According to TAS, the reference should be live unamplified music-which always seemed like a good reference to me.
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I voice my home system to sound realistic (not real!) on vocals, solo acoustic instruments, and small groups playing acoustic instruments, in an appropriate room. That's good enuf for me. With that done, usually large orchestral etc sounds good enuf, even if miniaturized and undynamic compared to the real thing.
Great dynamic range, smooth frequency response, and low distortion would be on my short list to approach live sound. Although some live amplified concerts I have heard sounded so bad and distorted I wouldn't want to hear them again.
Live unamplified instruments (including the human singing voice)as the first poster suggested, are the best reference. Once you amplify the instruments and put the sound through EQ's, a mixer, amps, and speakers you're not getting an accurate picture of what the actual instruments sound like. And less than ideal seating within the venue makes it even worse.
Human voices, their subtleties and nuances are the hardest along with piano to recreate IMHO. Thats where I look first. Ive found capturing those two things and just about everything else falls into place.
The initial post carries a lot of weight too. Ive heard a few rigs over the years myself, and have yet to experience a duplication of a live event, especially an amplified one. A wildly amplified one is about impossible IMO to recreate in ones home.
Emmulate it? Perhaps. Duplicate it? Why? Is hearing no longer important for you? Ive been to some clubs which are simply too loud for me to remain in for long. Im well back from the speakers when I attend these concerts today. Way back and for me its a near waste of time to go as I get a better sound at home.
Newbies point of attempting to corral something realistic rather than chasing realism is a more attainable aspiration. Achieving intimacy and presence is a lot easier to do if the venue supports such items. Football stadiums and huge concert halss seldom convey those feelings by their very nature.
Perception too plays a part I think. For me its a lot easier task for my mind to be OK with 4-6 people standing/sitting behind my speakers and in my listening room, than it is for it to believe there are 50 or 60 folks playing a symphony, or half a dozen folks up on a 60 ft wide stage towering above me kicking out the jams . So those cases remain miniatures. Save for the spotlit or solo performances.
Maybe thats why bluegrass folk, and small jazz combos have a greater believability or feel to them for me and in my system. Ive long since given up the desire to reproduce live rock & roll or pop music but I still play it. So Ill vote for trying to recreate the live acoustic venue too.. it just makes the most sense.
many recordings are engineered to the point where you are actually reproducing the engineers idea of what the sound should be. Voices and pianos are two things to strive to get right. Many symphony orchestras can sound somewhat believable on a good system with dynamic speakers. The image will be smaller but can be believable when you close you eyes and listen.
I agree that non amplified live music is the goal to strive for. Many of the live concerts I've attended appear to mix all the tracks into one mono feed so that no matter where you are seated you will hear it all. Unfortunately, localization of the individual instruments is lost and sometimes drowned out by the base. The quality of the sound systems are geared more toward volume then toward detail. Studio recordings or remixed live performances often sound better. There is still no replacing the energy and high of the live concert. Even with all its short comings. I just saw Hot Tuna at the Becon and it was great. I can't wait to Sting tomorrow night
The OP has it wrong in my opinion. There is no comparing. Recorded music and life music are two different beasts altogether. When buying a hifi system you should buy something which sounds pleases you. You should not compare it to life music. With life music there are so many variables and again with recorded music there are again many variables but completely different ones that in my opinion you should not compare the two.
Go to live acoustic jazz or a classical Symphony concert, sit in the center row or in the center of the jazz club at about the center of that theater or club and listen. If you can get you system close to this sound you are there.
Often what I have been noticing with todays large slim line array so called accurate time aligned speakers is that the instruments and performers seem like they are 10' tall. Although accurately placed but when Jimi Hendix sounds like he and his guitar are playing from the first floor to the second floor I never really felt this was an accurately display of what a live performance is supposed to sound like acoustic or amplified
The only speakers I have come across that seem to give an accurate display of a live performance are Westlake Audio and PMC. Ironically they both make speakers for the professional sound reinforcement industry.
I'm not a classical music listener but have attended a few symphony's and you will be amazed at what you hear. Bass to beyond 20HZ tight clean and fast! Hits you slightly in the center of your chest. A good jazz club you have instruments that feel 3-D sounding stand up bass and piano more forward with drums deeper behind but very wide display and having that snap that is very hard for allot of speakers to reproduce accurately.
