The most sophisticated sound you ever heard

Of course, it's an entire system but still if speakers are not capable of it nothing will help.

What is sophisticated sound?  

By definition....pleasing or satisfactory to the tastes of sophisticates, or people who are educated, cultured, and worldly-wise: sophisticated music?
By all possible means organ has the most sophisticated consonant sound and passing train via curved and merged railways are probably most sophisticated dissonant sound. Case solved.
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I'll answer simply appealing to whatever pops into my mind, sonically, when I think of the term "sophisticated."

MBL 101E speakers, in a couple different set ups.
They just did everything: limitless sounding resolution, imaging, dynamics, and the widest spectrum of timbral colors I’ve ever heard.

(I get a decent helping of that sound with my smaller MBL 121 monitors).

Although not tops, two total surprises for "sophisticated" sound for me would be the Crystal Cable Arabesque speakers, which seemed like a joke of a speaker to me, until I was able to spend time listening to them at a pal’s house. Tonally, they were MBL-like with a gorgeous clarity and tonality. I was similarly surprised by the Shun Mook Bella Voce speakers. Again, I don’t buy into the shun mook disc thing and didn’t expect much of speakers that looked like they were built in high school shop class. But they had some of the most delicately detailed, tonally rich, suave sound I’ve heard before or since.

Sophisticated - If something is sophisticated, it's complicated and intricate.
adjective: : having, revealing, or proceeding from a great deal of worldly experience and knowledge of fashion and culture.
synonyms: urbane, cultivated, civilized, polished, refined, advanced, modern, state of the art, the latest,   elegant, stylish;

Live sophisticated sound?
1973 The Coliseum; Jacksonville FL.
Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon tour

Getting there a bit early and with no organized seating, I curiously migrated towards the mixing consel manned by two PF engineers wearing the usual PF tour T shirts and jackets, set pretty much dead center of the room. Built up onto a two and a half foot tall platform all the lighting and sound controls would be directed there. The platform was about seven or 8 feet wide and six or 7 feet deep.

Two fools were engaging the engineers in convwersation as my friends and I approached and suddenly one of these idiots shoved one of the PF employees hard into his chest forcing him to fall back onto the make shift platform. The second fool did likewise just before we got to them all. My friends and I were 3, the Cretans were 2. We won.

The PF board Ops made us enough room on the platform so my buddies and I could all sit on it with our backs aginst the stands of the mixing boards while facing the stage about 40ft ahead. A far better arrangement than sitting on a cold concrete floor like everyone else.

With 8 stacks of speakers fueled by 21 Phase Linear amps, along the circumference of the largely circular venue, lasers (?) or special lighting fixtures hung on the ceiling joists, a totally immersive audio and visual experience was delivered that night.

When the lighting spots moved, the sound accompanied them. There were pyrotechnics as well as they lit the outer edge of a 8 – 10 foot Gong and blew in smoke across the stage flooring to about waist high of the musicians. Later they sucked it all away just as subtly as it was deployed.

The show was astonishing. At the time, calling it miraculous would not have been a stretch. I think the tickets cost less than $10 each.


Most impressive and sophisticated live setup and presentation I’ve witnessed to date.

Most sophisticated retail oriented sound?
In a local dealership I went to hear one item but not being too impressed, was escorted into another room that room was unforgettable. Shanlin tube SACD player, thor line stage preamp, Thor PA 30 EL34 monos, VSA VR4 Jr, Audience cabling, Chang Light speed PLC.

It was like the first time you ever saw a Corvette. Jane Mansfield. Drove a quarter mile under 10 seconds. Or jumped out of an airplane when it wasn’t parked.

With then, $27k worth of front end gear & power, and $4K worth of speakerage, I was forver convinced it is indeed what’s up front that counts.


Most SOTA Domestically arranged system?
Some years back, while at a friends house wherein his rig contained; Jamo R909 loudspeakers, Bel Canto DAC 3, Wavelength USB to BNC or Sony Phillips digital interface, converter, Bel Canto 500 mono amps.

Doing an impromptu DAC shootout, with Mietner, BC, and Berkley initial offering DACs, it wasn’t until the BC & Wavelength setup entered the mix that things became vivid and tangible, remarkably organic and real.

Intriguing sound.

Most sophisticated sound on an personal level?
All tube power with semi high eff (93db) speakers in my house.
Silverline Sonata 3s. Velo DD15 sub. Thor Mk II line stage Dodd EL34 Mono blocks. NOS Amperex & RCA tubes throughout. SCD 777 SACD player, BC DAC 3. Cabling was from MIT, and SR. PC were Shunyata, VooDoo, Nirvana, Dynamic Research, and Elrod. PLC were PSA & Running Springs. Racks amp stands, and speaker stands by Sound Anchor.

Totally engaging. It was definitely a hard outfit to turn off after it got energized .

Although I’ve heard more pricey speakers in various setups, and many sounded great, far exceeding the cost of these mentioned here, it takes the whole enchilada to pull off the goose bumps effect IMHO.

blindjim, personally I'm intrigued by the large >______< @ the beginning of your post....*G*  

's OK...I get rendered speechless....occasionally....*smirk*  Most are still waiting for that to occur, but....

                            ...happens, now & then.....;)
Personally, the best concert 'sound' heard by this mortal was @ a Blue Man Group concert in Houston some *eh* 15 yrs. ago....

Cynthia Woods Pavilion....what caught my attention was the 'mix'...

Nicely 'balanced'....clarity top to bottom....for a 'percussion-heavy' performance, all the players 'presented' as nicely as one might experience at home....*S*...For a 'novelty band' (MHO, but I enjoy a little humor in my musical diet....)

(What was amusing was that the attendance was 'light'....'bout +/- 1/3rd of a 'typ. crowd' for that venue.  The next time BMG 'came to town' about 3~4 months later....SOLD OUT within an hour (but was an 'indoor' show...*G*  'News travels quick...' )
I think I get what you mean by sophisticated.  If you mean something subtle, not emphasizing too much, gets out of the way but is nice and detailed.  Definitely not bass heavy.  In which case for me that would be rebuilt Quad 57s by Wayne piquet.

as a comparison the next 4 for me that I’ve owned or currently own would be in order:
Magnepan 3.7
Quad 63
Harbeth super hl5 plus
Sonus Faber Cremona m
Kef ls50

In terms of speakers
Classic Audio Loudspeakers
Sound Lab (IMO,IME the state of the art in ESLs)
Maganplanar (the 20.7 being one of the better deals in speakers)
Analysis (improving on the old Appogee design, bigger and easier to drive)
Pure Audio Project

In terms of shows, two stick out
Hawkwind- this was the first rock show I went to see while only 17 years old. There was a guy brandishing swords on stage (Lemmy) and some naked lady dancing on stage

Yes- Topographic tour, about 1974- This show employed enormous Roger Dean props, one in which Alan White's dual drumsets were installed. Tympani played on stage as well, lasers, crazy lights and extended versions of songs that took an entire LP side to play...
Anne-Sophie Mutter and the Boston Symphony Orchestra playing Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto.

When we returned home from that concert, I fired up my excellent audio system, very very good, but no match for the sound in Symphony Hall...