what percentage of us really knows sound

Hi,been in audio preatty much all my live,play a few instruments myself, and it is chocking to me how many people in this hobbie, because they have a few Hi end gear
think that they can discern sonic diferences,or that their system sounds amazing, when 80% of time when I' listen to those fellows system, the sound is horrible, I'm talking about systems in the upper $50000, and this people come out, talking about soundstage, inner detail, and layers of sound cascading thru a huge soundscape, another thing is that, I'thought all this audiophile people where a group of well to do business people, that had money to speare,
when the truth is that most of audiophile people are broked
and dont' have their priorities toghether, been at many many, audiophile people's house, and it is sad, people with, high end systems, and no furniture,just bought a pair of speakers, $11000 retail and an Aiwa,component has more BASS THAN this speakers, affter spending more than $2500, on cables,think someone is taking advantage of the audiophile community
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Juan, what do you care how someone else's system sounds? If they like it and felt their money was well spent, then so be it. What's really the point of this post, to get people to question their ears? I don't get it. At least you spelled bass correctly. Why don't we post another " What's the best.............."
man.... i feel really bad now. you saw right through me Juan. thought i knew what i liked, but obviously i don't. i've been a fool. my apologies. will take your advise and sell all my gear....then get some food and cloths (maybe a chair) with the proceeds


Juan, if 80% of the systems you're heard sound horrible, and many are upwards of $50K, then maybe it's your ears or preferences that are so different than the rest. In my experience most decent systems sound amazingly similar making me wonder why we try so hard to achieve better (different than we already have) sound through upgrades. Maybe that's just MY ears!
Hi, ehaller precisely, you must be one of them, my point is,
that all this people talking about sound, don'know, what are they talking about, if a system is unable to give me the illusion that I'm in from of a orchestra, or at least the emotion of a real venue, to me is garbage, we just don't stop and pay attention, been in more than 15 audiophile's homes, with mega buck's systems, and have walked out of those houses'
unimpressed, I'm a little angry, because after replacing my speakers, for a pair that cost five times more, after reading tons of rave reviews, and all the class A" crap, lost every thing, musicality, realism, BASS, and every thing that makes a good speaker sound great, plus $2800, in used cables, Just want to meet the people who wrote those 20 pages reviews, bring them home and show them how a good system is supposed to sound like:
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Well, I guess it's time for me to buy a sofa. 8^)
(I was gonna use the money to buy some more audio gear)
If most expensive audiophile systems are so bad, why do you continue to go to listen to them? Also, please tell us what your system consists of.
Bizango, I'm a musician, been playing flamenco guitar for many years, my ears, are just fine, Don't believed in people saying, to my ears, it sounds good, good music, good tone, good pace and rhythm should sound good for everybody who likes good music, you have people listening to music in a different language, from different culture and music is enjoyed just as much, when sold my former speakers, to a Chinese guy, came an pick them up, when first listened, the hair in the back of his head stood up, and told me, that after all those years as an audiophile, never heard any thing so realistic sounding as my system, and was very quick in paying me in full, no discount, this guy is a professor at Princeton University, very, very knowledgeable, my point is, most of this so call audiophile, have no clue, of what a great system should sound like, my last purchase, was in NY, drove to The village, to pick up a pair of cardas I/C, wont' disclose the sellers name, this fellow had a Doshi, preamp, with Bryston monoblocks, Esoteric CD player, and B&W 802D speakers, Killer system, played some tunes for me, and couldn't leave the room quick enough,Flat, one dimension sound , no Bass, Horrible, and he was so proud, that it was a shame to me to look him in the eye, and tell him that his system sounded great, the mid range was just slapping me in the face, the sad thing was that he told me that he just purchased a pair of analysis plus Gold I/C used for $3400,felt sorry for the guy, hope he is not in the forum:
So please tell us what this REAL system you own is. The suspense is killing me.
MY system is simple,
Joulet electra150MkIIse.
Quick silver M100.mono blocks
Kora hermes, Dac
sonic frontier FST-I, transport.
Oracle Delphy IV, TT,
KCI, silk worm I/C
Merlin, Vsm, MMe speakers
MIT 750, music Hose, spkr, cables
ELrod PC
Black sandviolet ZII PC
Audience e' PC
Former speakers. Von swheikert VR4,

Nothing Fancy:
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The first thing I was going to say was who pissed in your cornflakes this morning but the more I read, I realized you're angry because you bought some crappy speakers & cables.

