Which system dovetails with which kind of music?

(You can skip this Tip if you are one of those “listeners with an eclectic taste in music”, if Johann Sebastian Bach is directly next to Joy Division and Joy Fleming in your CD-rack.)
When people set about configuring a hi-fi system, the one issue that amazingly they don’t address with any degree of frequency is their preferred style of music. That is astonishing, because if you buy a car for instance, you have a clear idea of what you intend to use it for. If you have four children and live on a farm, you would presumably not purchase a Triumph Spitfire as your main automobile.
If you have a definite musical preference and listen predominantly to classical music, jazz, electronic (synthesizer) or hardcore sounds, it makes sense to consider what particular characteristics your favorite music has. As far as classical music is concerned, relevant issues here include high-resolution/high-definition, auditory spaciousness and dynamic range. As far as jazz is concerned, dynamic range is also a key issue, but so is a certain “live sensation”. If you listen to electronic or hardcore sounds, you need “steady” electronics and loudspeakers, because both musical genres involve a great deal of bass.
So before you sally forth to buy a new hi-fi system, just spend a few days taking stock, listen to your favorite music and give some thought to what you like about the system you have right now – and about what you don’t like. And what about the naturalness of the sound – do the instruments sound authentic? What is voice reproduction like? Do you sense enough bass boost? Does the stereophonic platform convey a sense of being broad or narrow? How does your system cope with high- to low-volume jumps? Contrast your observations with the playback characteristics that are essential for the enjoyment of your favorite music. Then you have made useful progress and, by applying the following Tips, can now find the hi-fi components and loudspeakers that best accentuate your musical tastes.

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