Do you have a "Dream Sound" in mind?

Mike Lavigne

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Peter referred me to this thread, his thought was apparently reading that i've said i'm at (or very nearly at) an end-game point in system building, and my recent posts about my pleasure at what i am hearing, did it then follow i've found my 'dream sound'? and did i ever have my own 'dream sound'?

living in the real world, even as passionate audiophiles with rose colored glasses on, we all realize that hifi systems are not fully doing live music in our rooms. that said, my version of the guiding 'ideal' in my mind for where i was going is simply the ultimate removal of the room and signal path from restricting the music. i can't exactly say that i had a particular concrete sound fully formed in my mind that would tell me where that point would be like "Sakuma-san" as described above. but i'd say that my best tapes on my big Studers playing in my fully tweaked out system (in recent years since completion of my room tweaking) do meet that "dream sound" standard. i even dived deep into amplifier choices to be confident which path equated to optimal musical truth. so how close can i get my vinyl and digital to take me there?

and right now my turntables are bumping up against that standard. and the Saskia/Tosca/Etsuro Gold/LFD cable combo maybe is there with my better pressings. likely the CS Port LFT1/Etsuro Gold/LFD cable too. a little differently. i have another Tosca incoming for my NVS, and can share the LFD cable with the Saskia. we will see how that goes.

i do think these LFD cables did surprise me with the musical attributes they uncovered in the quest for unrestricted musical flow. game changers i think. jazdoc called what he heard 'tape-like'.....i'd agree.

recently the digital has received a boost with the TAS Alpha version of the music management software. for digital that might be approaching that 'dream' point. not really sure we can view that as a dream sound. but for many with digital only, it certainly could/should qualify for that.

again; i equate 'dream sound' to a sense of feeling that the reproduction process is not holding back the music.

i'm not sure that my views are in line with this thread as to how i view a 'dream sound'. but for myself this was my dream of system building and music listening all along......for the last 20 years very consciously. and that is where i see myself having arrived. and note i do not include any reference to better or best. this is a singular thing only for me. YMMV.
 
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PeterA

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i equate 'dream sound' to a sense of feeling that the reproduction process is not holding back the music.

i'm not sure that my views are in line with this thread as to how i view a 'dream sound'. but for myself this was my dream of system building and music listening all along......for the last 20 years very consciously. and that is where i see myself having arrived. and note i do not include any reference to better or best. this is a singular thing only for me. YMMV.

Mike, I like that. Thank you. I think that is an excellent way to look at it. Simple and clear, and a worthy goal surely.
 

marmota

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Feb 3, 2016
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Peter referred me to this thread, his thought was apparently reading that i've said i'm at (or very nearly at) an end-game point in system building, and my recent posts about my pleasure at what i am hearing, did it then follow i've found my 'dream sound'? and did i ever have my own 'dream sound'?

living in the real world, even as passionate audiophiles with rose colored glasses on, we all realize that hifi systems are not fully doing live music in our rooms. that said, my version of the guiding 'ideal' in my mind for where i was going is simply the ultimate removal of the room and signal path from restricting the music. i can't exactly say that i had a particular concrete sound fully formed in my mind that would tell me where that point would be like "Sakuma-san" as described above. but i'd say that my best tapes on my big Studers playing in my fully tweaked out system (in recent years since completion of my room tweaking) do meet that "dream sound" standard. i even dived deep into amplifier choices to be confident which path equated to optimal musical truth. so how close can i get my vinyl and digital to take me there?

and right now my turntables are bumping up against that standard. and the Saskia/Tosca/Etsuro Gold/LFD cable combo maybe is there with my better pressings. likely the CS Port LFT1/Etsuro Gold/LFD cable too. a little differently. i have another Tosca incoming for my NVS, and can share the LFD cable with the Saskia. we will see how that goes.

i do think these LFD cables did surprise me with the musical attributes they uncovered in the quest for unrestricted musical flow. game changers i think. jazdoc called what he heard 'tape-like'.....i'd agree.

recently the digital has received a boost with the TAS Alpha version of the music management software. for digital that might be approaching that 'dream' point. not really sure we can view that as a dream sound. but for many with digital only, it certainly could/should qualify for that.

again; i equate 'dream sound' to a sense of feeling that the reproduction process is not holding back the music.

i'm not sure that my views are in line with this thread as to how i view a 'dream sound'. but for myself this was my dream of system building and music listening all along......for the last 20 years very consciously. and that is where i see myself having arrived. and note i do not include any reference to better or best. this is a singular thing only for me. YMMV.

