I don't find myself having the same reaction. About the only classic rock album that I can think of that I find unbearable is U2's "War." What aspects of reproduction do you find unbearable? While many older recordings certainly aren't state of the art, I can listen through their shortcomings and appreciate their inherent musical virtues.
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On my system, I find almost everything bearable, with the exception of "Close to the Edge" by Yes, which is the worst CD tranfer I have ever heard. The problem I have is that most CDs are so mediocre sonically, that when I put on something exceptional like the first Hot Tuna disc, I suddenly remember that my system is capable of sounding great, it's just the discs that suck.
This discussion is again between folks who listen for sonics all the time, vs folks who just listen to the music all the time.
When one listens to the sonics of the system all the time then you are basically in 'critical listening' all the time. A hell I am grateful I can avoid. And you should too. Just turn off the paying constant attention to the sonics.. it IS hard to do, but can be learned.. and you WILL be better off.
The audiophile who does 'critical listening' to tune in or modify the system, then can turn off the 'critical listening' is in a much more comfortable place, as they can then just listen to the music, and forget about the sonics and system. The folks who can never turn off the 'critical listening' are ALWAYS focused on the sonics... so of course they cannot stand bad recordings... The bad recordings make the system sound bad. And they hate to have it sound bad, 'cuz they are 'listening critically'.
Am I being too critical here? LOL
I bought a Police L.P. a few weeks ago and it sounded so shrill and thin that I'm not sure I can stand to listen to it again. I found a Mark O'conner CD, "Nashville Cats", And it was so thin I couldnt even listen to it and I thought that it would be good since most of Marks stuff is excellent.
Photon46, I am not literate enough in this language to be too specific, but if it sounds too thin I dont enjoy it. The exception being late at night when the women want to dance! I quit listening to the AM in the car years ago because it was not pleasurable to me. I think I'm sensitive to too mush treble but I have to have the detail which seems to be a contradiction. That's why I wanted to find out how others fared. I guess I need someone else to listen to my system to see if they hear the same thing.
Elizabeth, you make a good point and you describe a trap I want no part of.
I will still listen to the U2 War recording in the car, on headphones at the gym, out in the patio etc. Not all of the music I listen to on my main system has to be top notch recordings. But this was bad, real bad. I could probably put it on as background music if I was in another room, and just be very careful about walking into the living room so I don't injure myself again.
Elizabeth and Energizer. I totally agree with you. It is about the music. BUT.....I am really sensitive to poor sound. It is like scratching a chalk board for me. I couldnt listen to my turntable because it sounded so bad to me. I took it to the dealer and he hooked it up to his high end system and said, "it sounds great! What's wrong with it? I made him check further and it was a little off speed. He corrected it and hooked it up again and I told him it still wasnt right. He worked on it again finding that it was a little off and ended up having to replace the speed control board which fixed the problem. I guess I'm just sensitive to that stuff. I have the same problem with live music. If someone's out of tune it drives me crazy. I frequently pass on certain venues because I know the sound is so bad.
Your comments lead me to believe that part of my problem is my own hearing problems. thanks
Elizabeth has an excellent point. HOWEVER, your system can greatly exacerbate this problem. If you have a brutally honest, hyper detailed system, then you are just getting what you paid for. On the bright side, it's great for demoing the subtle difference between rare bird calls.
I find that very few recordings sound bad on my system. True, some are better than others, but mostly everything is very engaging and highly entertaining. I do have the advantage that I'm totally sick of all music made in the 70's and 80's, so I pretty much only listen to modern stuff.
I'd suggest changing your speakers for something that is warmer and fuller sounding with a laid back treble. Good luck. :)
I agree it is about the music as well, however if it is a bad recording or transfer that dimishes the enjoyment considerably. I compare it to attending a concert of a favorite performer with bad acoustics and crappy speakers. It doesn't do the artist or audience any good. I think the sad trutch for uys old rock fans is that the majority of the recordings were extra bright coming off the mixing board for the advantage of broadcast radio. It is a damn shame that so many great performances were not preserved as better recordings. So yes it is about the music first but if quality was a moot point we wouldn't be here on audiogon, would we. We love quality in all aspects of music. All just MHO.
In the past 1+ years I've known about A'gon, several buyers and sellers have turned me on to the daily double--great music that happens to sound great too on cd.
Rickie Lee Jones-first album, pretty much all of them for sound however
Marcus Miller--Free, Silver Rain (some dynamic, clear bass)
Stanley Clarke--East River Drive
Janis Ian--Breaking Silence
George Duke--Illusions (pretty good sound--awesome music)
Dianne Reeves--Quiet in the Storm
Elton John--Tumbleweed Connection (remastered version)
1/2 rock 1/2 jazz fusion albums--try a couple
Why should a brutally honest system be automatically aligned with a hyper-detailed system when in fact they are mutually exclusive? Or at least should be. A brutally honest system will reveal far more musical detail including distortions (system shortcomings) than a brutally dishonest system or the more rare hyper detailed system would.
