Ever Have a System Ruin an Album For You?

Prime Minister

Site Owner
Staff member
Many moons ago, @billfort and @Ernie and I spent an evening in Bills ultra cool listening room, enjoying great tunes and some wonderful libations. During that evening, Bill played for us an album I hadn't heard before. This was Neil Youngs Live at Massy Hall 1971. Hearing it through his system was revelatory. It was one of those rare moments where it felt like a portal had opened through time, and we were there on the floor of Massey Hall, back in 1971. What an experience! What his system did so well was capture the scale of being there. It was just huge and filled the room.

I bought the album shortly thereafter, and have listened to it many time through some really great systems. But, as good as it's always sounded, I've never been able to recreate what Bills system did. Just always a bit.... boring.
 
Last edited:

240sx4u

Technically It's LexusGuy
Many moons ago, @billfort and @Ernie and I spent an evening in Bills ultra cool listening room, enjoying great tunes and some wonderful libations. During that evening, Bill played for us an album I hadn't heard before. This was Neil Youngs Live and Massy Hall 1971. Hearing it through his system was revelatory. It was one of those rare moments where it felt like a portal had opened through time, and we were there on the floor of Massey Hall, back in 1971. What an experience! What his system did so well was capture the scale of being there. It was just huge and filled the room.

I bought the album shortly thereafter, and have listened to it many time through some really great systems. But, as good as it's always sounded, I've never been able to recreate what Bills system did. Just always a bit.... boring.

There's something to be said for the environment and people you're with. You can re-create sound but you can't recreate some of these other things.
 

Prime Minister

Site Owner
Staff member
There's something to be said for the environment and people you're with. You can re-create sound but you can't recreate some of these other things.
I don't doubt that was the case either. I've spent many hours listening to music with those two gentlemen, and it's always been a great experience.
However, this was a great experience, plus magically great sound.
 

fiddlefye

Senior Member
You made me put this one last night. I've a good many live recordings I love, but this one remains my favourite. Over the years I've played it one many variants of my system and also on several subsidiary systems around the house and it never disappoints. What I have noticed is that depending upon the system and the room the perspective shifts. When I was running an all-tube CJ set-up with Vandersteens I felt I was sitting a ways back in the hall with more of the ambient sound being apparent. The current system places me at stage level and very close up. Each "view" has its own charm, though I'm sure that what I hear in the current set-up is more true to the way the recording was made. Either way there are tracks that just make the hair stand up...
 
By the title my mind went to the record player we kids shared with pennies on the tonearm to keep it tracking....
Sesions with friends like you describe are the great times in audio that drive us in the funny hobby.
And yes, going to look it up and give that a listen, I have remberance of a couple tracks from it.
 
Last edited:

billfort

Administrator
Staff member
Oh yeah, that album. :) Fun times there; I miss just relaxing and taking a trip like that with good friends. I think it helped that all 3 of us had spent time in Massey Hall enjoying the music we’ve loved over the years, and it wasn’t too much of stretch for us to ‘hear’ what good music in that space was like.

It’s funny how certain albums or even tracks can make or break a system like that for me – kind of like the first time I heard a certain Billie Holiday LP on a well put-together SET/Hi-eff system – it set me on the path I’ve loved for about 20yrs now. For that Holiday LP; the ‘system’ & room were irrelevant at the time – it was pure emotional involvement with the music where I ended up somewhere else, I knew I had found a new drug. That Neil Young album just turned out to be another ‘hit’ that has kept me hooked.

I remember we went to a big audio show shortly after that evening and that album was getting a lot of play for some reason at the time. It was cool how we could almost draw black-and-white/yes-no conclusions on systems based on what we knew could be done with it, and several VERY expensive systems got a fail. We’d listen to one track in particular and wait for the moment where the vocals should bloom, charge and open up that big sound space like we knew they should, because we’ve heard it happen live so many times – and surprisingly, many systems just couldn’t do it – at least in those rooms.

