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What is your Dream Audio System?

 

Bronze Member
Username: Dlovell2001

Alexandria, Virginia United States

Post Number: 34
Registered: Jul-12
Let's say money were not an issue - imagine you just won the PowerBall lottery for example - you had the ability to construct whatever audio system you wanted without concern for the price tags:

What system would you build?
 

Bronze Member
Username: Dlovell2001

Alexandria, Virginia United States

Post Number: 35
Registered: Jul-12
To answer my own question: i'm not very familiar with any of the truly high-end stuff. I've seen and heard about some really awesome speakers so of course my curiosity would draw me to listen to a few. I definitely want to hear Legacy - the Focus HD or the Signature SE.

I'd also love to hear the B&W Diamond line-up.

And mostly just out of curiosity i'd want to hear the Klipsch Palladium line.

I don't even know what amps I should be looking for in this case. Expensive fancy speakers catch my attention - high-price amps do not.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17365
Registered: May-04
.

Dream systems often depend upon dream rooms to exist. I have never even thought about owning Quad panels ( http://www.quadesl.org/index.html) since I have never had the room which would support them as they need to be set up. Like wanting a red Corvette convertible before I die, Lowthers have been the idealized speaker system - though a single driver speaker is difficult to call a "system; http://www.lowther-america.com/Introduction_to_Lowthers/index.html That too is a dream which is dependent upon the enclosure for the Lowther driver, which is bigger than most of my today rooms will accommodate.

The amp for the Quads is not the same amp for the Lowthers so there is no dream amp in my mind though I have been favoring very low power, simple circuit amps for many years. A small Quad II amplifier (http://www.stereophile.com/tubepoweramps/805quad/index.html) works for the earliest Quad "57" ESL's and they remain marvelous, if somewhat anachronistic, speakers. My current McIntosh tubes (http://www.audioclassics.com/detail.php3?detail=MC240&nav=cat) would also mate well with most of the Quad panels though international personalities are not always amenable to shaking hands. I would opt for a small two to five watt SET with the Lowthers - no particular manufacturer though I've always enjoyed David Berning's amplifiers; http://davidberning.com/products/zh230 The pre amp would likely match the amp but have as little circuitry inside as possible. That would eliminate the Quad amp since the matching pre amp is too busy for my tastes.

Sources are where I have to think because most sources I would own are not supported by the playback software being created. The single best source player I've encountered was a 15ips 2" open reel tape. Good luck finding John Lee Hooker on that.

Most recently, the most intriguing system I've encountered was at the local Lone Star Audio Fest. The photo at the bottom of the page doesn't do the system justice; http://www.enjoythemusic.com/lsaf_2012/page4.htm The subwoofer was the size of a refrigerator and looked very much like the "ice box" in the old "Honeymooners" set. The system was intriguing to me first because it screamed "radical departure" from virtually all else at the show and far from the norm of audio's mainstream. It easily tipped over into the hyper-tweak style of system building which I find to be a distraction from the purpose for which I own a high end system. Secondly, the system hit the same contradictory note I find so often in these radical departures, the more transparent it became to the recorded source - and it was highly transparent in terms of audio's current stack of buzzwords, the more it reminded me it was just a hifi system creating an illusion of an event which was a mere interpretation of someone's imagination. It was an excellent system working together to create an event in its own right but as I listened I knew this was a system which, should I own it, would always be reminding me that it was a set of (very high quality) electronics producing a (near perfect) illusion. My personal priorities have never accepted that perceptual dichotomy as desireable.

I've never experienced a complete system comprised of anything beyond the more mundane ($5-10k) components from AudioNote but for one stop system shopping, they would certainly fit my priorities well. http://www.audionote.co.uk/


.
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2854
Registered: Oct-07
Jan....
Knock out a wall and buy those Lothars or Quads........immediately.

Dream amp? I'd sign up for the Pass INT-150 for my panels without even blinking. Perhaps the INT-30......about 90% the same amp, but with different bias circuitry.....for the Lowthars. In the case of the Lowthar / INT-30 combo, you'll never get above 4 or 5 watts per side. You may be better off with one of the Pass 'First Watt' designs......
As Jan has said more than once.....to paraphrase.....'It's the first watt that counts'......
The origin of the phrase? The Klipsch quote about needing a good 5 watt amp may qualify.....

