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  1. #1
    Forum Regular
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    Jun 2004
    burnaby, BC

    live music reference

    I find it curious that folks here often refer to seeing live music as a reference point for what a speaker should sound like. It seems to me that the vast number of live listening experiences will be subject to similar potential for alteration/colouration as a stereo system. Even acoustic sets are usually played with mics, amps and speakers, sometimes in a place with good acoustics, sometimes bad. It seems that our references for natural sound might be limited to the sound of a voice or an acoustic instrument without a mic (which is certainlly do-able)
    So if I want to see if a speaker sounds natural I should choose CDs, LPs which represent these sounds and instruments (ie. piano, voice, acoustic guitar, strings, horns or other instruments which I have recently heard live and un-amplified.)?
    When it comes to rock etc it seems that it pretty much comes down to my taste in what sort of colouration or sound I like those tunes to have. It's just taste. And hence why we all like different speakers and there's so much to choose from.

    I am recently auditioning speakers (and learning) so hence my preoccupation.

    Any thoughts?

  2. #2
    Audiophile Wireworm5's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Rupert's Land, Canada
    After listening to my original speakers for a several months I reaIized that something was missing in the sound. I wanted a sharper treble for rock guitar. When I upgraded this was one of the characteristics the speakers had to have as well as be able to handle low bass.
    I also like a balanced sound from treble,mids to bass. But this may seem bright to another listener since I use a soundfield that adds some brightness to instruments when using my computer soundcard. Some guests that have heard my system prefer a boomier base, which is simply acheived by adjusting the tone control.Then there is Dolby,DTS, Stereo, surround sound and various soundfields that change the sound more than any differences in speakers.
    With so many variables finding a sound that you like best is all that matters.

  3. #3
    Forum Regular
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    The arena in which the music is being played will also have an effect on the way the instruments will sound so finding a performance that isn't "amplified" would probably be impossible.
    Definitive Technology Fan, Owner and Advocate!!!!! never paying retail IS half the fun of buying audio products!!!! Good shopping!

  4. #4
    Forum Regular gonefishin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Joliet, Ill.
    Hi shaemus

    I suppose I differ a bit in thinking here. While we may not achieve an exact replication of a live event in our homes, we can still have this as a pursuant goal. Although we can each have a different set of goals we're trying to achieve, so we are likely to be striving for different goals from one another.

    The music I mainly listen to are jazz (all forms), blues, easy listening and some orchestra, Gospel and rock too. But mostly jazz. Ranging from a small jazz trio on up to orchestra backed singers...not to mention the likes of Wynton Marsialis and Maynard Ferguson.

    My reference is live music reproduction...I've actually found that a lightly amplified jazz or larger piece can maintain the tonal qualities and characteristics of an acoustic performance when done well in a good room. I've also been around several of these instruments unamplified performing (or practicing) in a residential house.

    But it's not simply about loud. It's about maintaining tonal quality and range of dynamics thru all volume levels with relatively low distortion.

    I've found that very few speakers even come close to the tonal qualities and dynamic range (with lack of distortion) found in unamplified instruments...or even (well done) lightly amplified instruments (including Gospel singers). I'm not talking about achieving real life SPL's of unamplfied instruments ...I'm just talking about the basics. Tone, range and lack of distortion seem like they take a back seat in many "audiophile" speaker designs. They'd rather go for pleasing and unrealistic soundstage portrayal.

    On a sound note...after a recent concert at the Chicago Auditorium, I really don't think I'll be going to many other concert halls. This acoustics were quite impressive for a medium sized place. Real nice.

    Below is a chart that gives you an idea of the usual spl range of instruments...

    Wish I could find a better chart with freq and spl per instrument...but I can't seem to find anything better than this one. Still interesting.

    Instrument-------- Frequency range Hz----------------SPL Range dB

    Pipe Organ BIG---------16.00 - 2,093.00-------------------35 - 110 db

    Piano (concert)---------27.50 - 4,186.00-------------------60 - 100 db
    Bass Tuba---------------43.65 - 349.23
    Double Bass ------------41.20 - 246.94

    Timpani 1-----------------65.40 - 110.00--------------------35 - 115 db
    Cello --------------------- 65.41 - 987.77
    Trombone ---------------82.41 - 493.88
    Guitar --------------------82.41 - 880.00
    Voice(Bass)--------------87.31 - 349.23
    Voice(Baritone)---------98.00 - 392.00
    French horn ------------110.00 - 880.00
    Viola----------------------130.81 -1,174.00
    Voice(Tenor)------------130.00 - 493.88
    Voice(Cntralt)-----------130.81 - 698.46

    Violin---------------------196.00 - 3,136.00-------------------42 - 95 db
    Clarinet -----------------164.81 - 1,567.00

    Trumpet-----------------164.81 - 987.77----------------------55 - 95 db (I'm not sure where Maynard Ferguson would end up)
    Flute---------------------261.63 - 3,349.30
    Voice(Soprano)--------246.94 - 1,174.70

    Cymbals ------------------? ------------------------------------- 40 - 110 db

    Further...if you ever wonder what adjectives your recording engineer uses...and what they're this page . It's a good read

    just my $0.03

    Last edited by gonefishin; 08-21-2004 at 06:04 AM.
    I found the spoon

    enjoy the music!

  5. #5
    Music Junkie E-Stat's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Quote Originally Posted by shaemus
    It seems that our references for natural sound might be limited to the sound of a voice or an acoustic instrument without a mic (which is certainlly do-able)
    So if I want to see if a speaker sounds natural I should choose CDs, LPs which represent these sounds and instruments (ie. piano, voice, acoustic guitar, strings, horns or other instruments which I have recently heard live and un-amplified.)?
    Now you've finally got it. The only "true" live reference is the sounds of unamplified instruments or voice. That could be jazz, new age, blue grass, classical, etc. Either recording medium should give you a good picture of how faithfully a speaker can reproduce music when using a good recording. While I don't get (or really want) 120 db levels in my basement when playing Madonna or Dido, I hear their voices and the instrumental lines far more clearly than when they are "live".

    The next question boils down to preferences. Every individual has their own preferences in choosing necessarily imperfect components (regardless of price). My choice will not necessarily be yours. For that matter, my own preferences have changed over the decades. Where I once sought ultra extended high frequency response and first octave bass, I now happily trade them for the best overall balance and midrange clarity. That is reflected in my choice of speakers and electronics alike. To each his own.


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