The Sound and the Image

Photo by Jim Austin, ​Nikon D810, Nikkor 70-200 f2.8 VR

It's not surprising that many people, like me, love nice cameras and good stereo gear. In my worse moments, I attribute this to mere consumerism: We love expensive stuff and the thrill of buying something new, whether for reproducing music or creating visual images. In my better moments, it's clear to me that there's more than that to this common taste for audio and photography, and more to the hobby of so-called perfectionist audio.

One commonality: we like well-made machines. There's beauty in finely wrought devices, whatever their intended use. We can't claim artisanal credit—we didn't make them—but there's satisfaction in using them, pride in owning then, and real pleasure in collecting them.

Of the visual arts, photography is the most objective, the most documentary. Sure, even photographers who work in a straightforward way—who press the shutter button and capture whatever's in front of the lens—exercise control over the images they reproduce. Taking a good photograph is a personal act—a creative act. But usually the core image is drawn from what's around us. Mostly, photographers create by recording.

Cameras and audio systems have that in common: Both are involved in the (re)production of sensory experience. I surround the re in reproduction with postmodern parentheses to indicate that there is, in this copying of experience, some creativity: in reproduction, there's production. Cameras and audio equipment enter at different phases in that process—our audio systems are more akin to printmaking studios than to cameras—but if sound engineers deserve more credit for what emerges from our systems and into our listening rooms than we do, we audiophiles can at least claim some of the credit for assembling systems that sound the way we want them to.

But there are still deeper, more meaningful connections between these two pursuits of consumerism and art. Both audio and photography are documentary—both are about recording the real world in the pursuit of sensory experience. Both are about technologically mediated art.

I once rejected photography as something I wanted to pursue because I thought success was too closely tied to the quality of the gear. This may go against conventional wisdom, but my experience since has reinforced that conviction. There's a hardware analogy in audio, of course: when recording, buy the best microphones you can afford.

I've since come around to enjoying photography, not least because I can now afford better lenses. I still don't play in the Leica/Hasselblad league, but I can take out my full-frame Sony mirrorless body and a 21mm Zeiss lens—not as expressive as a Leica system, perhaps, but surely more accurate—and come home with photos of quality that I and others can recognize. A thousand other photographers may take the same pictures, more or less, but when I get a picture I want to print on good paper and hang on my wall, it's no less satisfying for that.

Apart from music itself, which I've loved for as long as I can remember, the notion of technologically mediated artistic experience is the main thing that drew me to audio in the first place. I'm fascinated that the choices engineers make can so profoundly affect our enjoyment of art—in this case, music. It may be true, as Twain said, that writing about art is like dissecting a frog—both end up dead— but I still want to know what technological and scientific choices are most effective, and how that science can be comprehended from an artistic perspective. Despite what some people claim, science and art differ from each other in the most profound ways, and are based on different notions of truth: timeless, universal, and objective on the one hand, and deeply human, personal (if also broadly shared), and subjective on the other. The merging of these worlds, these notions of truth, in a single pursuit—photography, audio—is one of the more fascinating topics this world offers.

There is, as I've already mentioned, an important way that audio and photography differ: a camera is akin to a microphone, not an amplifier, and the photographer to a sound engineer, and perhaps even to the musician. We audiophiles are stuck at the other, less creative end of the artistic process. How, then, should we think of ourselves, if not as mere high-end consumers?

There is art in our choices, I think—but I think we're mainly collectors. In his essay "Collectors," in the book Why People Photograph, photographer and essayist Robert Adams writes: "Collectors share with artists a narrow but intense sensualism. The opportunity for this in photography might at first seem limited, but in fact an enjoyment of photographs is stronger for the subtle distinctions involved." Sound familiar?

The two groups, artists and collectors, also share a certain elite (perhaps elitist) vision: No artist or true collector "has ever held the slightest suspicion that a majority of people recognize the best art a majority of the time," Adams writes. "Artists admire collectors who are doers, people who, like themselves, are willing to take risks in an effort to build new syntheses." The collector's main risk, presumably, is the money spent.