The 'perfect' system in a mediocre room would still sound just OK. I wish I could both afford the $$ capital and the relationship capital to go thru the public listening space and 'improve' it.
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2855
Registered: Oct-07
As for being given a HUGE windfall?
I'd start by building a ROOM ADDITION to my specs for both dimensions and construction technique. Double offset walls.....which were non-parellel for a start. Its own electrical box with built in surge protection would work. An EXTERIOR door of 36" width separating it from the rest of the house. I'd even like an 'airlock' system of 2 doors and about a 5' hallway in between.
Extensive bookshelves with built in quadratic diffusion behind where the panels would be designed to sit. Pre wired for surround sound, maybe, too. Double Drywall on 2 walls and staggered studs with sound insulation strung between. When it came time to equip? Magnepan 3.7...no need to get greedy! and all Pass amps each on their own breaker.

You know, just a regular room.
 

Gold Member
Username: Superjazzyjames

Post Number: 1938
Registered: Oct-10
I'd probably audition a lot of high end systems. After lots of listening and breaking in speakers, trying them in different locations, etc, I'd let you know what I ended up with.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17366
Registered: May-04
.

"The origin of the phrase? The Klipsch quote about needing a good 5 watt amp may qualify..... "



PWK - and his famous, "What this world needs is a good five watt amplifier" sentiment; http://www.sorasound.com/products/musical-affairs/ - was far more interested in the total or, I should say, "peak" dynamic range of music which, in most listener's experience, is the forte of the Klispch line. (No pun intended as the "Forte" was a mid-80's [the pre-dawn of HT and speakers moving into the den with SAF] Klispch model which was not designed by PWK and which proved to be only a moderate commercial success. It existed for several years alongside the "classic" Klispch speaker line (Klipshcorn, Belle, LaScalla, Cornwall and Heresy) and was priced and sized between the Heresy and the Cornwall (approximately $1k in 1987 dollars). At that time Klipsch the company had been sold to a controlling interest which made several design changes to the Klipsch product line which had remained virtually unchanged since the late 1950's. (The Klipschorn retains its status in audio history as the single longest running commercial speaker design continually offered since its introduction in the late 1940's. http://itishifi.blogspot.com/2009/03/1957-klipsch-brochure-klipschorn.html) When the company was sold (for the first time) in the '80's, PWK was retained as an "advisor" to the "official" designers, though he had no real input into the forthcoming products (and probably would have had serious disagreements with the design goals of the soon to be new product line bearing his name). As the Kilpsch rep informed us (the sales staff at the [then] highest volume Klipsch retailer in the US), "Paul did OK with the sale of the company and he drives by every now and again in his Mercedes to wave." Of course, with assembly of the Klipsch products still located in the small town of Hope, Arkansas, PWK could hardly not drive by the plant every now and again.

The real origin of the "first watt" quote is DO when he was reviewing for Strereophile;

http://www.firstwatt.com/pdf/prod_f1_man.pdf

http://www.enjoythemusic.com/magazine/reviewers/dickolsher.htm


Just yesterday I happened to be having a conversation with a fellow I had sold (Klipsch) with back in the '80's. As the conversation wound through multiple topics he made the comment regarding acoustic suspension speaker systems, "They don't play well at low volumes". Of course, considering the large group delay and inconsistent phase and time measurements of a typical Klipsch product from that time, I totally disagree with that statement just as I had back in the 1980's. But he sold Klipsch (and virtually only Klipsch) by demonstrating the opening fifteen second clip from "Flim and the BB's" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zmQK94LGaI at about 20 watts RMS input which emphasized the peak dynamic power of the largest Klispch speakers when compared to the far less sensitive (on average by about 10-15dB per watt) and significantly smaller acoustic suspension designs from Boston Acoustics,Celestion and KEF. I never once knew of a Klipsch salesperson who actually sold the speakers on the basis of how they sounded at low volumes.



.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17367
Registered: May-04
.