I'm glad you joined the discussion, is nice to have you here!

You certainly own some dream tier material, the CS Port turntable is something else entirely and deeply aligns with my tastes conceptually, even if I have not heard one. I really love it's looks. In my wildest audio dreams, I bring a couple of urushi lacquered suitcases full of cash to CS Port and ask for the LFT1 with custom platinum wiring and even the headhsell pins and IEC outlet plugs milled out of solid platinum. Ditto for Etsuro (imagine the Gold with solid platinum pins and platinum coil!) ;)

Even if the dream sound thing is more inclined, as you said correctly, to similar approaches to Sakuma San or Be Yamamura (to name a few), I agree when you say "i equate 'dream sound' to a sense of feeling that the reproduction process is not holding back the music." A system that doesn't give the sensation of holding anything back is worth dreaming about :)
 
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Mike Lavigne

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I'm glad you joined the discussion, is nice to have you here!

You certainly own some dream tier material, the CS Port turntable is something else entirely and deeply aligns with my tastes conceptually, even if I have not heard one. I really love it's looks. In my wildest audio dreams, I bring a couple of urushi lacquered suitcases full of cash to CS Port and ask for the LFT1 with custom platinum wiring and even the headhsell pins and IEC outlet plugs milled out of solid platinum. Ditto for Etsuro (imagine the Gold with solid platinum pins and platinum coil!) ;)

Even if the dream sound thing is more inclined, as you said correctly, to similar approaches to Sakuma San or Be Yamamura (to name a few), I agree when you say "i equate 'dream sound' to a sense of feeling that the reproduction process is not holding back the music." A system that doesn't give the sensation of holding anything back is worth dreaming about :)
thank you.

btw; the designer/builder of my LFD cables, Dr. Richard Bews, is/was a disciple of Be Yamamura. and Dr. Bews and Mik (member CY108) are all in on the whole platinum this, and platinum that. Mik's system has amplifiers and speakers with many pounds of platinum wire. some of the LFD cables have platinum wire in them. the platinum and the Be Yamamura connection is not accidental.

so the 'dream sound' idea and the gear that results from it have some common roots.
 
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marmota

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thank you.

btw; the designer/builder of my LFD cables, Dr. Richard Bews, is/was a disciple of Be Yamamura. and Dr. Bews and Mik (member CY108) are all in on the whole platinum this, and platinum that. Mik's system has amplifiers and speakers with many pounds of platinum wire. some of the LFD cables have platinum wire in them. the platinum and the Be Yamamura connection is not accidental.

so the 'dream sound' idea and the gear that results from it have some common roots.

I'm aware of it, Mik's system must be something else entirely, super interesting choices.

And is incredibly interesting that some gear that has this "dream sound" roots, like Dr Bews' LFD cables, in your words, end up rendering more nuances and unrestricted musical flow. If you think from the perspective that every piece of gear sounds colored, no matter how much people insist on "neutral" and "live like", what Yamamura, Dr Bews or Sakuma do is pure common sense. If it has to be colored, at least is going to be colored in a subtle, nice way + allowing as much as possible information to be heard. Of course, such superlative results are the works of superior minds putting they knowledge in practice, which is far from trivial.

It also shows how much damage the oversimplified expressions ("neutral", "colored") have done to audio. How many designers know and embrace this fine art but promote their gear as "neutral" to not lose sales? :)

It is something that we, as customers/readers, also know. There are many audio companies whose designers have a strong vision of an ideal sound (Shindo, Kondo, etc, etc), yet it is never discussed by forum users. The most similar thing you may see is a comment saying "it sounds musical", but it never trascends this oversimplification. It seems like something only reserved to esoteric audio designers. I think that this thread needed to be published, we never stop seeing people talking about experience and comparing gear side by side, but never see someone talking about their expectations and vision, which, in my opinion, are very important to end up having that system that makes one smile from ear to ear.
 
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microstrip

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As long as we enjoy the hobby we must have a dream sound in mind. Stereo is an illusion, not a physical phenomena, our dream is surely part of it.

