Let the best be your guide

All of us have had to come to grips with bad sounding recordings. They can be disabling and make you question your whole system. The trick is to accept them for what they are and not to generalize. I try to listen for the music and skim over the imperfections. When confronted with a clinker, to save my sanity, I play a recording i know to be superior sounding. That restores my faith  in the system and brings me back to reality.


You wonder how these crappy sounding recordings get made. Presumably there are sound engineers who know what they’re doing. Yet some recordings are released with a lack of bass, or shrillness or some other defect. How does it happen? Are they aiming for the lo fi market or what? Hi resolving sets bring out all the flaws.

 I have a Loki equalizer which I took out of my system because there were getting to be too many wires.  Maybe I shouldn’t have.

Before we became audioholics we could listen to music and fill in the gaps of sound that were missing from the recording. Our remembering of the real thing was there to supplant the missing fidelity. It would be nice to go back that way again. It’s very hard but I think, at times, some can.

FWIW, I have my stereo system in a room 2 walls and 12 feet away from my large office. My system is on all day to FM or a multi play CDP. I thoroughly enjoy my music in the office. Then I go into my music room and sit down in the 'sweet spot' and get all the 'audiophile addict' tendencies which I have sort of trained myself not to be absorbed by. That sweet spot and the focus on soundstaging can be the real killer of the 'music'. In a perfect world listening off axis and in mono would be the preferred methodology, and you could fill your room with the 'sound of music'. :-)

I can enjoy music on the car radio or whatever mediocre source. But in my system at home I want everything to sound as good as possible.For subpar recordings I'll choose to "color" them via eq.After listening to live music as a teen I began to think about if and how to recapture that aliveness at home someday.

It’s possible to strike a balance between resolving and forgiving. It just takes time and effort in matching components, cables, room acoustics. I like an accurate but not analytical system. I want to be able to listen and enjoy a crappy recording of a great performance such as Mahler’s 5th conducted by Bruno Walter (1947) and not have to start looking for a modern better recorded but lesser performance version of it. And when I’m done listening to it, I can play Diana Krall and be amazed by the recording quality and the resolving power of my system. 

And by the way…everything will color the sound - components, cables, room. Don’t chase neutrality - it doesn’t exist.