The Absolute Sound vs Pleasing Sound


I have changed my mind about this over the years. The absolute sound (closest to real live music) just can't be accomplished even though I have heard some spectacular systems that get close on some music. So years ago I changed my system to give me the sound I wanted. I'm much happier now and all my music collection can be enjoyed for what it is: Recorded music.  
C584a1c7 a654 4d53 9052 1d8fa149359druss69
Wise move....

I never suffered from this illusion, i am lucky....

I did never enjoy lived event much, being "allergic" to crowd, a crowd being for me more that 4 persons...

I know it is a "disease" but an uncurable one... I love people very much but only on very small scale....

Then i never entertain the illusory superiority of lived event with the nostalgia of past lived collective concert for example.... Lived event and recorded one, it is not the same thing at all.... The only link between the 2 ,eyes closed, are the music, not the sound....
An intelligent and well founded view I think. At least if mirrors mine. :-)
Learn a musical instrument and play with other musicians. That's the "absolute sound"-live music.  Next best attend a concert.

Other than that, it's all illusion. 
I'm much happier now and all my music collection can be enjoyed for what it is: Recorded music.

Right. Hardly any recordings are trying to be "true to the event" anyway. That would be like an artist with a paintbrush trying to produce a Polaroid. 

What we have with recorded music is essentially a lot of different art created by a lot of different artists. It happens to be in an electronic format where a lot of the artistry is performed with microphones and other electronics, all of which is done behind the scenes. As if that wasn't bad enough we make it worse by calling a lot of these artists engineers. This creates the false impression we are dealing with objective reality. Because a bridge or a building, it either stands or falls. A recording on the other hand, it can be a Rembrandt or a Picasso. Hell it can even be a Jackson Pollock. 

Too many of us seem to think our job is to make all these different works of art look like a Polaroid. Except of course for the mono guys. They all want Ansel Adams. No wonder everyone is so running neurotically running around trying to make everything perfect. There is no perfect!  

How do they display art in a museum? With nice, even neutral lighting. No glare. In a decent size space, enough to get some perspective. We say we visit the museum, but is that really right? I don't think so. I think we visit the art. That happens to be in a museum.  

What you really did then, the way I see it, is set your system up to provide just the right amount of lighting and space to enjoy your art. You aren't listening to your system. You are enjoying your recordings. That happen to be playing on your system. To go from being constantly frustrated to consistently satisfied, that tiny little shift in thinking is all it takes.

Picasso couldn't paint, ridiculous.
One day absolute sound might become achievable. In the mean time, I will keep moving in that direction as much as I can.
"Pleasing sound" is a totally different approach. I am not interested in it but I do understand it.
Good post, Inna,

I have zero interest in judging how anyone listens to music; and, that includes the kind of sound that they want from their sound systems. If a “personalized” sound pleases someone, so be it. However, it is obvious to me that some very high end systems sound much closer to the general sound of live music than others do. No system sounds exactly like live music and none ever will; but some get surprisingly close. It is a very worthy goal.

So, are we to simply throw in the towel and, because perfection will never be achieved, not even try to get as close as possible? Makes no sense to me. For me, a sound that approaches the sound of live is, in fact, the most enjoyable.

How do we know what is “the absolute”? How do learn to recognize it? The simple fact is that extensive experience attending live performances is the only way for most. Some may not have the time nor inclination to attend live performances, but it is an approach to the listening experience that has tremendous benefits. IMO.
"No system sounds exactly like live music and none ever will; but some get surprisingly close."

Do not forget that some (most?) of the current live music/events are also playing through the electronic system. When listening to, let’s say, rock’n’roll and trying to have it sound like a live event, you are really trying to match that electronics/venue combination.

Having said that, there has not been much live music to compare our systems with lately.
Excluding your last sentence, which will thankfully not be applicable for too much longer, what you correctly point out is the reason that unamplified acoustic performances remain the standard for judging how close our systems get to the sound of live. As I’m sure you know that was the basis for the term “the absolute sound”.
Live like sound is always what what I find most satisfying. The more live like the better. It’s why it seems no conventional speaker can ever wean me off Ohm Walsh “Omni” speakers.   Everything sounds live to some extent, not like a studio recording. 
I find conventional box speakers that feature very wide dispersion can come close. The kef ls50 metas (+ powered sub) I added recently are a good example.
"...unamplified acoustic performances remain the standard for judging how close our systems get to the sound of live. As I’m sure you know that was the basis for the term “the absolute sound”..."

