i in storage after only 12 months use. I have more photos of hi fi over the years than family members.
 

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Hear Here

Active Member
I like to pinpoint where the instruments & voices are coming from
You are describing what's known as imaging. Some speakers are fantastic, but others have poor imaging. Generally speaking I'd suggest (in descending order) best for imaging is likely to be horns (but must be well set up), then electrostatics, then conventional box, then omni-directional speakers. Others will of course disagree with this generalisation.

However whichever TYPE of speaker you choose, setting them up ideally is the key to obtaining best imaging. Toe-in, distance between speakers and speakers to listener, possibly tilt, distance from side and rear walls all need to be played around with until you can sit down, close your eyes and you will be convinced that Barbara Streisland is sitting on your equipment rack singing just for you!

As I'm not a BS fan, I'll listen to someone else who I really would enjoy if singing just for me this way! Good luck.

PS Amplifier choice is far less important but you need a sparkling / dynamic amp really rather than a "bland" one.
 
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Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
@Hear Here, couldn’t agree more regarding imaging, speaker placement.
Speaker placement can take few months.
 

Hear Here

Active Member
@Hear Here, couldn’t agree more regarding imaging, speaker placement.
Speaker placement can take few months.
Yes - but so many people can't be bothered and bung in a DSP room correction system as a poor substitute for careful set-up. It may initially seem to sound better, but (unless done properly in a fully active multi-amp setup), some of the life will be sucked from the music, so any sense that your favourite singer is sitting in front of you singing just for you won't be realised..
 

Deaf Audiophile

Active Member
You are describing what's known as imaging. Some speakers are fantastic, but others have poor imaging. Generally speaking I'd suggest (in descending order) best for imaging is likely to be horns (but must be well set up), then electrostatics, then conventional box, then omni-directional speakers. Others will of course disagree with this generalisation.

However whichever TYPE of speaker you choose, setting them up ideally is the key to obtaining best imaging. Toe-in, distance between speakers and speakers to listener, possibly tilt, distance from side and rear walls all need to be played around with until you can sit down, close your eyes and you will be convinced that Barbara Streisland is sitting on your equipment rack singing just for you!

As I'm not a BS fan, I'll listen to someone else who I really would enjoy if singing just for me this way! Good luck.

PS Amplifier choice is far less important but you need a sparkling / dynamic amp really rather than a "bland" one.
Yes I have it already toed in & tilted to my special seat. I just knew one day I got it right. BS also stands for something else I thought you was swearing at me lol. But thanks anyhow imaging was the word I was trying to remember. 😊
 

Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
Also the speakers should sound acceptable on bad recordings too. And if you listen to the system rather then the music, you already lost the battle.

What flavors my hifi. Are speakers, amplifier which puts smile on my face. And stops me from buying new kit every 6 month.
 

Hear Here

Active Member
What flavors my hifi. Are speakers, amplifier which puts smile on my face. And stops me from buying new kit every 6 month.
Exactly. If you are always tempted to turn up the volume - a good sign too! Smiles, goosebumps and the "tingle factor" are what you need for listening to music. I care less for measured accuracy - it's what pleases the ear rather than the oscilliscope that really matters. Peter
 
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lindsayt

Active Member
The sound of all hi-fi is relative. Relative to other components or systems playing the same recording at the same volume.

The best hi-fi sound is one where it sounds like there's nothing there. Nothing between the recording and the end of the room from where the music is coming from.

The best systems sound transparent. They do nothing to affect:
the dynamics
the pitch
the clarity
the stereo positions used on the recording
the frequency response give or take a few dbs here and there, which is no big deal as different live venues have different acoustic properties

The best systems make it difficult to put adjectives to how they sound. Because how they sound will depend almost entirely on how the recording sounds.

Amongst listeners with either integrity or no large vested emotional interest I've found there to be very good agreements at bake-offs as to what equipment has sounded best and why.
I don't agree at all with this "It's all down to personal opinion."

