How do you listen to your music – Show us your set-up!

As everyone knows, just as CDs supplanted vinyl and cassettes, MP3 and other digital-music formats are well on their way to replacing CDs as the most popular way to listen to music.

In our minds that usually means more convenience but worse sound – though that’s a whole other story which we’ve already covered extensively in our ‘Is studio recording killing music’ and ‘Does music sound better today than 30 years ago’ exclusive podcasts.

Streaming music using services like Last FM and Spotify are becoming increasingly popular and physical sales are continuing on their way down but a great many people  still want to have something tangible.

CD sales account for 80% of total album sales, and although still tiny numbers, vinyl LPs purchased in 2008 almost doubled to 1.88 million units up from 0.99 million in 2007.

Sony Walkman

So what we want to know is, how do YOU listen to your music? We know you love music and we know you care how it sounds but we don’t know how you listen.

I’m guessing it’s a combination of the above but let us know, and even better, email us at or send us links to pictures of your set-ups – or indeed your favourite Walkman.

As you can see from our artful photograph , we primarily use Sonos and our Zeppelin though we do have in-wall CCM817s too.  And should you wish to know, as I write we are listening to a 62 track Crosby Stills and Nash marathon.

Looking forward to hearing from you.


  • Justin M. Forbes says:

    Most of my music is listened to via Squeezebox into an external DAC at my desk these days, now I just need to replace the speakers with a pair of 805s. Not seen in the picture is a sub under the desk:

    My downstairs setup works for HT but much less music now that I have kids. It also gets most music via squeezebox:

    And the bedroom is Squeezebox into B&W LM-1 + AS1.

    I still purchase CDs whenever I cannot buy a flac download, but if I can purchase flac that is my first choice.

  • Tito says:

    I listen Music from CD´s, SACD, DVD-Audio, the MP3 ist´s a poor sound.

  • Bill Hunt says:

    Now, with a decent set up (a pair of B&W CM1s and a Fatman iTube Carbon II amp connected to a Sony Vaio), I’ve ditched all mp3s that were below 128kbps and re-ripped my CDs to a much higher quality … it was time consuming, but worth it. Very pleased with my new sound quality.

  • Johnny says:

    I have CM1’s connected to an Onkyo receiver. I still buy CD’s, but only to rip music using Apple’s Lossless encoder in iTunes to a hard drive, because the quality is much better than buying through Apple’s iTunes store.

    The only challenge is what to do for music on the move, as I then have to rerip music for the iPod at a lower compression rate otherwise I run out of space too quickly!

  • RK says:

    I purchase CDs and vinyl. I listen to CD or vinyl for the best sound. I rip the CDs in to both my Sooloos and on to computer for my Sonos. I always rip in a lossless format. The sound quality of the media servers never equals the CD or the vinyl.

  • Justin M. Forbes says:

    That’s the joy of ripping lossless, you can easily convert to another format without taking an additional quality hit. I have scripts to convert to mp3 for the car or iPod, and I think iTunes can automatically convert your Apple Lossless to compressed before putting it on the iPod. If you start out with a lossy file and decide you need more compression, you have already lost bits, then you lose even more as it uncompresses and recompresses.

  • Jukka says:

    I mainly wirelessly stream my music (mostly Apple lossless) from iTunes on my MacBook Pro to an Apple Airport Express optically connected to the DAC on my Harman-Kardon 3490 receiver.

  • Steve says:

    Traditional I’m afraid, Michel Micro Deck, PS Audio GCPH phono stage, Cyrus 8 amp and, of course, a pair of B&W 805s. I do have a Zeppelin in my office though, and i love it.