Indeed I do but that is about .01% of the type of music I listen to, so why use that as a standard? 
Frog, how are you ?
We always have an unamplified instrument with us - voice. If system doesn't reproduce voice reasonably well it is no good.
Record your voice on tape and play it. Next step play an acoustic guitar, just strike a few accords, record it and play.
If you only listen to amplified and 'synthetic' music, that's easier, though still it is hard to get dynamics right in a small room, and almost any room is small.

Cool. 

Listening is a simple thing that I know how to make complex - I can switch from listening to remembering and then thinking. 
And whatever works for you - do it. 
Amplified live music is very colored in itself.  The 'sound guy' helps create the sound, and some equipment and people do a better job than others. 

That being said, acoustic live, no amplification, is my gold standard.  From voice to violin!
frogman,

Of course, the ideal would be comparing live performance of non-amplified music with whatever we have at home. I was mentioning rock'n'roll because it seems to me that most of the members here (Audiogon, not necessarily only this thread) lean towards electrified performances.

At some point, I recorded a piano. As simple as simple gets, no fancy recording equipment, technique, or conditions. Portable MiniDisc with a microphone (around $70-100, I forgot details) in the room. It was surprising how close that recording actually came to the live piano on a relatively, for Audiogon, modest system. Maybe the secret was that both were in the same room, much smaller than any venue one usually listens to piano at. Our regular recordings are, as millercarbon pointed out, processed to resemble what many people along the way wanted them to resemble. Not always the faithful recreation of the event. Recordings bear some room imprint and attempting to recreate that in a living room may make things more complicated.
Ever confuse jazz brushing for tape hiss?  Which leads you to wonder why the drummer is doing that in the first place?  I’ve learned that it’s an effort to enlarge the sense of ambience.  It’s a drummer practicing the art of illusion.  Even live music resorts to sonic illusions.  
Then the producer does.  Then the engineer.  The pressing team.  
Then our equipment puts a few illusion kisses on things.  As does the room.  As do our ears and brains.  
Performance-wise, a total team effort.  You’re not just hearing the sound of live music, you’re hearing something arguably cooler: multiple layers of coordinated performance, infused with all kinds of human touches, artistic or otherwise.  
When I consider it that way, the question sorta answers itself.  Sometimes you hear wine types talking tasting the terroir (the dirt), but you never hear them say they want to taste JUST the dirt.  
@russ69 

"...unamplified acoustic performances remain the standard for judging how close our systems get to the sound of live. Indeed I do but that is about .01% of the type of music I listen to, so why use that as a standard?

I agree. Why voice your system for something  to which  you don't listen? I listen mostly to classic rock. Fortunately, I also played (drums & vocals) in classic rock bands for years. So I have a good idea of the sound I am looking for. Now IF I put on a piece of acoustic and it doesn't sound correct, I then re-access. I can't remember that ever happening though.



So the “AHA!” moment here is realizing for the first time you’re listening to recorded music???

Glad I learned that 50 years ago....
it all sounds fake and miniaturized -- just pick the flavor and color of fake and miniaturized that makes you happy

but just as with photos and videos of life events with friends and loved ones, the purpose is to bring fond memories, good feelings, joy and comfort - to teleport to the actual event, the real thing, is too high a standard to realistically achieve

thus, as such, it makes the energetic pursuit of a good system that we thoroughly enjoy no less worthwhile


I am afraid that with no live performances of any kind due to current situation we become more painters than photographers. At least we have the memories of live and people voices talking to us. Of course we induce our colour and shading in the pallet but can follow some rules that would make something having sense. Continue hunting the absolute for having the best enjoyment and be able to paint.

G
**** Indeed I do but that is about .01% of the type of music I listen to, so why use that as a standard? ****

No one is saying that you have to use anyone else’s standard. Everyone is free to enjoy his favorite music in their own way. However, I can tell you that well recorded unamplified acoustic music contains more information of the kind that allows one to more fully appreciate and understand what is possible in music reproduction and from one’s sound system. There is far more variety and detail in the areas of timbre and dynamic nuance in a well recorded orchestral performance or acoustic Jazz quintet, for example, than the vast variety of amplified/processed music. Don’t get me wrong, I still like and listen to a fair amount of amplified/electronic music, but I find that with amplified music “the standard” is too much of a moving target.

