How do you listen to your speakers

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ESLFan

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I wanted to start a topic that discusses how you use your ML speakers. Most other threads talk about technical issues. How about a music oriented one.
Since they are made for different purposes, for instance Home theater speakers are used well for reproducing movie sound tracks. Maybe even just for noise making, like EDM music.
Stereo speakers are used generally for music recordings, and listening to the radio, less often for podcasts I assume.
Maybe we can also discuss who actually sits in front of their system and want to listen to the music and not to his speakers. Are there any good recordings out that that transport the listener to the original event/venue?
Do you listen to mastering or mixing gaffes/mistakes? Or "my god what bad microphone did they use for this flute? Is this more reserved to the high dollar system where you can hear everything?
Do some of you get a migraine or a headache from listening to too much bad streaming quality, sort of like the bits are trying to gnaw holes into your ears?
Who had the experience of listening to a recording that sounded so real it gave you goosebumps? Well not make your hair stand on end, does not count.
A ton of discussion points. So go ahead and post. Maybe even mention the best (real sounding) recording you ever heard on your system.
 
I'm listening to some nice long albums right now!

My system is in a multipurpose room, which has compromises everywhere you look, but it sounds ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC!

So my system is used everyday, for everything. But for old tv shows and the like I just use All Stereo mode and keep the LCR amps off, so the sound comes from the four Surround and four Top speakers.

The primary goal with the ML main speakers and subs is for 2 channel music, but I also host Movie Night! with a bunch of friends regularly. Sharing the system with others is a thrill! We watch movies with great soundtracks, but also old Hitchcock movies, as well as the crummy movies from all eras. It runs the gamut from Plan 9 From Outer Space, to the best of the best for audio and video quality.

Streaming is what is used for music most of the time. I like how things are originally released, so re-mastered doesn't mean much to me. I use a Mac mini with Roon/Qobuz which satisfies my needs.
 
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As one of those who might post technical stuff, I'll chime in on why I put together my custom HT / Listing room and what I like to listen to.

I grew up in a household with a Steinway Grand Piano, played by a Julliard graduate who trained under a teacher who herself was a student of Sergei Rachmaninoff. So, solo piano is my go-to reference for how 'accurate' my sound system is performing.
So, job #1 is to make me feel like I'm listening to a grand piano in whatever venue it is recorded in.

I have MLs because I was shopping for a regular box speaker in 1993, and the store was playing a demo of Nojima Plays Lizst (on reference recordings CD) on a set of ML Quest Z in a separate room. I wondered why a stereo store would have an actual piano in there, maybe for comparison. So I walked down the hall, still convinced I was hearing a true piano, and was shocked when I saw these six-foot beauties. After a few more auditions, I bought a set of Sequell IIb's (they are my rear speakers now).

While classical piano and classical music (mostly the romantics) are a common music genre in my home, the prevalence is actually Progressive Rock, with Genesis being my fave, but plenty of others, such as the more contemporary Steven Wilson and his bands (e.g. Porcupine Tree). These complex and highly orchestrated pieces work best across a 5.1 (or, these days, Atmos) immersive multichannel system. Luckily, Mr Wilson is the preeminent multichannel/Immersive mixer and does not disappoint.
I tell visitors that Steve's mixes are why I had to resort to building my own center channel, as he hits it full-range with a lot of content.

So, my set is primarily tuned to give as accurate multichannel audio reproduction as possible, and the reason for so much room treatment is I want to hear the mix or the venue, not my room colorations.
I also strive for smooth frequency response with very low distortion and high dynamic range, achieving a clean 105dB at the MLP (I never do that, I just know the system can do that if needed).

I do this so I can better discern recordings, but so that when I have a great recording, I can get the maximum enjoyment out of it. Bad recordings or reproductions take me out of the music. Maybe it was an endless repetition of all the pieces my father practiced for concerts that got me in a more 'critical' mindset about accuracy.

Having established that, I will listen to pieces like Genesis Ripples (from A Trick of the Tail) with goosebumps. Same for Lisa Gerrards (of Dead Can Dance + solo albums) ethereal vocalizations with chills going down my spine in spots.

More impressive classical recordings in Atmos really put me in the venue and are a pleasure to listen to, focused and hearing the details and artistry of the performance.
The second concerto for piano and orchestra by Rachmaninoff literally makes me cry (Dad loved this one and gave multiple concerts).

