Will perfect audio reproduction ever be possible in a listener's home? Why or why not?

Music reproduction has certainly come a long way since the early wax cylinder. But will we ever be able to perfectly reproduce the sound of, say, a live jazz quartet in our living rooms?

Will perfect audio reproduction ever be possible in a listener's home? Why or why not?
58% (106 votes)
Many years away
23% (42 votes)
It's almost here
14% (25 votes)
We already have it
6% (11 votes)
Total votes: 184

Hugh Ford's picture

There is no such thing as 'perfect audio'. 'Perfect' is too subjective. No one can agree on what is perfect!!! Hugh Ford hugh.ford@immi.gov.au

Jason Crumlett's picture

We will be able to but, it will take a lot of time and effort on the consumer to bring his/her living room to acceptable listening conditions.

norm bierkan's picture

No matter how good the electronics—and it doesn't matter if they're digital or analog—there will always be a loss of energy from the transducers (microphones and loudspeakers) in the recording/playback chain. Therefore, I think we'll never get there.

Clay White's picture

Perfect is a tough concept. Perfect for who (whom)? Is it Ella or Memorex? It probably is perfect when the listener's ears can't tell. Given our best current recording formats and proper equipment backing an excellent set of phones, it probably is here for lots of us.

Dusty D.  Auffm-Ordt's picture

A live jazz quartet in our living rooms is possible with a pair of Avantgarde Uno.

Bubba in SF's picture

Not unless you have a live jazz quartet in your living room. The microphone would need to pick up the sound as your ears do and it would have to process the music the way your brain does. Everybody has different hearing so, even if the engineers figure out what is exact for them it would not be exact for the next listener. Enjoy the music if it sounds full and lively on your home system and move on.

Gus Kund's picture

When you listen to a stereo at home, you are hearing a stereo, not a musical instrument. It can never sound like a instrument becuse it is not a musical instrument. It is a stereo!

Teresa's picture

It's almost here. Have you heard any 12" 45rpm audiophile LPs? Digital, even DSD, is the wrong direction. It's analog that needs to be perfected. After all, music and real life are analog!

Stephen Curling's picture

Listening to a live performance is a one-time event and cannot be reproduced "perfectly." There may come a time where the human ear can't tell the difference, but there will always be a difference.

Rick Shapiro's picture

Audiphiles bitch about everything!

Patrick's picture

Because we are not perfect and will never be. Perfection is like reaching the horizon the more we fare the farther it is.

Jim G's picture

Let's face facts, whether you're listening to a classical or jazz orchestra or a rock group, they all move one hell-of-a-lot of air. That's something no speaker ever will do, not to mention dynamic restraints. Plus our rooms are too small for the most part. That's not saying we won't keep trying, is it?

Jerry Meyers's picture

Although I said NEVER, we will get very close. I thnk this is similar to the digital VS acoustic piano argument. As good as the digitals are, they can't (and probably never will) reproduce every nuance that occurs between the hammer, string(s) and soundboard. I think perfect audio reproduction is the same way. We can only get so close using a transducer of one form or another. You still won't get every nuance that occurs when the piano, drums and bass of a trio are in the room. That said, I think we will get closer and closer possibly with a new technology rather than the common paper cone speakers.

Graeme Nattress's picture

I just don't think perfect reproduction is possible - and certainly the "true to the master tape" route isn't going to get us there, because most of the sound is lost on the way from the singer's voice to the microphone!

Randy's picture

Simple, simply hire four guys to play in your living room. At one night a week for one year, this would probably cost you around 20 grand, with much better fidelity than 20 grand could possibly buy in loudspeakers or electronics.

Dan Landen's picture

Even the most advanced digital synthesis can't create the intricate nuances from a live performance. It can come close but there's no way speakers in each corner and a couple of subs can recreate the exact replica of the original sound. I've tried the famed Yamaha DSP-1 and it does a fair job recreating the space of a live performance but it's no substitute for the 'real thing'. Even dts and dolby digital just a imitations of the real thing when you get down to it.

ACMcCoy's picture

Each presents an infinite number of variables. However, live music is the only direct presentation (assuming acoustic instruments), while electronic reproduction requires a very long chain of inserted equipment, signal manipulation and human intervention beyond the musicians. A great recording, a superior audio system and a willing suspension of disbelief can only approximate a group of musicians playing live in your living room.

Jack's picture

Dynamic range seems to me to be the largest obstacle. I don't think that kind of range can be effectively reproduced in a home environment without new breakthroughs in driver technology and amplification.

John Rau's picture

The acoustical enviroment in your listening room is vastly different from the acoustical enviromant in the concert hall where the recording was made. You will never be able to hear exactly what you could have heard had you been sitting 15th row center in the concert hall on the day the recording was made.

Dan Petri's picture

We may already have it, but at what price point?

Al Earz's picture

First, define "perfect." If by perfect you mean a full reproduction of that exact sound the studio microphone "heard," the only way is to have that band play in your living room and it would be different in each living room. The sound that we hear is colored from the moment the microphone picks up the artist's voice. And the instruments are colored by the mixing boards and so on down the line.

A.  Clark's picture

You used the word "perfectly." Never. It can't be done.

DAB, Pacific Palisades, CA's picture

You have to be "there" to be there.

KJ's picture

Don't think so. At least not until a new technological paradigm comes along in the way music is recorded and reproduced. What is needed is first and foremost a recording that is true to the original instruments sound-dispersion/radiation and localization (which of course only makes sense in terms of acoustical instruments); second this recording has to be reproduced in a way that conforms to the original instruments dispersion/radiation and localization. I do not think that stereo (or multi-channel for that matter) achieves this, except (perhaps) for one single point in a (acoustically dead) three dimensional space. Thirdly there are some elements of dynamics and sound intensity in acoustic events, that I have never heard recreated in any kind of stereo equipment. And then there of course is the challenge of making our normal listening space/rooms (in combination with the loudspeakers) acoustically transparent to the original recording; quite impossible I would say.

James R.  Garvin's picture

The question does not ask whether we believe we will be able to reproduce the sound of an instrument as heard in the concert hall/nightclub. If the goal is to bring the sound of the instrument from that environment into your home, then because the room is the most important factor, and the only way to duplicate the sound of the room would be to do so electronically, I would say never. If the goal is to reproduce the sound of an instrument the way it would sound in your listening space, then I believe that such a goal is possible, depending on the instrument.

kloss's picture

nothings ever perfect but we might get near in a few decades

Donald Nunez's picture

With current technology expanding at unprecedented levels, we will surely reach that nirvana in the next decade.

Jorge Liguori's picture

Never just think on the following: a) The experince of live music is unique to each listener and each performance is different. b) At your home, you can repeat the experience time after time, with the same performance, mostly your siting position can vary. Jorge.

Jim R GI NY's picture

Sorry folks, the answer is never and we all know it. But don't let that stop your fun!

Tim Bishop's picture

Who knows? The Shadow knows!