I don’t buy the notion that a system that can do justice to a good orchestral recording cannot do the same for R&R. Those who think that it cannot have never heard the power and dynamics of a good orchestra going full tilt in the last section of “Rite Of Spring”, for instance; or Elvin Jones’ drumming in Coltrane’s last quartet. Additionally, I like being able to hear what the producer and engineer did to the music post mic feed; warts and all. I don’t want to make every recording sound the way I THINK music SHOULD sound based on my tastes. Call me weird, but I find the total experience to be more interesting this way; part of understanding the recording art.

Different strokes for different folks.
The end result of Every recording ever produced was based on someone’s subjective view on how it "should" sound. Therefore, there are no recordings that will ever sound like the real thing. So why fight it? Go after the sound that "sounds" good to your ears. Otherwise, you are chasing unicorns.
You may think you have achieved the "pinnacle" in sound reproduction with your system within your own environment. However, I may hear it and think otherwise, vice versa....ultimately, it must please your ears and no one else's. 
Like I said, different strokes for different folks. If you have spent any significant amount of time listening to the recordings of Kenneth Wilkinson, for instance, it is obvious that the man had a very good sense of what “live” sounds like. Problem is many can’t or have no desire to experience a significant amount of time attending live performances; perhaps because of genre preferences. What we are talking about is voicing a system that, ON BALANCE, sounds closer to live unamplified music. No chasing of unicorns here at all; and no “fighting” of anything. Quite the opposite.

**** You may think you have achieved the "pinnacle" in sound reproduction with your system within your own environment. However, I may hear it and think otherwise, vice versa....****

I can pretty much assure you that if you are someone who has extensive experience attending live acoustic music performances and you were to hear my system, that you would think otherwise.  
Boy, how times have changed!  AKA, “I’m showing my age”. 😊

Happy listening, all.


@Russ69

I never did chase or attempt to massage my system to sound live.  Essentially what I have always been after is correct timbre, pitch and intensity.  A very very close second is weight and dynamic range.  

All of us or nearly all have been to a rock concert in a great sounding venue and the person running the soundboard also got it right.  Plenty of electronics going on there as well as many decisions.  I don't expect my system to reproduce it exactly as I remember it, but I do expect that all of my criteria in the paragraph above be met.  Many times this comes down to reproducing the bass properly, not a simple task. 

Example: I saw Sting at Radio City Music Hall and the CD came out some time later. "Bring on the Night".  Fabulous music, fabulous venue, awesome CD.  Makes me know all the work was worth it.
Please listen to the track "I Burn for You".  Several mega-dollar systems I've heard choke on that track. 

Russ, we're on the same page.

Regards,
barts
@frogman 

 
You may think you have achieved the "pinnacle" in sound reproduction with your system within your own environment. However, I may hear it and think otherwise, vice versa....


Good point. I used to wonder why so many liked Pioneer. I never heard one that I liked.

@barts

Many times this comes down to reproducing the bass properly, not a simple task.

Bingo! Thus the need for good subs. 
Thank you, russ69, for posting this provocative and essential question. 

For a long time, I've shared the dogma of "the absolute sound": that the goal of a fine audio system is to recreate the aural experience of a live (acoustic) concert. Perhaps for this reason, I've considered good recordings of solo instruments (e.g., piano, cello, violin, guitar) or small ensembles (string quartets, chamber orchestras) as the "gold standard" by means of which to judge musical reproduction. Rock concerts are already electronic events, after all, and so subject to amplifier distortion, poor hall acoustics, crowd noise and many other factors beyond one's control, while large orchestras in grand concert halls produce a sheer size of sound not realistically achievable in one's living room. Expecting otherwise is a little like expecting to be as impressed by a photograph of a mountainscape as one would be by the real thing: sheer scale has a lot to do with the impact. 

