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Welshsox
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Hifi is an impossible dream

Ive always been into music but got back into hifi about 4 years ago.

You spend a little while chasing a reasonable sound, most normal people stop at that point. Once you have a decent system you start to get picky and look for improvements, the thing that ive now totally accepted is that we are wasting a lot of time and money.

$1,000,000.00 worth of hifi cannot even come close to sounding like a live musical instrument, there is no system on the planet that even generates 1% of the emotion and musicality of a full blown orchestra or rock concert, sure it will be clear, detailed, and all the other bullshit terms the critics use but it does not feel like real music.

We are all kidding ourselves, before the usual suspects shoot be down in flames, i suggest that you goto to a few live concerts both rock and classical and reconnect with real music not the facsimile that hifi creates for you.

Dont get me wrong, im in favor of a good system that provides a flavour of real music inbetween real experiences but its importnat to realise the difference between a $10,000 system and a $500,000 is very small compared to the difference between a $500,000 system and a $50 concert ticket !!

Hifi is like porn, it gets you excited for the real thing but looking at the best porn is no substitute for the real thing.

Alan

Freako
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Re: Hifi is an impossible dream

Couldn't agree more. Laugh or cry?

Buddha
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Re: Hifi is an impossible dream

No, No, NO, NO!!!!!

Canned can be better than live.

You just haven't read your July issue yet.

geoffkait
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Re: Hifi is an impossible dream


Quote:
Ive always been into music but got back into hifi about 4 years ago.

You spend a little while chasing a reasonable sound, most normal people stop at that point. Once you have a decent system you start to get picky and look for improvements, the thing that ive now totally accepted is that we are wasting a lot of time and money.

$1,000,000.00 worth of hifi cannot even come close to sounding like a live musical instrument, there is no system on the planet that even generates 1% of the emotion and musicality of a full blown orchestra or rock concert, sure it will be clear, detailed, and all the other bullshit terms the critics use but it does not feel like real music.

We are all kidding ourselves, before the usual suspects shoot be down in flames, i suggest that you goto to a few live concerts both rock and classical and reconnect with real music not the facsimile that hifi creates for you.

Dont get me wrong, im in favor of a good system that provides a flavour of real music inbetween real experiences but its importnat to realise the difference between a $10,000 system and a $500,000 is very small compared to the difference between a $500,000 system and a $50 concert ticket !!

Hifi is like porn, it gets you excited for the real thing but looking at the best porn is no substitute for the real thing.

Alan

Excellent rant and I don't blame you for feeling that way. I'm sorry you haven't heard a system that equals or exceeds a live performance. Perhaps in the future....

Welshsox
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Re: Hifi is an impossible dream

Geoff

After years of auditions and hifi shows ive not even come close.

Alan

rvance
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Re: Hifi is an impossible dream

I think it's a journey/destination thing. And if you get to spend a little time with Dulcinea...

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Re: Hifi is an impossible dream

I think that using live sound as the absolute goal is a helpful review policy, it gives you something to shoot for. But in terms of our home music systems, I do not want to spend more money unless it increases my emotional response to the music. I do not want my stereo to sound live, I want to feel more alive when I listen to my stereo.

Trey

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Re: Hifi is an impossible dream


Quote:
Geoff

After years of auditions and hifi shows ive not even come close.

Alan

Looking for love in all the wrong places?

It's a jungle out there...

Drtrey3
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Re: Hifi is an impossible dream

Canned music is OFTEN better than live! How many rock bands have you seen in concert that sounded better than the records they produce? How many touring acts put as much effort into their show sound as their recorded sounds?

Fer instance, I saw the Meat Puppets twice, once in a little bar in Chapel Hill and once at Red Rocks. The sound at Red Rocks was passable, the bass was a little MIA, but passable. The sound at the little club was too loud and muddy. This is in contrast to their recorded work where you can hear the notes, well at least after the glorious messes of their first two records.

So for pop people, the record is often the best way to hear and experience the artist's music. Even for artists who don't need ProTools.

Trey

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Re: Hifi is an impossible dream


Quote:

Quote:
Geoff

After years of auditions and hifi shows ive not even come close.

Alan

Looking for love in all the wrong places?

It's a jungle out there...

How many times have you been "fooled" into thinking the quality of sound was "live" quality? Near live?

