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Do artists care about " Hi-Res"


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So a couple of my friends are musicians. One of them (Jazz pianist) diligently produces at least a couple of albums a year, through BandCamp or SoundCloud.

 

When his last album appeared, I asked him if he had a DSD version I could download.

 

He nicely berated me -- essentially saying that with good engineering (like with ECM Records) even 16/44 sounds great and that no one really needs anything beyond 16/96.

 

Does anyone have similar (negative) experiences? Do artists care at all about hi-res such as DSD ? (Do they know what it is)

Let every eye ear negotiate for itself and trust no agent. (Shakespeare)

The things that we love tell us what we are. (Aquinas)

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First of all, he's right that well done Redbook can sound fantastic.

 

What he doesn't get is that well done hi-res can sound even better. His comment sounds like he is parroting something an engineer told him.

 

BTW, if he believes what he says, did he produce a 24/96 version? If he did, why not make it available?

 

My experience is that few musicians are audiophiles; so few have any appreciation for hi-res formats. Add to that the engineers who pooh-pooh it, and it isn't surprising that not many musicians push for hi-res versions.

 

Beyond that, those that don't self market are rarely in charge of the final product and how it sounds. Even many famous musicians seem to have no control over the sound of what is marketed once it is recorded.

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Path: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Cayin iDAC6 MKII (tube mode) (XLR)>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: Ropieee (RPi3b+ with touchscreen) + Schiit Modi3E to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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I'm a musician...typically, the artists who record for audiophiles are people no one's ever heard of.

It's a tertiary concern, at best. Some people like a clinically clean sound, but usually they're listening to their equipment more than the music.

I'll take a 1940sor 1950s jazz piano sound over DSD any day.

 

Sent from my SM-T810 using Computer Audiophile mobile app

 

You don't have to "record for audiophiles" to put out a truly good sounding recording, and in spite of your comment there are some well known musicians who clearly do make sure the final product sounds good - even to audiophiles.

 

Obviously audiophiles aren't the major concern when recording, but there is enough music being recorded and mastered at rates from 24/44.1 and higher, that there isn't much reason not to put those hi-res masters out for those of us that want to purchase them.

 

As for 1940's jazz - I have lots of it - and it doesn't sound very good (purely in terms of the SQ). Note the group recordings where you can barely hear Bud Powell in the mix and Max Roach sounds like he's drumming on a cardboard box.

 

Now, recordings from the mid 50's and later - there is some truly fantastic, brilliantly recorded stuff that still sounds great today.

 

Listen to some stuff recorded today in DSD and you won't think your 70 year old stuff sounds better. You may prefer the older music - but in terms of SQ it is a night and day difference.

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Path: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Cayin iDAC6 MKII (tube mode) (XLR)>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: Ropieee (RPi3b+ with touchscreen) + Schiit Modi3E to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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First of all, he's right that well done Redbook can sound fantastic.

What he doesn't get is that well done hi-res can sound even better. His comment sounds like he is parroting something an engineer told him.

BTW, if he believes what he says, did he produce a 24/96 version? If he did, why not make it available?

My experience is that few musicians are audiophiles; so few have any appreciation for hi-res formats. Add to that the engineers who pooh-pooh it, and it isn't surprising that not many musicians push for hi-res versions.

Beyond that, those that don't self market are rarely in charge of the final product and how it sounds. Even many famous musicians seem to have no control over the sound of what is marketed once it is recorded.

 

I agree. The list of talented, established recording artists who's recent releases are horribly compressed is long. It really makes one wonder if they've actually heard their own CD's. Why would a professional musician think an album with a dynamic range of DR7 and a peak volume of 0.00db think that represents their best efforts? I have CD's and hi-res downloads by artists that I really like, whose recordings, unfortunately, are unlistenable due to poor mastering. Who wouldn't feel cheated after buying and paying for them? The unwashed, earbud masses, I guess. Not us. It's no wonder that some people treat music as a free commodity.

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Excerpt from an interview with rock musician and producer Butch Vig:

 

Mettler: We’re now dealing with hi-res downloads in 96kHz/24-bit, and some even in 192/24. Do you feel encouraged about that?