  • Daniel says:

    My Macbookpro is my video editing machine, using a set of B&W686 as monitor speakers and an iTube Valve as their amp. Although I use an iPod for on the road music, I dont use the Valve Dock (too much space) but Apple’s own white Dock.
    And yes: I still buy CD’s but I ripp them to iTunes in AAC =)


  • Ayo Akande says:

    I listen to music in a dedicated listening room/study. The sound on my modified squeeze box duet sounds better than my (sold) £2,150 cd player.
    Future investment would be spent on better Streamer/Amp/Speakers. The Streaming technology offers tremenduous value for money. Ten years ago – I had all EXPENSIVE linn system with ok sound.
    Amp – Passlabs X150
    Dac/Pre – Benchmark DAC HDR (previously using Dax Decade);
    SqueezeBox Duet – Audiocom modded + Paul Hynes Power supply; Flac files ripped to a western digital external drive – 2 Terabyte mirrored, 1,600 CD Collection producing 18,000 tracks.
    Yamaha CD S700 CD player(previously Micromega Aria);
    Technics TT + MF Phono stage/Power supply;
    Speakers – a pair of B&W PV1 + a pair of Usher BE718 (previously 805S)
    All cables by chord signature/anthem.
    Backup System B&W 605 + Yamaha AV + Phillips CD player;

  • Mike says:

    ITunes played through Zeppelin also IPod dock connected to my Denon. Played though XT’s and PV1 plus CCM65’s.
    CD’s & music DVD’s through Denon transport


  • krek says:

    I listen mp3’s from a panasonic HD recorder with a jukebox function. If I have the original cd, I listen the original cd using a tube cd player from Vincent. This is only 10% of the time.

    The HD recorder is connected with a pioneer vsx 2014i with a digital optical cable. thus I use the pioneer internal DAC.

    I tried very hard but I cannot hear any difference between mp3 320kbs ripped from the original, and the original cd using the tubeplayer.

    I also have an ipod with ipod doc, which is used when I have guests so I can create a playlist and don’t have to bother.

  • RonP says:

    I have over 40,000 digital songs and listen on my iPod and the Zeppelin. My songs are on a server and I stream to my sound systems using Apple Express’s. I still use my 801’s and 802F’s in the sound systems. Great sound.

  • Clive says:

    Large collection of classical and jazz LP’s. I can still find some LP’s in great shape at local Goodwill.

    I have some cassette’s that continue to sound fine on Nak player. New pair of CM5 helps a lot.

  • Volker says:

    iPod and an old Aura amplifier. that`s enought :-)

  • Barros says:

    I’ve read tons of articles about the most exotic CD players, amplifiers, etc. For me, the truth is that music (lossless flac) played from my notebook through a digital out cable sounds exactly the same as the CD through the acclaimed Marantz CD63 or whatever other CD source. I use a Rotel stereo amp for front speakers (and stereo music) and a Marantz 5400 for multichannel decoding and the other center and surround channels.

    I must confess that I sort of gave up SACD – never got convinced the sound was significantly better than a good stereo recording. Maybe my player isn’t good enough…

    The key pieces of any hi-fi, I strongly believe, are the loudspeakers. I use a pair of B&W 603 s3’s that I love – much better for classical music than what I had before. The center speaker is B&W as well as the subwoofer. The surrounds are old companions Rogers LS3/5a’s.

    In my opinion, CD is dead. The record industry should go for dowloadable digital music as Linn have done. Easier, cheaper, more durable. I lost a few CDs to some sort of rot… Never a music file.

    Now I have all my music collection in a NAS hard disk and I can play it in my music/cinema room or in my bedroom through the Squeezebox Boom (this is a great idea).

  • Cris Z says:

    I listen my music from CD’s played thru my Sony ES reciever and a pair of 685’s. I am not a fan of Ipod’s so I don’t use one, I use Sony Walkman for better sound quality and most people would disagree with this cause they love Apple products too much but the fact remains that Walkman produce best sound quality on any portable device. And using that combination with my B&W, the sound experience can really be felt.

  • Michael Kjellstrand says:

    Hi there fellow music lovers.
    Of course I will state my set up, but first the most important – Why do I listen to music? Simply because it’s an elixir to my well beeing. I listen to all kinds of music, from Beethoven to Dream Theatre. Well, maybe I’m bit bit prjudist against Swedish danse music. It’s simply boring.
    My set up is as follows:
    NAD 5, NAD 3 connected by Van den Huul MC Gold XLR driving a pair of 804 S’s via Purist Audio single wired. I use an old Denon tape recorder. There is a Thorens TD 318 mkIII with an Ortophon Roondo Red with a Clearaudio NanoPhono pre amp.
    My sound is just terific.

