Sunday, March 29, 2009
What to listen to
What do we seek from our audio playback system? I subscribe to the universal values, ie. the correct tonal balance, timbre reproduction and PRaT (pace, rhythm and timing).
Excerpt of an AudioEvidence article which best explains this:
" … there is a philosophy not shared universally, and the way in which the audio (Hi Fi) magazines rave about the reproduction of music can create a problem and a kind of audio neurosis in their readers' mind. It was these magazines which created the idea of "visual images" when talking about music. The awful "sound stage" concept has become paramount; if you can create a sound stage, the battle is won! I disagree! Now I am not suggesting that some sort of visual impression of a performer on stage or in the studio is not quite fun; however, to make it the big deal that some magazines have, is a disservice to the cause of better music. Sound staging has outstripped the importance of correct tonal balance, and timbre reproduction, and a sense of energy and life which is what is surely to essence of good music. ……to the extent that some listeners are so preoccupied with the size of a musician, or the size of the singer's mouth!!
So what I believe magazines should be trying to engender is a sense of enjoying the equipment yes, enjoying the music certainly, and getting away from the concept of "Hi Fi" and "audiophiles", and looking instead to encourage a quality in audio equipment which speaks of delivering the music in a more enjoyable, rich and vibrant way. Music should have a flow and emotional impact, and "imaging" can be relegated to and relatively distant position. After all, at a concert how much time do you spend considering imaging, highs and lows of the performance!? …"
Full article could be accessed here: http://www.audioevidence.com/cgi-bin/news/newsscript.pl?record=6
Many of us would usually argue that as long as we ourselves and not others like how our system sound, that be the ultimate approach. And there are some who love their system to sound slow, warm and way too smooth. I beg to differ! Those of you who have been exposed to music will agree with me that music scores are written with certain pace in mind, eg. adagio – leisurely (66 - 76 m.m. = metronome mark), moderato – moderately fast (108 - 120 m.m.), allegro – fast (120 - 168 m.m.) and et al which all musicians have to adhere to during the recitals. Rendering them at different pace other than what they were originally intended to be is called "improvisation” and we certainly do not require our systems to improvise or interpret music otherwise. How to tell at which timing the music is spot on? My answer: attend more live musical events.
An article on Pace, Rhythm and Dynamics by Martin Colloms which I hold dearly to: http://www.hificritic.com/downloads/Archive_A7.pdf