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In the Forum: Playback Listening
In the Thread: Ways to use audio methods.
Post Subject: I would agree that, while equipment abounds, musical software topples (or keels) Posted by Gregm on: 9/6/2006

I think the sorry state of the music industry (s/ware, sound) is primarily due to:

a) the trend toward audioVISUAL and the ensuing market for products
b) how people listen to music

A) I believe this is self-explanatory; the bulk of the market invests in VISUAL supplanted by audio. As this is a digitally controlled medium, it results in "canned" sound most of the way -- unless of course one invests hideous amounts of money which is not a mass market habit anyway.
Here the sound is secondary and supportive to the visual element. Excepting videos of musical performances, the sound "quality" and dynamics are largely dependent on sound-effects rather than unamplified (or electrical) instruments and volume (i.e. sound pressure) is more important than the actual changes in volume (i.e. dynamics -- or whether the sounds are natural: most aren't, as in the sound of two people kissing, or fighting.
So intelligibility of dialogue is important, but otherwise sound quality is not (hence the "dialogue" speaker).

B) Most people use reproduced music as an alternative to background noise or in a car. The other use is entertainment. In both cases, this is passive listening. Research has it, few people nowadays listen to music as an occupation. We (audio + music philes) can get together "to listen to music"; this is not a mass practise any more.

1) Dynamics must be banished, or you have to fiddle with a volume cotrol all the time. The sound must be flat. Think about it: Without compression even Madonna is difficult to listen to in a car without having to turn the volume up or down many times during just one track. The situation is worse with classical of course... Not good for "background music".
2) Music is also used to create entertainment ambience /atmosphere. Here the volumes are high (110 dB) and are conducive to "mass" entertainment psychology: everyone is reacting together as a group to one individual -- the DJ. Dynamics MUST be limited here too -- or the equipment will self-destruct really quickly...
3) Intelligibility, detail, etc are unimportant because in both cases above (v. low volume or v. high volume) they are NOT audible. Timbre, harmonics, etc are a non-issue as the music played does not contain any such elements in a crucial role.
4) People are jsut as happy using low resolution media as others -- and this hurts industry sales leading to heavy cost-cutting. This in turn means that the cheaper the recording & mastering process the better. "Worse" Smile, for a few decades now, artists themselves take an important part of the profits... (ah, the good old times when you paid the artist only if there was left over money) many engineers are required to produce a low-production cost product to keep bread on their table...

A final point which is the worst of all: ROmy states above that many (most) hi-end systems sound mediocre. It's usually due to set-up in my experience and to injudicious choice of components. 
I would add that systems sound horrible given the investment -- but they look very good. {Most systems I've heard fall into one of two categories: good for girl with banjo or good for girl with cello -- ONE cello. Add a subwoof and you get two notes fm the double-bass}

But given the mediocrity of sound, how can ANYONE expect a non audiophile to catch on, to be impressed, to consider the audio & music hobby if, for the sum of a few $10k's the result is not obviously different from their $250 Sony minisystem (including sales tax). If it were obviously different and better I am sure they (anyone) would hear the difference.

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