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Tarheel TJ

Eye Opening Experience

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    Over the holiday weekend, I had the opportunity to listen to a truly state of the art system.  Went over to a family friend's house and listened to a 2-channel system valued at around $200,000.  The system consisted of Marten Coltrane 3 speakers, EAR tube amplification, a very high end Grado phono cartridge, Otari R2R with Tape Project tapes, etc.  I spent about two hours listening to a variety of sources including CD, phono and tape.  I could have easily stayed and listened to the wee hours.  I was absolutely blown away by the clarity and detail of this system.  It was like nothing I have ever heard before.

   Without trying to toot my own horn, I regard my own system very highly.  I am running an active system with La Scala bass bins, 2" compression driver HF horns and a BFM THT sub.  I use a mix of tube and solid state amplification.  It goes from 20hz-20khz with excellent clarity and dynamics and a flat frequency response.  I have only heard it bested once or twice, and that was by very high-priced systems in audio stores.  The system I heard this weekend, however, was a whole different ball of wax.  It had clarity, dimension and depth the likes of which I have never experienced.  It truly changed what I thought was possible to do with audio reproduction.

   I definitely now have the itch to upgrade, but it is a bit disheartening to think about.  No matter what I upgrade, the end result will certainly not be able to match what I just heard.  Anyone else have such an experience?

 

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Curious.....how was his room? Did he have any type of acoustic treatment or any effort made in this regard?

Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk

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After hearing huge dollar, complex systems, I come away more impressed with my system! The biggest difference in these large systems and my system is scale. As you said they have more dimentionality and space, but I don't feel there is any difference in detail, frequency response and musicality. To achieve that scale you need a large space, large speakers and depending on the sensitivity and efficiency of the speakers,  possibly large amps.  If the source is high quality (any source), and the system is well matched, then to me, it all comes down to scale. Once a featherweight golden gloves boxer told me "A good big man will beat a good small man every time!" 

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29 minutes ago, Tarheel TJ said:

Without trying to toot my own horn,

Don't feel bad, there aren't many that can.......

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His room was treated.  Was similar in size to my own, but with the benefit of a higher ceiling.

 

Veloceleste, if anything, the opposite was true.  My system excels at the large scale stuff.  It consists of large speakers in a large room.  It can get quite expansive!  The detail is exactly what was so impressive about this high-dollar rig.  It just gave so much more information from the records.  So much inner detail, harmonics, sparkle, etc.  The kinds of things I have only heard through headphones before now.  This makes me think that the sources are where my system is most lacking.  That, and perhaps the highest frequencies.  I don't think my 2" compression drivers are extending quite as high or as cleanly as the diamond tweeters from those Martens.

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I had the same experience once at a high end audio store and I’ve been to some. Blew me away! I had no clue home audio could sound that good with an incredible three dimensional sound stage. It was a very expensive system and the owner knew good sounding music.

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1 hour ago, Tarheel TJ said:

The detail is exactly what was so impressive about this high-dollar rig.  It just gave so much more information from the records.  So much inner detail, harmonics, sparkle, etc.  The kinds of things I have only heard through headphones before now.  This makes me think that the sources are where my system is most lacking.  That, and perhaps the highest frequencies.  I don't think my 2" compression drivers are extending quite as high or as cleanly as the diamond tweeters from those Martens.

That is likely a good guess.  Also, if your friend's listening room had the right amount of diffusion and absorption to tame the reverberation times, and the tube electronics had very low intermodulation distortion/harmonic distortion.  These all would combine to present a very clean and detailed image.  Same thing for the cartridge--there is a lot of modulation distortion present in phono cartridges (...a LOT...).  This is something that is not an issue with digital source media.

 

Chris

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2 hours ago, Tarheel TJ said:

I definitely now have the itch to upgrade, but it is a bit disheartening to think about.  No matter what I upgrade, the end result will certainly not be able to match what I just heard.

While I am happy for you that you had a chance to experience that, it seems to me that you are now going to think that anything you hear, including your own system, is going to be inferior to your friends system because:

1.  You know that his system cost in the range of $200K

2.  Yours does not

3.  Nor does anyone else's that you know.....

 

I mean, realistically, how much better can a $200K system sound than a $20K system in the same room, etc?  Be honest.  10 times?  No way.  That may not be the point to some, but, I've listened to many, many very high end systems with incredible speakers, fantastic amps, amazing sources, but I still came back to my modest setup that I've spent years acquiring, matching, and putting together, and have felt that I have 99.99% of what I need, and I could care less about the other .01%.

 

I'm sure it sounded wonderful, but, how much more wonderful (than yours, that you've put a lot of time and money and effort into...)

