Quality recordings vs playback

December 23, 2021
 by Paul McGowan

10 comments on “Quality recordings vs playback”

  1. It’s such a crap shoot. I toured and recorded for years with a well known jazz trumpet player and virtually no one….through probably 100 recordings over the years….really captured what he sounded like. Oddly, probably the closest was from a hastily arranged live recording in the 70s.
    As far as “realistic” piano recordings, forget about it. Unless you are there during the recording, you have no idea what THAT piano sounded like.
    The whole idea of recreating live music with stereo systems is a fool’s errand. It can’t be done.
    Not that I don’t enjoy recorded music. I do. I just take it for what it is.

  2. Secretguy, well said and true. Our audio system should be built for the enjoyment of music. The myth that some piece of equipment made the recording sound like it was intended was pure BS and it has been said so many folks think it is true. The Absolute Sound is the one you enjoy in your home. From racks used, to cables, to the speakers, anything you put under a piece of gear or speakers will change the sound, including 4 hard apples under a preamp, for instance, I guarantee you will hear a difference but they are market that their footer, etc, will make your system more accurate, pure marketing for sales. Now if you like what a said footer does then it is good for your system, but more accurate no way. This is a hobby, not a science, and good sound does not mean you have to spend 10’s of thousands of dollars unless you are in that 1% club that has money to burn. The production and mixing are all changed once it is put on vinyl the way it was pressed, the release of the pressing and mastering of say a CD or the streaming music which I think is 3rd place in sound quality, then once we play it in our system it is then changed so much by our gear that is nothing like what was heard live, or in the studio. Be nice to see audio gear folks say the same, and make it with our gear we feel you will have more enjoyment of the music you like to listen to. That is all we can hope for and now time for me to put on the Sinatra Christmas CD.

  3. “Our audio system should be built for the enjoyment of music.”

    I very much agree with that and now, for the sake of not going thrown off forums for foul language, just shake my head at those commenters who suggest what they are hearing is what it sounded like in the studio.

    I do have a couple of points about your discussion. The first is that I like my system to be in the ballpark tonally and in pitch. A sound that is “neutral,” what in a concert hall would be called “cold,” does me bats…t. Likewise if the pitch seems to be a couple of notes up — and I listen especially to the piano — something needs changing. The second is that it while any particular change in component/speaker isolation may or may not improve tonal/pitch accuracy, it typically does allow more of what’s on the recording to come through.

  4. If we all wanted true representations of music we would be listening to nothing but fine acoustic instruments and pristine voices.

    In the end, at least myself personally, enjoy the nuances of equipment, recording environments and some effect foolery.

    I want my equipment to reproduce the recording and introduce very little coloration.

  5. When I was in the Air Force jazz band we recorded at universal studios in Chicago. The engineer played back a take on the mains which sounded really incredible to me, however was not really representative of what I actually heard in the studio during the recording.
    If you read the book “Secrets of small studio recording” by Mike Senior he mentions the use of an Avidtone or Auretone mix cube which engineers use perhaps 80 to 90% of the time. This is just a small Monaural speaker used to represent the usual grout boxes people actually listen to. A brief sentence in the book mentions audiophiles are such a small number that they are usually ignored during the mix.

  6. I think of many of my favorite recordings:
    Guided by Voices: Bee Thousand, Alien Lanes
    Spoon: Transference
    Junior Kimbrough: All Night Long

    And can’t imagine hearing them any differently

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