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?

Roland Levesque's picture

Portrait,sulpture,photo,LPs,and CDs. They all have thier place, but there is only one way I know of to recreate life.

Joe Cullen's picture

The difference between a live performance and a recording is similar to the difference between flying a real airplane and playing in a flight simulator. If you can manage to surrender yourself to the electronic simulation, the synthetic experience can be very enjoyable. But it is definitely not the same as the real experience. This is not the same as saying that recordings are inferior to live performances. I actually prefer recordings to most live performances because most of the artists that I like to listen to seem to be at their best when they've gone to all of the trouble of arranging a recording session.

Chris V.'s picture

I feel most of the problems are in the recording process. Instead of delivering musical nirvana, higher-resolution playback systems often seem to only reveal problems in the recording. Studios and engineers, as well as artists, need to work harder to produce consistently musically pleasing sound. Then we'll all enjoy our valued hardware much more.

A.  Akla's picture

Reproduced sound will never and can never be the real thing.

Alex Ivanov's picture

Gets somewhat close with JMLab's Grand Utopia loudspeaker.

Tony R.  Harrison, Sr.'s picture

There are times when I actually believe that it's there---even in my own system. Then I attend a live concert. As soon as I return from a live concert, I immediately rush to my listening room for an A/B comparison while the concert is still fresh in my mind and ears. At that point, reality sets in. I suddenly realize that, while we are getting closer, there is still a way to go.

joseph champ's picture

get involved with the music first,then worry about the equipment.

Jack E.  Massey's picture

I'm almost pleased with what I experience with my current system. Playback of CDs is getting very close to my analogue set-ups ability to "put you in the room".

Evan Z's picture

I have come to realize lately that the most important part of the audio chain is not your equipment. It's the music! I mean that literally and figuratively. You have to enjoy what you're playing, and when the music is recorded well (not artificially well), it makes all the difference.

Joe Murphy, Jr.'s picture

On megabuck equipment, it's almost there. When we finally get 24/96 and the improvements it will force manufacturers up the chain (amps, speakers) AND down the chain (recording technology, engineers, mikes) to make, we will be there.

robert j madden's picture

While my sub $5K system (based around an old Dynaco Stereo 70 and a new pair of B&W CDM-1s) has on occasion startled me in its representation of some solo instrument, I have never for a moment thought it was real. I have heard mega-buck systems where the momentary illusion was greater than with my system, but the same conclusion applies.

david ng's picture

Only the naim active 6 pack DBLs do it for me. Naim is real, the rest are hifi.

Glenn Anderson's picture

Home audio just does not have dynamics of a live band. It does have better imageing and focus.

Dave Sturdevant's picture

Give me a break! 90% of the systems at HI-FI '98 were not "almost there," particularly the solid-state. (Best MUSICAL solid-states were Birdland/Avantgarde Duo and Rotel/B&W 805s.) Full harmonics, dynamics, transparency, and believable imaging elude most systems. Nice: Yes. There: No.

Philip O'Hanlon's picture

I have a $40,000 stereo system. Went to hear the Emerson String Quartet, was totally enchanted. Returned home, fired up the stereo (tube), was so disappointed---lack of timbral accuracy, the richness of tone between the violin, viola, and cello was lost!

Stephen Curling's picture

i find that the engineers have yet to correctly the real real thing to consumers: too many alterations to the orignal recording

David Schultz's picture

Sometimes it is almost scary, sometimes it is pathetic. With CDs, it doesn't seem related to whether the disc is a new all digital recording or an old analog pressing, it just seems to vary from recording to recording.

Anis Y.  Jiwani's picture

Reproduced sound is an alternative to real sound. When we are in front of a plethora of equipment, we actually are trying to imagine that we are there, that's all there is to it. Any audiophile who thinks that current state-of-the-art equipment (at any price) can substitute real sound should consider himself to be an AUDIOFOOL.

Geoffrey Knobl's picture

The best I can do makes almost real - even seeming like another location - but not quite. And this only works on certain recordings, not all.

James's picture

Who wants live? Noise, bad acoustics, talking, poor behavior, coughing, etc. . . . not to mention bad engineering by the venue or band engineers.

J.  Powell's picture

If by "the real thing" you mean a natural acoustic, the answer would have to be Not Very Close. But recorded/reproduced sound is moving closer to that of live, amplified sound, and sometimes sounds even better.

Frank Goldfarb's picture

The best home audio equipment can reproduce music that can be close to the live event. For me, without the visual cues present in live music, it really isn't the same ball game.

Jacquie Kowand's picture

Can we get there without spending megabucks? It would be nice to get that type of sound for under $5000 instead of $50,000.

Jeffrey Teuber's picture

Some combinations of components occasionally achieve spooky you-are-there realism. It's a joy when this happens. One feels as though, Wow, I'm there! But it's not "live." Nothing is like the real thing, no matter how much is spent. There is an unfettered, effortless quality to live music that even the most palpable facsimiles can only suggest.

Myles B.  Astor's picture

Even if designers, by some stroke of luck, got the timbre, resolution, dynamics, and frequency response right, they can never re-create the immense sense of space (soundstaging by audio standards) of the best halls, such as Carnegie and Boston, in a listening room.

Gary Okada's picture

I almost clicked on "Almost there." In fact, I just changed it from "Gets close sometimes." In my system, I can get really close, especially on individual/duo piano. Orchestra is a bit harder, with massed strings being the most difficult for my system. I would say that it is in the bass region, but I don't know of many recordings that actually try to reproduce the percussive attack of the rhythm section just like you hear it in a head-knocking live venue (a stack of Hartke speaker boxes and a powerful PA system to boot), so I will go for massed strings.

casey's picture

Some simple duet may come close but for a concert type sound I have never heard it even at the N.Y. show.

Tony Coughlin's picture

It's been close for years, but no cigar. I don't think we will ever duplicate 10,000+ sq. ft. in a listening room at home. It is a comparable experience, however.

Ron Basmajian's picture

Recorded music sounds like recorded music. Live music sounds live! This no doubt has to do with the environment in which you are hearing the source material. In a live concert, you are hearing live analog! The best!'s picture

How close depends mainly on the recording. Many older recordings sound closer to the real thing than many newer recordings.