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Accurate and boring or colored and fun

FeddyLost

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Which raises the question, when a solo violinist is recorded and played back in studio conditions, should it sound like that violinist playing that violin in that studio, or your (romanticised?) idea of what a violin "should" sound like, probably achieved by "aggressive equalisation"?
Actually I can't remember situation when people voluntarily listen (as a consumer) to solo violinist in nearfield like typical microphone (at least some of set) placement.
Consumer listening assumes common reverberant space with performer and significant distance, so some sound engineer processing is mandatory for transforming raw material into commercial record unless it's puristic stereo-mic record literally "from listening chair".

The only thing that changes is that higher order harmonics get more wight. But even this would not change much if we talk about 0.000x% thd of a good modern amp.
Actually, we need to see harmonics content in case of real load at different levels.
If we use even just old Shorter's weighting with (squaredN)/4 coefficients (n=7 means multiplication by 12, n=10 - to 25), long trail of harmonics is not good thing at all.
High powered amps at low level can have relatively high "classic" THD and weighting will make it much worse.
For example, recent Stereophile measurement of Mytek AMP shows extremely long trail of harmonics and I think it will have very bad numbers weighted.
 

Robin L

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I've done some field recordings with portable recorders, but nothing like what we're talking about here.


Of course, I know a lot of this and still put forward the dumb version of the proposal, despite your prompting. What I'm really asking. and the question is still dumb, is whether we can get microphones that accurately (or very close) translate the sound into the studio into a form that is accurate to the average human ear, and use those. In the general case the answer is still no - microphones are no more transparent than loudspeakers.
We are dependent on recording engineers.
I've done a lot of recording of classical music.
Microphones are the same as speakers, only in reverse. Instead of being driven by electricity to move the voice coil, the voice coil is driven by sound to create electricity. Not exactly like that [most classical music involves condenser microphones], but that concept essentially. What MakeMineVinyl wrote is the truth---microphones are transducers, essentially and unavoidably colored in their tonality. A recording engineer has no time for thought experiments: they go for the colorations that they already know will work. People have this fantasy that recordings are more "pure" than what comes out of speakers. But microphones create the same types of issues as speakers. They might be not as sonically colored as speakers, but their coloration affects the end result almost as much. The difference in the sound between two* microphones, say a Neumann KM 84 and an AKG 451, is like the difference between a Martin D-28 and a Gibson Hummingbird. You can forget about some baseline where sound is accurately presented to the human ear. That doesn't happen.

*Edit: two very similar [small diaphragm cardioid condensers of very similar physical configuration coming from the same neck of the woods with pretty much the same design intent] microphones.
 
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abdo123

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Sneering comments like that contribute nothing at all to the conversation.

Isn't it true though? If accurate gear doesn't satisfy you, then you're not using the gear to listen to the music, you're using the music to listen to the gear.

and we're not talking about ergonomic differences like aesthetics, features, the size of the volume knob .etc we're talking about actual quality of music reproduction.

If the point of music reproduction is no longer about music reproduction then either the music didn't matter to begin with or you're developing an unhealthy obsession with gear.
 

tomtoo

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Actually I can't remember situation when people voluntarily listen (as a consumer) to solo violinist in nearfield like typical microphone (at least some of set) placement.
Consumer listening assumes common reverberant space with performer and significant distance, so some sound engineer processing is mandatory for transforming raw material into commercial record unless it's puristic stereo-mic record literally "from listening chair".


Actually, we need to see harmonics content in case of real load at different levels.
If we use even just old Shorter's weighting with (squaredN)/4 coefficients (n=7 means multiplication by 12, n=10 - to 25), long trail of harmonics is not good thing at all.
High powered amps at low level can have relatively high "classic" THD and weighting will make it much worse.
For example, recent Stereophile measurement of Mytek AMP shows extremely long trail of harmonics and I think it will have very bad numbers weighted.

I think first we would need more abx data with different wights. For me it makes not much sense if we have no data when it comes to audiability.
 

