What have you heard BEST of the BEST Systems do that GOOD/ VERY GOOD Systems Don't?

Oct 15, 2018
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#3
I attribute what I describe 80% to the room/20% equipment. Every live recorded CD that was placed in the transport took me to the venue. Didn't even think about anything else. Eyes totally wide open and mind totally relaxed. Got the same "rush" as if I were there. For example, If there was something special going on with the guitar I would turn my head to that part of the stage, look there and watch the musician do the magic. The system was all digital with Sim/Moon Audio CD player, power & preamp, Dynaudio C-4 spkrs., two subwoofers (not certain which) ~3 years ago. When I hear systems described as having good bass, neutral, dynamic, yada yada I know that there is more work to be done. There cannot be anything better for me, only equal.
 
Oct 14, 2018
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Athens Greece
#4
The best of the best system besides of course the great sound, it will give you emotions, goose bumps, it will make you feel the artist’s effort, the music’s weight, it will transfer you the sadness or happiness of the artist . You will find difficult to do anything else, when a best of the best system will be playing. You will go out next day to buy more vinyls.

With a best of the best system you will be able easily to understand every difference will make on the sound, when you will install a new cable, a new clamp, a new belt, etc

A very good system will only sound very good and during auditions, between music, you will also be reading on What’s best Forum for possible upgrades to reach best of the best.
 
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Sablon Audio

Industry Expert, VIP Donor
May 22, 2015
492
85
28
#5
I quite agree with Vienna’s assessment - the difference does indeed transcend technical proficiency onto an emotional level of righteousness. The best systems have a level of palpability in their presentation, micro level ambient detail with tonal texture / density and musicality. Is not unlike Justice Potter Stewart’s assessment of “I know it when I see it”. Hard to achieve without having a valve somewhere in the mix.
 

LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
10,800
79
48
#6
The best systems will not only be full range and 3 dimensional, but will also be relaxed in a way that you can't tell how loud its playing- until you find yourself yelling to talk to someone sitting right next to you.
I was going to say something quite similar from my own personal experience. Effortless scale...genuinely effortless which is something i continue to appreciate more as i have heard 2 systems which are at that leading edge for me...and really pushed beyond what i had heard before.
 

Bodhi

Active Member
Apr 20, 2014
512
104
43
Melbourne, Australia
#7
I've got a good system, but i'm humble enough to say i've heard better systems/rooms. To me, the very best systems/rooms are able to approach the scale, dynamics, impact, sound stage, imaging, tone & timbre of live music in a convincing way which sounds natural to your ears and senses, not reproduced. I agree with Number9's comment that room acoustics are critical to achieving good sound, though i'd maybe argue about the percentages. To me the loudspeakers have the biggest influence on the sound of a system, followed by room acoustics. To underscore that, I would name a chance audition at a Dealer's showoom back in 1991 as the best sounding system i've ever heard. That system comprised Infinity IRS-V's, massive Class A mono blocks & a reference vinyl rig. The IRS speakers simply blew me away with their thunderous bass, huge sound stage, awesome dynamics & ethereal "reach out and touch it" imaging. My jaw hit the ground and I had tingles going down my spine. Not to mention the beautiful massive 7.5ft tall lacquered rosewood cabinets. That's it in a nutshell. The best sounding systems should blow you away, transport you to the music venue & inspire awe.
 
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LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
10,800
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#8
Amazing...I heard the Genesis 1...and had the same impression! The next gen of the mighty IRS V!

That was 1 of the 2 systems. The other being the Arrakis driven by 2 pairs of VTL Siegfried Mono IIs.
 
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Bodhi

Active Member
Apr 20, 2014
512
104
43
Melbourne, Australia
#9
Amazing...I heard the Genesis 1...and had the same impression! The next gen of the mighty IRS V!

That was 1 of the 2 systems. The other being the Arrakis driven by 2 pairs of VTL Siegfried Mono IIs.
I recall Paul McGowan saying in a video that he felt the Gen 1's had better bass than the IRS-V's, but hinted he preferred the IRS-V's mid/high wings. I was never a fan of the Carver planar magnetic drivers, which of course were replaced by Bohlender Graebener transducers in the Gen 1.1. Btw you haven't got a half bad system yourself LL21. The Zanden Classic line is lovely gear. Excellent attention to detail, well done!
 
