Speakers that reveal bad recordings? Not for me.

Why is it ever desirable to have speakers that simply reflect whatever they are fed, for better or worse?
I can control the upstream equipment, but I cannot control the quality of the recording, which severely limits my freedom of music choice, defeating the purpose of an audio system. This just seems like common sense to me, and I get annoyed when a dealer or whomever mentions this as sign of quality. (Thanks for reading my rant.)
One thing is for sure, if you have speakers which won't reveal bad recordings for what they are you're going to save a lot of money on fancy (revealing) electronic's and sources 'cause you won't get any benefit from them. And apparently you won't get the benefit from fine recordings as well. But life is full of choices ....yours are valid. Not my choices, perhaps, but valid non-the-less.
Quoting from myself in a recent thread:

As my system evolved over the years, my initial expectation was that the improvements in the system would make poor recordings sound worse, by reproducing them more accurately. But to my surprise I found that nearly every recording sounded better. I think the reason was that just about every recording gets something right, for instance, part of the mid-range, and my attention would be sub-consciously drawn to what was right about the recording, because it was SO right, and would not focus on what was wrong.

You may find the rest of the thread of interest as well. It is entitled: "Ever discover cheapo speakers actually sound... "

-- Al
its been my experience that the most neutral loudspeakers i've heard throughout the bandwidth are also the most enjoyable with all recordings. its no coincidence that many of the ones with dynamic drivers are also acoustic suspension
This is an interesting subject and one not discussed very often in audiophile forums. Are there dimenishing returns for the "muisic lover" with a system that is unforgiving. I think there is. I also think about the question: is this hobby about the sound of your system or enjoying music.

I agree with Newbee regarding choices but respectfully disagree with the notion that only a system that is ultra revealing can appreciate fine recordings. I would also argue that designing a system around those type of recordings is very limiting with regards to enjoying music.
Why is it ever desirable to have speakers that simply reflect whatever they are fed, for better or worse?

I suspect this is because, for a few folks, that is the idea of High Fidelity.

High Fidelity = Highly Faithful = Accurate Reproduction of the recording.

To some people audio reproduction is not unlike fashion clothing - a desire for the most pleasing presentation and to replenish one's wardrobe with the "latest".

I would agree that it is all a philosophy. There is no wrong or right. I prefer to collect music like Imelda has shoes rather than change equipment that way.

No rant here either - it is just the way it is - I equally respect those who see audio systems like fine wine - each to be tasted and enjoyed for a little while and then to move on. Collecting and sampling gear can be a fun hobby and nothing wrong with that. I would say that manufacturers encourage it - ever notice how big name high end speaker manufacturers offerings hardly ever sound even similar! (if it was simply about technology rather than a fashion competition for pleasing sound then I suspect you would find a lot more consistency in a manufacturer's line up)
Lokie, Lest you (and others) have read too much into my comments, I'm a long way from having what might in this forum, by many regular contributors, be considered a high res system, I gave up on that goal some time ago, but I do think that what I have cobbled together serves the music that I listen to quite well. In fact so well that I've lost a bit of interest in component aquisition or change. More fun to just listen to the music. If that is what brings Rgs92 to his conslusion he is no more the loser than I. :-)

But if you've got the money, time, and interest, a true well set up high res system isn't a bad thing in itself, its more about how its used I think. I think it takes a lot of time, experience, and money and patience, to put together a hi-res system in an appropriate environment. Too many attempts, including more than a few of mine, fail. Even the best recordings don't sound that great and routine recordings start to sound worst than they are. That is why I presumed that Rgs92's rant was more the result of his own failed efforts or listening to other's failed efforts, than listening to a system of complimentary components competently set up in a good room.

I share the conclusions of others about the improvement of the sound of recordings improving, or at least did not degrade, with the improvement in the resolution capabilities of the components I chose to use, as my experience, and focus on real personal priorities, grew.

For a music lover, I think Rgs92's conclusions are absolutly valid (for him). But for someone who is also and 'audio'phile I think they severly limit the potential for growth and satisfaction.

Sorry for the rant............ :-)
Ahh, the age old debate of hi-fi or my-fi. I would love to own a mirror, in my home, that would make me look thirty years younger, and grow the hair on my head back, and take away the hair on my.........well you get it. I can't, but I can sure have a my-fi that idealizes everything that I play through it. It's a personal decision. Now if one of those tube manufacturers would just make a damned mirror......
I've found as my systems resolution has gotten higher sub-par recording do sound better and exceptional recordings sound even better.

So if you have recording "A" which would rate as a 3 in quality of recording. and recording "B" which would rate as a 7. Years go by and you up grade to higher resolution components.

