live versus canned
- I went on Sunday to a play that had incidental music for violin and
piano--between scenes, occasionally accompanying scenes when there was
no dialogue for a bit. Paige and I were sitting about fifteen feet from
the players(this was a small theatre, one of the 99 seat Equity waivers
that LA has a lot of). The playing was very professional, quite
beautiful actually--studio pros--and very effective. But as always in
such situations it occurred to me that even though we were quite close
in the audience sense, in no sense did the music sound like "close
One really starts all over again to wonder how people EVER got in the
pattern of believing that close-miked music sounds like real music at
an audience location in even a moderately large space.
Close miking can surely sound like the real thing in a sense. The CD of
my playing really does sound like my playing (and my violin) if you are
close up to it. In a living room with a suitable speaker, it could
almost be me--playing in that living room.
But it does not take a cavernous space to change the character of
things. A living room is a lot different from a 99 seat theater already.
(We won't even talk about concert halls seating hundreds or thousands!)
So I wonder what people are thinking of when they say that their stereo
sounds like live music. Playing what recordings, I wonder, if live
music means, like music in larger spaces.
For what it is worth, the piano sounded extremely "gentle" amd
unhammered. The violin is a bit harder to describe. On the one hand, it
was soft as far as attack was concerned. But the tone itself had a kind
of extreme purity that I would have guessed involved an abundance of
harmonics up to the level of sixth or seventh in general--the real
sound unattentuated for quite a bit on up--but with the really high
frequency noise(bow noise etc) suppressed. It was both a bit leaner
than typical on recordings but much less edgy--amd of course softer in
volume than most people probably play recordings.
Anyway, interesting experience(as live always is). Good play too
(adapatation for drama of Cather's novel My Antonia). If you like
theater, LA is a great place to live. Pro acting in a 99 seat theatre
is the thing!
- Some years ago I had a long talk with one of the people
involved in setting up the AR demos.
Now many audiophiles have made fun of these demos
and said tht they showed that no one listening
was a "critical listener" etc.
But in fact the tests were very sensitive --to certain things.
for example the test was failing at some point with the
speaker put directly on the stand. It started to work
only when some soft material was put between the speeker
and the stand.
This is a point that many audiophiles either ignore
or get wrong--or what turned out to be wrong in that context.
Another thing the AR test showed was that "dynamics" are a
non-issue--except in the sense of overall level. One of
the tests where no one could tell live from reproduced involved
a drum kit. Now neither the recording medium in use and certainly
not the speakers and electronics in use enabled the true peak
levels of a live drum kit to be reproduced--not the instantaneous
peaks. Compression was happening for sure.
But NO ONE could tell on that basis.
Of course pros know this. Aubort used to laugh about
challenging ANYONE to find the place in Alexander Nevsky
where he had compressed a few dB. NO ONE ever guessed where
it was. NOT EVER.
keep this in mind the next time you read about
"micro and macro dynamics" and other such buzzwords.