A musical performance consists of exactly 100% detail. Never more and never less. That implies there is no such thing as 101% detail. So aside from the the relatively rare component that is indeed zipped up or hyper detailed, I would think one would want to get as close to 100% of the detail embedded in the recording. The closer you get to the 100% detail the more abundant and natural are the warmth, bloom, harmonics, etc. that you get.
If you are experiencing what seems to be an abundance of poorly engineered recordings that seem flat or lifeless, grungy, overly detailed, or shouty, it's simply because your system is the victim of numerous distortions (which all are to one degree or another).
Any distortion whether electrical or mechanical will cause most all of the finer nuances and detail to smear to the point of dropping off into the noise floor and raise the noise floor so that much of the musicality of a presentation becomes inaudible.
Sadly, the vast majority of the magic or beauty of a performance lies in the low level detail and thus much of the believability of a performance is inaudible and is anything but believable. Thus leaving only a small percentage of the info embedded in the recording audible, (the bulk but not all of the high level detail and just a remnant of the low level detail).
Changing to a speaker or component that seems warmer or fuller most always adds a coloration that has nothing to do with getting closer to the original performance. As is usually the case when trying to cure the effects rather than the cause. In fact, because such products add new colorations to mitigate old colorations or distortions, I would contend that such 'warmer' components actually take you further away from the 100% detail of the live performance rather than closer to it. Even though they might make inferior systems and recordings seem more palatable and less fatiguing.
Especially since such a component would do nothing to recover the volumes of missing or inaudible detail which was the original problem anyway.
In other words, this has nothing to do with listening analytically or critically, or even just immersing yourself in the pleasure of music no matter how distorted it sounds.
As you probably know, there's real pleasure listening to the quality of magic of a given live performance and there is potential for real pleasure in listening to the quality of magic of recordings of same given live performance.
That's assuming of course that the reason you've invested your money in a 'high-end' system and participate in 'high-end' audio forums such as this one is to get closer to achieving that goal rather than seeking insight as to how invoking The Force might help convince yourself indulging in a 'high-end' audio hobby has nothing fundamentally to do with listening to the quality of the sound of the music.
To answer the original question, you should find that the vast majority of all CDs, including Redbook, contain enough music information to create superior musical presentations, even those we might consider to be our most inferior engineered recordings. It's the distortions plaguing our systems that keep us from hearing the vast majority of that information embedded in the recording medium.
I certainly can't disagree with any opinions that have been given here. It's just that I am amazed at the difference in two CDs. One will grab me and pull me in and another will be unbearable.
Dorkwad,(gotta love that name)I have several of the albums on your list. I have the Rickie Lee Jones on L.P. and it is a truly awesome recording.
I'll look into some of this CD reviving technology you guys are referring too.
By the way, my subject line was supposed to read,"What % of your CDs have good sonics" Somehow the % was left out.
Hi CatfishBob, I was curious if your system and room are still the same as discussed in your earlier "my system" thread? If we haven't heard your system, it's hard for someone discussing this topic to tell if we're taking about Elizabeth's "critical listening syndrome always engaged" vs. a more mundane room/hardware interaction problem. In past domiciles I've occupied, I always found abundant glass and hardwood floors created more difficult listening environments.
Photon....yes it is the same system. Most of my floors are covered in thick rugs with pads. I have blackout roman shades and draperies covering the various windows.
I did get a remarkable upgrade with the tube rolling I did. I presume that I probably need some acoustical treatment, but I have no slap echo or anything like that. As always....thanks for your help
Very interesting thread. I don't do much critical listening (and have never had the system to warrant it!), but have always been struck by discs that sounded particularly good. About a year ago, I started making some upgrades and found that, while some things sounded amazingly good (Jeff Buckley and the last couple of Radiohead and Wilco albums, for example), the distance between good recordings and bad was substantial -- so great that some music I like was hard to enjoy (Squeeze reissues, Oasis, Husker Du). My current system has closed the gap. The good stuff (sound quality wise) still sounds good, but the bad stuff is way better. I can still hear the difference, but it's not distracting.
you make some good points.
howevere, ultimately each one of uds has to decide why we listen to music and our expectations that result from such an experience.
i think one's stereo system refelects, implicitly that choice.
as a reviewer i have written about this psychological issue in the form of a question:
"what is the purpose of a stereo system ?"
there are several considerations of a non musical nature, such as those that concern physiological factors, such as its soporofic abilities and its palliative effects relating to health issuess.
thus, i think elizabeth's issues are irrelevant, whereas, why one listens to music is the issue here.
it's not the equipment, rather its about the psychology of human behavior--listening to music.
thus, i would say, it's not the sonics, but rather the affect upon the sonics upon one's "psyche" that is the relevant question.
don't place the cart before the horse.
