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analog vs. digital -- not

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Anonymous
July 9, 2005 7:22:36 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.high-end (More info?)

I want to clarify certain things. I am not arguing for the superiority
of analog. I recognize that some people prefer digital and some analog.
(I have always recognized that, but sometimes I write a phrase such as
"the superiority of analog" and forget to put "relative to my ears.") I
am not trying to find a technical justification for analog.

For me, the argument is not even about analog vs. digital.

What I am arguing about, is the question of how we *understand* a
preference for analog or digital. Or rather, for any two pieces of
equipment A and B. I believe how we understand this is crucial to
making realistic recordings.

I am not arguing for the superiority of a conductor's ear, over an
engineer's, in evaluating a recording. I am suggesting, however, that a
conductor is *equally* qualified to judge the realism of a recording.
Given a conductor and a recording engineer who disagree about the
realism of the recording, each of them will have a perspective that
better agrees with a certain subset of the population of all listeners.

A basic question for anyone who wants to answer:

Suppose that test subjects are allowed to listen to three systems: R,
A, and B. R is a reference system. The subjects are asked which of A or
B do they *prefer*. They are then asked which of A and B sounded *most
like* R.

The question is: are these two queries put to the test subjects
meaningfully distinct, such that they will elicit distinct answers,
corresponding to meaningfully distinct mental processes? What would
provide evidence in either direction for your answer?

Now how do you answer if the test subjects are all recording engineers?
Do you find it more likely they are able to distinguish between what
they prefer and what is most like R?

If you answer that recording engineers are NOT able to make such
distinctions, what does this imply about their work on recordings? Do
they have any basis to claim they are able to produce high-fidelity
recordings that capture the realism of live music? On the other hand,
if they ARE able to make such distinctions, what makes them different
than other test subjects who can't make such distinctions? What special
training or knowledge do they have?

Helen

More about : analog digital

July 9, 2005 8:49:34 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.high-end (More info?)

Helen Schmidt wrote:

<snip>
>
> For me, the argument is not even about analog vs. digital.
>
> What I am arguing about, is the question of how we *understand* a
> preference for analog or digital. Or rather, for any two pieces of
> equipment A and B. I believe how we understand this is crucial to
> making realistic recordings.
>
<snip>
>
> A basic question for anyone who wants to answer:
>
> Suppose that test subjects are allowed to listen to three systems: R,
> A, and B. R is a reference system. The subjects are asked which of A or
> B do they *prefer*. They are then asked which of A and B sounded *most
> like* R.
>
> The question is: are these two queries put to the test subjects
> meaningfully distinct, such that they will elicit distinct answers,
> corresponding to meaningfully distinct mental processes? What would
> provide evidence in either direction for your answer?

Indeterminant. The results here are unknown a priori, and even then much
depends on the specifics of the test methodology and *conditions*.
that's as far as raw test results go...

As far as mental processes, it seems that people "process" sound and
their meanings in different ways depending upon a very wide range of
experiences, learning and training over time. Also, that there are some
very basic "decoding" means built in to the human hearing mechanism that
we all share to a greater or lesser extent.

The simplest way to come to this understanding is to do the mental
exercise of how it might be different to listen through the mind of a
person with 'perfect pitch' vs. that of a person with little or no pitch
perception.

>
> Now how do you answer if the test subjects are all recording engineers?
> Do you find it more likely they are able to distinguish between what
> they prefer and what is most like R?

Again, entirely indeterminant.
All "recording engineers" are not equal in hearing or perception by a
long shot.

>
> If you answer that recording engineers are NOT able to make such
> distinctions, what does this imply about their work on recordings? Do
> they have any basis to claim they are able to produce high-fidelity
> recordings that capture the realism of live music? On the other hand,
> if they ARE able to make such distinctions, what makes them different
> than other test subjects who can't make such distinctions? What special
> training or knowledge do they have?

The short answer on recording engineers, the "gold record" variety - is
that they can get a subjective sound from the equipment that they use
and have an in-depth knowlege of the hardware with respect to the
"sound" that they want in specific situations. The non-gold record
variety, who knows?

What you probably actually want to know about is the *producer* not the
engineer. The producer is the one who decides what things are going to
sound like, and how the mix is going to be put together. The engineer
makes it happen for the producer.

And, it is important to distinguish between multi-track-mono-panned
recordings and the "minimalist" audiophile recording houses. Different
skills, different methods entirely.

No simple answers, I'm afraid.

_-_-bear
>
> Helen
Anonymous
July 9, 2005 10:43:47 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.high-end (More info?)

Helen Schmidt wrote:
> I want to clarify certain things. I am not arguing for the superiority
> of analog. I recognize that some people prefer digital and some analog.
> (I have always recognized that, but sometimes I write a phrase such as
> "the superiority of analog" and forget to put "relative to my ears.") I
> am not trying to find a technical justification for analog.

Thank you!

> For me, the argument is not even about analog vs. digital.
>
> What I am arguing about, is the question of how we *understand* a
> preference for analog or digital. Or rather, for any two pieces of
> equipment A and B. I believe how we understand this is crucial to
> making realistic recordings.

