Great Interview-

Another great  Rick Beato interview. However at 46 minutes in the discussion touches upon how high end home audio is a complete waste of money.

Whats interesting is ...Bonamassa has an incredible guitar and guitar amp collection worth millions...but he and Rick think that high end audio gear is a complete waste of money. Why do musicians look down upon high end audio gear ? I don't get it.


I don’t know if they look down high-end audio as much as, just like with the majority of the general public, they just don’t give a damn about it and thus remain ignorant about it. I know and have played with many musicians, and only two had decent stereo systems and the rest were completely clueless about high-end audio. I’ve seen musicians I’ve played with listen to a good system, and while they appreciated it they just didn’t get it — you could see it just wasn’t getting through to them again I think because they just don’t inherently care. As hard as it may be for you and me to understand, being a musician seems to have very little correlation with someone being, or even wanting to be, an audiophile. I totally agree that It is kinda strange.

Many musicians listen first for the performance, to see how other people did it. Maybe so they can too, maybe to know what to avoid. Then too, they listen to live music all the time.

+1 @soix musicians are NOT AUTOMATICALLY = high-end audiophiles,

but their are some high-end manufacturers who are musicians

We are in the midst of live music most days of our lives, year after year. 

Nothing comes close to live (even though I have pretty decent audio gear and Do care about it.  But I can go weeks without turning on the stereo and not miss it.

A question I have often asked musicians. And always the same answer: variants of "music is to audiophilia as philosophy is to memorization." To them we might as well be stuffed panda collectors.

Any musician who has played or fronted a rock/blues band over the years must have suffered some loss of hearing, I would have thought. Attended an early Cream gig in a smallish hall with 750 watts per side from stacked Marshalls - truly deafening for us in the audience, not surprised that Ginger Baker could'nt hear what he was playng !!!

One of Beato's videos was about why he was going to release his next album only as 320 kbs mp3, since you can't hear the difference between that and any higher resolution.  

And if you've ever been to a Bonnamassa concert, the sound quality is as bad as it gets anywhere.

While it is true that most musicians don't care that much about sound quality,  those two care even less than most musicians. Their opinion on high end audio is about as valid as my opinion is on the Stanley Cup--is that the hockey thing?

Selling Audio at the Retail level in the late 70’s and early 80’s… Musicians had the Worst taste in equipment. They either went for Entry Level or Cerwin Vegas… complete waste of your time…

I guess nothing has changed???

Nothing comes close to live

I beg to differ. I’ve heard many concerts live that sounded awful, too loud, or unbalanced. That includes acoustic concerts in spaces that were not right.

+1 @hilde45 As audiophiles, “live” is not what we are after. A lot of people throw that term around when describing high end audio but in reality it’s about getting the “truthfulness” of the recording and how different components bring that out; and more so how to listen for that. It can be a complicated hobby for many to understand, but when you do understand, it’s very rewarding.

I've been to a few Bonamassa concerts in the 2000's.  What a performer!  Had a rack of guitars like i've never seen.  But his sound techs left a lot on the  table.  And he used only a small portion of the guitars.  Heard better sound in some of the joints on Beale St.

In an attempt to educate our ears, my wife and I have been going to live events and, recently, "music bars."  We have been quite disappointed.   At the jazz clubs we've been to the musicians invariably use amps of miserable quality, even when they don't need amplification.  We were recently at a pop-up sound bar on a 2-week gig from Japan.  That was laughing bad.  They played vintage 45's on a refurbished juke box.  The DJ assured my that they replaced the needle.

A local upscale restaurant outfitted a basement lounge with a nice Cayin amp, a turntable and - vintage Cerwin Vega's. At the sweet spot,, one was toed in to point directly at me while the other was pointed at the wall 10 feet to my right.  They had a total of five albums to choose from, not counting the Christmas albums.

I guess that if you want it done right you have to do it yourself.  We belong to a club in Chicago (the University Club) that has live music in a cozy bar lounge on Thursdays and Fridays.  We've decided to recommend that they outfit the bar with a decent streaming system for other nights.  I'm certainly no professional but I'm sure I could do a good job for modest $.

I love Joe Bonamassa's recordings,  especially those where he plays with Beth Hart. When he had a live performance near me,  I bought tickets and went to see him.  Boy, was I disappointed!! All of the instruments were over amplified well past the point of distortion,  and the acoustics were abominable. Lyrics were completely garbled. Luckily,  I  had brought a pair of ear plugs and ended up using them or I would have suffered hearing damage.  I  was with three other people and all felt the same.

As to appreciating audiophile level equipment,  how many people actually put on a recording,  and then sit down and listen to it? In my experience,  not many.  Most simply use music as background.  If one is going to put on music and then go do dishes in the kitchen, or dust the house,  an audiophile system is pretty much a waste.  If that's how you listen to music (and there's nothing wrong about that if that's your style) then an entry level system from Best Buy is perfectly sufficient. In short,  this is a rather esoteric hobby that just doesn't interest most people, and that's okay! When I start holding forth about sound stage,  imaging,  tight bass, and room reflections,  most of my friends eyes begin to glaze over and I just shut up. 

