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
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.