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‘A question of balance...’

Discussion in 'audio' started by Martyn Miles, Nov 12, 2019.

  1. Martyn Miles

    Martyn Miles pfm Member

    As I sit and peruse the forums on PFM the question of ‘which speakers ? ’, ‘which amplifier ?’, etc. often appears.
    With the benefit of years of experience, I’ve found it’s mainly to do with which components are assembled to make a complete system.
    One that musically satisfies over many years.

    My main system started out with Spendor BC1s in the ‘70s. They were highly recommended, so I bought a pair.
    The Arcam Alpha amp didn’t quite work between them and a Rega 3 with a Shure cartridge.
    After listening to a MC cartridge ( Entre ) I took the step of buying one fitted onto a Thorens TD160 with a Mission 774 arm. I used a head amp. for the Entre.
    Better. I did eventually put the Mission/Entre on to an LP12, for some reason...
    Then an Audiolab 8000A was auditioned ( and purchased ) and it brought the BC1s to life.
    The slightly loose bass end was tightened up and the whole system sounded more alive.

    The whole system stayed this way for years, but was improved by a Denon 103 MC cartridge.
    One of the most surprising additions was the addition of a Tascam CD recorder, which I’d used
    on and off in a semi. prof. capacity.
    It really suited the system and has stayed for about 5/6 years now.
    This system is just so well balanced for my particular kind of music, which is acoustic/folk, female solo
    singers and light orchestral music.
    I would be really interested in what other PFM members have found to be a long-term systems that give
    musical satisfaction.
    Del monaco likes this.
  2. Rockmeister

    Rockmeister pfm Member

    It is totally about balance, and the starting point is your room, so even if I were to share your taste in music, and like things to sound just like you do, we'd still have two different systems, because we have different room, and different ears (and brains...and, and)!
    For years I used to write about the hunt for neutrality. Then I heard a decent valve amp and emotion kicked neutrality into the weeds. However when emotion became distortion (I have unfortunately wide musical tastes, so any one system is going to struggle), I had to rethink.
    Now I tend to think that any system needs to have a mix. I like neutral record decks and arms, but only so that they portray what my chosen cartridge is doing. I like neutral the time the signal reaches the speaker I want it to be left alone, but neutral, not cold, clinical and emotionless. In between if I had a re spend, I'd have a valve or two somewhere in the pre-amplification, and solid state neutrality in the power amps. In that way, only the cartridge and the pre amp valves are adding some romance and emotion, the rest is telling that story as accurately as it can.
    Never have got that right however because room after room has nudged the sound. One day maybe.
  3. Woodface

    Woodface pfm Member

    The best thing is to have a separate room for the hi-fi, biggest upgrade you can ever do.
    Rockmeister likes this.
  4. Strictly Stereo

    Strictly Stereo Trade: Strictly Stereo

    Yes, what you hear is the sum of all of the components working together, including your room. I do sometimes see recommendations posted here in response to "which streamer/speaker/amplifier" threads which make me wince. This is not because the recommended component is itself poor but because it is poorly matched to the other equipment.
  5. Martyn Miles

    Martyn Miles pfm Member

    Without wishing to ‘muddy the waters’ too much, my second system is very different but still gives much satisfaction.
    It’s in a different environment to the primary system, with harder surfaces than the front room.
    Is is based around Harbeth P3-ESRs, to my ears the most musically satisfyingly small speakers I’ve heard.
    And I have heard ( and owned...) many small speakers.
    The source is a massive Sony CD player, bought at what I thought was a bargain price.
    I once had a Naim CD player on this system, but it didn’t suit.
    The amp. is a Quad 34/303.
    This system sounds very unlike my main system, but when playing music it somehow pulls
    you into the music.
    I can listen to hours, and I do...
    A turntable was added a few years ago.
    An AR XA with a Denon D110.
    Not used much.
  6. herb

    herb music live

    1 LP12/Mission 774/Ortophon VMS/quad 33/303/Quad esl57/Trio tuner

    2 LP12/tiktok/Klyde/Exposure 6/7/8/MA R852MD/naim CD3

    3 naim CDX2.2/ATC SIA2-150(2)/Harbeth C7ES3

    That covers 50 years. I go to a lot of live classical/jazz concerts and enjoy listening to system 3 just as much.
  7. Martyn Miles

    Martyn Miles pfm Member

    I think I could live with your System 1.
    If I’d had the space I would have had ESLs, and probably a Quad 33/303.
  8. herb

    herb music live

    Yes 1 was superb especially with the big Trio tuner and an R2R deck, but I had to move into a bedsit and the esl57s had to go. If the 57s were available new now I would snap them up,:)
  9. Martyn Miles

    Martyn Miles pfm Member

    I have a tuner with my system, a Quad FM4.
    It’s OK, but I still think the Sony ST3950 was better.
    Would be good to try one again.
    Equipment you wished you hadn’t got rid of...

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