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bonzo75

Member Sponsor
Feb 26, 2014
10,276
731
113
London
#10
The best system delivers the absolute sound to use point 2 in Ron's list to recreate 1 and 4 in that list leading to 3.

We have threads on absolute sound and Ron's list already
 

rockitman

Member Sponsor
Sep 20, 2011
7,020
238
63
Northern NY
#11
A lesser system in a good room can sound better than a better system in a lesser room. Room first, system second. The room is difficult to change and the reality is most people are stuck with what their living circumstance dictates...good, mediocre or bad and have to adjust accordingly with their equipment and or room treatment choices as needed.
 

JackD201

[WBF Founding Member]
Apr 21, 2010
11,192
156
63
Manila, Philippines
#12
A well composed system set up correctly AND for the right room should get you what Ralph describes. I agree with him totally.

For me the acid test is to be able to convey a sense of completeness at very low levels and as said, scale that up when you want to with no issues at least to 100dB. If one has to constantly ride the volume control, in my book, there's still work to be done. For me to have a totally stress free listening session, I should be able to set the volume and play the whole album (or a side of it) without having to bring up the volume for the quiet parts and bring it down for the crescendos. That tells me that both micro and macro are sufficiently good.
 

garylkoh

WBF Technical Expert (Speakers & Audio Equipment)
Sep 6, 2010
5,429
14
38
Seattle, WA
www.genesisloudspeakers.com
#13
For me, it is the relaxed sense of effortlessness. The system never strains to give you goosebumps on the crescendos, and the listener never needs to strain to hear the details in the pianissimo. The emotional aspects (not just the sound) of the performance comes across at all levels. This can come from a large, expensive system in a large room, as well as from a small, well set-up system in a tiny room.

A great system transcends price, size and brand. I could live just as well listening to a vintage pair of Rogers LS3/5A's playing vocal jazz in a small study, or a pair of Genesis Primes in the great hall. Ultimately, one of the reasons that I ended up buying the assets of Genesis 16 years ago was because the limiting factor is often the loudspeakers - and that's where I have dedicated my life's journey to for the past 12 years (with side trips along the way).
 

Mike Lavigne

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 25, 2010
7,371
356
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#14
A well composed system set up correctly AND for the right room should get you what Ralph describes. I agree with him totally.

For me the acid test is to be able to convey a sense of completeness at very low levels and as said, scale that up when you want to with no issues at least to 100dB. If one has to constantly ride the volume control, in my book, there's still work to be done. For me to have a totally stress free listening session, I should be able to set the volume and play the whole album (or a side of it) without having to bring up the volume for the quiet parts and bring it down for the crescendos. That tells me that both micro and macro are sufficiently good.
that all fits my view too.

i''d add the concept of headroom we might speak about in amplification also pertains to rooms. we relax when we know amplification will never be stressed, and that our speaker will deliver what the sources dish out, but the same with the room that it is able to have acoustics that don't break down when stressed. the soundstage should stay complete and imaging should still develop to define any recording venue.

maybe proof of concept is nearfield listening. if you can get close to speakers and it stays both natural and organized........and high energy music stays behaved and frequency balance is maintained......then the room and system have to be synergizing. some still prefer to sit farther back but you can move up without being crushed by higher SPL's.

the room must breathe.
 
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LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
10,800
79
48
#15
I recall Paul McGowan saying in a video that he felt the Gen 1's had better bass than the IRS-V's, but hinted he preferred the IRS-V's mid/high wings. I was never a fan of the Carver planar magnetic drivers, which of course were replaced by Bohlender Graebener transducers in the Gen 1.1. Btw you haven't got a half bad system yourself LL21. The Zanden Classic line is lovely gear. Excellent attention to detail, well done!
Thank you. And interesting about Paul McGowan given that he was involved with Arnie Nudell at that time. I do think that bass (and the expectations for great bass) have improved dramatically over the years...redoing the IRS V bass towers probably would provide a lot of upside potential on an otherwise amazing design...i do wonder if Paul would ever do that (if he had the time).