So, what are we buying with that money? When we make the right purchasing choices, what do we get back from those risks we take? It's a form of self-expression, or even self-construction. Adams quotes painter Robert Henry: "In no work will you find the final word, nor will you find a receipt that will just fit you. The fun of living"—and of making pictures, and of building an audio system and enjoying the music it makes—"is that we have to make ourselves."—Jim Austin

COMMENTS
Anton's picture

Great parallels between photography and audio.

Hi rez, low rez, analog/digital, dynamic range, subjective/objective issues, etc.

I think audio has to bear the burden of trying to 'recreate the original event' to a much grater degree than visual stuff. We have an impossible task!

ok's picture

Nature entrusted human reproduction to digital (DNA) for all intents and purposes – and with impressive results for that matter. By the way vision is mostly concerned with space, while sound is all about time..

Anton's picture

Vision is important with regard to time-related spacial change and sound offers spacial location cues. Your categorization is fine, however!

I like how senses overlap and take part in multiple aspects perception. I especially like how our senses can be fooled! The very foundation of Hi Fi is deception and a sensory lie! I mean that in a good way. ;-D

ok's picture

press pause in video: everything’s there as always; now do the same in audio: absolutely nothing whatsoever; you just can’t pause time..

Bogolu Haranath's picture

That may not apply to broken vinyl record .......... It keeps playing the same thing over and over :-) .......... BTW, do turntables come with pause button? ........ I forgot, it has been a long time :-) .........

dalethorn's picture

In the Old Days, there was a story about a new jet plane that had breakthrough technology, and as the passengers took to their seats and the flight attendant got them ready for takeoff, she said "I will play you a recording that describes the advanced features of this new jet plane."

And as the recording played, the voice coming over the speakers said "We have put every high-tech feature known to man into this new aircraft. Nothing can go wro.., nothing can go wro.., nothing can go wron........"

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Agree with Anton ........ Comparing audio (production and reproduction) with photography, may not be exactly apples to apples comparison ........... Especially when those darn MQA equipped cameras are used for photography (like JA said) ...........

dalethorn's picture

You could use Photoshop etc. and everything that detracts from the perfect image - replace or erase it. I use Paint Shop Pro v6 (edition of 1998), and anything I don't like in the image gets "cloned" out by manually copying adjacent (usually background) pixels over the offending stuff. Sometimes it can be too tedious to be practical, or other times it can be extremely difficult to achieve a natural look with manual cloning, if the area to be cloned out is too great.

I would think that most good recording gurus also take a "negative" approach to their fixes once they get the basic setups where they know they'll get the best results. In this case, negative means not adding things that would make the sound unnatural, but rather just looking and listening around, and removing and suppressing the little irritants that detract from the more-or-less perfect sound.

Anton's picture

Does the 'perfect image' fool you into thinking you are seeing the original event where it occured or does it make you think those images have been transported into your home?

We haven't agreed on perfect sound, so I wanna be specific with 'perfect image!'

Do you think Photoshop for images and Pro-tools for audio are analogous? I kinda like the idea.

dalethorn's picture

My concept was to capture the near-perfect image, maybe allowing for a bit of left-right rotation and cropping, and perhaps a small amount of color or contrast adjustment - things that wouldn't fundamentally change the picture, but would make it slightly more perfect. The cloning is pretty much a purely negative process, in removing things that detract the eye moreso than removing things that absolutely don't belong in the image.

For example (and maybe not the ideal example), I grew up with families who used Instamatics and the one-hour photo processors you'd see everywhere. A huge problem then was "dust" or specks on the prints, due I suppose to the photo processor guys not cleaning the trays and replacing the chemicals as often as they should. Those specks of "dust" or whatever were a big irritation for me, and even into recent years, I've had the occasional speck appear on a 13x19 print I'm making with an inkjet printer.