Not sure why it seems to happen in my little basement every once in a while, and I suspect it’s a bunch of things aligning in a way that I might have stumbled on through dumb luck, an open mind and a little single-malt fuelled contemplation, but it is a nice place to visit to keep me sane. It’s fun to speculate on what part all the bits play towards the whole but IMO, the ‘scale’ and dynamics, - at least with a sense of ease and effortlessness that let you get lost in it all – was one of tougher things to do without making the compromises that put me in the lunatic fringe.
 

Redboy

Knobophobe
Oh, I have. A good system can turn a good album bad.

I was chatting with another Havenite the other day and I used the old "lifting the veils" trope. Sometimes the veils and lace and lingerie might be preferable to seeing what's actually underneath 'em...

Sometimes there's a fine line between "oooooh..." and "whoa, I can't unsee that!"
 

opa1

Moderator
Staff member
Sometimes the veils and lace and lingerie might be preferable to seeing what's actually underneath 'em...

Sometimes there's a fine line between "oooooh..." and "whoa, I can't unsee that!"
That's the truth! LOL

Neil Youngs Live at Massy Hall 1971. Excellent recorded album.
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
Oh, I have. A good system can turn a good album bad.

I was chatting with another Havenite the other day and I used the old "lifting the veils" trope. Sometimes the veils and lace and lingerie might be preferable to seeing what's actually underneath 'em...

Sometimes there's a fine line between "oooooh..." and "whoa, I can't unsee that!"
I've always had as a goal of mine to never have a system where I couldn't enjoy the poorly recorded indie rock I grew up with. I actually managed to achieve that ...a system that allowed everything to sounds its best without putting a spotlight on the flaws. It's out there, I swear.
 

opa1

Moderator
Staff member
I just thought about something. I have some albums that have ruined my system. LOL
 
I've always had as a goal of mine to never have a system where I couldn't enjoy the poorly recorded indie rock I grew up with.
Totally feel this. Constantly trying to convince my brother to add some Fidelity to his setup - he swears by a shitty pair of Technics speakers that does, truth be told, make doomcore rap and cut and screwed stuff sound really good.
 

billfort

Administrator
Staff member
I've always had as a goal of mine to never have a system where I couldn't enjoy the poorly recorded indie rock I grew up with. I actually managed to achieve that ...a system that allowed everything to sounds its best without putting a spotlight on the flaws. It's out there, I swear.
Fair enough; the Neil Young album Erik started this about is an amazing recording, should sound good, right?

Maybe this ‘magic’ teleportation thing IS limited to certain albums and maybe a system that can pull this off doesn't necessarily equate to something you’d want to live with for all your records. I get this, and certainly find myself passing by certain LPs because, hell, they aren’t worthy of passing under that several thousand dollar cartridge…

So had I become one of those picky audiophile guys? Maybe; because I started thinking about ‘that box’.

That box was one I had stuck away in storage, one I had forgotten about, one I now feel a little guilty about. A box of records given to me by a dear friend I grew up with during one of his frequent, hasty moves out of a living space. We were very tight friends from 5yrs old on up, through the punk era into recent times, and although we’d drift apart for a time, we always reconnected. I went one way and he went down the dark path – music, bands, the rough crowd, world experience and problems with substance abuse – right up to the end where Todd’s huge heart rebelled like he rebelled.

I remember these actual records, always thrown around his places haphazardly, and always present – they were truly the background to our lives for many years. They are beat up, ratty, an off-beat collection of stuff you just don’t see in many people’s record racks – and they weren’t in mine recently either.

So I grabbed a couple and figured it was time for a test – can I play these on this system and get into them the way I used too, does this ‘system’ help the experience or have me putting them back in storage (sorry Todd).