"Better than live," for me, is a matter of recording details, etc...that may be lost during a live performance; but that certain frisson of live sound, even kinda crappy live sound, is still something that Hi Fi rarely achieves.

enframed
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Re: Hifi is an impossible dream


Quote:
I think that using live sound as the absolute goal is a helpful review policy, it gives you something to shoot for. But in terms of our home music systems, I do not want to spend more money unless it increases my emotional response to the music. I do not want my stereo to sound live, I want to feel more alive when I listen to my stereo.

I wouldn't even say it's a helpful review policy, rather, perhaps it's an antiquated ideal. I mean it's only helpful IF live sound at home is that for which most people are striving. When I read reviews I look for certain adjectives and not others, and test results.

I've never expected to hear "live" sound at home, and never will. I want it to sound good, whatever that means, and not fatigue my ears when played at high (whatever that means) SPLs.

Drtrey3
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Re: Hifi is an impossible dream

Enframed, you make some good points that I will consider. Thanks for sharing them so effectively.

geoffkait
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Re: Hifi is an impossible dream


Quote:

When I read reviews I look for certain adjectives and not others.

Hey, me, too!

Good adjectives: Riveting, spellbinding, beautiful, breathtaking, effervescent, supernatural, transcendant

Bad adjectives: Blah, generic, geriatric, radio-like, irritating, lumpy, annoying, threadbare, papier-mache, pedestrian


Quote:
I want it to sound good, whatever that means, and not fatigue my ears when played at high (whatever that means) SPLs.

I'm afraid they're still working on that one.

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Hifi is an impossible dream

I would bet that just about any of the systems from the writers at Phile would be a very excellent representation of real acoustic instruments in space. It may be that each of us may prefer the "flavor" of one over another, but I am sure there would be more than one that any of us would be glad to take back home once we heard it.

My systems are far, far, far, far from perfect, but I still get a sense of realism when I listen intently. I certainly enjoy every minute I get to spend. To me it sounds MORE real, than a pale imitation.

Since the cd has given us "perfect sound forever" how could it be anything less? I am sure Alexander Graham Bell would think we are all crazy for complaining.

Alison Balsom: Haydn, Hummel Trumpet Concertos: superb!

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Re: Hifi is an impossible dream


Quote:

Hifi is like porn, it gets you excited for the real thing but looking at the best porn is no substitute for the real thing.

Yes, "porn is no substitue"...it's just a tease. But how often do we get to do what we see, on the screen? Or hear via our hifi what we enjoy live?

Sometimes, though, the real thing can be a disappointment.

returnstackerror
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Re: Hifi is an impossible dream

I have never had a philosophy that we will hear a 100% true facsimile of live music

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Re: Hifi is an impossible dream


Quote:
im in favor of a good system that provides a flavour of real music inbetween real experiences


Listening to music on a hi-fi is a "real experience" it just isn't the same kind of experience as listening to live music. Complaining about hi-fi's inability to re-create a convincing illusion of a 'full blown orchestra' or 'rock concert' in my home makes as much sense to me as complaining about live music's inability to let me hear Jimi Hendrix open for John Coltrane - right now.

Drtrey3
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Re: Hifi is an impossible dream

What Mikey said. Listening to music through my phones or over the speakers, hell, even in the car is a real experience. A real good one with the right tunes, an even better one with decent kit that is well set up. Live concerts are great too, well some of them are, but reproduced music can transport you to very interesting places. Thank God.

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Re: Hifi is an impossible dream


Quote:
I've never expected to hear "live" sound at home, and never will.


Agreed. Live and recorded are two different things.

I want recorded sound to capture enough of the reality to invoke an emotional response.

It is like film; not real, but can be fun to watch. Both recorded sound and films are created "events" to be enjoyed in a way different than live sound.

All recordings can exhibit better precision than live, both in pop and classical. Pop/rock is typically more of a studio creation, but classical is usually edit for the best performance as well (sometimes with dozens and dozens of edits in a single movement).

Is this precision and creation "better?" It depends on what you are listening for.

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Re: Hifi is an impossible dream


Quote:
$1,000,000.00 worth of hifi cannot even come close to sounding like a live musical instrument, there is no system on the planet that even generates 1% of the emotion and musicality of a full blown orchestra or rock concert, sure it will be clear, detailed, and all the other bullshit terms the critics use but it does not feel like real music.

