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Buddha
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Is there such a thing as too much resolution or detail in audio?

Aloha,

Just got done with my free copy of Home Theater I got at HE 2006, and finished my June/July edition of a "leading competitor" and they both had some bits about detail that caught my eye.

One article talked about Hi-Def video getting so Hi-Def that you can now sometimes "see through" the movie into the details of the scene that were never intended to be so visible. The article mentioned being able to see how sets were made, or make-up or costumes were made and rather than watching the film, appreciating the acting, or following the plot, there is so much detail that it takes away from the experience of watching the movie.

Another article about Hi-Fi touched on detail in a recording that would not have been appreciable to a listener who was at the actual event. Maybe hearing things that the artist didn't intend to be heard (like inhaling) or having such etched sound that an orchestra might become a collection of individual instruments rather than being heard as a whole.

I never thought about it with video, but I guess you could get to a point where 1080 Blu Ray at 96 inches could actually give too much information!

You think this is possible with Hi-Fi?

I've heard only a few things like that...a female vocalists HUGE inhalation before starting a song, things like that. Then I got to thinking, maybe some of the orchestral works I've been unable to get into because they sound like a bunch of trees rather than a forest is a matter of too much detail.

(Some of those popular Diana Krall discs seem mic'd like she's deep throating the mic rather than singing into space.)

The jury in my brain is still out on this, but do any of y'all think there could be such a thing as too much resolution or detail?

jazzfan
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Re: Is there such a thing as too much resolution or detail in au

Hi Buddha,

Right off I have to protest or should I say lament, albeit quite mildly, that I should have copyrighted I original statement regarding some female quasi-jazz vocalists and the placement of the microphone during the recording session and the resulting effect on the grey haired male audiophile. Seems to have made quite an impression with several of you folks around here.

As to your very good question, why yes, I think you can have too much detail. But too much detail is the fault of the recording engineer and not the playback system. While I don't tend to find too many audio only recordings with this "too much detail" problem I have noticed it on quite a few movie soundtracks.

Here's what I'm talking about. In a movie two people are sitting at table having a conversation over a couple of cups of coffee. One of them puts some sugar in the cup and stirs, normally no big deal and in normal everyday conversation not all that intrusive sounding. However on some soundtracks these small little sounds are magnified to such an extent that one would think one is in the damn coffee cup. I think that's too much detail. Of course these sounds are completely artificial and not quite the same as an audio recording but I'm just using them as an example, so please forgive me.

In audio only recordings the "too much detail" is must likely the result of bad mixing of the tracks or some other oversight. One example is Bob Dylan's infamous "Blood On Tracks" New York sessions where the buttons on his jacket were scraping the body of the guitar during some of the songs and he chose to rerecord several of the tunes. Hence the "Blood On The Tapes" bootleg. A few of the original NY recordings are officially available on "The Bootleg Series, Vols. 1-3 (Rare & Unreleased) 1961-1991". Listen for yourself to what "too much detail" can sound like.

Jeff Wong
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Re: Is there such a thing as too much resolution or detail in au

In a way, I think we're talking apples and oranges here. With a film, too much resolution can destroy the illusion of reality more easily (seeing things that reveal sets to be fake, for example, will take you out of your suspension of disbelief.) To my ears, more resolution in music implies that smearing and masking has been reduced to allow for nuances and subtleties to come through. I agree with jazzfan here, and believe that the things you're pointing out about standing out too much are issues of balance and mixing, or choices in recording techniques (gates on Diana Krall vocals.)

Sure, many recordings are not about capturing a real event, but, even those things can be balanced in a way to make them convincingly real. There's a somewhat stilted, but, well recorded version of "Spanish Harlem" by Mrs. David Mamet that I'm reasonably sure that you're familiar with, that I've used over the years to see how revealing my system is. When my system first came together 11 years ago, the shaker in the rear right was just a series of chht chht chhts in the background. As I fine tuned my rig and got better components and cables, I was able to hear the individual beads shake in the shaker gourd and what direction the shakes take place. I love that!

