How to meaningfully audition speakers??

I think this topic has appeared elsewhere, even if worded differently. But I thought I'd ask anyway.

Just upgraded my amp and was thinking about auditioning different speakers. Problem is that there are only a handful of high-end B&M stores nearby. Another complication is that no one store has the 2 or 3 speaker brands that I want to check out.

Further, I am dubious that one can meaningfully audition gear by running from store to store because the test conditions are not identical. In addition, unless a piece is really terrible or incredibly terrific, I don't trust my aural memory. Perhaps other have a different view.

Seems to me that the best way to accomplish what I want is to have the speakers of interest brought to my house and hooked up to my rig. But -- I am NOT aware of any dealer willing to part with expensive gear like that, especially if it has to be specially ordered from a distributor because the model is not on display.

So the Q is what do most folks do? Just buy speakers on hope and a prayer?? Rely on reviews or Forum comments??
This happens to me all the time in the area I live in.
I have to rely on reading as many reviews as possible and emails with people that have the speakers in question.
Not the best way to do it but that's the best I can do, although I have traveled to other states to hear speakers but as you already know any speaker can and probably will sound different in my home with my equipment.
I think this is very tough. I looked at reviews and comments on the asylum, audio circle, here and audio karma.

I also bought used so if they didnt work out i could sell them and not take a big loss (i actually sold one pair for more than i paid :)

So I went from BW to Triangle to Ref 3A de Capos all unheard
The best way to audition speakers in your home but like you said there are very few dealer or speaker manufacturers who would allow you to do that. I honestly will go through various forums, read reviews on speakers I'm interested in and if there are enough positive reviews I buy them. I'm also hoping and a praying that my results are like what I've read. If not then I re-sell at a loss. I think in this day and age that is the only way to go unless there is an audio society/club where you live and maybe you can audition different speakers there.

Buy, Try and Re-sell after some time is what I've had to follow.

There have been times I've gone to B&M stores and brought music I like to audition speakers. Other times I've worked with the associates to give them details about my listening area so we can try to simulate it in their demo room. Even then the music won't sound exactly the same with my gear in my room.
One of the best things I ever did was go to the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest where I could walk from room to room and hear all kinds of equipment and setups and ask questions about them. They may not have your exact setup, but there will be tons of things that you can get a good idea of in a couple days.
for this you need good microphone or good acoustic transducer(or few), good recorder(or multi-track... teac 4-track r2r is one of the great examples), good player, good room and possibly good amplifier. in addition you'll need a musical instrument that you're going to record. good ones to test are trumpet, sax, guitar, double-bass and certainly piano. you'll also need monitor headphones to adjust proper recording level when you test your instrument.

1. record any instrument handy(i'd use 15ips speed of recording on r2r gear)
2. adjust volume of amp to the same level as volume of your live instrument
3. play it through the speakers and analyze the difference.
4. if the difference minimal the speakers are good.
The best way, of course, is to audition the speakers in your environment. If you have the funds, time, etc. you might consider buying (used) each of the speakers you are most interested in and then auditioning them side by side at home.

Once you've identified the best of the lot, sell the others (perhaps at a small loss) and live happily ever after...

Try to find a brand or designer you trust and start there.
Learn which crossover type you like (first order, infinite slope, etc.), driver material, cabinet material.
Go to shows (Rocky Mountain fest is soon) where you can spend lots of time listening.
Lastly, have some recordings you know well to check for things you care about (deep bass? clean treble?).
The bottom line is: You may have to make many purchases before you find your sonic soul-mate.
Ask to be able to spend a few hours listening to your choice at a store. Most stores have times they are not busy. Do not attempt to just walk in and expect to have a few hours alone with a speaker in a room.

Then bring a selection of either CDs or Lps you KNOW and love. AND which have various moments you can use as tests.
Listen to them for a long time with no interruptions at the store. Make it clear from the start you want to be able to spend a few hours listening without interruptions.
(If the salesman wants to chat while you listen, tell him to go away.)