Here are two songs I typically used to demonstrate the imaging and soundstaging of the BA's, Celestions and KEF's of the 1980's;

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QLiai4gg_0Q&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gChOifUJZMc&feature=related


At certain points in those songs the phase of the signal was shifted by the recording engineer and, for example, the cyclist's deraileur gears would come out into the room and wrap around behind the seated listener. It was always fun to watch the client listening to the demonstartion as they were very intent on very precisely located individual movements within and around the soundstage which existed deep into the room and well, well beyond the physical limits of the speakers themself. Each new sound would have them moving their head to focus on a type of music reproduction which was uncommon in speakers such as the Klipsch. As the sound of the bicycle moved toward and around them, they first leaned back as if to make way for the rider and then leaned forward again as the image moved behind them. Then a big smile and a chuckle broke out on their face. Happened every time.

Don't think good salespeople do not have their demos set up to sell a specific product when they want to.


The Celestion SL6000 was the speaker of the day for audiophiles of a certain stripe; http://www.stereophile.com/standloudspeakers/744 With its dedicated heavy stands - many of which are still in use today as "the" reference stand for bookshelf speakers - and its innovative dipole subwoofer; http://www.stereophile.com/content/celestion-system-6000-loudspeaker-system-dick -olsher-january-1989, the Celestion designers took on many of the heavyweights in the audio market of the 1980-90's. At a mere 82dB and about the size of a shoebox, the SL600 system was in most ways the antithesis of the Klipsch model.


It certainly should be noted, IMO, that Celestion, since its inception in 1922, has long been one of the most respected audio companies in the world, supplying raw drivers to many other manufacturers along with having designed and sold several classic audiophile speaker systems through the years.

And, of course, anyone familiar with live sound probably recognizes the signature personality of the perpetually famous Celestion line of speaker components meant for electric guitar; http://www.musiciansfriend.com/accessories/celestion-g12h-heritage-guitar-speake r-8-ohms#review

Under represented in the US market today, Celestion remains one of the pre-eminent audio companies in the world.




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Bronze Member
Username: Dlovell2001

Alexandria, Virginia United States

Post Number: 36
Registered: Jul-12
You make a very good point Leo - the sound quality of the room is as important as the speakers themselves - and I think that's the biggest part of my problem right now.

My point in case: I drove my car for 12 years with stock speakers in it. I may not be an audiophile but I am picky. I honestly believed I had a subwoofer in my car - the Toyota JBL Premium Sound system typically does sport a sub - I even convinced audiophiles that there was a sub in the car - and what was it really all that time? A dinky factory 6x9 duo-cone with about a 2 oz magnet on it.

It sounded good enough to me that not only was I happy with the sound - when I blew the rear speakers I wanted to find new ones just like what was in it when I bought it - because I thought they were so very good.

The improvement in sound I got when I upgraded to truly quality speakers was substantial. And now I think it's the best sound i've ever heard in a car system and maybe even home systems too.

There is only one possible explanation: the acoustics in my car are near perfect. The trunk is lined with sound-absorbing padding. The panels of the car are sound-insulated. Add to that the rear window which acts to focus the bass the same way placing a speaker in the corner does in your home - but it will focus frequencies all the way up to 1kHz.

My point is - and I have just experienced this for myself: you can take a perfect listening environment and add cheap speakers and it will sound good. Add good speakers and it will sound great. Take a lousy listening area with terrible acoustics and the best speakers money can buy will sound ok. Ordinary speakers (those in my price range) will sound crappy. That's what i'm getting at home now.

So to answer my own question - the quest has a prerequisite: get a listening room with perfect acoustics set up first.
 

Gold Member
Username: Superjazzyjames

Post Number: 1939
Registered: Oct-10
"You know, just a regular room."

Yep!
 

Gold Member
Username: Magfan

USA

Post Number: 2858
Registered: Oct-07
DR,
A long time ago...I bought a new Honda Accord. I think it was an '83 or '84. The stock stereo? Cassette and 4" door mounted speakers. Really awful, when compared with some of the big-buck stuff masquerading as 'good'. You'd think.
I was the first kid on the block to own a CD player. A 14bit magnevox made by Philips. When I recorded cassettes from the few original discs I bought and passed 'em out......several people dropped what they were doing and went to buy a CD player.
The goofy kid next door? he had one of those big-buck car stereos and was totally devastated when he heard my stock system.....with a cassette made from a CD.

Just like anything else....your listening room improvements will be based on cost / benefit. A modest sum may yield good results and be unobtrusive, to boot. As the incremental cost rises, the incremental benefit may drop.
 

