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Old 5th October 2012, 01:42 AM   #41
cbdb is offline cbdb  Canada
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gedlee View Post
Only 1) is Hi-Fi. All the rest are you, the listener, taking control of the art - the equivalent of dying a Picasso painting from his "blue" period because you don't like blue.
Ditto. Even #2 is a false hope because almost zero music is recorded live with one stereo pair of mics and no PA. Some would say (myself include) as soon as the sound goes thru a mic its been processed. There are very few high end mics that are flat, especially off axis. And mic placement is very important and since that changes the sound you are processing it as much as using an EQ or adding reverb.
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Old 5th October 2012, 03:24 AM   #42
Pano is offline Pano  United States
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I find #1 to be naÔve - and I was that way for a long time. Sure, it "may" be high fidelity to what went on the tape (and that's not bad), but reality is far more complex than that. We have no idea how the mastering engineer wanted it to sound, or even if he liked it. I've spoken to many who admit that what they do is a compromise - they would love to do better, hear it on a better system. Time, producers, stoned musicians, girlfriends, the market all have a say in what gets done and how.

Witness the better mastering that goes into SACD, DVD-A and premium vinyl releases. They are made for a different audience - us. Although I admire what many mastering engineers do, they aren't doing it for me on vast majority of releases. They are doing it for the middle of the road tastes and systems.

Bottom line, it has to sound real to me. I'm the one listening to it. Once my system starts to sound real on a wide variety of recordings, it satisfies me.

I never met Picasso, but I've worked with a lot of painters in the fine art printing business. They all want the reproduction to be better than the original. More saturation, more contrast, sharper. They are never happy with a print that exactly matches the original. The all want "more".

Dyeing a Picasso original because you don't like blue is not that same thing as liking a reproduction that most closely matches the original. Not at all.
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Old 5th October 2012, 03:33 AM   #43
ScottG is offline ScottG  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gedlee View Post
Only 1) is Hi-Fi. All the rest are you, the listener, taking control of the art..


Not really.


"2" - does not state how YOU perceive the voices and instruments live in the environment:

"2) How the voice(s)/instrument(s) sounds live in the environment targeted by the mastering engineer."


Rather it's a hypothetical "accurate" or "absolute" reference: "How the voice(s)/instrument(s) sounds live",

-that is yet qualified as the engineer intended/"targeted".


In essence "2" is "1", yet also contains an "over-ride" clause that references hypothetical accuracy - presumably under the condition that mastering engineer's intent wasn't fully realized.

Said differently:

How many engineers would argue that their final "mix" was absolutely perfect as they intended?

Moreover, how many engineers would expect their final "mix" to sound exactly as they intended on any other system?



Fidelity or Accuracy, in this context is a misnomer. Any use of the word fidelity as a synonym for accuracy when referencing intent, be it your intent or the mastering engineers's intent, is inherently flawed because anyone's intent at any given moment is incredibly subjective and impossible to precisely quantify within this complex subject matter.
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Last edited by ScottG; 5th October 2012 at 04:02 AM.
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Old 5th October 2012, 08:50 AM   #44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leadcoma View Post
This question arose after reading a few EQ and directivity threads in the multiway forum.

How should music sound in my environment when reproduced through my stereo system?

1) How the mastering engineer intended it to sound.

2) How the voice(s)/instrument(s) sounds live in the environment targeted by the mastering engineer.

3) How the voice(s)/instrument(s) sounds live in an environment I prefer.

4) How I want it to sound.

Or supply your own answer. "It depends" is not allowed!
In principle, (1) should be the right answer, but in practice, you're only going to hear what the mastering engineer heard if you go to the same studio, use the same equipment, and listen to the same generation mastertape or digital version that he/she was working with when they signed off on it. No conversions to a different sample rate, no second-generation dubs of the analog mastertape - no. Only the original as heard by the mastering engineer the first time around.

And even then, the mastering engineer was probably not entirely happy with the final product, due to time pressures, interference from the demented tastes of the record company, members of the band all wanting a different mix (highlighting each musician, of course), etc. etc. So the mastering engineer shoved the product out the door, took the money, and tried to forget about it as soon as possible.

If we take (1) literally, it becomes a retrospective mind-reading exercise, unless we ask the original mastering engineer to re-make a "director's cut" of how they wanted the recording to sound when they made it way back when. Assuming we have the deep pockets, influence and friends in the industry to go ahead and do this, we now have an entirely new re-release of the recording.