We are all kidding ourselves, before the usual suspects shoot be down in flames, i suggest that you goto to a few live concerts both rock and classical and reconnect with real music not the facsimile that hifi creates for you.

I'm sure you meant to preface all that with "In my own opinion.....". For I have to strongly disagree. At least with the rock concert part, as I recall seeing Fleetwood Mac at a large venue last year. The sound was absolutely dreadful. No matter where you sat, you were not going to hear good sound. It was noisy, distorted, not clear, just loud. You can't recreate the feel of a concert experience at home, since it requires a lot of people to get involved. But you can certainly get better sound out of a Fleetwood Mac album, than one of their concerts. In my own opinion.

Buddha
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Re: Hifi is an impossible dream

Good points.

I guess we're talking about "the experience" vs. "the sound" sometimes.

Elk
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Re: Hifi is an impossible dream

Very much so. It is hard to separate them.

I recently had an interesting experience comparing live v. recorded.

Booker T. performed at a local venue. Great performance in an intimate space.

But, at least for me it was too loud, destroying the balance between instruments, timbre, etc. But great fun to be there.

I later heard a good recording made just a couple feet to the left from where I was (roughly 20 feet from the stage). Two mics, ORTF, up about eight feet.

The recording absolutely blew away the live sound.

Freako
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Re: Hifi is an impossible dream

That's the "crux of the bisquit"! We listen to enhanced recordings, often with much better SQ than the real thing, and we should all be happy doing so. Still, it's priceless to know what bands and instruments sound like for real.

ericarjes
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Re: Hifi is an impossible dream

I agree that we should all maintain a sonic reference to live sound. But I'm not sure we should be trying to reproduce concert sound. It's really loud! If you can reproduce a drum kit in your place, you're bound to have the police knocking on your door before long! I think a concert is a concert and should remain so. Besides, its an excuse to get out of the house sometime!

Freako
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Re: Hifi is an impossible dream

You're right

greenelec
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Re: Hifi is an impossible dream


Quote:
But, at least for me it was too loud, destroying the balance between instruments, timbre, etc. But great fun to be there.

I later heard a good recording made just a couple feet to the left from where I was (roughly 20 feet from the stage). Two mics, ORTF, up about eight feet.

The recording absolutely blew away the live sound.

This has been my experience as well. Live is fine for the experience, but sound wise, my system is better.

I like a good rock band in a bar with a dance floor. I've been privileged to hear Bonny Raitt in a hotel bar / dance floor. I once got to hear ZZTop in a small 3.2 bar in a ski town. Heard Jack Mac and the Heart Attack in a dance club. This is what it is about, not reserved seating. There should be nothing reserved about R&R. I mean, for - sake. Big concerts were invented by big shot promoters who killed live music. IMHO

As far as classical music is concerned, I could never get over the surface noise of LPs. So I have gone to lots of symphony concerts over the years. I now find that classical music on my system w/cds is more involving than in person. And it does sound real!

So no complaints about stereo manufacturers, cost, or waf factors here.

fitzcaraldo215
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Re: Hifi is an impossible dream

Impossible dream? I used to share that opinion after having risked my marriage many times to buy an expensive new stereo upgrade. Was the upgrade better? Yes. But, there were still light years to go vs. live. And, I agree fully that nothing beats live sound. Having said that, though it is important to separate our audiences by the kinds of music listened to, their standards of recorded vs. live, and their expectations.

Forgive me, but no offense is intended for rock lovers. I am not putting them or their music down. But, it seems to me that most rock is recorded in studios where few of us have ever actually heard it. The other common recording venue is rock concerts, which unfortunately seldom have particularly good acoustics. The rest, a small minority, may be done in smaller venues in front of audiences. In any case, we generally do not have a good standard in this genre to judge how good a recording is. Believe it or not, I have listened to some rock on recordings at at concerts.

Shift to the polar opposite of classical music. Here we have generally good to excellent venues acoustically and some live concerts are even recorded in them before a live audience. Now, I know my Verizon Hall in Philly is not the Concertgebouw, but I think there are more similarities in sound between them than differences. So, when I listen to a Concertgebouw Orchestra recording I can tell that it was done in a concert hall. I can also go hear my Philadelphia Orchestra, as I do regularly, to update and reinforce what a live symphony orchestra sounds like. I can even buy SACD's of some concerts I actually attended. So, listening standards are much better in classical for what live music should sound like.