Well, that's what you get when you buy something based on what somebody else wrote in a review and/or recommended to you. Why is it somebody's fault you made this mistake? Don't you know the first rule of buying gear is trust your own ears? You're making a huge statement by saying:
my point is, most of this so call audiophile, have no clue, of what a great system should sound like
Oh, so you've been to 15 homes & they all sucked (your opinion). That makes you an expert, huh?

Well, I'll put my Optimus speakers & amp up against your system anytime. So there!
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I think besides playing flamenco guitar Juan plays the skin flute. You said "keep it coming". This post is ridiculous, like so many others on the 'Gon.
We hear with our ears....and listen with our mind....

Take a deep breath, think about what you want your music system to sound like, and start creating it. That's the beauty in this hobby....you have some control over what you want to listen to. If you can't find it in someone else's design and product, create your own.

Whatever you do, have fun. Life is too short to be frustrated and disappointed in "stuff" that doesn't improve the quality of your life.

I need a sofa.... ;)
Juan, I agree with you. I have also been to many so called audiophile homes who's system sounded like anything but music and extremely thin. I call it the "weenie" sound because the system sounds small and light weight all in an effort to extract more detail.

High Fidelity Defined: Sound reproduction equipment that produces sound as near to the original sound as possible.

I'm sure many here remember Tandberg products. Tandberg wanted to upgrade their 3000 series products and approached their engineers with this request. The engineer's replied they were doing everything they knew to get the best sound. Tandberg was not satisfied with that and sent their engineers to "Ear Training". The engineers were required to listen to live music with someone to tell them what to listen for. Once the engineers knew what to listen for they began trying different technics and different parts to find out what sounded better. The result was the Tandberg 3000 "A" models.

Juan is right. It seems like the more expensive the system the worse it sounds. I think audiophiles should start out small and work their way up to a better system and learn as they go. In some ways it's like riding a motorcycle. Start out small and gradually work up to a bigger bike opposed to the middle aged guy that finally has enough money to buy a Harley for his first motorcycle and becomes a statistic.

I don't buy it's a matter of personal taste because I think alot of people don't know what to listen for like the Tandberg engineers. I think there are a lot of people that buy based on recommendations such as Stereophile Recommended components. They select from so called Class "A" or Class "B" lists and they get a bad match because they don't know what they are doing and think it must sound good because it was recommended by the Gods and they spent alot of money.

Besides that everyone is getting sucked into room treatment and power cords whether they need it or not. Room treatment is powerful and too much room treatment can be worse than no treatment at all and how many power cords do you have to replace before you become totally lost.

Less is more. Some of the best sounding systems I have heard are simple systems. The more complicated things get the worse it sounds.

I think Juan is overstating his case, but there is truth in what he says. Sometimes I look at people's system listed here on Audiogon and I just can't imagine how they could sound any good. Excellent equipment, at least by reputation, but what I consider really questionable setup. On the other hand I see some systems/rooms that truly do look like audio nirvana. Some people really do know what they're doing, but not everyone. Of course, everybody here is in the former group!
I believe we place different priorities on sound. Also, some people find certain inaccuracies more offensive than others.

For example, I find exaggerated image size to be particularly offensive. It is a sensitivity. I also don't like an image that is too forward. And yet, others want to listen to the music as though they are a few feet from the stage. To me, it is like I am sitting inside the saxophone or piano. For others, they feel like they are in an intimate venue. Different perspectives, but I think particular sensitivities can result in an immediate rejection because you cannot suspend belief to know you are not in front of 2 speakers.

Another problem is the severe lack of criticism in audio. I would pay for someone to come to my home to tell me what is wrong with my system. I want to learn and have different perspectives so I can increase my enjoyment. And yet, everyone fawns over every last piece of audio equipment. What if we spent so much time complementing our wives and children? I would love for a reviewer to dispense with a piece of equipment as garbage or poor value. It seems that people are way too easily offended. People get very defensive and territorial when it comes to their equipment.

