High Performance Audio - The End?

Steve Guttenberg recently posted on his audiophiliac channel what might be an iconoclastic video.

Steve attempts to crystallise the somewhat nebulous feeling that climbing the ladder to the high-end might be a counter productive endeavour. 

This will be seen in many high- end quarters as heretical talk, possibly even blasphemous.
Steve might even risk bring excommunicated. However, there can be no denying that the vast quantity of popular music that we listen to is not particularly well recorded.

Steve's point, and it's one I've seen mentioned many times previously at shows and demos, is that better more revealing systems will often only serve to make most recordings sound worse. 

There is no doubt that this does happen, but the exact point will depend upon the listeners preference. Let's say for example that it might happen a lot earlier for fans of punk, rap, techno and pop.

Does this call into question almost everything we are trying to ultimately attain?

Could this be audio's equivalent of Martin Luther's 1517 posting of The Ninety-Five theses at Wittenberg?


Can your Audio System be too Transparent?

Steve Guttenberg 19.08.20


...why one would bypass any reasonably decent pair of ears is a whole curiousity in itself....
The Quads were novel cutting edge,  in their day. Old Quads now are horribly compromised,  utterly incapable of handling today's music, as are most HiFi speakers.  When you hear the "hash" of it, you know the system is not that good, and/or was poorly set up. Superior systems play all music superbly.  
He's also into increasing his Youtube subscriber base, and the majority of his listeners are probably in the $5k-$20K range, so his topics may be tailored to gather the most listeners on the bell curve.  He wants you to relate to his site--I like him.  

But that's the point isn't it?

Either the Magnepans mentioned by Steve or the Quads that I heard are either not even good enough to play back mediocre recordings on - or they might just be too good, too revealing in showing up studio trickery that perhaps the monitors originally used in production didn't show up so ruthlessly.

On the Morrissey tracks I heard, various weird mixing desk / phasing effects could be heard that didn't seem to stand out with all the other speakers I have used.

For me, it's an important issue because 95% of my listening includes popular  music recorded between 1940 and 1990.

At what point in the hi-fi resolution chain does the music of the Beatles, the Kinks, Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, Bruce Springsteen, Louis Armstrong, Elvis Presley, the Incredible String Band, the Doors, the Velvet Underground, the Sex Pistols, the Smiths, the Pogues, U2, the Who, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Doris Day, Peggy Lee, Judy Garland, the Mamas and the Pappas, Leonard Cohen, Cat Stevens, Buddy Holly, Paul Simon etc (not to mention the entire UK charts from roughly the same period) all start to sound worse?

Then there's the additional question of why do audio shows so heavily favour well recorded jazz and the like?

Why do they shy away from the stuff that 99% of the world's population actually listen to? 

Perhaps they know the answer already?
If you find that your system, as you increase its quality, makes that kind of music sound worse to you, then the idea that increased resolution of the system is responsible for that is seemingly the only logical conclusion. I get it. I don't doubt for a minute what you say you're hearing.

But, what I'm saying is that if you keep going on your journey toward a better and better system, then what you will find is that this sort of problem will in fact begin to go away - not get worse. If it always got worse, then there would be no such thing as the high end...Everyone would be complaining about it All the time. And they're not - capiche??

Not trying to dog you, just saying that this is not a permanent problem. Don't let your current findings restrict your willingness to experiment.