“Faithful to the recording”

I despise when reviewers use those words in describing a piece of equipment unless they were, quite literally, at the recording.  Once those words are used, I pretty much stop reading since IMO the reviewer is full of BS.

Your thoughts?

And what key word(s) or phrases cause you to stop reading?



If bass is “flabby” (apparently the antithesis of the oft-used, “tight” descriptor) is such a phenomenon limited to a singular piece of gear?  It seems the perception of “flabby” bass could be a myriad of factors…?

Has anyone ever experienced “flabby” bass?

Would that be the experience one has when riding in a car with someone who plays bass-heavy music at excessive volume?

@stuartk , I've always appreciated the Les McCann lyric, since it fits the audio realm way too well...

There's an upper limit to how many comparisons one can personally experience vs. that of the reviewer who is paid to make such.  One's driven to wonder "Well, is the reference based on the last 'Item X' of a similar component drawn from memory, your personal 'reference system', or an indulgence of contrast to an 'A~B (C through Z)' that makes the rabbit hole turn black hole?"

...and, with the potential of actually seeing pics of the reviewers' 'listening environment' which can range from cluttered to packrat...!

It doesn't surprise that we can be disappointed with our occasional *meh* opinions when the component hits our spaces.  Which range even more broadly...with component selections that reflect the items available in ones' choices of personal computers, cells, dinner, clothing, etc.

I gave up 'chasing' SOTA long ago, due to prices primarily.  That, and the stasis of measured specs.

The latter edges into the realization that ones' personal listening space made as much (if not more) difference(s) in what I heard.

Not to mention my 'onboard equipment' to listen with, the obvious and the muck between them.

'Jaded, faded', I opted to just please myself with what struck my fancy....and made and makes me smile.  Much like what I like to listen to, with it.

Your results Will vary. ;)  Have fun with it.

Enjoy your simulations, J ;)

Oh, and one should keep in mind that the artist(s) first hear their finished product in a studio environ potentially stuffed with such that 'compression' is just one effect that may be in play....

Ever since I saw "Phantom of The Paradise" with Paul Williams as the henchman of the devil in his studio with our tortured hero.....I doubted.

It's just gotten worse in the passage of my time. ;)

@tylermunns when I hear what I, personally, would describe as "flabby" bass, the sound I hear makes me think of woofers that have come loose and are just slopping around.

We come back to the subjective versus objective descriptors. Not to way long ago I was reading a thread about books about listening to audio, and apparently R. Harley wrote a book on the subject, and in that book he defines what these terms mean.

So maybe these terms are not as subjective as I am given to think of them as.

Jules Coleman- anybody remember him? He was a professor of jurisprudence, not a lawyer but a philosopher, who also loved audio and wrote some reviews or thought pieces back in the 00’s or maybe earlier. One questioned the primacy assigned to the recording given that it was hard to know if the recording reflected reality; to my recollection (I don’t think the article is "live" any more on the Internet)* --Coleman asked the question how one could know whether the recording itself was faithful to whatever performance(s) occurred. What it sounds like in the "booth" is different from what it sounds like "on the floor" assuming a group of performers is playing together live, at the same time, and leaving aside gear, mic’ing and mixing and eventually mastering. And of course, with overdubs (entirely acceptable in the recording industry to add things later), the end product is a much a creation of the recordist/engineer as the performers. Lots of variables, so Coleman asked whether "faithful to the recording" had any meaning as a reference for the home listener.

Assume you were at a live event that wound up on a recording you are listening to; you might, based on seating location, say, yeah that sounded pretty similar, but at a minimum, you would have had to have been there. How many records do you listen to where you weren’t there?

If we are talking about judging a recording via vinyl on the sonic merits only, I have a number of "cues" I listen for-- not very difficult--that tell me it sounds more real, assuming the recording/pressing contains the information: much is tone, and a lot has to do with timing of attack and decay, including harmonic overtones and the acoustics of the space in which the recording was made if that is evident.

Bandwidth -sure, but not the first consideration for me and certainly not at the expense of a grainless, "hear through" midrange with no artifacts. Every recording is obviously different.

But to come back to Coleman’s question, if you use the recording as the reference, leaving aside pressing issues, how do you know that is a good reflection of the performance? Not all recordings are created equal (nor are performances), but how would you determine this? See above re one answer, which is very limiting.

Some people look for more resolution, but I think I’m willing to trade that off a little (especially to the extent the resolution makes the record sound strident or thin), for more "real" (know it when I hear it). The leads down one of many paths of subjective audio. I do know that after hearing Crimson live several years ago, I put on the vinyl of the Toronto 2016 show (basically same playlist with same basic players) and it sounded quite similar to what I heard live in a 2,000 seat hall. Of course, I could not reproduce the scale of that or the amount and depth of the bass, but wouldn’t want to in a room which is a fraction of that size (but still a large room).

You can test if you have an instrument, preferably unamplified, and a good recorder of some sort. Even though, say, a piano is also a hugely variable instrument even between otherwise identical models from the same manufacturer- and tuned and "voiced" with the kind of care that you may be familiar with in voicing a hi-fi, you still have a sense of what the instrument is capable of.


*To my surprise, the article is still up so if you search Jules' name and "audio" generally, you will find it. Inner Magazine was the publisher. I did the above from memory. I’m now going to re-read the article and see if I fairly summarized it. Well worth the time in my estimation, if you are asking these questions and not just talking about unnecessary or colorful verbiage.