What is it I'm failing to grasp?

I come across statements here and elsewhere by guys who say 1) their systems come very close to duplicating the experience of hearing live music and 2) that they can listen for hours and hours due to the "effortless" presentation.  

I don't understand how these two claims add up. In tandem, they are profoundly inconsistent with my experiences of listening to live music. 

If I think about concerts I consider the best I've witnessed (Oregon, Solas, Richard Thompson, SRV, Dave Holland Quintet, '77 G. Dead, David Murray, Paul Winter Consort), I would not have wanted any of those performances to have extended much beyond their actual duration.

It's like eating-- no matter how wonderfully prepared the food, I can only eat so much-- a point of satiation is reached and I find this to be true (for me) when it comes to music listening as well. Ditto for sex, looking at visual art, reading poetry or playing guitar. All of these activities require energy and while they may feel "effortless" in the moment, I eventually reach a point where I must withdraw from aesthetic simulation.

Furthermore, the live music I've heard is not always "smoothly" undemanding. I love Winifred Horan's classically influenced Celtic fiddling but the tone she gets is not uniformly sweet; the melodies do not always resemble lullabies. The violin can sound quite strident at times. Oregon can be very melodious but also,(at least in their younger days) quite chaotic and atonal. These are examples on the mellower side of my listening spectrum and I can't listen to them for more than a couple hours, either live or at home. 

Bottom line: I don't find listening to live music "effortless" so I don't understand how a system that renders this activity "effortless" can also be said to be accurate.   

What is it that I'm failing to grasp, here?  




"There are so many instances were the live performance far exceeds the studio version in musicianship"

Yes-- Allman Bros. at Fillmore East is another great example!



Which person is hearing the "true sound"?

ain’t no such thang

those that pursue 'accuracy' etc etc are just fooling themselves

but once you free yourself of that notion, and pursue what sounds right to oneself, then the fun begins...

In music school, we were taught to measure our attention spans and work within them. To pace ourselves and use use the reward system in between spans and to start new sessions after sufficient time to enjoy the reward. In listening, one often partakes of the rewards throughout, which extends the sessions. At a concert, you purchase, which provides a break. At home, we simply light up, open, poor, brew, press, roll, pack or what-have-you. In other words, you might be comparing vastly different experiences against your own. In most cases, audience attention spans are dealt with proactively. 3:20 songs, 2:00 movies, 28 pages (translate to the first 28 minutes of a film that the needs to be hooked by), 3 hour concerts, etc. I think what you are missing is knowing that others are often synthesizing a longer attention span and it’s normal to have a normal attention span, which you seem to have.. 

@mijostyn  agree to disagree (I do)

Funny, I've seen NIN over a dozen times (once even on side stage)... I would never in a million years say their live sound is better then their produced work. Tool comes remotely close, but still IMO give me the album and my system and that's audio bliss, not the acoustics of the venue, the droning crowd, the rattling speakers.

LOTR play, Or Peter Jackson Movie version? I know which I'd choose. Give me Return of the King on UHD 4k DVD. I'll skip the live action stuff.

Have your pick, but seriously my father was a roadie, and lamented modern rock music because it was overproduced and never sounded as good live as it did on the the LP (claimed acoustically it couldn't). He took me to see Bowie and NIN play together (even took me back stage) and both of them live, albeit extremely entertaining didn't sound very good compared to all there songs I've known and come to love. Closer and the The Hearts Filthy Lesson are sure cool live, but live renditions of those tracks are a different visceral animal, but a violent clumsy one compare to the sophisticated alpha predator those tracks are on their respective albums.

Live music is a "type" of sound, the produced work is what the artist intended. Classical music might very well be the purists delight when it comes to listening nirvana for it's unfiltered and true to form reproduction, but that's Classical music. Classical music isn't as dependant (nor does it want to be) on studio production wizardry like other music does. Think of the concept of a sample, something so easily used in music, or sound loops, it would be completely against the grain for those said music making methods to be utilized in regards to classical music composition. Some things are just common place within music that don't transfer over well within the live realm, and that's why I don't prefer the sound most times.

I do love live music, the spectacle, energy and ambiance, but what is the purpose of The Fragile or The Downward Spiral if NIN live is what's best? Why don't all modern artist just release only "live albums"? I'd argue because they honestly have an intended sound which they feel is best conveyed through the music that they actually produce within the studio and then attempt to recreate later on for entertainment purposes for the audience.

One begets the other... Album begets the tour... It's that way for a reason as most modern music is now highly technical art.

@ja_kub_sz , I was 3rd row center for With Teeth at the Boston Garden. It was one of those rare instances where there were reserved seats on the floor. I had Etymotic ear plugs in and there is no home HiFi alive that can replicate that. However, Resner has produced several concert BluRays that are top notch and the sound these can produce on a great system will greatly exceed what the people at the back of the stadium were hearing which is a secession of echoes. 

With Jazz and classical things are totally different. Now you are dealing with small clubs and well tuned concert halls and the live performance routinely exceed what you hear on record. 

@jjss49 , You can not perfectly replicate a live performance on recording nor would you want to. The idea is giving you the impression that you are at a live performance and a home system can do that but, it is not easy and you have to spend at least 100K to get there not to mention the room.  IMHO the two most significant impediments to doing this are room acoustics and bass performance.