How can you evaluate a system with highly processed music?

Each to their own.

But can you really evaluate a system by listening to highly processed, electric/electronic music? How do you know what that sounds like?

I like to listen to voices and acoustic music that is little processed. 

Instruments like piano, violin, etc. 

And the human voice. And the joy of hearing back up singers clearly, etc.

Even if full instrumentation backing a natural sounding voice.

(eg.: singer/songwriters like Lyle Lovett or Leonard Cohen)

There is a standard and a point of reference that can be gauged.



Dear @mglik : All recorded MUSIC are way processed through the recording process steps been acoustic or elctric/electronical: it needs microphones to start with the process.

" How do you know what that sounds like? "

We really don’t know for sure even with acoustics because one thing is what we listen in a live event and what we listen in a room/system at home. Yes we can evaluate what for our live MUSIC experiences we think is near to those experiences.

We all started our room/system evaluation for 10-20-30 or more years when step by step wse gone changing speakers/electronics/CD players/cartridges and the like and through all that heavy learned room/system " voyage " learned to evaluate a system almost any system.

In my case through all those years a test/evaluation process was created where I was choosing some recording tracks in LP/CD that through the years too were changing and improved and I could say that today my evaluation process with those choosed recorded tracks is almost bullet proof.

I use almost everykind of MUSIC from the Telarc 1812 LP passing for the D2D M&K Flamenco Fever and the Sheffield Drum record and the Paramita LP by WindMusic label or the CD Gladiator even Laura Branigan Self Control single and Fun Fun Color My Love 45rpm Maxi Single and the great voice of Montserrat Caballé , Kabi Laretei on piano Chopin Nocturne on Proprius label and Center Stage by Wilson Audio Label and other more as the RR Dafos. I know on each one track even the tone of diferrent recording mistakes or clicks/pops.

Different tracks to evaluate different characteristics on MUSIC and ovbusly always the same tracks for evaluation of those different characteristics.


Well that’s me.


Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,




I don't know why you'd want to evaluate a system with music other than the kind that you like. Personally, I wouldn't care how music I don't listen to sounds on my system. I listen to rock and electronic, so how classical guitar sounds on my system would be meaningless to me

Long before I was into classical music, I still understood, that it is recorded with much less processing, and in ways that captured the natural spatial cues of the acoustic space it was recorded in. 

So, if a system reproduces classical music accurately, I have a better chance of knowing that what I hear on rock recordings, is accurate to the way it sounded when the band and engineers were done with it. 

It is a great way to get a baseline. 

Without that baseline, rock recordings may sound good, but not actually be accurate.




The only “evaluation” is whether it sounds good to you or not.
If it sounds good, the evaluation is: “A”.
If it doesn’t, then hopefully you can make some sound, sensible choices to improve what’s lacking (you’re in a good spot here on this forum for guidance in this matter) without going crazy on the bank account and sanity quotient.

The way the word “processed” is being bandied about strikes me as problematic.
There’s no such thing as sound that is not “processed.”
Person A, with their particular physical condition, particular mind, and particular personal proclivities, listening to a live acoustic instrument, 10 feet away from the player, is “processing” that aural stimulus differently than Person B, even if at the exact same distance.
Human beings.
It just gets far more “processed” after that.
Entirely acoustic instruments recorded by microphones that “process” the sound waves into an electrical signal. Signals then “processed” into a recording.
Throw in mixing and mastering….

Going upwards from here, there are so many different instruments that are electric, there are so many ways to manipulate the signal (intentionally or unintentionally) before it even reaches the recording, there are so many synthesized sounds at the actual instrument stage…

If people have a problem with instruments that aren’t completely acoustic, that’s their prerogative and there’s nothing wrong with that at all. To each their own.

Should such a person make the unwise decision to eschew being a normal, healthy person who passionately loves music and just wants to spend their life enjoying it, to instead become an obsessive, anxiety-addled neurotic who spends more time fretting over minutiae than the former (aka an ‘audiophile’ - I’m being sarcastic, yes, but lovingly so…been there, done that), then that person would just make that acoustic-only music they prefer sound as good as possible.
Who cares what other people say?
If someone else makes Skrillex sound “perfect” (to them, of course) in their system, that person has “evaluated” their system, and given it a grade of “A.”


I think the OP is only referring to evaluating a system, not what one is going to listen to for enjoyment at other times.

And yes, all recorded music is processed. But, without argument, classical is by far the least processed, and much closer to being an accurate representation of the original event than any studio recording. What is on the recording is much closer to the actual sound of the instruments, than the average studio recording.

