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Is it live. . . ?

plastic penguin

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Apr 28, 2008
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Few years ago a retailer gave me a glossy A4 promotional thingy. It was dated, from memory, 2003 and it was a What Hi-Fi amplifier Group Test: The amps tested were the old Exposure 2010, Cyrus 6, Kandy MKIII and I think the Myryad (don't know the number). However, the Kandy won the test, edging out the Cyrus.

What Hi-Fi commented: "The Roksan gets closer to producing live music than any other amplifier in this test. . ." Sorry, I'm paraphrasing - it's archived away, so I can't put my hands on it at the moment.

Question is, is there any modern amp [sub-£600] that gets close to producing live music?
 

Thaiman

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plastic penguin:
Question is, is there any modern amp [sub-£600] that gets close to producing live music?

In short...NO!

I hate to come across as a hifi snob (trust me, I'm not) but to get live sound, there is no other way but to spend
 

Frank Harvey

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plastic penguin: Few years ago a retailer gave me a glossy A4 promotional thingy. It was dated, from memory, 2003 and it was a What Hi-Fi amplifier Group Test: The amps tested were the old Exposure 2010, Cyrus 6, Kandy MKIII and I think the Myryad (don't know the number). However, the Kandy won the test, edging out the Cyrus.

What Hi-Fi commented: "The Roksan gets closer to producing live music than any other amplifier in this test. . ." Sorry, I'm paraphrasing - it's archived away, so I can't put my hands on it at the moment.

Question is, is there any modern amp [sub-£600] that gets close to producing live music?Due to the cost of parts and manufacturing, amplifiers in this price bracket have gone up, some considerably, pushing them well out of the £600 price point. In light of this, you'll probably find there aren't really any amps in this price bracket now that can match what those in the test did back then, but the closest may be something like the Audiolab 8000S. Modern day 'equivalents' should include the Rega Cursa 3, and no amp shoot out below £1k should ever be without a Naim Nait 5i, otherwise it's not representing the best available.......
 
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Anonymous

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A compressed musical recording is never going to have the feel for a real live concert so surely the only way to critically evaluate that question is to buy some live performance cd's and decide for yourself.
 

drummerman

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Jan 18, 2008
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plastic penguin:
Few years ago a retailer gave me a glossy A4 promotional thingy. It was dated, from memory, 2003 and it was a What Hi-Fi amplifier Group Test: The amps tested were the old Exposure 2010, Cyrus 6, Kandy MKIII and I think the Myryad (don't know the number). However, the Kandy won the test, edging out the Cyrus.

What Hi-Fi commented: "The Roksan gets closer to producing live music than any other amplifier in this test. . ." Sorry, I'm paraphrasing - it's archived away, so I can't put my hands on it at the moment.

Question is, is there any modern amp [sub-£600] that gets close to producing live music?

Short answer is probably no and I say probably because I haven't heard every amp in the world. You'd most likely to find an amplifier that does what you require within the pro sector ie. high power but as for the usual suspects/main stream amps at the price you mention they simply lack the power and/or control. Closest thing imo are CA's 840v2 and Roksan's K2 but with the speakers I've heard them with they have certain short comings which rule them out for me. Judicious speaker matching will probably get you closer still but at great cost.

The only product I've heard at reasonable money that does the above without sacrificing mod cons and quality are AVI's ADM9.1. Although above your budget they should be within reach if you flog your remaining system which you would'nt need with the AVI's anyhow. Listening to jazz for example its like being there live and I would assume its the same with classical as the creators like that particular genre.
 

idc

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The Gadget Show a few years back did a blind test with a cheaper hif, an expensive one (Linn I think) and a singer and some string instrument sneaked in. The conclusion was that between the high end system and live the difference was in the sound stage between speakers and the real thing, and that it was nigh on impossible to reproduce a genuinely 'live' performance.
 

plastic penguin

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Apr 28, 2008
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drummerman:plastic penguin:

Few years ago a retailer gave me a glossy A4 promotional thingy. It was dated, from memory, 2003 and it was a What Hi-Fi amplifier Group Test: The amps tested were the old Exposure 2010, Cyrus 6, Kandy MKIII and I think the Myryad (don't know the number). However, the Kandy won the test, edging out the Cyrus.

