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ASR burning the wrong witches?

sofrep811

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https://www.biline.ca/audio_critic/critic1.htm

“What is the number one determinant of sound quality in an audio system?
The recording you are playing, without the slightest doubt. The recording microphones, acoustical conditions, and engineering decisions at the recording site introduce much greater sonic variability than any hardware component in a half decent playback system. Buy well-recorded CDs.”

By Peter Aczel

More about the loudness wars? No, not quite although one can’t help but include it in any discussion about recording quality.

I’ve read pages and pages of discussions about differences in the measurements of the electronics that operate between the source and the loudspeaker most of which are completely inaudible barring the occasional complete horror. Every now and then some brave soul arrives on ASR and gets burnt for producing a product that performs below the current high standard of the best engineered products.

The fact is in a properly set up DBT test very few of us could tell the difference between the highest and lowest tiered electronic products and without the measurements to reference I expect most of us would be delighted with their performance.

The differences in recordings is often quite apparent. Thanks to the seeming constant remastering of many of the popular recordings we are in a position to make comparisons between one recording and another of the same albums.

There are recordings those who remaster can do little about because of the condition of the original recording although I’m led to believe there is technology that make improvements to even the worst recordings.

The more recent recordings on digital equipment do not have many of the limitations of those made say in the nineteen sixties but to my ears many of these more recent recordings sound worse than those done with equipment that limited the possibilities.

What is the point of spending thousands of pounds trying to achieve maximum fidelity to the recording if the recording is terrible?

When an equipment designer/manufacturer produces a below par product ASR has no problem pointing out it’s shortcomings and in a few cases the designer/manufacturer responds by addressing the issues.

Why don’t we do something similar with recordings; a name and shame type approach given it’s the recording that matters most.

There are plenty of contributors on ASR who describe themselves as recording engineers and it seems have no problem joining in the criticisms of the equipment manufactures. Lets hear what they’ve produced and rate their level of competency.

You never know, given enough pressure we might get some recordings that warrant the level of excellence the equipment used to produce them has.
Recordings are criticized and applauded on many sites. This is an audio hardware site. This guy in France has the beginnings of a great website comparing and contrasting all audio mediums of albums.

 

anmpr1

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Recordings are criticized and applauded on many sites. This is an audio hardware site.
I see ASR as more a site about all aspects of audio engineering, certainly focusing on home oriented hi-fi. The critique of recording technique is an important aspect of home hi-fi. Probably the most important, but it is the most hidden [and at the same time the most obvious]. That is what Peter was saying. And how dishonest other 'reviewers' are, who tell you otherwise.

Sometimes you read how certain gear allows a listener to better understand the recording. You read that all the time at the 'tweako' sites. How this and that new (usually expensive) piece of gear allowed the emotionally sensitive influencer to 'hear' and 'experience' new things in his old recordings, things he had hitherto never heard before.

I find that false and grotesquely over done. If the 'reviewer' didn't 'hear' these things before, it is because he wasn't paying attention. Someone like that is at best incompetent, and shouldn't be discussing hi-fi. Really, anyone can pretty much hear all aspects of any recording --> how it is made and mixed, with any gear so long as the components cover a wide enough FR and with low enough distortion. You just have to train yourself about what to be aware of. You have to pay attention. Casual listening overlooks a lot. I'd say that is why casual listening is enjoyable. Once you start listening critically, the experience is often less satisfactory.

Anecdote: I was recently playing some Wes Montgomery cuts. I had listened to it casually, without paying much attention to the recording, per se. I mean, you want to hear Wes' guitar, on a Wes Montgomery record. Right?

Some of the cuts featured Wes playing with a big band. On critical review, it was as if the orchestra was recorded separately, and Wes' combo was playing 'over' those recorded tracks. It certainly didn't sound 'natural'; that is, like a guitarist and acoustic bass player would sound when playing together, live with a big band.

I remember Count Basie, live, and trying and pick out Freddie Green's guitar, or other individual instruments, once the bad started to swing. Impossible, because each was acoustically integrated into the overall SPL of the band, playing together. But with microphone-mixing techniques, it's easy to bring up any individual instrument from the mix. Your new preamp isn't going to help with that, for sure.

So in Wes' case, it was the fault of the recording, and the fact that I was listening differently than before.
 
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sq225917

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Hearing new things in music is a much over used trope. I have an acquaintance who was waxing lyrical about stuff he'd never heard on a particular Nils Lofgren track before, new expanded horizons, all that rubbish, despite the fact he still hadn't heard the 2 bars of Rolling Stones in the middle of the track..
 

Sal1950

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Hearing new things in music after some change or upgrade is super common.
You listen much more attentively while you review this change and it's only normal to
possibly hear new details.
Next to impossible not too. ;)
 

MattHooper

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Hearing new things in music after some change or upgrade is super common.
You listen much more attentively while you review this change and it's only normal to
possibly hear new details.
Next to impossible not too. ;)

So true!

Sometimes when I think I made an "upgrade" I realize after a while it's just (if anything) different. As in the same details were there before the "upgrade."

(And I realize you are also including hearing things that aren't there as well).
 

Cote Dazur

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how it is made and mixed, with any gear so long as the components cover a wide enough FR and with low enough distortion
And the speaker are positioned well and the seat is well located, as after the quality of the recording, the room and how it is set up, will be the limiting factor, so long as the components cover a wide enough FR and with low enough distortion.
 

goat76

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Recordings are criticized and applauded on many sites. This is an audio hardware site. This guy in France has the beginnings of a great website comparing and contrasting all audio mediums of albums.


Vinyl and digital releases can't be compared like that, the way he does it on that site.

If you take a look at this video you will understand why that is:

 
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Sal1950

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There's also a whole lot more to what makes a album sound good/bad than the single DR number will tell you.
 

dfuller

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There's also a whole lot more to what makes a album sound good/bad than the single DR number will tell you.
1000%.

DR tells you nothing of its spectral balance and little about how any individual element sounds.
 

CapMan

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Agreed but can a lame recording ruin a good performance? Unfortunately I think so.
You’re right, of course. That said, it’s important to try and hear past the recording when the music is great.
 

fpitas

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Came in here hoping for a good old-fashioned witch burning. Leaving disappointed.
 

Vacceo

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There's also a whole lot more to what makes a album sound good/bad than the single DR number will tell you.
Exactly. Diana Krall discards good automatically while Blasphemy does the opposite. Both are inversely proportional at their DR.
 

Robin L

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Had a job for a year at Ray Avery's Rare Records in Glendale. There were lots of 78's there. The fairly large stack of Enrico Caruso 78's went for $10 a pop in 1977. I don't know if you've ever heard an acoustically recorded 78 played back on a properly functioning player of quality, but the results are uncanny. Yes, frequency response is a disaster but the sense of the musician being in the room is greater than I have heard with any other record/play system.

And Caruso was about dynamics and presence above all. It was the nature of his art, a vocal artist who could fill a large hall with sound before amplifiers.

I'd say there're no "Witches" (in the old pejorative sense, not in the more recent neopagan "Oh lookee, there's Aunt Connie with the kush!" sense) but the practice of different forms of audio magic. It's hard to assign a numeric scale of "quality" to music and the quality of its sound. The range of musical soundscapes is far too varied for that.
 

fpitas

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