Author Topic: Is it live or is it Memorex?  (Read 1377 times)

Offline Tam Lin

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Is it live or is it Memorex?
« on: February 16, 2018, 10:58:38 AM »
In the early 1970s, Memorex ran several commercials with the tag line “Is it live or is it Memorex?” They claimed that music recorded on Memorex cassette tape was indistinguishable from the original live sound.

In 1973 Harry Pearson launched an audio review magazine titled ‘the absolute sound’ that demanded the sound of audio components be compared to ‘the absolute sound’, which Harry defined as the actual sound of real acoustic instruments in a real acoustic space.

Fifty years ago, ‘high fidelity’ meant faithful sound reproduction. Today, ‘hi fi’ is a pejorative and ‘high end’ audio consumers seek pinpoint imaging and a holographic sound stage; two attributes that have nothing to do with music.

Now, audiophiles are auditioning audio equipment via YouTube videos played on their i-Phone. What happened?


Offline Nick B

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Re: Is it live or is it Memorex?
« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2018, 10:30:42 PM »
In the early 1970s, Memorex ran several commercials with the tag line “Is it live or is it Memorex?” They claimed that music recorded on Memorex cassette tape was indistinguishable from the original live sound.

In 1973 Harry Pearson launched an audio review magazine titled ‘the absolute sound’ that demanded the sound of audio components be compared to ‘the absolute sound’, which Harry defined as the actual sound of real acoustic instruments in a real acoustic space.

Fifty years ago, ‘high fidelity’ meant faithful sound reproduction. Today, ‘hi fi’ is a pejorative and ‘high end’ audio consumers seek pinpoint imaging and a holographic sound stage; two attributes that have nothing to do with music.

Now, audiophiles are auditioning audio equipment via YouTube videos played on their i-Phone. What happened?

The phrase “high fidelity” has lost a lot of it’s lustre. To me, it had much more meaning in the 60s and 70s. I got into this hobby...passion...in the late 70s and here I am all these years later. There has been much discussion about this current generation as to their ipods and now YouTube as you mention. But I wonder if it is that much different from listening to 45s on a bad system decades ago?
There will always be that small niche that really appreciate live performances or beautifully recorded music.
I’m not nor ever will be a musician and I do go to the occasional concert. I understand the joy in live music, but if I factor in that someone has a bad cough that night or the venue is acoustically mediocre, my system in my controlled environment at home sometimes brings me much more pleasure.
As to pinpoint imaging and a holographic soundstage, I’ve never heard it at a concert, but I nonetheless enjoy those characteristics/artifacts? in my home environment. I do wonder what a very
controlled environment in a recording studio sounds like.
Nick
« Last Edit: February 16, 2018, 10:37:21 PM by Nick B »
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Offline Tam Lin

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Re: Is it live or is it Memorex?
« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2018, 02:44:59 AM »
Perhaps ones childhood exposure to music forms a lifelong reference. It was important to my parents that their children were exposed to music as it was for most parents of their generation. My early recollections are that every household had a piano and at least one family member who could play well. Social gatherings often centered around the piano. Even if there were no accomplished pianists present, there was a piano bench full of sheet music, there was someone who could read music well enough to play the chords, and everybody sang along. When I was growing up, every school had an orchestra, band, and choir. The students were frequently bussed to the city for special concerts at the symphony. There were also school assemblies were students performed. Those days are gone. (Note: I attended regular public schools in New York and Los Angles, not a private music academy.)

For me, the sound of live music is very special. I moved to Berkeley in 1967 and lived on the Northside. On warm summer evenings, I’d walk through the neighborhood listening to the sounds coming from the open windows. The most common sounds were of a TV or a Beatles LP. Occasionally, I’d hear someone practicing the cello or flute and I’d stop and listen. Sometimes I’d hear conversation and the human voice, live, is easily identified compared to TV voices.

I remember attending an open house at a very high-end audio salon. Every room had a very expensive audio system playing music and the guests were walking around, consuming the free food and drink, and talking. I was standing outside a room listening. The music was a live concert and, as with many concerts, there was some talking interspersed with the music. (Some performers do a lot of talking; Arlo Guthrie, for example.) There were also two guests talking in the room. For me, the differences between the live and recorded voice was striking. I learn more about the sound of an audio system listening from outside the room where I can concentrate on the essence of the music without being distracted by the audiophile special effects.