The 3 I grabbed randomly off the top where these; UB40 – Present Arms, a Buzzcocks EP - Parts 1-3 and The Undertones – Positive Touch. All appear to be UK imports, are from around 1981 and are in BAD condition – at least on the surface. Because I don’t know (or want to know) WHAT is all over these, I gave them a very good scrubbing on the record cleaning machine (that expensive cartridge…) and settled in for a listen.

ratty_lps.jpg

DAMN – this was fun! OK, they were noisy at times, some badly recorded and I wasn’t into all the music as much as I might have been when younger, but I enjoyed the hell out of this, especially the UB40 album – even had my teenage daughter come down and ask what it was I was playing – she loved it. Pretty damn cool, and thanks Todd – finally! (he knew I’d get to this eventually...)

Not saying this system is the universal shit or anything, but for me, it kind of is. The noise was there, but it was very easy to listen around it, maybe the Altecs on old tubes are technicolor and inaccurate, good, because they also make music. This brought me back to when the music was ALL that mattered. On that measure, I remain ‘done’ on the gear front.

Now back to that nasty box of records.
 

Audionut

Next Round Is On Me
Why yes, yes I have......(repeat story ahead)
It started with @marantzfan ’s system, it made me realize how poor the quality of YouTube videos were (the “hifi” 24bit ones sounded really good on my then mediocre setup). He also played the girl from Ipanema... I was able to pinpoint instruments and hear texture/decay in vocals. I wasn’t able to relive that moment till I put together my own 604/flea watt setup.
 

Ernie

My best pal, Molly
I have a bit of a twist. (Big surprise, I know.) I had a system 'make' an album for me. I never got into Steely Dan - Aja. Beyond my or anyone else's comprehension, this iconic album never tripped my toggle. Then, one day, Erik took me to his then-favourite music store. On a fully-restored Studer 10" RTR, there was a copy of Aja, supposedly an early copy of the final master tape. From there, the signal went into a system with a six-figure pricetag. I don't remember what the gear was, and didn't care. I was transfixed by the sound, hearing all the music that was actually there. Aja is, or was, one of those omnipresent LPs in demo rooms. I've heard bits of it, countless times, never sounding like it did, that day. I have a copy at home, but I don't play it, because it doesn't sound like that tape, neither CD nor LP. I lay the blame squarely on the shoulders of the copy of the tape. No other software I've heard, on any system, sounds like that one version did.
 

billfort

Administrator
Staff member
I was there that day with Ernie and agree; I was seriously burned out on that album but hearing it that day was a revaluation - that tape buried that music (Lp, CD, DSD, hi-res, whatever) for me - I'll never 'hear' it properly again.
 

Prime Minister

Site Owner
Staff member
I have a bit of a twist. (Big surprise, I know.) I had a system 'make' an album for me. I never got into Steely Dan - Aja. Beyond my or anyone else's comprehension, this iconic album never tripped my toggle. Then, one day, Erik took me to his then-favourite music store. On a fully-restored Studer 10" RTR, there was a copy of Aja, supposedly an early copy of the final master tape. From there, the signal went into a system with a six-figure pricetag. I don't remember what the gear was, and didn't care. I was transfixed by the sound, hearing all the music that was actually there. Aja is, or was, one of those omnipresent LPs in demo rooms. I've heard bits of it, countless times, never sounding like it did, that day. I have a copy at home, but I don't play it, because it doesn't sound like that tape, neither CD nor LP. I lay the blame squarely on the shoulders of the copy of the tape. No other software I've heard, on any system, sounds like that one version did.
ive had the pleasure of hearing a number of those in that same system. That was my weekly audio get togethers. Let me see if I can find a picture.
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
Sometimes the veils and lace and lingerie might be preferable to seeing what's actually underneath 'em...
That's why God made both light-dimmer switches and audio transformers.
Fair enough; the Neil Young album Erik started this about is an amazing recording, should sound good, right?

Maybe this ‘magic’ teleportation thing IS limited to certain albums and maybe a system that can pull this off doesn't necessarily equate to something you’d want to live with for all your records. I get this, and certainly find myself passing by certain LPs because, hell, they aren’t worthy of passing under that several thousand dollar cartridge…

So had I become one of those picky audiophile guys? Maybe; because I started thinking about ‘that box’.