I also enjoy the occasional rock and dance type stuff, and the Atmos version of Yellow - Point is a delight to rock out to, with sounds swirling around in ways that mesh so well with the music. No lack of low-end, and with the MBMs, no lack of tactile 'punch' and dynamics that suit these genres.

Finally, this is a home theater, so all the big action movies are premiered here from 4K UHD, usually with a great Atmos soundtrack, such as the two Dune movies. In a pitch-black room with excellent treatments, all one hears is what the sound mixer wants you to hear. And great mixes are amazing. Avatar, the Way of the Water, is spectacular, and I hardly thought about my system and was totally immersed in the story.

So, I built the system to achieve the goal of as accurate a reproduction as possible using varied genres and modalities, and I enjoy the results greatly.
Yes, I also like the techie aspects and such, but unlike Alan Parsons' assertion, I do not use his music to listen to my gear; I set up my gear to maximize the enjoyment of all music.
 
@JonFo I'd love it if you could recommend one disc with piano that can show off a system, whichever you think is the best one. I've looked for some on Qobuz, but there's so much to wade through, and after your excellent dissertation I would trust whatever you'd recommend.
 
So my system is in a dedicated room, and used for serious listening only, so it probably gets between 1 -5 hours use a week.

That is, I'm sitting in the room, eyes closed, 100.00% of my attention is focused on the music. Usually in the 80-90dB range. Or, it is off.

And I'll get **really** pissed off if anyone disturbs me, so more often than not, I listen when I am home alone.

For me, I've always listened to music this way - even when I was a little child and had an '80s black plastic boombox. So it's not built from a technical perspective, but simply from an ingrained love of the performing artform that is music, and when the opportunity came along to do it better, well, that's what I did.

It actually bothers me to have music playing when I can not devote 100% of my attention to it. It either distracts me from the other task at hand; or it becomes just noise that I find incredibly aggravating and need to turn off.

So I don't listen to music while I am working, studying, reading, or in the car. I love silence and my own thoughts too. I do have a secondary system out in the main area of the house, but it is used by my wife more often than I use it. I spend the whole time turning it down (or off), and can't understand why my wife would turn it on if she is not listening to it, or wants to yap-yap about other stuff.

I listen to every type of music ever created, sometimes in direct succession. One minute I'll be playing a Mozart flute solo, next I'll have AC/DC, maybe punctuated by an African tribal rhythm.

Do I listen to bad quality recordings? Yes, I do. And I can enjoy them immensely. But damn, it takes something away from the experience, that's for sure. It is a shame. Sort of like looking at a magnificent artwork through clouded glass - I can still appreciate the artwork, but it's such a shame that it can't be enjoyed to its full extent. I will say, that some of the best musical experiences I have ever had have not been on my system, but on very sub-standard audio systems. If my mind is in the right place (and focused on the music), the quality of the sound becomes secondary. Very secondary.

Conversely, some of the best audio quality I have heard has also been on very sub-standard systems (like PA speakers) when they are fed a live feed. I have been in a shopping centre once when I was marveling at how good the PA system sounded, only to turn a corner and find a live band playing into it.

Contrary to what JonFo said - I have never heard recorded music that sounded even close to the live experience. Not once, not ever. It just is not the real thing, and I'm not sure it can ever be. A photo (no matter the quality of the lens and the megapixels used) can not replicate the experience of seeing something in real life. It doesn't matter how much you push the quality. Even if that photo is technically better (more detailed and more resolution) than you could see with your raw eyes. It doesn't replace seeing it for yourself. Google Maps could improve it's quality 100,000 fold (to the point where you can see details you would never see walking down the street). Doesn't replace going there, does it?

The only time I've heard a sound system sound as good as the real thing is when it unknowingly **was** the real thing (see above about the shopping centre). And that resolutely was a very poor sound system by any definition. A poignant realisation.

In a similar vein, there is so much more to music than a basic waveform. No matter how well you're doing the waveform, you're missing the visuals, the intangible atmosphere of the venue, the nuances of the performers, et. al.
 
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It actually bothers me to have music playing when I can not devote 100% of my attention to it. It either distracts me from the other task at hand; or it becomes just noise that I find incredibly aggravating and need to turn off.
I'm with you there. There is no such thing as "background music" for me. All music comes into the foreground for me, positively or negatively. When I need to concentrate on something, I turn it off.
 
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Personally, I am able to listen to music both as an audiophile, and as a passionate music lover, avid concertgoer and amateur musician--sometimes simultaneously. I appreciate beauty in music of all types, mostly classical and jazz for me. But when the "jump factor" or a recording--the sudden feeling the musicians are right there in the room with me--hits me, it's an emotion, separate from the emotions of the music.