 

Vig: I do feel encouraged by it. Even something that came out on 44.1kHz/16-bit is going to sound better if you let it have a more open resolution versus a crushed down MP3 file. Even if it wasn’t originally 96k, it’s going to sound better when it’s remastered in hi res. But it’s hard to know if the general public will embrace it. I think if that’s going to happen, the labels and the people who put it out have to make it readily available and cost-effective. People just want to hear the music. It’s frustrating to me, after spending all of this time in a studio working with great microphones, great mixing consoles, and great rooms, and laboring over this great music that you hear on these great speakers when you’re done. And then you get to the final mix and you realize, “99 percent of the people are never going to hear it like this.” They’re listening to cheap, compressed MP3 files on $5 earbuds. Most fans don’t care because they don’t know. If they had an option to hear really hi-res audio, they would — as long as they didn’t have to pay for it. Whether that gets embraced by the general masses remains to be seen.

 

Vig: We’ve always slaved over the Garbage records, and I want them to be heard in as high fidelity as possible, because there’s a lot of detail in them, and sometimes you don’t hear that when it gets compressed into MP3.

 

Mettler: Some of the big-label stuff you’ve produced for bands like Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana would be great in hi res.

 

Vig: Yeah, like Siamese Dream [released July 27, 1993]. That’s another one that was such a big, detailed sonic album that I produced, and it’s meant to be heard in its full glory. People would really appreciate it even more when they hear it in hi res.

 

Full interview: SoundBard – The Emperors’ New Sonic Clothes: Butch Vig on The Emperors of Wyoming’s Expanded Audio Universe

1070957250_Imprimatur.NihilObstatSepia3Crop(2).jpg.2162a44365e84a5df7d456bf8026ed67.jpg

 

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So a couple of my friends are musicians. One of them (Jazz pianist) diligently produces at least a couple of albums a year, through BandCamp or SoundCloud.

 

When his last album appeared, I asked him if he had a DSD version I could download.

 

He nicely berated me -- essentially saying that with good engineering (like with ECM Records) even 16/44 sounds great and that no one really needs anything beyond 16/96.

 

Does anyone have similar (negative) experiences? Do artists care at all about hi-res such as DSD ? (Do they know what it is)

 

While not exactly the same thing, my experience is certainly related to your query.

Over the years, while recording some of the most famous musicians of the age, I have asked many of them about audio. My conclusion is that most musicians don't give a damn about sound. Yes, I'm sure that there are many exceptions, but generally, I have found this to be true. For instance, the late Dizzy Gillespie once told me that he never listened to music, he played it. Maestro Georg Cleve, listened to the orchestra study tapes (compact cassettes) I made for him on a cheap "ghetto blaster" boom-box! The great Satchmo (Louis Armstrong) told me that while he had a nice stereo system (given to him by Saul Marantz and others), he could tell what he wanted to hear in a performance over a cheap 6-transistor AM radio! I've had other musicians say pretty much the same thing; that they didn't need great "fi" to hear what they were listening for in a musical performance, and thus an audio system or great sounding recordings didn't have much priority or importance in their lives. I think that kind of answers the question about HD recordings and musicians, don't you?

 

BTW, your musician friend isn't far wrong when he said that a properly recorded, mastered, and manufactured CD could sound great!

George

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I agree overall with the last couple of posts. Ask a typical audiophile's opinion as to what's the most frustrating aspect of the hobby, and most will say getting good recordings.

 

Amen to that! I responded to that conundrum by "rolling my own", and I did so many years ago when, as a teen, I realized that live concerts heard over the FM (in mono), sounded better than most of the latest stereo records I was buying! When I would attend these concerts (at the Watergate amphitheater at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial, and the State Department Auditorium - I grew up just outside of DC, in Northern Virginia.), I noticed that the radio station was using only ONE microphone hanging from overhead. How, I asked myself, how, with such a basic, primitive setup, this college radio station (that broadcast these concerts) could get better sound than could RCA Victor or Columbia? It was then I realized that if you wanted great sounding recordings, You had best make them yourself, where you had only yourself to please.

George

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Great thread.

 

Perhaps it's a matter of too many parts when making a record. Most of the time the material is still being worked out, artists can be complicated to deal with and now we're talking in very close quarters, pressure from the record company & management, pressure from knowing every passing minute represents more money, tunnel vision of getting your own performance right, and the engineers aren't excluded or immune to it all. An artist or musical group would have to make a conscious decision to shoot for great sonics before entering the studio and, better, before rehearsals.