There are some people that I've come across that I trust so much when it comes to evaluating audio equipment that their opinion is my opinion. If they've heard something that I haven't, I would take their description of it as gospel.

On the other hand, there's a lot of people that I wouldn't trust one bit when it comes to what they say about hi-fi.
 

Fosteur

Novice Member
I just want things to sound pleasing, and to me that means being able to follow each instrument, as I love the special little twiddles and surprises musicians can throw into the mix (no pun intended).

I'm the kind of person who says "hey, the good bit is coming up!" - and then get blank faces and frowns. Then I'll play it again and say "just follow the bassline and you'll hear it". Again, blank faces.

Maybe I'm just weird, but I can listen to a song 10 times and enjoy following what the musicians are doing - I even people singing out of tune and wondering how the hell these things slip by the engineers.

I'm not a background music person - I sit down to really listen, as it were.
 

Hear Here

Active Member
For me, my eyes were opened (or was it my ears?) from my disappointment after buying ATC 50 Active speakers in about 2000. This was a bad and good experience. I'd been hankering after ATCs for years and, after previously enjoying big KEF 107 References. I bought a used but updated pair from ATC. When I installed them in my 320 sq ft room, I found them nice sounding, but far too "in-yer-face" for comfortable and loud listening. I wanted to push them 20 ft further way!

I looked around and researched for a good speaker that offered ample deep bass when needed, but much more "sparkle" and excitement than the ATCs (or to a lesser extent the KEFs) provided. I was then subscribing to Stereophile and was reading their annual "Best of" summary and saw that their Joint Speakers of the Year were Avantgarde Unos ($10,500) and some fancy Dynaudio system ($85K) The former was just within my budget (with a decent discount) so I read the full 15 page review on the Unos. Robert Deutsch's wonderful description had me salivating! He was describing EXACTLY the sort of sound I was looking for and wasn't getting from the ATCs. Imaging in particular was described as exceptional. I decided immediately that unless Robert was totally inaccurate in his description, Unos would be the speakers for me. I arranged a quick demo in a small dingy basement room at AG's only London dealer and this confirmed my choice. After selling the ATCs, I bought a pair of brand new Unos for a good price - £4200. I often think to myself "why doesn't everyone with that sort of budget use Avantgarde speakers?". They thrill in bucket loads and I kept those Unos (with SUB225 bass enclosures) until 2019, only selling them after moving to a much larger listening room and finding an excellent pair of used Duos. The Unos were sold (for exactly what I paid for them 17 years earlier) and I’ve since upgraded further to the latest Duo XDs. To be perfectly honest, I'd probably have stuck with the earlier (circa 2006) Duos as they are that good, the XDs offer only subtly better sound and cost a bomb! Perhaps if I spent as much on feeding the XDs as they themselves cost, I could possibly justify their cost.

Moral of this long and tedious tale - do yourself a favour and find an opportunity to carefully listen to Avantgarde speakers if you want to imagine the artist is sitting on your equipment rack and singing just for you. On the used market, they turn up occasionally and may change your perception of what music should sound like in the home (as close to the live performance as hi-fi allows), in the way they have for me.
 

Deaf Audiophile

Active Member
I just want things to sound pleasing, and to me that means being able to follow each instrument, as I love the special little twiddles and surprises musicians can throw into the mix (no pun intended).

I'm the kind of person who says "hey, the good bit is coming up!" - and then get blank faces and frowns. Then I'll play it again and say "just follow the bassline and you'll hear it". Again, blank faces.

Maybe I'm just weird, but I can listen to a song 10 times and enjoy following what the musicians are doing - I even people singing out of tune and wondering how the hell these things slip by the engineers.

