I agree that resolution unveils system shortcomings but I remember also my old inexpensive system 20 years ago that required constant tone adjustment because nothing sounded right - one CD too bright while the other too bassy. Now with better gear everything sounds about right. I don't have tone controls but don't feel I need them - why?
It's both, or neither, or one or the other depending on one's perspective and preferences.
Maybe the true perfect solution is owning a forgiving player and a resolving player, thus affording a choice depending on the quality of the recording.
Then again, that's what EQ is for...
About ten years ago I got to "the end" of the resolution chase with a certain system. Woodwind pads clicking, chairs squeaking, bad caps in mixing consoles, horrible sounding digital artifacts, poor splices, etc, etc.
I had a fairly nice album and cd collection that was then about 80% unlistenable/unenjoyable. I don't know that there is one answer, but I'll never go for resolution at the expense of a "musical" sounding system (whatever that means!).
I think there's a lot more to it than what appears on the surface. What many folks equate with "greater resolution" is simply tilted up or peaky treble response. There are also cable and component combinations that together produce a kind of hyper-detailed, but not musically accurate or satisfying sound. Then there are room nodes, reflections, and cancellations to deal with -- not to mention things like failure to ensure clean power to your component chain (which has it's own set of undesireable effects).
In any given system, there are varying degrees of all of the above (and more). But I suppose it's easiest just to put a label like "too resolving" on it and/or assign blame to the offending recording(s), and call it a day...
Having reviewed all the equipment being discussed I find that your are correct.
In general, I'd tend to agree. However, I recently made some changes to my system that gave me more resolution while also increasing the body of the tone, and a little bit of extra warmth to boot. The result is increased resolution and musicality at the same time. Even some CDs that were borderline "listenable" now sound better.
I've found it difficult to find the right balance of components and cables to get these results, but my experience seems to indicate that it's possible.
I think part of the equation in the "Higher Resolution"
dabate is the fact that some highly read reviewers are at the point of appreciable hearing loss. And they won't admit it.
I went to a local high end store here in Phoenix with a fellow audiophile, a couple of years ago. We heard a system that the store owner raved about. After he left us alone with the system, I asked my friend if the system sounded as bad to him, as it did to me. I described my take on the system, he pretty much agreed.
I've known the store owner for years, I used to agree with him the majority of the time on systems I heard at his store. I believe as his hearing degraded, he desired more & more detail to make music sound as good as it used to.
I'm 54 now, and I've recently decided I want my 2 channel to sound as good as my finances will allow.
In a few years I will have appreciable hearing loss.
I want to make the most of my hearing now.
My front end consists of an Electrocompaniet CD player, and a Pass X1 preamp. I believe both of these pieces have very good detail, but they still sound very musical, to me.
I can't stand it when I go to a live concert and there is just too darn much resolution there!
Seriously, I've never considered resolution to be a problem. The more the merrier! Distortion and certain tonal imbalances bother me more but I do not have as many issues these days as in the past. I've learned to take various recordings for what they are, for better or for worse. Just please, no audible distortions!
Mapman - Tonal imbalances bother me too. It is very tiring to climb the stage and adjust their amps at every concert.
I have never run into the problem as asked. I would say some electronics, etc. have greater resolution, but a few of them also sound like crap.. and a few of them sound really good. So I have to say it is not a compromise in my mind.
That is: higher resolution is not usually connected to having to endure bad recordings sounding even more like crap than before. (but then I can listen to a poor recording of a great performance and be happy. Unlike some who cannot stand to do so.)
(Plus, I am only in the mid-Fi camp.. having middle of the road equipment. If I had $200,000. in stuff wired up.. I might be in a different position to argue one way or another.)
As it now is for me, I can find equipment that gives me better resolution without problems of bad recordings sounding worse.
Analogously, ask yourself: can an HD video have too much resolution? Not if your goal is to be able to see everything as clearly as possible. then again, some of the things you see may be dog ugly or you may not find attractive or perhaps the HD equipment is of inferior quality and introduces noise or distortion that limit the results at resolution X. That is the equipments fault, not the fault of higher resolution source.
Audio is pretty much the same way.
it is my hypothesis that greater resolution, while possibly "improving" the sound of well-recorded cds, makes poor recordings sound worse. thus, is greater resolution a boon or a bane?
That was my initial expectation during the years when my system was evolving from low fi to mid fi to somewhere in the middle of the high end part of the spectrum. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that was not what happened.
What I found, at least with the classical recordings that comprise most of my listening, is that just about any recording manages to get at least a few things mostly right, and as my system improved and the things that were right about the recordings were reproduced with greater realism, my attention would be drawn by that realism to what was right about the recordings, and not what was wrong.
That said, though, I do find that a disproportionately high share of my listening is to recordings that are on audiophile labels or are otherwise high quality. And as Elizabeth said, if I had a $200K system it might be a different story.
Hey Elizabeth, you do your system a dis-service by referring to it as "in the mid-fi camp." :) To most of us, I think that "mid-fi" = mass market brands; "middle high end" would be more like it!
"...my attention would be drawn by that realism to what was right about the recordings, and not what was wrong."
Al. Thank you - that answers my question I asked at the beginning of the thread "why now with better system I don't need to adjust sound between CDs?".
""...my attention would be drawn by that realism to what was right about the recordings, and not what was wrong.""
Well put! I'm in that camp also.