You assume that we do, in fact, *understand* the process behind our
preferences. I doubt that this is the case at all. Even should you
identify the set of parameters that would 'define' preferred vs.
non-preferred, you would have identified the boundaries of the
'preferred domain', while you would not, IMO, be any closer to
*understanding* the process by which a preference is set.

> I am not arguing for the superiority of a conductor's ear, over an
> engineer's, in evaluating a recording. I am suggesting, however, that a
> conductor is *equally* qualified to judge the realism of a recording.

I would agree, in that everyone is equally qualified to judge the
realism of a recording. Realism is listener specific. That is not to say
that everyone's idea of realism translates equally well to a broader
group of individuals.

> Given a conductor and a recording engineer who disagree about the
> realism of the recording, each of them will have a perspective that
> better agrees with a certain subset of the population of all listeners.

I see no support for this supposition. This presumes that the population
of concert goers and recorded music listeners are distinct.

> A basic question for anyone who wants to answer:
>
> Suppose that test subjects are allowed to listen to three systems: R,
> A, and B. R is a reference system. The subjects are asked which of A or
> B do they *prefer*. They are then asked which of A and B sounded *most
> like* R.

R is a reference in what sense? You're also assuming that R, A, and B
are all sonically distinguishable.

> The question is: are these two queries put to the test subjects
> meaningfully distinct, such that they will elicit distinct answers,
> corresponding to meaningfully distinct mental processes? What would
> provide evidence in either direction for your answer?

Suppose the 'R' system was very poor (for whatever reason). The subjects
who preferred B over A would clearly say that A was more like R than was
B. They like B, they like A less, and R stinks. What does this tell you?
Nothing at all. Why? Because 'R' is not a *reference* in any meaningful
context. It is no better characterized than A or B, and the subjects
response to it cannot be assumed to be either uniform or known - a basic
requirement for a baseline reference.

If subject 1 ranks the systems (in order of preference): A, B, R
And subject 2 ranks the systems (in order of preference): R, A, B
Then 1 says B is more like R, and 2 says A is more like R. What does
that tell you? All you've done is provide a relative ranking of three
systems instead of just 2.


> Now how do you answer if the test subjects are all recording engineers?
> Do you find it more likely they are able to distinguish between what
> they prefer and what is most like R?

I'd say the test itself, as proposed, is without merit.
>
> If you answer that recording engineers are NOT able to make such
> distinctions,

.....then you're making a SWAG based on supposition and zero evidence.
Why would we do that?

> ...what does this imply about their work on recordings? Do
> they have any basis to claim they are able to produce high-fidelity
> recordings that capture the realism of live music? On the other hand,
> if they ARE able to make such distinctions, what makes them different
> than other test subjects who can't make such distinctions? What special
> training or knowledge do they have?

This of course presupposes a myriad of results that are not in evidence.
Why speculate about the possible outcomes of a meaningless test?

Keith Hughes
Related resources
Anonymous
July 9, 2005 10:44:47 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.high-end (More info?)

A conductor would be a poor judge of the quality of reproduced sound.
Most listeners would like a sound that is like a good seat on the floor
of the hall (or in some cases the balcony). A conductor would be
accustomed to the sound at the podium which would be much louder and
brighter.


---MIKE---
>>In the White Mountains of New Hampshire
>> (44° 15' N - Elevation 1580')
Anonymous
July 9, 2005 11:52:00 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.high-end (More info?)

---MIKE--- wrote:
> A conductor would be a poor judge of the quality of reproduced sound.
> Most listeners would like a sound that is like a good seat on the floor
> of the hall (or in some cases the balcony). A conductor would be
> accustomed to the sound at the podium which would be much louder and
> brighter.



This of course assumes a conductor never sits in the hall and listens
during rehersals.


Scott Wheeler
Anonymous
July 9, 2005 11:52:30 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.high-end (More info?)

Keith Hughes wrote:
>
> You assume that we do, in fact, *understand* the process behind our
> preferences. I doubt that this is the case at all. Even should you
> identify the set of parameters that would 'define' preferred vs.
> non-preferred, you would have identified the boundaries of the
> 'preferred domain', while you would not, IMO, be any closer to
> *understanding* the process by which a preference is set.
>
> > I am not arguing for the superiority of a conductor's ear, over an
> > engineer's, in evaluating a recording. I am suggesting, however, that a
> > conductor is *equally* qualified to judge the realism of a recording.
>
> I would agree, in that everyone is equally qualified to judge the
> realism of a recording. Realism is listener specific. That is not to say
> that everyone's idea of realism translates equally well to a broader
> group of individuals.
>
> > Given a conductor and a recording engineer who disagree about the
> > realism of the recording, each of them will have a perspective that
> > better agrees with a certain subset of the population of all listeners.
>
> I see no support for this supposition. This presumes that the population
> of concert goers and recorded music listeners are distinct.
>

The supposition is so simple that I suspect you didn't understand it.
You just said realism is listener specific. Given two recordings, A and
B, some people will find A more realistic, and some B. It's that
simple. Proposing that a conductor and a recording engineer disagree,
then some people will choose the side of the conductor and some the
side of the recording engineer. The only way this could fail to be true
is if nobody chooses one of the sides. What's to disagree with?

