Do we need more live music to improve our listening skills?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Lee Scoggins, Mar 1, 2003.

  1. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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    There is an interesting soapbox column in this week's Stereophile (link below). Reader Chris Keeler wonders if we need to hear more live music to understand what audio playback should sound like.

    I've often noticed that being closer to real music, one hears subtle details that are hard to replicate on even the best high end audio equipment. We try as hard as possible in the studio to recreate the live acoustic event but even when we do a great job, we know we have far to go. Chris is suggesting we need to listen more to real live music to help balance what we think we should be hearing than just listening to our playback systems alone.

    What do you think?

    Do you try to balance time spent at concerts verus listening at home?

    Here is the link for other responses...

    http://www.stereophile.com/soapbox.shtml
     
  2. RaulR

    RaulR Stunt Coordinator

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    That presupposes that live music always sounds closer to "reality" than what is achievable on a home audio equipment, and we know that just isn't the case when it comes to any kind of music that relies on electronic amplification or modification.

    As for acoustic, unamplified music, sharpening your listening skills with more concert experiences is always a good idea, but the implication is that everyone wants some kind of objectively measurable accuracy from their home systems, and that those who don't upgrade, tweak and calibrate to achieve "reality" as closely as possible are somehow being ignorant or wrong. The bottom line is that everyone has their own notion of what constitutes good sound, and one person's exaggerated bass response is another's epiphany. Just because someone's system doesn't conform to your notion of what sounds good doesn't automatically make them inferior as music enthusiasts.

    Besides, even if you know what acoustic music sounds like when played live and ideally want that kind of response from your home system, it still boils down to whether you have the means and desire to achieve it. I have a decidedly middling home theater setup. I could obsess over how much better I'd like it to sound, but unless I won the lottery there's nothing much I can do about it at the moment. Am I betraying my audiophile idealism? Perhaps. Do I care? No.

    Why not simply recommend attending live music performances for the enjoyment of it? [​IMG]
     
  3. Seth_S

    Seth_S Second Unit

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    With classical music, live in concerts are essential. A recording simply cannot capture the atmosphere and excitement of a live concert. It's like watching a sporting event live at its arena vs a few days after the fact on TV. With chamber music, you also lose the sense of intimacy with the performers on recording (what's also great about chamber concerts is that the audience is so small you can normally talk with the performers afterwards). Recordings are also too often the product of sound mixers - it's really disgraceful when you can hear the levels of a section being lowered in the middle of a performance! While there have been great strides in audio technology, it will simply never be able to capture the true sound of the concert hall.
     
  4. KrisM

    KrisM Second Unit

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  5. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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  6. Brian Burgoyne

    Brian Burgoyne Second Unit

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    I spent a LOT of time in clubs in Austin in my youth, and while I miss the excitement, I don't think I miss the cigarette smoke (but the pot smoke at the Armadillo was a plus!) the spilled beer on the floors, the raunchy bathrooms, the fights, the sloppy drunks and so on. I do miss the pretty girls though.

    I'm not a talented or critical listener though like some of you guys that are actually in the business (Lee) so I don't think it would help me to hear more live music now. I do know when I like a recording though, but probably couldn't explain why, technically, that is.
     
  7. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

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    I don't know much about going to live performances for the sake of improving one's ear for acoustics, but as a music lover, it's essential. Though I own hundreds of CDs and love them, they exist only to hold me over between concerts.
     
  8. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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    Mike,

    Did you move recently? Weren't you in Boston?
     
  9. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

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    Yeah, I moved a couple of months ago. I only got around to editing my profile today.

    The best thing about coming back to this area (originally from Brooklyn) is being close to New York, one of the hottest music scenes in the world.

    My concert schedule for this week:

    Friday (two days ago)- Maynard Ferguson and the Big Bop Neaveau Band, at the Blue Note

    Wednesday and Thursday- King Crimson, at Town Hall

    Friday- Latin Side of Miles, at Blue Note

    NP: ProjecKt 2 (King Crimson), Space Groove
     
  10. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Lee,

    It depends on what live music we are talking about. I think most rock acts sound like crap live. Think about those bombastic amps that are only meant to do one thing -- play loud. In some settings, such as acoustic music and jazz performances that aren't simply loud, I think listening can be quite an ear-opening experience. [​IMG]

    By the way, wouldn't you say that we can improve our listening skills with more SACD? [​IMG]


    Mike,

    I hope the transition to Jersey has been a smooth one for you. Before moving to Delaware, I lived in Hillsborough, which is near Edison. There are some nice areas there, but the traffic can be nightmarish, as I'm sure you have found out. Don't you just love I-287? [​IMG]

    So, have you scouted out some of the music stores in Jersey? If you haven't done so yet, check out Compact Disc World stores. There's one in Bridgewater on Rt. 202 (Wegman's shopping center). I don't know if there is one closer to you.
     
  11. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

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  12. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Mike, sorry to hear about the trip to the hospital. Glad to hear that all is well now.

    Fortunately, I did not have to commute on 287 when I lived in Jersey, but I worked with many people who did. They all hated it.

    For more on CD World, go to www.clubcd.com . For store locations, go to:

    http://www.clubcd.com/str/stores.html

    They are one of these stores where you can join their "club" and get discounts on all merchandise. Their price tags have the club prices in large type, with the regular prices in very small print. I forgot how much an annual membership is. I seem to recall paying for a membership well over a year ago and not having to pay it again. I get the club price every time I shop there. Perhaps they are lax about the whole thing.

    CD World stores have good prices, and they have a pretty good selection of SACDs and DVD-Audio discs. Unfortunately, they tend not to restock the hi-rez discs, but if you get to the store the week a hi-rez disc is released, you can usually find it.

    I've been to the CD World stores in Bridgewater, Princeton, and Cherry Hill, and they are similar in terms of selection. They all sell used CDs too.
     
  13. John_Bonner

    John_Bonner Supporting Actor

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  14. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

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    I subscribe to the Audio Perfectionist. (Richard Hardesty's online journal now in print.) www.audioperfectionist.com

    He has a "listening" class he runs every so often in Southern CA. I have tried to line his dates up with my schedule, but no luck so far. This is what I feel I need to be more discriminating. I don't think live vs studio has anything to do with it.
     

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