Jazz, by the way, is somewhere in between. There are good and bad jazz clubs out there, and some jazz is studio stuff.

With that out of the way, the fallacy is that you can reproduce classical music from a good hall with only two channels. Stereo is a compromise that eliminates or distorts many of the sonic cues we hear at a live concert, particularly the influence of reflected sound in the hall - the space and ambience. It's already been proven scientifically that an audience member hears tremendous amounts of reflected energy at a concert, but stereo can't reproduce that without sounding distant, muffled and generally terrible. So, it concentrates only on the direct frontal sound. Your room can't add back that missing air and ambience. It's too small; the reflection times are too short and the results too unpredictable.

So, what's the answer? Hi rez multichannel from SACD or to a lesser extent on Blu-ray. I am convinced that even a moderately priced Mch system can outdo even the most expensive stereo in recreating concert hall realism. Some of this gear comes from the Home Theater camp, but so what? It turns out to be cheaper because the sales volumes of HT are so much greater than high end audio sold in boutiques. Quality still matters, though. Not all brands are created equal. And, most audiophiles are unaware the HT is all hi rez audio these days. I used to look down on it too in the days of DVD with lossy, low rez audio.

Bottom line, if you, like I did a few years ago, listen to a good Mch rig with some classical music, and assuming you have some good concert hall experience, you will discover the most true-to-life audio you have ever heard. It's not close. The downside is that you will also discover all that is missing - and always will be missing - from stereo. I have bought no stereo recordings in almost three years, and I have hardly listened to my huge library of vinyl and CD's in that time.

I am not saying it's perfect. But, it completely revived my flagging interests in home audio and changed my despair about getting much closer to the sound of live.

And, read Kal Rubinson's column regularly to get up to speed on what's good in Mch.

returnstackerror
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Re: Hifi is an impossible dream

to a large degree, IMO, this live verses recorded is very much a classical music debate as I think (I dont know as I dont listen to classical) a much larger percentage of classical recording are done live (as in with an audience at a venue) or at least live (ie all musicians together in one acoustic space) in a very large studio.

In my large collection of non-classical, music (mostly Blues and some Jazz) aside from a small percentage of "live with audience" recordings, most of my collection will be studio creations only where not all muscians will be in the same space at the same time.

So is this "does the recording sound like a live event" a completely useless and meaningless discussion for many/most non-classicalrecordings?

fitzcaraldo215
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Re: Hifi is an impossible dream


Quote:
to a large degree, IMO, this live verses recorded is very much a classical music debate as I think (I dont know as I dont listen to classical) a much larger percentage of classical recording are done live (as in with an audience at a venue) or at least live (ie all musicians together in one acoustic space) in a very large studio.

In my large collection of non-classical, music (mostly Blues and some Jazz) aside from a small percentage of "live with audience" recordings, most of my collection will be studio creations only where not all muscians will be in the same space at the same time.

So is this "does the recording sound like a live event" a completely useless and meaningless discussion for many/most non-classicalrecordings?

For the most part, yes, IMHO. But, I am sure there are some examples of jazz/blues that you can relate to live performances you have attended. Unfortunately, there are not too many in Mch sound, which best replicates a live event. Rock, which, ironically, has become the reviewing standard used by most equipment reviewers, has really few examples that replicate live performance. Dark Side of the Moon, for example, may sound great but the sound was created in the control room by mixing, panning, etc. the multimiked material rather than in the performance space.

Welshsox
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Re: Hifi is an impossible dream

Back to my original post

Do we listen to music or hifi ?

Of course live rock music is not always technically great, the whole point of live rock music is that you get drunk/stoned sweaty and laid. There is a rawness to the music that cannot be reproduced by hifi, I agree this rawness is not related to quality but it is related to the experience. To give an example, first time i saw Twisted Sister 1983 @ Wrexham football club, the sound was shit, the environmemt was shit but yet it became a forming factor in my musical development, this was purely about the musical impact, this impact could not be experienced with a recording playd on hifi. Now any Twisted Sister album or CD i played after this had better sound quality but never got close to the musical impact.

It really boils down to one simple point, are you listening to the sound or the music ???

Freako
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Re: Hifi is an impossible dream

Actually I believe common non-audiophiles do listen to the music more than we do. There's a much higher percentage of "listening to the equipment" people among audiophiles than there is among "normal" people. Kind of comes with having good equipment. One of the symptoms of hi-fidelitis, isn't it?