Helen
July 10, 2005 3:21:12 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.high-end (More info?)

In article <dap5uv0rk2@news1.newsguy.com>,
twinmountain@webtv.net (---MIKE---) wrote:

> A conductor would be a poor judge of the quality of reproduced sound.
> Most listeners would like a sound that is like a good seat on the floor
> of the hall (or in some cases the balcony). A conductor would be
> accustomed to the sound at the podium which would be much louder and
> brighter.

We've been through this here. You might want to check back in other
threads for convenience.

The typical conductor listens as much in the audience seat as she or he
does on the podium. Also, conductors are trained to listen to and
discriminate between very subtle differences in, for example, timbre.
Anonymous
July 10, 2005 3:23:16 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.high-end (More info?)

Helen Schmidt wrote:

> Keith Hughes wrote:
>
<snip>
>>>Given a conductor and a recording engineer who disagree about the
>>>realism of the recording, each of them will have a perspective that
>>>better agrees with a certain subset of the population of all listeners.
>>
>>I see no support for this supposition. This presumes that the population
>>of concert goers and recorded music listeners are distinct.
>>
>
>
> The supposition is so simple that I suspect you didn't understand it.

Ms Schmidt, mayhap you've failed to realize it yet, but the "if you
don't agree with me you're intellectually compromised" argument is
seldom efficacious. Unless, of course, your intent is to offend.

> You just said realism is listener specific. Given two recordings, A and
> B, some people will find A more realistic, and some B. It's that
> simple.

Yes, it truly is. Evidently, however, you fail to understand the basic
import of that fact.

> Proposing that a conductor and a recording engineer disagree,
> then some people will choose the side of the conductor and some the
> side of the recording engineer. The only way this could fail to be true
> is if nobody chooses one of the sides. What's to disagree with?

Context Ms Schmidt, context...the issue is the false dichotomy you've
constructed with conductors and recording engineers as *special* cases.
This fails on its face. Clearly any group can be subdivided such that,
when presented with two recordings A and B, one subset chooses A,
another chooses B, and possibly, some have no preference. So what? Would
you find it just as interesting an exercise with a plumber and a pilot?
A mechanic and a retail clerk? Get the point?

Your 'test' assumes the engineer and conductor to be special cases, and
thus concludes that disparate data results from their specific
*music-related* talents and abilities, as conferred through their
music-related education and experience. *THIS* is the issue for which
you lack any meaningful data. *Any* two individuals, from any
background, can, and may, have the same results. The plumber and the
pilot will have their respective subsets (listeners) as well, and again,
what illumination does this provide?

You've made one of the most fundamental errors in test design. Designing
a test whose results must, per force, be applicable to any number of
competing, and exclusive, theories. This renders the 'test' without
merit, as I pointed out in the rest of my post, which you conveniently
ignored.

Keith Hughes
July 10, 2005 3:33:53 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.high-end (More info?)

---MIKE--- wrote:
> A conductor would be a poor judge of the quality of reproduced sound.
> Most listeners would like a sound that is like a good seat on the floor
> of the hall (or in some cases the balcony). A conductor would be
> accustomed to the sound at the podium which would be much louder and
> brighter.
>

The issue with a conductor - not that it is terribly relevant to the
question posed - as it is with most high level classically trained
professional musicians is that they are not listening to the same thing
that everyone else is. They usually are so intimately familliar with the
score and the instruments that they disregard almost all of the auditory
cues that "normal" people and audiophiles are concerned with.

Generally speaking they seem quite content with a table radio - the
performance is in their head. :- )

_-_-bear


>
> ---MIKE---
>
>>>In the White Mountains of New Hampshire
>
> >> (44° 15' N - Elevation 1580')
Anonymous
July 10, 2005 7:10:56 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.high-end (More info?)

BEAR wrote:
> ---MIKE--- wrote:
> > A conductor would be a poor judge of the quality of reproduced sound.
> > Most listeners would like a sound that is like a good seat on the floor
> > of the hall (or in some cases the balcony). A conductor would be
> > accustomed to the sound at the podium which would be much louder and
> > brighter.
> >
>
> The issue with a conductor - not that it is terribly relevant to the
> question posed - as it is with most high level classically trained
> professional musicians is that they are not listening to the same thing
> that everyone else is. They usually are so intimately familliar with the
> score and the instruments that they disregard almost all of the auditory
> cues that "normal" people and audiophiles are concerned with.
>
> Generally speaking they seem quite content with a table radio - the
> performance is in their head. :- )

Not true as a generalization. That's true of some musicians as nearly
as I can tell, but not all.

I have observed in myself the effect of which you speak.. after
attending the symphony, on the drive home the car radio sounds
particularly beautiful.. because it is so easy to imagine the lush
beauty of the strings, the majestic power of the brass, having just
heard these things live.

Some musicians seem to stop there, but that is a temporary effect in
others. If one has a critical and discerning ear in listening to live
music, one starts to apply that ear to recordings. Some musicians
develop just as refined a sense of recordings as they do of live sound.

Helen
July 10, 2005 9:01:29 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.high-end (More info?)