Juancgenao: Will not comment as to the musical ability of audiophiles in general or stereotype (pun intended) audiophiles as far as income bracket. What I will share is an experience that I had when looking for speakers. After listening to a pair of what I considered horrible sounding overpriced speakers, and to the salesman talking about some of his other items on the floor, including a "25k" amplifier that sounded like "bliss", and generally talking in 10s of thousands of $$$, he inquired if I was expecting a large tax refund and stated that financing was available. I found this not only odd, but illuminating. This supports your statement to the extent that there is a market for people who are seeking to purchase what are essentially luxury items well beyond their means. The salesman's pitch had the flavor of "be important - get status, buy expensive stuff (or expensive garbage in that case)" I doubt that this is limited to audiophiles - look at the mortgage crisis - it wasn't all "bad big business" somebody had to be on the "got taken" end of the deal. All purchasers of high end equipment of any sort should first consult a psychic - but pick only one who has a crystal ball with silver speckles rather than copper and, if you are getting your palm read, cyrogenic paint.
Rtn1, great point. I would love to see more criticism in audio reviews. Not to mention "straight-shooters."
Not only is Juancgenao brave, he's smarter than almost everyone else in the *whole world*. Thanks for sharing! I hadn't heard, and I think it's pretty cool. John
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Col. Jessep: You want answers?
Kaffee: I think I'm entitled.
Col. Jessep: You want answers?
Kaffee: I want the truth!
Col. Jessep: You can’t handle the truth!*

* A Few Good Men (1992)
I’m guessing I’m one of those that can’t tell a good sounding system from a clock radio… but I really don’t care because I’m thrilled with the way my system sounds.
this thread reminds of the time I was at a friends house who had a high end ATC system (which sounded very good) but I mentioned to them that I had recently listened to a live violin that was a few feet away and how rich and dynamic it sounded and how our stereos do not capture much of the true quality. One of the guys started pulling out CDs with violins and playing them, as if to impress me, I stopped talking about the live violin as I think I offended him or maybe he imagined he was going to educate me I do not know, but I agree with Ivor Tiefenbrun from Linn that we really only capture about 15% of the live event.

Frankly I agree there is a lot of truth in what you say Juan. I do think it is easy to loose sight of the goal and get sidetracked in the minutiae of detail and soundstage etc...

Hey! we could start a SS vs tube post! vinyl vs digital!

Another interesting phenomenon in audio is the higher the price, the less one can criticize it. It is almost as if price by itself makes something legit. And of course, there are reviewers who will lavish praise on any component that breaks new boundaries in price. Heck, some reviewers will begin to talk about how great an expensive component will sound, before it is even released!

I still hold on to a dimly held belief that people, if they got together, listened, and discussed openly, could actually agree on what constitutes the best sound. There should seem to be systems that would get universal respect and praise on achieving high marks across the board.

Sure, some people like chocolate and some people like vanilla. But, I think people could agree on what is great chocolate ice crease and what is great vanilla ice cream.
This isn't exactly earth shattering news. Spending money on audio equipment does not validate one's musical knowledge anymore than spending money on an education validates one's intelligence. I've heard very expensive systems that did not sound very good and I know folks with many degrees who aren't very bright. I know some who have fancy cars who aren't good drivers and some (like me) with expensive golf clubs that suck at golf.

So what's the point? If someone buys something that makes them happy, who are you or I to rain on their parade? Live and let live.