Offline Nick B

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Re: Is it live or is it Memorex?
« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2018, 10:03:58 AM »
Perhaps ones childhood exposure to music forms a lifelong reference. It was important to my parents that their children were exposed to music as it was for most parents of their generation. My early recollections are that every household had a piano and at least one family member who could play well. Social gatherings often centered around the piano. Even if there were no accomplished pianists present, there was a piano bench full of sheet music, there was someone who could read music well enough to play the chords, and everybody sang along. When I was growing up, every school had an orchestra, band, and choir. The students were frequently bussed to the city for special concerts at the symphony. There were also school assemblies were students performed. Those days are gone. (Note: I attended regular public schools in New York and Los Angles, not a private music academy.)

For me, the sound of live music is very special. I moved to Berkeley in 1967 and lived on the Northside. On warm summer evenings, I’d walk through the neighborhood listening to the sounds coming from the open windows. The most common sounds were of a TV or a Beatles LP. Occasionally, I’d hear someone practicing the cello or flute and I’d stop and listen. Sometimes I’d hear conversation and the human voice, live, is easily identified compared to TV voices.

I remember attending an open house at a very high-end audio salon. Every room had a very expensive audio system playing music and the guests were walking around, consuming the free food and drink, and talking. I was standing outside a room listening. The music was a live concert and, as with many concerts, there was some talking interspersed with the music. (Some performers do a lot of talking; Arlo Guthrie, for example.) There were also two guests talking in the room. For me, the differences between the live and recorded voice was striking. I learn more about the sound of an audio system listening from outside the room where I can concentrate on the essence of the music without being distracted by the audiophile special effects.

You have a distinct advantage knowing exactly what live music sounds like. I have a close enough idea to really appreciate it. My parents played music when I was growing up. As we are German, there was always folk music as well. I remember enjoying the music of Andy Williams and Perry Como when I was 12 years old. I watched the Lawrence Welk Show. I listened to the German music broadcast every Sunday on the local college station. I grew up in Los Angeles and my buddy and I would hang out at the Pacific Stereo store. I was fascinated by the Tandberg and B & O gear.
My first exposure to hi end was seeing Mark Levinson gear at a store in Beverly Hills. As I recall, the
price was in the $3,000 range. Welcome to hi end audio! I’ve gone through a fair amount of gear over the years. The best sound has been within the last two years. I learn things here all the time. Member Malloy aka Paul, recently mentioned the celesta. Member Steve recently posted a website regarding software for speaker design. Great stuff....
Nick
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Offline tmazz

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Re: Is it live or is it Memorex?
« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2018, 10:47:27 AM »

..........But I wonder if it is that much different from listening to 45s on a bad system decades ago?


I this this statement alone highlights what I feel is the biggest difference between what we did back then and what young people do today. Back in the day, even though is might have been on a bad system, we would listen to 45s. The difference today is that very few young people will sit down and treat listening to music as a primary focused activity. It is most often just some noise that plays in the background while they are busy doing something else. And if you are not really paying attention to the music it is kinda hard to appreciate the nuances of the performance  nor the sound.

And that I thing is the biggest challenge that  Hi-end Audio faces as an industry, getting people to once again view listening to music as a desirable activity in and of itself.
Remember, it's all about the music........

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Offline malloy

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Re: Is it live or is it Memorex?
« Reply #5 on: February 18, 2018, 10:54:28 PM »

I do wonder what a very controlled environment in a recording studio sounds like.

Nick,

I had the good fortune of being invited to a production studio (for commercials and music) and sitting down in the sweet spot of the console. Heard a Barefoot MicroMain27 http://barefootsound.com/micromain27/. I do not remember what the rest of the chain was, but it was probably playing Protools or some other hDD means. The owner played some Toto and James Taylor.  I did not like it. Too digital. Sound was very balanced and had some nice low end. Environment was optimized for listening but the music was sterile to my ears. Sounded too 'pro' for lack of a better word.

Even with the less than optimized environment I had at home, I still preferred it. Now what a 'proper' audiophile setup would have sounded there - that I would have liked to hear.
Paul

Offline Nick B

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Re: Is it live or is it Memorex?
« Reply #6 on: February 18, 2018, 11:20:15 PM »

I do wonder what a very controlled environment in a recording studio sounds like.

Nick,

I had the good fortune of being invited to a production studio (for commercials and music) and sitting down in the sweet spot of the console. Heard a Barefoot MicroMain27 http://barefootsound.com/micromain27/. I do not remember what the rest of the chain was, but it was probably playing Protools or some other hDD means. The owner played some Toto and James Taylor.  I did not like it. Too digital. Sound was very balanced and had some nice low end. Environment was optimized for listening but the music was sterile to my ears. Sounded too 'pro' for lack of a better word.

