Me and My System

Copyright: our editors introduce themselves
02.06.2011..

My Auditory Visions

The main characteristic of the audiophile approach to the music is to seek the optimization in the listening of the playback music, whereas most of the people conceive the live performances like the election moment of their relationship with the music.

I believe that listening to the live music and to the reproduced event is something different and connoted by sensory, emotional and ambient boundaries. Maybe is not even good to make a comparison seeing that we do not associate apples with pears. Yet, the live performance represents a possible reference to be imitated as faithfully as possible, at least under the auditory parameters. We could also add that, somehow, the played comes from the live event. I would like to underline, however, that it is very hard to appreciate the music in all its purity during a live experience: ambient inadequacy, an exaggerated or distorting amplification and the effects coming from the audience, are all elements that disturb the aural "purity” of the live performance.

There are different radical ways to relate oneself to the music, though. There are musicians and singers, who create the music every time they play or sing. There are composers who have the music always in their mind, and there are listeners, each one with its own favourite musical genre and its listening preferences, used as a background that takes up all his attention, while he takes a shower or during any job or pervasive activity.

 

I belong, but not exclusively, to the latter category and I do stress the fact that this activity can be raised to a form of art. There are so many elements to consider in the optimization of a playback system in order to achieve a highly enjoyable and rewarding result. When you get it, this outcome is as the satisfaction felt by an artist who has created a well-done piece of art.
Maybe this could seem extreme, but it is certainly the result of a passion, a yearning very close to the artistic longing.


Concerning my favourite musical genres, I am an “all-round player”. I mean, my relationship with the music is not specialist but rather omnivorous, with different trends in relation to different periods of my life. Currently, I do prefer soft jazz, ethnic and classical music (no opera).

And now my personal vision about how the listening experience should be. I would try to describe my ideal sound. What is the ideal sound? It is a kind of sound, a way of listening to the recorded music (but to some extent applicable to live music) that makes feel positive emotions and intense pleasure, unlike the vast majority of sounds that can be generally heard. Everybody has his own sound in mind, even if he often does not know and cannot find the words to describe it.

 

My ideal sound is crisp, lively, not sweet, not soft, not relaxed. It is fast, intense, provided with spatiality in the three dimensions and with frequency extension. Therefore a sound with a well-defined low and high range, not disjointed to a high intelligibility of instruments and lyrics.

 

I do not know how many can understand what these words actually mean. Writing or talking about music and ideal sounds is not easy at all. Anyway, one could have his own idea about the meaning of certain words or parameters and apply them at random and mediated by the physiological or pathological condition of his aural system. Nonetheless, the element that can provide some objectivity is the comparison with other audio enthusiasts during shared listening sessions in order to describe one’s own auditory sensations. These last ones can be psychologically affected by effects never to be neglected (for example the economic value of the components or the persuasive eloquence of some clever vendor, not to mention the influence of forms and colours, qualities related more to the aesthetic taste than to the sound).

 

Then there is the big question of the alleged objectivity of the measures. I say alleged not in a sterile polemic, for heaven's sake. The fact is, unfortunately or fortunately, that we all feel in our own way, depending on how we are physically and mentally. For this reason, I use to take measurements with a grain of salt. Measurements can provide a framework of how the equipment works and operates as a guide for possible fits and synergies between components but, at the end, what determines a sound is always the listening test. There is the paradox of some people (stories that bounce in the geek situation) and of some editors, who are specialized in measurement techniques and have some deficit in their ears, but express their opinions depending of their falling in love with some pretty frequency response curves or other parameters.
If the editor is a novice and wants to be known by the readers, it would be necessary to describe with a minimum of detail his ideal sound together with his components and his listening room. This way the reader can have an idea of the particular auditory preference of the editor (especially those who already have some listening experience of different components). Enjoy your listening!

 

 

 

Reference systems

from March 2012

 

Home system

Multimedia hard disk with LC Power LC-Pro-35MPR-HDMI box and HD Western Digital Caviar Green – 1 TB

Marantz CD63 KIS CD Player (used as transport only) 

Stat Audio S501 DAC

Thorens TD160 turntable with MM Ortofon Super OM30 cartridge

Audiozen Mantra S.E. phono preamp

AAAVT P88i integrated tube amplifier, with KT88 vacuum tubes, with triode or ultralinear setup (42 and 26 watts respectively)

ProAC Studio 125, 2-way floorstanding speakers, bass reflex 

Stat Audio cables (main cable, RCA digital, interconnect cable, speaker cable), Analogue Research (mains cable), other cables also DIY

The listening room is about 40 square meters, rectangular wallpapered two-room flat, densely furnished.

 

Garage system

Trevi 3520 DVD Player

Shanling S100 CD Player (used as transport only)

Xindak DAC3 Mk2 DAC with ECC88 tube output and transistor

Thorens TD165 turntable with MM Nagaoka JT555 cartridge

Supa 2.0 phono preamp

TCC TC754 phono preamp

AAAVT Sonus Mirus, SRPP tube pre amplifier

T-Amp (Thomann Audio) TA450 mk-X power amplifier, 120 W, solid state

30W Gain Clone Ucchino power amplifier, custom

75W/8 Ohms Arcam Delta 290 integrated amplifier, configurable preamp/power amp

Magneplanar MMG floorstanding speakers with custom mounting stands

Mission M32i bookshelf speakers with DIY wood stands

Stat Audio cables (main and interconnect cables), Wire World Stratus (main cable), Art Millennium 3000 (interconnect cable), Monitor PC (speaker cable), QED (speaker cable), other cables also DIY

The listening room is about 40 square meters, rectangular (4x10m) scarcely furnished.

 
by Fabio Barbato
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