But I've since come to a different view. Music enjoyed in one's living room (or music room) is, in many ways, actually superior aurally to almost any live performance. The holographic presentation of "soundstage," for example, can be pretty astonishing on a good stereo in a room with favorable acoustics: with eyes closed (or even with eyes open!), one can "see" each instrument in spatial relation to every other, enabling the listener to follow a particular musical voice most easily by somehow "keeping one's eye on" the performer producing that melody or line of counterpoint. I've tried to do this when attending live concerts; it's rarely as vivid as it can be in my living room.

And as for rock music, "concert volume" is, in my experience, almost always so loud, and so distorted, as to be painful. Listening to a well-recorded studio rock album at high volume (110 db or more) is thrilling, visceral, and yet also crystal clear: the same detail as at modest volume, undistorted by crowd noise, overdriven amplifiers, and who knows what.

None of which is to say that we should not patronize live performances. But the difference between attending a live performance and listening to a good recording on a fine audio system at home is a little like the difference between attending a live stage play and watching a filmed version of a live stage play in a well-appointed media room. The frisson of the crowd, the sense that those are real people up there, the tension of knowing mistakes could happen...these things add an excitement to the "live" event that, of course, no "canned" version could hope to even approximate. Not to mention that it represents a demonstration of respect for the artists who produce the music we love when we go to "see" them in person, a fleeting experience we can't possess except in our memories.
I agree with snilf.  A record (or CD, SACD, DVD-A, stream, etc) is an artifact all to itself.  Not an exact representation of an event. It has it’s own sonic characteristics necessarily different from the event, and must be treated thusly. We play this artifact as a “happening” similar to but not the same as the event.
It may indeed be more enjoyable and sound better to our ears.
Yeah, well said, snilf. Thinking about the question from the other day about favorite rock concerts brings to mind how awful they can sound. But that's hardly the point, is it? Who goes to see a rock band perform live for the acoustic experience? It's a social thing. The crowd, the anticipation, the participation in a shared celebration of something you're all into; isn't that what matters most? That first Who show I saw did sound fabulous to me, in part because the band was brilliant. Tight. Entwistle one of the greatest bass players ever. But it was also the thrill of seeing them walk onto the stage, and seeing strangers as excited as I was, and screaming at the top of our lungs. 

But the Joshua Tree shows sounded horrible. Couldn't even discern that "In God's Country" was being played till Bono began singing. Everything was buried under shrill amplification. So what, though? The ethos was the thing, the camaraderie. Singing every song together with 17,000 other people, and ending with "40." Does it even matter whether it "sounds good"? Snilf's point about memory is again on point here.

For me, listening to music in the living room is mostly a solitary pleasure. That gives me a measure of control over the acoustics that is lacking in a concert hall. I actually enjoy the music much more this way, and I'm unwilling to accept that I'm missing something crucial to the experience, because it's a very different kind of thing, sui generis. I like how a few respondents have emphasized the artistry involved in recorded music. This is, I think, hardly a secondary form of art, but essential to our engagement, and, even if only a little bit, we get to help the creative process. Choosing this-or-that amp, speakers, or to toe in or not to toe in. Where do I sit, how far away from the speakers? All of that contributes to the visceral pleasures of home listening, and none of it is meant to be pure reproduction. 
@artemus_5

**** Good point. I used to wonder why so many liked Pioneer. I never heard one that I liked. ****

Please read my very first comment here. If that kind, or any other kind of sound rocks your, or anyone else’s boat that is fine with me. I find my approach far more satisfying and a much better way to reach an audio system’s true potential based on my sonic priorities.

@snilf

**** Music enjoyed in one’s living room (or music room) is, in many ways, actually superior aurally to almost any live performance. ****

I could not disagree more. Moreover, I would make a distinction between “aurally” and “musically”. Consider the fact that composers did not intend their music to be so hyper holographic; and they composed accordingly. They composed with the idea in mind that the type of exaggerated hyper detail that some audiophiles crave would not happen, should not happen, and that the blend of different instrumental (or vocal) textures would create, from a distance, the desired sound for the composition’s intent. Consider also, just how much effor an instrumentalist puts into perfecting just the right tone in order to serve his personal musical vision. It seems to me that this should be the purview of the artist, not the listener’s.

Does it cross anyone’s mind that it is this personal customization of the sound of music with its inevitable deviation from the nuance of timbre and textural detail heard at a good (!) live performance is the reason for the endless stream of threads asking “Am I an audiophile or music lover?”, “SQ or the music?”, etc. Not to mention, the endless equipment churning?