I had a recording studio where I recorded bands in the Portland, OR area for about 10 years. I got to know a lot of musicians. Many if not most of them wanted to hear my big reference system but not a single one of them said, "Wow, how could I set up a nice system like that?" They thought it sounded good but it just didn't seem to register as something they were interested in owning. However, they really appreciated when I would introduce them to older music that was an obvious influence on what they were playing. The two best blues/rock guitar players I ever recorded had never listened to the Allman Brothers. Another excellent guitar player was clearly influenced by Joe Walsh but it turns out he had never listend to Walsh. I wish I could tell you that was unusual but it happened over and over again. But I digress.

An additional +1 @hilde45 . I've been to exactly one concert that sounded better than my stereo system. Grateful Dead at Missoula in the mid 70's. Crystal clear and not punishingly loud. Otherwise, a well recorded album sounds light years better than any live music event I have been to. And yes, I've been to several classical concerts. Maybe I just had bad seats or whatever but a well recorded classical album (either vinyl or digital) played through my system has much better fidelity to my ears. Blasphemy, I know.

I have always thought that Harry Pearson was right in looking for the absolute sound not in amplified sound from electronics but from the "sound of actual acoustic instruments playing in a real space." 

@kmcong The only time I fire up my music rig is if I’m going to sit and listen to music. Having music in the background is distracting because I’ll find myself stopped and listening to it. When the last road band I was in broke up and I got a job in a retail store playing Muzak, that was a problem. 😳

Agreed, tho, that I can’t imagine why every musician isn’t a lover of great sound  For most musicians I think budget is a factor  I’ve sat any number of musicians in front of my rig and their jaws drop  But none have pursued a system of their own  One noted jazz pianist says she spends so much time hearing and playing live music she’s not really interested in playback at home  She listens to recording mixes on her computer and wonders why I waste $$ on stereo gear.

In terms of what I’m looking for in playback, I’d say I want it to sound Real  If it’s a close-mic studio recording I like the impact of the final mastered mix; like the mix station is my AV room. If it’s recorded in a live space, I want to be in that space with the band/orchestra  Or put another way, either they are in my room or I’m in theirs  A great recording on a great sounding rig - It can happen…




@terry9 Bingo ! Musicians are listening to the performance. What I have been discussing all along. But I digress. Hi end audio can be enjoyed for many reasons, and I am accepting this, as more and more audiophile people are not listening to the performance, the musicianship, the composition. To each his/her own. My best, MrD.

We went to hear Joe many times in the early days- he was hauling his own gear in a rental box truck. He eventually morphed more into a hard rock act. I wish him continued success, but the blues based stuff was what attracted me. 

Hello All! Musicians are used to being "IN" the music. They are surrounded by other people aling music. Tey concerned with how they are producing the musical performance. They are doers not listeners. They are concerned with structure and shaping of the sound the listener hears. They are "in the moment" of producing the music. They know what they want to do are concentrating on how to produce the sound they want. If they are listening to a recording, it is history. It's done. It's over. It's yesterday. They aren't concerned with how history sounds. They know how it sounds in their minds and how it was produced. Yesterday is of little interest and value. NOW is what counts. Do the performers "have the chops," They are not listening for what the audiophiles care about. So, fancy gear is of no interest to them. Did they hit the right note? It doesn't matter that an instrument is not accurately reproduced. The melody and harmony matters. The pacing and timing of the notes matters, how the players work together matters. Not much else. We enjoy the historic performance of the recording in a very different way, and thank them for their efforts.  Happy Listening.

Most musicians can't afford the hobby in the first place. However, most musicians greatly appreciate recording studios with high end equipment.

@8th-note  The Grateful Dead have used McIntosh gear for amplification for a long, long time. I believe Bob Weir has all McIntosh gear at home, too.


Years ago we saw Bonamassa in NYC several times, but surprisingly the sound at his concerts was was at best, fair.  So I bought several of his CDs to play on my rig hoping for better.  Didn't happen.  The sound Bonamassa's CDs is so bad, I literally started a thread here on A'Gon asking if it was my imagination.   It wasn't, as several critical listeners chimed in that his CDs are unlistenable crap.   So, not surprised the guy (whose ego there is not room for on this earth) doesn't understand high end audio.  

The point Bonamassa and Beato are making is that if you listen to recordings on an audio set-up that costs more than the equipment used to record them, you are going to hear stuff that the musicians and recording engineers did not intend to be heard.

They are actually acknowledging the superiority of expensive audio gear.

Beato listens on studio monitors--and good ones, I imagine.

People seem to be misinterpreting what was said on the video.

Or am I missing something?


I agree with boomerbillone and bolong. As a musician, most bandmembers aren't interested in high end systems. They are usually busy and writing or learning songs, and rehearsing. They are content listening to songs on anything they have. the sound of the equipment doesn't matter. If you went to a class and the teacher was talking to you, would you feel disappointed they weren't speaking to you through a high end PA system?


I am an audiophile because my father was into high end audio and that started me.

If you have been watching Beato lately, he is on a rant about musicians not being paid enough because of streaming fiscal policies and the slow-mo death of the live performance. It would suit his and Bonamassa's angst to berate anything that wasn't "live" and that focused instead on appreciating music from the privacy of your own home.