Win10 Sweetwater recording studio PC running JRMC > Soundcraft Ui24r 24-track digital mixer > JBL LSR308 via Magomi Balanced XLR cable pair

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Great thread.

 

Perhaps it's a matter of too many parts when making a record. Most of the time the material is still being worked out, artists can be complicated to deal with and now we're talking in very close quarters, pressure from the record company & management, pressure from knowing every passing minute represents more money, tunnel vision of getting your own performance right, and the engineers aren't excluded or immune to it all. An artist or musical group would have to make a conscious decision to shoot for great sonics before entering the studio and, better, before rehearsals.

 

 

While all you say is true, it's simply not that difficult to make a great recording! In fact you actually have to try to make one that's bad. I often think that this is what the recording industry wants to do and, in spite of all their efforts, occasionally a recording comes out good in spite of the record company. I recall that in LP days, record companies used to aim their product at the lowest common denominator as far as the type of players most people have. Those suitcase portables were simply horrible in those days (and those "brown-goods" consoles from RCA, Zenith, Silverstone and the like really weren't any better), and making records that could play successfully on those might have been the reason (excuse?) why most records didn't sound very good, but I have to wonder, do they still do that for CDs? Don't know.

George

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Having done only a little recording I too find it not hard to get a good result. Good as audiophiles want it. I find "civilians" don't like that kind of natural sound preferring more processing. Musicians care even less and also don't like natural sound.

 

What's hard or rare is you getting recordings of top musicians that are simple and ungimmicked commercially. There's just too many reasons that doesn't happen. The difficulty making the recording ironically isn't one of those.

 

Sent from my Nexus 6P using Computer Audiophile mobile app

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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First of all, he's right that well done Redbook can sound fantastic.

 

What he doesn't get is that well done hi-res can sound even better. His comment sounds like he is parroting something an engineer told him.

 

BTW, if he believes what he says, did he produce a 24/96 version? If he did, why not make it available?.

 

Yes I also thought his comments came across as parroting something he heard perhaps from some other folks. He himself didn't understand the difference between say DSD and PCM. The only resolution he had was 16/44.

Let every eye ear negotiate for itself and trust no agent. (Shakespeare)

The things that we love tell us what we are. (Aquinas)

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While not exactly the same thing, my experience is certainly related to your query.

Over the years, while recording some of the most famous musicians of the age, I have asked many of them about audio. My conclusion is that most musicians don't give a damn about sound. Yes, I'm sure that there are many exceptions, but generally, I have found this to be true. For instance, the late Dizzy Gillespie once told me that he never listened to music, he played it. Maestro Georg Cleve, listened to the orchestra study tapes (compact cassettes) I made for him on a cheap "ghetto blaster" boom-box! The great Satchmo (Louis Armstrong) told me that while he had a nice stereo system (given to him by Saul Marantz and others), he could tell what he wanted to hear in a performance over a cheap 6-transistor AM radio! I've had other musicians say pretty much the same thing; that they didn't need great "fi" to hear what they were listening for in a musical performance, and thus an audio system or great sounding recordings didn't have much priority or importance in their lives. I think that kind of answers the question about HD recordings and musicians, don't you?

 

BTW, your musician friend isn't far wrong when he said that a properly recorded, mastered, and manufactured CD could sound great!

 

So I must confess I just don't get this. I thought/assumed artists always shot for the best.

 

Some oil painting artists are not satisfied with purchasing "high end" tubes of paint, they go and mix/grind their own pigment. Woodblock print artists would make several dozen negative blocks just to get the right hue.

 

I do agree that when properly recorded/mastered, Redbook sounds great. My favorite night/day example is the Goldberg Variations CDs done by Simone Dinnerstein on Telarc 2007 (unlistenable) vs Andras Schiff on ECM 1983 (awesome).