You again re-rate recording"A" as a 4 and recording "B" as a 9 so the noticeable gap between the two has widened.

This could be perceived as poor recording quality sounding worse.

Just a few thoughts from a lunatics mind.
Elevenmg -- That's a really perceptive way to put it, which I haven't seen said before. Consistent with my experiences that I described in my previous post, but with some clever elaboration.


-- Al
Viridian, I like your analogy of a mirror; well put! IMHO and in "my-fi" which I consider to be relatively hifi, all of my recordings sound better, including the "bad" recordings. However, I enjoy music so much that even bad recordings of my favorite artists are still enjoyable to listen to on a high rez system. I think that I am past listening to components anymore, and no longer feel the need to constantly upgrade or tweak. Just enjoy the music like someone put it once: "I could listen to her sing the phonebook!"
I agree, all recordings should sound better on the highest resolution systems.

Having said that, this is not easily accomplished, one may have to search for years to find the correct synergy. Resolution and forgiveness are not necessarily exlusive sonic attributes.

Just a thought. I've always thought that attaining maximum resolution AND musicality was the essential quest of the audiophile/music lover. Others may have either or both of these traits to varrying degrees, your inclination likely guides your search.
Why is it ever desirable to have speakers that simply reflect whatever they are fed, for better or worse?
Answer Monitoring. A well designed loudspeaker will sound good even if musics poorly recorded.
I have never found that getting better gear made records worse. It always sounded better. If you hear it worse, the "better" gear just isn't, set up poorly, or both.
The recording is what it is. A bad recording is not the speaker's fault. That's what signal processors like dynamic range expanders tone controls, and equalizers are for, to make a lesser recording sound better.
If you play a badly recorded record on a good system it will sound like a badly recorded record. A good system does not make a bad record sound better. In my former days as an audio dealer I was often ask for systems that would make everything sound good. I always told them that there was no such thing. This is not to say that you should have a system that has so much top energy that it makes most recordings unlistenable. I have favored British speakers because I have found that while they have very extended top ends they lack the exaggeration that some other speakers have. As my system has improved through the years I have discovered that some records that I was unimpressed with are much better than I thought and other ones that I liked are now intolerable. But in the main most of them are still listenable. But if a recording is truly bad a good system will reveal it. The other night I took out an E. Power Biggs LP of organ and brass featuring The Prince of Denmark's March, which I liked so much that I used it at my wedding. It was horrible, no organ could be heard and the brass sound was indescribable. Looking at the record I realized that it was a back up copy that I had purchased without realizing that Columbia had cheapened their records and re-equalized them . If anyone out there thinks they have a system that will make this record [ 2 record set actually] sound good they can have it for the cost of postage. It has the original art work but records you can flex like cheap dynagroove. I hope I still have my original copy among my 3000 odd LPs.
I should have included the old saying, " The wider you open the window the more dirt flies in." There is no way good equipment can improve the sound of a bad record. Good equipment reveals more of what is on the record. Garbage in, garbage out. I have the LPs of the original, "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" which were very good. I bought it on CD. It was clanky, compressed, and generally bad. I never listened to it. It was remastered a few years ago and now is a close approximation of the LPs. If the thesis is that a good system makes everything sound better why do I hear a difference?
I will ammend my comments. There are some truly bad recordings that are simply unlistenable. However, I find those recordings unlistenable on any system, if they're truly bad they even sound bad on my car system and the boom box at work.

I listen quite contendly to the vast majority of 6500+ cds and 2500+ lps in my collection. For me, and as Almarg stated, its more about finding some sonic aspect of the recording I like, my attention is more easily focused on the good qualities with higher resolution (the good qualities are made better).

I believe there is a lack of consensus about what recordings are bad, objectivity is hard to find here. I also put on different ears for different recordings, the music lover takes precedent over the audiophile for lesser recordings.

Again, I can only go by my experience, all my listenable recordings are more satisfying with each increase in resolution.
"A well designed loudspeaker will sound good even if musics poorly recorded."

Good is the enemy of great.
If a system does not reveal bad recordings for what they are, could there be less chance it will release the magic of really well made ones?

There is no right answer, but the one that works best for you. If we assume the recording is what it is, and what you hear from it is a product of your stereo, then do you get more satisfaction from adding distortion or removing it?

I'm still holding out for the view that truth and beauty don't have to be mutually exclusive. Alas, cost introduces compromise - at least for some of us.
Whatever float your boat.
What is considered a pleasant sounding system in my book might puzzle someone else with different preferences.
As to the degree of transparency for my taste?.......
More transparent the system is, the merrier.


