Random thoughts about our hobby

Discussion in 'General Audio Discussion' started by k4rstar, May 19, 2022.

  1. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    Thought #0

    Stop chasing reproductions and go chase after live music. It's summertime and there's tons of starving musicians out there playing for peanuts that are probably worth hearing. Or maybe they aren't, but that's half the fun in finding some random venue or street corner and just experiencing what's there.

    So much of my adult life has been spent in attempting to recreate that one magical moment of bliss from years ago, instead of creating new moments along the way.
     
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  2. wbass

    wbass Almost "Made"

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    I've come to think of analog and digital as two different currents in my music listening.

    Analog: relax, drink a beer, clean a few LPs, spin a few sides, mostly 60s jazz, couple chapters of a novel, tone before all

    Digital: zeroed in on the music, maybe album mode, more likely a playlist, a Taschen or two at hand, detail above all


    Analog is exceedingly satisfying--if/when everything comes together. New LPs can be warped and noisy. Used LPs can look NM- and play VG. Then there's the tweaking and tweaking. You think computer audiophiles are OCD? There's no end to the analog rabbit hole. The software ain't cheap either. It's music listening made hard, but when it all clicks, you made that happen, and it's special, personal, and damned fulfilling.

    Digital: It works. It almost always sounds good to great (to my ears). It can sometimes be--I guess my word for it is... unrelenting. The way Spotify and Quobz and Roon, et al, work now, the stream never stops. The album or playlist you queued up ends, then you get served the algorithm. Some great stuff, some crap. You don't own any of it. The experience is semi-impersonal and corporatized pretty mercilessly--I truly hate Tidal's front page, which recs stuff I have zero interest before it lets me get at "my" music--but it's damned convenient.

    I like both analog and digital a lot. I think even Spotify sounds solid. I hear not much difference between DACs and gave up on various digital tweaks, but am open to experiments in the future. (I've heard very meticulously done digital chains I'm pretty sure are better than mine.) I've put a ton of time and thought into my analog (SP10mk2, Kuzma 4 Point 14, CAR40, Allnic tube stage), and sometimes it's fucking awesome and sometimes it drives me up the damn wall.

    Also, there's no point, to me, to buying digitally recorded music on LP. Let digital be digital. Analog be analog. It's all music and all fun--or it should be anyway--but the medium is the message to a certain extent.
     
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  3. purr1n

    purr1n Burned out

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    I wasn't supposed to be taken seriously. At least I hope I wasn't. There is no wrong way.
     
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  4. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    That doesn't matter: music stopped in 1974 anyway.




    (I don't really think this, but I'm afraid it is largely true of my music collection :oops: )
    It was fun trying to work out what you really, really actually meant! Epic post. Epic cat bed!
     
  5. animus

    animus Almost "Made"

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    I've heard this argument a zillion times over the years and honestly I think it's really shallow and bullshit. People prize recordings because they capture something that doesn't exist anymore.

    If I want to hear the Beethoven symphonies played in the French tradition (ie. Markevitch, Monteux, or Schuricht's recordings with the Paris Conservatoire) I can't anymore because the French orchestras don't sound like that anymore and no one conducts like any of the aforementioned conductors anymore. That's just one example; most of the great conductors and soloists of the past are long dead and gone and not much if anything has replaced them. Orchestras today all sound more or less the same compared to the amount of timbral and tonal diversity they used to have less than a century ago. If this stuff still existed, would I haul my ass over to see it performed as often as possible? You bet I would. But it doesn't, even if you live in Europe right next to a major orchestra. They just don't do it like they used to, which makes recordings all the more valuable.

    This is just focusing on orchestras too. You want a style that's really extinct? Listen to Joseph Joachim play the Brahms Hungarian Dances. These recordings are over a century old have a violin tone and portamenti that you'd never hear today. No one would really know this or be able to quantify exactly how different it is from modern playing without recordings, and no amount of going to amateur student recitals or local orchestras is going to recapture a completely different school of playing that is no longer being taught. Oh yeah, and one night at the LA Phil is $100 if you want decent seats, $200 if you want good seats, and they're not even a first rate orchestra, to say nothing of who they can get at the podium. I'll just listen to my well worn recordings instead.

    Obviously I'm focusing entirely on classical music because it's my domain of interest and expertise, but I'm sure similar arguments exist for jazz and rock music, both of which have plenty of performers who are long dead and irreplaceable. Point being, simply dismissing audio reproduction in lieu of seeing amateurs try and fail to recapture the magic live is not only a terribly unsatisfying solution, but arguably more expensive depending on genre.

    And no, I'm not trying to dismiss live music which is a silly and ridiculous stance to take. I'm just pointing out that both recordings and live music have their place, and neither one supersedes the other.
     