Let every eye ear negotiate for itself and trust no agent. (Shakespeare)

The things that we love tell us what we are. (Aquinas)

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While all you say is true, it's simply not that difficult to make a great recording! In fact you actually have to try to make one that's bad. I often think that this is what the recording industry wants to do and, in spite of all their efforts, occasionally a recording comes out good in spite of the record company. I recall that in LP days, record companies used to aim their product at the lowest common denominator as far as the type of players most people have. Those suitcase portables were simply horrible in those days (and those "brown-goods" consoles from RCA, Zenith, Silverstone and the like really weren't any better), and making records that could play successfully on those might have been the reason (excuse?) why most records didn't sound very good, but I have to wonder, do they still do that for CDs? Don't know.

 

 

We're screwed if you're right, as I believe you are. MP3 players are the modern-day suitcase portable, and everyone who has a phone has an MP3 player! I doubt we'll ever be free of popular portable players.

Win10 Sweetwater recording studio PC running JRMC > Soundcraft Ui24r 24-track digital mixer > JBL LSR308 via Magomi Balanced XLR cable pair

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Most musicians and technically qualified people I have talked to are unimpressed by hires and DSD in particular. This was a huge surprise for given my experience in my setup.

 

My separates are made by a boutique manufacturer who has a serious background in electronics. His designs are made with musicians in mind whom he uses as his prime target in terms of the house sound. I was surprised to hear him say that most musicians did not like the sound of up-sampled music. He is not alone - Goldmund also has the same opinion.

 

Another observation I've heard from artists are that the timing of music is altered with up-sampling. Again this was something that caught me by surprise as I don't notice this at all in my setup.

 

What I did observe is that playback quality is highly dependent on the system chain. Since no two systems are identical one can only guess at what factors could influence the observations of highly qualified people.

Custom Win10 Transport | Mutec MC-3+ Smart Clock USB | Lampizator Amber | Acoustic Portrait Thiyaga | ATC SCM20SL

 

 

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So I must confess I just don't get this. I thought/assumed artists always shot for the best.

 

Some oil painting artists are not satisfied with purchasing "high end" tubes of paint, they go and mix/grind their own pigment. Woodblock print artists would make several dozen negative blocks just to get the right hue.

 

I do agree that when properly recorded/mastered, Redbook sounds great. My favorite night/day example is the Goldberg Variations CDs done by Simone Dinnerstein on Telarc 2007 (unlistenable) vs Andras Schiff on ECM 1983 (awesome).

 

 

I've several times heard from musicians that they listen for the performance and not the sound. They are familiar with how instruments sound, so their mind sort of fills in the proper sound for them. What seems to interest them is the performance of other musicians, not the sound. So they don't listen like audiophiles do - to the sound.

 

Ergo, for most of them an audiophile sound and system aren't relevant.

 

gmgraves mentioned that among others, Louis Armstrong told him something along these lines. Satchmo's home in NY is now a historical site, and I've seem pictures of his stereo. It's a top of the line setup from the Sixties with a reel to reel player, Dual turntable and Marantz electronics. I'm sure it sounded great (the old time Marantz stuff was tremendous) - but he didn't really care.

 

Of course, there still remains the question of why some artists don't care about the best SQ of their recordings so that the audience hears their music in the best possible light, even if personally they don't care.

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Path: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Cayin iDAC6 MKII (tube mode) (XLR)>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: Ropieee (RPi3b+ with touchscreen) + Schiit Modi3E to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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gmgraves mentioned that among others, Louis Armstrong told him something along these lines. Satchmo's home in NY is now a historical site, and I've seem pictures of his stereo. It's a top of the line setup from the Sixties with a reel to reel player, Dual turntable and Marantz electronics. I'm sure it sounded great (the old time Marantz stuff was tremendous) - but he didn't really care.

 

Just looked up the website and found this picture with said stereo in the background!

 

https://www.louisarmstronghouse.org/images/mc_photo07.jpg

Custom Win10 Transport | Mutec MC-3+ Smart Clock USB | Lampizator Amber | Acoustic Portrait Thiyaga | ATC SCM20SL

 

 

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Great thread.

 

Perhaps it's a matter of too many parts when making a record. Most of the time the material is still being worked out, artists can be complicated to deal with and now we're talking in very close quarters, pressure from the record company & management, pressure from knowing every passing minute represents more money, tunnel vision of getting your own performance right, and the engineers aren't excluded or immune to it all. An artist or musical group would have to make a conscious decision to shoot for great sonics before entering the studio and, better, before rehearsals.