Compromises and balance is what makes this hobby fun.
Never mind the music enjoyment......which is the ultimate reward.
How could one assume a speaker that hides bad recordings is not doing the same to good recordings?, you cant have it both ways.
Some of the best sounding records are manufactured with the Dynagroove process. If you have that much trouble with records, something else is wrong. I have records that were recorded poorly, however, the music shines through.. limited dynamic range, limited frequency response, etc. I can still enjoy Toscanini, and Caruso recordings even with their faults. Fritz Reiner's Also Sprach Zarathustra, and Pictures at an Exposition are 2 of the greatest records in my collection.
I prefer systems that have some flexibility built in, so it is possible to listen to recordings which otherwise are unlistenable or tedious, and to compensate for the difference between your room and the recording venue. Euphonious speakers, however, will degrade the sound of recordings and performances which would otherwise be just right, with your equipment, in your room.
right on dweller!
Dweller, Chadnliz, Jtimothya,and Jaybo, I did not say it will sound great just listenable = good. A proper designed loudspeaker for home use will revel flaws in reproduction but will not hi light them if it does its not well designed or your system does not have synergy. If you want loudspeakers that are designed just for relieving problems in recordings one buys monitors if you want music or HT in your home you buy loudspeakers designed for such use. You guys should know this its common knowledge. 1 of my good friends Tom a expert crossover designer many of the popular loudspeakers on the market have crossovers designed by Tom or Tom helped with design. Once we messed about building the best measuring 2 way ever. We where able to get near perfect flat response from 30hz-18khz. This loudspeaker while it measured near perfect sounded like crap on music. So if one wants near perfect measured response is possible but you don't want it in a music system no mater how much you whine about it being needed to enjoy music. Since no perfect system exists no perfect loudspeaker room recording or audiophile we all have highly compromised frequency response in our rooms. Even if you correct electrically the problems are not fully removed. And do you really want to listen to a near perfect measuring monitor in a anechoic chamber? Not I.
Agree with Newbee´s first comment.
I personally prefer to tune the sound in other end of the system. Speakers are most troublesome to change and if they are veiled and colored you won`t better it much with upstream components. Every month are available new XRCD-s and other very well recorded recorded material but you will never be able to enjoy their breathtaking purity and natural feeling with speakers that doesn`t even let you know which is good recording and which is bad. I use DAC that allows different filter settings on several stages in signal path. This way I can take maximum pleasure of every recording. But if recording is incurably bad there is now way to make it sound good.
A good system will bring out the best in all recordings.

This may be politically incorrect but all recordings are not created equal so don't expect this.

Most recordings will be very listenable on a good system if you like the music.

I have a remastered CD version of "The Third Man Theme" which I believe was recorded in 1950 or so. It sounds fantastic! Other than the musical style, you would not know the recording is almost 60 years old.

Its nice to have great equipment, but isn't it about the music? I have some less than stellar recordings but I take them for what they are. Music that I enjoy. Not because its the best recording with all the nuances, but the recording that has something to which captivated me. Listen for the music YOU enjoy and you will not be bothered with recording quality as much. I'm sure you have some good/great recordings you can enjoy as well.
Wouldn't a hifi system be doing it's job if it made a bad recording sound bad?

Many Stones albums are horrid sounding by audiophile standards but I dare anyone to find more gut wrenching blues rock. Bear in mind I'm no fan of modern Stones recordings or touring.

It's either about the gear or the music.
Think for yourself. Question authority.
"Why is it ever desirable to have speakers that simply reflect whatever they are fed, for better or worse?"

For me, the real thing is better than a synthetic replica of the original. I personally therefor enjoy getting as close as is possible to the original event. That goes for my video experience as well. I like to try and duplicated the video playback of my visual systems as accurately as possible, to properly display what is intended to be viewed.
My thinking is, why would I want to not have as accurate of a sound system or display device that is possible, just because much of the audio or video source material out there is less than pristinely recorded or mixed? Well because I'm not going to try and take away from the potential of the better material, just to try and mask some of the worse stuff! That makes no sense.
Of course, what you're implying is that there's way too much poorly master material out there, of which you otherwise enjoy the content.
To that I say, simply listen to this crud on your portable boom box or cheap MP3 player, and watch those lousy dvd's on your 19" 80's tv you haven't throw out yet! Otherwise, you can't tell me listening to what sounds like a real performance in your living room, is better with your computer speakers, because it sounds the same with the rest of your compressed downloads and over produced CD copies.
IMO, the quetion is not why would you want speakers that reveal whats really going on in the recording..The question is why wouldnt you???..I mean the whole idea of listening to recorded music is to reproduce a "you are there experience"..and that doesnt happen with junk!!!In the recording process or the equipment you have..Pretty simple,if that doesnt matter to you then get a boom box or listen to car radio and spend your money elsewhere...