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  6. purr1n

    purr1n Burned out

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    I can only hit so many Depeche Mode, Rolling Stones, Journey, and Guns and Roses tribute band concerts in Corpus Christi TX. There's a lot of local talent here that I've seen at the local haunts. Then there are the bar bands where the drummers sucks so much that my daughter who's been playing drums for about half a year exclaims: OMG, what the F was that. He can't even keep steady. I'm better than him. Yes daughter, fancy drum fills don't matter if you suck that bad.

    I still need to check out the local symphony; however, Disney in Concert does not appeal to me. I really don't want to hear the orchestral version Adele Dazeem's song from that movie Frozen. I get it, they need to make a living.

    When I lived on the outskirts of the music culture capital of El Lay, just minutes from Caitlyn Jenner, Will Smith, or the Kardashians, it went more like this: You wanna to go the Hollybowl Bowl, Royce Hall at UCLA, or Walt Disney Concert Hall? Nope, don't want to be stuck in traffic for two hours. El Lay from Thursday to Sunday is 24/7 traffic jam.
     
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    Last edited: May 29, 2022
  7. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    Just listen to live Music...

    Yes, of course that is going too far. Way too far. Anyone who really thinks so is not even going to be on this forum.

    Actually, though, I do! Just worked out that way. There is a lot of music, nearby (within 30-45 minutes drive), and I prefer the live experience and the associated social life too. And here, I don't even have to pay for it. And the experience of listening to recorded music gets progressively worse with my hearing, whilst the live stuff was never exactly hifi on the hall's PA to begin with.

    But it is one, narrow genre of music. And, if I want The Grateful Dead, I'd better dust off the headphones!
     
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  8. purr1n

    purr1n Burned out

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    Interesting.

    My experience is opposite or different. I find it extremely hard to walk away when I play vinyl. I hate getting off the couch to flip the record when the tonearm hits the Q-Up, but I do it anyway because the sound of vinyl is that addicting, that seductive. I'll stay up much later than I want to, often falling asleep drooling on the couch at 2am.

    With digital, it's far easier me to walk away or block it out so I can get work done. Or just turn it off so I can go to bed.

    The only reason is if the vinyl version is better mastered.

    This seems to be getting rarer as many vinyl issues of new music sounds just as bad or even worse than the digital version. I have quite a few newish records from Japan where they used 1-bit converters for AD. It's not hard to tell. A lot of the magic is missing compared to records from yesteryear which went through analog only chains. Vinyl is not inherently superior to digital. It's just that older vinyl recordings tend to have simpler recording chains, better sound engineering, and don't have to suffer analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog conversions.
     
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  9. Armaegis

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    Alternative thought #0

    I have a certain amount of mental energy that likes to research and obsess over things. If I find like-minded people who can share in that little bit of energy, bonus. If said people also develop into a community of friendship, extra bonus.

    It's like a fidget spinner for my brain and disposable income. Yesterday it was headphones. Today it's knives. Tomorrow it's probably espresso machines.
     
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  10. purr1n

    purr1n Burned out

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    Aye.

    It's soy milk makers and guns for me (I suddenly realized that I could get a lot of cool shit here in TX that was illegal in CA.) Soy milk maker review pending. No gun reviews given current events in TX. Actually no gun reviews ever.
     
  11. E_Schaaf

    E_Schaaf MOT: E.T.A Headphones

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    Digital listening for me is shuffling through 20 seconds of this track and that track and blazing through hundreds of tracks over the course of a day in a desperate attempt to glean some baseline stimulation that might quiet my mind or invigorate some creative juices. I usually fail, but end up finding a lot of new music and spending loads of time this way. The stuff that sticks, I'll buy in an analog format.

    Analog listening, I'll listen to a whole side and enjoy it. Quiets the mind. But doesn't quench my thirst for new content so I don't listen very often. I don't enjoy listening to things I've listened to several times before, so most of my records get 3-4 spins over the course of several years and otherwise sit on the shelf. Big expense for sparse payoff.

    Live listening, I don't care if they're playing a single note for an hour, if I like the performers and crowd ambiance I'll be entranced. But the sound quality is shit and I would never be bothered to listen to a recorded version of the same content.

    Frankly when I listen to music it's not about finding meaning in the sounds, it's about satiating my needs or desires for various types of stimulation. Most music is boring, repetitive, harmonically contrived, even masturbatory. And I feel this way about every genre despite consuming copious amounts every day. Equal temperament and 'normal' time signatures have been exhausted. Where is the new music? Dying for a fresh aesthetic at all times...

    Edit - A lot of options open up if we're talking about non-Western music though... There's a whole world of sounds beyond the harmonic and rhythmic traditions that started in 14th Century Europe. I don't give a shit about 'new classical' music which is just bullshit 'concepts' dressed in so-called dissonance and presented to aging white audiences. Worst of all worlds.

