Old vs. new

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Old vs. new

In yesterday's Paul's Post, Being good at bad, I put forth the idea that a properly resolving system shouldn't sweeten bad recordings to the point they sound good. Or, put another way, if you can't tell the difference between a great recording and a lousy one, it's likely your setup needs a bit of work.

I got a kind follow up email from Lloyd pointing out that as his system has gotten better he finds the opposite. That older recordings, like those of the 50's and even into the 40's, have gotten better. He can hear deeper into the music despite the fact they weren't the greatest recordings.

I find this to be true as well. I think the difference is in the recordings.

In the early days of recordings, every attempt was made to capture as much as was there with as little deviation from truth as possible. Even the sparse use of EQ or compression/limiting was employed in the service of getting closer to the live event.

In later years—starting with the late 70's and early 80's—a few producers and recording engineers began manipulating pop music recordings in artificial ways: lots of reverb, EQ, compression. As these got more and more manipulated, we got into the era of "bad" recordings as mentioned in yesterday's post.

As a side note, this era also ushered in the Loudness Wars which we still have remnants of today (though not as bad). The driving force behind these over compressed brick wall-loud recordings was the radio. Beginning with AM and later moving to FM, the louder the station/music, the more likely a browsing listener might stop and listen.

Great systems allow you to hear deeper into the music.

Not all music is worth a deeper look.

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Paul McGowan

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