That box was one I had stuck away in storage, one I had forgotten about, one I now feel a little guilty about. A box of records given to me by a dear friend I grew up with during one of his frequent, hasty moves out of a living space. We were very tight friends from 5yrs old on up, through the punk era into recent times, and although we’d drift apart for a time, we always reconnected. I went one way and he went down the dark path – music, bands, the rough crowd, world experience and problems with substance abuse – right up to the end where Todd’s huge heart rebelled like he rebelled.

I remember these actual records, always thrown around his places haphazardly, and always present – they were truly the background to our lives for many years. They are beat up, ratty, an off-beat collection of stuff you just don’t see in many people’s record racks – and they weren’t in mine recently either.

So I grabbed a couple and figured it was time for a test – can I play these on this system and get into them the way I used too, does this ‘system’ help the experience or have me putting them back in storage (sorry Todd).

The 3 I grabbed randomly off the top where these; UB40 – Present Arms, a Buzzcocks EP - Parts 1-3 and The Undertones – Positive Touch. All appear to be UK imports, are from around 1981 and are in BAD condition – at least on the surface. Because I don’t know (or want to know) WHAT is all over these, I gave them a very good scrubbing on the record cleaning machine (that expensive cartridge…) and settled in for a listen.

View attachment 29615

DAMN – this was fun! OK, they were noisy at times, some badly recorded and I wasn’t into all the music as much as I might have been when younger, but I enjoyed the hell out of this, especially the UB40 album – even had my teenage daughter come down and ask what it was I was playing – she loved it. Pretty damn cool, and thanks Todd – finally! (he knew I’d get to this eventually...)

Not saying this system is the universal shit or anything, but for me, it kind of is. The noise was there, but it was very easy to listen around it, maybe the Altecs on old tubes are technicolor and inaccurate, good, because they also make music. This brought me back to when the music was ALL that mattered. On that measure, I remain ‘done’ on the gear front.

Now back to that nasty box of records.
That sounds like a ton of fun. In my system I added the technicolor with the transformer volume control, tube phono stage, shed the SUT after it. That combination of gain stages allowed great albums to sound great, and less stellar recordings to sound their best, and to still be exciting. I know it’s adding something but it doesn’t do it in a way that feels like it’s anything that shouldn’t be there or that gets lost somewhere in most setups. Erik has talked about your system at length, I can imagine the scale it’s capable of really does wonders with something like the Buzzcocks.
That Neil Young album sounds great on my main setup but I don’t have the scale of gear to make it actually feel like Massey Hall.
 
The story I have to tell is with an album I have long stuck to to test and set up my own system.......Tubular Bells ...Mike Oldfield. If you can get your hands on a good copy , then it has all sorts of challenges for a system. If you have a good system well set up then it will pass most of them. ....There are high level female choir vocals close to the label, very quiet passages , heavy base with high treble on top, great dynamics for a rock record, single instrumental parts at around 1 kHz which expose wow and flutter, very complex passages with many instruments which can be hard for some systems to keep the instruments separate, there is heavy groove modulation and of couse fine. In addition , you can expose the limitations , there are instrument which should have been fully mixed out that actually are still present, a few mistakes that you can still hear with good system resolution.....

Anyway, I have quite a few copies which I use both on vinyl and CD to check my system and this is my reference recording . If this plays as I expect , to my ears my system ( or another) is well adjusted and balance ( well to my ears !)

So, when the mercury records re-issue came out supposedly remixed to the optimum.....I buy my copy . I have set my system up using the old copies and ....in goes the CD .......the mess they made that were totally laid bare by my system was shocking and I never listen to that version....
 
I just thought about something. I have some albums that have ruined my system. LOL
I've had some children who've ruined my systems. One who admitted, may years later, that she was able to destroy every speaker I'd made with the exception of Nightingale, and not for lack of trying.

When she told me that, I realized why I always got dirty looks from the neighbors.;);)

I really miss having the gang over on Saturday night for tunes and booze and attempted stereo destruction. I have the playlist loaded and locked, the bar stocked, but no party in site. I'm itching to show off the subsub infrasonics project. :(
 
Top