What Hi-Fi commented: "The Roksan gets closer to producing live music than any other amplifier in this test. . ." Sorry, I'm paraphrasing - it's archived away, so I can't put my hands on it at the moment.

Question is, is there any modern amp [sub-£600] that gets close to producing live music?

Short answer is probably no and I say probably because I haven't heard every amp in the world. You'd most likely to find an amplifier that does what you require within the pro sector ie. high power but as for the usual suspects/main stream amps at the price you mention they simply lack the power and/or control. Closest thing imo are CA's 840v2 and Roksan's K2 but with the speakers I've heard them with they have certain short comings which rule them out for me. Judicious speaker matching will probably get you closer still but at great cost.

The only product I've heard at reasonable money that does the above without sacrificing mod cons and quality are AVI's ADM9.1. Although above your budget they should be within reach if you flog your remaining system which you would'nt need with the AVI's anyhow. Listening to jazz for example its like being there live and I would assume its the same with classical as the creators like that particular genre.

It's an interesting one, purely because, without knowing who tested them at What Hi-Fi back then, (it's not black or white regarding the interpretation) - for example do they mean the other brands in the test are too rounded or clinical? or is there some other reason?
 

john dolan

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Dec 20, 2008
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I remember that show ide it was linn systems and even to top of the range rig didn't come close to just a male singer unaccompanied.Small active AVI speakers wont and cant come close.They start to roll off in the bass at 60 so the whole bottom end of music that can be heard is missing.They cant reproduce the full range of a single males voice nevermind a orchestra.You need full range full power and even then no hifi can come close to the real thing at any price.
 

drummerman

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Indeed they benefit from a good sub (almost any speaker I've tried, regardless of brand and size seems to) and that inevitably pushes the price up. But show me anything else that comes close to reproducing the dynamics and transients at anything near the price, sub included and I gladly make an open minded effort to hear the suggested system out if I possibly can.

But yes, to realistically re-produce live events you need massive power, there's just no substitute for it and that costs money. Perhaps something like rotels 'digital' amps using B&O power modules for outputs in the region of 500w/8ohm, if you can find one second hand, would be an alternative but I haven't heard one and you have to add speakers which are able to handle peaks well in excess of that.
 

Alec

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idc:nigh on impossible to reproduce a genuinely 'live' performance.

Aint that the truth!

In conversations like this the terms of what it is to produce a live sound must be very clearly defined, and most people (me included) cant do that. Also, a live sound in the albert hall, or a small sweaty club under the local boozer? Does it, indeed, make a difference?

I think aiming for a better representation of the recording (quite different) is a more realistic (just) proposition.
 

idc

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Jan 2, 2008
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al7478:

I think aiming for a better representation of the recording (quite different) is a more realistic (just) proposition.

I aim for a sound that I enjoy listening to. It will probably not be the best representation or even that realistic, but it is more realistic than aiming for a 'live' sound as you say al7478, live where?
 

Alec

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idc:al7478:

I think aiming for a better representation of the recording (quite different) is a more realistic (just) proposition.

I aim for a sound that I enjoy listening to.

Ooh, controversial!

And quite right too.
 

john dolan

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Dec 20, 2008
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The gadget show was trying to see if a medium and high end hifi system could sound as good as a man singing unaccompanied.The listener was blindfolded and from the first note of the real singer it was obviouse that even the 100 grand fully active linn could not reproduce the performance.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
I saw that, it was quite interesting apart from the presenters being goons.

Edit: The speakers were KEF Reference and MS Mezzo by the way. I can't remember what amplification they used.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
If a HiFi system is making a studio recording sound LIVE then it is colouring or affecting the sound in some way.

Naim is good at an upfront "LIVE" sound that is great for some music, although suffers elsewhere.

I feel that the best a HiFi system can do is to reproduce the recording accurately. It will achieve the most consistent and unfatiguing listen in the longer term.
 

Alec

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Eddie Pound:

If a HiFi system is making a studio recording sound LIVE then it is colouring or affecting the sound in some way.

Naim is good at an upfront "LIVE" sound that is great for some music, although suffers elsewhere.

I feel that the best a HiFi system can do is to reproduce the recording accurately. It will achieve the most consistent and unfatiguing listen in the longer term.

only if all recordings are consistent and unfatigueing, presumably? but i agree about a live sound being unachievable.
 
