HiFi ?

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HiFi ?

Postby softspeaker » 11 Sep 2013, 15:03

True, true...


Whilst awaiting the ..., Montreux's Septembre Musical lured us into the Strawinski Auditorium for Charles Dutoit conducting the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra London with Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain followed by Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto N°.2 with Kirill Gerstein capped off by Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. With costly seats in row 7 of the floor's left wing marked below, we saw directly on Kirill's hands. Audiophile ambitions to reproduce a full symphony are foolish at best. If deemed successful they are downright delusional. Claims of playback realism whilst talking individual violins are equally irrational. An expert violin section as the London's impresses by performing as one. What individual instruments? Overall tonal balance is darker than most hifis. There's no air, no highly specific soundstaging. On dynamic contrast epitomized by Sacre's orchestral bass drum—by far the loudest instrument on stage followed by the massive rapidly damped gong effects, then trumpets, then piccolo flute—even the best hifi is a bloodless ghost. Instrumentation included 2 piccolos, 3 flutes, alto flute, 4 oboes, English horn, E-flat clarinet, 3 clarinets, 2 bass clarinets, 4 bassoons, 2 contrabassons, 8 French horns, piccolo D trumpet, 4 trumpets, 3 trombones, 3 tubas, 8 timpani, bass drum, triangle, antique cymbals and strings. No domestic listening room would ever contain that. No domestic hifi even remotely approaches its scale and grandeur. Many though can and will play far louder claiming realism again when it's plainly not.

Hifi and live are two very different experiences. How much overlap they enjoy and whether that occurs on the purely sonic level or that of very subjective emotional response is not fixed.

Modern studio productions go after different qualities than minimalist purist mixes. Acoustic instruments don't have the violent 'gun-shot' rise times in the bass that electric bass does. Tune your system to excel at the latter and it'll overdamp acoustic upright by design. Do acoustic bass with believable bloom and synth bass lacks slam and dryness. Swap venue seat—there's a huge difference between front row and last row balcony—and the sound changes. Swap venue. With changed size and reverb times the sound changes. Again. And again. Little in hifi is as false as the notion of an absolute sound. Free yourself of the faulty notion. Embrace the happy fact that playback is its own thing whose primary purpose is to push your buttons. Whatever those are, your hifi must match them.


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