IMHO our dream sound is fed mostly by our stereo experiences, not just by the experience of the real thing. Once we find that a system is able to do something better than we considered before our dream becomes more exigent. It is an evolutionary system as long as we want it to evolute - but it needs our participation.
 

PeterA

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I'm aware of it, Mik's system must be something else entirely, super interesting choices.

And is incredibly interesting that some gear that has this "dream sound" roots, like Dr Bews' LFD cables, in your words, end up rendering more nuances and unrestricted musical flow. If you think from the perspective that every piece of gear sounds colored, no matter how much people insist on "neutral" and "live like", what Yamamura, Dr Bews or Sakuma do is pure common sense. If it has to be colored, at least is going to be colored in a subtle, nice way + allowing as much as possible information to be heard. Of course, such superlative results are the works of superior minds putting they knowledge in practice, which is far from trivial.

It also shows much damage the oversimplified expressions ("neutral", "colored") have done to audio. How many designers know and embrace this fine art but promote their gear as "neutral" to not lose sales? :)

It is something that we, as customers/readers, also know. There are many audio companies who's designers have a strong vision of an ideal sound (Shindo, Kondo, etc, etc), yet it is never discussed by forum users. The most similar thing you may see is a comment saying "it sounds musical", but it never trascends this oversimplification. It seems like something only reserved to esoteric audio designers. I think that this thread needed to be published, we never stop seeing people talking about experience and comparing gear side by side, but never see someone talking about their expectations and vision, which, in my opinion, are very important to end up having that system that makes one smile from ear to ear.

Marmota, what do you mean by "Mik's system"? He has told me that his favorite turntable is the Rockport. I must presume all of his other turntables sound different in their own ways. And then there are so many tonearm/cartridge/cable combinations not to mention electronics and speaker options. Assuming he favors one specific combination, it would be interesting to hear him describe his "dream" sound.

On the other hand, the dream sound (if he would even refer to it as such) of a dealer like ddk seems pretty clear. He collects too, but seems very focused and to know his dream sound. Just read Steve Williams thread about ddk's system from his visit to Utah.

So does MikeL as so well described above and in his many thread posts about new gear and accessories.

Bonzo75 is traveling, comparing, and learning about his dream sound, and we have hints about what that might be from some of his wonderful videos.

I think it is very difficult to imagine what dream/ideal sound someone is imagining unless he attempts to describe it to others. Even if we know his list of components or, better still, hear his system, we can not know how he hears it or if it represents his dream sound unless he tells us it does.

I think the value of this thread is that it poses a very simple and powerful question. If taken seriously, it encourages the reader to reflect inward and asks for an idea, a goal, an approach. You use the term "dream" which I think is very apt. It asks perhaps the single most important question in the hobby, and certainly the question one must answer in order to make any real progress toward personal satisfaction and enjoyment. It is not so easy to answer and it likely requires experience and exposure to alternatives. I am not convinced that many audiophiles have asked themselves this question, and perhaps even fewer know the answer for themselves.

For years I never asked myself this question and did not even know that there was such a question to be asked. Perhaps that is why it took me so long to make real progress. I am only now beginning to understand my own answer and it is a powerful thing.
 
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microstrip

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(...) It is something that we, as customers/readers, also know. There are many audio companies who's designers have a strong vision of an ideal sound (Shindo, Kondo, etc, etc), yet it is never discussed by forum users. The most similar thing you may see is a comment saying "it sounds musical", but it never trascends this oversimplification. It seems like something only reserved to esoteric audio designers. I think that this thread needed to be published, we never stop seeing people talking about experience and comparing gear side by side, but never see someone talking about their expectations and vision, which, in my opinion, are very important to end up having that system that makes one smile from ear to ear.

You expect too much from forum users ... ;) Anyway, if you look around the net you will find interviews with designers and owners that transcend what can be written in a forum post. Sometimes it is even the most interesting part of a review - the box containing a few questions and answers the with designers or representatives of the brand.