As I cannot claim to be a "music-only" listener myself, I won't say a bad word about it. I have to admit that I own some records, which I listen to because of a great sound, and not because I love the music.

enframed
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Re: Hifi is an impossible dream


Quote:
Do we listen to music or hifi ?

It really boils down to one simple point, are you listening to the sound or the music ???

Both.

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Re: Hifi is an impossible dream

A question no doubt asked by countless audiophiles after the gloss of a new and expensive piece of High-End kit has worn off.

The simple answer is that, 'Yes' - with careful selection of components (caveat) - it is possible today to recreate the complete sonics and ambience of a live musical event.

However ... a live musical performance is not just about sound: There are other senses that come into play such as sight and smell - be it the smell of the lady's perfume sitting next to you in a classical event, or the smell of cuban cigars in a latino joint ...

and there is really no substitute for this ... of course, whether these actually add to your enjoyment of the event would depend on the perfume, or if you have a penchant for cigars or not.

geoffkait
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Re: Hifi is an impossible dream


Quote:
A question no doubt asked by countless audiophiles after the gloss of a new and expensive piece of High-End kit has worn off.

The simple answer is that, 'Yes' - with careful selection of components (caveat) - it is possible today to recreate the complete sonics and ambience of a live musical event.

Quote:

Don't be such a tease! Share, share!


Quote:
However ... a live musical performance is not just about sound: There are other senses that come into play such as sight and smell - be it the smell of the lady's perfume sitting next to you in a classical event, or the smell of cuban cigars in a latino joint ...

I see. Kind of a the "roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd thing..."

Freako
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Re: Hifi is an impossible dream

My guess is that there's plenty of members here who have multi k $ equipment, and possibly systems that sounds much better than mine. I - OTOH - am rather pleased with the reproduction of music from my humble system. This makes me wonder: Is there such a thing as degrees of "the audiophile disease"?

Tone
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Re: Hifi is an impossible dream

Quote:

Don't be such a tease! Share, share!

It's not about particular brands per se, it's about how the system is architected ... many are now starting to understand that low powered high sensitivity systems can perform well.

I have given you very sound advice, but as for specifics Geoff, I'm afraid you will have to become one of our clients to be privy to that type of information.

Quote:

I see. Kind of a the "roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd thing..."

Yes, sort of.

Tone
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Re: Hifi is an impossible dream

1. It is possible to spend a lot of money and get good sound
2. It is possible to spend a lot of money and get bad sound
3. it is possible to spend a little money and get good sound
4. It is possible to spend a little money and get bad sound

All combinations are possible. In practice, 3 followed closely by 1 are the most difficult outcomes to achieve.

Freako
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Re: Hifi is an impossible dream

Guess I should consider myself lucky, eh?

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Re: Hifi is an impossible dream


Quote:
1. It is possible to spend a lot of money and get good sound
2. It is possible to spend a lot of money and get bad sound
3. it is possible to spend a little money and get good sound
4. It is possible to spend a little money and get bad sound

All combinations are possible. In practice, 3 followed closely by 1 are the most difficult outcomes to achieve.

I achieved number 4, but the good news is that is was not very difficult.

j_j
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Re: Hifi is an impossible dream


Quote:

Quote:
1. It is possible to spend a lot of money and get good sound
2. It is possible to spend a lot of money and get bad sound
3. it is possible to spend a little money and get good sound
4. It is possible to spend a little money and get bad sound

All combinations are possible. In practice, 3 followed closely by 1 are the most difficult outcomes to achieve.

I achieved number 4, but the good news is that is was not very difficult.

Number 3 is pretty easy if you can do basic carpentry, too.

Tone
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Re: Hifi is an impossible dream

LOL ...

geoffkait
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Re: Hifi is an impossible dream


Quote:

Quote:

Quote:
1. It is possible to spend a lot of money and get good sound
2. It is possible to spend a lot of money and get bad sound
3. it is possible to spend a little money and get good sound
4. It is possible to spend a little money and get bad sound

All combinations are possible. In practice, 3 followed closely by 1 are the most difficult outcomes to achieve.

I achieved number 4, but the good news is that is was not very difficult.

Number 3 is pretty easy if you can do basic carpentry, too.

Sadly, I lost my fingers in a logging accident, now I'm just like you - all thumbs.

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