You can see if the speakers can do well with certain key moments in your music.
For myself i like Mozart Extante Jubilante with Emma kirkby to listen to her solos.. Wonderful voice, and tells me if the speakers have a good upper range.
Sinead OConner for the wonderful air around her voice. Finess.
Then Carl Orff Carmina Burana, for drum wacks, and choirs.. The childrens' singing on Telarc CD is a good way to see if the speakers can spread out the voices into individual singers instead of a clump of noise.(same test with massed violins on other recordings, I prefer voices..)

Etc.. Thise titles were just examples of the sorts of things one can note and HOLD on to. Specific moments you CAN remember instead of hazy stuff. Then did the speakers make you happy? How did you feel, aside from trying to bother remembering the sounds. Remember how they made you FEEL.

Repeat at next store with other speakers. some will just not pass you personal tests. This may be due partly to electronics.. partly due to store staff pressures.(also you can ask to bring your own amp/integrated and Cd player.. SOME stores will allow, depending how hard it is for them to swap cables etc)

If the staff cannot keep from bothering you.. I suggest explaining the selling is in LISTENING, not talking.. But some salemen just cannot cope with it. Too bad. point out they can shut up or you can leave.

When I bought my speakers I brought my powerline conditioner to the second several hour trial. And was allowed to plug the electronics into it.
Since I wanted the amps too, the trial of speaker/amp was nice.

And afterwards.. If you do buy at one of the stores.. Tell the other stores what you did buy. and thank them for allowing you to audition at their store. Tell them you will tell your friends how nice they were.
And if you go and buy them online to save a few bucks after using the store to audition. Then you are a bad person.
Great post Liz. I like the way you summed it up: "And if you go and buy [the speakers] online to save a few bucks after using the store to audition. Then you are a bad person." I agree 100% with that view ... and that really is my dilemma. I try to be very straight with people ... just because ... And I think my member feedback reflects that approach.

Without going into specifics, I have a certain speaker in mind right now, say Speaker X. If bought used here on A'gon, I could probably pick up Speaker X for $5K less than discounted retail, which is roughly 35 to 40 percent less. There is no way I will plop myself in a B&M store for hours to check out speakers, with or without talking to a salesperson, and then buy on-line. Just not my style.

As an aside, I have communicated directly with a couple of reviewers who are familiar with my current rig and with Speaker X. The feedback is that Speaker X IS excellent, but the reviewers also said that so is what I already have. I might experience a different presentation, but it's hard to say whether I am stepping up or not.

In the end, I may just quench my curiosity and stay pat and enjoy what I have while my hearing holds out. If really that curious, the comment above about spending some time at a good audio show might be the way to go.

As another aside, IME, what I am finding is that significant improvements are coming at prices that are increasing at geometric rates in excess of what I perceive as the subjective improvements. For example, this may be audiophile heresy, but I just sprung for $4K (net of trade in/resale bucks) to step up from an ARC VS-115 tube amp to the much ballyhooed ARC Ref 150. Is the Ref 150 a better sounding amp. Yes ... I believe it is -- hands down. Is it worth $4K more??? That's a tough call. I certainly wouldn't give up on a necessity for the upgrade. But it is kinda cool to hear the difference. Yeah, it is!

Thanks all for the great comments. Kinda corroborates my thinking.

Never judge a book by it's cover. If, for example, you've had bad experiences with planars or metal tweeters, or whatever, I'll guarantee that there's something out there that's going to surprise you.

Consider your room, placement of speakers and the amplifiers requirements of the speakers.

When you're comparing mediocre to mediocre, it can be difficult but listen to as much as you can, even if they're out of your budget, and when something outstanding shows up, regardless of the room or other equipment, you'll know immediately. Those kind of breakthrough moments, are memorable. Question becomes whether you can afford it now or sometime down the road.
Find your reference sound by auditioning various good systems at dealers, shows, friends, whatever. Once you know your reference sound when you hear it, then you are in a position to try to replicate it. Can't achieve a goal until you know what it is.
It gets tougher as one moves up the scale. Early in the process I made a large jump from B&W cm7 to the 802D which represented a nice improvement and was easy to hear. Now I couldn't audition at my home without hauling some big heavy speakers around. Something to be said for monitors.....
I think Mapman's advice makes a lot of sense too. And St114_nj, I posted a comment a little earlier that jives with what you said. Once one hits a certain level, incremental improvements require a lot more due diligence and effort. My comment also touched on incremental cost compared to benefits gained.
I've bought speakers online after reading as much as I could about them and after auditioing at length with music I'm familiar with and there's really no comparison. You have to personally audition them.

