Real or Surreal. Do you throw accuracy out the window for "better" sound?

I visited a friend recently who has an estimated $150,000 system. At first listen it sounded wonderful, airy, hyper detailed, with an excellent well delineated image, an audiophile's dream. Then we put on a jazz quartet album I am extremely familiar with, an excellent recording from the analog days. There was something wrong. On closing my eyes it stood out immediately. The cymbals were way out in front of everything. The drummer would have needed at least 10 foot arms to get to them. I had him put on a female vocalist I know and sure enough there was sibilance with her voice, same with violins. These are all signs that the systems frequency response is sloped upwards as the frequency rises resulting in more air and detail.  This is a system that sounds right at low volumes except my friend listens with gusto. This is like someone who watches TV with the color controls all the way up. 

I have always tried to recreate the live performance. Admittedly, this might not result in the most attractive sound. Most systems are seriously compromised in terms of bass power and output. Maybe this is a way of compensating. 

There is no right or wrong. This is purely a matter of preference accuracy be damn.  What would you rather, real or surreal?


Immersiveness is my lodestone... But i like smoothness for sure but timbre rendition cannot always be smooth ......




Curious that you would use the word impact.

Maybe that’s not the best word. I just noticed that the effect of my father’s photos was indeed pleasing to the eye, but not the end-all in realism. The real scene seemed more colorful, but it wasn’t actually. It was, however more dynamic and bright, which is something that has to be dealt with through artful use of curves based on perceptual standards and taste. My dad’s approach was to use a particular established standard and a good one, but not the only good one. It was natural in a certain ways at the expense of seeming less natural in others. He appreciated more vibrant, punchy work done by other photographers but that wasn't what he preferred to create.

I once had the sun shining onto a calendar in my office in such a way that it just happened to be lighting up the sky in the picture and the higher mountains that had sunlight on them when the picture was taken. The lower hills in the foreground that were not in direct sunlight were not getting lit by sunlight in the office. The effect was excellent. It got me thinking about aligning projected light with print photos.

We all wish for something better...Relax ,have a refreshing drink and enjoy the system sounds great to me .Learn to relax and enjoy the system you have, I'm sure it's fantastic....


@hilde45 wrote:

There is no corresponding "objective reality." That’s right. Everything that "is" must be somehow taken by us. No raw given, no way to check. Even the "real, objective" cello on the stage, playing live, is heard by me -- my sitting position, my ears, my distracted mind -- and, most important -- my interpretative taking of that acoustical experience.

Do the variations coming from your specific experience and seated position fundamentally change the sound from a cello or other, even compared to that perceived by another individual sharing the same event, and the variations at play here? I know, no way to check on the latter part of the question posed, but it doesn’t matter - to me that applies more to intersubjectivity than subjectivity per se; while you wouldn’t have the very same sonic experience as the other person sitting at a distance from you (or yourself in another position), you’d nonetheless - both of you - take part in the same event and share its overall characteristics.

If, in my home, I want to experience what I did in the concert hall -- ok, then I try to figure out how to do that. (And, as @mahgister points out: there are a hundred interpretive acts which are between me and that moment: engineers, mastering, etc.) But in this enterprise, let me not fall into the trap that I’m "really" getting back to something "more real." That’s folly and, worse, obfuscation. But it makes for some great chest-beating online.

From my chair, in the context of audio reproduction, it’s a fallacy thinking something not achieved as an exact replica of an original event can’t represent, in variations or approximations of realness in a progressive manner, said event as an objective "something." Too many seem to believe that what can’t be emulated in every aspect in audio reproduction is in essence a venture suffused in subjectivity. I disagree. Let’s not confuse the philosophical distinction of "das ding an sich/für uns" (thing-in-itself/to-us) as anything applicable to audio; both the original event and final reproduction is an experience "für uns" anyway, so I’d leave whatever is "an sich" to mere speculation about the world’s supposed murky-mysterious, inherent true state.

So, Is it that your father's images were unrealistically dark or is it that the indoor lighting did not create that perception?  You said initially that your father's images appeared natural. And now you say they are unrealistic. So are naturalness and realism two different things? Kind of like musical and analytical gear? I personally think they are the same thing but if they are different I'll go with natural. A lot of photos are not taken in daylight so there's that. Images taken on cloudy days tend to be less saturated than images shot in daylight. Many photographers will do their best to avoid daylight photography.

One thing I have noticed is that  some folks painting outside considerably oversaturate and enhance their work. There is clearly a huge market for unrealistic takes on reality. Folks who represent reality less vividly are rare. So I would probably appreciate your father's images. Even if he goes the other way somewhat. Better to want more than to overdose.