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post #16 of 19
So let me get this straight...

Real life can't be used as a measuring stick because there are too many variables.

But various recordings of real life recorded using a mixture of all kinds of different equipment played back through all sorts of different equipment in completely different envionrments can be?

You're right. What was I thinking.
post #17 of 19
Thread Starter 

Here's why, Kelly

I know it may seem wrong, Kelly. But here's why it's right. An orchestra, or acoustic ensemble (forget amplified forms of music such as rock, pop, country, etc...because these must go through electronics in order to even exist...and the electronics will impart different characteristics upon the sound every day, in every environment) playing the same music night after night in different acoustic environments will sound different in so many ways from day to day. Tempos will change a little bit. Balance among instruments/voices will change a little bit. Environmental conditions under which the musicians are performing will change a little bit. The health and mood of the players will change a little bit. The result is that a live performance by the same musicians of the same music on two different days will change far more significantly than a recording of a single event heard on two different systems (or on headphones, then on speakers).

All of the above conditions (acoustics of the recording space, environmental conditions, tempos, instrumental/vocal balance/etc.) are locked in place FOREVER on a recording. They NEVER change. This is why I believe a recording with which you are intimately familiar (a cd of a favorite musician/group which you've heard so many times that you have all parts memorized) is infinitely more valuable for judging reproduction of equipment than a random live musical performance you may have attended. ESPECIALLY if any part of the live preformance was amplified! If an "Absolute Sound" (or absolute reference) exists at all for live music, it certainly only exists for unamplified ACOUSTIC music!

So yes, I'll state it again...and I think the truth is obvious. There are far more variables influencing the sound of live music from day to day than a recording. Certainly the variables (at the recording site) DID exist at the time of the recording. But the recording process locked them in place PERMANENTLY so that they're not an un-varying part of the original event. They NEVER change. So again, Kelly I'll say it...there are fewer variables when using recordings as a reference than live music, so I do believe that recordings are more valuable!

In my opinion the ONLY situation in which a live event is a valuable reference to reproduced music is when you were present at the time of the recording, and witnessed firsthand what the musicians sounded like in that particular acoustic space on that day, and the way the equipment being used affected the recording/reproduction of that sound (certainly even the finest recording gear will have made major changes to the way the music sounded in the room!) Only with that reference (the music sounded like THIS, and the signal having passed through mic/mixer/recorder sounded like THAT) can it (live music) be valid for making meaningful comparisons! Only those present at the original session know for sure how the recording gear, and production process imposed themselves on the final sound! If we weren't there, we can never know for sure!
post #18 of 19
We can never know for sure even if we were there, in truth.

When there are perfect recordings and perfect playback mechanisms, your argument may sway me. Meanwhile, although you stated your opinion several times, I'll keep my disagreement.

I have never once in my existence heard a trumpet played through any speaker or headphone of any technology that sounded quite like a trumpet. When I do, you can be sure that I will be posting about it.
post #19 of 19
I've got to agree strongly with Mike on this one. An essential difference between live and recorded music is that one is dynamic, while the other is static. A live performance happens once, while recorded music is locked into the storage medium. Live music doesn't have a pause button or volume control, and the musicans decide the song selection, not the audience.

I'm more than a little convinced that a large part of our compulsion to upgrade, change equipment, whatever, is to alter the sound of the recorded music. When we hear something in the recording that we didn't hear before, we are presented the illusion of change...the static has become dynamic, in a pale way.

BTW, I have several CD's of concerts I attended (amplifed, alas) and am fairly amazed at what actually occurred there. There is little correspondence between the music on the CD and my memory of the live event. BTW, for amplified music, sound quality on CD has so far always been superior to that of the live concert...but the live concerts were a lot more fun!)
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