Having said that, if there's a speaker you don't have access to and you really would like to hear it or something from their line, talk to the company and see if there is anyone near you who've bought a pair and maybe they can hook you up with a listen. I've done it once and it was a very nice experience and I ended up buying a pair online afterwards.

Good luck in your search.

All the best,
You still have to settle in with them, and that could take a while...luckily there's so much info out there you can easily educate yourself about a lot of stuff, but you never know until you hook it all up at home (even if you live in the parallel universe of accessable hifi stores inhabited by Elizabeth). If you can exactly replicate your listening room in a large RV you can drive it all over and get stores to let you take things to the parking lot and hook 'em up (an extreme solution, but hey...). Anything I'm remotely interestd in I read all about and usually am happy with the results even if I can't audition something, although there have been a few unpleasant surprises.
I agree it is a problem, but really for all other kit too, amps, CD players phono cartridges. Some excellent advice given already. The most important is to have CDs and LPs you know for a sound quality check. You have to know how they sound in your system first. Secondly, if you are going to a dealer, ask for kit as similar to yours in quality, as they can provide. There is no point auditioning with $100,000 monopblocks, if you use $5000 integrated.

Shows are a good place to start, because show conditions are so bad. If a speaker sounds good in show conditions, it must have smothing going for it.

You will find dealers who are prepared to loan speakers, especially if you are an old, trusted customer. Even then, new kit needs time to settle in and a weekend loan is too short.
Elizabeth has some great points but when I went auditioning speakers I brought my my current speakers with me for a reference (monitors and stands). No dealer refused to let me bring my speakers in to compare. Actually they liked that idea. One dealer thanked me for not buying his speakers. I'll explain - I went to the shop and listened to his speakers and was very impressed. I came back a second time with my speakers and compared them side by side. Well I preferred my speakers overall. The reason he thanked me is because I would have bought those with a CC. He would order them and said because of his satisfaction guarantee he knows I wouldn't be happy with them after taking them home. He would take them back and be stuck with the CC charges and the speakers.
I like Mapman's suggestion. IF the sound of live is your goal, I would take Mapman's approach a step further. Listen to as much live music as possible leading up to the speaker audition date(s). Bite the bullet and don't worry about wether it's your favorite type of music or not, favorite venue, or even by good artists; it's not always possible, you are listening for the sound. The idea is to simply recalibrate your ears to what real music really sounds like; we tend to forget that in the pursuit of audiophile stuff. There are enough common threads in the sound of live music regardless of genre, venue, etc. that will become obvious the more you listen to it. Then when you listen to speakers the presence or absence of them will be much more obvious and you will have found your speaker. Good luck.
a legitimate audition requires not only my own environment and equipment, but a good long period of time. No way a dealer could facilitate this, if the few places dealers still exist in an area near you. So you just have to take your best shot, buy something and live it with for while. Sell 'em and try something else, if you must. hence, Audiogon.

Thanks for pointing out the value of listening to all kinds of live music in all kinds of venues as a means of establishing a reference for what music can and does sound like.

I realized after posting that I missed that important aspect of "establishing a reference", which is the most important first step. Without a reference to shoot for, you cannot POSSIBLY hit the target.

Live music even more so than hifi will demonstrate how different things can sound based on things like venue, acoustics, sound mix, listening position relative to performance, etc.

IT really helps set some useful reference points. Then you also realize how different each event sounds and all that goes into that.

