Are there any out there?
If Capital/Apple have the Masters, I am curious if a better sound may be achieved with today's technology - or are we all screwed because the original masters were recorded so hot that the distortion levels are impossible to save without sacrificing the energy of the performance?
I've read some of the replies here concerning your question about the Beatles stuff... many of them are just being silly SNOBS.
There ARE some reasonably hi-fi "audiophile" Beatles recordings out there now... (although this would not have been the case 5 or 10 years ago).
Of particular interest to you might be the news that a NEW limited edition slip-case CD version of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was just released THIS VERY YEAR !
I have heard it, and the sound quality is SUPERB. You may want to check it out if you don't already know about it.
...build your system so that it sounds good with the music you like.
My system sounds great with close miked, multitracked stuff, because that's what I listen to most. An early US pressed Abbey Road CD sounds terrific. It sounds quite good with "audiophile" stuff too. It may not sound as good as a true "hi-fi" system on the best minimalist recordings, but who wants to listen to Chesky samplers (or equivalent) all the time / or ever, for that matter?
Short of a time machine, a minimally miked Beatles studio performance will never exist. If you really must have these songs captured on two minimalist, squillion dollar equipment, recorded by virgins tracks, maybe you could hire a cover band to play them all for you in a studio? That's as close as you're gonna get, which is not very. Pass the multimiked originals, warts and all, please.
If your system is keeping you from your favorite music, there is something drastically wrong.
If a listener grew up with an original UK Parlophone LP pressing of a Beatles record, the early CDs could sound substandard to him. Those LPs were made from multitracked masters too. While it seems silly to me to listen only to minimalist recordings directed towards audiophiles, I think there's nothing wrong with trying to find a good copy of a classic recording. Some recordings deserve this more than others, however. Try listening to an original US pressing of Exile On Main Street , for example. It's terrible. This can be taken to extremes, though, as witnessed by the multiple reissues of Kind Of Blue .
> > If your system is keeping you from your favorite music, there is something drastically wrong. < <
Exactly. A hi fi system (or component) that restricts your choice of music sucks . The point of an audio system is to enhance your enjoyment of music, not limit you to a diet of perfectionist recordings.
I wonder how much credibility you lose when you make such comments. I thought the hi-end was all about detail, soundstage and articulation and that the best hifis let the listener know how bad all recordings are. And audiophiles have the nerve to question why most musicians don't spend money on hifi equipment!
Give me rhythm or give me death!
Good systems do expose the sound quality--I say fix it right at the source, because from there the sound/signal can only be degraded. People spend so much money on expensive components, because they ARE better, why not spend a little more on a CD that is better.
Sorry you missed my sarcasm. I don't agree with you when you say
> > Good systems do expose the sound quality
As if there is some magical "sound quality" reference that all recordings should shoot for. Sure some CDs or LPs sound pretty bad but these are far and few, most recordings sound at least good enough to listen to and enjoy to me and if the music is good that's more than good enough.
between let's say a regular mastering and a mofi mastering?
The other day I was at my brothers apt. and he has a non audiophile system (or maybe a semi-audiophile system) and he was playing Beck's two turn tables...I said to him "Oh my God, wait till KP hears this he will be jealous, that Beck song sounds terrible on our system!" My brother said--"it's a Japanese import." Sure enough I took his cd and played a back-to back comparison and the difference is incredible.
I hear such a big difference with our imports and our mofi stuff. If you don't notice a difference on your system then of course it would be a waste of money. And I still enjoy the music I can't find in a high quality mastering.
Sure I find a big difference between different versions of various recordings and spend quite a bit of time coming up with better sounding versions of recordings I like. Don't really need an audiophile system to be able to hear the differences either.
But what the original post is referring to is systems that sound bad because the recording isn't perfect. There's plenty of systems around that just don't sound good unless they have the right recordings to make them shine. As a pop/rock music fan there's hardly any recordings that are actually good from an audiophile perspective to begin with and attempting to build such a revealing type system, using typical audiophile specifications, only leads to building a system that will sound bad with most pop/rock records. There's plenty of great expensive gear that sounds great with normal records for pop/rock fans but there's also a ton of stuff that's some would like to say is too good for pop/rock records. I think Jeff's point is you should build your system to sound musical with the type of music and recordings you like - if thats not the case then something is wrong with the system you put together.
But what the original post is referring to is systems that sound bad because the recording isn't perfect. There's plenty of systems around that just don't sound good unless they have the right recordings to make them shine.
Ah, but we can dream, can't we?