I like movies, and appreciate having the good sound system for them, but I wouldn't have spent the money on the system just for those. I'm using cheap (ML) center and surround speakers for now. I will upgrade them some day but it's not a high priority. At the moment, the only multi-channel music I have is the Michael Tilson Thomas/San Francisco recordings of the Mahler symphonies.

I do love big orchestral works like Mahler's, and Wagner operas. I love solo piano music and organ music, but also harpsichord, clavichord and string quartets--things that do not exercise the subwoofer at all.
 
@amey01
When I started my musical journey into high fidelity I was a teenager with a home build speaker system with expensive drivers and a home build power amplifier from a Popular Electronics magazine. All my friends were impressed on how close to real female vocals were. I remember one instance where I was playing "Never my Love" by The Association.
In most case it is an individual song recorded properly.
I have to say that no multi-tracked, multi-miked recording will ever sound real. When i got my electrostatic speakers I found the only recording that were close to real sounding, were direct to disk Sheffield recording. The most outstanding and suspect that this is even by today are the "Harry James" Big Band recordings. First time I heard them I got goosebumps. You could hear the room reverberation, localize the position of the instrument FRONT TO BACK, something seldom heard. Anyways check those out. I have the LPs, the CDs and they are available on Amazon music.
Other than that, I came to the conclusion, even though there are highly respected artists making the music, commercial recording were and still are crap when compared to REAL. I bough the very high performance Technics RS1500 back then and started to record my own using a single stereo microphone. There are many articles that explain how a single stereo microphone will preserve the phase relationships that give localization of the instrument, and an electrostatic speaker that is by design phase coherent will do an amazing job. The most realistic recordings I made were recording a small pipe organ and a choir in a small church with wonderful acoustics.
When digital recording became popular, their claim to fame other that infinite life (not really true) and dynamic range. The latter promise has been completely destroyed in the last 20 years. But back them when this was a thing, Telarc came out with recordings that lived up to that promise. While musically they may not be so stellar, but if you want the acoustic wind to blow your hair around, try any of their orchestral recordings. The other small label was DMP, but you may not like their music. Their was one specific cut on a CD, I can't remember the title, but is surely impressed my friends, It starts of with the sound of one of those small wind-up toys that make music. This small sound and the ambience of the original acoustic space and realism, you could swear that this toy was just hiding behind your speakers, then the high intensity sound of the band playing is enough to knock you out of your seat. If you play it at the proper volume level, the music peaks are guaranteed to drive your amp into clipping. Today the problem is that people use music as background and you can't sell recording like that anymore.
 
I have a couple of disks I use for speaker evaluation and in gerneral how revealing they are.
This may not be everyones esotoric music taste, but the cut Bergland will surprise you. Paly the beginning so the toy solder orr whatever seems to be the correct loudness.
 

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I have listened to many female singers I am sure. What strikes my cord is the song Self Control by Laura Branigan (RIP). There is somethign special about the miking and recording chain, even is this is just for the popular market, but the emotions portrayed in her voice is amazing. She has other songs, but none really touch me the same way. This song actually sound pretty darn good on mediocre equipment like a car stereo
 

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Hotel California, when it came out set the standard for low distortion guitar recording. At the time the transient response and clarirty was outstanding. I'd say even today it be hard to better the impact of the guitar strings.
 

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Another test record showing how revealing your system is. Tom's Diner is the cut. Basically a song without any accompaniment. When I heard it I was surprised how you can hear the ambience of the recording studio or synthetic echo, I don't really know. But this causes problems audible to the intent listener. She is unable to sing all the verses in one sitting, so you can hear the gain being turned down I think after the second verse, because the room ambience collapses.
I don't know if it is just me or if others pay that close attention to recordings in general.
 

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Last but not least, this recording has been well acclaimed. Sheffield records of Harry James. I have the LP and the CD. Not sure how rare the CD is, but I purchased mine when it probably was a decade out of stock, from a small radio station on Quebec Canada. There was a small add, and I purchased it. I have a friend that used to record professional piano players and make a CD for them. He really got into High End after exposure to me, so he ended up having a great audio system. His hearing was excellent too. He recorded at 24bit 96kHz and said a CD will never sound as good as the original recording. The moment you decimate the original bitrate and bit depths, you get rounding or truncation errors that you can hear when you compare. There are several commercial pieces of software that do that and each create different sounding results. He build the amazing Linkwitz open baffle speaker and used those as his reference. These are the closest to an electrostatic speaker I have heard.
 

