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06-01-2006 Post mapped to one branch of Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,330
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 1
Post ID: 2466
Reply to: 2466
High End Audio and musical content.

I initial thought to place this article into my Audio For Dummies™ section but then I decided to keep it in this pure audio section. What I would like to do is to point is to address one of the major foolishness that widely spread in High-End audio: the disassociation between the audio methods and complexity of musical content.

Yesterday I spoke with a friend of mine, let keep him anonymously. He is perfectly reasonable and sensible person and I do like to talk and to think with him about various audio subjects. However, he is a big fan of Rock-&-Roll and pop music from 70s and 80s and I keep mocking him for that. He, as many other people, feel disappointed about my attitude but there is much more behind it then juts my snobby views and my explicit interest in classical music for sake of audio.

First of all (and it is very-very important to understand) - it has NOTHING to do with personal preferences of mine, your or anybody else. I do appreciate, like and know some “natural” blues but I under no circumstance would think about High End Audio in context of blues music.

The people who read my site more or less regularly have come across the view that I always push: the notion of “content-loaded playable material”. What does it mean and what it has to do with the subject of this thread?

Assessing the quality of playback system we should not assess “how music sound”. We do not also assess how the reproduced music “sound” compare to live music. The only valuable and objective things to assess in reproduced music is to asses in the wealth of the musical content that might be delivered to us via our playback installation. So, if the playback system is a mechanism of constructing the communication bridge between a listener and the original musical content then it is obvious that the amplitude of the original content and the complexity of that content is something that unavoidably bound to the definition of playback's success. Furthermore, there is a cache in there. The different complexity (load) of musical content does require different methods of handling the played material, and I am talking about the different purely technical method of playback organization. The majority of audio people out there do not know about it but there are many rules and patterns that connect the relation between the "load of musical content", results and the implementation methods. So, the playback to play classic music would require quite different implementation methods compare that playback that meant to play pop music for instance. There is an urban myth about the universal components this myth supported only by the ignorant people who have little understanding regarding what they deal with…

Mostly High End audio available today dose not comply with the rules suitable for classical music. That audio would do nicely rock of jazz music but it is very easy to make audio that do rock music good. I like some rock musk but I would never to consider that Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin or Deep Purple might be used in context of fidelity of playback reproduction. This music initially has no initial sonic references, as it's definition of sound are electronically algorithms. Unquestionably they have very interesting melodies and harmonies, some of them phenomenally good but these musical ideas rendered at very primitive musical level, usually horribly and rudely recorded and very frequently very purely performed. Playback system that demonstrate fidelity of the composed/performed intention and built according to the rule of maximum musical  (not necessary sonic) transparency would demonstrate the inferiority of light-content music very obviously and I have seen how horribly good rock music sounds with a good installation, an installation that was targeted to play complex classical repertoire. 

The said above is one of the reasons why I reading the audio reviews automatically discard any writing as foolishness and declare the author as Moron ™ if the author used for his audio assessments a none classical repertoire or a content-light matireal. Furthermore, even if an author does use the classical repertoire I look at the quality of the given performance or the given interpretation. If the performance/interpretation is weak then I also do not take the author’s writing seriously. What the purpose to use audio that does not filter out bad performances or to read a reviewer who does not know how to use this ability of playback systems?

Rgs,
Romy the Cat


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
06-01-2006 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Ronnie
Stockholm
Posts 81
Joined on 06-30-2005

Post #: 2
Post ID: 2467
Reply to: 2466
How High End makes solo flute make sense

I've had about 90% rock and pop music to play, but have saved lots of classical and mainly baroque music from Internet radio lately.

It wasn't before a few hours ago that much of that downloaded material became interesting.

Today I'm entranced by stuff like Bach flute sonatas... I would normaly have found it rather booring, and I think I saved it because it could become interesting to test the system with or something. It would make no sense at all for me through most speakers.
What's happened here is that, after cursing John and you three times, I managed to push the speakers far apart. And it was Madonna who made me do it! I noticed her voice sounded 100 times more interesting sitting very close to the speakers.