many of you make excellent points.i to have listened to systems that i thought sounded terrible but the owners thought was audio nirvana.and i agree the simpler a system is kept, the more oportunity for a better sound.i dont think it is that audiophiles dont know how to listen.it is how they go about setting up their systems.some like home theatre systems.some like me are two channel analog freaks.when setting up my current system my 1st priority was stereo separation.i wanted most of my lower frequencies on the left side ,most of the highs on the right.all recordings and formats we have are two channel.note all recordings are not equal so perfection is out the window.sonic clarity was next priority.last was sources and tweaks.i picked my speakers 1st.then my amps.then my sources.most recently i chose the replacements for my stock power cords.AS FOR PAYING ATTETION TO REVIEWS I DONT.NOR DO I BELEIVE SPENDING 5000.00FOR A SET OF CABLES IS NECESSARY. LET YOUR EARS LISTEN , LET YOUR SPIRIT ENJOY. AND LET YOU COMMON SENSE GUIDE YOU.AND I THINK TOU WILL BE HAPPY WITH THE RESULTS.
Juan is right. It's their money, but some folks are just irresponsible with money. I owned 1 Mustang Cobra and 3 GT's bought new over a 9 year period. Now I have a mini van and my watch (Rolex) costs more than my vehicle. I wanted Wilson Sophia II's and had the money, but bought Gold @ 400.00 an oz. and will eventually own a pair for free (if) when gold goes higher. If you're careful you can have your cake and eat it too. It just takes patients.
Well, this is fun.

I would pay for someone to come to my home to tell me what is wrong with my system.
Rtn1, my only questions are how much$, and where do you live?

To me, Raks has it right...
I’m guessing I’m one of those that can’t tell a good sounding system from a clock radio… but I really don’t care because I’m thrilled with the way my system sounds.
The only person who has to be satisfied is you. However, anyone who assembles a $50K system without spending time listening to a wide mix of components is either wealthy with little time for the hobby part of this, or insecure in making their own decisions.

I admit, I was there with a pair of speakers I owned for several years, solely because they were "highly rated." Every review I read of those speakers said they were outstanding at their price range and the reviewers told me those speakers had all the qualities I was looking for. My only problem is that I couldn't listen to the reviews, only the speakers - which always sounded sort of crappy to me, even compared to the less expensive "middle of the road" speakers I "traded up" from.

My preferences lean toward a slightly warm, full, clean, dynamic sound, but others like a precise, detailed, clear, extended sound. The main thing to me, is to assemble a system that "you" like, whatever your listening preferences and price range.

Therefore, Juancgenao, I may not disagree with your assessment of the systems you have heard, but I don't understand why you care, or why those system owners should care what you or I think about their rigs or their life priorities. However, it makes a fun discussion so thanks for the thread.
Interesting that the OP focuses on insufficient bass.

The funny thing is that I find the opposite of Juan - many high end systems have too much bass. (For the record, so does many an Aiwa Boom Box.) A lot of speaker systems substitute quantity (of output) in the mid/upper bass for true deep bass extension.

On top of that, room interactions usually create a hump in the mid/upper bass that drives me nuts. You don't get this effect in a performance space, but listening rooms are almost always small enough to create this problem. It's why I moved to room corrected subwoofers. Since relatively few people correct for this (digital correction or hemholtz devices - like a bass buster), it's curious that Juan's issue is the opposite of mine.

Also curious - I, too, spend about an hour a day with a guitar (usually an acoutic archtop for jazz and western swing), so my reference is quite similar. It really points to the original question:

What % of us really knows sound?

The answer is that all of us are sensitive to something or another and many of us disagree as to what is "right". Personally, I hold Harry Pearson responsible. There is no "Absolute Sound" out of a stereo system, only a rough approximation limited by - in addition to the character of the system - the room and the recordings. In the end, there is only an illusion that is convincing (to one extent or another) in one way or another.

Just MHO.

As to the money thing - it's capitalism, baby!

You want to put Wilson Alexandras (purchased with 8 different credit cards taken to the max) in your 300 sq. ft. rented condo - that's your choice. You may have to deal with certain unpleasant consequences down the road, but so does the guy who bought wine or cars or.... Audiophiles aren't really unusual in this regard. For every responsible saver out there, it seems that there are three who are less cautious. And for the female equivalent, start counting the shoes in your significan others' closet.

BTW, Polk, good call on the gold, but do bear in mind that people lose money on investments, too. You might need patience (and patients, too, if you're a doctor), but skill and a little luck help a lot.