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@JonFo I'd love it if you could recommend one disc with piano that can show off a system, whichever you think is the best one. I've looked for some on Qobuz, but there's so much to wade through, and after your excellent dissertation I would trust whatever you'd recommend.
This recording of the Bach - Goldberg variations by pianist Lang Lang is a great performance with excellent sound.
https://www.amazon.com/Bach-Goldberg-Variations-2-CD/dp/B089TV17F7/

Very accessible music as well.

For fireworks, this disc is almost nothing but, but then Liszt is known for that. Lang Lang's Liszt My Piano Hero
https://www.amazon.com/Liszt-My-Piano-Hero-Lang/dp/B0057LZQCO/

The Hungarian rhapsodies are amazing.

One note about piano recordings: if you have a very 'live' undampened room, then one wants very dry studio recordings, done with lots of close micing. Otherwise, the cumulative reverberations are a bit much. So if it sounds 'spacious' on headphones, it might not play well on dipole line sources in a live room. But if it sounds 'intimate' and maybe a bit 'dry', then it will be fine on such a setup. Same goes for quartets recorded in live rooms (vs dampened studios).
 
This recording of the Bach - Goldberg variations by pianist Lang Lang is a great performance with excellent sound.
https://www.amazon.com/Bach-Goldberg-Variations-2-CD/dp/B089TV17F7/

If you like the music, there are several much better performances out there. Lang Lang’s venture to Bach from his usual romantic repertoire is a bit of let down. Technically/soundwise nothing to complain.

Try Andras Schiff for instance for great take on Goldberg Variations (other than Gould)
 
@amey01

I have to say that no multi-tracked, multi-miked recording will ever sound real. When i got my electrostatic speakers I found the only recording that were close to real sounding, were direct to disk Sheffield recording. The most outstanding and suspect that this is even by today are the "Harry James" Big Band recordings. First time I heard them I got goosebumps. You could hear the room reverberation, localize the position of the instrument FRONT TO BACK, something seldom heard. Anyways check those out. I have the LPs, the CDs and they are available on Amazon music.
Yep, I have a few of those Sheffield recordings. They definitely pack a punch! Great recordings, and an ability to portray depth like very few others can.
 
I noticed that recordings differ, but generally I noticed that older recording put you in the venue and newer put you in the room. This is a quote from a calibrator when I mentioned that as much as I enjoy older recordings because they invoke a warm memory, I enjoy the detail and immediacy of newer.

It really helps me understand preferences if you post with a link like JonFo often does. There are often many different recordings of the same music. It can get frustrating when I can't find with certainty the reference music you post about. I really like a link where you can buy the music and demo it at the same time.
thx
 
If folks enjoy the 1955 Glen Gould version but want a high-quality recording without the groans from the performer, the Zenph re-performance is one to look at: https://www.discogs.com/release/639...ance-The-Goldberg-Variations-1955-Performance
The link is to the SACD version (I Have it), and is only available used, but Discogs lists 10 units at under $10

And for the Rachmaninoff fans, they have a Rachmaninoff plays Rachmaninoff that is awesome:
https://www.amazon.com/Rachmaninoff-Plays-Zenph-Re-performance/dp/B002BFIN6K

These are good piano recordings. Both are available as lossless tracks on Apple Music; enter 'Zenph' as the search keyword.

The whole Re-Performance thing is a very cool idea, but it was probably a few years too soon and required a ton of human input to get great results. They went broke after a limited number of albums. Maybe it will get revived in this AI era.

Here is an article on the tech and launch of the Rach album I referenced: https://positive-feedback.com/Issue44/Rachmaninoff.htm
 
I noticed that recordings differ, but generally I noticed that older recording put you in the venue and newer put you in the room.
It's all over the map for modern recordings, some manage to capture the venue and all its acoustics, such as the Khatia Buniatishvilli performance of Liszt Piano Concerto #2, and Beethoven Piano Concerto #1 in this full video in Atmos recording on BluRay: https://www.amazon.com/Liszt-Concerto-Khatia-Buniatishvili-Blu-ray/dp/B01N9TWU13/

Older recordings, such as the RCA Living Stereo albums, which were originally recorded as three channels (Left, Center, Right), were re-released as multichannel (3.0) SACDs. I snagged a bunch, and they sure have great venue ambiance.
Here is an example: https://www.discogs.com/release/618...hicago-Symphony-Orchestra-Piano-Concerto-No-1
 
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