So anyway, with that in mind, I try to clone out things that either look like specks, or tiny highlights that serve to detract more than they enhance the image. That's my primary task to get a cleaner looking image, without going so far as to remove so much detail that the picture looks more like a painting than a photograph.

The bad news is, I almost never know that an image I've just finished is "right" or not, until I revisit it a few times under different lighting conditions, to see if there is anything else that needs to be done - especially regarding color or contrast. I had the same problem developing and printing film back when - test strips did help, but I could never be sure until I printed the full photo and looked at it for awhile in normal light.

So I think with Photoshop or ProTools, no matter how good you guess up front, you still have to evaluate the final result separately when you have time to relax and aren't tensed up with the actual work.

tonykaz's picture

Displaying Digital Images on a Screen ( or by a Large Format Epson Printer ) is much the same as displaying Audio Images by a pair of Loudspeakers.

A significant difference between usefulness/utility is that the entire world collects data visually.
It's been a "Constant" of Medical Research that People get more than 98% of their incoming information via Light, Sound amounts to less than 2%, for gods sake !

We Stereophile types enjoy a nice reproduction of Music while our neighbors are "wasting" their time watching the Kardashians on their smart phones.

Audio reproduction has an advantage in that it can affect/affect a release of Dopamine in our Brains ( if we listen with the better Gear ) which is probably why we spend our valuable time reading informative insights by Herb Reichert types: we're "kind-of" Addicted!! ( I've been for my entire life, as was my mother the Opera Singer )

As far as can be thought thru today, PS Audio is one of the leading Audio Gear Companys working at building Audio Gear capable of performing in similar levels to the Canon 1D ( latest versions )

Still, for Addicts, it doesn't matter in the Slightest, I need my fix!

Tony in Michigan

dalethorn's picture

"Audio reproduction has an advantage in that it can affect/affect a release of Dopamine in our Brains...."

A video of a certain "Bambi" releases lots of dopamine in my brain. That's all I can say....

tonykaz's picture

It's the same , both are addictive

Of course $130,000 make a "golden" silent.

Tony in Michigan

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Don't forget the attorneys who come with that ............. It will cost a whole lot more than $130,000 .......... BTW, $130,000 could pay for the high-end, state of the art phono cartridge and provide long term Dopamine release ............ or, at least till the next high-end, state of the art phono cartridge comes along for $250,000 ...........

jimtavegia's picture

I enjoyed reading of the parallels. Photography is much easier to do in real life...point and click, but you do have to find great subject material and that is easier than getting a number of great musicians together for a recording session.

tonykaz's picture

... from Cassey Neistat, reviewing the latest smart phones but not the V30 LG that John Atkinson is reviewing and is Sooooooo important to Audiophiles. The V30 does superb Audio and Superb Video . Phew

Are Digital Audio and Digital Video converging?

Sadly, the LG V30 doesn't have RIAA for record players and it doesn't quite do "Jiggle Cam" like the Analog people love so much.

But....

Young people are launching Careers in "Content-Creation" with only the little LG V30.

Camera Journalism is NOWHERE proclaiming greatness for Analog. Rather the Visual Industry is demonstrating a reluctance to get rid of Film and Tape entirely but not willing to use the medium except for high budget stuff like "Better Call Saul" where Period Realism is what Film brings to a Project.

Tony in Michigan

rt66indierock's picture

An enjoyable read for sure. A couple of points, I’ve taken one great picture in my life it was with an HP Photosmart digital camera. It was in my hands at an exact moment in time to take the picture. And you buy the best microphone for the job to record music.

