The truth of the matter

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Steve Rochlin from Enjoy the Music interviewed DirectStream's designer Ted Smith, and I, on his YouTube channel in this video. During the discussion he mentioned that improvements we hear in audio is akin to peeling back an onion. If you do it layer by layer you get closer to the core of the onion. And, in the same way, every time we get a new improvement that gets us closer to the original recording it's as if we were peeling back an onion and removing layers of grit and haze to hear more of what's there. How close can we get? Can we continue peeling back the layers of what's in the way of the music till we exactly reproduce what was on the original recording? And if it were possible how would we know when we got there? If you think about it, the original recording quality is being judged by the recording engineer through selected equipment in the studio. You are judging that same recording through selected equipment in your home system. Neither tells the truth. It turns out the truth can only be heard through the filter of our equipment. That truth can change quickly: as quickly as the time it takes to swap a piece of kit in the chain. Why can't we hear without the equipment in the way? Because all recordings require an interface so we can hear it: microphones, tape decks, turntables, digital recorders. None give us direct access without the interface and it is the interface that we listen to and judge the truth of what is there. If you stand in front of a musician and just listen on your own, that's truth. If you record that musician and then listen through equipment, that's a facsimileof the truth dependent completely on the chain of equipment used to record and playback. When something in that chain changes, so too does our truth. So don't be too surprised when you hear something you never knew existed in your media; it's all open to interpretation.
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Paul McGowan

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