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

morricab

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Apr 25, 2014
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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.
It's more about the minimization of corruption of what came before with that 10%. Electronics and speakers, unfortunately, add a layer of synthetic to differing degrees and we are sensitive to these distortions because they are not from nature. Our evolutionary hearing system can tell if something is not from nature rather easily it seems and the best hifi is about removing things that our ear/brain considers to be 'synthetic'.
 

tima

Industry Expert
Mar 4, 2014
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It's more about the minimization of corruption of what came before with that 10%. Electronics and speakers, unfortunately, add a layer of synthetic to differing degrees and we are sensitive to these distortions because they are not from nature. Our evolutionary hearing system can tell if something is not from nature rather easily it seems and the best hifi is about removing things that our ear/brain considers to be 'synthetic'.
I think you're making a point different from mine to Ron?

We certainly agree about the sensitivity of our hearing system and its ability to discriminate between natural and synthetic. We both have been saying that for a while.

Maybe it is the syntax, one aspect of your post is not clear to me, so help me understand, or say in a different way:
- minimization of corruption of what came before
- the best hifi is about removing things that our ear/brain considers to be 'synthetic'

What or where is the 'corruption'?
Came before what?
What is it that the best hifi removes?
Removing from what?
 

morricab

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Apr 25, 2014
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I think you're making a point different from mine to Ron?

We certainly agree about the sensitivity of our hearing system and its ability to discriminate between natural and synthetic. We both have been saying that for a while.

Maybe it is the syntax, one aspect of your post is not clear to me, so help me understand, or say in a different way:
- minimization of corruption of what came before
- the best hifi is about removing things that our ear/brain considers to be 'synthetic'

What or where is the 'corruption'?
Came before what?
What is it that the best hifi removes?
Removing from what?
What came before = the recording
Came before what = introduction into playback
What is it that best hifi removes = distortions that are percetually damaging... reduction is a better word than removal
Removal (reduction) from signal (or rather a reduction of its own fingerprint that can be perceived as 'synthetic'.
 

wil

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Jul 22, 2015
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Can you elaborate a little on what you mean by the above quote? Are you saying that 90% of recording quality is dependent on mic quality and the skill in mic placement? And everything else (mix, master, transfer to tape, lp, digital file) is the remaining 10%? I seems to me that if the original mic capture is done right, the job of everyone else after is to not ruin it.
 

PeterA

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Dec 7, 2011
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This thread cracks me up whenever I see it. If you hear it, it's on the recording... Whether it sounds right or not is another subject.
Yes, but if we don't hear it, how do we know if it is on the recording? Or put differently, Can we be sure that there is nothing more on the recording than what we hear? In my own system, when I make improvements, I usually end up hearing the same stuff only in a more natural presentation. However, with some improvements, I actually end up hearing things that I did not hear before. So I am hearing more of what is on the recording than I did before. This leads to the very intriguing notion that there is more on the recording that we just don't hear yet because of our system limitations. Over time, I would like to think that we are hearing more over time and system development, and that there is increasingly less and less that we don't hear.
 

PeterA

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Atmasphere

[Industry Expert]
May 4, 2010
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Its ralphs opinion .
I asked him because he has a lot of expirience .
Same goes for bruce b when i asked the same question
There is no right or wrong here.
Everybody hears different and has different expiriences .
Imo
I base that on direct mic feeds being easily able to fool jaundiced audiophiles, while the same thing committed to any media cannot. We've had electronics and trans
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?
Tape has seen less development in the last 30 years.

LP has wider dynamic range, lower noise, wider bandwidth and lower distortion than tape. Tape seems to still have an edge over digital in the bandwidth department, but otherwise state of the art digital has better specs. I don't like that the digital industry excludes aliasing from their distortion specs, as it is highly audible. If that and jitter get sorted out, digital is going to be very very good and if you do it right its pretty good right now.

The thing is that music degrades the more it gets processed. That is why an tape made from a master stands a very good chance of sounding better than any other media- too much has gone on downstream from that initial master. While LP is better in its master form, its also dreadfully inconvenient when recording- you can't stop and start, you can't go back and redo (you have to start another lacquer all over again); stuff like that. So tape is still pretty effective. Digital of course kicks ass in this regard- its insanely easy to edit and the like and the media cost is almost nothing.
 

wil

Well-Known Member
Jul 22, 2015
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It's more about the minimization of corruption of what came before with that 10%. Electronics and speakers, unfortunately, add a layer of synthetic to differing degrees and we are sensitive to these distortions because they are not from nature. Our evolutionary hearing system can tell if something is not from nature rather easily it seems and the best hifi is about removing things that our ear/brain considers to be 'synthetic'.
I'm unclear as to whether Ralph is saying:

...90% is the mic tech and the art/science of mic placement and the remaining 10% is engineering, studio processing, mastering, and transfer to media.

...Or, is he saying that the 90% included all of the above (mic-ing, studio processing, mastering, transfer to media) and the remaining 10% is everything involved in what we do: Room, components, etc.

I'm asking, as I'm curious how big an issue sub-optimal mic-ing technique is as an issue in recording quality-- or lack there-of. And beyond technique, how big an issue is the mic tech itself? I've heard that the technical progress of microphones has a long way to go and is one of the major impediments to the goal of achieving life-like quality recordings.
 

morricab

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Apr 25, 2014
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I'm unclear as to whether Ralph is saying:

...90% is the mic tech and the art/science of mic placement and the remaining 10% is engineering, studio processing, mastering, and transfer to media.

...Or, is he saying that the 90% included all of the above (mic-ing, studio processing, mastering, transfer to media) and the remaining 10% is everything involved in what we do: Room, components, etc.

I'm asking, as I'm curious how big an issue sub-optimal mic-ing technique is as an issue in recording quality-- or lack there-of. And beyond technique, how big an issue is the mic tech itself? I've heard that the technical progress of microphones has a long way to go and is one of the major impediments to the goal of achieving life-like quality recordings.
My understanding (Ralph please correct me if I am wrong) was that the recording was 90% of sound quality and everything we do as the end user of the recording has 10% impact on how good it sounds. While I don't think that ratio is quite right (it is possible to utterly destroy the sound of even the best recording through a really poor system) I think his point is that you have to work to make a really great recording sound bad and that it is really hard to save a poor recording (or at least make it sound NOT like a poor recording...you might make it sound listenable though...).
 

PeterA

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If I could own the AS 2000, some awesome SETs and horns, and had the General's music collection....
 

Ron Resnick

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Jan 25, 2015
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If I could own the AS 2000, some awesome SETs and horns, and had the General's music collection....
Actually, if you want the General's music collection, then you want the General's entire audio system as well. They optimize together.
 

PeterA

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Dec 7, 2011
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Actually, if you want the General's music collection, then you want the General's entire audio system as well. They optimize together.
Is that hypothetically? Move the room also? Then I guess the music has more value if played on that system, and the LPs you bought from him will become devalued when played on your future system? I suspect there are multiple truths to that music. ;)
 

Ron Resnick

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Devalued on my future system from perfectly optimized on the General's system -- yes, relatively speaking. But I am still confident the General's LPs will sound wonderful on my future system, even with an optimization discount.
 
Jul 18, 2014
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This thread cracks me up whenever I see it. If you hear it, it's on the recording... Whether it sounds right or not is another subject.
The further we go (if we are doing things correctly) the more our systems allow us to hear what is in the recording. At the same time the older we get the less we can hear what our systems are revealing in the recording.

Thus we have a perfect happiness in perception and an unseen and ever swaying equilibrium moving in constantly unchanging and soon to be forgotten ways.

This is the ageing paradox.
 
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