Give it a try and you'll have a whole perspective on what your system should sound like
Hi and thanks for the interesting comments. For the longest time I wondered about what a home system should sound like and as my system evolved it became clear to me that what I heard live was not what I could accomplish in my home. Over the years there have been fleeting moments that sent chills up my back and there have also been moments of frustration. With that said most of my experience has been pure enjoyment of the music. It is only when I am drawn into the equipment game that I am really frustrated. With the advent of the computer, agon and other sites my awareness has expanded and with the help from a few nice people the experience of music listening is truly priceless.
I really don't see how live music can be replicated given the steps it takes to reach our ears. Do any of you think commercial equipment used in the recording industry is up to the standard of the better home equipment? The people doing the mixing are projecting what they think it should sound like, then there are the people designing and manufacturing cartridges and so on down the line. Bottom line is ENJOY THR MUSIC and have a system that makes music that pleases you. Other thougts are welcomed.
Sorry did you meant Live vs Horn System...
Like Apachef1 just said , the idea is to compare your system to a live unamplified performance, a Jazz band, a Salsa Band is great also! but the main point is to get a Symphony in your living room...I have heard such system, it can be done, most approximations use multiaplified huge horns.
Now Mordante is on the other side of it, dont compare just enjoy the music, well the times I enjoyed music the most were in my teens with a cheap stereo and a couple of girlfriends, but maybe hormones had something to do with it! remember : In the heat with a blue jean girl....
Now if you mean to replicate the sound of a Stadium playing a U2 concert hell put some earplugs and call the police!!!
I just heard Holy Cole in a small and well-known jazz club in Boston. It was dreadful. The sound came out of three large speakers via a mixing board. Scale was wrong, bass too loud, etc. Even worse was Patricia Barber in Cambridge a year ago. Though my system hardly sounds real, I much prefer it to those two live performances.
The Boston Symphony Orchestra, on the other hand, sounds fantastic. I just heard Brahm's violin concerto from center orchestra seats and I was nearly moved to tears. My system can't come close. The BSO is my clear reference and what I compare my system to every time I make changes and attempt improvements. I have never heard better than the BSO and only a few systems in my experience have even hinted at that sound.
Shadorne, I can almost guarantee that the ATC's in Symphony Hall would never actually be used in the BSO's regular classical symphonic concerts. They would be used for the Boston Pops, depending on what the program was - they would only be used if something was being miked live, for instance a vocalist in a pops show. About the only exception that would ever occur in a regular classical subscription series program that I can think of off the top of my head would be a classical guitar concerto - and even then, I am not certain that it would be pumped through the hall's speaker system - often it is just a moniter on stage. I can ask friends in the orchestra if you are curious, and get back to you in a couple of days.
the question is what live music are we comparing to?We're not -- or shouldn't be IMO. At home we create a musical event;
I don't think we should refer to precise reproduction of live music as the target reference for a system.
Live music teaches us characteristics of musical instruments, of how musicians work, of the soul musicians put into their playing... but we surely can't expect to bring Albert Hall into our living room!
Interesting comments, the info presented has helped me with my own feeling about listening to music. I have read other threads where some folk advocate recreating the live experience and never could get a feel for that goal. Seems like my goal has been to create an experience that is not fatiging, one that invites you to listen. Does anyone have experience with the pyscological aspect of music listening?
THANKS to all for the participation..
Happy Holidays and enjoy the music
Agreed. They would be used by the sound engineers for recording and mixing (selected for tonal quality for live acoustical instruments).
In fact, it seems I may be out of date - as WGBH has moved out of Symphony Hall and are in a new facility.
Too many people get caught up on sound quality vs. live concert. A live concert is an experience beyond the sound itself, the energy, and variations of songs vs. the original studio recording is really what its all about. Sounding good, and being loud are pluses however. In order to get live experience at home would require drinking with a bunch of people, a huge projector screen, big speakers and a live concert DVD :-) Thats as close as it comes. Other than that there should be many priorities in a system that can just make everything sound real not necessarily "live".
Recordings themselves and the rooms acoustics your systems are housed will be the determining factor, not 100% just the gear being used to produce the end results you desire.
At home you can only listen to a recording not a performance. There are many occasions where a recording may be preferable to the live event.
I can control the volume exactly where I want it and I have my favorite seat all the time. A truly "live" reproduction in my listening room would not be an enjoyable experience.
I do like to attend performances at the Mesa Center for the Arts at least 3 or 4 times per year to experience the real deal.