Comparing systems through phone recordings

Dear Audiogon friends,

Consider how convenient it would be, if we could exchange sound clips, recordings of how our systems sound in our room, on the web. At Audiogon I get audio friends and contacts whose systems I would love to hear, but they live miles away, or even halfway around the world. The chance that I can come and listen to their system "live" in their listening room is close to zero. So what about, exchanging recordings, instead?

Ten or five years ago, I would have said, forget it, it cannot be done.The drawbacks were too large. Now? I am no longer so sure. Mobile phone technology has advanced. True, I maybe cannot hear the finer nuances of a stereo setup and how it interacts with the room, in a "lowly" mobile phone recording, but I can hear some main characteristics. For example, how my speakers sound compared to my friend’s speakers.

I have tested this concept a bit with other A-goners, using their mobiles to record the same track, playing in their room, recording from their listening position. The results are interesting. They do show differences, even with the limited recording capability, poor mic's, lowgrade file formats, etc.

Anyone else who has tried this?

Yeah, it works. But the consensus around here is this will be a waste of time.
So let me say right up front I am NOT telling anyone to start auditioning components via YouTube! Yet sometimes something is better than nothing. Which for most of us nothing is what we got.
There's whole series of Youtubers just playing records, reviewing gear, pretty much everything you can think of. One guy has a bunch with a Koetsu Black Goldline and Herron phono stage. Different records, tables, arms, but same cart and stage. What is it we do when comparing? Change just one thing? So that's what this is. That's all that it is. One more opportunity to listen and compare.
Listening to just one gives almost no idea. Listening to several where the one constant is the cart, after a while the inherent character comes out. That's what I did. And guess what? When I bought the Herron and the Koetsu they did indeed sound pretty much as expected from listening to them on Youtube.
Now nothing will ever stop the nitpickers and arguers but just so they know I am not saying my stereo sounds exactly like my laptop. What I am saying is your laptop does not need to sound exactly like your stereo in order to be able to get some benefit from this. Its a comparison. Listen. Compare.

Sound is sound. Listening is listening. What you are doing, at the very least, is learning to listen and evaluate. Something we all could afford to be better at.
A friend on here and I have exchanged recordings made on our phones it's not perfect but can certainly give you an idea of the other persons system. I use the voice record pro app on my Iphone it makes good recordings and lossless too.
Thanks millercarbon. We're thinking in the same direction. Sound comparison is possible even if diifficult. And a way of learning more.The method used over here is just to record a standard digital track. To hear the basics of the amp - speaker - room integration. Later, maybe, analog recordings.
To clarify we just do this for fun or to get each others opinion I would never audition anything this way or from a Youtube vid either. It's cool to listen to a recording from his system played back on mine however.
To hear the basics of the amp - speaker - room integration.
Yes well that one's a lot harder. The thing of it is, its all about comparison. Even in our own rooms with our own systems we can't meaningfully compare if we change several things at once. If for example I change the amp, interconnect, and power cord to a different amp, interconnect and power cord, and hear a difference, then I have no idea what did what. Which if that seems funny someone actually did exactly that here just the other day.

Now if instead of 3 components it was just the one then a valid comparison could have been made- and here's the thing- regardless of whether it was by listening in the room or a recording made by anything and played back on anything. Because as long as we have just the one change then we know whatever difference there was, it was just that one thing.
You see where this is going, right? With all those other things it doesn't matter at all who recorded what. But with your room integration now all of a sudden its the only thing that matters. Because when everything changes- and not only all the equipment but even the room itself- then the one thing that must not change is the recording equipment. And technique.

Otherwise, even a tiny change in something as small as which direction the phone is pointed can easily overwhelm whatever differences there might actually have been.

So yeah we're thinking in the same direction. Its just never forget the first commandment of comparing: thou shalt not change more than one thing at a time.

Yesterday I watched OCD hifi guys latest video posted . It was comparing a song from his cd player , streamed through Tidal , And over his server . I watched the video on my main rig . The recording equipment he uses must be pretty good because what I heard was almost like I had played the track through my front end . It was stunning !! 
This could be an interesting thread although I smell blood in the water and the sharks are coming (you better brace yourself @o_holter ). I told the OP that haters got to hate, BTW is funny as I mentioned some names to the OP before reading the post, your name Millercarbon was thrown as a low probability detractor (not a hater), for the record I follow your posts and 99% of the time I do agree with you, and you stated your opinion in the most respectful way possible.
As a matter of fact I do agree with your comment on no auditioning systems via Youtube (for purchasing or decision making purposes)

