...and now a word from your anti-sponsor...

"...the whole artifice of recording. I see it like this: a voice into a microphone onto a tape, onto your CD, through your speakers is all as illusory and fake as any synthesizer—it doesn't put Thom in your front room—but one is perceived as 'real' the other, somehow 'unreal'... It was just freeing to discard the notion of acoustic sounds being truer." - Johnny Greenwood of Radiohead.

Personally, I couldn't agree more.
Freeing from what, any conception of sound representing anything real? Total BS. A violin has a real sound, whether it is recorded or not. A recording of it is either a realistic representation of it or it is not. Jacking around in the studio with multitrack material recorded at different times by people who never heard, except on tape, the other musician and doctoring it to suit your taste may be fun but it is not real in the same way. There never was any there there. One seeks to record an event, the other to create one.
If the intended comparison is between recording a live sound and the sound produced by a synthesizer then there can be a huge difference between the two.

The live sound, though recorded, is from the original instrument and therefore the complete sound. A synthesized sound is produced from a recorded clip of sound. Depending on the quality of the recorded sound clip there could be little difference or a significant difference.

The organ in New York that uses Definitive Technology has an incredible database of recorded sounds to produce the notes. I'm sure it sounds pretty close to the organs that it's sound clips were recorded from.
I don't know where Johnny got the idea that recorded voices are considered real.

Some people like to listen to music that consists of voices and acoustic instruments, but the vast majority of people don't care if there is anything "real" or natural sounding about the music they listen to. So Johnny should just chill and make whatever music he wants.
Is that the Organ that was redone after 9-11? Has anyone heard that play, I was always curious to hear impressions.
I think this thread is the arguement over whether reproduced sound ever approaches live sound. This is the very basis of the notion of Hi-Fi. Which you all know means sound that is as close as possible to the original sound recorded. This remians the mission of many if not most designers engineers and hobbyists. It may be the holy grail for many but I have decided to be less concerned about how close the sound of my stereo is to original sonic output of the actual instruments voices etc. Most, if not all recorded sound must played into a mic and amplified before it goes through several mastering and other audio engineering steps. Since I have not been at the recording sessions, that made my music collection, I can't honestly compare the recorded sound that my rig makes, to any true memory of the music when it was made.
So to argue that it either sounds like an actual cello, piano, guitar, or human voice, doesn't mean it sounds the same as the actual cello, piano....voice that was recorded.
Thus, I guess it is somewhat of a relief, to just have a system that sounds real to me. It has the sonics which make listening music a pleasure. When your system fails to do that then you should be motivated to make changes. So I argue to disregard any slavish dictums about what you should want to hear according to some unknown, random, and potentially biased authority, pronouncing which systems attain the goal high fidelity and which don't.
I don't think you can never extract the element of subjectivity from the appreciation of recorded music. If we could be completely objective the all we would have to do is rank components by their measurments and aspire to buy the equipment which measures best. We don't do this in practice. I think that is good and fortunate.
I think this thread is about a nonsensical statement made by Johnny Greenwood, and Ghosthouse being impressed enough by it to post it here.
You know how many people use acoustic music to determine how close to reality the music sounds in their listening room. Well, I am going out on a limb, not sure, but Johnny's convoluted thought might be a statement that all recorded music does not approach reality and that he dismisses the notion that acoustic music can sound closer to reality. Keep in mind, Johnny's main source is the IPOD!
I think this is all about personal taste. One person likes strawberry and another likes chocolate. Just like what you like without dogging the other guy.

I love Radiohead but their music sounds so compressed I can't listen to it.
Chadnliz - I believe so. I'd love to hear it and it should be easier to reproduce on recordings, on some level, since it's source is speakers and you can purchase every speaker model that they use.
My paretns used to live 20 miles from NYC, I sorta wish thry did simply to see and hear that organ. My father studied and played pipe organs for years and we both would get a huge kick out of atleast experiencing that setup.
I like to listen to recordings of Stephen Hawkin.
Kinda blan if you ask me lol
Ironically, it is reported that Jonny owns a very high-end turntable, and has a taste for expensive electronics.
I think Johnny was saying...

1. An acoustical sound is generally regarded as real.
2. An electronic sound is generally regarded as unreal.


3. A reproduced acoustical sound is no more real than a reproduced electronic sound.


4. A reproduced acoustical sound is no more truthful than a reproduced electronic sound.


5. The use of electronic sounds doesn't make music less truthful.

Personally, I disagree with both (4) and (5).

