Live music - what does it tell us ?

hopkins

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Live acoustic music can always be recognized as such (versus a recording) from a distance (ex: from another room) and in poor acoustic settings. We are also able to do this even if we don't know exactly what instrument is being played. Some people may not be able to recognize a tenor saxophone from an alto saxophone, or a trumpet from a trombone, but they will still know that the instrument is being played live. Same is true for voices, of course. Also, it does not depend on which notes are played. What does this tell us ?
- perhaps frequency response and room acoustics are not an essential factor ?
- perhaps we are able to identify other, more subtle sound characteristics ? If so, what are they ?
- is the recording quality itself the limiting factor or is it also our systems that matter, and if so which aspects (if not all) ?

These are perhaps naive questions?

orchestra-image.jpg
 
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I have been fooled, temporarily, by solo instruments and acapella voices. Imaging soundstage and dynamics is where recorded music fails. Let's take an orchestra or big band for example. Even if it were captured it on the recording, trying to get hat scale and dynamics is heavy lifting.
Isn't that right Kal?
 
I have been fooled, temporarily, by solo instruments and acapella voices. Imaging soundstage and dynamics is where recorded music fails. Let's take an orchestra or big band for example. Even if it were captured it on the recording, trying to get hat scale and dynamics is heavy lifting.
Isn't that right Kal?

Yes, soundstage is important, but you can perceive the difference with a sigle instrument played from an adjacent room, so soundstage is not a key ingredient IIMO.
 
I would suggest soundstage /imaging comes into play with multiple instruments/voices. You are correct with respect to solo presentations.
 
For me, the hallmarks of live music are clarity, coherence, and dynamics.

I agree. When listening to live music either to an orchestra or to a small ensemble in a room, imaging and soundstage are never on my mind. I notice clarity and dynamics, and a sense of the whole. Scale, the impression of physical presence, and the way energy is projected and remains are also important indicators. Systems have a difficult time getting these things right.

The more I listen to live music, the less important things like soundstage and imaging are. They can be fun effects at times, but I don’t hear them when listening to live music the way they are often presented in audio systems.
 
Just as with home stereo, the way musicians are located, the hall's acoustics, and your seating position will all affect the quality a "live" experience.

Soundstage could even be better captured on a recording of a live event simply due to good mic placement. I recently went to the Opera in Paris, and I can tell you that the orchestra playing from the pit and from my seating position on the right, did not give great results in terms of soundstage and overall quality (but the music was there essentially to accompany dancing - there are better concert halls in Paris...). With good mic placement, a recording of the same event you could get a better quality sound - on that aspect - on your home stereo. But would it sound "live" ?
 
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You could also argue that individual instruments can sometimes be heard at better advantage on a recording than live, there again due to microphone placement. The quality of the recording, mastering, etc...will also come into play. But still, is there something missing ?
 
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Live acoustic music can always be recognized as such (versus a recording) from a distance (ex: from another room) and in poor acoustic settings. We are also able to do this even if we don't know exactly what instrument is being played. Some people may not be able to recognize a tenor saxophone from an alto saxophone, or a trumpet from a trombone, but they will still know that the instrument is being played live. Same is true for voices, of course. Also, it does not depend on which notes are played. What does this tell us ?
- perhaps frequency response and room acoustics are not an essential factor ?
- perhaps we are able to identify other, more subtle sound characteristics ? If so, what are they ?
- is the recording quality itself the limiting factor or is it also our systems that matter, and if so which aspects (if not all) ?

These are perhaps naive questions?
Maybe naive BUT you have clearly stated my impressions/thoughts too.
 
ive had real players at my place in nyc . a simple guitar has far more dynamics and the kind of details for me my brain cant hear all at once . now play a tape of the live event you just heard and the details are there but seem to be more easy to hear .
when i had a guitar play the same tune as i had on cd or vinyl it showed me how little my system can truly reproduce like live .
i have a large place and large towers massive amps . its clear and shakes me but real live is not at even aclose to any system i ever heard . even a flute was not the same but much closer . now one can say my setup is not SOTA , ok ill except this even its not setup well . if we consider the acoustic energy of live and compare to anyones system its very obviuos we are multiple below whats needed . i think our braines do an amzing job at placing us there smoke and mirros on a galactical scale .
i love real staging on recordings makes me feel more attached , but live has little of this .
what live does that we also have in our places is a few very needed memories . the tone , timbre , decay and to a point scale
to know or be able to know the type of piano , horn etc is a hall mark of a better system . but the listner must know its there and most dont . a real piano dont ring unless its reverbing off walls in this room . a piano is a massive acoustical attack that needs to expand as it decays this is live . at our places if it rings somthing is wrong in our systems . i hope i have not offended anyone with my views its just how i see this and others may feel very different
 
I read somewhere that an explanation for the difference is that a recording captures both the direct sound and ambient sound, so during playback you are hearing reverberation twice... To verify this, one would have to record a musical instrument in an anechoic chamber and play it back in a regular venue, comparing it against the same instrument played live ? I'm skeptical ...