Much better than your MQA series, yesterday I received a document I believe is a genuine MQA Nondisclosure Agreement that calls into question your article on DRM.

hifiluver's picture

Both industries are based on objective replicable testing of specs. One chooses to be empirical, the other chooses to ignore it and goes down the road of being disingenuous just because the ear is comparatively less acute and has more failings to what is being presented. I think you’re insulting the hardworking engineers at Sony, Nikon etc and the investors who put in money to push the boundaries of optics. What real palpable technological breakthrough has 2 channel audio achieved in recent times?

ok's picture

..the same person is once an idiot as audiophile and the other shrewd as generic techno geek? Or that a dying audio industry recycles thin air in a desperate attempt to keep itself alive when actual progress has long reached its practical limit? By the way the same applies to hi-end car, watch, whisky, wine etc niche industry and far beyond. I personally see it as a legitimate way of wealth redistribution based on obscure and manipulatable special needs.

rt66indierock's picture

Watch a few golf channel ads. Some of the shrewdest tech geeks I know have magical clubs bought after watching ads on the golf channel. They could hit the same shots with my 1985 Ping Eye 2 wedges (real square grooves and grandfathered if you aren't a pro).

Remember the whiskey panic in 2014? It is now a sign of quality to say "Distilled in Indiana."

dalethorn's picture

High fidelity audio is still far from replicating an authentic live experience, from microphone to recorder to master to playback media to my system, regardless of cost. The progress is slow because of the complexity of the task and the fact that "big industry or government" has not made high fidelity sound reproduction a high priority.

Much of the great technology in imaging, such as the breakthroughs in ground-based optical telescopes being able to resolve nearly as well as space-based telescopes - trickles down to audio too, but not in powerfully obvious ways that make us want to replace our current systems. We know what needs to be done, but we have to have patience and a bit of faith that the current crop of audio gods really believe in high fidelity.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Hip-hip hooray.............

Bogolu Haranath's picture

To add to the above ......... What "sounds good" may not always be what is "accurate" ........ Also, what "sounds good" can vary from person to person ..........BTW, in the case of telescopes, we are looking for accuracy, not what "looks good" :-) ...............

dalethorn's picture

I empathize with what you're saying, which is certainly a "feel good" reaction, but when I watch my neighbor 'Bambi' with my telescope, I'm more interested in a good look than a particular degree of accuracy. OTOH, should I be watching Bambi or other neighbors with the erstwhile telescope in order to see passwords as they're typing into an online account (illegal, I know), then accuracy would become the priority.

The foregoing highlights the objectives and emotions involved to whatever degree in hi-fi listening - we do want accuracy if we're familiar with live sound and have a strong desire to hear such a thing at home, but we also have a compelling need for it to sound good, even "warm and fuzzy" if using valves instead of solid state. Getting both simultaneously is what Stormy wants, but we mortals usually have to compromise on one or the other.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

True true true .......... Even NASA does some "Photoshopping"(?) of some of the images they get, like from Mars .............

dalethorn's picture

I follow NASA's APOD (google it), which has some fascinating video and stills. The incredible things they have to do to see extra-solar planets for example - check the numbers. Start with this: The smallest object we can supposedly see on the Moon from Earth is about 315 ft. in size (at least one dimension that size).
http://curious.astro.cornell.edu/about-us/45-our-solar-system/the-moon/t...

The closest distance we get to the Moon is 225622 miles, or 1191284160 feet - so the smallest object we can see is 3.78 million times shorter in length (or width or height) than our distance from it. Therefore, at the distance to Proxima Centauri (4.24 LY, or 25 trillion miles) the smallest object we can see as a physical object would be about 6.6 million miles in diameter, or 7.6 times as big as the Sun.

Going out to where the extra-solar planets are, the smallest resolvable object would be 100 to 1000 times the diameter of the Sun, or even bigger. So to understand what NASA has to do to "see" extra-solar planets, and even see their atmospheres(!) is mind-boggling.

Going back to audio, we can ponder the things that go into making a good recording and playing it back in our rooms, but if we we able to dig into the inner layers of technology that make our audio gear, it might start looking like the things NASA has to do to see those planets that are more than a thousand times too small to see optically.

dalethorn's picture

Although the space telescopes have a clearer view, they are also smaller, besides which there are new techniques to subtract out atmospheric interference for ground-based telescopes. The Lunar rover apparently is no better - it's much closer, but much smaller, so we still lack the obvious photo of the landers etc. All in good time I hear...