The question is that we have a conflicting hobby - we want the comfort of relying on designers with strong visions of an ideal sound and simultaneously want to have the ability to enjoy tuning the system to our preferences.
 

spiritofmusic

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Not so much my dream sound, but a sound I've aspired to, has been achieved in a lot of ways in the last couple of months. I'm getting dramatically more fidelity on classical and jazz albums that were a bit hazy before. However this is at some expense to the overall enjoyability of my more "lo fi" genre faves, many of which are showing themselves to be, ahem, "challenging" re sonics.
LP masterings, and pressings, are for the first time critical. Indeed in many ways, my CDP seems a little more consistent across the board, if somewhat less dramatically brilliant on the very best stuff that my analog still shines the most on.
This is quite intriguing, I kinda have a new 700 strong LP collection as a result in my classical/jazz section, and some real head scratchers in the prog and fusion section that were always invariably engrossing.
Can you have a dream sound with caveats? Lol
 

marmota

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Marmota, what do you mean by "Mik's system"? He has told me that his favorite turntable is the Rockport. I must presume all of his other turntables sound different in their own ways. And then there are so many tonearm/cartridge/cable combinations not to mention electronics and speaker options. Assuming he favors one specific combination, it would be interesting to hear him describe his "dream" sound.

On the other hand, the dream sound (if he would even refer to it as such) of a dealer like ddk seems pretty clear. He collects too, but seems very focused and to know his dream sound. Just read Steve Williams thread about ddk's system from his visit to Utah.

So does MikeL as so well described above and in his many thread posts about new gear and accessories.

Bonzo75 is traveling, comparing, and learning about his dream sound, and we have hints about what that might be from some of his wonderful videos.

I think it is very difficult to imagine what dream/ideal sound someone is imagining unless he attempts to describe it to others. Even if we know his list of components or, better still, hear his system, we can not know how he hears it or if it represents his dream sound unless he tells us it does.

I think the value of this thread is that it poses a very simple and powerful question. If taken seriously, it encourages the reader to reflect inward and asks for an idea, a goal, an approach. You use the term "dream" which I think is very apt. It asks perhaps the single most important question in the hobby, and certainly the question one must answer in order to make any real progress toward personal satisfaction and enjoyment. It is not so easy to answer and it likely requires experience and exposure to alternatives. I am not convinced that many audiophiles have asked themselves this question, and perhaps even fewer know the answer for themselves.

For years I never asked myself this question and did not even know that there was such a question to be asked. Perhaps that is why it took me so long to make real progress. I am only now beginning to understand my own answer and it is a powerful thing.

Mik's system=his entire audio sytem, AFAIK, he's called Mik, I don't have the pleasure of knowing him personally, but took the liberty to write his name because it was faster/more comfortable to me than writing the user name. I know that his system is composed by an extraordinary amount of turntables, amps, etc, so instead of writing +3000 words about specific components, I just wrote "Mik's system". Sorry if this caused confusion. And yes, it would be awesome if he participates here!

Thanks for seeing the value in this thread, I think it is a simple, but powerful question that may never be answered completely, but surely it has to be asked. Only good things happen to people that take time to understand themselves!

You expect too much from forum users ... ;)

Oh, not for WBF! Here the grass is greener, kids healthy and smart with A+ grades, women beautiful and enlightened and men handsome and intelligent! :cool:

Anyway, if you look around the net you will find interviews with designers and owners that transcend what can be written in a forum post. Sometimes it is even the most interesting part of a review - the box containing a few questions and answers the with designers or representatives of the brand.

The question is that we have a conflicting hobby - we want the comfort of relying on designers with strong visions of an ideal sound and simultaneously want to have the ability to enjoy tuning the system to our preferences.

Interviews are always a very interesting subject, some of them manage to give a very good idea about the vision and journey of the individual behind the products. I always read them with more interest than the reviews.

What you say is so true...we want comfort knowing that we are in "good sounding hands", yet we want to tweak and optimize our systems to our taste! I think that asking the question "is this my dream sound?", is tough at first, but can be very rewarding in the long run.
 
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Mike Lavigne

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some info and pictures about Mik's system. i know he owns multiple systems and speakers, as well as multiple amps, but he does have a main system too with a long term reference pair of heavily modified speakers and heavily modified amps (multiple modified amp choices).

 
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sbnx

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Nice topic. I can echo some of the previous comments. We all know what live music sounds like. But getting a stereo to sound like that is a challenge. I think mostly due to the fact that the live music venue changes. An Orchestra playing in a large concert hall has a sound. A small jazz ensemble in an intimate venue has a sound. A blues band playing at Buddy Guy's has a sound. A female singer at a piano bar has a sound. And throw on top of that the engineered sound in a studio. I want my stereo to sound like each of these venues when I play that type of music. So the system has to be a chameleon.