  • Jazzy says:

    I like music the traditional way, i.e. records and CDs but seriously considering to invest in a audiophile hard disk player. My current set-up is: Rega Turntable and phono pre-amp, Naim Audio CD5X with a Flatcap 2x power supply and Naim Audio Supernait amp, connected to B&W 805S speakers…I just love the sound..listen mostly to jazz

  • MWL says:

    All my music is stored as Flac files on a Tranquil Home Server, played via a Squeezebox and Cambridge DAC. The system is Naim XS and 805s. I do tend to buy most of my music on CD. From the web they are affordable and provide a ready made third tier backup if anything should go wrong with the hard drives.

  • Dewald Visser says:

    Hello from South Africa!

    Grear list:

    * B&W 603 Series 2 monitors
    * NAD 3020A amplifier
    * E.A.R. 834P Phonostage
    * Dynavector 17D3 Karat MC cartridge
    * Rega RB300 arm with Cardas Cable
    * Technics SP-10 mkII turntable motor
    * Marantz CD-65DX cd player
    * TEAC TX-300B tuner
    * Nordost Interconnects
    * Tektronix equipment rack

    I get an “eerie” holographic presentation from my current audio system. This is due to the stunning synergy between the B&W speakers and the amplifier.
    Bass is nice and tight with glistening treble. Midrange is, as always, very neutral and very musical. B&W does speakers good!

    Yes, the B&W speakers I have is nearly 10 years old but they stood the test of time and performs brilliantly. My next speaker upgrade will most certainly
    be B&W again. Maybe from the 700 series…

    Kind regards
    Mr D Visser

  • Gavin Lyons says:

    Using two Amps one for home cinema and other for music I have the best of both worlds. The Audiolab amp can be switched over to be a slave (AV mode). In this mode it fed with the front L+R channels of the Yamaha AV amp. The Yamaha amp does the surround and center speakers. B&W Center speaker too.

    When I want to listen to music then the Audiolab is switch back to ‘Intregrated Mode’. Back to a straight two speaker system with the Rega Planet connected to the Audiolab.

    – B&W 603 S2 Biwired
    – B&W 6 series Center speaker
    – KEF speakers on the ceiling for the surround.
    – Audiolab 8000S Amp
    – Rega Planet CD
    – Yamaha RX-V630RDS AV Amp
    – Toshiba DVD player
    – Epson Projector

  • Lyndon says:

    I like jazz and my setup is simple VTL IT-85, B&W 805s and Audio Research CD5

  • Scott Key says:

    iPod Touch, 320K sample rate. Zeppelin. It’s all about Convenience, control, organization and portability over the search for audiophile sound.
    (Probably not a popular opinion among such a serious crowd.)

    In the past, I’ve owned a pro-quality recording studio with Neumann mics, Ampex AG-440C and stuff like that. Sound is elusive and it boils down to content.

    In this modern world, iPod is just too convenient to have it any other way. Even my CDs languish once ripped.

  • John B says:

    OK, so I guess I am just the old guy for listening to music….I hate MP3, too much output signal, just no way of listening to it. Same for some of the new CD recordings, because they have to sound ‘good’ at popular equipment (which I can understand) you can only turn up the volume halfway to the level of what you are used to. I listen to CDs on Rotel 991 audiophile CD player, Rotel pre-amp, 2 Monarchy SE100 power amps, Van den Hull cables and B&W CDM9NT speakers. For home theater I have a ‘popular’ Yamaha system (CD, AMP and speakers) which does the job, I am no movie fanatic. Also have Philips 967 Direct Drive vinyl player, nothing special, but still sounds terrific with some of my old LPs. Music was my first love…John Miles

  • David Barbarulo says:

    I’m a professional Mastering Engineer, my main monitoring is 802N setup, actually powered by Pass Labs X 150 and supported by a pair of Velodyne subs. What i think is that gear industy is improoving sound reproduction quality as capturing, but what we see is a smaller attention to details by consumers and professionals. So probably we have more old recordings sounding better due to “care” in making process with less than a tenth of today available resources.


