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Playback Listening
Topic: It seems

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Posted by Romy the Cat on 09-14-2011

I always advocate that a civilized audio-practicing person must have one playback. I very much did not like the Morons who have multiple duplicating amplifier, speakers and multiple listening rooms. For sure they all produce slightly different flavors of sounds but I in my definition of audio there only one version of sound – the sound of playback reflecting the owner feeling of what is Right. The rest of the systems and the other “flavors of sound” is a pure audiophile masturbation – they perfectly tolerable in experiment stages or for the people who do audio trade but for serious audio practitioners who have “everyone home” in their heads I consider it is not acceptable.

Still, semi-willingly I end up with two duplicating playbacks: mains system – Milq driven Macondo and my own Altec 21S driven by consumer level SS gear. As the self-excuse of my idiocy I consider that one system is for audio and another for video. However, I would be lying to you, and the most important to myself, if I do not confess that I play audio on my video system much more frequently then I am willing to admit. In fact the playback in my video room has become almost as my former MiniMe playback. So, I asked myself: what is going on? Does the Altec 21S is so good and Sound in my video room is fine enough to solicit such a “sophisticated motherfucker” as I fancy myself? The answer is more complicated then you think.

No, Altec 21S is not a great acoustic system and it not even close to Macondo capacity. The sound in my Video room is nothing as Sound in my main listening room. Still, quite frequently I do turn to play CDs in video room.  What I discovered that bad recording, objectively bad recordings, overmastered, distorted, barbarically balanced, distorted, compressed, with stupidl multi-microphoning, vintage badly transferred and recording with many other problems do sound less annoying wheil I play them on the bad sounding playback of my video room.

Writing this post I am sitting in my video room and playing my beloved Bruckner 8 by Carlos Paita, with New Philharmonia from 1982. The Carlos Paita's interpretation of Bruckner at phenomenal and it is very smart Sound-wise. Paita played much faster and much less “refine” then I would like to but he did it with very smart balance to the sonic non-sophistication of the orchestra he had in his disposal. As the result, it did not become the Bruckner-light but rather the Bruckner-smart, diameteraly-different from the best Wand versions but very beautiful on it’s own, sort of  Bruckner-black-and-white. I very much like the Paita Bruckner 8 but for sure it does not have THAT noble Sound that I am so accustom from best German orchestras and that I like to selebrate on my main playback. So, despite the Paita’s elegant and smart reading, playing the Paita's take in my main listening room the performance sound quite unplesant. However, playing it in my video room, with consumer-grade electronic and objectively bad acoustic system that hides and homogenize Sound details the Paita’s Bruckner sounds nothing short of impressive and much more listenable.

This discovery, about the benefits of using none-reviling playback to fight bad recordings, I made very recently. While I was visiting last week Brucknerathon in Connecticut:

I noticed that despite the “consumer-level” of playback the sound was very suitable.  Of course there was no “Steinway crash” in there, there was no tonal sophistication and speakers did not behave well over 100dB (what you want to ask from direct radiators?) but despite those and many other "faults" the Sound was very good and I had absolutely no complains about me auditable experiences. Driving back I was thinking why was it so. Was it possible that masking effect of un-reveling playback made the bad recordings to be perceive more palatable? I think it was it. In general sense I think that if playback does not go too far in the areas where quality of recording not able to facilitate sustainable quality of Sound then the limitations of playback in fact become very valuable commodities.

Romy the Cat

Posted by clarkjohnsen on 09-14-2011
It seems that Romy is coming around to a wider view of things. Hip hip hurray!


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