How could this Tragedy Have Been Prevented?
FIRST, realize you are not alone.
Well-intentioned HI FI lovers, at the encouragement and glee of HI FI salespeople and reviewers have been throwing piles of money at the wrong problem. Salespeople are talented in sales. Reviewers, are also talented in sales - of magazines and advertising. Rarely are they true experts in wholistic set up and integration. It helps to look at your system as a relationship. It may be technically right, but emotionally disconnected and wrong. Just because it should be right, dissent mean it is right. This is about translating the elusive "intangibles" of a great relationship. So, if I haven't lost you by now...
ANY HI FI system, especially two way systems, are extremely sensitive to set up integration with the room and the listener.
Every “break” in the signal chain - from master tape - to production - to source media/format - to pre amplification, to amplification, to transducer, to ear - introduces macro and micro timing irregularities that are audible to the human ear. I know. It sounds like just another snake oil, carnival barker pitch. However, when you break down music and sound to its fundamental level, it begins to make more sense. We are NOT talking about room treatment or digital room correction. That is a tool that may be necessary for some extreme circumstances, but much can be accomplished between now and then. If the front end isn't right, frankly it doesn't really matter what the room is doing - lipstick on a pig.
Timing Is Everything
Why do HI FI systems at shows, in show rooms, and in other people's homes sound so good? Ands how can that very same equipment seem to fall apart when introduced into a new environment like your home? It’s all about the interaction of that system to the room and the set up and sum total of the system. Hours and days can be devoted to proper system setup at these shows. The difference between great and music that stirs your soul and and emotions can often be as little as 1/64 of an inch. Sound ridiculous? It is. But it’s the truth I've proven time and time again. More on that later.
From the time the Tympani is struck in the recording studio until the time it meets the Tympanic Membrane in your ear all matters. Every single interaction with that sound signal and wave will potentially alter or distort that sound, More importantly, when combined with other notes of different frequencies it can further distort or alter the harmonic relationship with each other. It is a minor modern miracle we get any kind of accurate sound reproduction from a recording into a home environment at all, That being said, timing is everything and everything matters.
Non amplified live Acoustic Sound is the Reference - Live or Memorex
Un-amplified live acoustic sound is the reference because in most cases the signal has not been adulterated in any way. With the exception of the acoustical and environmental factors, you hear what you get. The performer has a direct "main line" from them to you. The artist’s intended sound along will all of its nuances and inflections and emotions are directly transmitted and received. Can emotions be transmitted and received? I would argue, Yes. Every personal interaction of that artist into that medium - which often are very much at the micro level - can be transmitted and therefore felt. True musicians understand this. Engineers and scientist’s are only recently starting to acknowledge and understand this phenomenon. All things being equal (they rarely are…) there are a myriad of reasons why live is superior to recorded. Audibly, if the sound engineers do their jobs right - the final live mix is often incomparable. Some things simply cannot be recreated in ANY recorded setting. I believe the ultimate reason is the fact that the performance and sound is often experiencing is least amount of interaction and manipulation. The result, especially in unamplified acoustic music - is as close to acoustic perfection as we get. Simply, your ears, brain, heart, and soul is sophisticated enough to know the difference between “real” and manipulated. The purer the sound and off of its subtle harmonics and inflections, warms the heart and produces and emotional connection that cannot be achieved any other way. That emotional connection and conversation is worth the price of admission. It is literally what makes all of the difference.
The Fly In The Ointment - The Elephant In The Room - The HI FI System
Knowing that the nanosecond we attempt to amplify or capture and retain sound or music things start to go wrong is of fundamental importance. From the point the sound wave deflects the diaphragm of the microphone to the time the speaker cone moves the air molecules around it, too much can and often does go wrong.
Myth #427 - Digital Is Not Perfect - Our Savior Has Become Our Challenge
This is NOT a statement of the merits or downfalls of digital or analog media or sources as much as it is related to digital equipment. Let’s cut to the chase. Digital is NOT real and it was never intended to be real. Digital was born out of convenience and efficiency. Some digital processing, amplification, and transmission can be extremely compelling and realistic. Computers and processors are wonderful inventions and have literally revolutionized and uber convenienced our lives. If that were the case, a completely all digital system should be perfection and audio Nirvana. If that is the case, than you are completely happy and satisfied and have absolutely no need for my services or opinions. However, what I have found in my own HI FI journey, and in those of my customers - is that even in highly advanced digital systems - we are still not happy with the quality of the sound. This can be overcome.
The First Step In Audio Addiction Recovery - Admitting You Have A Problem
“We admit we were powerless over the HI FI Marketing and Sales Oligarchy and that our systems have become unmanageable.”