  • Fredvik says:

    Most of my music is purchased in cd then ripped with EAC to a Windows pc. Although I buy from Linn too. I use Foobar to select the music and send it to the toslink interface via Juli@’s ASIO driver. I dont like foobar but it gives me the control I need and i don’t look at it. The latest juli@ driver doesn’t mess with the sample rate.
    The data is converted by Cambridge’s DAC magic and then on to Cambridge’s amplifier (840) via XLR outputs and out to kef’s iq50 speakers and a B&W subwoofer.
    One nice little feature I like with cambridge dac is that it indicates the input sample rate, confirming the foobar/juli@ setup.
    I’m toying with the idea of upgrading the dac although I’m happy with the cambridge (v.good value). Perhaps Benchmark dac1 Pre or Stello DA220. I’m looking to tighten up the bass and polish up the high tones.
    Has anyone compared these dacs with the cambridge dac magic?

  • Jamie says:

    i have a MT-20 speaker set up powered by a Denon 1909 receiver, currently using a panasonic s-52 dvd player to play CD’s and watch DVD films on my sony W46-4500. I have been using a denon wireless iPod dock to play Music from my CD collection.

    we have recently moved and now have more space and all of my CD’s are now coming back into the music/tv room. i have rather missed them and enjoy the process of choosing a CD and then having the case in my hand

  • Dallas says:

    My music tastes are classical and jazz. I listen to CDs through a Musical Fidelity CD player and amplifier combined with the wonderful B&W 805s.

  • Patrik says:

    I use a Squeezebox (classic) to listen to music files. They are stored as flacs on a NAS.

    When portable I’m using an iAudio U3 (which can decode flacs).

  • TIM says:

    NOW…only listen to my ipod through the ZEPPLIN why listen to anything else its top sound gives me all I need.

    Thank you B&w

  • Mike Harnetty says:

    I have 2 802D’s double wired to a Rotel 1082 pre-amp and 2 Rotel RB 1070’s each run mono (1 per speaker). Music source is Sooloos system. 2 terabytes of Twin store, Source and that terribly cool little control monitor. All that has 2400 Cd’s loaded bit-for-bit and I have to say it all sounds pretty good.

  • Chris Wall says:

    I listen to most of my stuff from existing physical media (CDs and LPs). My main system consists of a pair of DM603 S3s, an LCR600, and a pair of NHT 1.3As in the back. Playback devices are an Oppo DV-980H and a 1981-vintage Philips AR-829 turntable (recently re-fitted with a Shure M97Xe cart).

    I probably listen to digital sources 95% of the time, and have been buying as many DVD-A disks (including dual disks) and SACDs as I can.

    It’s hard to back to even standard CDs after listening to a good recording.

    I have roughly 500 CDs (including DVD-As and SACDs) and another 400 vinyl LPs – but most of them are old and abused. Still, when you drop a Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs disk on the turntable…. there’s just something super sexy about the way it sounds.

  • Cyrile says:

    O.K. Maybe I’m a little on the old fashioned side (if you want to call CD’s old fashioned.) but they’re all I listen to. I have a pretty gret setup. I run 2 705’s off a NAD 2155 and 2 601 s3’s off a NAD 2240 with a NAD receiver and NAD CD player. THe 601’s are my “kitchen” speaker and the 705’s are for real listening. Pretty darned awesome kit! My mind oozes out of my ears every time I turn on the sound system!
    Thanks guys.
    One day, I’ll be able to afford a pair of 802’s…one day…

  • Ani says:

    I have two systems (CD player –> Amp –> Speakers):

    System 1:
    Classe CDP-102 –> Classe CAP-2100 –> 803s

    System 2:
    Denon 3910 –> Rotel RA-05 –> 685

    Love them both to bits !!!

