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Type of music and choice of gear.

Discussion in 'classical' started by Brian S, May 2, 2021.

  1. Brian S

    Brian S pfm Member

    To what extent do members specifically choose their audio set ups for a type of music?

    80% of my listening is to small group classical and small group jazz. 20% mainly Baroque. Am I right in thinking this music makes less demand on systems than other types: electronic etc? Although I am quite happy to spend on the best speakers I can afford for a certain space, I often feel much of the rest has been overkill. The cash doesn't really matter to me, I am ancient, retired and squandering the remains of my equity release, and there isn't a decent pub or restaurant within walking distance. I just find myself wondering for how much less could I have achieved an equally satisfactory outcome for.
    Last edited: May 3, 2021
  2. Vinny

    Vinny pfm Member

    Beauty is always in the ear of the beholder.

    I can very easily imagine that anyone with a very specific passion in music - piano, sax', organ, vocals (male or female), whatever, would persue that to the ends of the earth. But Joe Average....... hopefully, live with something used across their own taste and see if it fits, or not - certainly that is the case here.

    Who's counting? Who's judging, except yourself?
  3. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    Not at all. Well recorded acoustic music has huge demands when it comes to natural reproduction be it tonal or dynamic. By comparison rock and electronica is a studio creation with no clear point of reference and often very high levels of compression. I have found a system that is genuinely good on jazz and classical tends to do rock and electronica just fine, but the reverse is seldom true! On average I’d far prefer to listen to rock on a classical fan’s system than classical on a rock fan’s!

    From a personal perspective my musical taste has changed/expanded hugely over the past 40 years or so and my systems have changed to accommodate this, but the new-wave and indie stuff I loved back in the ‘70s and ‘80s still sounds amazing. Far better than ever to be honest.
    PsB and Brian S like this.
  4. windhoek

    windhoek The Phoolosopher

    And vinyl is still worth a place at the table when it comes to classical, and in some cases, it's got to be at the head of the table! Take Bach's Brandenburg Concertos. I've heard a number of versions and through a number of systems over the years but the best I ever heard was an old LP of Concerto No. 4 by a lesser-known German orchestra (pre-unification) that a mate of mine had picked up for 50p in a charity shop. The richness, warmth and vividness of the strings, in particular, is simply the best I've ever heard. Full-bodied in every way with no downsides at all. If that's how every classical LP sounded I'd buy a lot more classical LPs!
    Brian S likes this.
  5. Brian S

    Brian S pfm Member

    Thanks for these responses, which I am glad to hear. One of the several things that prompted my question was a review of Spendor D1s speakers which gave them three stars. I think sadly, they are no longer produced. I was so pleased when I purchased a pair after being so impressed by Spendor 3/5s I bought a second pair for another location. Since I play these alongside Audionote AN - Js I felt sure my liking was justified. I consequently wondered if the reviewer had utterly ignored how well they performed with chamber music and jazz, and they had failed to satisfy his standards for whatever he played on them. I suspect it was an utterly mindless review.
  6. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    Spendor don’t play the ‘hype it up to sound impressive’ game, they just make great speakers IMO. I’ve got a pair of S3/5Rs in the TV rig and really like them and have never not liked any Spendor I’ve ever heard. The BC1 remaining a remarkable speaker even now.
    narabdela and Brian S like this.
  7. marshanp

    marshanp ellipsis addict

    Many hi-fi reviewers do not not have eclectic tastes in music and imagine that their opinion of how well a piece of equipment performs in their limited area of interest is enough to justify their fee.

    For example, any pages of Hi-fi News (one of the few somewhat credible magazines) occupied by Ken Kessler, who is on record as having no time for classical music, are a waste of so much paper. Why the magazine's publishers assume that I am interested in opinions about musical reproduction written by somebody who never, on principle, hears an orchestra or a string quartet is beyond me.

    edit: Most of my listening is to large-scale Romantic and modern orchestral music (though my interests don't stop there). This, along with solo piano, is in my opinion the music which is hardest to reproduce convincingly in a domestic setting.
    Brian S, herb and narabdela like this.
  8. George J

    George J Herefordshire member

    That broad church, classical music, is of course a massively diverse entity. From Mahler's Eight Symphony or Schoenberg's Gurreleider for huge forces to, for example, a JS Bach French Suite for keyboard, played on his favourite key board, the Clavichord. This is a quieter instrument than a classical guitar, though it does have a dynamic range ...

    The range of tones and pitches from the piccolo to the sixteen and thirty-two foot ranks of a romantic pipe organ ...

    The immense difficulties of replaying pianoforte sounds, which is often because the piano is very difficult to capture really convincingly in recordings in the first place, to the immense subtlety in the different timbres of string playing styles [and violin family instrument set-ups] ...

    Classical music, in its broadest sense, makes demands even beyond the wildest dreams of perfection by replay designers and makers even today. But small scale performance, chamber music solo recital material string quartets, even orchestras up to the Beethoven/Brahms scale of say 60 to 90 players can be reproduced at home with a very reasonable approach to creating the illusion of the original sounds.

