PS AUDIO: Classical vs. rock

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Paul McGowan writes: One of my readers brought up a really good point when he suggested the use of classical music appeals to only but a few people and the majority of high-end audio and potential high-end audio lovers listen to a much wider variety than that.  He was hopeful that the days of “uppity” classical music “snobs” looking down on those music lovers not so engaged were over.

I am pretty sure that’s already happened.  Go to any of the high end audio shows and the variety of music is big, varied and not centered around classical music.

I, for one, advocate the use of classical music for two reasons: I love it and it is the easiest to get right when it comes to the sound of real instruments played live.  Vocals, Jazz and then acoustic rock would be strong seconds and thirds.

Here’s the thing: once you get classical music to sound right on your system, everything else just seems to fall into place.  I routinely start with classical, then move to vocals, then on to acoustic jazz and rock before I crank up something modern and perhaps electronic.  For me it’s folly to try and set a system up with music that is not acoustic in nature.

But once you get that right, it’s all downhill from there.

One thought on “PS AUDIO: Classical vs. rock

  1. I agree with the general sentiment, but I think it goes further. Large scale classical orchestral music is the most complex music that a hi fi system can play, and it shows. Small two way speakers that sound fine on a bit of jazz or girl-and-guitar completely fall apart on large scale orchestral music. What passes for a bit of ‘musical’ harmonic distortion in a recording of a solo artist turns into massive amounts intermodulation distortion on a recording of many individual sources. And orchestral music has clear separation between the instruments, the ambience of the hall, and ‘space’. The IMD shows up very badly by clogging up this ‘space’ very clearly, which wouldn’t be so obvious on other genres of music.

    I’m not saying I only play classical music as a test for my system. I love it, in fact! But that’s why I can’t get excited about anything but large, capable systems. No two way bookshelves for me, I’m afraid.

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