"How can we ever truly know if we are hearing exactly what is on the recording?"

ddk

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May 19, 2013
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Why is this David? I think a gentle slope down is what people prefer. I have heard live performances in small settings, I have often noticed dips and peaks in lower frequency response of the room with piano and cello. Are you saying that a flat response sounds unnatural? Could you expand on your statement?
I don't think we need to discuss the problem of flattening in room response of a system with digital EQ, we know how that works. The process of creating flat measuring room is similar, squash everything with absorption to measure flat, a totally dead space. Ironically many acousticians create these flat measuring spaces based on test tones generated through some system that has it's own flaws, based on speakers and seating position that might be wrong to begin with. When you have a flawed process you'll end up with flawed products! IME & IMO a good sounding room is dependent on different factors than flat measurements.

david
 
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ddk

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May 19, 2013
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David

Its not exactly what i meant .
Speakers will measure differently at different distances due to different dispersion patterns of their drivers .
Mine measure flat at around 2.50 - 2.75 meters , thats freq above around 400 hz , under that the room comes into play seriously.
And yes sure i like flat , i like my piano sound evenly across the freq band for example.
Its not a quality in its own right off course there is much more to transducer design.
Different people (designers ), each have their own priorities otherwise all products would be the same
We're talking about different things one is the room and another is the speaker. My comments are related to the room measurements which I know is equipment dependent but they're too different things.

david
 
Apr 8, 2019
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regarding tape head low freq response, or commonly referred to as head bumps.

the mechanism involved in creating the head bumps is a function of the playback head and is a wavelength effect. ie, when you go from 15 to 30 ips the response curve doubles in freq exactly. The position of the bumps and the shape of the curve remain the same, just transposed. The curve you used from Jack Endino's site shows a deck where there is a difference in adjustment between the two speeds. In production that is usually an aesthetic choice, and that is what you see. The same hold true for the high frequency extension, although different manufacturers used different techniques to get better high freq response at the expense of other things (noise, phase shift, etc)

The recording side of things is that the frequency response is flat to DC in theory. Amp limitations limit that, but it is a flat curve until LF rolloff. There just aren't any heads that will recover it on playback. So LF alignment is always a playback alignment, most accurately carried out by record playback rather than the alignment tape. See the MRL websirte and Jay's technical papers for the in depth reasons.

There are heads that have lower freq playback extension than others, that is a result of several factors, see MRL for tech details.

http://www.mrltapes.com/

Cheers
Alan
 
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Jan 23, 2011
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I just visited the walhalla for tape affectionados in germany: Eternal arts audio, he has several restored A 80 s for sale, and many other recorders ,highly recommended for somebody who wants his machine restored calibrated properly
The flattest studer A 80 he had was within around +- 0,5 db ( see graph ), no bumps to speak of , i think it has a lot has to do with proper calibration / proper maintenance .

20200228_212823.jpg
 
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tima

Industry Expert
Mar 4, 2014
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Sometimes I like to read threads backwards.

Folks, if you are new to this thread and started at its last page thinking you'd read a discussion on the topic
"How can we ever truly know if we are hearing exactly what is on the recording?", but instead find pictures of tape recorders, alas stuff close to the original topic ended somewhere around page 7.
 

PeterA

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Dec 7, 2011
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"How can we ever truly know if we are hearing exactly what is on the recording?"
I do not think we can ever know "exactly" what is on the recording. The best we can do is think we know more about what is on the recording as our systems continue to improve because we hear more information reproduced in a more convincing manner, and we assume we are thus hearing more of what is on the recording. There seems to be no end to this process of improvement. Even a system as evolved as MikeL's is regularly improving as he has written recently with the addition of his two new turntables and wonderful cartridge.

I think knowing exactly what is on the recording is not possible. We can only know more and more of what is on the recording as our abilities and systems improve. That is part of the fun, and the challenge of the hobby. And it is what motivates many audiophiles. It is also nice to simply enjoy the music.
 

tima

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Ha - a thread revival ! Very good Peter.

Asymptotically approaching hearing exactly what is on the recording as our systems and abilities improve. :--)
The journey being the goal?

I suspect there is a sense where answering the question ("How can we ever truly know...") cannot be pushed too far, or it falls into a conundrum. Or the question reveals itself as nonsense.

For the audiophile who is finally satisfied with his system - he can say "I hear as close to exactly what is on the recording as I'm gonna get." Of course if he were to continue improving his system and abilities. theoretically he could get closer. Or so is the belief. Is that possible?

For the audiophile who takes a ... what should I call it .... who takes a change of perspective in what he values or in the way he orients his system, can he say at one point "I hear very close to what I believe is on the recording" and at another point (with his new perspective) say "I hear very close to what I believe is on the recording"? And his system "objectively" sounds quite different at each point yet his valuation is the same. Or - its more convincing now than it was but then I was confident it was very convincing. I'm kinda thinking of you Peter and those of us who are re-orienting in what we value. I don't know if this is a change in abilities or simply a different perspective on what matters or appeals to us.

There is a sense where maybe we need to change the question. From "How can we know..." to "How can I know...". Such that by definition there is no 'state' that we can arrive at, that is of a consensus - "this is as close to hearing exactly what is on the recording as we can get." Redefining "objective". Which gets into the grey area of what counts as an improvement, as a move toward the unreachable goal vs going backwards.