Of course, all the fans and audiophiles will howl about the new recording sounding "wrong" and how the new release is an artistic betrayal of what the artists originally intended - as if the critics could read the minds of the musicians, long after the studio performance.

To be perfectly honest, I don't think the question can be answered, given the reality of how recordings are made. Without the mastering engineer as a personal friend, and some kind of access to the original master, everything else is just a guess.

Given that almost no recordings are made with B&K lab mikes, and equalization, compression, and multi-tracking are artistic tools going back to the late Fifties, I'm not sure what "accuracy" means in this context. A "direct mike-feed", which is regarded as the gold standard of fidelity in the record biz, still sounds plenty different than the sound you'd hear with your own ears in the studio. At every step of the way, it sounds less and less like what it sounded like in the studio or performing hall - it turns into a "recording", in the same way that a movie is a very different experience than standing alongside the camera and watching the actors perform.

Last edited by Lynn Olson; 5th October 2012 at 09:19 AM.
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Old 5th October 2012, 11:09 AM   #45
DrDyna is offline DrDyna  United States
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Really, I think that you can't pin it down to just one choice. What you're listening to can play a role, as well as simply the type of "audio person" you are. I'll often advocate "1.)" because that's simply the kind of guy I am - and I have a deep appreciation for recordings that lend themselves to "1.)".

I'm going to make an interesting argument here that states it's very much dependent on the recording to tell us how much tinkering we should be allowed to do.

For example: Take one of my all time favorite recordings, "Ry Cooder & V.M. Bhatt - A Meeting By The River". This is very much something that I'd say is a "1.)". The liner notes are full of descriptions of the micing and recording process, the space and how the musicians were seated.

On the other end of the spectrum, take for instance, an EDM track (BT, deadmau5, Feed Me), a hard rock / metal track (SYL, SOAD, etc). In most of my experience, the nature of most of these types of music are recorded "dead" in the studio. They go for an instrument balance - maybe - but in the end, they're really not recorded to convey space or imaging beyond a basic stereo presentation that's usually pretty flat and clinical. That leads me to think that mostly, these are intended for the "3.)" or maybe the "2.)" audience. Sometimes, I like to put on a good, strong EDM track and crank up the subs until it gives you a nice kick in the chest without feeling like I'm betraying the intent of the recording - something I'd never do with Meeting by the river.
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Old 5th October 2012, 11:19 AM   #46
graaf is offline graaf  Poland
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leadcoma View Post
This question arose after reading a few EQ and directivity threads in the multiway forum.

How should music sound in my environment when reproduced through my stereo system?

1) How the mastering engineer intended it to sound.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gedlee View Post
Only 1) is Hi-Fi.
then Hi-Fi is impossible because we cannot know the mastering engineer's intentions

I agree with Pano's, ScottG's and Lynn Olson's comments
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Old 5th October 2012, 11:39 AM   #47
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The variety of answers is interesting, but to me it all strongly suggests the possibility of uncomfortable consequences. What direction should the SOTA take? Isn't modern compression valid for 1) and 4)?
I'd choose Pano's first reply - the first half of 3).
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Old 5th October 2012, 11:46 AM   #48
Elias is offline Elias  Finland
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Hi-Fi is a marketing term for consumers.
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Old 5th October 2012, 11:56 AM   #49
Elias is offline Elias  Finland
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pano View Post
I find #1 to be naÔve - and I was that way for a long time. Sure, it "may" be high fidelity to what went on the tape (and that's not bad), but reality is far more complex than that. We have no idea how the mastering engineer wanted it to sound, or even if he liked it. I've spoken to many who admit that what they do is a compromise - they would love to do better, hear it on a better system. Time, producers, stoned musicians, girlfriends, the market all have a say in what gets done and how.

Witness the better mastering that goes into SACD, DVD-A and premium vinyl releases. They are made for a different audience - us. Although I admire what many mastering engineers do, they aren't doing it for me on vast majority of releases. They are doing it for the middle of the road tastes and systems.

Bottom line, it has to sound real to me. I'm the one listening to it. Once my system starts to sound real on a wide variety of recordings, it satisfies me.

In order to compensate for all these intended departures, you use the B&K target curve ? And it works ?


- Elias
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Old 5th October 2012, 11:57 AM   #50
Elias is offline Elias  Finland
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gedlee View Post
Only 1) is Hi-Fi. All the rest are you, the listener, taking control of the art - the equivalent of dying a Picasso painting from his "blue" period because you don't like blue.
You may choose 1) if you see the world as Picasso did
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