Galliardist

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Actually I can't remember situation when people voluntarily listen (as a consumer) to solo violinist in nearfield like typical microphone (at least some of set) placement.
Consumer listening assumes common reverberant space with performer and significant distance, so some sound engineer processing is mandatory for transforming raw material into commercial record unless it's puristic stereo-mic record literally "from listening chair “
Had you left in tbe rest of my post, we’d see that I’d accepted the point that processing may well be necessary. You aren’t, though, going to successfully convince us that a close up recording is anything else, and the once common choice of drenching in artificial reverb usually sounds awful.
 

Mart68

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Hi fidelity is about accuracy to the recording not the accuracy of the recording.

I don't see that it matters what they did in the studio, what mics were used, where they put them or any of that. We start with the completed recording, what happened prior to that is irrelevant to accurate replay.
 

Grumpish

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Isn't it true though? If accurate gear doesn't satisfy you, then you're not using the gear to listen to the music, you're using the music to listen to the gear.

and we're not talking about ergonomic differences like aesthetics, features, the size of the volume knob .etc we're talking about actual quality of music reproduction.

If the point of music reproduction is no longer about music reproduction then either the music didn't matter to begin with or you're developing an unhealthy obsession with gear.

In a word - no. What you enjoy listening to may be boring to someone else, regardless of what equipment they are using. And I could turn your argument on it's head - if you have to listen to music on what is currently classed as accurate equipment to enjoy it then you are listening to the equipment, not the music.
 

abdo123

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In a word - no. What you enjoy listening to may be boring to someone else, regardless of what equipment they are using.

Indeed.

if you have to listen to music on what is currently classed as accurate equipment to enjoy it then you are listening to the equipment, not the music.

That's not really the case for me either, I appreciate the content more when it is accurately reproduced better because i can hear some nuances that i couldn't hear before. It's always about the material for me.

A song played normally and the same song played backwards have the same frequency response. doesn't mean i would appreciate the song played in reverse. It's always about the content and reproducing it accurately, if that's not the case for someone then they have seriously lost their way.
 

Robin L

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Hi fidelity is about accuracy to the recording not the accuracy of the recording.

I don't see that it matters what they did in the studio, what mics were used, where they put them or any of that. We start with the completed recording, what happened prior to that is irrelevant to accurate replay.
Not true: a lo-fi recording is still lo-fi. Some are intentionally low fidelity, historical materials usually can't help it. But the microphones used, their placement, the acoustic of the room the music is recorded in---all of these are factors in the fidelity of the recording. It's Xeno's paradox anyway: you can get closer to your destination, but you can never arrive.

This recording is from 1941, it was bad to begin with, recorded in the audio equivalent of a padded closet and then messed up further by somebody's idea of "stereo"


This recording is from 1960, recorded in Kingsway Hall, a venue favored by Decca records for its acoustic qualities.


While I could give later examples that would have lower background noise, less distortion and Higher Fidelity than Peter Maag's recording with the London Symphony Orchestra, the recording technology for orchestral music pretty much peaked out around 1960, when the market for that kind of music was much bigger than today. These were the first "Stereo Spectaculars", the audio equivalent of Cinerama. The same microphones and recording venues are used to this day, though a number of the venues are gone [like Kingsway Hall], and the demand for this sort of music is much reduced from sixty years ago.

If I needed to choose a recording to evaluate the fidelity of some gear, it would not be Toscanini's.
 

Galliardist

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I've done a lot of recording of classical music.
Microphones are the same as speakers, only in reverse. Instead of being driven by electricity to move the voice coil, the voice coil is driven by sound to create electricity. Not exactly like that [most classical music involves condenser microphones], but that concept essentially. What MakeMineVinyl wrote is the truth---microphones are transducers, essentially and unavoidably colored in their tonality. A recording engineer has no time for thought experiments: they go for the colorations that they already know will work. People have this fantasy that recordings are more "pure" than what comes out of speakers. But microphones create the same types of issues as speakers. They might be not as sonically colored as speakers, but their coloration affects the end result almost as much. The difference in the sound between two microphones, say a Neumann KM 84 and an AKG 451, is like the difference between a Martin D-28 and a Gibson Hummingbird. You can forget about some baseline where sound is accurately presented to the human ear. That doesn't happen.