The OP is not trying that (from my understanding), he just happens to have a system kind of similar to mine and we exchanged recordings of the same songs. He was just simply trying to compare the sonic signature of similar (or dissimilar) systems.
Yes we know there are many variables who make this impossible, for starters the room reflections, the device used to record phone or otherwise, speakers toed in, position of the recording device, power (electricity), power cables and interconnect, 50Hz or 60Hz AC, AC regeneration or not, digital or analog, PCM vs DSD, vinyl mastered from digital or from good master tapes, tubes russian Svetlana's vs American RCAs
Yet with all that we were able to compare three different systems and evaluate bass, midrange from the recordings, I have to say and the OP might agree or not I don't know that highs were extremely hard to evaluate from the recording, most likely because of highly dependable on positioning, yet we had fun and we came at the end with an approximate idea of what else will we tweak or change. For example the OP not following manufacturer recommendations changed his toed in to his preference, so did following on his steps and I and found that his (the OP) speaker toed in might be better suited that what I had before.
IOW, even though stupid recordings made with a phone of highly costly and sophisticated systems could give us a hint on certain parameters without having to travel to the location, heresy? well yes :-) but fun and instructive? that also.

Yes well that one's a lot harder. The thing of it is, its all about comparison. Even in our own rooms with our own systems we can't meaningfully compare if we change several things at once

Yes that is true of course and we are in agreement, the intention is not to AB systems remotely or audition a system that way (sharpen the pitchforks !!)
Just getting a glimpse of the sonics or comparing lightly to a similar system.
Its just never forget the first commandment of comparing: thou shalt not change more than one thing at a time.
I have sinned, I have broken that commandment several times, like a friend of mine told me once I did several changes "Luis, you are banned from the audiophile club membership this month, what were you thinking"But yeah if you are serious you should change things one at a time and possibly let these settled for some time before changing anything else.

Yesterday I watched OCD hifi guys latest video posted . It was comparing a song from his cd player ,

Mike has a very good rig but he has done AB comparison polls on his YouTube channel and people have posted results, he commented on the OP exact opinion how bizarre you could get an idea of good sonics on phone recordings, now he is using I think a more sophisticated recorder not just the a phone.

Funny, I just did this last night. I was curious how the iPhone would capture the system. It wasn't too bad really. The Zoom video digital recorders do a killer job of capturing a room live. X/Y mics. If you get the gain right, they work very, very well.
On the plus side: its free and easy to do, and even if it does not come close to the direct listening experience (and cannot be used for strict A/B comparison), it can give a rough idea of the sonic signature of each system. On the minus side - all the things mentioned above.
Two dilemmas: 1) I can get better recordings using Rode mics into a Steinberg UR22. However, then I would not follow the mobile "standard", it would depend on the others using the same or a very similar recording setup.
2) Comparing system A and B by playing the B recording through A is obviously not ideal, since the B sound will be ’tainted’ by the A sound. In fact its amazing that the differences are notable at all. Yet I hear them. My friend with the B system has much more costly speaker drivers than I have, and I can hear it, especially in the treble. I think this is due to the fact that the sound changes in the mid region, which the mobile pics up, although it cannot fully capture low bass or high treble. In order to avoid the two-in-one problem I've used another system C to test A and B recordings. C is a small (OTL + single driver speakers) home office system. In practice, I hear much the same differences between A and B whether I play them on system C or A (except for bass, which is limited on C). 

One more minus: on some phones, including my p30pro, the sound is better in video than in sound-only recordings. No idea why, but this phone is extremely focused on visual/camera performance, while the sound is almost like an afterthought (e g it only records in mono). I see that the video recordings can be 100mb or so for a couple of minutes, while the sound-only is 1 or 2mb. So, clearly, a much lower level sound format. Further, converting the large mp4 video file into a sound-only file (as lossless as possible) is a problem I haven’t solved yet.
When I do the Teleportation Tweak over the phone 📱I can hear the sound change even as I’m in the middle of doing it, even over a couple satellite 🛰 hops, as long as the customer has the system on at the time, which actually isn’t a requirement. More of a curiosity thing. Yes, I realize one could argue it’s the performance of the phones that’s improving.
You have entered a world of mystery and imagination. It is a dimension as vast as space and as empty as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. The signpost ahead, you have entered the geoffkait zone.
And leaving the yesterday’s news zone of millercarbon. 🤗 Sometimes to create you must first destroy.
I had a bunch of recordings on YouTube from my then Samsung S4. I added more of my upgraded kit from my S7. One day I listened in dismay to the vids on the channel. The older recordings were way better. Clear, clean, uncolored. Had I taken a backwards step? Tests revealed the S4 takes way better sounding video.
As far as the Geoff Kait zone goes, there's seemingly a bit of it in many folks. Know thyself.
I find that premium string between the two tin cans can impart more of the original recording, making it easier to hear the differences.
noromance2,830 posts02-02-2020 12:49pmAs far as the Geoff Kait zone goes, there’s seemingly a bit of it in many folks. Know thyself.