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Anonymous

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Hi-fi in the truest sense can only ever be as good as the recording process. A good recording, well produced can achieve a live sound through a system capable of it.
 
A

Anonymous

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I have seen many awesome live concerts but can't say that it was necessarily the the quality of the sound that was what made the concert great.

With a 'studio' recording I have never been in a position to know (as most of us haven't) what the producer/artist wanted us to hear. Therefore we are at the 'mercy' of the particular brand of hi-fi we find to be our preference. So when I listen to DB's Space Oddity for instance and think how incredible it sounds, in truth I don't have any references - only that on my current system it sounds much better than at any time I've heard it over the last 30+ years - result I'm happy/impressed.

Most 'live' albums are of course nothing like it would have sounded at the gig - but that's not necessarily a bad thing is it?

18 months ago or so I went to see Joe Bonamassa at the Holmfith Picturedome with some friends - he was utterly brilliant but to be fair the venue was a bit 'so so'. Subsequently his (excellent) live album from the tour,'Live from nowhere in particular', was released and the sound quality is terrific (Kevin Shirley!) - much better than I can recall at the concert I saw, however much I enjoyed it. When I played it on my hi-fi to one of the guys who had been to gig with me he couldn't believe that it was taken from live recordings and he was quite seriously blown away by it.

I'm going to see JB at the Royal Albert Hall in May - perhaps that will be much better in terms of SQ than Holmfirth (and I'm sure he will be fantastic) but I doubt it will match what I hear in the privacy of my own home in terms of detail etc. The 'live' rock experience is always unique (and usually loud) - that should not be mistaken for recording excellence.
 

matthewpiano

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Nov 23, 2007
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At the end of the day, no matter how good the system is, you are never going to recreate the acoustic of a concert space completely in a domestic listening situation. Even attempts to do so with multi-channel SACD have been only partially successful at best. More importantly, would we actually WANT to do so? As people have already pointed out, live sound at a gig is a completely different experience, often far louder than any of us can hope (or would want) to play music in our homes.

When we are at a gig or concert we are wrapped up in the moment. It is a one-off performance, an actual event to savour and remember. When we listen to a recording we listen to it limitless numbers of times and it somehow needs to be more comfortable to listen to. If everything sounded as brash as live rigs usually do, I think we'd soon get tired of listening and the 'live' sound would become irritating.

I'm inclined to agree with the points that IDC has made elsewhere - that rather than searching for some holy grail of 'fidelity' we should perhaps be searching for a solution that enables us to simply enjoy listening to all and any of the music we choose to play. I've had systems that have sat there looking pretty and cost me considerable money but they've sat there doing nothing because they either make so many recordings sound flat (Arcam A70/CD73) or they've over-emphasised certain aspects of the music at the expense of others (Cambridge 740A/740C). As I've said before, a hi-fi that does't encourage you to keep listening to ALL music is a bit of a failure in my eyes.
 

Tear Drop

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Apr 23, 2008
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matthewpiano:I'm inclined to agree with the points that IDC has made elsewhere - that rather than searching for some holy grail of 'fidelity' we should perhaps be searching for a solution that enables us to simply enjoy listening to all and any of the music we choose to play

Basic enjoyment of music can be had with next to no fidelity - I can listen to any portable music player with a pair of cheap earphones and enjoy the music, I can listen to a 'boombox' with the EQ settings all over the place and enjoy the music, etc etc. However, since we are supposed to be interested in hifi - high fidelity - when it comes to music reproduction, simply saying that basic enjoyment is the only consideration doesn't make any sense whatsoever. Music has so much depth, and has so much to offer beyond simple enjoyment, and it is my experience that a true high fidelity system will convey all these aspects of music to the listener (just like live performances do), but a system of poor fidelity will totally obliterate these qualities of music. If all you are seeking is basic musical enjoyment then hifi is a rather expensive, time consuming and, frankly, pointless way to go about it.
 

matthewpiano

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Tear Drop:matthewpiano:I'm inclined to agree with the points that IDC has made elsewhere - that rather than searching for some holy grail of 'fidelity' we should perhaps be searching for a solution that enables us to simply enjoy listening to all and any of the music we choose to play

