So I read about all these expensive bits of gear here and I have some thoughts. In the world of large money bands and their touring where individual seats can cost well north of 5G is there any sort of restriction on equipment they can buy? I don't think so and they want fidelity. What do recording studios use for session recordings? Is the idea of true to life important and what do you use to get there? Does real life reproduction matter or is some sort of electronic pure tonal thing the most important even though you will never hear that in live venues. I am fascinated by the amount of money spent that the pros never spend to get results and the pros are a purely result driven group.
Who ever said that the “pros” have any idea what they are listening to? Those guys from the 60s who really knew what they were doing are long gone. What we are after is the realistic and satisfying reproduction of a musical performance in a home setting. Which can be totally ruined by what many of these guys do. All this has very little to do with the enjoyment of music. I’ll take music any way I can get it. Yes, I prefer to listen at the highest possible fidelity. But, that is usually not available. As long as I can tap my foot I am a happy guy. The highest possible fidelity is not a subjective target. It is a poorly defined objective one. Anyone hearing a first class reproduction will jump to the same conclusion. Wow, that sounds like they are really in the room etc. You know it when you hear it. The enjoyment of music is an altogether different subject.
"I never understood the fascination some have with the studio monitor
paradigm. Studio monitors aren't hifi speakers and the intent of their
design is to be very flat and analytical. Personally, I'm more
interested in what a recording is mastered on" OK what exactly do you mean by flat and analytical? If you mean speakers that do not color the music but give faithful replay of what is being done I want flat and analytical. I can add spice to the sound with all kinds of electronics but the speaker needs to be like I am there. Studio monitors I have heard did that and those guys doing the mastering listen to what they have done on them. I never see exotic or designer named anything with bands and sound pros where they earn a living and I want to hear that same sound. So why not use what they use?
The Yamaha NS-10m, which dominated the studios in the 80’s was far from flat and analytical. In my experience, engineers and producers just wanted consistency between studios and the good ones could predict how the music would sound on a wide variety of speakers by extrapolating from what they heard on the Yamahas. Same thing with Auritone 4" cube monitors. Hugely popular.
As for concert sound, engineers are faced with a multitude of issues - feedback, monitoring projecting in huge stadiums and open air - not to mention budget. The Grateful Dead had a huge high-end sound system, but it proved too expensive to keep.
Look at it another way, many studio monitors are designed to be flat and revealing to a fault so as to allow the engineer to tame certain parts of the performance so it will sound acceptable played back on the many different playback methods most likely for the audience. For pop/wide appeal music. First, they will compress it so it will sound ok in a car. Then through earbuds on an iphone. Many engineers stop right here because that covers the majority of the buying public and they are on the clock. Next, they might master a little for computer speakers but there are so many different models they stop here. They will then master somewhat for a dance club PA setup. Classical and jazz typically get mastered on nicer speakers if the engineer understands the audience. Typically less compression. The dynamic range for a car is tough as alot of music is typically happening below the noise floor in a car.
Anyway, if you really believe that any speaker designed to surgically dismantle a performance is what you are after then knock yourself out. You will save alot of money over time if you can be happy with the sound you get. I prefer a speaker that reconstructs a reasonable facsimile of a performance rather than deconstruct it. Additionally, since no one has a living room with the ambient and acoustic characteristics of a good recording studio why would you try to recreate that for your home rig? If you were successful, then your rig would be suitable to replay only those things recorded in that particular studio! You’d drive yourself nuts.
"I prefer a speaker that reconstructs a reasonable facsimile of a performance rather than deconstruct it." Precisely my goal. And then add to it a trip through Audacity to remove some of that "mastering" done for poor speakers or earbuds and restore it to what it was when it first started or as close as can be reconstructed to be so. I want a front row seat not some tonally pure interpretation of what someone thinks I SHOULD be listening to.
Many studios use what I consider to be simply awful sounding speakers and still manage to produce decent recordings. Yamaha MS10s...ouch...Abby Road uses B&W speakers and others, but if your hifi rig is good system every recording is going to have its own sound anyway.
Unfortunately mahlman that is usually exactly what you get, what someone thinks you should be listening too. Mostly because they think it is what you will buy, a dynamically compressed in your face version meant to be listened to in your car or on a portable player. Very few modern recordings of popular music or jazz break away from this modus. Waiting for Columbus by Little Feat is a good example of one that does and it is very hard to find an audiophile that doesn't like that recording. This is the reason we love the old recordings they were more about being there than being hit over the head. Most mastering engineers use their monitors near field almost like headphones. They adjust the location and volume of the individual tracks so everything you hear is based on their interpretation of what the band should sound like and they use up to 32 tracks maybe even more now. The old recordings were made with much fewer tracks and fewer microphones giving the mastering engineer less control over the final project and more consistently natural sound like the old RCA classical recordings. Back then it was the recording engineer that had more control over the final product. In this regard Ghasley is correct except that studio recordings are deconstructed to begin with. Artists recording in various booths at different times then reconstructed by the mastering engineer. I think many of us gravitate to live recordings for this reason. I certainly do. Even if you do not care for classical music you should listen to some once in a while. I think it gives you a better idea what a system is capable of. Acoustic Jazz recordings also usually give a more natural presentation. Having said all that there is art is sculpting the sound to make a statement other than what you would hear under natural circumstance like The Wall by Pink Floyd a veritable studio masterpiece. Amused to Death is another example of studio wizardry.