You may laugh at the description, but to me this now sounds great in a big-Wilson-speaker-demo kind of way, only without all that godawful hifi-show-treble... I don't know if there are any serious installations in Sweden except for when the yankees come to show off.

What happens when you invite your friend to listen to some content loaded classical music?
I'm imagining he'd instantly realize why classical can be more interesting if he heard something like Bartok piano concerts, percussive baroque music or just something irresistable like Scheherazade at your place.

06-02-2006 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Gregm
Greece
Posts 91
Joined on 02-16-2005

Post #: 3
Post ID: 2476
Reply to: 2466
Live performance cannot be a reference -- but natural sounds? Which rules out most rock, etc
But I wouldn't rule out playing rock on a system that offer fidelity to the music in classical repertory. 
However, back to the reproduction "system".
The expression Romy used of "musical content" is interesting. I use the expression musical intention (i.e. musicians' intention) for what I believe is an identical (very similar) understanding; this expression (and ROman's as well I believe) can only directly relate to classical --- and on very rare & unpredictable occasion to amplified non-electronic music. By this expression I mean basically two interelated things:

1) Am I "hearing" the actual piece of music (the symphony, whatever) I chose or are the interpretors completely off: to my mind, recorded musicians do NOT make gross mistakes incosistently (ex: oscillating constantly b/ween in tune & out of tune) -- they would not get their degree in the first place let alone be accepted in the orchestra. So, if I'm hearing gross incosistencies, it's the system. TO give a gross example fm the past, remember the speed/audible incosistencies when playing some off-centre cut records? (fidelity to the composed piece)

2) Can I discern the maestro's/soloist's/musicians' signature on this piece of music? Now this is not exclusively a matter of the recording; nor is it a matter of how well certain details are reproduced -- but rather a matter of how the "musical content" is reproduced as a whole and in its homogeneity, i.e. how well the reproduction correlates to the original performance (rather than look for individual "sounds"). I have heard the Berlioz/Beecham (EMI) and it sounded flat, nice and melodious and soft. ??? Either it wasn't Beecham conducting or s/thing else. It was Beecham,  (fidelity to the performance)

So far so good. However, Romy notes:

"Playback system that demonstrate fidelity of the composed/performed intention and built according to the rule of maximum musical  (not necessary sonic) transparency would demonstrate the inferiority of light-content music very obviously"

If the actual piece is inferior, what's the objection? It may be enjoyed by some on its own merit (whichever that is). Why would one sacrifice the reproduction system's performance on complex music to cover shortcomings in other musical pieces?

"and I have seen how horribly good rock music sounds with a good installation, an installation that was targeted to play complex classical repertoire."

The fascination of experiencing the musican'(s)'  intent/signature (see my point 2, above) is still there when listening to unamplified or electric amplified instruments (basically guitar -- the other instruments & voice go through mikes)... despite the limitation of many masterings, some of the intention creeps through: think of highs & lows of lead guitar, the percussionists, passion sometimes... etc.
In fact, heavy metal through a system under discussion sounds... like heavy metal. With a "girl+cello" system the same sounds like noise with s/one shouting to be heard over & above the noise.

Of course, let's leave out chip music where the matter doesn't bear discussion (as in, "now that my new speakers are broken in, Yanni is in the room with me. The bass is clear and the sense of space is jaw-dropping. My wife/dog/canary in the other room/state/peninsula froze, mesmerised... that;s how good this is").

" but it is very easy to make audio that do rock music good"

I agree. That's what 99% of the systems do, many of them badly at that. I would add music of the "girl with cello" persuasion is also very easy.


A final thing I see a lot: people judge systems/components using a disc/record/etc they are "very familiar with". Very familiar usually means, listened 167 times on their own system. The result is in this case is, any reproduction system that plays like their own with an added attribute or two -- most usually sonic attributes -- is better/ jaw-dropping, etc. This is absurd, as is the relentless fixation on individual sounds (i.e. "these speakers lifted a couple of veils" -- which means 6270-8078 Hz or whatever, are more pronounced).


"What the purpose to use audio that does not filter out bad performances or to read a reviewer who does not know how to use this ability of playback systems? "

I don't quite understand the first part of your note.

