First thought puzzle

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I find it valuable to create thought puzzles to try and answer perplexing questions about our art. I thought I might share a few with you and then post about some of the conclusions I've drawn from this process in a few days. You may find it interesting.

Let me begin with something we know and are clear about. If you take an electric guitar and plug it into a decent digital audio recorder and then create a bypass switch that allows you to select between the guitar output or the recorder's output and feed this into an integrated guitar amp/speaker combination - the output of the guitar amp/speaker will be indistinguishable switching between the live guitar and the recorded version of the same if the listener cannot see what's going on and you've taken care to gain and impedance match the interface.

The difference between the direct output of the guitar's pickup vs. the digitally recorded copy of the pickup's output - when played back through the amp/speaker combo - cannot, in my experience, be measured or heard.

I have performed this experiment years ago and with reasonably poor digital recording equipment. Using a state of the art A/D and digital recording DAC playback chain of today's caliber makes this experiment even more interesting.

If this is true then one would have to conclude that in this specific instance, the recording chain isn't contributing changes in dynamics, tonal qualities, pacing or any other high-end parameter many of us attribute to digital recording - even at Red Book sample rates.

But we all believe this to not be the case. Interesting.

Tomorrow let's go one step further.

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Paul McGowan

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