While I both agree and disagree.........I mostly agree......
Something hard to readily access is master recordings........youtube...google music and all the MP3 based options make it incredibly easy to get compressed and altered music so far away from any meaningful quality it does require manipulation just to listenable.
I can play 30 different youtube clips of the same song and it will run from unlistenable to not bad, which will sound way different than my album version and way different from the master tapes/recordings.
I think a lot of people now upgrade speakers due to poor quality material, rather than a poor quality speaker. Some speakers are much better at masking the poor content that is readily available now.
While I would not advocate manipulating a studio recording being played back on calibrated system, I do advocate manipulating the poor sound that is found all over the net or on some of the bad CD copies made from terrible recordings or that were remastered before being put on the CD by other than the creators.
I guess it depends on a persons definition of manipulating..........manipulating the sound to fit the room to get a flat frequency response is not the same as fundamentally changing the master recording as is manipulating the sound of a MP3 or any other low quality content that is every where now.
Some purists even argue sound recorded digitally has been manipulated from the start and they want analog recordings in a pure analog playback chain.
I guess I can be the odd one out and appreciate the creators content for what it is in a dedicated listening session designed to soak in as pure as possible ART appreciation session, but I am also happy to add bass or treble in a jam session more in the spirit or enjoyment/entertainment, rather than critical listening in the company of friends and good drink.
I do calibrate with REW and DSP/EQ to get a flat response so I always have a baseline to return to or a setting for critical listening of the artists works, but I have no problem adding bass or treble when rockin out or compensating for poor recordings/media........
I guess that is what my question boils down to, where does one get a perfect recording to even have reference for exactly what it is supposed to sound like ?
There are a few sources for master track quality audio, not just high bitrate recordings, but who knows what environment the artists created that content and how well that system was calibrated they mastered on.......you would think it would be in a perfect environment, but the more I learn, I see that is not always the case.
Which leaves us with flat as possible and the best quality media as possible, which may or may not be even close to the artists intent. But even with the best media and best playback equipment there is no way to know how close or far we are from that artists intent, even fidelity even crossed their minds beyond not wanting it sound distorted and horrible, they might have been more focused on how it makes the audience feel, rather than the fidelity of the sound.
That's why I enjoy interviews with musicians to get some insight into this.......and in some interviews you can hear them admit to not really caring about the musical integrity, rather how it makes you feel. So perhaps we are putting way more into it than even the artist did and some of them might even be saddened to see such a heavy slant towards the reproduction of the sound, rather than the intended effect of the music by the artist.
So who is to say a perfect reproduction is even what was intended, it might have been mastered to play back on cheap speakers that most people own or in the big era of radio to sound good in car.
I was doing some work at Westerly ranch here locally and at the time was not as in to audio as I am now, I would have loved to talk with them or have a listen and talk to some of the artists there at the time to get their perspectives on this. Röyksopp was staying there, recording at the time and I got to meet/talk to them, this would have been a perfect topic for conversation..Stone Temple Pilots have recorded there, so I am sure some questions could have been answered and I could of heard real reference sound.