Edit: recording in an anechoic chamber has been done, for example here, but it is a whole orchestra (seems you can download the recording):

https://research.cs.aalto.fi/acoust...ment-and-analysis/85-anechoic-recordings.html

Edit 2: there are in fact separate files for recordings of the individual instruments and voices. On the Mozart piece, there is a file for vocals only (soprano).
 
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Gary koh of Genisis technology speakers got very close with a girl playing a harp and even when she sang the same tune playing on vinyl same time
that same girl killed any room other then his lol. I’ve heard her do this at a few shows.
to me or had all the facets of real live but I f course it’s at a low volume and no PA was used.
what ever he did it nailed it.
chamber music kills my brain it’s like a constant echo and my brain can’t lock onto it. Yet many love this kind of format
I once went to a live concert at a church it was nice but still killed me
now I do feel many well done setups can put you there even make us feel they are here. At my place I sit 8 to 9 feet back
If closer it’s more I am there move back they are here. As the band seems to be playing over there at my place. now maybe I’m describing it backwards but I hope you guys get my point
headphones get me there but never they are here
 
Well, if you don't like chamber music, don't listen to this, which is another anechoic recording (of chamber music): https://zenodo.org/record/4955282#.ZDMtp3ZBxD-
I have not yet listened on my main speakers, and am curious to see how this sounds (without the infamous "double reverberation").
EDIT: the files contain multiple channels - you'll need to extract the two channels corresponding to stereo or one channel and listen on one speaker.
 
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It’s not about liking it music any really is magic. Can trigger wonderful emotions many times traveling in nyc subways I would just listen to players.
it’s something about echo not the kind used in many recordings but longer
I’m sure I’m not alone but most tend to not share many of there thoughts.
 
Lots of time when listening to live music, especially stuff that's dense or noisy.... I think recorded music is awesome.

But it's human performance I get most out of it.
 
It’s not about liking it music any really is magic. Can trigger wonderful emotions many times traveling in nyc subways I would just listen to players.
it’s something about echo not the kind used in many recordings but longer
I’m sure I’m not alone but most tend to not share many of there thoughts.

It's closer to musicianship than entertainment as far as I can gather. At least it seems to have real value to musicians who tune for or locate themselves where a modification to their instrument gives them desirable feedback.

A few years back I encountered a violin teacher setting up a screen inside a small underpass on bike path I was riding down. In the few moments I troubled him it became clear the acoustic was valuable in teaching his student who arrived. The echo was clearly something he personally enjoyed and went to some lengths over a few weeks to experiment with. On my return trip I sat behind the screen and listened for a good half hour before they starting packing up.

Lang Lang apparently likes subway pianos and the rejuvenating effect it has being faced with uninterred audiences accepting or rejecting his art.
 
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Interesting question. To me, the "subtle sound characteristics" is timbre. When the accuracy of the timbre reaches a certain threshold, I can easily become immersed in the music. It isn't that the timbre could fool me that the playback is live, it is that I no longer care.

Agreed that the dynamics of live music cannot be replicated. And that recording engineers don't simulate a drum kit at full drive, for example. They tone it down. And would you want to share a small room with a trumpet or sax?
 
Some people may not be able to recognize a tenor saxophone from an alto saxophone, or a trumpet from a trombone, but they will still know that the instrument is being played live. Same is true for voices, of course. Also, it does not depend on which notes are played. What does this tell us ?

It tells us that people easily recognize live natural sound from acoustic instruments when they hear it. It tells us that reality is not reproduction.
 
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A question is timbre resolution?
i ask in a pure sense of being a novice
I can tell when timbre is off but tone not as easy. At one time I was thinking even an acoustic guitar should have a steely sound
of course I fixed this and to my surprise it then had a wooly sound at times.
knowing how things should sound is live taught I think.
of the many terms used what is timbre mean to us ?
 
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