Of course recordings will always be an “artifact”. However, this fact is actually the best testament to just how much nuance and information exists in a live performance. To not strive to get as close as possible to that sound strikes me as convoluted and backwards. To honor the music is to honor its sound.

IMO, of course.
@frogman 

Please read my very first comment here. If that kind, or any other kind of sound rocks your, or anyone else’s boat that is fine with me. I find my approach far more satisfying and a much better way to reach an audio system’s true potential based on my sonic priorities.
Why should it rock my boat? I agree with your 1st post. Don't know why you didn't understand. My comment was to reinforce your idea. Everyone has different priorities.

**** Music enjoyed in one’s living room (or music room) is, in many ways, actually superior aurally to almost any live performance. ****

This is NOT my quote. 

Easy, artemus_5. No disrespect intended. No, your post did not strike me as agreement, but I am glad that you clarified.  Thanks. 

Re the other quote: simple oversight and corrected.

Regards.
Inmho, striving to achieve the 'same' sound at home like on some live concert (even 'unplugged') is missconception in start, for many reasons.
Stereo reproduction beeing the first and obvious one. (there is no stereo sound in the nature, or 'pin point' imaging)...mono guys could glove, but not for long...
I believe that at home you can reproduce the tone(s) with a great accuracy, but thats about as close or as much you will get to 'copying' the actual event.
Everything else is just us enjoying our own illusions


Just recently there was a nice article about the subject, posted on Audiogon as well.
Hope you dont mind me posting it again

https://medialux.blog/2019/10/27/true-to-the-source-some-thoughts/?fbclid=IwAR0ZqQND7gHbWovl7BvHe5uR...


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Frog and I are on the same page.
Biggest problem that I see is speakers. Do you want them to be 'neutral' transducers as much as possible or you also consider them 'instruments' as well ? Well, I would probably want to have two pairs of very different speakers.

With all due respect to some of our venerable members whose advices and comments I usually enjoy, music is an art but music reproduction is all science and engineering.  Hi-Fi is about high fidelity.  That doesn't mean we are not supposed to adjust the sound of our systems to our tastes, moods and budgets.  However, when I buy a Kind Of Blue album, I expect to hear what Miles Davis intended for me to hear, not what the recording engineer thinks it should sound like.  There is no room here for compromise.  Music reproduction should not be like a painting, it should be like a photograph.  The higher the resolution, the better the lenses, the better the result.  We are allowed to pick the filters to our liking but not to change the composition.  We do have a lot of liberty as to what filters we like but we should thrive to stay close to the original.
"...I expect to hear what Miles Davis intended for me to hear, not what the recording engineer thinks it should sound like."

There is a chance that Miles Davis was involved in that process to some extent. There are many pictures of musicians sitting next to engineers in front of the console.
@glupson
This is absolutely correct. More and more artists are getting involved in that process to ensure that their message is getting out as envisioned. Thanks for pointing that out. 
"...unamplified acoustic performances remain the standard for judging how close our systems get to the sound of live."

@russ69 
I've been to hundreds of shows. For me, I'm with Russ. It is more important to like what you are hearing that for it to conform to some standard. Try it, you may indeed just like it.
"...I expect to hear what Miles Davis intended for me to hear..."

Did you know the tape machine was reported as running slow? 


"...It is more important to like what you are hearing that for it to conform to some standard. Try it, you may indeed just like it..."

Thanx, That's what I am saying. Good or bad, it's all for your enjoyment. It's not a contest to see who can play Also sprach Zarathustra at music hall levels or who's system measures the flattest. .    
Of course it is for one’s enjoyment. Who said otherwise? What some if you guys miss is the fact that, for some, when the reproduced sound gets as close as possible to the sound of real that is, in fact, when there is the most enjoyment. Enjoy your music any way you want. Me? I want realism.
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Had an interesting reminder two years ago on the merits of live music, and the difficulties with reproducing it. Was dealing with some health issues, and while recovering, there was a common area where we would chat, play chess etc.

There was a guitar there, and one person played. By no means a virtuoso, but able to play and captivate.