Each of us gets to answer and perhaps every answer is right.
 

Atmasphere

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May 4, 2010
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I do not think we can ever know "exactly" what is on the recording.
If you recorded it, then yes, you can know exactly what is on the recording.

There is a sense where maybe we need to change the question. From "How can we know..." to "How can I know...".
For most audiophiles, this seems to be a more accurate restatement.
 

stehno

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Jul 5, 2014
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If you recorded it, then yes, you can know exactly what is on the recording.

...
I'm curious how this might be possible. I mean, if one "recorded it", how does that automatically imply the one instantaneously becomes all-knowing about what EXACTLY was embedded in the recording medium?

What if less than perfect microphones were used, or amplifiers, or cables, or mixing boards, etc, etc, doesn't any of this potentially skew much of what EXACTLY gets embedded into a given recording?
 

Atmasphere

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Certainly! But if you were there, then you know what the actual performance sounded like and you also know how your mic setup and equipment interpreted it.

In one recording I made which was done with two microphones, I was able to tell the producer exactly where the one soprano who tended to sing too loudly was located. Which row, which position, because the direct microphone feed can be quite spooky in how real it sounds. The limits to how real our technology can sound to the human ear tends to be 90% in the medium of the recording and the other 10% is everything else. IOW the mic feed can sound so real that jaundiced audiophile are easily fooled. Hearing how the recording affects that 'magic' is a real eye opener.

Spend some time with excellent microphones and a variety of recording devices and you'll see what I mean.
 
Jan 23, 2011
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I have a lot of high quality mastertapes at home either done with my own tape recorder or other high quality recordings / acoustic sounds from the US being one of them ( very high quality recordings) , so I have a bit of an idea
If the medium is the culprit ( the most to gain) then we must find something better ,,,,,,,,, but what :) .
 

stehno

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Jul 5, 2014
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Certainly! But if you were there, then you know what the actual performance sounded like and you also know how your mic setup and equipment interpreted it.

In one recording I made which was done with two microphones, I was able to tell the producer exactly where the one soprano who tended to sing too loudly was located. Which row, which position, because the direct microphone feed can be quite spooky in how real it sounds. The limits to how real our technology can sound to the human ear tends to be 90% in the medium of the recording and the other 10% is everything else. IOW the mic feed can sound so real that jaundiced audiophile are easily fooled. Hearing how the recording affects that 'magic' is a real eye opener.

Spend some time with excellent microphones and a variety of recording devices and you'll see what I mean.
My bad. I was focusing on the OP's and your own use of the word EXACTLY and was taking it perhaps a bit too literally. But in my defense the word EXACTLY was stressed several times. ;)
 
Jan 23, 2011
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Atmasphere do you think 2 track stereo 1/ 2 inch tape would give a better copy of the mic feed ( more magnetized particles ) than 1/ 4 inch ?
And what medium has the best chance of getting as close as possible to a direct mic feed / best impression of the recorded event .
Tape , direct to disc LP or digital ?
 
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Ron Resnick

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. . . The limits to how real our technology can sound to the human ear tends to be 90% in the medium of the recording and the other 10% is everything else.

. . .
This is kind of depressing, Ralph. We sure spend a lot of time, money and effort trying to squeeze as much as possible out of that measly other 10%.
 
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Ron Resnick

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. . . To the second, direct to disc LP or state of the art digital.
Tape is inferior to both direct-to-disc LP and state of the digital in its ability to get "as close as possible to a direct mic feed / best impression of the recorded event"?:eek:

Why would this be?
 

morricab

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Apr 25, 2014
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Tape is inferior to both direct-to-disc LP and state of the digital in its ability to get "as close as possible to a direct mic feed / best impression of the recorded event"?:eek:

Why would this be?
To me, the most “real” sounding recordings I have heard were direct to disk...not sure I agree with digital over top notch analog tape though...too many older recordings made that way which have a better “liveness “...but this could also have a lot to do with the analog output stage of the tape deck used. Tape decks all have the preamplifier circuitry built in whereas too vinyl and digital have this external and can be optimized. With tape you get what comes built in for better or worse. If someone goes to the effort of building a dedicated tape preamp and bypassing what is internal then the real potential of tape itself as a medium could be evaluated. Same would go for the handling of the signal before it gets put down on the tape...
 

tima

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This is kind of depressing, Ralph. We sure spend a lot of time, money and effort trying to squeeze as much as possible out of that measly other 10%.
I don't know if Ralph is right, but he has a lot of experience and makes highly revealing audio gear. Let's suppose that he is ...

Then, Ron, think how much difference what is in that 10% makes to our experience. Is it fair to say that within a fraction of contributing factors to our experience that all gear generally tends to sound similar, or each gear tends to be more different than the other. Or somewhere in between. I'm among those that believe some gear is definitely better than others - that's not an absolute, that's the way I hear - for me it is a fact. And even if you hear different than me (though I believe we hear more similarly to each other than not) within your preferences, I'll speculate that you find some gear is definitely better than others.

Perhaps our hearing system is such a finely discriminatory instrument that the 10% turns out - at least for us - to contain a significant range of variance. A range of variance large enough to challenge us, a range of variance we marvel at. A range of variance that shows the breadth of the hobby is justified. Do not despair.
 

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