Greatest Systems You Have Ever Heard

Doghouse Riley

Junior Member
I think it's all relative.

For me it was a demonstration of a top quality Ampex reel to reel stereo tape recorder in Harrods music department in 1960. I think it might have been a 200A.
Ampex tape recorders were extensively used to record a lot of well known jazz albums.


Junior Member
Outside system at @jmathers a few years ago. Kegger's memorial get together. Cobbled together system with some Altec horns and drivers. The sound literally hung in the air. Completely disassociated from anything physical. Music and voices hung out in the wilderness. Felt like a hologram in which you could walk around the musicians and interact. I will never forget those hours. Joyful but sad at the same time.


Just Call Me Junior
Several years ago I had the opportunity to hear Merlin VSMs with BAM, driven by an Ars-Sonum Filarmonia SM Class A EL34 Tube Integratred Amplfier setup, fed by a high end CD player, in his shop next door located in the basement of our old Hemlock (NY) High School. I routinely encountered the late Bobby Palkovic given I live right next door to the old school, and he invited me over for a listen.

Think of a very large, raw, untreated concrete walls, floor and corrugated ceiling for a listening space.

Simply put, I was blown away. This was the most engaging experience I've ever had. The system immersed us without any detectable deficiency I could notice. It was very memorable, and the day we lost Bobby was a true tragedy.
I don't really remember much how it sounded, but a system that put a major impression on me was a studio that was located not too far from where I live now. It used to be GM Studios, in what was formerly known as East Detroit. I believe it was on 9 Mile Rd., and was adjacent to a body shop. (The studio even had its own little record label called Bumpshop Records.) My cousin was still working there at the time, and he took me, my parents and my mother's cousin on a tour of the studio. Not just a tour, but he showed us how a single was made. Saw the wide tape, the mixing desk, even a cutting lathe (and I still have that lacquer he cut). This was 1972, and they were predicting that this song would be a million seller. (This was Gallery's hit single "Nice To Be With You.") After he moved away a year or two later for the south (Muscle Shoals, then Hialeah FL, before finally settling in Nashville), he would occasionally send me a few pro audio magazines. I never did go into engineering as I'd hoped, though.


Staff member
Cello electronics driving Genesis V loudspeakers. I do not recall what the exact digital source was except to say it was a CD player.

The dynamics blew me away, bass that kind of made my stomach hurt after a while, literally gut pounding. I believe the amp was said to be able to produce 1kW, though I have no idea what it actually output into the load presented by the Genesis V, especially since that speaker had its own dedicated 800W active servo amp driving the woofers.

I wasn't sure what to be most impressed by, the obvious ridiculous clean power on tap with the Cello electronics, or the Genesis V's ability to deliver it all in absolute stress free fashion.

Honorable mention went to the now forgotten CD player, and also the selection of CDs by the now defunct Pope Music label. Gene Pope sure knew what he was doing with Redbook, and of course Arnie Nudell sure knew what he was doing with loudspeakers, as did Mark Levinson with solid state amplifiers.
Two systems come to mind - one I sought an opportunity to listen to and one I stumbled onto.

While visiting family in Boulder, I made an appointment with the good folks at PS Audio to tour their facility and listen to the IRS V system. Their new listening rooms were nearly finished out, but the system had yet to be moved - so we walked over and listened to the system in the old warehouse.

Scott McGowan gave us the tour - when we got to the listening room I realize I should have brought my own music. We listened to Harry Connick Jr, for some reason and a reference recording John Atkinson or someone made. The music was whatever - that said, the system was clear, extended, powerful - and a little cold. Was glad to hear it as I found I didn't really like that direction in music.

The second run-in with ultra Hi Fi came when I went to meet up with Dave Slagle while he was in N. Texas installing a system for a client. I went up thinking I'd hand the system off and be gone; instead, I was brought into the listening room of a local patent lawyer (explains how he could afford this particular system) where Dave had set up the stacked quad system powered by on-board 300b amps. (I guess that makes them active speakers?)

Music material was better here - and as before, I can only apply simple descriptors for what I heard: clear, extended, impactful - and not cold. I hesitate to say warm, as that suggests a colored sound and I don't think that's what was happening here; instead, what I heard then stood against what I'd heard from the IRS V system, and it was a sound I wanted to get closer to with the things available to me.