Also, and most importantly, you will gain an understanding of what different events that sound good have in common. That provides the reference information needed to now attempt to achieve similar results at home, where quality and nature of sound will also vary based on room acoustics, gear assembled starting with speakers, listening position and most importantly, recording to recording.

When you get to a point where it does not matter much what recording you play because most all recordings in good condition sounds good (not always perfect but engaging in a different way each time), that is probably where one seeking the "ultimate sound" wants to find themselves. You'll know when you have to pry yourself away from listening, rather than the sound chasing you away prematurely.

It may take some time but does not have to cost a fortune in many cases, at least in the end, if done one step at a time, starting with the right speakers for your unique room and budget, and not too many dead end roads gone down in the process as a result of just trying to throw money at the problem.
I listen to live music as a sound mixer (and as merely another unimportant little audience member) often, and play live music every day as a musician and pretend "bon vivant." I beg to differ about this "live music" requirement for home audio "reference" as I think the home is so absolutely different than any venue (except my home which has been used as a venue for "house concerts"....but still), it's sort of a meaningless thing...unless the hapless speaker shopper has NEVER heard music, in which case there are other, more personal issues at hand (the need to get out more, deafness, a mental disorder that renders the victim "opinionless"). You could do this: If you want to see what a piano really sounds like, go to a Steinway dealer and have them hold you over the open piano with your head facing down onto the sound board while somebody plays the thing, and afterwards put earplugs in and hurry over to a High End dealer and plunk in front of speakers (remember to remove the earplugs). This won't work, but it could be fun. I still think my "living room replicating Winnabago" idea is the way to go, or simply read reviews, listen to speakers someplace, go to Carnegie Hall when the strike ends if only to support live stuff, buy something and if it sucks sell it and get something else. See? All better now.
Wolf, for example, in recent years I have attended live events at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, Carnegie Hall, Rams HEad live in Annapolis Maryland, and Fedex field in DC all of which had excellent sound that I found to be useful as a reference myself. Also the occasional local band in a nearby unknown pub.

I am a paying customer only, so I only get to do it a few times a year, not on a regular basis. I suspect that there is overkill at some point in terms of how often listening to live music is actually useful as an ear training experience, but I think it is up until the point where the ears become well trained already as a result.

Also lots of events mostly in other venues that were more examples of bad rather than good sound.

All these experiences have helped me to be able to recognize what good sound is, at least to me, as well as bad. All useful training for my ears.
Wolf, Can I purchase a ticket to your concert?
Make sure I will have enough time to run to dealer with my earplugs to audition speakers :)))
Indeed, but what about my Winebago idea?
"Indeed, but what about my Winebago idea?"

Way to think "out of the box" !! I like it.
"Live music" ?? if by live musuc you mean some super loud rock with a bad pa system,, no.
Even many ochestras now use amplification.
About the only real live music would be a small Jazz combo, or chamber music.
Going to Rock concerts and having your hearing destroyed does NOT COUNT.
(seems most movie theaters also are Hell Bent on destroying your hearing...)
Liz, didn;t realize the term "live music" was open to so much debate and qualifications. If its live guys playing and its not a recording, however they do it and whatever tools they choose, electronic or otherwise, isn't that "live"? What is it otherwise if not? Not a recording. Music of the "undead" maybe? I consider a guy playing sounds on a synthesizer live as well, as long as its not a machine doing it. That's just me...:^)
The subject of the value of the sound of live as a tool for establishing a (at
least partial) benchmark for the accuracy of reproduced sound is a topic
that always elicits strong opinions; some of which are simply misguided.
Misguided because the reasons cited for why it is not a useful tool are, at
best, misunderstood; and, at worst, agenda driven and made by listeners
who seldom (if ever) attend live music performances. The reasons why it
IS a very useful tool should be obvious; problems not-withstanding.

First of all, note that my original comment clearly states: "IF the sound
of live is your goal....". Not everyone has that as a goal, nor is it a
requirement for the enjoyment of reproduced music. However, having said
all that, IMO using the sound of live as a reference can lead one to the
BEST and most satisfying reproduced sound.

