Originally Posted by Foie
I totally agree that it's most important to enjoy the music vs analyze it. [....] Recently it had come to my attention that I wasn't noticing the differences in my high quality flac files, and I felt like I was missing something that could be had in the quality of my music.
On a side note, I realize that the quality of recordings is also extremely important, and I can notice that among different songs in my library. My question is, does alternative music tend to have decent quality recordings? I mostly listen to artists such as Coldpaly, Killers, One Republic, Keane, Blue October, and such.
Re enjoy vs analyze: To be clear, I don't think there's a right or wrong to the enjoy vs analyze camps. I just think you need to be aware of the options, so you don't confuse one for the other.
Re identifying differences between low and high quality recordings: Back in the dawn of the mp3 era (mid-90s), I was a member of a long-ago defunct site that matched songwriters with up-and-coming singers/bands and we did some pretty extensive testing to see what, if any, (perceivable) differences in sound quality there were between mp3s (of the same songs) recorded at a constant bitrate of 128kHz (which, at that time, was considered (wrongly!) to provide CD-quality sound) vs variable and higher bitrates (up to 320kHz). Although the majority of members (mostly musicians) were quite happy with a constant 128kHz for most types of music, some (like me) could easily (and repeatedly) hear the negative effects of digitization on most types of music when converted to anything below 256kHz. Without going off on too-far a tangent, I'll just say that if you have a sound editor (Cool Edit, etc.), try converting 3-4 songs (some electronic and some acoustic) from LPs or CDs and, then, play them all back, one-at-a-time, through your standard rig. Even if you do this through your laptop, I'm pretty confident that you'll hear the difference between the low end and the high.
Re quality of recordings: Of the artists you cited, I'm only familiar with Coldplay and Keane, neither of which, unfortunately, appear to've put alot of effort into producing high quality recordings. It's probably not the artists' faults, because their record companies generally have the last word in how the final release sounds and the reality of the business today is that most 'companies have no choice but to put profit over quality. This is where it sometimes makes sense to let your logical brain lead when selecting music to use to judge audio components. That is, you might want to broaden your musical horizons to include artists or recordings that you wouldn't otherwise listen to because the quality of their recordings allows a component's flaws to be revealed more readily than your usual musical fare.
Edited by dynhm6 - 6/12/11 at 1:27pm