In article <dapmt10k3h@news2.newsguy.com>, BEAR <bearlabs@netzero.net>
wrote:

> ---MIKE--- wrote:
> > A conductor would be a poor judge of the quality of reproduced sound.
> > Most listeners would like a sound that is like a good seat on the floor
> > of the hall (or in some cases the balcony). A conductor would be
> > accustomed to the sound at the podium which would be much louder and
> > brighter.
> >
>
> The issue with a conductor - not that it is terribly relevant to the
> question posed - as it is with most high level classically trained
> professional musicians is that they are not listening to the same thing
> that everyone else is. They usually are so intimately familliar with the
> score and the instruments that they disregard almost all of the auditory
> cues that "normal" people and audiophiles are concerned with.
>
> Generally speaking they seem quite content with a table radio - the
> performance is in their head. :- )

My issue is with your last paragraph. While it is true that many
conductors are not into quality home audio, the reason for this seems to
be that many of my colleagues simply don't relate home audio to the live
experience, and don't even attempt to obtain home audio gear that would
give them a satisfactory experience. I've had more than one colleage
tell me that "Home stereo is just so much worse (or so different) than
the real thing, I don't try to match the two...it's just impossible."
My biggest concern about your post is the last sentence. Conductors
MUST separate what they are hearing at any given moment from the ideal
in our heads. Indeed, this is the skill that separates good from bad
conductors the most. Poor conductors don't really hear what is
happening in front of them at any given time, as they are hearing the
ideal version in their heads instead. They therefore are not able to
fix what is wrong at any given time. Objective listening is the biggest
key to successful conducting, in my view.
July 10, 2005 9:25:04 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.high-end (More info?)

Helen Schmidt wrote:
> BEAR wrote:
>
<snip>
>>
>>Generally speaking they seem quite content with a table radio - the
>>performance is in their head. :- )
>
>
> Not true as a generalization. That's true of some musicians as nearly
> as I can tell, but not all.
>
> I have observed in myself the effect of which you speak.. after
> attending the symphony, on the drive home the car radio sounds
> particularly beautiful.. because it is so easy to imagine the lush
> beauty of the strings, the majestic power of the brass, having just
> heard these things live.
>
> Some musicians seem to stop there, but that is a temporary effect in
> others. If one has a critical and discerning ear in listening to live
> music, one starts to apply that ear to recordings. Some musicians
> develop just as refined a sense of recordings as they do of live sound.
>
> Helen


My experience differs somewhat from yours - again refering to "high
level" classical musicians here.

And the effect of which you speak is not the one that I made reference to.

Classically trained musicians learn/are taught to be able to sight read
music via singing, which in turn makes it possible to literally read a
score and hear the music in their heads. Something that most of us can
not do. So what they are doing when they are playing or conducting is
entirely different than what we are doing when we are listening - even
to a piece that we know extremely well.

But no matter, I fail to see what the relevance may be in terms of
"high-end audio". Interesting, but not particularly relevent, imho.

_-_-bear
Anonymous
July 10, 2005 10:17:38 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.high-end (More info?)

BEAR wrote:
> Helen Schmidt wrote:
> > BEAR wrote:
> >
> <snip>
> >>
> >>Generally speaking they seem quite content with a table radio - the
> >>performance is in their head. :- )
> >
> >
> > Not true as a generalization. That's true of some musicians as nearly
> > as I can tell, but not all.
> >
> > I have observed in myself the effect of which you speak.. after
> > attending the symphony, on the drive home the car radio sounds
> > particularly beautiful.. because it is so easy to imagine the lush
> > beauty of the strings, the majestic power of the brass, having just
> > heard these things live.
> >
> > Some musicians seem to stop there, but that is a temporary effect in
> > others. If one has a critical and discerning ear in listening to live
> > music, one starts to apply that ear to recordings. Some musicians
> > develop just as refined a sense of recordings as they do of live sound.
> >
> > Helen
>
>
> My experience differs somewhat from yours - again refering to "high
> level" classical musicians here.
>
> And the effect of which you speak is not the one that I made reference to.
>
> Classically trained musicians learn/are taught to be able to sight read
> music via singing, which in turn makes it possible to literally read a
> score and hear the music in their heads.

But if they attend a good school, they are not taught to stop listening
to the actual sound that they or others produce. What you are saying,
as a generalization, is nonsense.

> Something that most of us can
> not do. So what they are doing when they are playing or conducting is
> entirely different than what we are doing when we are listening - even
> to a piece that we know extremely well.
>
> But no matter, I fail to see what the relevance may be in terms of
> "high-end audio". Interesting, but not particularly relevent, imho.

It's relevant to the question of "what people listen for." Although I
agree that classically trained musicians are listening in a different
way than ordinary listeners, I disagree that there is some kind of
fundamental divide, or lack of relation between the things. I'm not a
professional musician, but I find that my experience with audio is very
well informed and guided by more experienced folks.

Helen
Anonymous
July 11, 2005 2:25:05 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.high-end (More info?)

