Originally Posted by sonitus mirus
For me, I honestly do not really know what ideal audiophile quality sounds like. When I hear a bass guitar play, it is in a bedroom, garage, bar, or a stadium built to seat fans at a basketball game. I've never been in anything remotely close to a quality listening environment or sound studio.
Okay, well I have been in plenty of sound studios, and I've recorded music from microphone to mastering. I've even played bass guitar in an (unreleased) recording. (I can play just about any instrument ... poorly )
And it is simpler than you think - to discover what ideal quality sounds like.
Go to a wedding reception or an art gallery reception, and you will probably find a string quartet playing Mozart. Listen to what all four instruments sound like. Go to a coffee bar that has someone singing and playing an acoustic guitar. Listen to what the voice sounds like and what the acoustic guitar sounds like.
Now find recordings of a string quartet and someone singing and playing acoustic guitar. Ideally, the people you heard in person, have a CD for sale. Otherwise, find a well recorded string quartet and/or singer-songwriter (Griller Quartet, for example, and/or Bob Dylan or Joni Mitchell or any personal favorite).
Of course, for bass quality, the string quartet has the advantage in having a bassist.
Now you have a reference point, and you can use those recordings to compare to your memory of the instruments in person. Thus use those and your personal musical favorites to judge equipment.
As far as bass guitar, like on Steve Miller, there is no reference point. A highly regarded engineer, like Bob Clearmountain, will mix the album, including the bass on a pair of speakers in the studio, then play it back on a second pair with a different response. Then he will take the mix out to his Honda Accord (actual story) and listen on the cheezy factory car stereo, because he knows millions of people will be listening that way.
The same bass guitar will be miked and mixed differently when Steve Miller plays in concert, and it will sound quite different....
Edited by kstuart - 10/14/13 at 6:18pm