Basic enjoyment of music can be had with next to no fidelity - I can listen to any portable music player with a pair of cheap earphones and enjoy the music, I can listen to a 'boombox' with the EQ settings all over the place and enjoy the music, etc etc. However, since we are supposed to be interested in hifi - high fidelity - when it comes to music reproduction, simply saying that basic enjoyment is the only consideration doesn't make any sense whatsoever. Music has so much depth, and has so much to offer beyond simple enjoyment, and it is my experience that a true high fidelity system will convey all these aspects of music to the listener (just like live performances do), but a system of poor fidelity will totally obliterate these qualities of music. If all you are seeking is basic musical enjoyment then hifi is a rather expensive, time consuming and, frankly, pointless way to go about it.

I disagree. I believe a certain level of fidelity is necessary for basic enjoyment of music, or at least it is for me. I don't enjoy music played on cheap earphones or a 'boombox' because I can't hear what is going on in the music. For me, being able to hear that is essential for my enjoyment of the music, and that is why I have a very good hi-fi system.

However, I also believe that, beyond a certain point, equipment tries so hard to find extra depth/detail that it can make less decent recordings virtually unlistenable and/or flatten the listening experience. I have no doubt that technically the Arcam A70 and Cambridge 740A amps I've had were superior to my current Pioneer but, to me, the A400 is quite simply the best amplifier I've ever had because it gives ample detail without becoming so hi-fi that the listening experience becomes concerned with electronics rather than the music. It gives music the space to breathe and, to quote a review that was written at the time of the amp's launch, it sounds 'ineffably right'. In all my auditioning and listening I don't think there is an amplifier below £1000 I would prefer to have.

Music is the single driving factor in all this for me. I am a musician myself and it is from this angle that my interest in hi-fi and technology stems. The simple fact is that some of the more expensive kit I've had has actually negatively effected my enjoyment of the music. The three systems that I've enjoyed the most, without losing any sense of atmosphere or musical information, are my present one, a Sansui-Mission system my Dad had in the 90s (CD-X111, AU-X111, 760 speakers), and an early system I had as a teenager (Sony CDP-110, Sansui AU-2200, Mordaunt-Short MS15 II).
 

Tear Drop

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matthewpiano:I believe a certain level of fidelity is necessary for basic enjoyment of music, or at least it is for me. I don't enjoy music played on cheap earphones or a 'boombox' because I can't hear what is going on in the music. For me, being able to hear that is essential for my enjoyment of the music, and that is why I have a very good hi-fi system

Fair enough, and I've no doubt that is presently true for you (as it probably is for most people who get involved with hifi), but ask yourself which came first in your life - your enjoyment of music or your interest in hifi? One naturally follows the other. How did you first enjoy music without a hifi system? I would refuse to believe that anybody started to enjoy music only after buying their first hifi setup!
 

idc

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Tear Drop:matthewpiano:I believe a certain level of fidelity is necessary for basic enjoyment of music, or at least it is for me. I don't enjoy music played on cheap earphones or a 'boombox' because I can't hear what is going on in the music. For me, being able to hear that is essential for my enjoyment of the music, and that is why I have a very good hi-fi system Fair enough, and I've no doubt that is presently true for you (as it probably is for most people who get involved with hifi), but ask yourself which came first in your life - your enjoyment of music or your interest in hifi? One naturally follows the other. How did you first enjoy music without a hifi system? I would refuse to believe that anybody started to enjoy music only after buying their first hifi setup!

Hi Tear Drop, don't be alarmed now but I am following you about the forums!

I totally agree with Matthew, the aim is to improve your enjoyment of the music by listening to different kit, so hifi is important to both of us, but we are also both at that enviable position of having set ups we are very happy with. Funnily enough, I was not happy with the Pioneer Matthew so enjoys. I changed mine to a Denon PMA and then finally to a Rega Mira and was happy. My subsequent change to ipod is recorded here; http://whathifi.com/forums/t/199247.aspx . You will also find an answer to your question about what came first, music or hifi and my grandmother's Bang & Olufsen. The music came first, but it was totally enhanced by a better hifi.

I also feel that if someone really enjoys their music on a boombox and they have tried other setups, but the boombox won, fine. No hifi snobbery here!
 

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