 

I guess what I'm saying is that it's great to have fun chasing the upgrades, but at some point, it becomes just a matter of how much you can afford and are willing to spend on a diminishing return.  

 

Have fun.

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4 hours ago, SWL said:

Curious.....how was his room? Did he have any type of acoustic treatment or any effort made in this regard?
 

We have a winner!

 

Room dimensions, furnishings, treatments, speaker location, seating position; I feel they affect audio quality more than the speakers themselves.

 

If you must, just buy a pair of Klipschorns and crush your family's friend's system!

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The only problem with accounts such as yours about these ultra high-buck systems is that they look so damn impressive - with their ultra exotic looking speakers, amplifiers with 1/2" thick faceplates, outrageously large speaker posts, incredibly complex looking turntables, etc. - that it's hard not falling victim to a degree of expectation bias.

 

It would be so interesting to know how different it sounds to you if the entire kit was kept behind a dark (but sonically transparent) screen and you had NO knowledge of it's cost or the type of speakers.

 

And don't forget the impact of a properly treated, ideally sized room.   That alone can make ANY system sound better.

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Sounds like a fun day.  I'm gonna commit a heresy (yuck, yuck) here but LaScala is not my idea of a great speaker. Sorry, but upgrade to Khorns, Jubes, or even downgrade to Cornwalls and you will do better.

 

That said, the real magic in music is not that final bit of detail, that shimmer (god how I hate shimmer) it's the feel, the spirit, the rightness, the righteousness, the voodoo that the music delivers. I can, and have for decades, gotten all, and much more if the mood is right, from a car radio. That's because it's your mind, not the gizmos that delivers that feeling. Don't get me wrong, the magic I get out of my own system, and the path I have traveled to get there, leave me gasping in delight.  But a little girl singing a nursery rhyme, or a woodpecker drilling a hole can transport me to far better realms then that offered by mere reproduction, whatever the price.

 

Quite frankly if the notes shimmer, or sound crystalline, you are not listening across the spectrum That's an old high end trick to make their product sound better by manipulating the spectrum you hear.  Sort of like the attenuators they call high end cables.

 

Oh,  those of you demented souls that still consider zeros and ones to be music, mayhaps you should listen to unrecorded, un-miked  music from time-to-time to refresh your mind as to where the magic really resides.

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7 hours ago, Tarheel TJ said:

    Over the holiday weekend, I had the opportunity to listen to a truly state of the art system.  Went over to a family friend's house and listened to a 2-channel system valued at around $200,000.  The system consisted of Marten Coltrane 3 speakers, EAR tube amplification, a very high end Grado phono cartridge, Otari R2R with Tape Project tapes, etc.  I spent about two hours listening to a variety of sources including CD, phono and tape.  I could have easily stayed and listened to the wee hours.  I was absolutely blown away by the clarity and detail of this system.  It was like nothing I have ever heard before.

   Without trying to toot my own horn, I regard my own system very highly.  I am running an active system with La Scala bass bins, 2" compression driver HF horns and a BFM THT sub.  I use a mix of tube and solid state amplification.  It goes from 20hz-20khz with excellent clarity and dynamics and a flat frequency response.  I have only heard it bested once or twice, and that was by very high-priced systems in audio stores.  The system I heard this weekend, however, was a whole different ball of wax.  It had clarity, dimension and depth the likes of which I have never experienced.  It truly changed what I thought was possible to do with audio reproduction.

   I definitely now have the itch to upgrade, but it is a bit disheartening to think about.  No matter what I upgrade, the end result will certainly not be able to match what I just heard.  Anyone else have such an experience?

 

 

Well, you'll be like a dog chasing it's tail.

Sure, you'll hear different systems that offer different experiences than what you get.

You can take that experience and tailor your system to help you replicate the sound

that you found pleasing without spending tons of cash for new equipment.

Even if you bought the same gear you just listened to, that doesn't mean you

can achieve the same sound because you're not in the same acoustic environment.

 

It might even take a little experimenting and Altering Settings and God forbid, Tone Controls

and or level settings. 

You'll go out, spend all that money, then hear something else that makes you drool---then Repeat.

You have Klipsch MAN, get with the program. Be Happy.

 

 

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8 hours ago, Tarheel TJ said:

Anyone else have such an experience?

Yes I have. A good friend is on his 3rd pair of OB speakers (I'm the one who encouraged him to go that route 6 years ago). I won't get into the electronics (which are all expensive and "choice"). 

He is a builder (now retired). He and I have been audio and music buddies for over 40 years. We used his truck in 1977 to pick up my first pair of Khorns (I was 23 then).