Anton's picture

Lots of great analogies, I love the photo/audio stuff!

For both audio and optics, the higher the resolution, the narrower the field of view.

To put it another way, some people like romance, others, gynecology.

I wouldn't abide shooting all my pics with a tripod, and don't want to listen in a fixed position.

Suggestion: Next month, let's do this with audiophilia and oenophilia!

rschryer's picture

You and your damn booze again, Anton. :-)

JimAustin's picture

Suggestion: Next month, let's do this with audiophilia and oenophilia!

I did that already, a few months back, in print in the "Industry Updates" section, but I don't think it's online. :-(

rschryer's picture

...What issue?

JimAustin's picture

...What issue?

Last October.

rschryer's picture

...and those fairly priced might not align with someone else's palate. The only way to find out what you like is to try it yourself..."

Advice to live by, Jim (and review by). Great piece.

JimAustin's picture

Thanks!

Anton's picture

Contrast: oenophiles are not afraid of blind testing.

Overlap: both hobbies have deep lines in the sand regarding where value vs crazy begins, and the line is different from person to person.

Overlap: both hobbies have vintage vs new aficionados. (I admit to skewing vintage.)

Contrast: Wine is gone after you use it, Hi Fi gear remains. Point to audio!!

Overlap: both have aspects that we can identify but not adequately measure.

ok's picture

..both tend to restore the propper inner time flow that common sense and public clocks consistently distort!

Anton's picture

Kudos!

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Well said ......... In the case of audio there are numerous stages involved and so many complexities from recording to reproduction till the sound reaches our ears ...........

rt66indierock's picture

I select my wine by the following preferences. Did I meet the vineyard owner with an errant tee shot? Or did I help the vineyard owner with Section 263A in the eighties. Neither have failed me yet.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Speaking about booze ........ have you all seen the comments section under the latest Wilson speakers review? .........

dalethorn's picture

Do you ever think about how much of our heritage in the U.S. is linked to alcohol and tobacco? For example, my direct ancestor (with the additional 'e') was listed as a "Dutch-English Tobacco Trader" when he first arrived in New York in 1629. He co-founded Hempstead and Flushing Meadows, and helped set up tobacco growing plantations in Virginia. The family has always done well.

Fast forward to ca. 1903-1918, and the #2 singer in the U.S. was Evan Williams, who was a neighbor and close friend of my grandmother. He introduced her to fellow RCA artist Enrico Caruso. Evan Williams is one of the popular Kentucky bourbons from the 1700's on, and we gained from him part of his name, many 78's, and various other things.

We've had a lot of flirtation with drugs in the U.S., and while the 60's were fun that way (White Rabbit, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds etc.), there's an enormous recording and distribution industry today that's built on illegal drug distribution. The list of outlaws and other stars from today's industry dwarfs the legends of the Old West as well as those from the Prohibition years.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

No wonder American bourbon is so popular around the world .......... Even some scotch makers (as I understand) use old (used) bourbon oak barrels for aging their scotch ............

dalethorn's picture

If you're into headphones, Grado has some nice woodie editions - some of which were made from whiskey barrel wood. I had the first Heritage edition that cost $650 and now they have another, but every so often they release a new special version. And they sound good!

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Frank Sinatra's favorite drink was Jack Daniel ......... No wonder he had such a great voice :-) ..........

dalethorn's picture

Sinatra was to singing what Capt. Kirk was to commanding. They had enormous swag. When I first saw Sinatra in a couple of old movies, he seemed on the small side, and with a personality suited to minor character acting. But over time, he acquired a commanding presence that earned him the informal title of Chairman of the Board. Then in 1980 at the age of 65, he recorded New York New York - a song whose performance by Liza Minelli had a good bit of acclaim previously, and he simply owned it. Few singers would ever have such a big hit, and far, far fewer at the age of 65.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Speaking of age, Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger are both over age 70, and still going strong .......... Wonder what they are drinking :-) ...........

dalethorn's picture

Going strong, I dunno. McCartney and Lennon were the Beatles' version of Gilmore and Waters - the formers the more melodic of the groups and the latters the more cynical and strident. The last thing I remember listening to by McCartney was Let Me Roll It, perhaps with the group Wings? That's decades ago.