    I can only speak from my own forty years of buying replay equipment for my own use, and not for anyone else. As I now have what is certainly my last replay equipment, as it is serviceable for my lifetime, my thoughts are that the best is to aim for the best possible effect in replay of relatively modest forces, using the highest quality that is possible, but not necessarily worrying about getting the sensory effect of listening to six hundred performers in the Royal Albert Hall playing Mahler Eight.

    On the other hand such is the precision in terms of subtle musical balances preserved and timbral verisimilitude that my replay sounds utterly horrible on pop music.

    That is okay. If I listen to Desert Island Discs [and the person chooses all pop music] I can make the effect more pleasing by listening on a more modest arrangement like my reasonably powerful kitchen radio. More likely not to bother though - truth to tell!

    Best wishes from George
    narabdela and Brian S like this.
  9. marshanp

    marshanp ellipsis addict

    This certainly appears to be the case, given the number of disagreeable recordings of solo piano being made to this day. You would think that they might have cracked it by now, yet still we are regularly offered pianos as wide as the distance between our speakers, heard from the perspective of the (presumably giant) performer...
  10. PsB

    PsB Citizen of Nowhere™

    Most systems are compromises of one sort or another. If you listen predominantly to classical your compromises may end up being different from those made by people who listen to rock or electronica.
    I chose my system for its ability to play classical music plausibly, which for me means to provide something vaguely similar to the experience of sitting in a decent seat in a concert hall (the key word being vaguely, I know it is still very far from the real thing). I sacrificed low bass extension and a few other things, but made few compromises on tone quality, micro-dynamics, the elimination of harsh or sibilant treble, the ability to more or less place groups of instruments directionally and track different lines of counterpoint, etc. The system also works well for acoustic instruments and jazz, less well for some other categories I am less bothered about.
  11. mandryka

    mandryka pfm Member

    This is a problem. As I type I’m listening to a harpsichord which is as precisely as wide as the distance between my two speakers, and there is no sense of hall ambience at all.

    What I don’t know is whether this is the fault of the recording (which is what you’re suggesting I guess) or the playback equipment.

    I want to solve this problem!
  12. Gervais Cote

    Gervais Cote Predator

    Harpsichord is rather difficult to render properly IMO........sounds like a piano where you pinch the strings rather than hammering........
    A Naim amplifier will give you the attack or transient but a vacuum tube will give you a nice tone and wider soundstage.
    An LS3/5A will give you the pinpoint image but won’t give you the scale.......
    Let us know when you will have solved this problem ! :D
    windhoek likes this.
  13. marshanp

    marshanp ellipsis addict

    Try Scarlatti sonata K27, Wladyslaw Klosiewicz, on the Accord label (it's on Qobuz). I hear the harpsichord fairly close by, but not giant-sized, and slightly behind the plane of the speakers. I think the keyboard is at an angle to that plane, but I'm not sure. The instrument's action is clearly audible, but not oppressively so; and there is a definite sense of the acoustic in which it was played. Does this recording sound good on your system? It's very pleasing on mine (and I think he is a fine player!)
  14. mandryka

    mandryka pfm Member

    Yes it is at an angle and it sounds good, it’s a strange harpsichord, I didn’t keep the booklet so I don’t know what it is. I still think that the image is coming from a source which extends from one speaker to the other, there is no sense of the harpsichord playing in a room.

    (Be sure to try his Froberger!)

    Having just typed that I suddenly realised what’s wrong. These are all studio processed recordings! For the sound I want I need to go to MDG - things like Siegbert Rampe’s Peter Philips and Froberger, the Leipzig Quartet’s Schoenberg etc. It’s worth reading their “manifesto”

    Loads of people I know don’t like the MDG approach, they prefer more studio engineering. De gustibus . . .

    The “problem” is the recording, not the speakers or amp.
  15. jandl100

    jandl100 Box swapping classical fan

    It's the fault of the recording, but playback equipment choices can solve it.

    I'm currently using a Behringer DEQ2496 digital doohickey. As long as you are purely digital it's transparent - digital input from my streaming service and then digital output to my DAC.

    Among its many facilities is a Width control, spin the knob and you can narrow or widen the soundstage, anything from superwide to mono.

    Well, mostly sorted. Your too wide harpsichord is narrowed down to your ideal size, but of course the hall ambience is also narrowed. But still a substantial improvement imo.
    mandryka likes this.
  16. jandl100

    jandl100 Box swapping classical fan

    As for choice of gear, my listening is 99% classical, and I do my gear selection demming accordingly. Any other music has to take its chances, but as has been previously remarked it usually turns out well.

    My experience is the same as TonyL...
    "I have found a system that is genuinely good on jazz and classical tends to do rock and electronica just fine, but the reverse is seldom true! On average I’d far prefer to listen to rock on a classical fan’s system than classical on a rock fan’s!"
  17. mandryka

    mandryka pfm Member

    Well, I never thought I'd be tempted by such a thing, but I am!
    jandl100 likes this.

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