The IRS V and Genesis 1s/Primes...amazing...if only they were not so darn big! I remember a Genesis Prime owner had his wings cut down to accommodate his room...but probably a very particular room, set of measurements, etc to make that work.
 
Likes: Bodhi

DaveC

Industry Expert
Nov 16, 2014
2,415
219
63
#17
A good system first and foremost is capable of emotional engagement, as Vienna said. But the engagement is formed by the specific attributes of the system that lead to enhanced suspension of disbelief, by reproducing the music as close as possible to what your mind expects to hear... what it's used to hearing in real life.

Some of these aspects:

-A sense of immersion and being present at the performance, whether it's live or a studio recording.

-Effortless dynamics and scale, the system should reproduce dynamics cleanly and sound the same at a wide range of SPLs, which goes back to what Ralph was saying about not being able to tell how loud it's playing. When I was a ME student at CU Boulder I took a tour of PSA and was told that each piece of music has an "ideal volume"... well imo this is absolutely NOT true with a really good system. There is simply a point at which the music starts sounding bad in systems that produce more distortion as SPLs increase and not all systems do this. It's both the speakers and electronics that can contribute. This issue was actually a major challenge when building my speaker, my midrange driver's distortion went up too much with SPLs and it took a bit to find a solution for this issue, as the driver was otherwise close to perfect. It was not super simple or easy, but I manged to find a solution.

-Resolution of detail. This is required for a proper sense of immersion but also to simply hear detail that we expect to hear in real life.

-Bass quality. This is an interesting subject as IMO it is absolutely key and also not defined completely by measurements. But we've all heard the difference between a system with big and small woofers. A system with smaller woofers that uses more excursion sounds inferior to one with more woofer surface area, all else being equal. Even when the small woofer system can produce the same extension and SPLs, it just isn't as convincing. Of course it's possible that a really high quality smaller woofer will be better vs a cheap larger woofer, which is why I added "all else being equal". This is the downfall of Raidho, they sound good but the woofers are too small. YG has some of the best speakers in the world right now (imo) but you have to spend a fortune for ones with decent woofer surface area. For me... if I'm going to spend a lot on speakers I want top quality bass and too many high end speakers fail to deliver here or make you spend 6 figures for a model with decent woofers. TAD is guilty of this too, all of their speakers are compromised by a long shot in this department... except the Ref 1s. This also effects the ability of the system to produce effortless scale and dynamics.

-Lack of fatiguing artifacts. This goes with a sense of the music being "relaxed", it's not triggering your nervous system's fight or flight response as a result of producing fatiguing "alert" sounds.

-And maybe... just maybe... the best systems that have that "magic" are enhancing decay. ;)


The room is important in the sense it can't interfere with the above, but saying it's more or less important than parts of the system doesn't make sense to me, it is a part of the system.
 

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
6,051
605
113
Beverly Hills, CA
#18
I agree with almost all of these wonderful comments. (For me “emotionally engaging” can be achieved by modest systems. The big systems add an easier suspension of disbelief.)

I feel that — provided the room is large enough for these characteristics to reveal themselves — the SOTA speakers display a sonic scale and grandeur that smaller speakers only hint at. My personal favorites for this (in alphabetical order):

Cessaro Zeta
Evolution Acoustics MM7
Genesis Prime
Gryphon Pendragon
Rockport Arrakis
Von Schweikert Ultra 11
 
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#19
Really good systems:

1) Deliver a live "you are there" sound quality, even when listening off-axis or in an adjacent room
2) Image deep and wide
3) Focus the image pinpoint
4) Deliver an even top-to-bottom frequency response
5) Deliver lifelike dynamics with real-life decay
6) Enable you to sense the venue size from the echoes or how the vocalist and instruments were miced differently
7) Deliver tight, but not overblown bass with low distortion
8) Deliver a good image even off-axis or standing
 

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