 

Anyway, he has built many speakers small and large, whereby you would think they were production units................a true meticulous craftsman with a great wood shop. His latest tall OB speakers have Bohlender Greaberner (close out) 60" tall/thin drivers with the same brand super tweeter, along with 6 10" woofer. Tall and slim beauties they are. They are Similar to Carver Amaing Platinums, but slimmer and taller. I helped with the critical room positioning. The dynamics are only bested by my Jubilees. Otherwise these things are dynamic, detailed, but most of all 3-Dimentional in their presentation. The sound stage is huge in width and depth. Sometimes the sound seems to emanate from the side walls on certain material. It's mind boggling uncanny, which is why I have admired these and the work of the late, great Sigfried Linkwitz. My favorite type of speakers besides horns, but they do soak up the electrical WATTS!

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6 hours ago, jimjimbo said:

While I am happy for you that you had a chance to experience that, it seems to me that you are now going to think that anything you hear, including your own system, is going to be inferior to your friends system because:

1.  You know that his system cost in the range of $200K

2.  Yours does not

3.  Nor does anyone else's that you know.....

 

I mean, realistically, how much better can a $200K system sound than a $20K system in the same room, etc?  Be honest.  10 times?  No way.  That may not be the point to some, but, I've listened to many, many very high end systems with incredible speakers, fantastic amps, amazing sources, but I still came back to my modest setup that I've spent years acquiring, matching, and putting together, and have felt that I have 99.99% of what I need, and I could care less about the other .01%.

 

I'm sure it sounded wonderful, but, how much more wonderful (than yours, that you've put a lot of time and money and effort into...)

 

I guess what I'm saying is that it's great to have fun chasing the upgrades, but at some point, it becomes just a matter of how much you can afford and are willing to spend on a diminishing return.  

 

Have fun.

You have led a proverbial sheltered life as a "Klipsch guy," amigo. In the last 7-8 years, I discovered the amazing sound of Open Baffle speakers! Besides the ones I helped a friend build, the best "bang for the buck" speakers at Axpona, about 4 years ago, were the SPATIAL M3  Holograms which only cost (back then) about $2,000 a pair. They look like Black Polka Dots (12 or 15") on a colored baffle blew away anything else I heard at the show except for the $40,000 Sadurni horns. When done right, the speakers totally DISSAPEAR and the apparent sound sources are never the speakers themselves, but behind and beyond their position. You have to hear it to believe it. For that reason, I'm all about big horns, and Open Baffle speakers. Nothing else will do.

http://www.spatialaudio.us/products/

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Geez, I thought 30k USD is a monster system 😀. There are a very few select individuals around here (in Los Angeles suburbs) driving cars worth more than my home. I have learned over many years to appreciate what I have, it works and makes me happy.

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4 hours ago, ODS123 said:

The only problem with accounts such as yours about these ultra high-buck systems is that they look so damn impressive - with their ultra exotic looking speakers, amplifiers with 1/2" thick faceplates, outrageously large speaker posts, incredibly complex looking turntables, etc. - that it's hard not falling victim to a degree of expectation bias.

 

It would be so interesting to know how different it sounds to you if the entire kit was kept behind a dark (but sonically transparent) screen and you had NO knowledge of it's cost or the type of speakers.

 

And don't forget the impact of a properly treated, ideally sized room.   That alone can make ANY system sound better.

The ABX box is the "great equalizeer" of pricey hi-fi gear.

 

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I had a fortune (or misfortune) to hear a few very good setups very early in my hi-fi life.

They were DIY projects by a knowledgeable people. Heard all the things you are describing above. Speakers were not driven by very expensive amplifications, but a good one.

After that, all other stuff (i.e. speakers worth less than $50.000) just do not sound that good.

 

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@Tarheel TJ, did your friend play it loud?  I'm wondering about the dynamics of a speaker with sensitivity of 88, and power handling of 350 watts.  In a 4,500 cu.ft. room at about 13 feet, to produce the 115 dB PWK thought should be available for extremely brief "blood stirring" peaks, we would need about 1,700 watts -- for just that moment  --  and about 350 watts, the upper limit, for 109 dB broad peaks like those found in Fanfare for the Common Man, or The Great Gate of Kiev, or the finale of a Beethoven or Mahler symphonyFor a Klipschorn, the two figures would be about 120 watts for the momentary 115 dB peak, and about 30 watts for the 109 dB broad peaks. 

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A friend and I traded motorcycles during an afternoon ride in the late 80s. He rode my BMW K75s and I rode his Suzuki 1100 that he had turbocharged. It was an eye-opening experience, exhilarating, frightening, and unforgettable. I was quite happy to ride the Beemer again.

SSH

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