Given that there is _always_ a difference between the original sound and what comes out of a set of speakers (or headphones, or earbuds), I wonder if there _is_ a standard for “objectively ‘better’”, if the two recreations are reasonably close. I’d agree that most electrical recording is “objectively better” than the Mapleson cylinders.
I can understand – and respect – the archivist’s perspective that the important thing is coming as close as possible to an exact duplication of the sound that came to the original microphones. But for music, I think the ultimate purpose is the listener’s pleasure, and
1. Most of us, I think, are looking for a recreation of the experience we had – or would have had – in the hall when the work was performed. But in all the auditoriums I’ve been in, that sound will be different depending on where you sit. Whether the “best” sound is what the conductor hears, or something else, is not I think objectively measured. Microphone placement makes a lot of difference.
2. Moreover, not only does the response curve of our ears change with volume, it changes over time. I “remember” what concerts I heard when I was 16 sounded like. (The quotes are to recognize the fallibility of memory; my first date was at a Stokowski concert. I recently reheard it, and the performance was different from what I remembered. But I wasn’t sitting next to a beautiful young girl from whom I hoped to get my first kiss when I reheard it.) Probably to duplicate the sonic experience I’d need a significant treble boost (even though when last tested I could still hear to 16,000 Herz, where the testing stopped).
3. Finally, most of us listen in rooms which add their own character to the sound from the speakers. Probably earphones do, too.
I think it’s interesting and worthwhile to hear people of good will with good ears and good taste discuss why they prefer one form of recording over another, and what differences they hear. In fact I find many such discussions fascinating. But I think the bottom line is a combination of personal taste and personal situation.
(Still listening with pleasure to recordings from the Met more than a century old.)
> On Nov 22, 2015, at 3:57 PM, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> By the way, if you want to set off a flame-athon, tell the all-analog-to-vinyl crowd that digital is "higher resolution" than that tape master. The topic is debatable, but I doubt anyone could win a credible argument on the statement that tape recording is closer to output=input than modern high-resolution digital. That said, there are listeners, careful listeners with good ears, who PREFER the distortions introduced by tape (and vinyl). A personal preference, however, is not an argument for what is objectively "better."
> -- Tom Fine