In my opinion, a simple recipe for good sound is a three way speaker with a great mid-range driver, an amplifier capable of driving the aforementioned speaker with ease, and a good source that will extract all the information written on the medium. That is just about it. If you want to spice it up a bit, a solid rack and some well-made cables will do, then you only add music.
The system I am about to describe was not the most expensive of the show, probably not even among the top ten in terms of MSRP. It was not particularly fancy either. Sober is the right word. It consisted of the PMC IB2 SE three way speakers paired with Bryston’s top of the line BP26 pre-amplifier powered by the MPS-2 external psu while the power came from the 14BSST² stereo amplifier good for 600Watts/8Ohms. This should get the “driving with ease” part covered without doubt. Now we need a source, maybe a nice classic CD who does one thing but gets it right. Enter the Bonnec Audiosysteme CD 24. Cables by Abbey Road, a TAOC rack and that was just about it.
Then there was music. Maybe something more than plain “music”. There was deep bass, silky mids and top extension without fatigue. I was pretty sure that this system would deliver, I went to the room’s responsible and asked for something big, he showed me a Reference Recordings CD with Liadov’s “Baba Yaga”, which resulted in a dramatic interpretation filled with emotion. It might have lacked some intimacy when compared to some ultra high end speakers but everything else was there; Dynamic, effortless sound with extension across the entire frequency range; a sense of pace that got you involved right from the first second.
This was a “gourmet” system at an almost affordable price.