I'm not a background music person - I sit down to really listen, as it were.
Not weird, we all have our favourite things. I remember the eighties when I first heard brother in arms, there's a small roll of thunder in that track I have to test on any headphones or piece of kit I test out before buying. What I find find weird today a YouTuber was talking about vinyl record cleaning machines, he washes the vinyl then coats them in some stuff then dries them, fair enough but he does that 6 times & reckons he can hear an improvement each time plus it takes him over an hour to do this, I clean them now & then but enjoy listening more than being that obsessed.
 

Deaf Audiophile

Active Member
Interesting. As much as I'd like to say my system is as neutral sounding as my budget allows the truth is pretty far from that ideal.

My system has to massage ropey recordings and the stark truth is I wasn't in the studio so have no idea what the actual recording should sound like.

Echoing the post above it has to be enjoyable to me and be transparent.

Then again, I also want it to lie and make a recording sound better than it has a right to!
I Bought my first record player in the mid 70s & was content at the quality for the weeks wages I paid for it. I have gone through to cassette tapes, mini disc, cd's & hi-res file music formats. I decided to relive my youth as vinyl made a revival I even kept some of my old vinyl to start it off but bought more since, I decided to go upmarket lately & get the rega planar 3 not cheap at £650 but hey I will go for one of the better rated decks, I recently noticed the hum at about 1/4 volume as
soon as its connected to the amplifier getting worse as it plays. I ran a wire from the left outer of the phono lead to the earth on the Marantz pm6007 and no its still there. Humming away. Why in this day & age are we having to try things like this especially now they know it's common on rega's etc. Roy Gandy of Rega an engineer with a massive sales of gear that is unsuitable sound for many thousands of people who have to tinker with it due to a major flaw in the "SOUND" its unbelievable. Not just him but I am beginning to lose faith in vinyl & just bought a new cd player the marantz cd6007 with usb to which I possess a few hundred hi-res albums to play on it. No flashy album sleeves or that pleasing placing the needle on a classic album that I love for me in my second go at vinyl. I do wonder if the vinyl is just a fad again to be replaced yet again with modern formats that work without you having to accept the poor old style engineering that we are told to tinker with to work semi efficiently. Yes I am peed off but this is not just my issue so you turntable engineers better rethink your future strategy before people wake up. Vinyl I been there twice had the teashirt but it didn't fit right. Hello Cds again & welcome flac.
 

T1berious

Member
I Bought my first record player in the mid 70s & was content at the quality for the weeks wages I paid for it. I have gone through to cassette tapes, mini disc, cd's & hi-res file music formats. I decided to relive my youth as vinyl made a revival I even kept some of my old vinyl to start it off but bought more since, I decided to go upmarket lately & get the rega planar 3 not cheap at £650 but hey I will go for one of the better rated decks, I recently noticed the hum at about 1/4 volume as
soon as its connected to the amplifier getting worse as it plays. I ran a wire from the left outer of the phono lead to the earth on the Marantz pm6007 and no its still there. Humming away. Why in this day & age are we having to try things like this especially now they know it's common on rega's etc. Roy Gandy of Rega an engineer with a massive sales of gear that is unsuitable sound for many thousands of people who have to tinker with it due to a major flaw in the "SOUND" its unbelievable. Not just him but I am beginning to lose faith in vinyl & just bought a new cd player the marantz cd6007 with usb to which I possess a few hundred hi-res albums to play on it. No flashy album sleeves or that pleasing placing the needle on a classic album that I love for me in my second go at vinyl. I do wonder if the vinyl is just a fad again to be replaced yet again with modern formats that work without you having to accept the poor old style engineering that we are told to tinker with to work semi efficiently. Yes I am peed off but this is not just my issue so you turntable engineers better rethink your future strategy before people wake up. Vinyl I been there twice had the teashirt but it didn't fit right. Hello Cds again & welcome flac.

Gosh, I'm surprised about the hum.

I have a RP6 \ Exact and have no issues with hum. However I'm using an external phono stage. My vinyl has a velvety dark background.

