System Sound Qualities that Better Connect You to Music?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by avanti1960, Mar 26, 2020.

  1. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Chicago metro, USA
    What are the sound qualities of a system that best helps you to engage and connect you with music?
    Can they be identified and are they hand in hand with what audiophiles look for in a system?
    Does your system do this?

    For starters it depends on the music and the mood. Sometimes I want an energetic up beat mood and the high dynamics help me really get into it.
    Dynamics help me connect with the music.
    At other times I just want a more relaxing easy going mood and the big dynamics are too intrusive, so they can also disrupt the connection.
    What else?
    SandAndGlass likes this.
  2. George P

    George P Letting Go

    Detail and clarity - When I don't feel like there is anything between me and the music, I can better connect with it.
    Appropriate level - When I feel like I am listening to the music at the volume level it was performed at, I can better connect with it.
    mertoo, TheVU, Bill Mac and 2 others like this.
  3. Mike from NYC

    Mike from NYC Forum Resident

    Surprise, AZ
    Yes, my system does that and more.

    $$$$$$$$$$$$$$ always helps to make a system better providing you buy the right equipment.
  4. Seafinch

    Seafinch Preferred Patron

    For me there are a few things, but the main two are realistic tone and good dynamic and impactful low end - I want to literally feel the music.

    With my background as a musician I’ve realized I might approach it slightly different than some. I’m more interested in the feelings I get when I strum a guitar or when I’m standing on a stage and you can feel the kick drum and bass cab.

    To me things like soundstage and micro-details are fun, but don’t help me engage any more.
    SandAndGlass likes this.
  5. Glmoneydawg

    Glmoneydawg Forum Resident

    Ontario Canada
    When your system is truly balanced the question "system sound qualities that better connect you to music?"become superfluous....recent changes in my system are noticeable more as performance/ music information as opposed to "system " are already there bud;)
  6. lobo

    lobo Music has always been a matter of Energy to me...

    Good mids
    basie-fan, SandAndGlass and Seafinch like this.
  7. Dream On

    Dream On Forum Resident

    I'll copy what I posted in the other thread:

    It has to be different for everyone, right? I'm still trying to pinpoint exactly what I need a system to do, if that is even possible. I'm thinking, as someone who still listens to a lot of rock, that I need a system that has a great sense of speed and attack. Something that is lively. No one should confuse that with bright or forward. I mean something that really emphasizes rhythm and forward momentum. And this is one reason why I am likely moving long-term to Naim components, with speakers that can impart some impressive dynamics.

    Tone is important as well but I'm starting to think maybe less than the above. I can't have a system that is terrible at tonal quality of course. Hearing systems with amazing tone is quite addictive, and we want instruments and voices to sound like what they are. But I'm not sure I quite get the rush I want from hearing that. I can listen live to someone who is playing an instrument and because it's a great instrument and I'm there with them in the same room, the tone would be superb. But say they can't play that great. It's great tone, but the sense of flow of the music isn't there. Needless to say, I'd much rather hear someone who can really play but is using a lesser instrument, or maybe they are in a poor room where the tonal quality of what we hear is impacted. The instrument doesn't sound as nice, but the song is more alive and interesting.

    I've heard many systems over the years. Many in my own room, as I buy used gear to try out and then sell to the next person. Lots of us do that of course, it's an affordable way to hear a lot. And of course, many at dealers and shows. I have to say, most systems that I hear have sounded a little clinical. There are some where there was emotional connection, but in percentage terms? I don't know. 10% maybe. And that's not to say that the other 90% of those systems were bad, because they sounded nice. It's just that I don't feel that rush that I feel with other systems. But sometimes I wonder if it's just a setup issue, and maybe there is performance in such a system that just hasn't been fully unlocked. What percentage of systems does one hear at their very best, where everything is optimized? It's probably a very low number.
    One other point - I think many of us have listened to relatively poor quality systems, like a boombox, and felt the emotion in the music. So where does that emotion come from with such a system? There are no huge dynamics or the illusion of having an actual live performance in front of me.
  8. timind

    timind phorum rezident

    Westfield, IN USA
    I don't know what it is, but I know it when I hear it.
    Kristofa, Gramps Tom, SirMarc and 4 others like this.
  9. tubesandvinyl

    tubesandvinyl Forum Resident



    jonwoody, lonelysea and George P like this.
  10. Rolltide

    Rolltide Forum Resident

    Vallejo, CA
  11. Glmoneydawg

    Glmoneydawg Forum Resident

    Ontario Canada
    Lol....produced accurately;)
  12. chervokas

    chervokas Forum Resident

    For me, imaging, microdetail (like hearing the saxophone valves flapping or the bass creaking), low noise (including room noise and mechanical noise), microdynamics. I like to feel like I'm transported to the moment of place and performance and to be able to see the performer in my minds eye and live and die with the microdynamic ebb and flow of an performed line. And I don't like to be taken out of the moment by noise or artifacts (groove echo is just a mood killet for me). I'm mostly listening to jazz and classical.
  13. Vaughan