I take exception to the statement that a 'forgiving' system is a 'good' system. My car stereo is quite 'forgiving' in that I can (and do!) listen to any music there without compunction. It is impossible for the car stereo to plumb the depths of information available within the source, so it moderates everything to a palatable consistency.
In my *ruthlessly* revealing system, bad recordings sound like bad recordings, and good recordings sound like good recordings. Can I tolerate the bad ones? Not always. But it's not because of what's there (in the recording). It's because *my* expectations have been set very high, and they are unmet by the bad recording.
I would wager that most people, hearing a spin of MMT on my rig, would wax enthusiastic over how darn nice it sounds. And truth be told, it would sound as nice as it possibly could. But then play them a well-engineered disc, and the planks fall from their eyes.
Your argument reminds me of a Kurt Vonnegut short story where it became law that no one could be better than anyone else. Beautiful people (like Mrs. KP) would be forced to wear masks, strong people forced to carry heavy weights, intelligent people forced to wear headphones that blasted noise every 10 seconds to break their chain of thought.
The forgiving system is like that totalitarian state. Nothing sounds good but nothing sounds bad.
"The forgiving system is like that totalitarian state. Nothing sounds good but nothing sounds bad. "
Wrong. It's not about some bullshit like "forgiving system".
It's not good enough to have a system where nothing sounds good but nothing sounds bad.
It's about a system where EVERYTHING sounds good, and most things sound BETTER and some things sound EXCEPTIONAL.
You know KP and I have a really revealing system as well, and, like you, we love it! We listen to such a wide variety of music, and most of it sounds fantastic, and we're working on the rest (well KP is, I just enjoy the fruits of his labor).
***Disclaimer: MP's OPINION:
I don't see anything wrong with trying to find high quality cd's especially when one considers how much is spent on all the hardware/gear. It does seem to be a very detailed hobby!
The cd/lp is the medium that starts the whole process, a good system isn't going to enhance a signal-only read it, and I want my system to read EVERYTHING!
"Life is in the details"
"more is more"
> > Ah, but we can dream, can't we?
Yea it's harder to build a musical system than it is to build a ruthlessly revealing one.
> > I take exception to the statement that a 'forgiving' system is
> > a 'good' system.
Me too. I don't think anyone said that.
> > In my *ruthlessly* revealing system, bad recordings sound like bad
> > recordings, and good recordings sound like good recordings.
I don't think you need a ruthlessly revealing system to tell the difference between good and bad recordings. A good mid fi or entry level hifi should give 95% of the information needed to evaluate recording quality.
> > Can I tolerate the bad ones? Not always. But it's not because of
> > what's there (in the recording). It's because *my* expectations
> > have been set very high, and they are unmet by the bad recording.
Too each his own. The vast majority of pop/rock recordings are pretty damn poor compared to a Chesky. If someone want to set there standards based on a limited set of audiophile criteria they are surely going to have their expectations met rarely when listening to pop/rock music.
> > The forgiving system is like that totalitarian state. Nothing
> > sounds good but nothing sounds bad.
I don't know why you keep bringing this up. Like I said in the other post I think stereos that sound bad are bad! If they sound bad because they are ruthless and revealing then they sound bad, if they sound bad because they are forgiving then they sound bad. Bad is bad is bad is bad is bad and explaining why it sounds bad is just an excuse for the system to sound bad. A good system doesn't need any excuses for sounding good. Forgiving systems sound bad, ruthless system sound bad - musical systems sound like music - no excuses please!
Bad is bad - don't use recording quality for an excuse for bad sound.
> > Hey, maybe that could be Bose' next slogan.
What's bose got to do with music.
I was tempted to respond point by point but I realize that we are all bretheren to some extent here in AA-land. I welcome the opportunity to exchange differing viewpoints amoung those who share my enthusiasm for the hobby.
My inference was that a musical system was a forgiving system. Both of these terms are hard to define but I mean something along the lines of omission when I refer to a forgiving system. Many would agree that sins of omission are preferable over sins of commission.
I don't have a clear idea what people mean when they say 'musical' systems. They ALL make music. If they didn't we would be exchanging them for something else. The description of musical systems appears to be along the lines of a system that allows poor recordings to sound good. That improvement is either through omission (which I hope it is), or commission, by adding something that is not there (which I hope it is not). If the first case, then my concept of 'forgiving' is not far afield. If the second, well, like you say, to each his own.
My concern is over the tendency of people to assume that revealing systems (and by that I mean systems that show up the inadequacies of the source (yes, mine)) are less musical than those that do not. You may substitute the term 'musical' for 'forgiving' in my earlier post and you might understand what I have been unable to communicate.
