Originally Posted by cel4145
Originally Posted by arnyk
In the nearly 60 years I have been following audio, and including backward looks into legacy technology going back to the late 1800s, mainstream audio gear has been steadily evolving towards greater accuracy.
This will make perfect sense as long as we have natural sounds to listen to. We simply want natural sounds to sound natural as recorded sounds.
I totally agree that audio technology has made significant gains in accuracy.
But I disagree that we are all always looking for an accurate reproduction of a recording, or that the recording itself is always natural.
You might appear to be arguing against something that I didn't say and may wish to disagree with myself.
Artistic expression in recordings often takes the form of inaccuracy and that is generally accepted. For example CSI Las Vegas is usually underexposed and CSI Miami has the brightness and color saturation turned up much of the time.
The final version of a studio recording is an interpreted piece of music created by the audio engineer who produces it. You could give master tapes of a four piece rock band to five different music producers, and the resulting recordings would likely be slightly different. Why? Because they interpret differently the ways to mix the the different instruments sounds together. It's passed through the aesthetic experience of the producer.
That again is an example of either art or accident or both.
As a listener I might--and often do--chose to do the same, changing the EQ to emphasize what I want to hear in the recording. DJ's do it all the time, reinterpreting through EQ and other effects.
Again, no problem although I hear a lot of small venue mixers who mix like they have damaged hearing, and I walk up to them and say "Hi" and they say "What?" ;-) Joke, but there are more than few real experiences behind it. I don't know if you know this but I have years of experience as a medium-sized venue mixer and recording engineer, both tracking and mixing.
I suspect that this predilection that some have for accurate reproduction is a little bit of a cultural bias. For the longest time, users had little ability to control the sound of the music they listen to. Now people are even remixing it/reinterpreting music the way that they want. Why do they do this? Because they are trying to improve what is ultimately an aesthetic experience.
I see a practical cause. Applying changes based on personal preference works best and most easily in a context that starts out as accurate as possible.
So audio equipment is a lens that allows us to experience the music in a recording as an aesthetic experience. Maybe I like my world viewed through sunglasses with a polarized lens, or through rose colored glasses.
And I will tell you that if you hard wire those preferences into a system you may regret it, but if you make them user options then you have a greater possibility of people having a favorable perception of the system. The other thing is that my view is more global view, and I'm looking at cultural trends, not just one system. For every car that rolls down the road booming so hard you can feel it on the curb, there are many others who don't want exaggerated bass or even as much as natural bass.
Now granted, starting with an accurate reproduction could make it easier for listeners to reinterpret the music to suit their aesthetic experience.
So we agree about that.
However, this does explain why people given a choice between two different speakers--one fairly accurate, the other a little bit colored---might choose the latter.
I look at the dialog over Audyssey and believe that most people are using it as is, while a minority are adding manual adjustments.
It also explains why some people like tube amps over solid state.
Tubes versus solid state has a strong accidental influence since tubed amps exaggerate the differences among speakers because of the strong influence on frequency response from speaker impedance curves. I think that in modern times we have at least two markets - one influenced by sentimentality, and one influenced by a simple desire for something different.
Meanwhile, applying the idea of "natural sounds" to music is an antiquated notion if one listens to EDM. I guess one could describe dubstep warbles as industrial, having a man made quality and thus "natural." But most of those sounds don't exist in nature, in the real world.
EDM is a niche, and criticizing general rules because there are a few exceptions isn't that helpful. Of course there are exceptions!
So this is why I question such
Originally Posted by cel4145
discussions which assume that neutrality/perfect accuracy is what people will enjoy the most.
Actually, I don't see naturalness as an issue. Making a natural-sounding speaker really doesn't relate to size and efficiency. Size and efficiency only control bass extension. You can splice whatever midrange and treble onto any speaker that is large enough to control those portions of the sound field.
I'm not saying that measurements are not valuable. Quite the contrary. But I do find it interesting that discussions of speakers and what's best completely lump the realm of aesthetic experience into "listener's tastes" with almost nothing more said.
It makes sense to separate accuracy from personal taste because they are two different things. Furthermore, it is not written on stone that measurements = accuracy. If you want max boom, measurements and scientific analysis are still valuable tools for getting you there. Or wherever else!
That category is WAY more complex than that the label makes it out it to be. I suspect that the reason people don't talk about it is because most people don't know how to.
I agree that ignorance and wrong-headedness limit our abiltiy to make things that we enjoy.
Originally Posted by arnyk
We really don't know where ears sit on the scale of listening instruments because they are the only show in town. This week. ;-)
I wouldn't be surprised if in my son's lifetime (maybe not mine) if music won't be pumped directly into the brain, bypassing the auditory system.
Electronic bypass of the whole hearing apparatus but the ear is already a done deal.
The existing technology seems to be nothing that a person would choose over good natural hearing, but the technology is young.
Of course then we still have the brain's interpretation of music as an aesthetic experience, which is likely way more complicated than whatever factors the auditory system has on that experience
IME creating that aesthetic experience is best left up to artists, and generally works best in an accurate reproduction environment that lets the art shine through unhindered.