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HiFi and what it should reflect


NMcGann
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When I look at a painting, whether an English landscape or a Salvador Dali, I can honestly say I am not tricked into thinking that I am looking at the real thing. Same with the hi fi. Does it give me as much pleasure as the original "thing"? Yes it does, but it doesn't have to be the same to do that.

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My question to you guys is, 'should the purpose of Hifi be to reflect the quality of studio production, or to try and present the performance of the musician as accurately as possible?'

I'm not sure I quite understand the question.

A commonly asked/disputed question is, "should a HiFi sound nice, or be accurate?" To which the answer is that the best HiFi should be the most accurate, but the most enjoyable may not be so (although there is usually a high correlation between accuracy and enjoyment). Each individual chooses his preferred position on the accurate/nice scale.

Your question also puts me in mind of the HiFi News record reviews, which had separate scores for recording and performance - some stuff sounds great but isn't actually that interesting musically (pop) or brilliantly performed (classical). But that is music, not HiFi.

I think that your question is around how a system presents the nuances relevant to musical insight, versus those that provide the audible clues to feeling like "you are there".

The thing is, I think that these are very similar things from a HiFi perspective. You are looking for micro- and macro-dynamics, primarily, together with a very wide frequency range and low noise threshold - all the things that define high fidelity really. But this may not be the "nicest" system to listen to.

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I'm not sure I quite understand the question.

A commonly asked/disputed question is, "should a HiFi sound nice, or be accurate?" To which the answer is that the best HiFi should be the most accurate, but the most enjoyable may not be so (although there is usually a high correlation between accuracy and enjoyment). Each individual chooses his preferred position on the accurate/nice scale.

Your question also puts me in mind of the HiFi News record reviews, which had separate scores for recording and performance - some stuff sounds great but isn't actually that interesting musically (pop) or brilliantly performed (classical). But that is music, not HiFi.

I think that your question is around how a system presents the nuances relevant to musical insight, versus those that provide the audible clues to feeling like "you are there".

How do you propose to score that in an objective fashion? More so than the HiFi stuff, the performance aspect of it is likely to be very specific to an individual.

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How do you propose to score that in an objective fashion? More so than the HiFi stuff, the performance aspect of it is likely to be very specific to an individual.

The quality of performance is a musical aspect, so generally subjective/personal, I agree. But the extent to which the HiFi allows the quality of performance to be assessed is what I was getting at. Although I don't see how it can be readily measured.

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The quality of performance is a musical aspect, so generally subjective/personal, I agree. But the extent to which the HiFi allows the quality of performance to be assessed is what I was getting at. Although I don't see how it can be readily measured.

As someone with a passing interest in measurements, I've often thought about the correlation between measured technical performance and enjoyment of the musical performance on the one hand, and some means of 'measuring' the musical performance as HFN reviews used to do.

My conclusion, bought about mostly by my experience on this forum, is that there is no correlation between technical performance and enjoyment as it's entirely a personal matter, like a preference for coffee over tea.

As to measuring a musical performance, that's even more of a nonsense, as only the composer can comment as to whether the performance was good, given that presumably all the notes are played in the right order, so who's to say that Furtwangler was better or worse than Karajan?

S

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As to measuring a musical performance, that's even more of a nonsense, as only the composer can comment as to whether the performance was good, given that presumably all the notes are played in the right order, so who's to say that Furtwangler was better or worse than Karajan?

S

Andrew Preview might have a view on that.

On the topic of measurements, seems in some quarters they're apparently not black and white either, or at least subject to interpretation. How many shades of grey, exactly?

http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/how-do-measurements-sound-audeze#UZPxL0CBt0eGHuPh.97

When even the measurists are arguing amongst themselves, the barbarians must surely be hammering at the gates.

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Andrew Preview might have a view on that.

On the topic of measurements, seems in some quarters they're apparently not black and white either, or at least subject to interpretation. How many shades of grey, exactly?

http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/how-do-measurements-sound-audeze#UZPxL0CBt0eGHuPh.97

When even the measurists are arguing amongst themselves, the barbarians must surely be hammering at the gates.