    Vaughan Forum Resident

    Essex, UK
    I was watching a review of some gear on Youtube, and the guy made a point that I sometimes forget. That is, music is better when you feel it. And I mean physically feel it. When you feel the pressure of that bass on your body, the snap of the snare. I'm not talking playing music at ungodly levels, but instead a sweet spot where you feel it, without going overboard.
    Gramps Tom, Vinny123 and Glmoneydawg like this.
  14. lonelysea

    lonelysea Forum Crustacean

    Twin Peaks, WA
    Realism, nuance, and delicacy. I like the visceral punch of a strong low end as much as the next guy, but it’s the pure tone of a piano note and the complex details of a realistically rendered human voice that really affect me emotionally.
  15. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Hong Kong
    I am glad you noted system and not speakers. One area can let the whole thing down. And that one area in another set-up might be just fine. Bryston on PMC makes sense - pretty terrible on my speakers. LINN LP12 is a fine turntable but in an Audio Note system sound slow uninvolving flabby. Which is weird since it is a suspended table so it should be similar to the TT1 but it's not.

    Words can't really do it. It's an experiential thing. And experiences can be influenced by lot of pro or anti bias and one's mood.

    You ask a fan of Rap music and they love it - they are emotionally invested. A 60 year old classical listening guy - meh not so much. The same music on the same stereo even if they were int he same mood - will react differently to the music.

    I auditioned Eva Cassidy on my AX Two ($1k a pair) system and it moved me greatly - then I auditioned that same piece of music on Avantegarde speakers at $20,000+ and a system far more expensive than mine and halfway through I asked them to shut it off it was so bad.

    Some will argue that it's the measurements - and of course that is true - but it is not going to be a single parameter measurement - it's going to be a "specific combination" of measurements in a "Specifc order" so the way a SET amplifier behaves and measures combined with the way the Speaker's frequency or distortion behaves with the specific amplifier and how all of that arrives at the listener.

    Not to mention the fact that tastes change over time. There was a time where I salivated over gear that today I would not go near. Part of that might be down to the fact that in high school I went to and wore Motley Crue and AC/DC and Aerosmith shirts and now I listen to Eva Cassidy and Classical. Granted I'll still listen to the rock - but a lot less.
  16. Greenmonster2420

    Greenmonster2420 Forum Resident

    I really value presence of the music above all else. I like feeling enveloped in the music. I've heard some really phenomenal "audiophile" systems that image extremely well with absurd amounts of detail. That is fun, but sometimes feel like stepping back and viewing a painting. I like feeling like I am in the painting as opposed to viewing it. For me, it is easier to soak it all in that way.
    jonwoody, rischa, Stereo68 and 2 others like this.
  17. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Hong Kong
    I'm taking your idea and running with it a bit.
    Hey there is a good analogy there. A Painting. Let's use a large painting as an example - say 5 feet by 7 feet. Walk right up to the painting so you're say 3 inches from it. Look at it and you will not see the whole painting. You will see the incredible detail - you will see the brush strokes and you will see the tiny flaws at the edges perhaps where the colours change. Pull back to say 1 foot and you still can't see the entire picture in full - you have to turn your head to look at one part of the picture and then turn to see the other part. The part you can see is more vivid but paints only a partial picture of the entire event. Pull back to 8 feet and now you can see the full picture in all its glory - you are seeing the picture the way it was meant to be seen -- BUT you no longer see the "details" that you saw at 3 inches or 1 foot.

    Music is the same. Stand in a symphony directly in front of the violinist and you are going to hear the violinist above all else. The rest of the symphony is there but the focus and the "highlight" will be the violinist. Pull back to mid hall and that focus shifts to the overall event. The Violinist is no more pronounced than the cellist or the percussion or brass.

    I suppose the downside to this is that the overall big picture "balanced" view can be less exciting than something that has a pronounced area that sticks out. The eyes will focus on the brighter colour and with men for example if three women are walking towards you (one with dark black hair, one with Brown hair, and one with blonde hair - the eyes will go to the blonde first). This is true with audio - the boom and sizzle is far more exciting. The ping that can cut glass in the treble or the boom that will cause your bowel to move. The Gee whiz of the soundstage.
    NapaBob and Greenmonster2420 like this.
  18. William Bryant