Mick Jagger was good in 1969, on Let it Bleed, the concert tour, and The Day The Music Died (Altamont). He changed rapidly afterward, but still had a few interesting tunes on Sticky Fingers circa 1971, having spent time somewhere in the Caribbean soaking up the island cultures, making friends with Peter Tosh et al. I don't know that I have anything of his through the 70's, although he had some great vocal moments on It's Only Rock and Roll.

In 1980 he did the song She's So Cold, which may or may not have been a big hit, but it was a perfect example of a great Rock recording. Little T&A with Keith Richards was good also. The Stones had one last hurrah with their MTV videos from the 1981 album Tattoo You. Jagger's singing in concerts was usually bad, although they did manage to get decent performances for the 1969 live album. From what I've heard of their live performances after 1980, his singing was awful.

For comparison, I have a number of tracks by Merle Haggard from ca. 1969 through the early-mid 70's, and I attended 2 of his indoor performances around 1976-77 at a small auditorium in Wheeling. He was amazing, his band was amazing - as good as any of his recordings. We sat within the first few rows, so there was nothing fake going on. Then again, I heard a few snippets of Haggard concerts from the 90's, and he was terrible there.

The point of all this for me is that a man like Sinatra, and quite a few other pop and rock performers (Roger Daltry comes to mind) would perform their music with very nearly the same quality in concerts as what they recorded in studio, while people like Jagger and Haggard got very sloppy after their primes.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Check out the Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones album "Havana Moon" recorded live in Havana, Cuba 2016 .......... Also, check out Paul McCartney's album recorded live "Back in the U.S" 2002 (although this one is 16 years old) ............

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Speaking about Sinatra ........ Check out "Sinatra at the Sands" album recorded live 1966 ..........

JimAustin's picture

Do you ever think about how much of our heritage in the U.S. is linked to alcohol and tobacco?

Sounds like you may have read them already, but I can recommend two great books on the subject, directly related to music. The first is The Chitlin' Circuit and the Road to Rock 'n Roll by Preston Lauderbach. Well-written, well-researched, and engaging, among other things it puts the lie to the absurd notion that Sam Phillips and Elvis invented Rock 'n Roll. (Guralnick wrote a good book though.) The other is Bop Apocalypse: Jazz, Race, the Beats, and Drugs by Martin Torgoff. Ditto.

dalethorn's picture

Speaking of Rock-n-Roll, someone gave me an "oldies" compilation CD recently that had a track by Louis Jordan, and I was curious enough to go sample some of his other songs from the 1940's. Maybe it's just my imagination, but a lot of it sounded like it belonged in the early-mid 1950's.

JimAustin's picture

You'll learn more about Louis Jordan--definitely an early rock-n-roller--in the Lauterbach book.

It always struck me as strange, the notion that you only got rock 'n roll when you added in country music. I love some country rock, but the country isn't necessary. That appears to be a story we white folks tell to claim some credit for the invention of Rock and Roll. We don't deserve any credit. Like blues and jazz, it's black music.

ok's picture

..rock, soul, funk, rap, you name it. African Americans are the undisputable inventors of 20th century’s popular music. I mostly listen to white musicians somehow, but I must admit that blacks have this sense of rhythm that is totally unmatched by any pale whatsoever.

dalethorn's picture

When I was overseas with the Army in 1967, I was conversing with a young black man in our unit one day - the subject was music, and he didn't seem to care for anything I liked, but he mentioned that "I Can't Get No Satisfaction" by the Rolling Stones was a decent song because (as best I remember) it had a good downbeat.

In my case, I transited from mostly "white" music and a little jazz to a love of blues music, beginning with a quirky album called Electric Mud. If anyone has the original, the photos are terrific.