Keith Hughes wrote:
> Helen Schmidt wrote:
>
> > Keith Hughes wrote:
> >
> <snip>
> >>>Given a conductor and a recording engineer who disagree about the
> >>>realism of the recording, each of them will have a perspective that
> >>>better agrees with a certain subset of the population of all listeners.
> >>
> >>I see no support for this supposition. This presumes that the population
> >>of concert goers and recorded music listeners are distinct.
> >>
> >
> >
> > The supposition is so simple that I suspect you didn't understand it.
>
> Ms Schmidt, mayhap you've failed to realize it yet, but the "if you
> don't agree with me you're intellectually compromised" argument is
> seldom efficacious. Unless, of course, your intent is to offend.
>
> > You just said realism is listener specific. Given two recordings, A and
> > B, some people will find A more realistic, and some B. It's that
> > simple.
>
> Yes, it truly is. Evidently, however, you fail to understand the basic
> import of that fact.
>
> > Proposing that a conductor and a recording engineer disagree,
> > then some people will choose the side of the conductor and some the
> > side of the recording engineer. The only way this could fail to be true
> > is if nobody chooses one of the sides. What's to disagree with?
>
> Context Ms Schmidt, context...the issue is the false dichotomy you've
> constructed with conductors and recording engineers as *special* cases.

There's no dichotomy. Saying that two people disagree is not to say
that they cannot understand each other, that their perceptions have no
relation to each other, or that their choices are distinct in every
respect.

> This fails on its face. Clearly any group can be subdivided such that,
> when presented with two recordings A and B, one subset chooses A,
> another chooses B, and possibly, some have no preference. So what? Would
> you find it just as interesting an exercise with a plumber and a pilot?
> A mechanic and a retail clerk? Get the point?

What's interesting about a conductor and a recording engineer is that
they are both highly trained at analytical listening to sound, although
their training takes different directions.

Helen
Anonymous
July 11, 2005 4:54:39 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.high-end (More info?)

Helen Schmidt wrote:
> Keith Hughes wrote:

<snip>

>>
>>>Proposing that a conductor and a recording engineer disagree,
>>>then some people will choose the side of the conductor and some the
>>>side of the recording engineer. The only way this could fail to be true
>>>is if nobody chooses one of the sides. What's to disagree with?
>>
>>Context Ms Schmidt, context...the issue is the false dichotomy you've
>>constructed with conductors and recording engineers as *special* cases.
>
>
> There's no dichotomy. Saying that two people disagree is not to say
> that they cannot understand each other, that their perceptions have no
> relation to each other, or that their choices are distinct in every
> respect.

Clearly we are not communicating. The dichotomy is the one you
established through your *implicit* distinction between the <conductor &
recording engineer> as a class apart from <non-musically trained
listeners>. Such dichotomy is a prerequisite were your proposed test to
have any utility. That is the genesis of the *special cases*
appellation. I had thought that quite clear.

>
>>This fails on its face. Clearly any group can be subdivided such that,
>>when presented with two recordings A and B, one subset chooses A,
>>another chooses B, and possibly, some have no preference. So what? Would
>>you find it just as interesting an exercise with a plumber and a pilot?
>>A mechanic and a retail clerk? Get the point?
>
>
> What's interesting about a conductor and a recording engineer is that
> they are both highly trained at analytical listening to sound, although
> their training takes different directions.

But you still miss the basic fallacy. That they *have* specific
training, and that that training may have been different in focus, is
irrelevant. While you may find that specific case interesting, the test
you propose applies equally to *any* two individuals, making the test
non-specific, and thus useless relative to identifying differential
responses *due to differences in Conductor vs. Engineer
training/focus/perception*. Get the point? You cannot use non-specific
results to support specific theories/suppositions, as they apply equally
well to competing/exclusive theories/suppositions.

Keith Hughes
July 12, 2005 3:56:21 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.high-end (More info?)

Helen Schmidt wrote:

> BEAR wrote:
>
>>Helen Schmidt wrote:
>>
>>>BEAR wrote:
>>>
<snip>

>>And the effect of which you speak is not the one that I made reference to.
>>
>>Classically trained musicians learn/are taught to be able to sight read
>>music via singing, which in turn makes it possible to literally read a
>>score and hear the music in their heads.
>
>
> But if they attend a good school, they are not taught to stop listening
> to the actual sound that they or others produce. What you are saying,
> as a generalization, is nonsense.
>

That's not the point. You can't "unlearn" the way you have practiced and
mastered this sort of listening.

Talk to someone who has perfect pitch, perhaps what I am saying will
make more sense then.

And, as far as nonsense goes, it's probably not a good idea to
characterize posts as nonsense unless you can back it up with some real
facts.

>>But no matter, I fail to see what the relevance may be in terms of
>>"high-end audio". Interesting, but not particularly relevent, imho.
>
>
> It's relevant to the question of "what people listen for."

....then perhaps it is better to ask that question rather than posit
hypotheses?

> Although I
> agree that classically trained musicians are listening in a different
> way than ordinary listeners, I disagree that there is some kind of
> fundamental divide, or lack of relation between the things.

I did not say that there is no relation between these things.
I made a very specific point about how professional, classically trained
muscians who are experts listen differently in general to music than you
or I do or can do.