    William Bryant Forum Resident

    Meridian, ID
    Timbral realism
    Lack of distracting hiss, pops, wow
    Rock solid, accurate pitch
  19. murphythecat

    murphythecat Forum Resident

    The most important thing for me is coherence between the drivers first; i dont want to hear as if the tweeter or woofer plays a different tune/timing
    Bass: foundation of music. now that ive moved to more bass heavy speakers, i cannot go back to small speakers, i need to hear all the bass im accoustumed with my cans for example. True bass that one can feel truly is a must for me.
    pleasant treble: the highs needs to be smooth and flat fr
    midrange: tonality and coherency between the mids-bass-treble is paramount for me
    as close as possible to flat FR (or slight downslide)

    at this point, ultimate details or pin point soundstage are not really primordial. I can take the kef ls50 for example: great soundstage and resolution, but poor bass and metallic sounding mids kills it for me
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2020
    Kristofa and slcaudiophile like this.
  20. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    It's all in the mid's. If you don't get the vocals right, nothing else matters.
  21. rocky dennis

    rocky dennis Forum Resident

    After reading the posts here, I wonder how I ever connected to the music of Springsteen, the Stones, Dylan, et al. listening on the crappy radio in my Dad's Chevy Nova.
  22. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    It is what you had.

    At the time, that was audio as you knew it.

    When I was 16 and still in high school, I was making pizzas for $1.35/hr.

    This placed financial limitations on the number of McIntosh amplifiers I could afford.

    As such, I didn't own any!
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2020
  23. chervokas

    chervokas Forum Resident

    Except recorded music doesn't work the same way. It is mostly recorded close mic'ed, not distant mic'ed (or not exclusively distanct mic'ed), so you are getting all that detail on the recordings, like it or not, and yet, because the engineers balance the recording, you can hear the whole performance at the same time, it's like you're virtually standing close to the symphony and yet you don't just hear the violins above everything else.

    It's really nothing like the experience of standing right up next to a Van Gogh vs. standing 15 feet back. And it's really not like the experience of standing in the violin section vs. sitting in the back of the concert hall. It doesn't work the same as eyesight, proximity and paintings. When I hear Thelonious Monk Alone in San Francisco, which a recording full of great detail -- pedals flapping and squeaking, Monk grunting along with the music, etc. -- I am unable to simultaneously hear the whole piano and the room sound, and take in the whole performance with my ears and brain, including all the detail. I'm not missing one in favor of the other. It's all perceptible in a balance that has been pre-designed by the recording engineers.

    I think the analogy between recorded music and seeing a painting close up or distant only holds with respect to mic positioning and recording approach. The perspective in a recording is fixed at the time of recording and mixing.
    ddarch and missan like this.
  24. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Hong Kong
    I would agree with that but I was not really talking about the recording but the way a system presents the recording. I remember discussing a speaker with John Marks - an RE who wrote for Stereophile. We agreed with the sound of a speaker where he used the word X-Ray to describe it - it revealed the outline in great detail but lacked the image of the whole - body - of music. I generally refer to that as lots of leading edge attack but lacking the follow through decay. It's hard to put into words but it is somewhat similar to speakers that have that boom and sizzle effect and lack the mid-range to fill it all in. This the hear focuses on what the speaker is able to do and your ear/brain is having to fill in the missing bits. You are correct the analogy tot he symphony doesn't work because good or bad the recording is mostly even - but the speaker/system portrayal of it is not - and that's what I should have said. Thanks for the correction.
  25. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Hong Kong
    I would add though that Audio is merely a want item. I could spend 1/10th of what I spent and "be happy" with the results. I am as guilty as the next audiophile of writing in terms of the anal audiophile giving the implication that it is required to spend bigger money than needs to be spent. I do my best to combat that but when I was 16 and had no money - versus now at 46 with more money - yes the more expensive do tend to be better - but it's better in a different way.

    I enjoy the way a Hong Kong friend describes some of the gear - perhaps it is his English or upbringing but the word beautiful is used a lot and when we listen to a piece - he puts his hand to his chest and says - see right there - gets you. That other system (usually SS) - doesn't. And at the end of the day for all the babble on audio forums that's basically it it. All the equipment at any price - that's the goal. And if you can get there on a $1,000 or $2,000 system - then stop - what are you doing on these forums???

    This is certainly the case if you are a rock music lover and you don't listen to much jazz or classical (which is 99% of people). Sure a high end system might be better but then it might not. A Cerwin Vega XLS 215 for $1500 a pair with a middle of the road $700 amp from pretty much anyone on rock music will blow away a $10,000 Wilson Audio Tune-Tot with $55,000 D'Agostino Momentum amplifiers.

    Perhaps it's a good idea to have a budget and then once that is set listen to everything you can for that budget and then cut it to 1/4 and see what you can come up with. Of course it's different for each person what that will be.

    Like you I generally prefer large horn based systems and I find they generally take a certain amount of money as an entry point. Plus they're big and fat and ugly - but that's what I like in a speaker. I can't afford the ones I like (at least not yet). I don't have the space for the ones I like. And by the time I can afford it and do have the space - I'll be ready for the rest home where I won't be able to hear the things anyway. So like everyone - compromise is the order of the day.
    SandAndGlass likes this.

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