How close is recorded music getting to the real thing?

How close is recorded music getting to the real thing?
It's there already
3% (7 votes)
Almost there
17% (35 votes)
Gets close sometimes
53% (112 votes)
A ways to go
18% (37 votes)
Not even close
9% (20 votes)
Total votes: 211

Many audiophiles spend thousands on state-of-the-art audio equipment, but does it really put you in the room with the performers?

Anonymous's picture

This is a tough one. A lot of recordings get really close, but I am from the school that says it will never be exactly like the real thing. I guess thats just my pessimistic side. I will say that there are certain records that sound nothing like the real thing and shouldn't. Some recordings are made with limited resourses and to make them sound more "real" would take away from their purity. It's late. I'm tired.

Alvester Garnett's picture

My system is musically involving but I think some higher quality power cables and a tubed preamp will take my system up closer to "class A".

Todd Krieger's picture

Went to Hi Fi '98 in L.A.. Then heard a live blues band in suburban Westlake Village. Made the best sounds of the Show sound like mid-fi.

Jeremy Close's picture

Most of the time it's inferior but sometimes it's far superior. Microphones get the best seat in the house, after all.

mike's picture

we are sucked into the caccoonning lifestyle, that anybody who doesn't repond 'not even close', is blowing pretty smoke. If the question was, "Does your system give aural excitement, pleasure, whatever, then I would answer 'alot of the time.'

P.S.  Lam's picture

Too many variables: condition of equipment,room temperature, humidity, speakers placement, and my own psycho-somatic condition. Better when I used solid state amps and less reliable now that I am using CJ tube amps.

Al Marcy's picture

Only in tune with the performers...

Craig Delaughter's picture

I believe well-recorded music is quite close to the actual performance. For most of us, it's the compromises we make in playback that limit the sonic experience. Even the most lavish systems aren't used in a home-based concert hall. Instead of constantly upgrading equipment in an attempt to recreate a live performance at home, perhaps we should simply go to more performances. One could subscribe to most any orchestra in North America or Europe and fly to each performance for what some of the equipment you review costs. perhaps it would be better to simply

William's picture

at times...

Gary Ang's picture

With present CDs, there is no way that the performers are in my room. Question is, will the coming 24/96 discs change that.

Louie Jones's picture

Throwing heaps of money at something will accomplish almost anything in this country. For the average schlub, moi, the question is: how CLOSE am I allowed to get on my budget? Maybe we should have price controls on audio gear--no more than $1K on any piece! That would bring everybody out there a little bit closer to the stage.

Dave Dallard's picture

Some classical and jazz: yes. But most studio-recorded rock: how would we know?

Mark J.  Bernstein's picture

I have, on very rare occasions, heard systems that are capable of creating a truly holographic recreation of the music being reproduced. The software obviously had a lot to do with what I experienced. I suspect that electronics are the lesser problem in bringing musicians into my room; the ROOM is certainly a bigger issue, these days!

Federico Cribiore's picture

It seems like there are moments (usually when the power grid in my pre-war NYC building is cooperating) when it feels like it sounds better in my living room than it ever does at the show. Most of the time, though, it is a different story. Gotta say, though, that going single-ended triode has increased the frequencies of the occurences!

WIll Woodruff's picture

Certain types of music are very real,(jazz and uplugged stuff).

Charles Purvis Kelly, Jr.'s picture

While there is no Carniege Hall in my area, the closest thing we have in Washington, D. C. that comes even close to a real concert hall is the Kennedy Center. So your question is does my audio system really put me in the same room with the musicians? Well my answer is a RESOUNDING no! Nuff Said. Charles Kelly

Gerald Neily's picture

The future is in Surround Sound.

Karl Richichi U.T.  Media's picture

With Linn and Martin Logan we can here the rosin go from the bow to the string...

Robin Banks's picture

In the world of high-end audio, it seems as if you have to spend a lot to get so little. Audiophiles have a lot to be thankful about. There have been vast improvements over the years, but we still have a ways to go. How long will it take? Who knows, but I sure hope it doesn't cost me an arm and a leg to get there!

Doug Cline's picture

I was sitting in a restraunt listening to the Mariachi band play and sing a couple of songs. They started off in front of me, so I knew the size and type of instruments etc. Then they moved behind me and I tried to define the depth of the soundstage. I thought I had a pretty good idea, but, much to my surprise, I was not very close at all. The nearest player was about 10' away and the farthest about 18', and the eight players were spread out over about 12'. I went home much humbled and decided maybe I thought I heard more depth in my system than I can really discern. For left/right soundstage, stability of image, and correct size, there are times when it is very good, but I think the visual clues in a live situation are overwhelming; when you get to your listening room, they just aren't there. It would be interesting to hear what a blind audiophile would have to say about this. It may well be something that requires substantial training to ignore the visual clues and extract {an accurate soundstage} purely from the audio.

Carl Eberhart's picture

Nothing beats Classic Records vinyl! I get the sensation I'm hearing a live mike feed every time, especially with the latest Mercury reissues. And there's almost no surface noise! CD is envious but IMPOTENT.

~EJP~'s picture

Not even close!!! Over the last few years I've heard live symphony orchestras, jazz bands from 5 - 20 members and outdoor rock concerts, both with and without unamplified vocals. During the same time I've listened to hifi's costing from $2,000 to $200,000+. No hifi at any price comes anywhere close to recreating the impact, subtlety and microdynamics of a live musical event, and never will. That's why I wish that everyone in this hobby would just grow up, stop arguing, choose your favorite colorations, accept the reality that even at its best ALL reproduced music is but a crude approximation of the real thing, and just enjoy music in your home on these terms. I have.

Marc Phillips's picture

If I had the luxury of having Ken Kantor's live-fee- vs.-recording comparisons in my living room, this issue might have more relevance in my life. But as it stands, the experience of going out, listening to live music, and being with other people, as opposed to being at home, comfortable and relaxed, preferably in my skivvies, listening to my system . . . well, it's just apples and oranges. I no longer care if my stereo sounds like live music. I just care whether or not it makes me feel good.

Carl's picture

You got to be kidding! If more than 5% say "Gets close," I 'll be very dissappointed in the NON-CONCERT-going readership. We just bought a nice Yamaha Disclavier II Reproducing Piano; my stereo system is equal in value and it ain't even close.

Mannie Smith's picture

A ways to go, but so what? How often can you have an intimate musicale in your home with the world's finest chamber groups or jazz combos? There is no "air" around each musician, particularly in a large orchestra, when you attend a concert in a hall, but there is when you listen at home. The situations are different, but each is enjoyable in its own way.

Allan Gamboa's picture


Chris Fisher's picture

I've been auditioning budget systems for the last year or so and I've found that the sound is very close to real life. Granted, it's not there yet. Heck we might even get there someday. Until then, what we have will have to suffice.

Eric W.  Sarjeant's picture

Although a rock concert is extremely amplified anyway, live band and orchestra performances just can't be duplicated.

Mike ANdrews's picture

It is a combination of good equipment and software. I have listened to some systems with good recordings and you would swear you could feel the sweat coming of the brow of the performers. The same recording on a different, less refined system and the music is just sound from across the room. The same with recordings. Some make megabuck systems sould lame. Other recordings make you sweat.

Stephen Westbom's picture

Not in my lifetime.