So I want my sound to be dynamic, present, tonally rich and enveloping. But most important is emotionally engaging. If I start thinking about the sound instead of just engaging with the music then something is not right.
 

108CY

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I have been using platinum internally and externally in my system for many many years and recently took the task of modyfying two sets of CS port amplifiers where the input and out put wiring has been changed using platinum. The conductor geometry is hugely different to silver and copper and so is the dialectric used the amount of trial and error of conductors is just insane with alot of expense and wastage to tune things to the max. To me this while totally insane commercially takes things onto a whole new level. One cant just make a loom that is universal it means making wiring for its specific application which to incredibly hard time consuming and just bonkers. I get alot of pain and heartache doing it in many ways physically and financially but is worth the effort.
 

microstrip

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(...) So I want my sound to be dynamic, present, tonally rich and enveloping. But most important is emotionally engaging. If I start thinking about the sound instead of just engaging with the music then something is not right.

If there is a point where audiophiles agree is that they want to feel emotion on their sound reproduction. However feeling emotion in music is not an an unifying subject - the reasons of our emotion can be very diverse and can explain a lot of differences in our preferences.

According to researchers the subjective experience of music across cultures can be mapped within at least 13 overarching feelings: amusement, joy, eroticism, beauty, relaxation, sadness, dreaminess, triumph, anxiety, scariness, annoyance, defiance, and feeling pumped up. (quoting from https://news.berkeley.edu/2020/01/06/music-evokes-13-emotions/ ).

Not everyone reacts the same way to these basic emotions - and I have the feeling that our systems reflect it.
 
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marmota

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I have been using platinum internally and externally in my system for many many years and recently took the task of modyfying two sets of CS port amplifiers where the input and out put wiring has been changed using platinum. The conductor geometry is hugely different to silver and copper and so is the dialectric used the amount of trial and error of conductors is just insane with alot of expense and wastage to tune things to the max. To me this while totally insane commercially takes things onto a whole new level. One cant just make a loom that is universal it means making wiring for its specific application which to incredibly hard time consuming and just bonkers. I get alot of pain and heartache doing it in many ways physically and financially but is worth the effort.

Thanks for posting, nice to have you here!
Wow, is inspiring to read what you did, and how you are travelling across uncharted sonic territory not only modifying your gear with pure platinum wiring, but experimenting and searching for the most appropiate parameters and combinations to obtain the best results.
I would like to ask you, if possible: how did you find the inspiration/idea to rewire your audio components with platinum? And what kind of sound does it have that makes it special for you, compared to more obtainable alternatives such as silver, or even palladium?
 
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108CY

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I do like other materials and use then in other areas with silver you have to use very large diamitors up to 4mm and could be as many as 86 conductors all individual in thickness its a huge amount of messing about. I overall like the balance of platinum due to its ability to produce a ultra low grain performance that actually silver can do but with a sense of naturalness and scale together with speed that just comes out and touches you. I do some times do mixtures of materials too depending on what I am trying to achieve.I also use pure gold which tends to work well with silver it can work with platinum but with smaller conductors.
 
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marmota

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I do like other materials and use then in other areas with silver you have to use very large diamitors up to 4mm and could be as many as 86 conductors all individual in thickness its a huge amount of messing about. I overall like the balance of platinum due to its ability to produce a ultra low grain performance that actually silver can do but with a sense of naturalness and scale together with speed that just comes out and touches you. I do some times do mixtures of materials too depending on what I am trying to achieve.I also use pure gold which tends to work well with silver it can work with platinum but with smaller conductors.

Amazing!
86 conductors, all different from each other, now that's dedication! Even more than the number of conductors or type of materials, the amount of time and effort you put to find the "best combination", playing with conductors thickness, material, dielectric, insulation, geometry and listening to each one to find the configuration that makes the sound that you want is really incredible, I bet the cables sound absolutely jaw dropping.

It's a shame that platinum is so expensive (last time I checked, 50cm of 0.5mm annealed platinum wire costed 1350€ on Sigma-Aldrich), I would love to build a platinum cable one day (platinum connectors included) just to listen to it and learn about the sound of that metal and how to use it in the context of building a system. What you describe (low grain, but with speed, scale and naturalness) is a combination of, usually, mutually exclusive attributes, it must be magical to hear them all at once.
 