I must not have made this clear, but even these pop/rock recordings that sparked this original thread sound darned good on my rig. The disconnect occurs when someone hears a well-recorded source and realizes that there is a quantum leap of quality between these recordings. I would be surprized if you argue that there is no difference between the Chesky recordings and most, if not all, of the Beatles recordings. So I'm sure that your thought that any recording of any quality level whatsoever must sound good on a system or the system is bad has some limitations in it. Record your favorite song as it sounds played through your cellular phone and get back to me about acceptable limits of 'badness'.
> > I was tempted to respond point by point but I realize that we are
> > all bretheren to some extent here in AA-land. I welcome the
> > opportunity to exchange differing viewpoints amoung those who share
> > my enthusiasm for the hobby.
If you don't mind I will respond point by point.
> > My inference was that a musical system was a forgiving system.
Not me. A musical system in not forgiving and it is not ruthless. It places emphasis on the music not on the details of the recording. A forgiving system has a balance that draws the listener away from the recording and the music. A ruthless system draws the listener into the recording and away from the music. A musical system extracts the music from the recording and draws the listener into the music.
> > Both of these terms are hard to define but I mean something along
> > the lines of omission when I refer to a forgiving system. Many
> > would agree that sins of omission are preferable over sins of
> > commission.
OK I might agree, but on the other hand a ruthless revealing system is one that reveals recording artifacts without regard to the music on the recording. Whether it achieves this by ommision or addition is a moot issue.
> > I don't have a clear idea what people mean when they say 'musical'
> > systems. They ALL make music. If they didn't we would be exchanging
> > them for something else.
No lots of people seem to accept the fact that recordings sound bad and it's a price to pay for a good hifi. So people accept bad sound without exchanging them for something else. A musical system plays music - not a recording.
> > The description of musical systems appears to be along the lines of
> > a system that allows poor recordings to sound good. That
> > improvement is either through omission (which I hope it is), or
> > commission, by adding something that is not there (which I hope it
> > is not). If the first case, then my concept of 'forgiving' is not
> > far afield. If the second, well, like you say, to each his own.
I find this response quite amusing. As if a revealing system is more accurate or less colored than most other systems. Ruthless revealing systems are colored in such a way as to give the listener the impression that the system is revealing! It's made to show up small differences in recordings and to work best with certain types of recordings. Sure a forgiving system is the opposite - it attempts to smooth over and make the recording more listenable. While a musical system attempts to extract the content of the music and present it to the listener with a minimum of attention given to recording details.
> > My concern is over the tendency of people to assume that revealing
> > systems (and by that I mean systems that show up the inadequacies
> > of the source (yes, mine)) are less musical than those that do not.
Actually musical systems are revealing and accurate - but they are not ruthless or analytical - the emphasis is on music not recording details. It's a completely different experience for me to listen to a recording and be flooded with details and information than it is to listen to a recording and be flooded with musical details and musical information. Theres a tremendous difference between a system that is revealing and one that is musical - and the musical system can be more more revealing then the system described as ruthlessly revealing.
> > You may substitute the term 'musical' for 'forgiving' in my earlier
> > post and you might understand what I have been unable to
> > communicate.
Thats right. So you admit your ruthlessly revealing system is not musical. And somewhere along the line you have decided that musical was a derogatory term as far as hifi goes. You and a whole bunch of others accept this as fact. Very sad indeed!
> > I must not have made this clear, but even these pop/rock recordings
> > that sparked this original thread sound darned good on my rig. The
> > disconnect occurs when someone hears a well-recorded source and
> > realizes that there is a quantum leap of quality between these
> > recordings.
OK if you admit that a poor/medicre recording sounds pretty darned good on your rig - then you and me don't really have anything to talk about. Poor recordings sound pretty damned good on my system too. And great recording sound much better - but my system always sounds good - yes poor digital mastering excepted and I can name a couple of records that sound so bad that I wouldn't want to listen to them again - but this is hardly worthy of mention.
> > I would be surprized if you argue that there is no difference
> > between the Chesky recordings and most, if not all, of the Beatles
> > recordings.
Of course I wouldn't argue that point. But if I can get off on the music in a poor recording and a good recording can send me reeling why the heck would I bother with a Chesky - there's already to much great music available. The sound of the record is secondary to the music if you got a good system.
> > So I'm sure that your thought that any recording of any quality
> > level whatsoever must sound good on a system or the system is bad
> > has some limitations in it.
Pretty much so - of course quality differences between recordings should be clear and obvious with the best recordings offering the best results - provided the music on the recordings is equally good.
> > Record your favorite song as it sounds played through your cellular
> > phone and get back to me about acceptable limits of 'badness'.