I do feel your pain as I had a Naim Nait XS3 that had a horrid hum with no sources attached. Turns out its a known Earthing issue. I went to Rega and never looked back.
 

Fosteur

Novice Member
Not weird, we all have our favourite things. I remember the eighties when I first heard brother in arms, there's a small roll of thunder in that track I have to test on any headphones or piece of kit I test out before buying. What I find find weird today a YouTuber was talking about vinyl record cleaning machines, he washes the vinyl then coats them in some stuff then dries them, fair enough but he does that 6 times & reckons he can hear an improvement each time plus it takes him over an hour to do this, I clean them now & then but enjoy listening more than being that obsessed.

I have had LPs cleaned on a Keith Monks machine, but never heard of the coating technique. Maybe it offers less resistance or something?

To be honest, when I saw how LPs are actually made and pressed, it's a wonder they sound reasonable at all.
 

Deaf Audiophile

Active Member
I have had LPs cleaned on a Keith Monks machine, but never heard of the coating technique. Maybe it offers less resistance or something?

To be honest, when I saw how LPs are actually made and pressed, it's a wonder they sound reasonable at all.
I saw one of those documentaries too on record producing & the manufacturing side too. A lump of plastic just thrown into a pressing machine, wiped down trimmed then thrown in a sleeve. Obviously the main cost of an album is the artist & studio side. But the actual vinyl Is the cheap bit which we handle like gold at home.
 

Fosteur

Novice Member
I saw one of those documentaries too on record producing & the manufacturing side too. A lump of plastic just thrown into a pressing machine, wiped down trimmed then thrown in a sleeve. Obviously the main cost of an album is the artist & studio side. But the actual vinyl Is the cheap bit which we handle like gold at home.
Yeah, it's crazy. The clever part is the writing and recording - and mastering. A big chunk of the cost of an LP went into marketing and promotion I suspect. At the end of the day my old LPs gave me years of listening pleasure however - well worth it - and I didn't even know what a good recording was in those days. I write and record music myself. I really pay attention to how it is recorded - and I think I do an OK job of it. But without promotion, no one will ever hear it.

It's funny that the things I think are really clever in my music - an interesting chord or whatever - are never the things that people notice. People often say they like a certain song and there is me thinking 'that was just an album-filler'.

The songs I spent weeks recording go unnoticed. As I sit and listen to music I often wonder if the writers anticipated the bits I would like. I certainly appreciate the clever little parts musicians and writers add to music - but am I missing the parts they really thought were clever?

It often helps to hear a musician describing what they were thinking when they were writing their songs - I have loads of things I put in on purpose - each song has a story - and I'll bend anyone's ear if they are prepared to listen to my stories.

One example is "The Spirit of Radio" by Rush. Now, I love that song, love the intro, the timing and the feel of it. I can hear how the lyrics fit - it is all about the commercialisation of music from the lyricist's point of view.

But then I saw a film of the guitarist giving a lesson on how to play the song, from start to finish. He wrote the music, not the lyrics. For him it was about trying to get as many styles into the song as possible. So we have rock, obviously. There is some Reggae in there. The bit I was really surprised about was that famous intro.

It was his version of....wait for it....bagpipes! What???

Maybe I'm going off subject here? Well, I could talk about music all day, if anyone would let me.
 

Deaf Audiophile

Active Member
I worked in the recording industry during the late 70s. There was a load of old grannies and my aunt putting records into sleeves & boxing them up by hand in a draughty old warehouse that had railway lines running through it since it was an old munitions factory from world war 2. I was the only warehouseman to load & unload the lorries. It sounds more interesting saying I worked in the music industry though lol. Today I work about 200 yards from that area in a brand new high tech warehouse for a large store with 1000 staff within a massive new housing estate. I have always had a passion for music since listening to radio Caroline on a crystal radio under my sheets at night that I made at school. I had a dream to own a lovely music system, at 64 years old I made it lol. Today it's people looking for perfection though & not just about the words, artist & tune.
 

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