I do, however, like some of Radiohead's music.

I agree with Bryoncunningham's interpretation of the statement. If all reproduced sound is synthetic, then it really doesn't matter what instrument is used in the recording process as far as one instrument being more "real" than another. That's the freedom he is referring to.
I have avoided revisiting my original post in expectation of many ungracious comments. In reality, those have been fewer than expected. I am relieved to see that someone "gets it". Mechans has provided a very eloquent articulation of my position. The first and second sentences of his reply are EXACTLY why I posted the quote from J. Greenwood and the "contrarian" view it represents. The idea of the hi fi chain at whatever price somehow capturing reality in absolute terms seems delusional to me. If you got enough bucks - just hire the band or orchestra as the case may be. To the literalists, probably helpful to recognize the hyperbole in JG's statement. For those that still disagree, have at it. I'll be very happy with a system that sounds great even if the whole recording process is, "in reality", one of artifice.

For those interested, check out Glenn Gould videos on "YouTube". Very illuminating.
My read is pretty much the same as Bryon's.

Unfortunately, the quotation needs more context to be fully understood. However, it feels like he's addressing the notion of acoustic music being somehow more legitimate than electronic music - particularly, when it comes to evaluating the quality of a recording. That bit about being "freed", however, suggests that there might be more to his statement.

Looks like he was just saying that a reproduction of music is always a reproduction and that reproducing acoustic music offers no "truer" test of fidelity than does reproducing electronic music.

As a matter of logic, I kinda agree. As a practical matter, I kinda disagree. Because listeners are more familiar with the range of possible sounds from a piano or voice than from a synthesizer, many (including me) feel that acoustic music is more revealing than electronic for judging the fidelity of playback.

He's probably right on this one. By the time the recording chain is done, who knows what that recorded piano or voice "should" sound like on "accurate" playback? Sorta sinks the idea of "The Absolute Sound".

No recorded music is actually real anymore than listening to a tape of yourself talking is as real as you actually talking in person. It's what is closer to being real. A recording of the sound of a synthesizer is as real as the recording of a acoustic guitar. They both reproduce the sound of the instrument being played but aren't the real instrument in your room being played. Listening to an electric guitar in concert is as real as listening to an acoustic guitar. They both are the sound that the instrument makes. yes, the electric guitar also includes an amp while the acoustic guitar usually includes a microphone.
05-14-11: Martykl
...many (including me) feel that acoustic music is more revealing than electronic for judging the fidelity of playback.

I agree with this, Marty.

I listen to a nearly equal amount of acoustical and electronic music. It is often difficult to judge how close an acoustical recording is to the live event, but it is nearly *impossible* to judge how close an electronic recording is to the live "event."

I have been around live gigs all my life and have never ever thought that a home stereo could replicate the notion of an artist being "live" in your living or listening room.
I get annoyed when I see "audiophiles" claim that they can get this intimacy from speakers that sell for a cheap condo.

Having done 3,000 gigs in my life, very few actually sound good. I can count a handful of great sounding gigs where everything was the best it could be sonically.

I have heard many speakers though that are balanced at low volumes. I am a big fan of Harbeth, ATC, Neat, DeVore and Pioneer TAD speakers which I think support long listening sessions with recorded material that is "musical" versus "lively." I just don't think that any consumer is fair to say that the best Wilsons or Magicos are equal to the soundsystems we use at a venue. I have never seen a consumer grade speaker remotely capture the bass and "air" that comes from a PA.
Ironically, the PA equipment likely wouldn't sound very good in a small space. They are two entirely different ways of experiencing music.
Agreed. Best not chasing what can't be caught. Best to enjoy what is on hand.

Home entertainment should be about entertainment, not trying to replicate the impossible.

I think Greenwood is right on comment.
....but the audiance can't really tell if half the sound is coming from a tape recording- so it must sound real.?
It's more likely that the sound quality at most live venues, from an audiophile perspective, is junk so rather it's from a live or recorded source the sound is about the same.
I think "real" is an off-putting word. When I was a kid, I enjoyed the best 60s bands on a 8 track and transistor radio. The bands were as real then as if I played them on my current system. I derived the same amount of listening pleasure. The songs were captured as a moment in time, and I felt affinity to the artist.

I have never desired a perfect replication of the artist, and cherish all the imperfections that are a constant of watching bands play live every night. Both the recorded work and a live performance are worlds apart.