I’m struggling with this and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s dependant on the album I’m listening to. Not whether I like the music or not, I really don’t think it’s a taste thing. It’s about the presentation. I can be listening to an album and the sound is incredible; full of detail, presence and emotion. It’s impossible to switch off. And then another album I’m sure I like can leave me feeling underwhelmed, cold, or even irritated by the harshness. Generally if an album sounds good it always sounds good, though not always. That said I think some albums need a bit more volume to come alive and sometimes I’m in the mood for that and sometimes I’m not. I’m coming to the conclusion that the quality of the recording is a big factor in terms of my listening enjoyment, whether that be the actual production or the reproduction.

Having spent the last few decades listening to car stereo/iphone/laptop etc this isn’t something I’m used to. Given that some music sounds amazing I don’t feel it’s the system at fault, or is it? Would warmer speakers help or would I simply be smoothing out the highs and lows? I don’t think I want to give up the highs! Would higher end speakers perhaps better suited to the source and amp be better able to deal with things or simply compound the inconsistencies through being even more revealing and even less sympathetic to recordings not to my taste.

Or am I barking up completely the wrong tree re. recordings and the problem lies elsewhere?

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Google the loudness war.


…quality of recording is a factor. I believe you could look at upgrading your ATC SMC11 speakers with that fine system you have.



For reference pretty much anything by Elbow sounds superb.

Always been a big fan of Noel Gallagher. Not on the Naim system though. Pretty much all of his albums I know I like the music, I just don’t like the sound. It very quickly fatigues. Would listen on my car stereo album after album.

Yes it’s a problem for some types of music recordings. It probably isn’t you or your hifi equipment.

A lot of mass market productions are just rubbish. Intended to impress on a Sonos mini-speaker in the kitchen, just audible over the washing machine and the cooker hood or on a low-end car audio system competing with a “sports” exhaust or on a pair of Apple in-ear thingies with passing traffic and chatting to a mate.

But many recordings are not like that. Pick what you listen to carefully, I suggest.




It may be a matter of what you are used to, and there may be frequencies/sounds being revealed that you didn’t hear or notice previously.
I have many tapes that I recorded from radio and tv either to R2R or to cassette. I have copied these from tape-to-tape in some cases. Over recent years I have found many of the original recordings of these, from the internet. The original recordings are, of course, far better than my tapes - but in some cases I prefer the older recordings. It’s how I knew them.

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I’d day speakers or positioning in the room. I have some poor recordings and some mono digital reissues with unusual highs, but none of them sound harsh or fatiguing. 252/scdr and 300 dr here.

Just had a quick look and on a 15 worst offenders list were four albums that have either disappointed me or not blown me away as I thought they would on my Naim system; Oasis, Green Day, Audioslave and Chilli Peppers. So there could well be something in this.

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Looking at your system there’s no reason for this system wise other than you’re hearing the different quality of recordings/mastering.

I did have a play with positioning and moving speakers closer to the wall certainly helped. In fact I thought I’d cracked it for a while but I think I was just lucky in my choice of music!

I should say most of what I listen to sounds very good indeed, it’s just some music that I expect to enjoy has the opposite effect.

That’s the answer I’m hoping for TBH. It makes the most logical sense to me anyway.

I’d be looking at a speaker upgrade, if you have a nice friendly dealer I’d drop in for a chat. You certainly have the right source and amp to run some top notch speakers. :+1:

Thanks although I was hoping to leave that for another year.

Well my wallet was anyway!

David, I like to agree with you but here I fundamentally disagree. You must play what you like. A good system lets you see through poor recordings to the music beneath. If you only listen to what sounds good from a hifi perspective, your musical life will be severely undernourished. If the music comes first, which of course it should, the recording quality matters a lot less. Of course it’s great when both worlds collide but that often isn’t the case. Interestingly the better the system the more it’s forgiving of poor recordings, which is perhaps counter intuitive.


Hi Stu, I think when listening at home a good recording will often make or break a good performance.

However in your case your electronics definitely justify better speakers.



ATC are not on the warm side. They don’t forgive bad recordings.
Perhaps should you try some Sonus Faber, Harbeth or even Proac.


When I had a speaker demo for 2k - 4K speakers, the ones which made everything sound good were the ProAc DT8’s. Bad recording, poor master, no problem, it sounded fun. I chose PMC’s in the end, but could easily live with the 8’s.

Inconsistency is a product of streaming.

For years I used a good quality turntable and a CDS2. Sound quality never entered my head, 99% of discs I played on the CDS2 sounded superb.

Steaming is a different matter. Most music sounds very good, some sounds superb, some sounds awful (including ripped albums that sounded superb on the CDS2).

I have to say I am the complete opposite. For me, if the recording is poor and sounds crap, I can’t listen to it.
It’s the amazing masters that give a far better insight into the music that captivates me and keeps me engaged.
I never used to listen to classical or jazz but using Roon and Qobuz I have found amazingly mastered albums that genuinely makes me feel there in the room with the performance and it’s often life-like nature of instruments that has changed my musical tastes over time.


I am surprised by some of the discussion. Some people starting to move speakers although the OP wrote that it works well with some recordings, so apparently the speakers are capable of this. It’s as if it was something new that poor recordings exist.

Maybe it depends on which kind of music you are used to listen to. I suppose some genres have predominantly good recordings. But someone growing up like me with punk rock and 80ies/90ies indie has long ago accepted that some music is simply recorded poorly because there was not more money and/or not more knowledge, and sometimes also deliberate artistic choices. The OP mentions Chili Peppers and it’s simply that most of the recording work is crap and it does sound thin and fatiguing. As is so much other music from the time; we’ll never hear early Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Dinosaur Jr, Hüsker Dü, Black Flag, or early Sonic Youth recorded in all their glory, it’s all recorded rather poorly and no amount of speaker moving will change that. It’s best, IMHO, to treat it as part of the art, warts and all.

If a recording sounds sometimes fine and not at other times, I agree with the OP that it might need a certain volume. There is also the small matter of mood and ourselves in general not always being the same. If most of the time the good recordings sound just fine, nothing seems to be wrong with the system (but yeah there are always improvements, but new speakers won’t make the poor Chili Peppers recordings work better)

And while I regret that some cherished artists sound poor on recordings, and although I very much appreciate good SQ, of course the music has to come first. Listening to good recordings and masterings of boring music just to be impressed by the quality sound of the invested money seems just wrong