Originally Posted by shane55
And "...true to life" is the 'absolute sound' objective.
And time for a personal opinion:
This cannot be understood with 'synthetic' or electronic music. For where is the benchmark / reference?
It may be enjoyable, it may sound 'good', but how it compares to 'true to life' is anyone's guess.
Which is why, for me, and this might sound strange as Hp's apprentice/former set-up man and dear friend,
but I don't personally subscribe to the whole "absolute sound" theory. I mean, I do to a certain extent; like "does that
sound like a stand-up bass, or a just a bass tone", or "does this sound like the Fender Strat they used, or a compressed guitar sound".
I subscribe to the theory only so far in that I think you can use organic instruments to judge a systems' ability to reproduce
the tonality and presence of that instrument accurately. That I'm completely down with, and thankful for Harry and J. Gordon Holt
for making the review process more fun and exploratory through those means! Hell, they made Hi-fi more fun for all!
As you know @shane55 - before them everything covering Hi-fi boiled down to mere test results and empty scientific language that didn't
describe the musicality of the components.
But the reason? The reason I don't subscribe to the theory that it's the ONLY way to judge a system: A personal experience I had
while working for producer/arranger Arif Mardin while working at Atlantic Records - another mentor whom I miss EVERYDAY! We were
at Avatar Studios, recording the string section for BB King & Eric Clapton's Riding With the King album...
I describe the experience in detail when I reviewed my Zu Audio Omen Defs for Positive Feedback.
HERES A LINK
I do believe you can judge a systems capabilities using symphonic music as well as organic (meaning you can use both). As a matter of fact,
you'll remember the very first Absolute Sound sampler CD by Hp @shane55 - and how controversial it was, because it was full of tracks from the
Hearts of Space catalog! It was all symphonic music. But it was music Harry was familiar with (he was in the studio, chose the tracks and sequenced them) and he made very detailed liner notes for the sampler (still available on Amazon - I refer to it often) of what you should look for in the reproduction of the music through your system. It's a great guide actually - and again it was ironic as the very man behind the theory of "the absolute sound" produced a symphonic sampler to gauge his readers systems capabilities! He did it partly because the symphonic music could reach certain frequencies free of distortion (so obviously not "real" per se) and that made for a solid system test. The sampler will show you your systems limitations, and also it's strengths. I still use it from time to time.
I think Hi-fi, just like music, is meant to be enjoyed. That's at the heart of it, and that's (if you didn't read the review w/ the story) what I learned from Arif. Maybe I should say Arif reminded me of that. And that man produced everyone from Dusty Springfield to Aretha, the Bee Gees to Phil Collins, Bette Midler, to Jewel and Norah Jones (not that I loved or love her music personally). He used to say the problem with audiophiles was that they "treated the albums we make as time capsules" and that they "didn't create time capture devices" in the recording studio. He said they were after the soul of the music, and he also taught me that if the soul is there, you could get that feeling from a tiny transistor radio. Thus @wink's point.
So I gotta say that I think both organic and symphonic music can be used when evaluating your gear.
Especially, if like me, you split your listening time between electronic and organic music!!
LOVIN' this discourse. Honestly. I know there are a great deal of objectivists here, and my style of reviewing (the Hp school - describing the musical
experience as played through the gear) doesn't sit well with them.