I constantly remind myself that I am first-and-foremost a music lover and then only an audiophile. I love listening to music from young and music is in my blood by now. I'd listen to music (encompass songs) for their musical content and most of times from the very first track till the last on CDs/LPs rather than selectively or to how well they sound (it's ideal to have both). I could listen to a newly acquired CD several times over in a single day and would have done the same with LPs if not for the fear that it will prematurely wear them out. A LP must be rested for at least 6 hours before its next subsequent play. I also enjoy mainstream pop music rendered by Neil Diamond, Celine Dion, Michael Buble, Il Divo and a couple of others, hence my main system must not be too revealing to the extent of being unforgiving and unable to playback music by these artistes. Most of the mainstream pop CDs, especially those pressed in Malaysia, are overly equalized, bright sounding or become unbearably noisy during passages where multiple voices or instruments overlap with one another. I tame the brightness of my CD playback with a pair of vdH First full carbon interconnects but they also cut out substantially the micro details and immediacies (sonic traits sought after by audiophiles) at the same time. It's a dilemma to me and I had mentioned this often enough. The PRaT capability of my main system is beyond reproach though.
As I look as things, we do require a fairly decent system for music enjoyment. Not necessarily be too highly priced but it ought to be carefully matched and synergized with well designed equipments where any listener (requires no "golden ear") could tell the difference between mediocre and excellent sound quality. The better the quality of music reproduction simply means the better connected we are to the music.
I had recently picked up a A2HD2 (new mastering technique by Rain Forest Studio, China; its details here: http://rfs.21hifi.com/htm/review/040625/412.htm) CD entitled Lily - Voice (好声音 - 陈洁丽), a compilation album from her previous 5 studio albums. Played through my highly-revealing and transparent 10W T-amp and Pioneer pure-malts system, the CD sounds spacious, with lots of micro details but way too bright for comfort. In my main system, it sounds much better and reasonably detailed enough. I find the mastering of this CD excellent but the music (the way she renders the songs) sluggish and utterly boring.
I'd hunt for CDs/LPs that I love to listen; an example being Chen Ming-Shao (陈明韶)'s 浮云游子 album, her second and released way back in 1980 when I was in Form 3. I literally grew up listening to this album on a 8 tracks cartridge (transferred from a LP) and knew every single song very well. I bought her compilation CD with songs from both her albums in year 2000 when it was released but had somehow felt its sonics merely acceptable and hoped to own the original LP instead. The continuous search and long wait finally paid off as I have just picked up an unplayed NOS copy of this LP with 12 songs. Their titles are: <浮云游子>, <老人与海>, <龙龙的笑>, <我思我盼>, <桂香飘来的路上>, <轻问>, <偶遇的女孩>, <小木船.>, < 你爱听的一首歌>, <秋旅>, <惜> and <落潮>.
For Chinese pop songs, I personally prefer those sang by Taiwanese artistes (each is distinctly different and unique) over those who hail from Mainland China which I thought are mere copy-cats with a monotonous and uninspired style of singing although many do possess great voice. For singers/performers from Mainland China, I am of opinion that we should listen to what they truly excel in – the traditional songs backed by traditional instruments such as erhu, guzheng, pipa and others. A great album to own, jointly mastered by Doug Sax and available in made-in-Germany LP and XRCD2, is Ling Ge (伶歌) a.k.a. The Song of Songs. The album sounds rich, spacious and with a well defined soundstage. For those who read the Chinese language, a brief introduction on this album in Chinese language (traditional) is appended below:
"「伶」是中國古代對於歌者的稱呼，「伶歌」則是歌與樂的結合。瑞鳴音樂 2008 年的大製作「伶歌」邀集「非物資文化遺產」京劇傳承人關棟天、京劇老生泰斗于魁智兩位當今京劇界聲名最隆的「南關北于」首次攜手獻聲，更有名淨孟廣祿一聲裂石驚霄漢、程派著名青衣劉桂娟繞指柔克百煉鋼，及京韻大鼓名家馮欣蕊和被譽為「百年難遇」的京劇小神童陶陽傾情獻唱。「伶歌」所動員的器樂演奏陣容更是驚人，張強的紫]拂動歷史、戴亞的笛簫洞穿時空、趙家珍攜千年古琴雅意絕倫、常靜將一副箏撥出了萬古情愁，愛樂與國交兩大頂級交響樂團更是使出渾身解數，動情演出。
Addendum on 11.06.2009:My blog is nothing more than a personal electronic journal to me; it jots down how I feel and view certain music and equipments to play them. I do read my own postings from time to time and would add-on or correct the grammar mistakes spotted without altering their main thrusts.
Lately, I was privileged to have been invited to listen to a few systems more exotic and cost a few fold my own system. I could only drool. I was even lent a pair of interconnects to try out in my system and had initially found them exhibiting greater clarity, tonal balance and presence than my yet-to-fully-run-in vdH Thunderline but after prolonged listening, I began to notice that they are a little too forward-sounding and attention-grabbing. There was also some mild lift in upper midrange and they lacked the fullness in lower midrange and the more relaxing characteristic of my vdH Thunderline. The irony is, I actually owned a pair of the same interconnects somewhere in my storeroom. Hah!
In concluding, the moral of this posting is... ENJOY THE MUSIC!