>>>>I can’t help thinking why can’t there be more like me? Oh, well, that’s the way the cookie crumbles. 😢 
The signpost ahead, you have entered the geoffkait zone.

Oh yes, @millercarbon, we are pretty much aware, I warned the OP before posting, we are still missing two more sharks at least, paraphrasing Geoff Kaitlin (damn autocorrect) geofkait, pop quiz, next shark could be the conspiracy analyst himself Mr K, winner gets..... Whatever
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I wrote a post, with a thank you to Millercarbon, Geofffkait and others, for comments - just what I look for in Audiogon debate, making me revise my intitial ideas - but it seems it didn't appear here. Anyway, short version, I will certainly look out for too many variables, and I probably will shy away from teleportation too!
Nearfield listening is another variable. My friend’s system is tuned to nearfield listening. We’ve exchanged recordings, but he says its difficult to compare, since our speaker systems are so differently designed, his for nearfield, mine for all-room listening. Good point, a challenge, but I dont think the barrier is insurmountable. 
The call recording  applications can easily retrieve data as evidence or just to save time and talk dissertation writers . The price of applications such as call recorders varies by platform and functionality.
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around the world. The chance that I can come and listen to their system "live" in their listening room is close to zer

Folks here believe I can not detect at least some semblance of how a  speaker sounds via YT upload.s
Sure its only a  bare idea of how a particular speaker sounds,, but its  enough for me to detect if I will like it or not.
Which is why I record my vids now witha   close up on the speaker,, this way folks can hear it at close range and make a  better guess.

I can actually hear how a  speaker sounds via YT uploda.s
But you have to pay very close attention.
Folks here think it can 't be done. 
Its impossible
If Enrico Caruso sang in your  shower door closed,,and sang ina  Rome opera house,,I'm quite sure you'd recognize his voice as same tenor

Does not always work, as I was very impressed with Voxativ on YT so, ordereda   pair,,, sold them off cheap same day. 
Does not always work.
Not sure what went wrong on the Vox mistake, Sure sounded fantastic in the Vid,. Of course it was another model in the YT vid vs the one I purchased.

Anyway, how my wide bands sound in my YT vids, sound near exact as in my listening room. 
If you don't like the way my wide band sounds in my YT vids, then don't buy the speaker. As you will make a  mistake.

I agree with mozartfan. The challenge is, we cannot directly hear each others systems, around the world. As consumers and audiophiles, we would be much better off it we could do this - instead of relying on second-hand writing and opinion-making. So, to dismiss this challenge as stupid or undoable, is wrong, in my humble opinion. The question, rather, is how to do it. How to reduce the problem factors. First, we would need a decent level of recording, doable for many Audiogon members. I've bought a Zoom H6 that does the job, with a decent mic. Maybe a good mobile phone recorder and in-built mic can work also. Second, there is the playback of this recording, but a fairly good stereo setup should do. Maybe, the main obstacle is in the listening - what exactly is it, you hear. Since there are more potential errors, more "gremlins" than if you were listening in your friend's room, directly. But there are ways to improve this (test with some friends, direct vs through a recorded file). Like the Norwegian rock musician Anne Grethe Preuss said, "sometimes, one millimeter is enough".

Why even consider expensive, high quality gear if a phone can deliver at least as much?  Do you really believe a phone can record and deliver a signal that allows one to discern subtle differences that are the product of very expensive engineering and build?  Why would a recording studio bother with $20,000 microphones if the ones in a phone can deliver enough quality that one can hear what that microphone brings to the recording?  

I expect there to be obvious differences that one can hear even with a phone recording, but, there is no way to tell if those differences are the product of what particular gear are doing and not just differences in the recording process.  In other words, the comparison would be worse than useless because it would most likely lead to false impressions.

I am not saying it can be done. I am suggesting a method, to test it. To get a little better at it. What is the problem with that?

It can never be done, no matter how much refinement you put into the process.  The particular room one records in is unique in its characteristics, so how can any meaningful judgment be made?  There is no perfect microphone--in studios, many different types and models of microphones are used just because they each have certain characteristics and the selection is made based on the particular instrument or vocalist, the particular effect that is being sought, etc.  How can ANY microphone be selected, even if one had a range of alternatives, that does not then make the resulting sound "objective" in terms of a realistic reproduction of the sound in that already arbitrary room?  And what about microphone placement, recording technique/engineering?  

Then there is the matter of the playback of this recording.  How in the world does one account for the gear, the speakers, the acoustics on the playback end?  

Is there any harm in at least trying?  Yes, in that one can easily be deluded into thinking that the reproduction is good enough to make an evaluation.  It never will be good enough to have any meaning.