Is “that doesn’t happen” the same as “that shouldn’t happen”? A takeout from this forum is that we can have better loudspeakers and compensate for their major errors, and to an extent for their environment as well. Why not a similar approach to microphones?
 

tomtoo

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Is “that doesn’t happen” the same as “that shouldn’t happen”? A takeout from this forum is that we can have better loudspeakers and compensate for their major errors, and to an extent for their environment as well. Why not a similar approach to microphones?

Its part of the art.
 

Frgirard

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Is “that doesn’t happen” the same as “that shouldn’t happen”? A takeout from this forum is that we can have better loudspeakers and compensate for their major errors, and to an extent for their environment as well. Why not a similar approach to microphones?
As you said a takeout from this forum...
 

Newman

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Surely it’s entirely different with mics: they are part of a creative production process, where the sound and its attributes are sculpted and chosen. Speakers are part of a reproduction process where the goals are quite different.
 

Robin L

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Is “that doesn’t happen” the same as “that shouldn’t happen”? A takeout from this forum is that we can have better loudspeakers and compensate for their major errors, and to an extent for their environment as well. Why not a similar approach to microphones?
Because there isn't a market for those kinds of microphones. There's inertia built into any enterprise that requires major funding. I have long fantasized of microphones akin to the plasma speakers that never quite made it to market. A microphone without a diaphragm, one with much less physical mass to move, might break down the sonic barrier of the resonances of a physical transducer. I know measurement microphones with very small diaphragms can be more 'refined' in the upper octaves, but there are still audible colorations anyway and reducing the size of the diaphragms increases the noise floor.

The issues of electronics, digital conversion in both directions and playback sources are all pretty much solved problems. But the issues of loudspeakers, disc cutting heads, phono cartridges and microphones---transducers for music reproduction, with their resonances and distortions---are all still with us.
 

thewas

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"Boring" is often not neutral/accurate lacking bass (usually due to placement, room and loudspeaker issues), something which can be better be seen with listening position measurements and using psychoacoustic smoothing. I had this quite often in the past and only by moving the loudspeakers and/or adding subs I filled those too wide bass dips and then listening to my liked music was fun again.
 

DSJR

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After months of not being able to play music through speakers at home, I finally turned the main stereo on last Monday for a couple of hours. I was dreading it and the results confirmed it. I have a MASSIVE speaker-room mismatch and this generation of speakers, with it's old fashioned 'warm natural sound' as then advertised, is reacting badly with a boomy room and inadequate positioning - they do improve pulled a good metre out from the back wall but then I'm listening to outsize headphones :D herself has asked me not to change them just yet and it's unlikely I'll be able to afford their current much improved (in tonal balance and general 'tautness' in the bass) replacements, so if I can get myself selling stuff, I'll probably return to actives if I can as the extra 'precision' and less 'gentleness' of an active model would suit both room (if we stay here) and hearing.

'Accurate' sound reproduction can mean all manner of different things really - look at many so-called 'accurate' speakers out there. Maybe you can tell me that Genelec, Neumann and the best KEF passives and others now 'sound' broadly the same and maybe it's dispersion qualities in different rooms doing it, I just don't know. If you can afford to, it's a great road to travel down and I think most of us 'oldies' have bought some right 'clunkers' along the way in our time :)
 
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ThoFi

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Does the “sound“ of speakers only depend on frequency response?
What about diaphragm material, mass….etc.
isn’t there more to consider?
 

Galliardist

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Surely it’s entirely different with mics: they are part of a creative production process, where the sound and its attributes are sculpted and chosen. Speakers are part of a reproduction process where the goals are quite different.
If we are talking about a studio creation record, then yes. If we are discussing a Prost recording of a musical event, we could see things like microphone choice as a necessary compromise and then it becomes something that can be improved to better capture the event.
 
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