Part of the misunderstanding is the exaggeration of the problems with the
live experience; particularly as concerns live classical music, and this is
where most detractors miss the forest for the trees. Sure, SOME classical
music venues do occasionally use sound reinforcement. So what? The
vast majority of venues don't; and even if they do, there is still plenty of
merit in those live experiences that can be very helpful to the audiophile:
the tonal/harmonic complexity of a string section which is seldom heard in
reproduced sound, the proper scaling of instruments in relation to each
other, the beautifully subtle micro-dynamics, and much more. Now, we all
know how horrible the sound can be at many rock and pop concerts; but
even then there are things to be learned. For instance, I have never heard
a kick drum or rim shot reproduced over a stereo (ANY stereo) that had the
visceral feeling and speed heard at even less than great live concerts.
Why? Because in spite of often inferior equipment, bad venues, and
tasteless mixing (NOT Wolf; of course :-) ) there is so much less processing
and sheer stuff that the musical signal has to go through from instrument to
PA speaker than what the signal has to go through when recorded in a
studio, then mastering, pressing; and THEN, all of the stuff in our playback

No one is suggesting that we subject ourselves to bad sound simply
because it is live, and not be critical of it. But, the truth is that there is
plenty of really good, and sometimes great live sound to be heard if we
keep an open mind and keep our too-fragile audiophile sensibilities in
Live music, in studio or otherwise is the reality, FBOFW. Right?

How much anyone cares about it though is totally up to them.

Alan Parsons has never invited me into his studio, so I will never know what that was supposed to sound like.

But I can walk down to nearest pub, recital hall outdoor concert and listen. My daughter will play her violin for me in our house for free (with some coaxing).

I find listening live FBOFW helps my ability to enjoy music in that I find the way things sound in general to always be interesting. Doesn't even have to be music. Ever hear a rooster crow from close up? Or listen to the sound of the surf breaking on a beach? How about the birds waking up at daybreak? Very cool!
Live music is the reference when but one can NEVER it replicate in one's room. One has to settle for what one uses as clues to convince oneself that what one is listening to is real enough to satisfy.

I like tone, detail and ambient clues while others prefer soundstage width and depth or instrument placement, frequency extension, bass performance, etc.

Whatever floats your boat should be what you're looking for in a speaker since it's the most colored performing piece of equipment you'll have in your system.

You'll encounter more compromises at the lower cost end of the equation than at the more expensive (generally) but those compromises have to be factored in with the rest of your equipment and what clues you like when deciding.

All the best,
Note that live drums go through plenty of processing at concerts including compression, digital reverbs, input pads, etc. The reason live drum sounds don't go through your hifi is the fact that uncompressed drums would blow up most any home system's speakers, unless you're using large, professional, huge coil 15" or 18" woofers. Try it...get a 1200 watt pro PA amp and a mic, and stand back. I record and mix live drums for jazz concerts, and get away with input pads and sensitive overhead condensor mics. Now that's LIVE! Also note that small jazz combos are often completely unbalanced if not miked somehow, unless you sit in the middle of the band which isn't usually allowed even for Elizabeth.
"The reason live drum sounds don't go through your hifi is the fact that uncompressed drums would blow up most any home system's speakers, "

Not to mention the amp clipping that would probably occur and totally ruin the sound anyhow in most cases even if the result is not blown speakers.

Note though that proximity to music source and venue room acoustics is a big factor in how loud something really is.

I was listening to a rock band play outdoors from about 20 feet away recently. It was loud overall and sound mix was good but nothing there that could not be reproduced at home easily with the right gear.
****Live music is the reference when but one can NEVER it replicate in one's room****

I couldn't agree more. But here is the problem: because of that unfortunate (?) reality, most audiophiles are very quick to abandon the POSSIBILITIES from using that benchmark simply because perfect replication can never be attained. To my ears, far more audiophile sound systems owned by listeners who regularly attend live music performances sound closer to GOOD live sound than systems owned by audiophiles who don't; regardless of preferred music genres.
It all comes back to what is your reference for good sound.

