Author Topic: Home audio and classical recording evaluation  (Read 2291 times)

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Offline 2dogs

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Re: Home audio and classical recording evaluation
« Reply #40 on: December 05, 2019, 04:51:38 AM »
1. I enjoy my iPod tower for non-classical music but have switched to my portable music player and headphones for classical, the dynamic range is too much for it. I get more feeling for the music with the headphone system so I suppose it influences my ability to generate emotion although whether that’s the same emotion intended by the composer is debatable.

2. The earbuds I’ve tried all lack bass. The Sennheiser in ear ones are better but only for as long as they take to work loose after ramming them in my ears and any movement of the wires is audible.

3. Listeners wanting superb audiophile quality probably need to hear about it from reviewers with appropriate systems.

4. I’d choose a better sounding remaster over an original release but wouldn’t go for a cleaner but less engaging performance, the musical content is more important.

Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: Home audio and classical recording evaluation
« Reply #41 on: December 05, 2019, 05:10:50 AM »
I don't think so, no. It's fairly obvious that unless one is listening through tin cans, hearing the correct notes played is not going to be an issue.

Mind you, I'm not sure I want to get into another one of those conversations where we end up debating what the entire point of listening to music actually is and whether we're actually hearing "emotional content" when all that a sound system can literally do is reproduce frequencies.


Well, I don't either. Having said that, I am understanding the first question in a completely different way.
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Offline Madiel

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Re: Home audio and classical recording evaluation
« Reply #42 on: December 05, 2019, 05:27:48 AM »
Well, what is it that you think better sound quality does for you? If you think that sound quality matters, but that it doesn't matter for "detecting the emotional content", you must have something else in mind that it does matter for.
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Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: Home audio and classical recording evaluation
« Reply #43 on: December 05, 2019, 06:27:01 AM »
Well, what is it that you think better sound quality does for you? If you think that sound quality matters, but that it doesn't matter for "detecting the emotional content", you must have something else in mind that it does matter for.
Sound quality isn't all that important for detecting emotional content (in my opinion). Sure, better sound quality could open more doors. But this is about detecting emotional content, not the best version of that content. This is a far cry from saying sound quality makes no difference to me.

SO I can take a recording of Toscanini from the 30's (or take Caruso from way earlier), for example, and I can hear the passion and quite nuanced emotions that appear to be going on. Perhaps you think that some emotional moments are not detectable due to poor sound (in other words, covered up)? I suppose that is possible.  I guess what I am driving at is that the sound quality (as long as it isn't too degraded or prevents hearing enough of the music) isn't the prime driver of conveying emotion. It's the performance. Sound quality can make it more effective and more immersive (and maybe even bring out small details). But I don't think it is the prime factor for detecting it, and likely a non-factor in many cases.
« Last Edit: December 05, 2019, 06:29:05 AM by mc ukrneal »
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Offline Madiel

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Re: Home audio and classical recording evaluation
« Reply #44 on: December 05, 2019, 06:37:54 AM »
So basically this just comes down to how you and I are interpreting what "detecting" means. You read it as a binary can/can't detect. I read it as a question of degree.
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Offline ChopinBroccoli

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Re: Home audio and classical recording evaluation
« Reply #45 on: December 05, 2019, 07:39:42 AM »
What exactly does "emotional content" sound like?

Can we have an example of a particular piece where one recording has this quality and another doesn't and with sufficient evidence that the reason is down to good engineering and not the actual musicians performing?
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Home audio and classical recording evaluation
« Reply #46 on: December 05, 2019, 07:44:40 AM »
Can we have an example of a particular piece where one recording has this quality and another doesn't and with sufficient evidence that the reason is down to good engineering and not the actual musicians performing?

The Philips transfer of Enescu’s recording of the Bach solo violin music versus the Forgotten Classics transfer.
The Lennick/Salerno transfer of Daniel Ericourt’s Debussy versus the LPs, or my amateur transfer of them (which I can let you have.)
« Last Edit: December 05, 2019, 07:52:37 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline aukhawk

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Re: Home audio and classical recording evaluation
« Reply #47 on: December 05, 2019, 09:29:48 AM »
Well, what is it that you think better sound quality does for you? If you think that sound quality matters, but that it doesn't matter for "detecting the emotional content", you must have something else in mind that it does matter for.