I've heard cheap and expensive systems sound good and bad. Everybody's ears are different, we like different types of music, it might be all we have (car system), etc. I think if we really like the music, we take what we can get and enjoy.
To start off I like my system!
BUT to paraphrase Zen Master Suzuki: My system is perfect as it is and there is plenty of room for improvement.
I agree with Juan, Have not heard a lot of people's audio systems BUT most of those were at best so-so, MY opinion. What is worse, in my view, is most systems in audio stores are at best no better, even in the "special high end" rooms.
Trying to tease out what it is in a system that allows one to hear things the way you do and what is just fluff or extraneous is blessedly hard work.
My system is for me, not to impress anyone but to get me nearer my music indeed.
Well we haven't had a thread like this in a while; which is a good thing.==,Oh, and don't we just love it that we can post our opinions;no matter how many folk we step on???
Surely,as enough have pointed out,we all pay our money and have different tastes,ears,budjets,rooms and such.
I did own Merlin MM's and sold them for what I paid;pronto.Just not my cup of tea.---Or, I like that mid coloration and more percieved bass,in room.--Only because I owned them do I trash the Merlins.--Course, violin's don't get that low.
As a guy whom plays an instrument; I have no answer for that. I do play the kazoo,however.
The system I heard at a freind's house was my first recognition of what my system lacked (back in the late '70's's)As best as I remember this is what he had: Lynn tt. Rosewood cart. Mac. ss stuff and I think the brand is Advent 1+1 for speakers.--This stuff just blew me away. For years this was my goal.
Here's what I have now; so any, so inclined, can pp in MY cornflakes: Meridian 808-i2 Rowland 312 Sophia 2's Tara Zero Gold ics Omega speaker wires. Audience T-6 for the conditioning,'cause I live in a 95 unit complex with its horible power.--Spell-check is down so this post shows me at my normal intel. level.
So,anybody can come over. I have ear pluggs and asprin.
While the OP came off as a little bitter & angry, for reasons best known to him, he has a semblance of a point. Gotta say that I'm surprised when looking at photos of the various systems posted on the 'Gon, at how many killa systems look totally out of place in the rooms they're in! I think your system should reflect your lifestyle, some people can afford to live large, some can't. Personally, I have a modest system, 'nuff said!;)
Jmcgrogan said it best. If it makes you happy, who are we to rain on their parade. Through the more knowledgable people here on the gon, I have learned countless times how to better my listening experience without spending dollars. If your perception is that a friends system could benefit from this or that tweek, share that with him and show him where the sound is. Just my 2 cents

Hello to all from Larry from High-End Palace,

I personally do not like threads because I believe that 80% of times they do more harm than good but I must admit that this is an interesting topic, a topic that I can relate to well “The knowledge of sound reproduction”.

Sound reproduction is serious business and it starts with good reference recordings. Right from the start you have deal with this, if you want good sound you must have good recordings. Not a simple task since less than 5% of CD’s and LP’s holds up well in a good high-end system.

Music lovers and audiophiles do their best to achieve the highest quality possible in sound reproduction with their high-end audio systems from what they know, what they have heard at friends homes, local high-end shops, reviews, threads and magazines.

I believe that the best thing a music lover can do if he is he is into high-end stereo systems and sound reproduction is to attend high-end audio shows like the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, Axpona, CES and a few other new shows taking place this year like the California Audio Show in San Francisco and the Capital Audio Fest.

I believe if you have a passion for high-end audio you can hear and see for your self what high-end audio has to offer. You learn a lot at these high-end shows, you listen to music that you have never heard before, you get to expand you music library, you make new friends in the same hobby as you and you keep the hobby and lifestyle alive.

Attending high-end shows helps you make your own personal judgment easier by providing a better understanding of the sound that moves you. I truly believe that when you love something, when something moves you and you want to be good at it that you have to practice, you have to try new things, experiment, develop your own style or system that works for you.

Now days I have listened to thousands of high-end systems because of these high-end audio shows and installations of high-end systems for our clients and friends worldwide. Besides all the experience of all these high-end audio systems I have done live and studio engineering for over two decades and play multiple instruments on stage and in recording studios.

Sound reproduction is what I know well and I can tell you that if you truly love high-end audio like we all do here that attending high-end audio shows will make your knowledge of sound reproduction better, it will help you refine your ear, knowledge and sound quality of your audio system.