As long as you know what it is for you, there is a good chance of a happy ending. Otherwise, chances are slim.
****The reason live drum sounds don't go through your hifi is the fact that uncompressed drums would blow up most any home system's speakers, unless you're using large, professional, huge coil 15" or 18" woofers****

Understood, and I agree. But, that does not change the truth in my premise; and in a sense you make my point: if you don't know ( through experience) what is possible as far as speed and visceral impact, how can one best judge which component (speaker, in this case) gets closest to that ideal.

****Try it****

No thanks :-)

Is suspect most people are quite happy listening to whatever it is they are listening to for whatever reason. Only audiophiles are "smart" enough to let it bother them.

Hey, wait a minute.....
I think the discussion about so called "live" music being a gold standard reference is ok by me and I find the discussion interesting. So by all means, please continue. But since I am the OP, I would like to add my thoughts and then "seg" back to the original topic.

As far as MY personal home audio is concerned, I am looking for a musical experience that I find satisfying and enjoyable. The standard I used to judge whether the experience is satisfying and enjoyable -- simply put -- is whether or not it is.

Now, going back to the original topic, it seems to me that whether one wants to judge any particular piece of equipment by this or that standard is ok. But isn't the real issue as it pertains to speakers, or pretty much any item, is how can one meaningfully audition the speaker of interest or other item??

My sense of the early responses is that many members expressed similar frustration as me. Yeah ...., sometimes one can luck out and a dealer will arrange for a home audition. But most times, many just do the best they can by way of research, perhaps an occasional visit to a B&M store, and so forth. After all of that, in the end, they buy and if they like what they picked up, all is well. If not, hope to sell the piece at not too great a loss, and then try something else.


Sorry about that dyslexic first sentence. As I read it now....
This is a huge problem in today's audio world.

Decades ago I used to invite customers to bring their amp, their old speakers, anything they wanted into my room for demo.

I would loan out speakers if someone was serious. I used to go there to help carry big ones and set them up. It was work but my success rate was very high, so it was a viable business model.

Certainly I would move speakers to a different smaller demo room in my place of someone had a much smaller room than my main demo room.

I have no idea if any dealers at all do this these days.

For myself, a show can certainly show if there is promise in a speaker, and I will buy used at market value to try, then sell if I don't like them. If I love them and want used ones I just sell again at market value and buy new ones.

Nothing worthwhile is accomplished without putting out effort, risk. So be as smart as you can about demoing, borrowing, buying used at market value to eval, then sell what you don't like.

Getting to a show is a lot better than taking someone's word on a forum. Try to find someone who agrees with your taste when discussing equipment or when they describe their system. Then at least you know you roughly line up with their evaluation ability / alignment with yours.
Hi Frogman,
I always appreciate your well reasoned and insightful contributions on this
site . I'd like your perspective as a professional musician concerning
recording quality as related to genres. Jazz recordings with rare exception
are much better sounding than most pop and rock recordings. Are jazz
musicians more demanding and insistent of good sound or is it a case of
more respect and effort from the recording engineers?

It seems regardless of the era or the label jazz is produced to a much
higher standard(both studio and live venues), they're more natural and far
less compressed/processed. I'd assume that the pop and rock artists want
their music to be given the same consideration and respect as the jazz
musicians seem to routinely get during the recording process.
Charles1dad, thanks for the kind words. Out of respect for the OP's request, I will send you a private message with my thoughts. Cheers.
It is tough today to meaningfully audition speakers now that there are so few dealers in close range. Shows can help but still...they often play music to highlight strengths. I HAVE to hear a wide range of music to be able to consider whether or not the speaker might be satisfactory long term. Like Elizabeth, I have specific recordings used to evaluate. The other wild card is the system you are listening to vs your own. Is the speaker going to match well with your amplifier or are you going to have to reconfigure the system to accomodate the new speaker?

There is no easy way today to audition so I guess one has to spend a lot of time reading, sorting through and finally try to locate someone reasonably close that will let you listen or buy used and try that route. I find speakers the most complex component to satisfactorily describe that would make you feel comfortable that it is going to work. We each have different priorities and can live with some ommissions or commissions more than others. Is it too forward, laidback, warm, resolving enough, tonally accurate, dynamically convincing...?