Measurements work on the basis of standards. Standard instruments and standard measurement methods. The problem with measuring headphones is that the measuring instrument, the artificial ear, isn't standard, so different artificial ears give substantially different results. Even how the headphone is positioned on any one artificial ear gives different results, so two measurement runs on the same ear will give different results.

Similarly, with amplifiers, how something is measured affects the numbers obtained. That's why any detailed test report should include the measurement instruments and the measurement method, yet that's never published as it's too tedious. If you read any of the peer reviewed academic papers on audio measurements, there are pages of method and instrumentation before getting to the results.

S

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As to measuring a musical performance, that's even more of a nonsense, as only the composer can comment as to whether the performance was good, given that presumably all the notes are played in the right order, so who's to say that Furtwangler was better or worse than Karajan?

What a bizarre comment. Anyone knowledgeable can comment about the quality of performance. The whole purpose of a performance is to provide an interpretation of the music, adding something to the composer's intention - otherwise we'd not bother with new performances, we'd just scan the music in to playback software and hit play!

As for comparing conductors, I don't think anyone would say one was better than another, but certainly you would say that one had a superior interpretation of a particular piece.

You should listen to building a library on radio 3 Saturday mornings, they go through all the available performances of a piece and compare their various strengths, coming up with a recommendation. It's usually fascinating.

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What a bizarre comment. Anyone knowledgeable can comment about the quality of performance. The whole purpose of a performance is to provide an interpretation of the music, adding something to the composer's intention - otherwise we'd not bother with new performances, we'd just scan the music in to playback software and hit play!

As for comparing conductors, I don't think anyone would say one was better than another, but certainly you would say that one had a superior interpretation of a particular piece.

You should listen to building a library on radio 3 Saturday mornings, they go through all the available performances of a piece and compare their various strengths, coming up with a recommendation. It's usually fascinating.

In who's opinion? The only opinion that counts is the composer's, and Beethoven's not saying.

Anything else is as useful as claiming that tea is better than coffee. That's why I find critics of all sorts, restaurant, theatre or music completely devoid of any value. It's only their opinion.

S

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In who's opinion? The only opinion that counts is the composer's, and Beethoven's not saying.

Anything else is as useful as claiming that tea is better than coffee. That's why I find critics of all sorts, restaurant, theatre or music completely devoid of any value. It's only their opinion.

S

Beethoven put tempo markings into his scores. I'm pretty sure that every single conductor looks at them, has a bit of a think, and ignores them. We should lynch them all!

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Beethoven put tempo markings into his scores. I'm pretty sure that every single conductor looks at them, has a bit of a think, and ignores them. We should lynch them all!

Tempo markings are subjective, even what an A was varied depending on who's tuning fork got used. Music performances were ever thus.

However, it gives nobody the right to criticise what others have done. The only valid statement is that I prefer X to Y, not that X is better than Y. Critics are parasites on the body of the creative.

S

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You're missing the point that you accuse others of missing. The recording is one thing, but if you think the reproduction of that recording at home bears any resemblance to what's in a studio, or live, then you're deluding yourself. Those poxy little cone drivers may sound pleasant to you, but realistic? Not a chance. It's not all about frequency response. Tiny cone drivers producing double digit distortion at LF are hardly accurate.

This.

And of course, there is always the question as to whether the recording that you are playing back is a true and accurate representation of what was in the studio or the live performance in the first place - which of course it clearly is not.

I am reminded of a possibly apocryphal anecdote about Picasso - an American was giving him a hard time about his art and suggesting that he should paint images that look like the subject. The American took a photo of his wife out of his wallet and showed it to Picasso. "See - this is my wife" he said. Picasso took the photo, looked at it,closely, turned it over, and then said "She's very small isn't she? and thin and flat too..."

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My question to you guys is, 'should the purpose of Hifi be to reflect the quality of studio production, or to try and present the performance of the musician as accurately as possible?'

Hi NM,

welcome to the Wam.

There will be only 1 thing we all here will agree upon.

It's about the music.

I tend to agree to many of the things said in previous posts.

Yet, after some thinking, I have some questions and another leftfield position, for the acadamic sake of your thesis.