I commented to the player that you had to spend a lot of money on a sound system to get anywhere near the experience of the sound we were experiencing there.

This was a cheap guitar, in a somewhat crappy room acoustically and yet, it sounded so real - because it was.

I'm not so much interested in the measurements, numbers or graphs as far as accuracy goes. But I am interested in reproducing the experience of that intimate sound.

Live events often give us pleasant memories. Sometimes, that live event is listening to the radio while driving with a love interest you just met. Wanting to experience those moments again is important to me. 

Again, not so interested in charts and numbers, but I do want to have some kind of emotional resonance that connects back to the real moment. 

And as we all have different memories and experiences, we have different interests when it comes to the sonic signatures of our systems.

@audio2design

We are all in agreement that music is for enjoyment and I would never pretend to force my preferences on anyone, I was merely expressing what they are.  I want to think that if I play a Diana Krall song in my system and it sounds like what I heard in the concert in Brazil, then this is a good start. I don’t need nor do I want the ability to add more body to her voice to make it sound nicer to my ears. That’s just me. 
I get overpaid to do live sound production/mixing and actually have some shows sort of booked for September (we'll see about that, but I mention it because I don't want anybody worrying about me), so I'm to blame for some reinforced concert sound. That's right. It's my fault. That said, there are gigantic differences between un-reinforced performances and everything else, as well as recorded vs live...so what? Do you think watching an F1 race is like driving? Food shows are like eating? Are they supposed to be? No. I can play an acoustic guitar any time (not while driving...that's illegal) and yeah...it sounds groovy, but is a symphony going to set up in my house to play Benjamin Britton for me? Doubtful, and there's not enough parking. My hifi rig makes music sound good enough to be very enjoyable, concerts are fun, get over it.
It’s not easy communicating exactly what is meant with the written word. In classic fashion for an Internet forum we end up “talking” past each other, making inaccurate assumptions about what is meant by someone else and digging our heels in when taking positions on the subject at hand. So, what exactly is the point here? Better still, what exactly is meant by “the sound of live”?

I think there is agreement about two things: Reproduced music, no matter the genre, will never sound exactly like live and reproduced music is for enjoyment (duh!).

FOR ME the components of music that suffer the most as a result of the record/reproduce process are timbre and dynamic nuance. Not, dynamics in the sense of how loud things can get, but in the sense of how alive the music sounds; even (especially) when very soft and how seamlessly it moves from, for instance, very very soft to just very soft; and between all the other steps in the dynamics scale. For purposes of this thread (and for me, generally) imaging, sound staging, holography and their ultimate scale are completely irrelevant to me; and not very important in general. Why? Because if one is sitting outside our audiophile designated “sweet spot”, all that goes to hell anyway. I hope that there is also general agreement that anyone who can’t enjoy a recording if sitting outside the sweet spot probably should reconsider his priorities. Besides, timbre and dynamic nuance is where the music is. Everything else is audiophile stuff that many confuse for components of music. Think that’s wrong? Look up any meaningful text, book, article, etc. on the subject of MUSIC and find the chapter on “sound staging”. Good luck.

In my experience the areas of timbre and dynamic nuance are precisely the areas where most “audiophile systems” fall short. The deviations from what is heard live are sometimes grotesque. Excessive and often harsh highs, overblown and discontinuous bass and sometimes a kind of hyper detail that simply does not occur in live music. That kind of sound can be impressive and even the most pleasing for some. So be it. I prefer to work at voicing my system so that, first and foremost, the end result moves the sound in the direction of what I hear live in the areas of timbre and dynamic nuance. It is, in fact, possible to get surprisingly close sometimes. Soundstaging? A distant third concern; if at all. It has little to do with music. So, no concerns about parking space 😉.

Going back to the first point of agreement, that reproduced music will never sound EXACTLY like the sound of live. True, but much can be done to voice a system so that, overall, it moves the reproduction of timbre closer, not further away, from the general sound of live. To me, that is a far better choice for reaching enjoyment. Why? Because more of the MUSIC is preserved.

To borrow the sign off used by one of our more controversial Audiogon members:

Enjoy the music, not distortions.