 

Engineering in a Studio is all about Sound Manipulation not Sound quality.

EQing, Verb, Delay, Compressor, Mic placement etc. is the Daily work.

The Equipement used is not a workfield for Sound optimization.

Cheap Long run cableing, low quality Power chords etc. are very comon.

 

This Happens to me some years ago:

 

Was Recording a classical solo Guitar Album in a respected Studio in Central Germany.

 

ImageUploadedByComputer Audiophile1470646565.483395.jpg

 

Play-back Sound was Strange over some active speakers.

The Engineer said everythings fine.

I insisted that there where Phase issues and asked kindly to Check / Turn the Genelec powerchords in the sockets.

 

He looked at me [emoji15] and asked if that is a choke.

 

I denied and so he crabled under the console, turned the powerchord Plug of the left speaker, hit Play and couldn't believe what a difference this little Trick made.

The Soundstage was much better in Focus.

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I think redbook sounds utterly fabulous when done right... everything I do has to be broadcast standard 24/48, that's an industry requirement, not my preference.

 

The important message is, once the mastering guy has destroyed the art, it doesn't matter a jot what resolution said ruined work is in.

Source:

*Aurender N100 (no internal disk : LAN optically isolated via FMC with *LPS) > DIY 5cm USB link (5v rail removed / ground lift switch - split for *LPS) > Intona Industrial (injected *LPS / internally shielded with copper tape) > DIY 5cm USB link (5v rail removed / ground lift switch) > W4S Recovery (*LPS) > DIY 2cm USB adaptor (5v rail removed / ground lift switch) > *Auralic VEGA (EXACT : balanced)

 

Control:

*Jeff Rowland CAPRI S2 (balanced)

 

Playback:

2 x Revel B15a subs (balanced) > ATC SCM 50 ASL (balanced - 80Hz HPF from subs)

 

Misc:

*Via Power Inspired AG1500 AC Regenerator

LPS: 3 x Swagman Lab Audiophile Signature Edition (W4S, Intona & FMC)

Storage: QNAP TS-253Pro 2x 3Tb, 8Gb RAM

Cables: DIY heavy gauge solid silver (balanced)

Mains: dedicated distribution board with 5 x 2 socket ring mains, all mains cables: Mark Grant Black Series DSP 2.5 Dual Screen

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So I must confess I just don't get this. I thought/assumed artists always shot for the best.

 

Some oil painting artists are not satisfied with purchasing "high end" tubes of paint, they go and mix/grind their own pigment. Woodblock print artists would make several dozen negative blocks just to get the right hue.

 

I do agree that when properly recorded/mastered, Redbook sounds great. My favorite night/day example is the Goldberg Variations CDs done by Simone Dinnerstein on Telarc 2007 (unlistenable) vs Andras Schiff on ECM 1983 (awesome).

 

Well I don't think the playback is analogous to materials used in art. Plenty of musicians are picky about instruments, mouthpieces, strings, even picks. That is different than listening to what has been done with those instruments however.

 

In my limited experience basic MP3 is no impediment to hearing what people have done with microphones much of the time (if it was simple). Nor does it seem to be a problem for musicians to hear how someone played something. While at the same time, yes I can hear a quality difference in MP3 and uncompressed recordings. With superb recordings MP3 vs uncompressed is even more obviously different. So something of a conundrum in what audiophiles listen for versus non-audiophiles listening for other purposes.

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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.............................

Of course, there still remains the question of why some artists don't care about the best SQ of their recordings so that the audience hears their music in the best possible light, even if personally they don't care.

 

I have mentioned this before, but you have to realize musicians don't hear their music as it sounds to an audience. A few who have expressed a preference prefer close miking. Considering this has a chance to sound like they hear it that actually makes sense. The instrument is in their hands right in front of them. They don't hear it out in a hall unless in recordings. And they would prefer close miking to hear up close what the other gal/guy is doing as they play.

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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I have mentioned this before, but you have to realize musicians don't hear their music as it sounds to an audience. A few who have expressed a preference prefer close miking. Considering this has a chance to sound like they hear it that actually makes sense. The instrument is in their hands right in front of them. They don't hear it out in a hall unless in recordings. And they would prefer close miking to hear up close what the other gal/guy is doing as they play.