I think this is really a good thread.
I wanted to play the trumpet in my grade school band.
My band leader told me he had enough trumpet players,
already. He wanted cornet players. I bought & played the cornet.
When we performed a concert in the school auditorium,
the trumpet players marched in behind the cornets, they were right behind me. Those trumpets were loud, brash & strident, compared to the cornets.
When I listen to a good trumpet recording through my system, I expect that same sound to come from my system.
It usually does. When someone tells me a trumpet never sounds loud, brash or strident on their system, I assume their system is rolled off, weak, or both.
LOL folks! I just took a moment to read the OP's threads and answers. Very illuminating I think. Sure contains a lot of clues about where his post might have originated from. It sounds to me as if he might be one of the 'audiophiles' he is speaking so uncharitably about, and if not he just made a recent conversion.

Jauncgeano, remember that most posters here are serious audiophiles who just lack the experience to one degree or another, are seeking advise on how to improve their system or skills, and not having heard some excellent systems operating in a home, believe they may have achieved far more than they actually have. Their continuing interest in the hobby alerts them to what they can achieve either thru further equipment, set up, or improving their listening skills. IMHO you are still in the middle of the audio learning curve and have much to learn yourself. I'd be more charitable, and less self absorbed, in future posts lest folks start pointing out your frailties.
With all that said, and I didn't read all the threads, but the audio mags are in the same category. I have tried some of the mega dollar gear or auditioned it and I came away un-impressed with some of this gear. Some of it did sound as claimed. But there are allot of legitimate audiophile out there too.... Me, I'm just a cheapskate. I want 98% of the sound of that latest $10k cd player for under a grand. That works for me. Heck I would be happy with 95%. There are bargins out there in them there bins.
A prime example is Oppo. They have been blowing away CD and DVD players over $2,000 for a couple years now at realistic prices. And some gear out there is just plain hard to make it sound bad. Cables, Interconnects, and addressing various audio accessories can have an immediate effect on the sound of your system. For instance I borrowed some very expensive speaker cables. It was OK! I tried some very inexpensive Vampire Wire 12ga CCC hook up wire and it blew that expensive cable away in my system. I have had several of my audiophile friends listen to my system and they were impressed. But my cable was too inexpensive or (CHEAP) for them.
And last, the person's system you heard satisfies them. Maybe your hearing acurity is better than theirs. Just be careful how you tell them it doesn't float your boat. You may not get an invitation back. I'm sure you won't mind that! Nuff Said!
I am deeply humbled in the presence of such greatness. I am overwhelmed by the generosity of spirit in which these revelations have been shared with all of us! This dazzling display of superiority exposes the rest of us as just wailing infants who need our diapers changed, but of course are not worthy of the effort. I am deeply embarrassed and will have already destroyed my Audiophile membership card by the time most of you are reading this. I will be turning in my secret decoder ring to the proper authorities at the first possible opportunity. For now I'll just stand in the corner over there in silence and reflect on my inadequacies, while those who know better may laugh and mock me with righteous indignation. Thank you for this selfless contribution to my awakening!
My, goal in this Hobby, is to get as close as possible to the true sound of acoustic instruments, harmonizing together creating this sound scape, full of colors and emotions,
What makes a great singer is not a grate voice, But the projection of that voice,the ability to capture and manipulate peoples emotions, Eva Cassidy, was one of those few,
if a sound system is not able to do that to me when listening,is just ordinary,
the fist sing of an audiophile not been in tune, is the one,
looking for inner detail, and very detailed sound,
Live music is not detailed at all,
But warm, Rich, and organic, Do you think, the Director of an Orchestra, is listening for inner Details?
detailed sound is more often artificial and dry sound with very little projection,
I'm not trying to lecture anyone here, just voicing an Honest opinion:


Merlin speakers are not really capable of reproducing dynamic range properly. And so I now know something about your system & your ears.

We could say that, if C is the "coefficient of audio realism" - the factor that tells us how closely a musical experience approximates reality according to the brain - its equation is A + B = C. A is what the system provides and B is what the brain fills in.

This explains how some lucky souls can be enraptured by an AM radio.