Back to basics with music – buy a “stereo” stereo

I believe we have forgotten the fundamentals of music.

Sound is three-dimensional, and embodied. We have not one but two ears for a reason. Sure, stereo headphones will produce stereo but not three-dimensional sound. The stereophonic sound remains the same even if you move your head to face any direction. Not so with live performances or speakers spaced apart.

While it can be argued that an all-in-one unit player/speaker is located in a space it does not produce stereophonic sound very well. Firstly, the speakers are too close together. Whatever stereo sound you have it may as well be a single speaker. Secondly, today’s digital streaming music is less detailed and dynamic than the original recordings. The combination of these make for a flat and unenjoyable music experience.

It is a mistake to think playing music loud will make it more dynamic or detailed. If the data is missing detail (and therefore dynamic) no matter how good your equipment is, it will output only what it is input into it.

This means there are at least four factors which will determine how good the music will sound. These are 1) the recording equipment; 2) the amount of data preserved; 3) the processing unit or amp; and 4) the speakers.

I have a recording of Rachmaninoff playing his own Piano Concerto No. 2 but because it was recorded in the early 20th century the amount of detail is low. Similarly, the standard digitally streamed music is of a lower sample rate as well as bitrate. Both of these impact on what can be reproduced. Today while I have a decent stereo in the form of the Kenwood K-515 it still produces, in the eyes of an audiophile, well under the kind of sound that can be considered optimal or perfect. But then again, I am not spending thousands but hundreds of dollars here. For the price I paid that is good enough for me.

Buying a DSD recording of Norah Jones’s Don’t Know Why and playing that on the stereo made it so wonderful that I must say that it was value for money.

3 thoughts on “Back to basics with music – buy a “stereo” stereo”

  1. When it comes to original recordings that are old at its optimum, I agree. But when you have a modern track that is played at less than ideal quality — equipment issues, corner-cutting for profit — then I have an issue.

    We once thought there was a pyramid in Mars because of the low resolution camera. Later images revealed nothing an ordinary mountain.

    It’s about the truth, which we both are after.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree and disagree. I often more enjoy recordings that are of less quality. I wonder about this, but I think it is Becuase enjoyment comes also from the memory of when I first came by the song. So my present moment of enjoyment is entangled with memory. And in fact, I have found that this is so much the case that sometimes the better the quality of the recording makes the music sound empty and the instruments detached from one another. As if each instrument is just playing a part and just coincidentally at the same time.

    I often enjoy the lower quality sound because it feels to me as if the instruments are more intertwined and present more as a musical unit moving together. As though any chord or musical presentation has grown that way for the song rather than merely being an assemblage of individual notes.

    Liked by 1 person

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