> I'm not a
> professional musician, but I find that my experience with audio is very
> well informed and guided by more experienced folks.

Perhaps it would be best to share your experience with all of us, and
tell us more about how you have been guided by "more experienced folks"
and something about what you listen with, and what you find that you
listen for yourself?


>
> Helen

Speaking only for myself, it is actually unusual to find a female
"audiophile" in general and rare for females to participate in rahe or
other audio forums. Assuming, of course, that this is not merely a
"nom-de-plume." :-) Regardless, I am interested in what you have to
say, and to find out where you are in your quest for the "holy grail" of
reproduction!

_-_-bear
July 12, 2005 3:57:04 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.high-end (More info?)

Jenn wrote:

<snip>

>>
>>Generally speaking they seem quite content with a table radio - the
>>performance is in their head. :- )
>
>
> My issue is with your last paragraph. While it is true that many
> conductors are not into quality home audio, the reason for this seems to
> be that many of my colleagues simply don't relate home audio to the live
> experience, and don't even attempt to obtain home audio gear that would
> give them a satisfactory experience. I've had more than one colleage
> tell me that "Home stereo is just so much worse (or so different) than
> the real thing, I don't try to match the two...it's just impossible."
> My biggest concern about your post is the last sentence. Conductors
> MUST separate what they are hearing at any given moment from the ideal
> in our heads. Indeed, this is the skill that separates good from bad
> conductors the most. Poor conductors don't really hear what is
> happening in front of them at any given time, as they are hearing the
> ideal version in their heads instead. They therefore are not able to
> fix what is wrong at any given time. Objective listening is the biggest
> key to successful conducting, in my view.

Yes, objective listening... but on a completely different plane and
basis than what the audience is listening too or for. And, even more,
once removed from what the typical audiophile listens to/for.

The audiophile is (if I may generalize here) is listening for the timbre
of the vocals, or the texture of the bass, the spatial presentation, etc.

The conductor is likely to be completely and totally disinterested in
any of these things. Rather the focus is on the musical *performance*,
of course the overall presentation, but down to the detail of the
passing tone in the 12th measure of the second part of the 3rd movement,
or the slipped note by the pianist, etc... Which, is why I said the
"table radio" is quite sufficient since it provides *enough* of these
cues to the "conductor" to satisfy him or her.

That doesn't mean that there are no professional musicians/conductors
with top notch playback systems.

And, your statement above; "Poor conductors don't really hear what is
happening in front of them at any given time, as they are hearing the
ideal version in their heads instead." merely serves to support the main
thrust here.

But this is an interesting perspective to consider vis-a-vis learned
"listening" and how that may effect perception. Problem is, I don't know
of any way to quantify or even properly test this sort of differential.

_-_-bear
Anonymous
July 13, 2005 3:45:57 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.high-end (More info?)

All this is very interesting but there is always disagreements. I
purchased a recent set of Beethoven symphonies with Rattle and the
Vienna Philharmonic. BBC Music magazine gave it a 5 star rating for
sound I think the sound is awful. I have heard many better recordings
by the same orchestra in the same hall. Some of the New Years concerts
are an example. I will no longer trust the ratings in the BBC Music
mag. I assume Sir Simon must have approved the recordings which goes to
show what a conductor knows about sound..


---MIKE---
>>In the White Mountains of New Hampshire
>> (44° 15' N - Elevation 1580')
Anonymous
July 15, 2005 3:06:19 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.high-end (More info?)

BEAR wrote:
> Jenn wrote:
>
> <snip>
>
> >>
> >>Generally speaking they seem quite content with a table radio - the
> >>performance is in their head. :- )
> >
> >
> > My issue is with your last paragraph. While it is true that many
> > conductors are not into quality home audio, the reason for this seems to
> > be that many of my colleagues simply don't relate home audio to the live
> > experience, and don't even attempt to obtain home audio gear that would
> > give them a satisfactory experience. I've had more than one colleage
> > tell me that "Home stereo is just so much worse (or so different) than
> > the real thing, I don't try to match the two...it's just impossible."
> > My biggest concern about your post is the last sentence. Conductors
> > MUST separate what they are hearing at any given moment from the ideal
> > in our heads. Indeed, this is the skill that separates good from bad
> > conductors the most. Poor conductors don't really hear what is
> > happening in front of them at any given time, as they are hearing the
> > ideal version in their heads instead. They therefore are not able to
> > fix what is wrong at any given time. Objective listening is the biggest
> > key to successful conducting, in my view.
>
> Yes, objective listening... but on a completely different plane and
> basis than what the audience is listening too or for. And, even more,
> once removed from what the typical audiophile listens to/for.

See, this is what I object to.. you say on a different "basis." I grant
you that some musicians may be off in some world of their own, but the
well trained musicians I know have their perceptions based in *actual
sound.*

Grandmasters at the game of chess may think on a different plane than
the rest of us, but their thoughts are still *grounded* in the simple
rules of the game. They can't transcend those rules no matter how lofty
their thoughts. In fact, their high-level perspective is *based* on
those rules.. it those rules that give rise to their thoughts.

Likewise, a musician trains in hearing sound. If they are good, they
train in hearing the *actual* sound.. not in imagined sound. Their
higher concepts are built on what works at the level of sound.

