[quote user="Captain Destructo"][quote user="d_a_n1979"]Very surprised to hear that
I've got an Arcam 9 and 9P with an Arcam 6 CD player with B&W speakers and it sounds brilliant
I've also just had the integrated amp with CD player and speakers and it still sounded great
I wouldnt say that the Arcam 9 amp and 8SE CD player are limp at all. Maybe they dont suit the music you listen to.[/quote]
That's the issue really isn't it. We all have different tastes as to what we want to hear. Some people like the high frequency sheen that seems a prerequisite for 'quality' hifi. I don't. The arcams don't do it for me, and I listen to mainly poorly recorded alternative/ punk etc. Even for the better recorded stuff they just don't seem to make you like your music any more than you did ; the things they do well are irrelevant to the musical message. Tracks end up sounding like a disparate collection of intrumental parts and studio effects rather than songs. This might be because of something specific like the timing.... or perhaps it's because they're designed from the ground up to be what engineers think expensive should sound like. The effect is that one song flows into the next and before you know it you're almost asleep. Then you get bored and go do something else.
I've started to have a real beef with hifi in general - having heard other systems in the stores with a similiar sound (newer arcams, cyrus, musical fidelity). It just doesn't fill you with confidence when setups that cost so much can be so boring. Where are the dynamics... the dynamics you can get from a 300 pound boom box for heavens sake? Where's the fun? End of rant.
Some excellent points made here, and without wanting to hi-jack the original topic, I think this is worthy of some discussion.
The worst system I've ever had in terms of ENJOYING the music was also my most expensive to date. It was an Arcam CD73T, A65+ amp, and Quad 11L speakers. It did all the hi-fi things so well - imaging, tonal reproduction, seperation between instruments - and yet, once the initial awe at all this ability had worn off, it became donw-right boring to listen to. Large numbers of my CDs never left the shelves, and anything that was less than perfect in recording quality could be unbearable to listen to. That isn't what hi-fi should be about because, in my book, its there to SERVE the music.
At that point I tried different combinations of kit from this system with other bits and all that showed me was that, CD player apart, the Arcam and Quad sounds were equally to blame. The Quads were really very disappointing for the money - lifeless and lacking in any drive or impact. I've tried all sorts of stuff in between and struggled to find anything that I enjoyed as much as a system my Dad had a few years ago - a Sansui/Mission system which won the What Hi-Fi award at the time. I have in the last few days ended up back at the budget seperates end, retaining the MA Bronze 2s I purchased about 6 months ago and combining them with Marantz CD5001/PM4001. The CD5001 came first with a used Alpha 7. I'd been slightly nervous after reading people accusing Marantz gear of harshness and being overly bright, but to me (a long-term fan of the classic Sansui sound) it just sounds closer to live sound and the PM4001 works much better at this than the Alpha 7 as well. Its not harsh or overly-bright, just more accurate than that easy listening top-end sheen that much of the more expensive gear has. There is plenty of warmth and body to the sound and the atmosphere this system creates is electric. Whats more, I'm now waiting for a Project Genie (RPM1) turntable which I have on order and looking forward to making use of the PM4001's phono stage.
I don't want my music to be sanitised or made easier to listen to. I want to hear the full scale of an orchestra or the drive and punch of a great rock band in full flight whilst retaining the ability to locate instruments and performers within the soundstage. My upgrade path is, I know, going to be pretty treacherous, and maybe I might have to stick with Marantz, but I don't ever want to end up back in the dark place where music becomes unexciting to listen to.