Really there is no way to know for sure without some serious listening which for many of us means buying used and gambling that it's going to work out and if not, reselling and moving on. I'm not too sure I would ever again purchase without hearing first unless there was some audition period, used possibly if the price was good enough that it could be resold if things didn't work out. It is a good question with few really satisfactory answers. The only thing I WOULD say, particularly to those with little experience, never purchase new without hearing first, particularly based on what others might tell you. This is the time to listen to as many speakers as possible to determine exactly what it is you want to hear to minimize costly mistakes.
Thanks, I didnt mean to disrupt this interesting thread.
That is a great question that Charles asked. I am also interested. Perhaps the "Jazz for Aficionado" thread would be better answered on.
If Frogman wants to answer there I'm sure others will appreciate his thoughts and viewpoint.
Indeed a great question posed by Charles. Inquiring minds want to know! Please Frogman, what are your thoughts, if not here then on another thread. My guess is that like rock musicians, some do and some really don't care, maybe more thoughtful consideration by the sound engineers on jazz recordings than those in rock/pop? I would think that there are much fewer jazz recording engineers than those in the rock/pop genre so there would be more variation in sound quality.
Go for it Frogman. It's a free country and I don't own this thread. I'd like to read your thoughts too. :-)

And ... , Charles1dad's Q is not really so far off point because it indirectly touches on a related aspect of speaker selection. That is the availability of good source material which relates to Chares1dad's recording/engineering quality Q.

After-all, why spend a fortune on any piece of equipment if the availability of source material is limited. Just read all the threads which touch on the benefits and limitations of this or that music media, e.g., vinyl, redbook CD, SACD, streaming digital and so forth.

Seems to me the real starting point is how good a job do recording engineers and artists do in producing good music. Forget what comes downstream. Garbage in -- garbage out. :-')

P.S. apologies if any typos. Had eye surgery yesterday and my vision is still limited. Fortunately, my hearing is ok and I'm enjoying a great redbook CD recording of the 1812 Overture. Reminds me of when I was a kid and my Mom served me and my brothers Quaker Oats Puffed Wheat for breakfast. :-)
Hi Bifwynne,
I appreciate your generous attitude, recording quality has been a persistent mystery to me. Why are there such wide fluctuations in the sound of recordings amongst engineers (there seems to be no established standard). Why do recordings done 40-50 + years ago sound as good or better than many current examples(did the engineers actually listen more in those days?)? It's as if the method of recording has regressed (even classical music in some cases) and this is contrary to most technology endeavors. Jazz really seems the genre that has remained the most consistent in recording quality over the decades.

I'm certain Frogman, Wolf or Learsfool could shed some light on this strange phenomenon.
I have no experience, first hand or anecdotal, in recording studios but I can see certain types of individuals gravitate to certain fields and endeavors and bring with them their disciplines. These disciplines may seem or appear to be stereotypical and not true as a whole but they do serve as a basis.

Type casting is a no-no as there are always exceptions to the rule: long haired rockers who always use 11; studious geeks who defer to exactitude; free thinkers who tend to experiment.

I'd love to hear what the pros say as well and shed some light on why they think certain genres of CDs sound better and those who broke the mold or went against the grain to get the best sound they could.

All the best,
Is Walter Becker's (Steely Dan bass, guitar, writer) latest solo CD rock? Because I think it's sonically astounding, and perhaps a reference of sorts. Modern pop music producers might insist on high gain compressed sound because they think that's what people want, and that approach is controversial but shows up all over the place. Hippity Hop/Rap and Norwegian Death Metal don't cater to audiophiles anyway, nor do Miley Cyrus and any other "modern" pop things, but I have only a vague idea of what that stuff sounds like anyway as life is too short to waste listening to music I don't like. I listen to a lot of modern jazz from Jason Moran and Jon Scofield to Bad Plus, etc., and it is often of reference sound quality...only meaning the producer has caring ears.