Cheers, Greg.
06-02-2006 Post mapped to one branch of Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,330
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 4
Post ID: 2478
Reply to: 2476
Here is where the key of High End

 Gregm wrote:
"What the purpose to use audio that does not filter out bad performances or to read a reviewer who does not know how to use this ability of playback systems? "

I don't quite understand the first part of your note.

There is where the entire purpose of Serious Audio is hidden, from my point of view. “Better Audio” is an active filter that incentives a listener with his/her listening experience producing “better music” (more content-loaded) in a more “consumable way” and the worst music in a less attractive way. The pleasure of consumption of “better music” or better interpretation is in the misic's applicability to the built-in within us (humans) algorithms of our adequate reaction to sonic nuisances. This adequacy of our reaction is a base for the conceptualized musical harmony, orchestration principles, instruments development, composition method, playing techniques and so on. A “Better Playback” complies with all those rules of musical culture and embraces the played materiel that complies.. However, when the “alien form” of “surrogate musicality” is played on “Better Playback” then the playback should not have own references how to present this music and the system should fall apart granting a listener with “not good audio”. Of course a playback has no own awareness but it adherents the awareness of the person who built the installation and therefore it has a lot of tool in it’s disposal to actually intrude into the process of sound reconstruction.

Rgs,
Romy the Cat


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
06-02-2006 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Gregm
Greece
Posts 91
Joined on 02-16-2005

Post #: 5
Post ID: 2479
Reply to: 2478
Thanks for the clarification
 Romy the Cat wrote:

 “Better Audio” is an active filter that incentives a listener with his/her listening experience producing “better music” (more content-loaded) in a more “consumable way” and the worst music in a less attractive way.
I understand your point. Originally I read your statement to mean that the "system" under discussion would not reveal/ would beautify bad performances -- and this didn;t connect with the rest.
Cheers
06-02-2006 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
deemon
Posts 23
Joined on 05-25-2004

Post #: 6
Post ID: 2480
Reply to: 2478
Re: Here is where the key of High End
 Romy the Cat wrote:

 Gregm wrote:

There is where the entire purpose of Serious Audio is hidden, from my point of view. “Better Audio” is an active filter that incentives a listener with his/her listening experience producing “better music” (more content-loaded) in a more “consumable way” and the worst music in a less attractive way.



But here we have an interesting question . Imagine two persons - the first man likes classic music and don't likes rock , and the second - likes both . And they tries to make their systems using this concept - "good performace for good music" . But "good music" is different for those men , of course . And imagine that they are listening rock'n'roll on the first man's system . The first man says that it plays bad .... but what will say the second man ? Is it possible for him to like the performance ? In another words - can we make an IDEAL system ?
06-03-2006 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,330
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 7
Post ID: 2481
Reply to: 2480
More of the keys for High-End

 deemon wrote:
But here we have an interesting question . Imagine two persons - the first man likes classic music and don't likes rock , and the second - likes both . And they tries to make their systems using this concept - "good performace for good music" . But "good music" is different for those men , of course . And imagine that they are listening rock'n'roll on the first man's system . The first man says that it plays bad .... but what will say the second man ? Is it possible for him to like the performance ? In another words - can we make an IDEAL system ?

Dima,

I think you are looking a very important point of what I meant. It has nothing to do with liking or wht what the different people might consider the “good music”. I was talking about totally different things. What I meant that pop music is not suitable for assessment of sound quality of high-end audio. The classical music has it’s acoustic referent and even if it doe not then the acoustic reference of live music always have relation to cultural, biological and other states of human perception: they just evolutionary derived form there. The pop music in it’s majority does not have the direct relation to Sound, the sound as native vibration of subject in air. Our hearing learned over zillions years about sound by experiencing it and by building up semi-Pavlovian reflexes to sonic irritations. Eventually the reaction to sound we shaped into ecstatics and in musical harmonies.

The pop music is juts superstructure of this proposes, sort of uses the roots but not necessary relates to the roots. The sounds in pop music are by applying different electronics algorithms and in many instance those sound are complete surrogate of the natural acoustic vibrations. The point of it is following: I do not argue that pop music is bad or doe not has own place. I do argue that the pop music has no objective reference point that a playback system might be targeted to.