The main reason Pros spend less than we do is because they have an entirely separate industry which prices their equipment far more reasonably. Look at the price of Benchmark gear. There is no Boulder in the Pro Sound industry. Nobody would buy it. On the other hand there are some great values in the pro market that can be used in our systems. I use commercial amplifiers on my subwoofers to great effect and substantial savings. I just had to pull the fans out:)
Forgetting about all the studio stuff, some hi fi systems are capable of a more natural presentation of the music than others. There are two basic formats based on the type of speaker, point source and line source. Point source projects a smaller, tighter image which can be very intriguing. Line source speaker project a larger more powerful image which some think is overwhelming. In order to project a proper image both types have to be bilaterally symmetrical. Their frequency response and phase characteristics have to be identical accounting for room acoustics which is what make this so difficult. Few of us have a perfectly symmetrical room. Those that do are extremely lucky. Just one window on one side and not the other is enough to screw things up. Even if you are lucky and have a symmetrical room there will always be some variability between identical speakers. There are various methods of dealing with this depending on the situation and system capability. Somebody with a tough but large room many choose to keep the speakers as far from a wall as possible and sit closer to the speakers minimizing room acoustics. Some of us will manage the acoustics with physical treatments of one sort or another. Some of us can now use digital speaker management to achieve the most accurate results. I prefer to improve the room as much as is reasonably possible then finish up with digital speaker management which others call room control. It is actually system control the room being part of the system. This is not just for subwoofers. The idea is to make the phase and frequency response of both channels identical. This results in the best possible image from either type of loudspeaker. Some people carry this principle to extreme by making all of their pairs of cables exactly the same length. I have to admit that I do that even though I think it is sort of silly. I like Kosst_amojan's description as being "mesmerized" by the sound. It is when you get those chills that go up your spine, mesmerized, that you know you are listening to a great performance-recording-system. If that is happening to you just occasionally when you listen to your system you are in a great place. mahlman, I do not think it is fair to say that only the pro's are a result driven group. Audiophiles are also result driven. The problem is that we all have a different result in mind and that result is difficult to define. It is the old "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" thing. I was just recalling the first time I got those shivers up my spine. I was sitting cross legged on the concrete floor of the Boston Tea Party. It was 1970 and I was 16 years old that night when the Allman Brothers broke into Don't Keep Me Wondering. It was the first Rock and Roll concert of my life and blown away is an understatement.
Perhaps I have an unusual idea of what most studios use. I have to admit my perception is based on speakers I have sold recording engineers and studio owners around Nashville and not based on facility research. They bought five of the nine Klipsch KPT-456 sets I had for sale. Yeah you may be right about the SLV side of things as the gear I get that has been in their tender hands is often seriously abused. The engineers and studio people have been another story though. I have gravitated more and more to classical especially stringed instruments as a test of fidelity and of course enjoyment. One of the great things about better pro gear is that they are more room environment neutral and have the ability to overwhelm a bad acoustic environment over typical homeowner speakers. Plus the "sweet spot" is far larger. IF you can find them they are also often bargains because they just might not be pretty.
All of us started somewhere....maybe with a pro audio system used at home and maybe with a bunch of component home audio system pieces...and for most of us....for a while...it sounded good. Then, we began to notice a few things that were missing....or a few things that were exaggerated. And then the hunt was on...tweak this, add that, etc. That lasted for a while.
Then, not sure why, our tastes changed...some needed detail....others needed bass....still others need soundstage....and so the hunt was on again.
What is the point....it doesn't matter what you started with....it doesn't matter what you have now....it doesn't matter what your next tweak is....as
said, its about the experience....and as our tastes change, as we move and have different rooms...as we hear different things, we search for the equipment that ultimately gives us the experience we desire at that time.
For some, the pro audio equipment works....for many, it does not...and more than likely, they have tried it along the path of their journey.
kosst, enjoyed your story, but....met to have drinks with her....went to your place....young enough to be your daughter ( but old enough to drink )....dropped her in a big comfy chair....turned the lights " on "....went to grab something, and startled her. Sounds like an interesting evening planned....As much as I am into showing off my system, I would have had other things in mind.....lol.... Enjoy ! MrD.
Thanks for sharing that experience, I believe she truly understands now the sheer joy of listening to music in one's home audio system. I hope that she’ll have the opportunity to assemble her own system some day.