  • glen says:

    I am using a macintosh mini which is fire wired to a 2tb fanless harddrive. The mini toslinked to a dac magic by cambridge audio. The dac makes all the difference in the world and this dac is amazing. The dac outputs stereo to a fairly modest yamaha theatre reciever, which are bi-wired to my 603’s. I am using TWO asw800 subs, which are still my favorites. Anyone who says two subwoofers aren’t neccessary should hear my setup. The extra sub opened the soundfield and makes my room sound huge. I have a thousand albums, lossless, stored on the hard drive, and I control the whole thing from an ipod touch with the application “remote”. Best remote ever, don’t waste money on any of these universal things. The dac also feeds a digital out to the reciever which alows me to decode computer suround when available. But the most important piece- Bowers and Wilkins speakers. NOthing like them even my modest 603’s blow most speakers away, and I dream of 801’s with the diamond tweeters-maybe someday.

  • G says:

    Zeppelin question.
    I recently sold a fairly large high end system and still retain a PV1 sub. I am going to buy a zeppelin and wondered if anyone has heard of tapping the zep to hook up the PV1 sub?

  • Dave says:

    I save music (FLACs & ripped CDs) to a Tranquil PC AVA RS3 NAS running Asset UPnP and Twonky, and play them back through the network via HomePlug to my Linn system – Akurate DS streamer, Kinos DSP pre-amp, Audyssey MultiEQ Pro room equaliser, AV5125 amps, and Akurate 212 front speakers with Trikan centre, Katan rear surrounds and Afekt sub. For SACD, DVD-Audio, and DVD movies, I use a Unidisk SC. I can also use Sony MDR SA5000 or AKG 701 headphones through a Graham Slee Solo amp. For other rooms, I use a SqueezeBox SB3 and SqueezeBox Duet through Linn Classik Movie Di or headphones. Controllers include Linn Kinsky Desktop on laptop, SkweezyDS via Duet Controller, Leia DS on Nokia 810 internet tablet, and Songbook, PlugPlayer, iPeng, & Squeemote on iPod Touch.

    I also copy FLACs & CDs to MP3 for portable listening.

  • stan Lee says:

    I have the Cambridge Audio Azur 840c upsampling cd player into the denon 3808 as a pre (pure direct mode always) and into the rotel RB1070 stereo amp at 130wpc connected to my awesome 804s with JPS superQ speaker cables.

    I mean dont get me wrong but I’ve only had my 804s for about 2 weeks now and as each day goes by it just simply sounds better and better….unbelievable!!!

    Did not like the sound at first, thought maybe it was the amp (too weak) and was thinking of getting the rotel 200wpc amp. I might hold off on that for now until I get every tiny ounce out of the 804s utilizing the rb1070 and than perhaps I’ll upgrade the amp.

  • Rui says:

    I sitll love the sound of lps nothing matches that and through a project turn table even better. Not a fan of mp3 so i keep on buying cd´s. PC´s are not for music. cd´s are good but to be honest analogue sounds way better. If i can choose between a format lp first, cd second and nothing else after hehe. All this using rotel 1080, 805s combo. I love it. Cheers all.

Add a comment

We welcome debate within Society of Sound, but please keep it friendly, respectful and relevant. We have a few house rules which we ask you to abide by to keep the debate intelligent. Read more.
Product enquiry or support issue? Please click here.

Related posts

Bowers & Wilkins Speakers thumbnail

How Many Speakers?

After listening to the podcast discussion about surround sound in the Lab it got us wondering just how many speakers is enough for … Read more

Bowers & Wilkins Speakers thumbnail

Computer Games: The Future of Surround Sound?

Computer games were once just for kids; many of those kids are in their 30s and 40s now, and many of them are still playing games. … Read more

Bowers & Wilkins Speakers thumbnail

Apple Lossless Confusion

There’s a lot of confusion about audio encoding, and how to get the best out of your digital music. Obviously we at B&W are … Read more