From 1981 to 2007 I made about 40 solo trios across the U.S., often tuning in to local radio stations, many of which were playing "oldies" programs. During the time I lived in L.A., I listened to KRLA which played oldies in the earlier years, and a lot of that was from East L.A. - things you wouldn't hear in Cleveland. I also listened to blues programs by Johnnie Otis and another on KPFK Pacifica. But sometime after the midpoint of those driving years, I noticed how most of the oldies programs from Arizona through New Mexico and Texas, through Oklahoma and Missouri, through Illinois and Indiana to Ohio, had "whitened" their oldies playlists to a shocking degree.

I didn't keep any statistics on those playlists then, although I did compile statistics on other genres from the late 1980's through the early 1990's. It's fascinating to me to observe social changes when new influences enter the market (rock-n-roll, reggae, acid music, punk, hip-hop etc.), but interesting in a different way to see changes that occur by exclusion, like I observed with the oldies programs.

I don't remember the source of this quote, but I think it came from someone at Pacifica at the beginning of their blues programs: "The blues is about something you ain't got and you're never gonna get. But it could also be about something you do have and you ain't never gonna get rid of."

dalethorn's picture

Growing up in Akron Ohio, I was too young to remember Alan Freed playing jump-blues and R&B records on WAKR late-night radio, but my older cousins remember, and they remember the excitement that brought to the city in the time preceding his move to Cleveland and the adoption of the name Rock-n-Roll.

I had very little awareness of any of that living in Akron through 1981, but someone on the Johnny Otis show in L.A. told the whole story. In the 1990's when the city of Akron created the Quaker Square mall out of the old silos, they set aside a room for the Akron Radio Hall of Fame, which included names like Grandpa Jones. I looked through everything there carefully, and all I could find on Freed was his image in a group photo of the WAKR softball team. A prophet without honor in his own country? Word has it that Dick Clark sang like a canary at the Payola hearings while Freed refused to cooperate, and the rest is history.

rt66indierock's picture

In 1799 George Washington produced nearly 11,000 gallons. And of course made sure his troops had enough but not too much.

dalethorn's picture

There were lots of criticisms about alcohol and audio here, which got me thinking about my best case testing scenario. I'd have dinner and then take a walk, come back in and settle down, or shower and then settle down, check the Dow averages etc., then get to listening. If I were doing critical testing, I'd know when and how much I could imbibe without interfering with my tests, and the documentation I'd need to complete before wrapping it up. Anyone who's been at this for awhile has it closely calculated without a doubt. Now think of the old days and spinning LP's with heavy smoke in the air, and how the spinning platter creates a vortex that sucks that smoke down onto the LP. Been there done that!

rt66indierock's picture

In my case I treat critical listening like a professional endeavor. When I was 19 I got part-time consulting position in the broadcasting industry because I treated it as a professional would and of course could hear exceptionally well. Today I treat critical listening the same way I treat work in my profession. So no alcohol that is just unprofessional.

dalethorn's picture

I never did drink while writing computer code, and it does seem logical to abstain in any professional task, however .... let's say that we took all of the great jazz albums, and we disposed of those that were made by professional musicians who had a blood alcohol level (while playing) that was high enough to get a DUI in California.

The question is, assuming for the sake of argument that we could know this information - would you find it acceptable to permanently dispose of those albums if you were a jazz fan?

I understand that there's a difference between a jazz musician having a couple of drinks while playing and recording, and a professional reviewer listening critically, but before making a final judgement I'd need to know more.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

In conclusion ...... What seems to be happening is in photography/video we are going after "what looks good" to most people, and in audio we are going after "what sounds good" to most people ......... and not exactly what is "accurate" .......... So, both are not "exact science" ........... May be what we are working on is something that is as accurate as possible, but still looks good and sounds good ..........

dalethorn's picture

Yes. And it's complicated (i.e. we are kept confused by our shepherds) insofar as there are multiple levels of intrigue here. It's always good to have another look at J. Gordon Holt's statements in favor of realistic reproduction of (for example) a symphony orchestra in one's own house.