Shouldn't you distinguish between the situations where the music is being experienced, like, the environmental context.

There would be different situations:

- music on the background while having a (telephone) conversation.

- music while reading a book or cooking

- sit down and (solely) listen to music

These are different 'intensity levels' of music playing a role.

Now, to your question:

firstly, 'appreciating music' is a matter of personal taste AND capability, secondly your hypothesis does not exist and therefore your question is unanswerable, or maybe not :).

(I'll try to elaborate, but have to point out I 'm not native english speaking.)

Our hearing capabilities decline while we turn older.

Higher frequencies will not be noticed over time.

Tested at 8000 Hz, my left ears are more sensitive than my right ears by a few dB.

Any recording is designed to sound in that way as is intended by the producers/engineers.

With the technical equipment that is available in the studios.

The 'sound' of the recording is 'manufactured' since in the recording studio, the vocalist is seldom in the centre, while the drummer is on the left side and the guitarist on the right.

This whole staging and effects and, and, and, are all being created after the recording itself.

So 'being at the recording' is only possible in terms of place, like being in the studio.

Not in terms of sound, like knowing how the recording sounds like.

You could hear the zillion recording tracks at the same time while the music is being recorded, but that is not the final mix that will be put 'on record'.

The 'sound' of the performance of the musicians don't exist either in absolute terms.

Even in a classical concert without PA, it matters quite a lot where you sit.

I prefer somewhere between row 10-15, while others prefer to sit closer, further, on the balcony.

It's quite different.

So there is no 'absolute truth' in how a classical concert should sound.

And I'd dare to say, most concerts with PA are set up in a moderate splendid way.

You see the drums or violins on the left, coming from the right speaker :shock:.

Being at a live event from a musical point of view is a horror, the vibrancy of a live act and the interaction with the audience becoming the sole reasons to attend concerts.

So in the end, if it's only about the music, then nothing else matters.

Therefore, the answer to the purpose of hifi in the context of cognitive appraisal of music could be:

'it doesn't matter as long as the music is recognised'.

Good luck with your thesis!

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Recorded music since the dawn of records has always gone through periods of SAYING it is "like"or indistinguishable from live music, but how its recorded (mostly) hasn't attempted to replicate the live experience. Compression, multi tracking, overdubs etc. Live music is one thing, a recording although wonderful isn't live music and I dont think can be considered in the same way. (All just IMHO)

This is a really interesting read...

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B006IOS4PA/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

So hey, I acknowledge records are fake. Doesn't mean I don't love love and collect em, in their own way I suppose they can still be as much a piece of art as a live performance but they aren't a live performance. What do I listen for? For me its all about emotion and dynamics and then soundstaging, even in mono.

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Hello folks,

I'm a student writing my dissertation and I'd like the opinion of some avid HiFi fans.

My question to you guys is, 'should the purpose of Hifi be to reflect the quality of studio production, or to try and present the performance of the musician as accurately as possible?'

I understand this may be a very open and vague question, but that's why I'm asking you folks. I'm not too knowledgeable in this area so the opinions and views of people who actually know what they're on about would be REALLY helpful!

Thanks in advance,

NM

I'll try to dodge the question. Take a composer, Beethoven for example. He (1) writes a piece of music and that piece of music has meaning. It may or may not be expressible in words - that is not so important. The chain continues with (2) a performance, (3) recording, (4) mastering, (5) output to media, (6) playback in your home, (7) you receive the musical meaning. As 'Hi-Fi' nuts, or 'audiophiles' as we prefer to call ourselves we focus - obsess even - on (6). To get back to your question I think the purpose of Hi-Fi should be to recreate the musical meaning and the nuance of studio production of the performance of the musician should not be very different because both of those should in turn should be subject to the original ideas recorded in the musical notes.

Imagine a bright-eyed boy giving his sandwich to a scruffy dog. That scene has meaning and the same emotion should be conveyed whether the scene is painted or photographed.

Cheers, Andrei

PS When I said we obsess about playback I am not exaggerating. You would not believe the amount of debate there is about even the quality of the wires between components! :->

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