Or just hook up some bose speakers.
Your arguments are full of your conviction but there are large gaps in the conclusions you have drawn. Rather than have a (potentially endless) back-and-forth on the topic, let us just agree to disagree.
I am sorry that you had a setback in your road to audio happiness. I would postulate that you suffered less from lack of 'musicality' than from components that did not complement each another.
I too struggle with the concept of why 'better is not better,' even when the components are upgrades of what came before. If this hobby were simple there would be only one manufacturer of audio equipment and no one would feel the compulsion to change.
Sure I think the system is mainly responsible for the results achieved in the playback of music at home. No one will ever be able to convince me that recordings make the system sound bad - it just doesn't make sense. And no one will ever be able to convince me that the best systems won't allow the most music to flow from poor recordings without enveloping the listener in attributes of the recording. Sure a few recordings are so bad they are unlistenable, but the vast majority of pop rock recordings should sound great on a home system, good enough that the listener shouldn't have to long for better recordings. It's just my opinion but my experience tells me its so - there is no reason for someone to have to suffer with some system that doesn't sound great with common pop rock recordings. For heavens sake why would someone want to own a system that sounds bad - listen to these posts about recording quality. Some people must have some real crap system to justify the comments I hear - and I can't get over how defensive they get in justifying the badness.
Give me rhythm or give me death!
I guess it's easier to build a more forgiving system if you generaly favor a particular style of music.
When someone says their system sounds good with most recordings. Sure the system must be forgiving or colored in order to sound good with most recordings. That's your point isn't it?
A system whose emphasis is on music sounds musical with the large majority of recordings regardless of recording quality (yes better recordings sound better but less good recordings still bring the musical rewards), and a system whose emphasis is on recorded details sounds as good or bad as the recording is regardless of the music it contains.
I think it has more to do with building a musical system than building a forgiving system. It's funny to me that so many audiophiles have systems that sound bad with so many recordings - I mean doesn't that defeat the purpose of having a good stereo to begin with.
There's not much funnier than hearing some audiophile complain about unlistenable or poor recording quality of most pop/rock releases - it just boogles my mind how many people who are into this kind of music actually foollow the guidence generally presented by many so called audio experts. IMO the ultimate humiliation of a former rock/pop music lover happens when they start buying Chesky or other such releases so their systems will sound good. LOL!!!!
Give me rhythm or give me death!
The best systems I've heard sound good even on poor/medium quality recordings and I've never thought this was because of it was being forgiving or colored. I think it's an almost universal truth that many, if not most, audiophiles faced with a system that sounds bad will blame the recording quality. Even though the system may sound great with good recordings, most pop/rock recordings are of just medium to poor recordings, and IMO systems that ultimately depend on "recording quality" to sound good are not good systems for the pop/rock fan. We've all heard systems that sound very thin if there is not a thumping bass or we've heard systems that sound bad with vocals or systems that sound like hash when dynamics are present, well in general, systems that depend on a particular quality of recording to sound good are no better than these obviously defective systems. Just my opinion.
Recordings don't make any sounds - systems do.
Iv'e got to admire your tenacity.
No absolutely not. The system is supposed to reproduce the music in the recording - and the system is what sounds bad not the recording. Why would a bad recording have to sound bad? In the hope a finding some type of "quality" recording a system designed to be ruthlessly revealing will sound bad when faced with a lesser or different type of recording than expected. A good musical system will let the listener know the recording is bad or how it is different but it will still bring great musical satisfaction with the available recording.
Give me rhythm or give me death!
It is sad but true, American manufacturers should be ashamed at the poor quality product they produce (I'm talking about mass market stuff). The Japanese have better mastering techniques and they have much more stringent quality control practices. On a mediocre system, it's probably a waste of money, but man do they sound awesome on a good system. Just try one and see. AWESOME I tell you!
The difference in dynamics and detailing is outrageous! Even my mom, god bless her, could tell a difference between the two Pink Floyd The Wall CD's. She ordered a Japanese copy for herself.
We are rapidly replacing our American CD collection with Japanese releases. And our coaster set is now quite large!
Here are some places to try:
CD NOW--scroll to bottom of page and it tells you if the cd is an import, and from where
You can also special order them from any local music chain.
The problem you may run into in finding some cd's is if the Japanese version does not have a "bonus track" or something to distinguish it from it's American counterpart. It is illegal to sell parallel items as imports due to trade agreements. But Japanese companies understand this and frequently add bonus tracks to their versions , so they can be sold here. I think it is unfair to make an American citizen buy an inferior product. If American companies can't compete with their goods, then maybe they should improve their product. And I would argue that the biggest distinguishing feature is the quality-so it is not a parallel item.