A full-scale symphony blaring on full-size speakers in the den doesn't leave nearly as much room for colorations as (for example) a solo piano or trumpet, where the system can be "adjusted" to make the solo instrument palatable, ignoring what that adjustment does to other instruments the audiophile doesn't care about under those conditions.

In photography, should the results of an architectural shoot deceive a buyer into believing that a house in Monterey is worth much more than it is, while the buyer is busy doing something else in Milan, that could be contestable. If the results of a fashion shoot allegedly ruin an up-and-coming model's reputation, or ruin a business that invested heavily in the outcome of that shoot, those could also be contestable.

Most everything else is what? Art? For example, in hi-fi we talk about reproduction, but it's the making of the music that's art, and photography is art. So if I were given a hundred negatives by a respected photographer, and were told to print them and also put them up in an exhibition while the photographer/artist was busy doing something else somewhere else, and then the photographer suddenly arrived and was horrified by what I did with his images, what then?

Amother example: Say I'm running a respected photo printing business, and I get negatives to print that are underexposed. Say that there's no time or way to get a decision out of the photographer before committing to the print process, which may be expensive. Should I try to compensate for the underexposure and risk some color shifting, or should I print them according to my standard formula for properly exposed images and let them come out too dark? In my personal experience, I've had better luck with the latter if the image is indeed printable.

JimAustin's picture

A full-scale symphony blaring on full-size speakers in the den doesn't leave nearly as much room for colorations as (for example) a solo piano or trumpet, where the system can be "adjusted" to make the solo instrument palatable, ignoring what that adjustment does to other instruments the audiophile doesn't care about under those conditions.

FWIW, I think this is a very smart comment.

So if I were given a hundred negatives by a respected photographer, and were told to print them and also put them up in an exhibition while the photographer/artist was busy doing something else somewhere else, and then the photographer suddenly arrived and was horrified by what I did with his images, what then?

This, for me, is a fairly recent insight, which would be embarrassing if it weren't true that many great photographers have been uninterested in printing. Unless you're happy with virtual pictures (whatever that means) there are two halves to photography: The capture half an the printing half. Photographers, then, should be involved in both halves. Beyond that, I have nothing in particular to add, except to say that it's a good question.

Should I try to compensate for the underexposure and risk some color shifting, or should I print them according to my standard formula for properly exposed images and let them come out too dark?

This is an easy question. The photographer has chosen not to be involved in this stage, so now it's a collaboration. You should think as much as YOU consider appropriate about what the photographers objectives are, and print accordingly. You decide. You wont' get credit, but you should.

Cheers,
Jim

dalethorn's picture

I was fortunate to have been part of the Luminous Landscape experience back before Michael Reichmann passed away (too early, sadly), particularly when they were still selling DVDs. I bought the whole collection, and one of their episodes featured Bill Atkinson, an early employee of Apple who specializes in color management from image to screen to print. If that video can still be accessed there, I recommend it highly to get some insight into the world of accurate color calibrations.

JimAustin's picture

Looks like probably Video Journal 15; I haven't yet managed to access it, but I'll try again.

I've been dabbling in color management, so (if I can access it) I'll watch with interest.

Thanks,
jca

Bogolu Haranath's picture

In the latest Stereophile TJN talks about EQ and DSP/ room correction (Anthem review) ......... Useful tools for loudspeakers and headphones/ear phones ............ Just like "Photoshop" for photography/video .......

dalethorn's picture

My experience correlates well with the results he describes, but the things that stand out to me are the negatives of applying EQ by amplifier, or any place in the analog domain. My digital music players apply their EQ digitally before the digital data goes to the DAC, and so I don't expect sonic degradation unless the amount of EQ combined with the dynamics of the music cause a problem - overloading a preamp in the system, or simply running out of bits before the DAC is able to reconstruct the full-resolution analog signal.

X