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Good amp & speakers for bad recordings.

Discussion in 'audio' started by Marc O'Brien, Jul 30, 2020.

  1. Marc O'Brien

    Marc O'Brien Active Member

    You often read in reviews about so and so equipment being great but caution, will make bad recordings unlistenable. I've had a few amps, and there aren't many that can make dissonant music like the Beatles white album (Helter skelter for instance), or say Captain Beefheart sound decent. I've just bought a valve/Audio note combo and this is out of the question for this type of music, but so far its showing its true worth with rendering jazz very lilfelike, which is great. So I'm after another - cheaper - set up of integrated amp and stand mount speakers for those cherished 'bad recordings'! Listen to smaller bands too on Independent labels, where perhaps access to a decent studio was unaffordable.
  2. Fatmarley

    Fatmarley pfm Member

    Aren't you the guy with the Little Bear / 306? You don't get much smoother than that, without losing resolution.
  3. Woodface

    Woodface pfm Member

    I am very cynical about this ‘revealing of bad recordings’ line.

    I think if you have fuller range speakers they will make most music very listenable.

    I had nap250/SBLs which made some, more compressed, modern recordings quite unenjoyable. When I switched to active ATC40S I suddenly found more satisfaction to be had across all recording standards.

    I think the SBLs probably emphasised compression?

    Hifi mags generally characterise ATC speakers as ‘revealing’ yet they don’t make poor recordings unlistenable.
    evand and Peter McDermott like this.
  4. Marc O'Brien

    Marc O'Brien Active Member

    Had a 306 once, but with Audio synthesis passive, rather good, but prefer something with more punch to rock out to.
  5. Gervais Cote

    Gervais Cote Predator

    Best combo ever for bad recordings for me was the Sugden A48 mk2 amp with Tangent TM1 speakers with low quality entry level cables.
    The Naim NAP 160 bolt down gives a similar result.
    Dozey likes this.
  6. Mr Pig

    Mr Pig ^'- -'^

    What's the front end? Much more influential than the amp and speakers.
    tuga likes this.
  7. Arkless Electronics

    Arkless Electronics Trade: Amp design and repairs.

    I guess you want crap equipment for crap recordings! Muddy, woolly, definitely lacking top end etc.

    Or accept that some recordings are crap and are supposed to sound that way... whether by accident or design...

    "Bat out of Hell" sounds fine on a ghetto blaster but awful on anything approaching true hi fi... as do many Hawkwind albums etc.

    A graphic equaliser could be the way forward here for the OP!?
  8. Vinny

    Vinny pfm Member

    ^^^^ beat me to it.

    You cannot resurrect the dead - p-poor recordings/mastering/pressings can only ever sound p-poor or worse.
  9. mandryka

    mandryka pfm Member

    Just ignore this if it's not what you wanted this thread to be about. What you wrote is a really interesting post to me because of this comment in particular

    I like very early and very modern music, and in both those things there's a high level of dissonance -- either because of the way the instruments are tuned, or because the music just rejects the whole system which defines some sounds as consonant and some as not.

    So I want to ask you a question, though it has nothing to do with amps etc. Why is Helter Skelter a bad recording? Is it that there's something bad about the production? Or were the Beatles exploring dissonance and you don't like the results -- if the latter it would be wrong headed to try and make it more consonant.
    paulfromcamden and Dozey like this.
  10. Marc O'Brien

    Marc O'Brien Active Member

    Garrard 401 + Jelco 750D/Nag MP200, and Mission pcm 7000 cdp (yeh that could probably do with a service!).
  11. Marc O'Brien

    Marc O'Brien Active Member

    Indeed, I'm sure the Beatles had access to top recording studio! I said poorly recorded, but also meant compressed sounding music, or just music like mid period Beatles with quite jangly sharp guitar, it seems to sound a bit thin on many of the systems I've had, be great to heat it sounding a bit more fleshed out. It may have been intended to sound like that, to a point, but sometimes I think, surely it wasn't meant to sound that bad.
  12. linnfomaniac83

    linnfomaniac83 I bet you can’t wheelie a unicycle!

    Yeah, Bat Out Of Hell and indeed many Meatloaf albums are driving music, I find them annoyingly bad on my HIFI, but good fun in the car.
  13. essgee

    essgee pfm Member

    If anyone feels that they really have to play something that they deem to be badly recorded, maybe just play at a lower volume so its quality is not too obvious?
  14. Woodface

    Woodface pfm Member

    I listen to Louis Armstrong hot 5s & 7s quite a bit; these two disc transfers so pretty ropey but I still really enjoy them.

    The Beatles were up against the technology of the time, only from the White Album onwards had decent sonics.

    Michael Kiwanuka is an artist I rate very highly, his albums tend to be quite compressed but I can listen to them via a very revealing naim/ATC system & still enjoy the music.
  15. Marc O'Brien

    Marc O'Brien Active Member

    Noooo, this sort of music needs to be played LOUD!
  16. Marc O'Brien

    Marc O'Brien Active Member

    Am I right in thinking an old Rega Brio might be a good start for this 'poorly recorded music'?
  17. Fatmarley

    Fatmarley pfm Member

    Some of the older Arcam amps are very smooth and non fatiguing.
  18. darrenyeats

    darrenyeats pfm Member

    A lot of modern stuff is very dynamically compressed - oversampling digital sometimes has no digital headroom, so you'll get digital clipping with these recordings. A bit of digital attenuation (i.e. digital volume control, ideally dithered) will sort this though. IMO this makes a positive difference with many modern recordings. Obvs dynamic compression is still there, nothing you can do about that, but some unnecessary extra damage is avoided (in this way people with smartphones, sound bars etc. are ironically better off than many audiophiles).

    Sometimes digital nastiness remains, but when I hear it I know it's baked into the recording.

    Yeah there will always be recordings where the SQ isn't attractive. But I would say everything should be listenable: you might find knocking down the volume control will be the best way.

    To me some things being "unlistenable" usually would mean a problem with the system/set up.
  19. Marc O'Brien

    Marc O'Brien Active Member

    Yes, I used to own the Alpha 7 back in the 90s, found it a bit too smooth! Replaced with a more powerful NAD.
  20. Marc O'Brien

    Marc O'Brien Active Member

    I don't listen to Lady Gaga! I'm talking about old rock stuff like the Stones, this can sound a bit rubbish on audiophile systems.

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