    Don't get me wrong, I still engage with plenty of music. Normally stuff that uses familiar 4/4 equal temperament content but with novelty in arrangement - things that use samples and heavy FX, hip-hop, vaporwave, future funk. Where recordings are the material content instead of notes on a page, or acoustic instruments with clear sonic constraints. But sometimes I truly grow bored.
     
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    Last edited: May 29, 2022
  12. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    I miss you posting things like random lego reviews. It doesn't match with any of my transient obsessions, but I like seeing people talk about things that interest them.
     
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  13. purr1n

    purr1n Burned out

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    No one wants to listen to this stuff you describe. It's too esoteric. Just ask my composer cousin Gordon Chin.

    I don't find this to be the case with 20th and 21st century Modern and New music. I don't know what they call it now in 2022. There's plenty of it. And as my composer cousin once said with respect to dumbed down music: hey, sometimes you crave a McDonalds. I love pop and I'm not ashamed to admit it - I'm just selective about it - listening to Diana Krall puts me into a murderous rage.
     
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  14. wbass

    wbass Almost "Made"

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    Nice. Agree that vinyl can be addicting. I'm just in a different mode/mood when I'm spinning records, for whatever reason. I'd also add that I much prefer playing LPs when I've got company. And not for the hipster-ish, fashionable aspect of it, but b/c it's just way more relaxing when the music/mood isn't changing every five minutes.

    Fair point about the mastering of new albums occasionally being better on LP. I think a lot of new music sounds great, FWIW, but I'll stick to my original argument that digital can get a bit relentless at times. That maybe applies to mastering, too.
     
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  15. animus

    animus Almost "Made"

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    Man, you and I both went to the same program at the same school at different points so we've both heard the same spiel from the same people about JI and microtonality and all that stuff. Personally I couldn't be more sick of microtonal music, so much of it is pure gimmickry and I've found none of it satisfying from a formal or developmental standpoint, and hardly any of it is pleasant to actually listen to. I think a huge problem in modern classical is entirely down to the ultramodernist mindset, everything has to be boundary breaking to be relevant which is how you end up with literal hacks like Helmut Lachenmann or (dare I say it) John Cage.

    Most of it is unplayable too unless you are an insane new music specialist which in and of itself greatly reduces the chance that a work is played, nevermind played by the right people who are sympathetic to the idiom. I'm already somewhat regretting adding high partial natural harmonics in one of my latest pieces because I can already tell that the people who would best interpret the work would shy away from it because of how specialized and niche harmonics past the 5th partial are.
     
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  16. E_Schaaf

    E_Schaaf MOT: E.T.A Headphones

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    Microtonal music made by white dudes for white dudes is hardly fully encapsulating of music outside of equal temperament. What about Gamelan, Hindustani Classical music, or literally any music made outside of Western European traditions founded in the 14th century? It's asinine to assume all music that is accessible has to be equal temperament, which is in the grand scheme of history a recent invention, even more recent than most harmonic concepts used in commercial music of the last century.

    Imagine thinking classical music of the 1600s-1900s isn't full of gimmickry. It was literally engineered to entertain the petty sensibilities of nobles, and eventually to bring commoners into the theater. Creative expression was not even really a concern until the 1800s.
     
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  17. animus

    animus Almost "Made"

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    I was in the Javanese Gamelan ensemble last semester. I mean, it's cool stuff and definitely up on my list in terms of world music that aligns with my preferences and interests (it actually has a concrete sense of form which is really nice) but it's really not something I would care to listen to in my own time. Call me close minded or whatever, but it struck me as music that was meant to be played moreso than music that was meant to necessarily be performed for an audience. And I don't think the specific temperament it or any other individual Javanese ensemble used was a big part in what made it interesting to me, it definitely didn't strike me as a focal point of the music unlike overtly microtonal WAM.
     
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  18. wbass

    wbass Almost "Made"

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    One of my favorite live music experiences of recent years was hearing the Ensemble Modern do Lachenmann.

    Though I do agree that probably too much new music focuses on extended techniques and insane difficulty.
     
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  19. E_Schaaf

    E_Schaaf MOT: E.T.A Headphones

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    Sounds like these composers need to use electronics instead of human performers!
     
  20. animus

    animus Almost "Made"

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    I'm not knocking anyone who enjoys modernist stuff at all, if you had a good time then that's all that matters. I'm just speaking from my personal perspective as both an enthusiast and a composer, I have a hard time deriving the same sort of emotional and intellectual enjoyment from that sort of stuff that I do from a Mahler symphony. Obviously it's not trying to do the same thing, but I personally question what it's trying to do at all and how it adds to the centuries of canon that exists and the standards upon which this canon is judged and appreciated. I'm unashamedly a conservative in this regard.
     

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