 

If by "close miking" you mean placement at the same distance from the instrument as the musician's ears (as apposed to the 1970's method of 1/8"" away), I think you're on to something.

 

Funny. It just occurred to me none of my musician friends are audiophiles. I've been a musician since 1971 (age 10) so most everyone I know is a musician. One of my band mates who is currently a university music professor, pianist, writer, record producer, and was once part owner of a record company; uses barely adequate audio gear at home and OEM in the car. My own audio system is modest compared to most everyone else's around here. How many here would be caught dead with a Schiit Modi Uber DAC? (crickets)

 

We all know most people are NOT audiophiles. Audiophiles are actually quite rare - and this is truer today than ever. Knowing this, it can't be much of a stretch to understand that very few people become musicians or even recording engineers to make audiophile records. Sad but true.

Win10 Sweetwater recording studio PC running JRMC > Soundcraft Ui24r 24-track digital mixer > JBL LSR308 via Magomi Balanced XLR cable pair

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Well I don't think the playback is analogous to materials used in art. Plenty of musicians are picky about instruments, mouthpieces, strings, even picks. That is different than listening to what has been done with those instruments however.
ok so this is surprising to me. Its like saying that a painter doesn't care how his/her painting is displayed to the audience.

Let every eye ear negotiate for itself and trust no agent. (Shakespeare)

The things that we love tell us what we are. (Aquinas)

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If by "close miking" you mean placement at the same distance from the instrument as the musician's ears (as apposed to the 1970's method of 1/8"" away), I think you're on to something.

 

Funny. It just occurred to me none of my musician friends are audiophiles. I've been a musician since 1971 (age 10) so most everyone I know is a musician. One of my band mates who is currently a university music professor, pianist, writer, record producer, and was once part owner of a record company; uses barely adequate audio gear at home and OEM in the car. My own audio system is modest compared to most everyone else's around here. How many here would be caught dead with a Schiit Modi Uber DAC? (crickets)

 

We all know most people are NOT audiophiles. Audiophiles are actually quite rare - and this is truer today than ever. Knowing this, it can't be much of a stretch to understand that very few people become musicians or even recording engineers to make audiophile records. Sad but true.

 

I agree. Most musicians are not audiophiles, and most audiophiles are not musicians. Musicians would seem superficially to be excellent judges of the reproduction of music, but in my experience, they are not, except as to the musical and performance qualities, not the sonic ones that obsess most audiophiles.

 

It is also important to keep in mind in this discussion that there is a huge difference in the mindset of different recording engineers and producers by genre. What goes for rock/pop does most assuredly not work for the classical music I primarily enjoy. There are many reasons for that.

 

I think a lot of it has to do with the availability to many listeners of frequent live performances in classical under mostly good acoustic conditions in the hall. I am fortunate in that here in Philadelphia, with a world class orchestra and Music Director, as well as numerous top notch chamber concerts and solo recitals.

 

Many more listeners can have a better sense of what live music should sound like with classical than they can in most other genres. That influences classical recording engineers in what the recording is intending to achieve, including the audience rather than the close, onstage perspective discussed above. It also influences many audiophiles who have experience with live performance in their system and setup choices. I think a recording's and a system's ability to reproduce a more plausible sense of space is much more critical for classical, for example. But, that may be a lesser concern for musicians and for fans of other music.

 

All generalizations are false, of course. So, there have been mediocre classical recordings, and there are many audiophiles who just do not go to classical concerts and do not have a realistic sense of live sound in the hall. I have a fair number of audiophile friends who are that way, God bless 'em.

 

Interestingly, according to a friend who is a classical engineer, the major source of aspiring recording engineers in classical music today is musicians who could not quite make it as performers. However, they might not make it as engineers either unless they learn to keep the recorded perspective oriented to the the sound the audience hears in the hall, rather than to a closely miked onstage perspective. But, they know this.

 

That is increasingly less of a problem in my experience with classical music recordings today. There have been prior decades of classical recording where much more engineering gimmickry was used than today, including obvious close in or overused spot miking.

 

My own strong preference is for discretely recorded multichannel in hi rez, which has emerged as a market niche over the past 15 years or so. I have never been remotely happier with recorded and reproduced sound. And, I have thousands of such albums on my NAS. To me, it is the very best approach so far to the sound of live concert music.

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