For me, as a listener to recordings almost exclusively (I last went to a concert or jazz gig over 30 years ago) the sound quality of the recording is an important part of the package, and I like my equipment to be good enough to make the best of the recording.

Listening to music is a time-consuming business, and I wouldn't want to waste any of my time listening to anything that was less than 'very good'.  How can I put it?  If I award 'Excellent' a score of 3, 'Very good' = 2, 'Good' = 1 and anything less than good = 0  - and then score each of the three fundamental elements of a recording on those lines, that is the music itself (according to my preferences), the performance, and the sound quality - if the accumulated score is under 6 then I'm not interested.
« Last Edit: December 05, 2019, 09:31:55 AM by aukhawk »

Offline ChopinBroccoli

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Re: Home audio and classical recording evaluation
« Reply #48 on: December 05, 2019, 02:43:08 PM »
The Philips transfer of Enescu’s recording of the Bach solo violin music versus the Forgotten Classics transfer.
The Lennick/Salerno transfer of Daniel Ericourt’s Debussy versus the LPs, or my amateur transfer of them (which I can let you have.)

So I gave a listen to the first pair you mentioned... one is a bit cleaner, less hiss, fuller dynamic range... a better transfer

What does that have to do with "detecting emotion"? 

One wasn't any more "emotional" than the other because it's the same performance
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Offline dissily Mordentroge

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Re: Home audio and classical recording evaluation
« Reply #49 on: December 05, 2019, 02:48:16 PM »
I don't think so, no. It's fairly obvious that unless one is listening through tin cans, hearing the correct notes played is not going to be an issue.

Mind you, I'm not sure I want to get into another one of those conversations where we end up debating what the entire point of listening to music actually is and whether we're actually hearing "emotional content" when all that a sound system can literally do is reproduce frequencies.
All that a sound system can do is reproduce frequencies? If it was that easy we’d all be enjoying Bose crap going fizz, fizz, fizz from somewhere up near the ceiling and oomph, oomph, oomph from under your sofa.

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Home audio and classical recording evaluation
« Reply #50 on: December 05, 2019, 03:16:47 PM »
So I gave a listen to the first pair you mentioned... one is a bit cleaner, less hiss, fuller dynamic range... a better transfer

What does that have to do with "detecting emotion"? 

One wasn't any more "emotional" than the other because it's the same performance

It's to do with hearing more of the sound, in particular the lower frequencies in that recording. You just can hear more of what Ensescu was doing with the fiddle. Given that music is sound then it follows that the way the music makes you feel is partly due to the sounds you hear. And if the recording doesn't let you hear all those sounds correctly, there may well be consequences for your responses emotionally. I mean, even if we don't agree about the Enescu it would a priori be surprising if there weren't examples of the thing you're looking for.

With hifi I've had lots of experiences -- where improving the amplification seemed let me hear the music very differently from an emotional point of view. I think this is partly to do with image, with a good amp you can sense more clearly how singers are relating and responding to each other. I had exactly this experience recently with a recording of music by Busnois by Cantica Symphonia when I bought a Radford amp. Before Radford, the recording felt like totally grey and lifeless note spinning. After Radford it feels like  living breathing music making.
« Last Edit: December 05, 2019, 03:23:18 PM by Mandryka »
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Offline ChopinBroccoli

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Re: Home audio and classical recording evaluation
« Reply #51 on: December 05, 2019, 03:35:34 PM »
That's valid testimony, for sure and I can respect that POV

Though I don't see it the same way, myself as emotions in music to me are more a combination of A) the intent of the performer, B) performance choices, techniques and articulation that may evoke a response of sadness/happiness/anger/etc and C) the sequence of notes and voicings as written/improvised (major vs minor, diminished vs augmented, etc)