Agreed with Bar 81,Demag your cd's for a remarkable improvemnet. Granted, these macines are not cheap, but worth every penny. I demag all cd's and blu-rays.
All disc have been lathed as well with the Audiodesk lathe, even gold Mofi's and Audiofidelity gold disc. The improvement is substancial.
I have to respectfully disagree. You're position is the reason why so many audiophiles don't own any music they actually like. Many audiophiles abandon all the music they originally fell in love with in favor of audiophile recordings that sound good on their systems. It's a shame because it's not necessary.
I also totally disagree that a warmer fuller sound is adding distortion. It actually is providing a much needed and missing element to most high end systems. Lots of the low level detail that makes a performance seem real is in the low frequencies. Frequencies that are notoriously absent from many high end systems.
Additionally, I suspect that the warmer fuller sound with a laid back treble IS actually closer to the live performance. Many of the so called neutral honest high end systems I've heard don't sound real at all. They sound very vivid and clean, but if you compare them to a live instrument they sound a bit like a characature of the actual thing and this is because audiophiles often equate that over exposed top end with audio perfection. This misguided attitude leads to problems like the OP. Spent a lot of money, but end up with a system that is far less enjoyable than the stock car stereo in a mid-priced toyota. Pretty common actually.
Everything one puts on to play should musically engaging
regardless of how well the music is engineered.
If one has so many unplayables then there is something wrong along the chain between the cd and the speakers.IMHO.
I just plug in and play and listen to positives rather than negatives, just got in Django Reinhardt 'jazz masters 38',
all originally recorded in late 30's to early 50's, all tracks sound sonically good especially Grapps violin.
i own the furutech demagnetizer and have experienece with the bedini as well.
i think the value of such a device is source depenedent. that is i have found "poor" sounding cds sound worse, while "goo to excellenet" recordings sometimes sound better.
i don't use them.
i prefer cd mats and an acoustic revive product.
MrTennis, wow, you're a reviewer now, eh? Congratulations.
As far as I know there are many reasons why people listen to or indulge in music and I would not presume to know why or even really care much what those potentially many reasons may be. If I gave the impression that I know why all or even some people indulge that was not my intention. In fact, it seems that it was Elizabeth who presumed to know at least how if not why people must be listening if they are unhappy with what they hear.
But my primary point with Elizabeth is that when I start seeing am/fm transistor radios in the all-out-assault section of the virtual systems in this or similar forums along with their listing Merle Haggard and Snoop Doggy Dog among their favorite artists, then I might be convinced that the quality of sound and quality of music matters little, at least to those individuals. If this industry were labeled 'low-end' audio then I never would have said a word as Elizabeth's statement would have been right on the money.
Jaxwired, I'm not sure why you say my position is why so many audiophiles don't own any music they actually like. I suggest re-reading my last paragraph in my previous post as that should completely contradict the position you think I took.
Did I not say there that I contend the vast majority of all CD's, including Redbook, contain enough music information to potentially create a superior musical presentations (I contend could even competitively compete with the absolute sound), even many of those we consider to be our most inferior engineered recordings? If per chance my statement is accurate, then that should offer hope and encouragement regardless of the type of music, its age, etc. Please explain.
As for your comments about a laid back treble actually sounding closer to the live performance. I find that interesting. So less is more? So when taken to the extreme no treble is the holy grail? But you appear to be presuming we both share in listening to the same or similar 'neutral' systems, that we share similar definitions and perhaps more.
Obviously your definition of a neutral system is vastly different from my own. You seem to be coming from the position that a neutral system is some type of brutally honest zipped up hyper detailed system and that was one of my points in my previous post.
Most likely you hear perhaps every superior system sounding too detailed, overly aggressive, and/or shouty, almost as though every recording was too closely mic'ed. Sadly, that's what is known by today's standard or state-of-the-art. If this is what you hear, then keep in mind that a supposedly 'brutally honest' and/or neutral system will not only provide more of the music it will also provide more of the distortions because a truly revealing system is indiscriminate about what it reveals.
But did it ever occur to you that maybe it's not called 'brutal honesty' because of what it does for the music, but rather it's because of what it does for the distortions and what the distortions in turn do to the music or presentation?
So if that is your perspective or experience then a warmer speaker might be just what the doctor ordered to keep you from running out of the room. But just because you're no longer running from the room that potential band-aid is certainly no guarantee that you're getting one iota closer to the live performance. Zero volume will produce the same results.
