Sunday, June 12, 2005

Live vs. recorded - the acid test of audio reproduction

Quite many audiophiles have advocated that the ultimate and the most honest test for high fidelity would be to record a live, acoustic performance and then play it back on the spot, for the same audience through two or multi-channel audio system.

The ultimate test? Think again. Although level matching between live and recording could probably be achieved, the issue is audience seating during the live concert and during listening the recording. Taking into account the limitations of speaker designs, listening from the on-axis/off-axis and under/above the tweeter axis would significantly affect how the recording would sound and image vis-a-vis the live performance. In essence, only a few listeners in a speakers' sweet spot could provide plausible audition.

More importantly, when recording a performance in a room and then playing that recording back in the same room, you're overlaying the room's acoustic with its own image. Hence, in order to make live vs. recording meaningful, only the listeners who enjoyed live performance in its sweet spot should compare the recording in the acoustically treated room through a particular audio system, and only then deliver the judgment.

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