>
> The audiophile is (if I may generalize here) is listening for the timbre
> of the vocals, or the texture of the bass, the spatial presentation, etc.

It is completely incorrect to characterize the musician as *not*
interested in these things... while every musician is unique, certainly
the good musicians I know are listening for these things, *for the very
reason* that they apply to the *meaning* of the music. Certain timbre
and texture are chosen by musicians for their impact on the musical
expression.

>
> The conductor is likely to be completely and totally disinterested in
> any of these things. Rather the focus is on the musical *performance*,
> of course the overall presentation, but down to the detail of the
> passing tone in the 12th measure of the second part of the 3rd movement,
> or the slipped note by the pianist, etc... Which, is why I said the
> "table radio" is quite sufficient since it provides *enough* of these
> cues to the "conductor" to satisfy him or her.

I will grant you that a bad recording can provide enough cues to
transcribe the notes. But I have never heard anyone make such as absurb
claim as to suggest that conductors are only interested in which notes
are being played. In fact, your use of language here is interesting..
you invoke the concept of "performance," and then go on to provide some
examples.. and they are only about the presence or absense of notes.
What about expression, balance, timbre, and beauty? Those are just as
much a part of the performance.

>
> That doesn't mean that there are no professional musicians/conductors
> with top notch playback systems.
>
> And, your statement above; "Poor conductors don't really hear what is
> happening in front of them at any given time, as they are hearing the
> ideal version in their heads instead." merely serves to support the main
> thrust here.

You tried to make the statement about conductors in general. I grant
you that some bad conductors may not hear the actual sound. As a
generalization, it is very much a misunderstanding. Makes me wonder how
much you actually know about music.

Helen
Anonymous
July 16, 2005 12:05:10 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.high-end (More info?)

Helen Schmidt <music3142-usenet@yahoo.com> wrote:

> Likewise, a musician trains in hearing sound. If they are good, they
> train in hearing the *actual* sound.. not in imagined sound. Their
> higher concepts are built on what works at the level of sound.

This is absurd. You are saying that it is bad for composers to imagine the
ideas they come up with. What about J.S. Bach who taught his students to
NOT use an instrument as an aid in composing, but rather to put what they
'heard' in their mind down to paper without sonic crutches?

Or was J.S. Bach not 'good?' Especially with Kunst der Fuge which was
written in open score and not for any particular instrument at all???

Or are composers not musicians?

Egad. The fire from your strawman is much too hot for me to stick around.
July 16, 2005 12:20:55 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.high-end (More info?)

Helen Schmidt wrote:
> BEAR wrote:
>
>>Jenn wrote:
>>
>><snip>
>>
>>>>Generally speaking they seem quite content with a table radio - the
>>>>performance is in their head. :- )
>>>
>>>
>>>My issue is with your last paragraph. While it is true that many
>>>conductors are not into quality home audio, the reason for this seems to
<snip>

>>>fix what is wrong at any given time. Objective listening is the biggest
>>>key to successful conducting, in my view.
>>
>>Yes, objective listening... but on a completely different plane and
>>basis than what the audience is listening too or for. And, even more,
>>once removed from what the typical audiophile listens to/for.
>
>
> See, this is what I object to.. you say on a different "basis." I grant
> you that some musicians may be off in some world of their own, but the
> well trained musicians I know have their perceptions based in *actual
> sound.*

That's a long stretch in my book.
Since no one knows what "actual sound" is!
I would like to assure you that it would be very difficult to find two
people whose *total* perception of an auditory event is identical.
But let's not get too fine, nor digress into a debate on sematics.
I think that you are reading too much into the word "basis" here.

>
> Grandmasters at the game of chess may think on a different plane than
> the rest of us, but their thoughts are still *grounded* in the simple
> rules of the game. They can't transcend those rules no matter how lofty
> their thoughts.

This idea is faulty. While it is true that no one on this planet has yet
transcended the rules of physics (notwitstanding any claims, and at
least to any degree of certainty) that does not mean that every thing
and everyone operates on the same algortithms, perceptions, or otherwise
in some sort of Least Common Denominator - all being equal and the same
- manner.

While it is clear that there is a Least Common Denominator (as in the
chess example) being the underlying rules it does not follow that
everything is therefore the same. Indeed, higher level thought, as in
the chess example, is a *function* of the rules in part, and that does
flow from initially learning the "rules." However merely knowing the
"rules" is no assurance whatsoever that a given person may become even
competent at playing (chess) much less becoming a grandmaster.


>In fact, their high-level perspective is *based* on
> those rules.. it those rules that give rise to their thoughts.

I would disagree with this broad generalization. Many people have been
taught the rules and fundamentals or all sorts of things, and nary an
advanced thought or "high-level perspective" has fruited. The rules or
fundamentals are necessary, but not sufficient.

>
> Likewise, a musician trains in hearing sound. If they are good, they
> train in hearing the *actual* sound.. not in imagined sound. Their
> higher concepts are built on what works at the level of sound.