(I think that’s how it goes 😊)

As enjoyment and fulfillment is the goal, the music has to come first for me.
When the music comes first, there’s a whole exciting world of variety and discovery available. When the sound is primary, the enjoyment is confined to that somewhat limited parameter, not nearly as meaningful as the world of music.
Approaching a listening session with the goal of sonic titillation can easily be detrimental to really getting into the music.

I am a tad confused. When I read about those that use an acoustic performance as their standard for measuring their system. When you are listening to the performance at a venue, are you not hearing the combination of the performer(s) and the venues acoustics? If you take those same performers and place them in a different venue the sound you are hearing is going to be different, not to mention if the performance is not a solo performance do the players have the ability to properly mix themselves?

OTOH at an amplified show, they have tools that help in the mitigation of the venue acoustics to an extent, so there should be less variation due to the venue.  Of course there is still someone out front manipulating the reproduced sound to their taste, so probably not the best example of a standard either.

So is a standard even possible with that many variables?


Hi OP!

Welcome to the club.  I've never really made "live music" reproduction my primary goal.  There were many reasons for this, including not wanting to annoy the neighbors, but now that I have more space between myself and them I just don't want to listen to the majority of my music at concert levels. I want my music to be fun, not necessarily demanding. Of course I want a system capable of concert level output, but is that what I listen to most of the time?  Really is not, and I make no apologies to anyone. 

Best,

E
Besides, timbre and dynamic nuance is where the music is. Everything else is audiophile stuff that many confuse for components of music. Think that’s wrong? Look up any meaningful text, book, article, etc. on the subject of MUSIC and find the chapter on “sound staging”. Good luck.

In my experience the areas of timbre and dynamic nuance are precisely the areas where most “audiophile systems” fall short. The deviations from what is heard live are sometimes grotesque. Excessive and often harsh highs, overblown and discontinuous bass and sometimes a kind of hyper detail that simply does not occur in live music. That kind of sound can be impressive and even the most pleasing for some. So be it. I prefer to work at voicing my system so that, first and foremost, the end result moves the sound in the direction of what I hear live in the areas of timbre and dynamic nuance. It is, in fact, possible to get surprisingly close sometimes. Soundstaging? A distant third concern; if at all. It has little to do with music. So, no concerns about parking space 😉.

Going back to the first point of agreement, that reproduced music will never sound EXACTLY like the sound of live. True, but much can be done to voice a system so that, overall, it moves the reproduction of timbre closer, not further away, from the general sound of live. To me, that is a far better choice for reaching enjoyment. Why? Because more of the MUSIC is preserved.
Frogman is a musician and i bet a very good one...

I am not a musician...

Only an average audiophile wanting to create a good system.... All that frogman says is in the same way my own test criteria to tune and install the rightful controls of the working mechanical,electrical and acoustical dimensions of ANY audio system beginning with mine...

Forget all any other concept, when testing an audio system the basis is the natural playing subtle dynamic of tonal timbre of instruments...Nothing else....

Acoustic settings of a room are the most important of the 3 embeddings dimensions controls....The acoustic settings of the room must make possible the recreation of the tonal envelope of a playing instrument...If not the room acoustic is bad... Be it a concert hall or your audio room....

Experiencing the natural perception of timbre is the fundamental question in audio, in concert acoustic or small room acoustic...

If an audio system can did this right it will do the rest right, if not, nothing will be right even if it seems a relative improvement with a so called "upgrade" with a new hyped electronic design...

It takes me years to erase all the audiophile illusions pertaining to gear, upgrade, electronic design, warm,cold,imaging,soundstage etc....They are secondary concepts pertaining not to music but to some "artificial" and conditioned impressions of sound by the commercial market...

It is the perception of music that is the core of acoustic in audio not sound.... If we speak of sound we are no more in audio but in physics...

Is my system able to recreate natural timbre of piano playing in my room ? That is the question the first one and the last one....

Anything else is marketing vocabulary to distinguish different kind of electronic designs approach...BUT audiophile experience is mainly about musical acoustic not about electronic design progress only and mainly....

Give me now an average relatively good system i know how to make it sound at his optimal level.... No upgrade needed....

The chance that a relatively good average system working at his optimal level satisfy you or even surprize you is indeed very great... It is my experience...






«The walls of Jericho were destroyed by sound not by music, in the same way sound may destroy the ears»-Anonymus Smith

«Beware of the market»-Groucho Marx