Soundwise, yes more so in an outdoor concert and when multi bands use the stage, hi-fi may be better.
However, within a good concert hall setting and when instruments tend to be more acoustical, live performance far surpass hi-fi. Vocals, especially when good microphone techniques are deployed are the best live.
Small club settings in my opinion often yields the best both sound and visual.
The additional stimulant of live performances is of course the excitement of witnessing the whole visual experience and rapport with the performers.
Good live performances are always my benchmark for hi-fi.
bill: for me, this is a quite rare experience. while i have a 2-channel system many might think (as do i) is quite good, it usually bests live performances only when the acoustics of the live venue are poor, the amplification/speakers are lousy or i can get seats only in the nosebleed section. i've attended too few classical concerts of late but had the good fortune to accompany my older son to many great performances in the last year at several venues. seen dylan, phil lesh and paul simon twice each, csn&y, billy joel and elton john, hugh mesakela, cowboy junkies, john hartford, john prine, neil young & crazy horse, rat dog, string cheese incident, the eagles, david byrne, among others. the only times i've felt compelled to turn on my system when i've gotten home is when i've been to a blues/pop concert at the gothic or the paramount. john hammond was definitely better on cd than he was live. so, too, was odetta, the persuasions and iris dement. in each instance the acoustics were poor where i was sitting/standing. otherwise, i just can't match in my home the ambiance, the gut thumpin' bass, the banks of horns, the between-song patter or the sheer joy of just bein' there. -kelly
When sound is concerned it's my system,(except for classical) but with the tricky point of emotion, live performance wins hands down. It's simply to hard to get what most of us consider good sound out of a live performance. On the other side of that I have trouble getting the true emotional impact so easily found at a live performance out of my stereo.
Does that mean I need To upgrade my system??? Of course it does any excuse helps. But that emotion is the main reason I'll always turn off my better sounding stereo to go to a concert.
What prompted me to start this thread is that I was in San Miguel de Allende (Mexico) for a week and had the opportunity to listen to the Toyko String Quartet perform for two nights. One program was great and the other interesting. What became apparent immediately was that the highs were getting lost in the front third of the ceiling and that the bass was just missing. So, what came through in the 19th row(the rear) was low mids and mids. It was freeky. I enjoyed being out and at a performance and was grateful for the chance to hear anything played well.
And, I really was curious how it would sound at home. I happen to have all the Beethoven and Haydn String Quartets and the Brahms String Sextet in G major, so I played them. My wife, told me that it was much better sound; clearer, more detailed and fuller here at home!
Frankly, the problem is the halls accoustics. But, wow! It's clear that well recorded, excellently played, detailed music here at the fort is my benchmark for live concerts in the future.
Reproduced music will never sound like life music. Reproduced music simply cannot produce the SCALE of life music.
I recently (back in February) saw Eighth Blackbird, a group of five talentend young proponents of contemporary concert music, play in a hall that was simply too large for a chamber group. The concert was very exciting, and the group was both musically and visually stimulating. However, since were a small group playing in a large hall, they had to be miked. The amplification of the group reduced the aural aspect of the concert to the level of a concert via a poor PA system. Sonically, my two-channel system could beat any such event hands-down. The eighty-year-old couple snoring away behind me didn't help, either.
I think it depends on the type of music. I jump at the chance to go to Lincoln Center to hear the NY philharmonic
but I am also a big jazz fan and the last venue I attended at the Beacon Theatre left me wondering if I would get hearing damage it was so loud. My claim is this: for classical I jump at the chance to catch a concert but for jazz my ears are more comfortable at home.
It blows my mind that someone would actually compare their stereo to a live classical performance and use their audio system as the benchmark. In my opinion, this is where the hobby starts to go to people's heads. Get out and go and listen to more live music to adjust your ears to what an orchestra actually sounds like. Are you sure that what you were hearing was actually what it was supposed to sound like and you are so used to listening to reproduced music that you think that it sounded wrong? The majority of acoustic recordings are plenty skewed and that they are just poor representations of the original performance to begin with (especially multi-mic atrocities like Deutsche Grammaphone recordings).
Lakefrontroad hello, I haven't read all of the above posts and I can imagine that you drew quite a bit of flak upon yourself. All the same, you pose an interesting question.
As far as I am concerned and objectively speaking, there is no question of course, that unless you listen in a really lousy accoustical space, live music will clobber even the best of setups. The ease and naturalness in which the sound spreads from a live event, the myriad of different overtones, which bloom and eddy over the main body of the soundfield, will remind you, how utterly poor and unsatisfactory your rig at home basically is! Looking at the question subjectively however, can be quite a different kettle of fish. Concertgoing and musician friends of mine have remarked to me often enough, that they rather prefer listening to a given piece of classical music at my place compared to a life concert. Even the musicians found, that they could far better follow either the composer's intent, the musical architecture of a given piece, or a given interpretation of it, in front of my wall of stators than in the hall. And this not from one, but from many persons. I suppose the answer lies in the fact, that halls with much reverb tend to homogenise the sound a lot and probably the intimacy of the listening room also does its bit. So, the terms best or better are subjective at best, but it is an objective fact, that especially as a far as "bloom" and timing are concerend, no system I have ever heard will even come close to the life event.
A Haydn or Beethoven quartet was not meant for large scale public performance. If there was a 19th row in the hall I can easily imagine many of the a'goners haveing a better musical experience in their sweet spot. Bill, try the Quatour Mosaique performances of Haydn or Beethoven on original instruments, they are superb performances. The recording would sound better that most halls 10th row. But I've had a live string quartet between my Dunlavy's and there is no doubt about my system's faults.
For me, even though I own a system that cost me about $33,000 to date, and as good as it sounds to me, a live performance is a live performance, and a CD on a $200,000 stereo is, and will always sound like a CD on a good stereo. Granted, it will sound better on some Mark Levenson gear than it will on a $1000 Sony system, but will lack the emotion that I feel from a live show. To me, they are two separate entities. I derive great enjoyment from both
Unfortunately for me its the stereo. I have a high class B system so it sounds very good. The emotional response I get from live performances these days tends to be negative.
1. Why doent those old ladys shut up and listen to the Bach?
2. Boy this hall has crappy accoustics. I can't even hear the winds.
3. I wish I could be listening to a better orchestra.
I live in Ft Collins Co so top rate musicians are only rarely available. Denver is better but the accoustics of these halls is marginal (Ft Collins Lincoln Center must be competitive with the world's worst accoustical environment)
So my stereo is my refuge. If I lived in Chicago or NYC I'm sure that would not be my answer.....