The vast majority of classical recordings, are usually only slightly compressed, minimal EQ, minimal mixing. There is no: quantization, noisegating, autotune, panning, delay, echo, etc, used on classical recordings.

There are much fewer layers of processing between what is on the recording, than studio rock, pop, country, etc recordings.

So, if one wants to evaluate a system for accuracy, I don’t think one can get any better than classical.

Before I got into classical, I still used it as a tool, in order to get a baseline for accuracy.


Dear @simonmoon : Accuracy is only one main MUSIC characteristic and not necesarily must be classical recording scores because the recording process depends too of the mastering process, plating and the like.In evaluation a room/system I think that the main MUSIC characteristic is transient response that develops the MUSIC dynamic power and yes that transient response must be accurated and your first hand experiences with live MUSIC ( any kind of MUSIC ) will tell you if it’s fine or wrong.

For accuracy I prefer the digital alternative over analog one ( everything the same. ) and does not matters if the score is acoustic or electronical or more or less processed. There are a lot of recordings with more processed steps that we can imagine and even that in many of those recordings you body are " moving/dancing " when listen those recordings classical or not..

Classical scores as the Firebird, 1812, Pictures at Exibition, Mahler symponies or other complex scores can’t tell us all about a room/system, can gives us maybe the 85%-90% of its quality level performance.

If we take recordings scores by Hans Zimmer, Vangelis, Jarré and many others we have down there a way wider accurated frequency response range, synthetizers is a way different world that makes we can complete a 99% room/system evaluation.

But exist other kind of MUSIC where normally we are not really accustom to and is the Asian scores where like Paramita recording ( Chinese composer. ) that uses only acoustic instruments ( including female voice. ) where the developed sound of those instruments are almost totally unknow for almost all of us and those kind of sounds are a true test to any room/system. Same happens with the instruments used in the Dafos scores ( Reference Recording label. ) and these kind of recordings an other ones I choosed in my evaluation whole process.

I own several CD’s of original soundtrack films where you can find out several to test any system. Gladiator is only an example but you can listen to the score of Memories of a Geisha and the MUSIC is splendid with yo yo Ma and Itzak Perlman or 3-4 tracks of the film The Thin Red Line and many more.

Other than the digital recorded old Telarc 1812 LP does not exist a classical score to evaluate the bass range of any system but CD’s as the Gladiator and the like.

Why is so important to me the home system bass range quality level? well in a home system as better the system bass range as better the overall quality performance. In a home system the MUSIC " belongs " to that bass range not to the mid range because the bass range and especially the low bass range develops notes/harmonics that modulates the quality level performance of the mid range that at the same time modulates the high frequency range response. So as better the bass range as better the home system. Yes, it has to be accurated.




@simonmoon Define, “accuracy.”

”Sounds exactly like a violin does in person”?  
“Sounds exactly like a piano does in person”?

This may be true to the listener.  
Sure, it’s possible someone may “get it right,” or “as close to ‘right’ as possible.”  
A person may be able to perform some scientific process of, say, a trial run involving the placement of a world-best conductor and/or orchestral player in the “sweet spot” of their listening room for an hour’s time each trial, ultimately coming away with a significant-enough sample size of “yay” votes as to the system’s “accuracy” to be able to say, “this system is super accurate.”

Other than this extremely rare extenuating circumstance (to the average Joe at home), a listener is determining “accuracy” from a place of inherently-questionable science.

Then we look at the definition of “accuracy” again: being able to reproduce what was performed at the performance stage as accurately as possible, being able to reproduce what was heard on the studio monitors at the time of recording/mixing as accurately as possible.  
To say, “now that I’ve determined reproduction of acoustic sound is ‘accurate’ on this system, I know that reproduction of pop recordings will be ‘accurate’ as well” is problematic.  
Hearing what the pop artists, engineers and producers were hearing when they listened to the studio monitors/master tape at the time of recording/mixing is not necessarily achieved across the board after determining “my system is ‘accurate’ based on classical music reproduction.”  
A different set of principles is adopted when making a pop record.  
A setup that is “super accurate” for reproduction of recordings of exclusively acoustic instruments may not necessarily be “super accurate” in reproducing what was heard on the studio monitors/master tape on a pop record.

Saying, “this is as close as possible to what the artists/engineers/producers heard on the master tape of this particular pop record” can only be achieved by having the music/recording’s progenitors sitting in your “sweet spot” in your listening room saying, “yup, this sounds exactly like the master tape.”

The classical recording/mix/master and the pop recording/mix/master are two pretty different things.

Beyond this point, the variables become so overwhelming across the entire spectrum of music-listening as to make a proclamation of objective “accuracy” across the board pretty silly.