Even with the less than optimized environment I had at home, I still preferred it. Now what a 'proper' audiophile setup would have sounded there - that I would have liked to hear.
Paul

Paul,
Well, that’s a nice treat for you. I guess the sound was at least adequate for commercials. Whether I’m at the occasional concert or others homes, I usually prefer the listening in my home environment.
Nick
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Offline malloy

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Re: Is it live or is it Memorex?
« Reply #7 on: February 18, 2018, 11:23:45 PM »
The difference today is that very few young people will sit down and treat listening to music as a primary focused activity. It is most often just some noise that plays in the background while they are busy doing something else. And if you are not really paying attention to the music it is kinda hard to appreciate the nuances of the performance  nor the sound.


This is sadly the truth.

Then again, there is no incentive to actually listen since most music younger people listen to has no development, no subtlety, and no depth.  By a lack of development, I mean every single piece of music just as a few basic chords, then immediately a few seconds later followed immediately by the hook, the millennial whoop https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millennial_whoop, and the singer blasting away with some vocal belting (or should I say over-belting?) every single note.

Most of my officemates are millennials. All they listen to is EDM or some form of music that requires no concentration. Don't get me wrong, as I've stated in an earlier thread, I'm just as guilty of listening to a lot of questionable music genres - punk, hardcore, metal, hair metal, jpop, etc. But most of the music nowadays seems maximized to not be listened to critically and seems maximized to be listened to while texting, browsing through your social media feed, or playing video  games.

Offline rollo

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Re: Is it live or is it Memorex?
« Reply #8 on: February 22, 2018, 11:31:54 AM »
The difference today is that very few young people will sit down and treat listening to music as a primary focused activity. It is most often just some noise that plays in the background while they are busy doing something else. And if you are not really paying attention to the music it is kinda hard to appreciate the nuances of the performance  nor the sound.


This is sadly the truth.

Then again, there is no incentive to actually listen since most music younger people listen to has no development, no subtlety, and no depth.  By a lack of development, I mean every single piece of music just as a few basic chords, then immediately a few seconds later followed immediately by the hook, the millennial whoop https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millennial_whoop, and the singer blasting away with some vocal belting (or should I say over-belting?) every single note.

Most of my officemates are millennials. All they listen to is EDM or some form of music that requires no concentration. Don't get me wrong, as I've stated in an earlier thread, I'm just as guilty of listening to a lot of questionable music genres - punk, hardcore, metal, hair metal, jpop, etc. But most of the music nowadays seems maximized to not be listened to critically and seems maximized to be listened to while texting, browsing through your social media feed, or playing video  games.

  Brilliant observation. Back to real music that we can become emotional, enchanted and satisfied. That is why for me the classic Jazz and Classical pieces never die out.

charles
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Offline rollo

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Re: Is it live or is it Memorex?
« Reply #9 on: February 22, 2018, 11:35:45 AM »
   More audiophiles need to get off the chair and hear more unamplified music. Piano, violin, guitar and horns especially. The absolute sound not reproduced sound is our true reference.
   Have a friend who plays Guitar, sax, violin, cello ? invite him or her over to play in your listening room. Your world will be changed for reproduced music. Hope you listen after that. :-P


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Offline mdconnelly

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Re: Is it live or is it Memorex?
« Reply #10 on: February 22, 2018, 12:57:29 PM »
I grew up in a household constantly full of music - live and recorded.   I also spent a number of years in my early 20s working sound for a couple bands.   To these ears, there is a world of difference between live music (acoustic or amplified) and recorded music - both in what I hear and in how it makes me feel.   But without doubt, I love and cherish both.  And truth be told, the quality of sound reproduction today is far better than it was when I was a kid.  My earliest personal music listening happened either on a transistor radio (remember those?) or from a stack of 45s on a record player in a box.  Sounded like crap, but it was my crap and I loved it... because I loved the music.

Regarding the music scene today...  much has changed - both in content and in accessibility.   I loved all those years I spent in record stores seeking out new music, carting a few albums home and then spending hours getting to know the music intimately.   I somehow doubt that happens much anymore and that's a loss.  But I'm not convinced that today's youth have less music in their lives.   Different certainly and much of it is NOT to my liking,  but hey, my Dad said that about the Beatles when I was a kid in the early 60s.   I do believe the music of today's youth (and their taste in music) will evolve and hopefully afford them with all the same benefits music has my generation. 

I've got a lot of friends that sit around commiserating about "the good ole' days".  Well, guess what, the day will come when our kids and then, their kids will be doing the same thing.  I truly believe music will be just as important a part of their memories and it is ours.