The love theme in Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet would sound decidedly less romantic played Presto by a quintet of bassoonists ... same tune but now the meaning completely altered by choice of voice and tempo

As a musician, I think the emotional response an individual has to music has more to do with the writing and execution than the stereo it's played back on
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Offline dissily Mordentroge

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Re: Home audio and classical recording evaluation
« Reply #52 on: December 05, 2019, 04:48:33 PM »
As a musician, I think the emotional response an individual has to music has more to do with the writing and execution than the stereo it's played back on
My last remark on this as such discussions often get out of hand. Consider two things. Is there any difference between a Stradavarius and a child’s first cheap violin?
Musicians are gifted with something many of us mere mortals lack. The ability to read a score and simultaneously ‘hear' the music and ‘fill in the gaps’ in an inferior recording or playback system.


Offline ChopinBroccoli

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Re: Home audio and classical recording evaluation
« Reply #53 on: December 05, 2019, 05:11:36 PM »
My last remark on this as such discussions often get out of hand. Consider two things. Is there any difference between a Stradavarius and a child’s first cheap violin?
Musicians are gifted with something many of us mere mortals lack. The ability to read a score and simultaneously ‘hear' the music and ‘fill in the gaps’ in an inferior recording or playback system.

Some of the greatest musicians alive can't sight read music at all, for the record

Sure there's a difference between a Stradivarius and a really cheap kid's violin ... the difference between a Stradivarius and a really high end violin made last month is another matter altogether and the reverence for the former merely proves that being a musician doesn't preclude one from being irrational even on the subject of sound
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Offline ChopinBroccoli

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Re: Home audio and classical recording evaluation
« Reply #54 on: December 05, 2019, 05:38:21 PM »
And for the record, if I put on Charles Munch and the BSO doing Daphnis et Chloe from 1955, there's no gaps to fill in... all the same notes as somebody else in 2015 ... it's the playing, the interpretation that makes it special. 

I can't sight-read well enough to sit there and follow along with a score even if I had any desire to do so.  The score is the score no matter who's performing the work.  The performance is what makes a record/concert good or not.  The "performance" can entail a lot of different qualities.  Leonard Bernstein and George Szell might give you two totally different takes on the same piece of music.  Both might be amazingly enjoyable for none of the same reasons.  One is hyper-emotional and less of a perfectionist so maybe one or two of the horns are a smidge late but he's a storyteller and wants to get those big climactic moments ... the other gets a miraculous ensemble balance, no one is ever late and the reigns are held tight with tension the key to the narrative arc.  Drastically different approaches.

There's a lot of ways to give a great performance.  A great performance might have zero mistakes or it might have 100.  Same with a poor performance. 

Every performance is an interpretation no matter how in denial of that inescapable reality some musicians insist on being.  As soon as you raise the baton, put your fingers to the keys, put your bow on the strings, fingers between the frets, etc you are involved.  If you weren't, everybody's Eroica or Tannhauser would sound exactly the same to the letter.  "Strictly by the score" is for computers, not humans. 
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Home audio and classical recording evaluation
« Reply #55 on: December 05, 2019, 11:34:03 PM »

The love theme in Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet would sound decidedly less romantic played Presto by a quintet of bassoonists ... same tune but now the meaning completely altered by choice of voice and tempo

As a musician, I think the emotional response an individual has to music has more to do with the writing and execution than the stereo it's played back on

Yes I understand but my point is that sometimes the reproduction equipment obscured the execution, not at the level of tunes, but at the level of second and third harmonics, for example, or the use the performer makes of hall reverberations.
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Offline Irons

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Re: Home audio and classical recording evaluation
« Reply #56 on: December 06, 2019, 01:20:19 AM »
And for the record, if I put on Charles Munch and the BSO doing Daphnis et Chloe from 1955, there's no gaps to fill in... all the same notes as somebody else in 2015 ... it's the playing, the interpretation that makes it special. 