Yiangos
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Re: Is there such a thing as too much resolution or detail in au

Jef,are talking about artificially enchanced resolution or just well...plain resolution ?Like for instance,Jazz at the Pawnshop (guys,son't start,i can't think of anything else) where you constantly hear glasses and knives ringing etc ?

jazzfan
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Re: Is there such a thing as too much resolution or detail in au


Quote:
...There's a somewhat stilted, but, well recorded version of "Spanish Harlem" by Mrs. David Mamet that I'm reasonably sure that you're familiar with, that I've used over the years to see how revealing my system is. When my system first came together 11 years ago, the shaker in the rear right was just a series of chht chht chhts in the background. As I fine tuned my rig and got better components and cables, I was able to hear the individual beads shake in the shaker gourd and what direction the shakes take place. I love that!

And here I was thinking that this guy Jeff was okay. Now he's sounding just like that golden eared guru over at TAS. "what direction the shakes take place" WTF is that supposed to mean? Up & down or side to side? Like it makes a big difference. Gimme a break. You've lost it, my friend. Or as our good friend DUP might say, if the shakes go up and down does that mean that the electrons go side to side and vice versa?

Jeff Wong
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Re: Is there such a thing as too much resolution or detail in au

Yiangos - I don't own JATPS. But, I suspect things like the clinking of the glasses you're talking about usually have to do with the way that recording was made and mixed or balanced. Buddha mentioned etched sound, which implies an exaggeration of a particular frequency, and doesn't necessarily have to mean too much detail.

jazzfan - Being able to hear when those beads are going up and down or side to side or in a counterclockwise swirl tells me many things about transparency, spatial presentation, inner detail, PRaT, and absolute polarity... getting this right on "Spanish Harlem" (like it or not) lets me enjoy jazzfan approved recordings

jazzfan
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Re: Is there such a thing as too much resolution or detail in au


Quote:
jazzfan - Being able to hear when those beads are going up and down or side to side or in a counterclockwise swirl tells me many things about transparency, spatial presentation, inner detail, PRaT, and absolute polarity... getting this right on "Spanish Harlem" (like it or not) lets me enjoy jazzfan approved recordings
Jeff Wong
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Re: Is there such a thing as too much resolution or detail in au

You got me curious now. I'm gonna dig out my copy of The Third Decade and go spin it now. I haven't listened to it in ages.

jazzfan
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Re: Is there such a thing as too much resolution or detail in au


Quote:
You got me curious now. I'm gonna dig out my copy of The Third Decade and go spin it now. I haven't listened to it in ages.

Good choice, however "Urban Bushmen" would be preferred since it's a live recording.

Anyway when can we expect to see the chart? And I hope it's in color, please, pretty please. And don't forget to include who's playing exactly what "little instrument" (as the AEC liked to call their percussion toys) at any given moment also give, in case of "Urban Bushman", the exact location on the stage of the person playing said instrument, otherwise, you might as well be listeing to Blose.

Monty
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Re: Is there such a thing as too much resolution or detail in au

I don't think you can have too much resolution, but when superior resolution is presented at such loud levels as to be unnatural, the music loses realism.

This correlates with Stereophile's long lamented appeal for the music companies to bring back dynamics to the compact disc. I agree and have become increasingly annoyed with the loudness of subtle passages on many new CDs. When you reach the point that your tuner provides more satisfaction with sound quality than your digital front end, either it's way past time for an upgrade or digital is going to lose its appeal rather quickly. And, my tuner ain't all that much!

Yiangos
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Re: Is there such a thing as too much resolution or detail in au

Okay,let me put it this way and i hope you'll understand what i am trying to say (don't say no because i'll repeat everything in Greek lol) When a normal "natural" recording of a venue has certain "moises" other than music,i quess it is okay,provited they are recorder as they are.When the sound engineer artificially enchanced those noises,ie boost them to make them more ummm say obvious,well,this is very irritating !

DanS
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Re: Is there such a thing as too much resolution or detail in au

I doubt that video at 1920 x 1080 is too detailed. There are computer monitors today with a 3840 x 2400 resolution, which are used for movie/video processing. And I don't think that, even though overwhelming at times, an IMAX movie (using frames @ 38720 x 24120 resolution) cannot be enjoyed because of too much detail.
In the audio realm, high-resolution is not characterized by enhanced or amplified sounds. To use a visual analogy, sound waves combine in an interference pattern, which, depending on their properties (e.g. coherence), could be blurry or sharp, spaced-out or dense. These details give the sonic image & soundstage, and are caused by all the methods employed during the recording process (including sampling resolution) and by the sound reproduction gear (i.e. speaker technology: planar (ESL & ribbon)).
Accenting / emphasizing sound details could be sometimes irritating (if there is no reason for it), but a higher resolution can only increase clarity & accuracy.

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