You said most of the so-called neutral high-end systems sound like anything but real. My first question to you is, who ever told you those systems were neutral? Secondly, why did you believe them? The fact that you say they don't sound real should have been enough to convince you that they could not be neutral.
(If per chance you make these statements thinking that the best playback systems are fine as-is and it's the recordings that are all screwed up. If so, you would be in good company. But that is not my contention. In fact, mine is the opposite.)
Nevertheless, my point was that perhaps EVERY last system is seriously plagued with electronic and mechanical distortions and I was simply stating that your suggestion of adding warm speakers was not necessarily the correct way to go. I'll say it again.... Because until the cause of these deleterious distortions are properly diagnosed and remedied, rather than addressing their effects (like perhaps adding a warm speaker to tame an unexplainably cold, harsh, aggressive, and/or lean system), the chances are good to excellent that the so-called warm speaker you're thinking of is just adding a dose of another distortion to counter or balance out a previously unresolved distortion.
But to iterate another point and minimize potentially further confusion, my position is that since EVERY system is plagued with much electrical and mechanical distortion, then it must be an oxymoron to say that ANY such system could be correctly labeled as 'neutral'. At least until these deleterious distortions are properly diagnosed and resolved and I can assure you they have not.
Whereas your position appears to be that despite a system being plagued by such harmful distortions it can still be labeled as 'neutral'.
I obviously disagree but I would like to be clear that we're talking apples and oranges here about experiences, our definitions of a neutral system, as well as other things.
I agree with Elizabeth's viewpoint. Why? Because I admit it happened to me.
I also agree with Mapman. Recording techniques and goals vary by engineer, cd, genre/style (i.e.; popular, hip hop, jazz, rock, classical) time of recording (60's, 70's, 80's etc.), studio, and so on.
So if we can hear all these differences; good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant or whatever you want to call it, through our systems is that not a testament to the systems ability to reproduce the signal it is fed without adding its' own colorations? Neutrality? Isn't that one of the goals?
If a system were to make all recordings sound good (or bad for that matter) wouldn't that be a bad thing?
Once one comes to realize all recordings will sound different, you can put this behind you, kickback and enjoy!
To answer the question: I like all the music on my CDs. Most of them are recorded well enough that I can listen to them without a second thought. Some of them are less enjoyable sonically but I still like the music and listen to them anyway.
I have found personally that it is hard if not impossible to "have it all." When I had Spendor SP100s, their softer treble and slightly blunted transient attack made a lot of harsh sounding CDs easier on the ears. My current speakers don't do that, but they also show me a lot more about the recording in other ways, and that is very enjoyable too. It's all about the realistic trade-offs that the listener is willing to make within the limits of what they can afford, as well as what is possible in their listening room.
Having read all comments and given the subject some thought, I've come to a conclusion about my feelings about this issue. I like to listen to music that sounds good. I'm that way about it when I sit around the house playing guitar. I enjoy the sound of a well tuned instrument. I've always been that way about recorded music too. My wife will listen to a song and start singing along. She always remembers the lyrics. For her, the song is about the words. I can never remember lyrics. For me it has always been the sound. I WILL listen to old blues records and old recordings for the historical value and to listen to the way the musicians played. I can listen right through the primitive recordings and all the pops and sizzles and really appreciate the musicians. But when I'm laying back in my recliner trying to escape the vicissitudes of life it is all about the glorious sound. I rarely sit in the "sweet" spot. I'm usually off axis in my recliner. I enjoy sitting in the sweet spot but for me it involves moving a chair around. If I change rooms at some point then I will try to remedy this situation, but for now it is not so important for me to be in the sweet spot all the time. For me it is all about the tone and the clarity of the sound. But as always: Everybody's mileage will vary.
Having said all of this, what I would REALLY like to be doing right now is swinging in a hammock under a palm tree, sipping a cool one and listening to some Buffett blare through a Walmart boom box!
This tune off the surf music box set "Cowabunga"
Shoot That Curl
The song sounds fantastic plus there is over 2 minutes of beach waves breaking sound effects at the end that might fool you into thinking you are out hanging ten with your eyes closed.
My experience is simple. I have nearly all redbook cds. The ones that come out the best -- the "special edition" ones generally but most specifically -- I have a few HDCDs and the DAC and black box to decode them. These are just more than a cut above the standard. As for SACD -- well -- I don't have an outboard SACD decoder so I rely on the one inside my highly modded Sony SCD-C555ES -- it's all right but I only listen in two-channel so -- kinda what's the point?
The HDCD format was limited, killed and yet when decoded properly -- is great -- IME that is.