No it's not. That is one of the finest examples of the renowned "Living Stereo" RCA recordings from the "golden age". In my opinion would trouch a modern recording for sound alone.
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Offline Madiel

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Re: Home audio and classical recording evaluation
« Reply #57 on: December 06, 2019, 02:43:26 AM »
All that a sound system can do is reproduce frequencies? If it was that easy we’d all be enjoying Bose crap going fizz, fizz, fizz from somewhere up near the ceiling and oomph, oomph, oomph from under your sofa.

I didn't say all sound systems reproduce frequencies with equal fidelity. But reproducing frequencies is, in fact, the sole function of a sound system, yes.
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Offline Florestan

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Re: Home audio and classical recording evaluation
« Reply #58 on: December 06, 2019, 02:44:16 AM »
And for the record, if I put on Charles Munch and the BSO doing Daphnis et Chloe from 1955, there's no gaps to fill in... all the same notes as somebody else in 2015 ... it's the playing, the interpretation that makes it special. 

I can't sight-read well enough to sit there and follow along with a score even if I had any desire to do so.  The score is the score no matter who's performing the work.  The performance is what makes a record/concert good or not.  The "performance" can entail a lot of different qualities.  Leonard Bernstein and George Szell might give you two totally different takes on the same piece of music.  Both might be amazingly enjoyable for none of the same reasons.  One is hyper-emotional and less of a perfectionist so maybe one or two of the horns are a smidge late but he's a storyteller and wants to get those big climactic moments ... the other gets a miraculous ensemble balance, no one is ever late and the reigns are held tight with tension the key to the narrative arc.  Drastically different approaches.

There's a lot of ways to give a great performance.  A great performance might have zero mistakes or it might have 100.  Same with a poor performance. 

Every performance is an interpretation no matter how in denial of that inescapable reality some musicians insist on being.  As soon as you raise the baton, put your fingers to the keys, put your bow on the strings, fingers between the frets, etc you are involved.  If you weren't, everybody's Eroica or Tannhauser would sound exactly the same to the letter.  "Strictly by the score" is for computers, not humans.

I'm in complete agreement with all of the above.
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Offline Madiel

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Re: Home audio and classical recording evaluation
« Reply #59 on: December 06, 2019, 02:46:16 AM »
And for the record, if I put on Charles Munch and the BSO doing Daphnis et Chloe from 1955, there's no gaps to fill in... all the same notes as somebody else in 2015 ... it's the playing, the interpretation that makes it special. 

I can't sight-read well enough to sit there and follow along with a score even if I had any desire to do so.  The score is the score no matter who's performing the work.  The performance is what makes a record/concert good or not.  The "performance" can entail a lot of different qualities.  Leonard Bernstein and George Szell might give you two totally different takes on the same piece of music.  Both might be amazingly enjoyable for none of the same reasons.  One is hyper-emotional and less of a perfectionist so maybe one or two of the horns are a smidge late but he's a storyteller and wants to get those big climactic moments ... the other gets a miraculous ensemble balance, no one is ever late and the reigns are held tight with tension the key to the narrative arc.  Drastically different approaches.

There's a lot of ways to give a great performance.  A great performance might have zero mistakes or it might have 100.  Same with a poor performance. 

Every performance is an interpretation no matter how in denial of that inescapable reality some musicians insist on being.  As soon as you raise the baton, put your fingers to the keys, put your bow on the strings, fingers between the frets, etc you are involved.  If you weren't, everybody's Eroica or Tannhauser would sound exactly the same to the letter.  "Strictly by the score" is for computers, not humans.

There seems to be a false dichotomy at play here, as if the question is whether it's the performance that matters or the recording.

Saying that the recording matters is in no way a claim that the performance doesn't. Whereas you seem to be intending now to declare the performance is all, and bugger the recording.

Personally, I can't escape the conclusion that your ability to conclude that a great performance WAS a great performance, if you weren't personally present at the time, necessarily involves a recording engineer having done a good enough job of giving you a decent impression of what was going on. The performance matters AND the recording matters.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2019, 02:50:35 AM by Madiel »
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