AVS Special Member
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Milwaukee suburbs
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Wow - lots of opinions in this thread.
I'll add this:
I am definitely an audiophile, but it all revolves around one simple thing. When I listen to music, I want the voice to sound as if the person is in the room with me. I want the guitar to sound like a guitar, and the violins to sound like real violins.
I have a simple test for listening to evaluate systems; it involves three CDs.
First is Level 42 - World Machine. Several of these tracks will expose the very bottom end performance.
Second is Billy Joel - Songs in the Attic. Summer Highland Falls has one of the most natural bass guitar sounds ever recorded, IMO. Every note is precise and exactly the same level; this exposes the mid-bass transition region tremendously well. It has the added feature of showing how a two-channel system can achieve a sense of "space".
Third is John Mayer's "Olivia" The guitar intro is raw and pure, and sounds EXACTLY as a mildly overdriven guitar/tube amp combo should sound. If you have ever sat in the same room and heard a live guitar played like this, the sound is absolutely unmistakable. Any flaws in the midrange are immediately exposed with this passage. [FWIW, I can no longer play this CD in my car, as the stock Bose audio makes it sound like pure crap. It honestly makes my skin crawl to listen to it reproduced so badly.]
Notice that the second two are really about reproducing a very specific, demanding instrumental performance. Forget the technical measurements and evaluations and LISTEN! If it doesn't take you into the room with the performer, you need to change something; if it does.......you have arrived at high-end audio.