Gold Member
Username: Superjazzyjames

Post Number: 1940
Registered: Oct-10
"Just like anything else....your listening room improvements will be based on cost / benefit. A modest sum may yield good results and be unobtrusive, to boot. As the incremental cost rises, the incremental benefit may drop."

My sentiments exactly!

Given such a chance Dave, it would be wise to take your time and consider carefully all that you plan to do. With $ not being an object, wasting it might not hurt too much, but still, it's not good. At the same time, wasted time and having to undo and redo everything over and over could get very frustrating.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Dlovell2001

Alexandria, Virginia United States

Post Number: 37
Registered: Jul-12
super - if I had that king of $$$ I wouldn't be driving around auditioning Klipsch and B&W speakers to replace my JBL. If I had unlimited $$$ they would be bringing me speakers to listent to - and they'd be in charge of setting up the speakers with the amp they recommend to go with it - with placement and wiring etc.

The point of this thread is to talk about the speakers we dream about owning and the sound rooms and amps we dream of powering them.

My system - i'm a married man - this week was our 9th anniversary - we're celebrating tonight for dinner - anyway - at the risk of sounding like Dr Phil let me just say that to be happily married you have to choose your battles wisely - and you do have to draw the line. I chose to fight this battle and I did draw the line. I allowed myself to spend as much as $3500 on a pair of front speakers - enough to cover the RF-7 if it came to that. For now I have Klipsch RF-62 - rich, powerful, deep bass, crisp highs and tonally rich with balance - exceptional sound at higher volume - the trademark of Klipsch - they lack clarity in the deeper mids - the mids played by the woofers. Overall they're an exceptional "rock and roll" speaker system that should please listeners of bass-heavy music and loud listeners. These are NOT your "3 Bs" speakers (Bach, Beethoven, Brahms). I'm still have not accepted these speakers - so my search is likely not over.

If I won the lottery I would listen to a pair of Diamond 803 and Diamond 804, Klipsch Palladium P-37F and Legacy's line-up - because those are the killer speakers i've seen, dreamt about and never heard and i'm not about to waste a salesman's time pretending I can actually buy those. I am going to listen to the B&W 683 and CM9. My budget would only buy me one 804. Call me picky but I want 2.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17368
Registered: May-04
.

"These are NOT your '3 Bs' speakers (Bach, Beethoven, Brahms)."

I wrote a store newsletter many years ago as HT was gaining momentum in high end audio shops which invited those folks who enjoyed the three B's of "Bach, Basie and Batman" to come audition our gear.



.
 

Gold Member
Username: Superjazzyjames

Post Number: 1941
Registered: Oct-10
Way ahead of ya Dave. My wife & I will celebrate 24 years in November. Done lots of picking of battles and my wife and I both know how to get what we want without having a blow out. It took a few years to get to that point, but we figured it out.

My advice there Dave was, "Take your time". Regardless of whether you go to stores or stores come to you, the point is, try different combinations. What if the sales people recommend a Krell amp with B&W 803s and you don't like that combo? You might like a Nad amp with 803s or Avant Garde speakers with a Krell amp. What I recommend Dave, is take your time, hear lots of combos and pick components that form a system you'll be truly happy with.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Dlovell2001

Alexandria, Virginia United States

Post Number: 42
Registered: Jul-12
Congrats SJ

I do plan on taking my own sweet time - but no more than 30 days at a time with any one set of speakers sitting in my place.

I was thinking - if I really did win the lottery - and I had $$$ to just have fun with - must be nice - I would absolutely have to add a game room to my house - the big nice house I would have built - and I would have an old pool table sitting in the middle of the floor. I'd have the old pinball machines - the ones with the bells on top and the little plastic wheels with the numbers on them that spin in a circle to keep your score - two levers - one ball - a real pinball machine - i'd have a row of those puppies along one wall. I'd have an old juke box with nothing in it newer than the late 70s and for sure i'd have Klipschorns sitting on that back wall playing the music. Gotta have some Klipschorns. No game room is complete without them!
 

Gold Member
Username: Superjazzyjames

Post Number: 1944
Registered: Oct-10
Thanks Dave! and congrats on your 9 years! Here's to many more!

The game room idea sounds like quite a project and a rewarding one too. Authentic pinball machines? Restoration baby! I'll help!
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