Sunday, February 05, 2006

Audiophilic Rock & Roll?

"What should I write?", I groan. "I'm not a good writer."
"I don't know anything about that stuff." Jenny retorts. "Just write like you talk."
There's no real way to punctuate my erratic speech patterns.

Only since coming to THIEL in August have I realized just how poorly my favorite music is recorded. I can't emphasize enough how awful that is. Granted, it still sounds way better than it did on my old mid-fi, I'm still perpetually perturbed at how there seems to be NO correlation between recording budget and sound quality. I'm not an audiophile, rather a music consumer with a voracious appetite for good records. But, despite the artistic qualities of the records I hold so dear, I still remain drastically underwhelmed when it comes to the sound quality of the final master. Does this diminish my ability to enjoy the record? Emphatically, "YES!"

Excellently recorded music that fails to impress in the quality of music category is worse though. Who cares how great it sounds if it's painstaking to listen to anyway? Maybe that was unfair. What right do I have to tell someone whether or not their music is good? Jenny's 'rock-a-billy' friend came over to hang out one night and was nothing short of disgusted with my selection of Bill Frisell. Case in point.

I think I know why most of my favorite records sound so awful by 'audiophile standards'. The market for them demands that they sound that way. The public that consumes 90s alternative, for example, wants crushingly loud guitars with heavy bass undertones, and drums that will knock your head off, and they want it to do all of this in their '86 Chevy Cavalier with a factory standard AC Delco stereo. How might an enterprising record producer make this happen? Compress and EQ the snot out of it!

I happen to be in the underrepresented market segment who loves 90s alternative but treasures quality recording. If money didn't talk, I'd probably get my wish. I can only hope that my demographic has the buying power to influence killer rock & roll that sounds equally killer one day...or at least killer re-masters.

Your lead-eared listener,

Gary Dayton
Customer Service/Technical Support


Anonymous Anonymous said...

So sad and so true Gar-o. I had the same experience when I broke out of mid-fi. And it is not just '90s Alternative that frequently dissapoints, but much of what was recorded in the '80s and '70s.

The good news is that there IS some good stuff out there. Search the Web for "reference" material. commonsenseaudio has a nice list, though it is very light on Alternative (and heavy on Jazz).

Good luck!

10:55 AM  

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