Wall of Sound?

Finally, I was able to visit a major seller of current ultra high end. It was visually thrilling, and flashed me back to my years with Lyric Hifi in NYC in the 1970s-1980s and my many experiences with the Infinity IRS V like the one Paul proudly displays at PSA.

Disappointed I was. My 20-year-old system sounds much better.

While the music was dramatic with its presence and clean strength for the lead singer (a bit more than my home system) all other sounds were repressed. The details, various performer spaces, subtleties/microdynamics, tonalities, textures etc were too greatly ‘second fiddle’.

This is the wall of sound we hear at non-amplified live performances, I was told.

NO it is not. Go to any intimate gathering and listen to the trio/quartet or any orchestra concert from a front row. Performers and room acoustics all have their space and details, not just the soloist. Positional/space flow of music from performer to performers or music section to music section (eg, from violins to violas to cellos to basses) is where the wonder lies.

And, for me, it is amplified sound, like that for 200 db rock concerts, is a wall of sound, unable to present any idea where the actual musicians are beyond what we see.

Furthermore, a creek with sound ripples around shoreline pebbles or boulders in the path of the main water flow, the sounds of these places are what are beautifully distinctive and inspiring in the flow/sound of the river. Likewise in my existing system, not so in the auditioned fantastically pricier and newer system. Also missing was the stage depth I hear at home.

I was also told that box/cone speakers would not work in my room. In my view their planar speakers did not work in their room (notably, my Magnaplanar Tympany IV-Ds in the 1980s were, all things considered, superior…though lacking bass power. I could separate the first row of violins from the last row of violins in some recordings for example.

Nevertheless, I will continue my plan for MSB digital and amplification but continue my search for what I consider optimum audiophile speakers (performance is primary, not price). My only limits regard component weight, prefer to be able to move myself and not rely on those much stronger.


In many ways it’s best to leave the memories of our youth untested. However frustrating it’s been to create that sense of realism you so well described, I am happy to leave the satisfaction with that wall of sound sound in the dust bin.

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I have a long-standing rule: never allow a dealer to tell me what works in my personal listening environment. It’s arrogant, irrelevant and a red flag for me to find another dealer. No dealer can possibly know the details of my room acoustics and since every high-end system is unique no dealer can intelligently tell me why the system he’s pushing would work in my environment but the system I’ve got won’t (why would I invest in it if it didn’t?). All I can hope for at a dealer is to get some vague notion of how a piece might integrate with my rig, but I’ll never agree the dealer can tell me with a straight face in his showroom (not my listening room) what piece will definitely work for me and what piece definitely won’t. That is up to me to decide. In short, I’ve just walked away when exposed to that attitude at a dealer.



the dealer was cordial and was shown pictures/measurements of my room

it seems we have a different goal…his “wall of sound” vs my ‘stage of sound’; his goal is a massive, unfocused sound wall set on stun mode heavily weighted to the singer, my goal is more of a Monet painting: swishes of impression here and there pulling the listener into the scene, texture etc with the singer part of the full vista

(hey, I also have SME 309 arm)


Well said akro!!

Best wishes

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Were you able to listen to your choice of music? Did he play vinyl, digital or both for you?

I am also quite interested in MSB, not only after Luca’s experience with their performance, but also after hearing numerous MSB-based systems - frequently alongside top notch vinyl - at a recent audio show in Costa Mesa, California.

The irony of that is I went to further my research into vinyl, and the big takeaway was a further dive into digital.

Please do continue sharing your experience in this effort.

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IMO the best a dealer can do is (1) assemble a system that plays nice together within one’s budget, (2) provide for a meaningful demo at their salon, and (3) provide for a reasonable in home demo. The best an audiophile can do is be an earnest buyer.

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Chose about 6 streams, I should have remembered an example with significant subtleties (oxymoron)

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