Actually a musicians trains in two things, understanding and using
harmony and theory, and producing sound on his/her instrument or voice
that corresponds.
>
>
>>The audiophile is (if I may generalize here) is listening for the timbre
>>of the vocals, or the texture of the bass, the spatial presentation, etc.
>
>
> It is completely incorrect to characterize the musician as *not*
> interested in these things... while every musician is unique, certainly
> the good musicians I know are listening for these things, *for the very
> reason* that they apply to the *meaning* of the music. Certain timbre
> and texture are chosen by musicians for their impact on the musical
> expression.

You're entirely misunderstanding. It's not that the musician is
"interested" or not! Once having been trained in the way that top
caliber professionals are trained, they can not "unlearn" their training
and *perceive* as if that training did not exist any longer! They have
no choice in how or what they percieve (in essence) which no matter what
is quite different than what an untrained or lay person will normally
percieve in similar circumstances.
>
>
>>The conductor is likely to be completely and totally disinterested in
>>any of these things. Rather the focus is on the musical *performance*,
>>of course the overall presentation, but down to the detail of the
>>passing tone in the 12th measure of the second part of the 3rd movement,
>>or the slipped note by the pianist, etc... Which, is why I said the
>>"table radio" is quite sufficient since it provides *enough* of these
>>cues to the "conductor" to satisfy him or her.
>
>
> I will grant you that a bad recording can provide enough cues to
> transcribe the notes. But I have never heard anyone make such as absurb
> claim as to suggest that conductors are only interested in which notes
> are being played. In fact, your use of language here is interesting..
> you invoke the concept of "performance," and then go on to provide some
> examples.. and they are only about the presence or absense of notes.
> What about expression, balance, timbre, and beauty? Those are just as
> much a part of the performance.

The differential is perception of detail and the whole, and which
details are perceptable to the trained professional musician vs. the
audiophile or lay person.

Let me lay it out this way: (imho) no matter what you do you *can not
hear* what a professional musician hears! Your inherent perception and
understanding of what a "performance" consists of or sounds like is
fundamentally different. And, in general terms, with few exceptions, the
lay person's are comparatively crude and unsophisticated by comparison.

>
>
>>That doesn't mean that there are no professional musicians/conductors
>>with top notch playback systems.
>>
>>And, your statement above; "Poor conductors don't really hear what is
>>happening in front of them at any given time, as they are hearing the
>>ideal version in their heads instead." merely serves to support the main
>>thrust here.

Did I say that? I'd have to check back, but I think that was a
paraphrase of something I did write?

>
>
> You tried to make the statement about conductors in general. I grant
> you that some bad conductors may not hear the actual sound.

No, I don't think I did say anything to characterize "all conductors."
I spoke about the differential in perception due to training and
learning of high-level professional musicians vs lay people and how and
why that make a large difference in terms of your hypotheses.

> As a
> generalization, it is very much a misunderstanding. Makes me wonder how
> much you actually know about music.

And I wonder too... :- )


>
> Helen

_-_-bear
July 16, 2005 6:50:09 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.high-end (More info?)

In article <db94tm0lm1@news2.newsguy.com>, jjnunes@sonic.net wrote:

> Helen Schmidt <music3142-usenet@yahoo.com> wrote:
>
> > Likewise, a musician trains in hearing sound. If they are good, they
> > train in hearing the *actual* sound.. not in imagined sound. Their
> > higher concepts are built on what works at the level of sound.
>
> This is absurd. You are saying that it is bad for composers to imagine the
> ideas they come up with.

I think that it's pretty clear that Helen was speaking of performance,
rather than composition, of music. In that way, it is just as important
for a composer to have an objective ear. The composer must, when
hearing a rehearsal or performance of her/his music, objectively hear
what is being played/sung, rather than what he HOPES or BELIEVES is on
the page.

> What about J.S. Bach who taught his students to
> NOT use an instrument as an aid in composing, but rather to put what they
> 'heard' in their mind down to paper without sonic crutches?
>
> Or was J.S. Bach not 'good?' Especially with Kunst der Fuge which was
> written in open score and not for any particular instrument at all???
>
> Or are composers not musicians?
>
> Egad. The fire from your strawman is much too hot for me to stick around.
July 16, 2005 8:11:20 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.high-end (More info?)

Jenn wrote:
> In article <db94tm0lm1@news2.newsguy.com>, jjnunes@sonic.net wrote:
<snip>

>>
>>This is absurd. You are saying that it is bad for composers to imagine the
>>ideas they come up with.
>
>
> I think that it's pretty clear that Helen was speaking of performance,
> rather than composition, of music. In that way, it is just as important
> for a composer to have an objective ear. The composer must, when
> hearing a rehearsal or performance of her/his music, objectively hear
> what is being played/sung, rather than what he HOPES or BELIEVES is on
> the page.

My point is that what the conductor is hearing is substantially
different that what even the relatively sophisticated lay person
perceives from the same performance at the same moment, and/or regarding
the performance in part or in whole.


It is not possible for people who are highly trained in one field or
another to "turn off" that training when involved in an activity in said
field or a field where the same skills and/or facilities are employed in
the analysis and/or perception of same.

Once you've learned something you are altered permanently and forever.


>
>
>

<snip>

_-_-bear
!