A couple of weeks back a couple of comments on the RMAF 2013 show got me to thinking.
The gist of their comments was that although several rooms sounded pretty good – they weren’t exciting. The implication being that… well, there are several implications:
1. That we are much more ready to like and buy systems and components that are exciting sounding
2. That many systems, components and brands go for a more ‘accurate’ sound, or a ‘palatable’ sound, or, to revisit our basic sounds: Impressiveness, Sweetness, Naturalness, Realness and Emotional sounds.
3. That many people hear so many non-exciting systems, that they are not only willing to ‘put up with’ somewhat boring sound – they have come to expect no different.
4. That, although systems with Impressive bass CAN BE exciting, and there were several at this show, they can also be not exciting; like at this show. There needs to be something more than big woofers and a big amp.
So what makes a system sound exciting?
Good question, I think. [thanks, glad I asked it :-)]
For me it is a combination of great midi-dynamics and speaker control and engagedness / emotion / soulfulness. Everything else has to be good, but not great.
It helps make a system sound exciting if I hear ‘my music’ on it – i.e. music I am familiar with, either recently loved or familiar from ages and ages ago [so it seems as I recover from Turkey Day] back in my youth.
At least for me, Realness does not come into it. Nor does [closely related] accuracy, or naturalness or Impressiveness or resolution.
Also, for me, and I can argue for the vast majority of people, mid-bass are the most exciting frequencies. Around 30-40 hz.
If this is true for most people then we can see that:
1. The industry is building and wanting their sound to be a ‘non-exciting’ sound.
2. That one pays the big bucks for things, like 20hz bass and very high-resolution and very high accuracy which are awesomely fun, but which do not make for an exciting sounding music [some people may, however, opine that this is required for just a good ole basic ‘good’ sound]. This means that for many people, an exciting-sounding system can be had for not too much money [inexpensive tube amp and pre on inexpensive horn speakers (good ones of which are hard to find – try high-efficiency speakers like Audio Note) with a cheap turntable as source].
Audio Note sets up an exciting sounding system every so often at the shows, when the room is of a shape and construction that allows the speakers to be happy in the corners. Unfortunately the amp [argh] and most of the gear is often on a table that acts like a vibrating string on a guitar, causing various parts of the midrange and mid-bass to be washed out. However the vast majority of people go out of their way to mention that they really love the sound in these particular rooms at these particular shows.
It have a feeling that Excitedness may trump all other aspects of sound, assuming their is no overt bad behavior in other parts of the sound.