Please note: I'm refering to mass market production, not small independent labels.
The Japanese CD manufacturing and distribution companies often request bonus tracks be provided to them by the non-Japanese recording companies in order to protect their own domestic market. The domestic issue of a CD comes under different tax laws which make them more expensive to buyers in Japan so bonus tracks are added to entice people to buy the domestic version instead of cheaper imports. I don't think it has anything to do with United States law.
There are many imports, not just Japanese, that are "restricted" to American buyers. That is why many times you have to buy used, or get stuff from independent sellers. These import items are listed in music store's catalogs, but while they are available in some markets, they are not available to purchase here.
and many, if not most, of them have the same tracklists as their US counterparts. Just because a version of a CD is not available in this country doesn't mean there is some restriction against it in place. They still have to be imported by a distributor before they are made available at your store. The Japanese scenario I pointed out isn't some theory I concocted to explain bonus tracks, it's reality. It sounded to me like you weren't aware of that reason but if you've heard of some import restrictions that also mandate the bonus tracks, I apologize. I wasn't trying to be a wiseass or anything :-)
I haven't bought many of the Japanese imports because of the usually very high prices but I did pick up a bunch of the XTC remasters about a year ago after they were released in Canada. It's funny, they were selling them at Tower Records for $30 each but I ordered them through A&B Sound in Canada for about $9 each. Exact same CDs in the exact same packaging! Great remasters and they were finally released in the US just recently too.
Foreign labels do add bonus tracks to protect their market, from the US, but it has the added benefit of making it sellable to US buyers because the bonus tracks distinguish it from the American release.
These trade agreements are designed to protect the market (foreign and domestic) where the product was originally released from a flood of cheap imports. You can buy imports that are changed in SOME way (they can be VERY creative with this and you might not even notice the change they made), or from companies that consider the quality as a "gray area" that can give them the out to sell it anyway. Now that the Euro is high, American labels are not as threatened by imports, so you will start seeing more of them.
There are also tons of imports of cd's not available through US companies, this is perfectly legal as these items are not "parallel."
*****Many import companies (distributors) will sell the imports "on request" but will not advertise them, as to not attract the attention of the label that released it in the US.*****
And no Dave I don't think you were being a "wise-ass" on the contrary, you seem to me, to be a helpful individual. Thanks for the info, I'm going to check out A&B Sound!
I don't think quality is predicated by national boundaries.
In a one on one comparison of the same master pressed in Japan and the US, the Japanese always comes out ahead. Formulation of the disc and the quality of the manufacturing chain have very big effects on sound.
The short answer is ... NO. The retrospective boxed anthology sets (I have vol's 2 and 3, and the late re-master of Yellow Submarine (emi, 1999) feature the best sound overall. But they are not what I would consider audiophile quality, as I would say, some of the Chesky, DMP, and Delos recordings (I could name others as well). There IS jazz of audiophile quality; there IS classical of audiophile quality. But mainstream pop or rock? As rare as a swallow in a winter's day. The reasons are manifold:
1. Many rock and pop artists are not good enough musicians to perform in a single, group take.
2. They're too interested in studio manipulation as an end in itself -- something that inherently detracts from recording accuracy.
3. The record companies don't give a damn. (They're more interested in cheesy MP3 formats, or how the final product is going to sound on a boom box.)
4. Recording artists and companies demand too much money for the rights to the music, which make it impossible for quality conscious labels to produce higher quality versions.
5. They're just ain't enough people willing to spend $10,000.00, $20,000.00 or even $100,000.00 on audio equipment for ANYONE in the industry to really care.
As for the Beatles ... they recorded in an era where sound quality simply wasn't much of a concern. The recording and playback equipment simply didn't demand it. Also, the Beatles did more overdubbing and studio manipulation than anyone -- they turned it into an art form. For all these reasons, it seems unlikely that we will ever see a truly audiophile-quality original Beatle recording. But, if you don't mind hearing someone ELSE perform the Beatles material, there is hope. Chesky just released a recording by the Persuasions, and accapella group, which contains nothing but Beatles material. The sonics are excellent. The problem is, the Persuasions AIN'T. But I do believe, sooner or later, someone will get it right.
It seems absolutely amazing to me that so many audiophile record labels themselves ignore the musical tastes of their OWN biggest market: The Baby Boomers. Let's here some audiophile Stones, Doors, Dylan, and Who. Heck, I'd settle for some Randy Newman or Neil Young. Hope springs eternal.
I suggest visiting the site: www.stevehoffman.tv Your type of question is what alot of people there discuss and are interested in (including myself).
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