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PeterA

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What you describe (low grain, but with speed, scale and naturalness) is a combination of, usually, mutually exclusive attributes, it must be magical to hear them all at once.

I think one cannot have a natural sound without also having the attributes of low grain speed and scale. If a system sounds natural, I presume that it must also have all of those other attributes at the same time.

I do think it’s possible to have the other attributes in isolation in a system that does not sound natural.
 

marmota

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I think one cannot have a natural sound without also having the attributes of low grain speed and scale. If a system sounds natural, I presume that it must also have all of those other attributes at the same time.

I do think it’s possible to have the other attributes in isolation in a system that does not sound natural.

I said that, usually, they are mutually exclusive, not always. Having all those attributes maxed out at the same time must be a jaw dropping experience. Sure it helps with naturalness, who wouldn't want such a mix at it's highest level? :)
 

tima

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There's something that I would like to make clear, because it is of paramount importance for this thread.
You wrote: "Perhaps it is an inadequacy that I cannot imagine what a piece of gear will sound like before I hear it, say after reading a description of it."

That's not the point of this thread, it is not about looking at a piece of gear and trying to predict it's sound.
It's about having a very clear idea of one's self ideal/dream sound, and listening to gear not trying to predict the outcome, but comparing what you are hearing vs your imaginary ideal.

PS: correction apart, you make a very, very interesting point and I think it is deeply connected to this subject. You mention having melodies and phrases of music you enjoy occupying part of your imagination, sometimes recognizing it and sometimes not remembering it, thinking 'what is that piece in my head'?
This, specifically the last part, happens to me too, and with an added twist. 5-6 years ago, I had no idea about english, but of course, listened to lots of music made in english. There are songs that I spontaneusly remember hearing because of the melody, but I don't remember and don't know the lyrics (I only knew how to say "hello, how are you?" at that time, and that's it). Sometimes, one of those songs pops up in mind and I'm left with the question: what was the name of that song? Sometimes I find it, sometimes I don't.
I think this and imagining a dream sound are interconnected, thanks for bringing it to this thread!

I've thought further on this topic and our dialog earlier.

Earlier I noted that I was not able to imagine the sound of a piece of equipment from reading a description of its sound. You responded that 'the point of this thread' is not about predicting the sound of an equipment from looking at it.

My comment about my imagination was not about predicting, but more of an observation on the relationship between words and imagining sound and what it means to imagine a sound, ideal or otherwise.

Reading a description of a piece of equipment's sound can tell me about it in audiophile terms (common or otherwise) such as how for a given piece of music, it delivers the leading edge of transients, whether the frequency balance is realistic, how well the listener can discriminate the harmonic character of different instruments, etc. In my case, reading such words helps me with an analytic perspective on the equipment, however it does not cause me to imagine the sound described.

Imagining is to form a mental image of something not present. Granted we and our vocabulary are strongly visual in orientation. In the case of sound however, visual images are not its medium. I don't know if we can talk in terms of 'sonic images' or sound images, but if we did, what would those be? Would they be sounds in our head, in our faculty of imagination as it were? What is it to imagine sound? What is it to imagine an ideal sound? Can I have a sonic image of an ideal sound (something that may not exist) in my imagination? Or must I fall back on describing such in words?

Which comes back around to my observation of my imagination that I made in my original post, noting that from a description, I am not caused to have a 'sound image' in my imagination. Even if a 'sound image' is a faint replicant of actual sound, words or descriptions do not cause me to have such.

I can however have melodies and themes play in my head but it is very difficult, extremely difficult, to have those with particular sonic characteristics. "Okay, for Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody, make it with better transparency, let me hear the resonance of the piano strings off the piano's lid." Can you do that in your imagination? I can't. I can say the words "increased clarity, natural resonance" and have some idea what they mean but I cannot inject' them into a an imagined sound image. I can react to listening to an amplifier and wish it had greater transparency, but I cannot imagine what it would sound like if it did.

Some may say: "I'll know it when I hear it." But can we have an ideal sound that we can call upon to gauge if what you're hearing matches it? Is one's ideal sound limited to a set of descriptions? What does it mean to say, per the thread title: "I have a dream sound in mind?"


... have you ever wanted to be a Steinway? :-o
 
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