Pretend that you have an fantasy perfect playback with a devise the would allows you to adjust any imaginary characteristic of sound without any hassles.  So what would you adjust playing the “Stairways to Haven”? What would you be doing with definition of the “correct sound” if the correct sound does not exist in Realty? You would most likely tune the sound to make it more suitable with your perception of this peace. That would be perfectly fine it could not be a common objective denominator in universal playback assessment. Form another side… today is Saturday and today 500 Symphonic orchestras around the world would be tuning itself up preparing to play the evening program… Interestingly that… no single person who will be playing or who would be listening has not contrivance what Gmajor… “give to mankind hope that not everything is lost”… (a very far starched quote from Vladimir Horovotz)

Rgs,
Romy the Cat


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
06-05-2006 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Gregm
Greece
Posts 91
Joined on 02-16-2005

Post #: 8
Post ID: 2482
Reply to: 2481
I could be that second person...
...because I do listen to rock, jazz & blues. Indeed, this is ~25% of my music content.

deemon wrote:
Imagine two persons - the first man likes classic music and don't likes rock , and the second - likes both . And they tries to make their systems using this concept - "good performace for good music" . But "good music" is different for those men , of course . And imagine that they are listening rock'n'roll on the first man's system . The first man says that it plays bad .... but what will say the second man ? Is it possible for him to like the performance ?
Do you think the first person will say that because of the music -- or because of the sound. My guess is, the music, not the sound.
Even the little complexity that may be found in, say, Stairway to Heaven, can benefit from a correct reproduction with homogeneity. The second man should say it sounds good.

I believe that the other way around -- i.e. a system only referenced to simple electrical music -- would only offer good classical reproduction by chance -- not by design.

In my small experience tuning friends' systems (who listen primarily to rock & blues & jazz) we use classical (opera & symphonic) to "dial" a system, listen to components or other complete systems, etc. This includes of course, placing speakers...
06-05-2006 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,330
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 9
Post ID: 2483
Reply to: 2482
Design decisions for different music.

 Gregm wrote:
I believe that the other way around -- i.e. a system only referenced to simple electrical music -- would only offer good classical reproduction by chance -- not by design.

“By design“…and this is exactly the reasons why insufficient-content-loaded-music should not be use for assessment of playback’s capacity. “By design“ is the key because light content and heavy content do require in some situations different design principles.

Audio people do not equipped to think in this way because generally audio public does not use musical content as a direct evaluation criteria of playback’s musicality. However, this door is wide open, always was. Change harmonic content of a playback and see how the playback behaves in pop vs. classical competition. For the beginners it is very simple to go by using different taps on the SET’s secondary. Equalize the volume and listen. It would be very easy to detect that that different harmonic favoritism of playback benefits different musical content. Eventually you may apply the same finding to many other aspects of playback and to learn for instance that that more pop (lighter) content of played mucks is the sharper crossovers is require. There are many other aspects and they all from my point of view clearly indicate that for the content loaded and content unloaded loaded musical material the playbacks do require different design decisions.

Rgs,
Romy the Cat


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
Page 1 of 1 (9 items) Select Pages: 
   Target    Threads for related reading   Most recent post in related threads   Forum  Replies   Views   Started 
  »  New  Playing music for visitors...  ...and sometimes it might be so deferent.......  Playback Listening  Forum     11  48634  01-27-2006
  »  New  Performers..  … in terms of time-rhythm and harmony freedom...  Playback Listening  Forum     9  40171  08-27-2007
  »  New  About Darwinism of Music and Audio assessments...  The mechanism of audio consciousness evolution...  Playback Listening  Forum     3  20364  09-11-2007
  »  New  Music reviews are written in a manner…..  Music reviews are written in a manner…...  Playback Listening  Forum     0  7063  10-31-2008
  »  New  It is about timbres, stupid...  It is about timbres, stupid....  Playback Listening  Forum     0  8955  02-23-2009
  »  New  My playback’s sound vs. Live sound...  String bite...  Playback Listening  Forum     7  26221  03-28-2009
  »  New  What I am doing?..  What am I (Axel) doing?...  Playback Listening  Forum     15  55889  05-12-2009
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