Evaluating Guitar Tone Quality via Online Recordings

DaveLeeNC
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Evaluating Guitar Tone Quality via Online Recordings

Post by DaveLeeNC » Thu Aug 10, 2017 1:25 pm

As documented here ( viewtopic.php?f=107&t=113712&p=1217042#p1217042 ) Jack Douglas and I did a somewhat detailed comparison between the 1989 Jacobson and the 1984 Bernabe at the Dream Guitar showroom. Since Dream Guitars has recordings of both of these guitars at their website (same player - same piece - probably the same recording conditions), I went back to hear them online again this morning. I played it through a reasonable quality/external sound card and a pair of reasonable quality monitor speakers.

Per the 'live experiment' the Jacobson, particularly when you go up the fretboard, was the superior sounding guitar by a non-trivial margin. Three sets of ears agreed with this, BTW. When listening to the recording I could hear the tonal quality difference that I heard live. But the 'size' of the difference was dramatically reduced. It is almost like a 'compressor pedal' on a guitar amplifier. But instead of compressing volume, the recording/playback process compresses tone quality.

It isn't like nobody else but me has experienced this as warnings about making judgments off records abound here and elsewhere in the guitar world. But having heard it on a one for one basis was most interesting.

dave

ps. When/if either or both of these guitars are sold, the recordings will remain on the Dream Guitar website. But they will be moved and will best be found by going into the "Builders" page (there will be a link available to get you there).
1984 Jesus Marzal cedar CG
1971 Sherry-Brener (Cedar) Garcia No. 1 CG
1975 Gibson ES-175D Achtop Electric
2016 Eastman AR905CE-BD Carved Archtop Electric

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Beowulf
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Re: Evaluating Guitar Tone Quality via Online Recordings

Post by Beowulf » Thu Aug 10, 2017 3:32 pm

I have done extensive listening to online recordings, but always by downloading the recording and playing it through my audiophile level sound system. Using a sound card and "monitor" (I assume you do not mean studio monitor speakers) speakers will result in a considerable loss of detail, tonal accuracy and depth to the sound quality. Of course this assumes the original recording was done with a good quality microphone and at least CD quality recording.

Played through a good sound system a good recording does allow one to discern a great deal of the sonic signature of an instrument...although allowances must be made for the recording venue and the guitarist. A good guitarist will bring out a great deal more of an instrument's potential and a poor guitarist can make a good guitar sound, well...poor.

The Youtube video, "Antigoni Goni meets Hauser (For the first time!) is a good example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1RFXDfsdc-A

Douglas
1971 Yamaha GC-10

DaveLeeNC
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Re: Evaluating Guitar Tone Quality via Online Recordings

Post by DaveLeeNC » Thu Aug 10, 2017 8:37 pm

FWIW, the playback setup was as follows:

* Dell L702 XPS computer 'host' connected to Youtube (via the Dreamguitar website) over a high speed internet connection
* Line 6 HD 500X guitar amplifier modeler connected via USB3 where the sound card in the 500X is what is used for processing the audio stream. Note that while this is not a AXE-FX II/XL device, this is not a low end device
* A pair of 5 inch powered JBL studio monitor speakers (where in a 12x12' room, anything larger is kind of a waste)

Given that the source of the audio is whatever was put on Youtube by DreamGuitars, can you actually do much better than that? I honestly do not know.

Thanks.

dave
1984 Jesus Marzal cedar CG
1971 Sherry-Brener (Cedar) Garcia No. 1 CG
1975 Gibson ES-175D Achtop Electric
2016 Eastman AR905CE-BD Carved Archtop Electric

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Beowulf
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Re: Evaluating Guitar Tone Quality via Online Recordings

Post by Beowulf » Fri Aug 11, 2017 2:04 pm

As you said, the recording/playback process compresses tone quality. Yes, one can do much better than the playback setup you have described...and this is simply a fact, not a critique. If the recording is crummy, an excellent playback system will allow you to hear the quality, warts and all. A good recording will be very revealing of both the character of the instruments and the performance. A lower level playback system will introduce its own warts to an excellent recording or a poor one for that matter...and loss or distortion of information on the recording will occur.

My home system, uses all JBL drivers (3-way horn loaded)...one 15" bass driver costs the price of your "JBL studio monitors". The speakers (~$10K) are driven by tube regulated monoblock tube amplifiers (~$10K), a McIntosh tube preamplifier (~$6K) and an Oppo BDP-105D for USB playback (~$1.3K). A Linn Sondek LP12 (~$5K) serves for LPs and a Linn Unidisk SC (~$5K) for CDs, SACDs, etc. I archive LPs to digital format at 24bit/96KHZ and the results are close to indistinguishable from the original...on my system. A better system might expose more differences. That is what I meant by an "audiophile" system.

My point was that a very good system can provide useful and accurate information on the sound of a guitar from recordings...but not so much from a poor recording. A poor recording is quite easy to identify when listening on a very revealing system...but in your case it is difficult to know how much of the compressed tone quality in inherent in the recording and the playback system respectively. It might be a limitation of the recording and you can likely work this out by playing a number of "online" recordings (videos such as the Antigoni Goni mentioned above will likely be better than say MP3s which are a lossy format) and getting a sense of quality differences that you can identify through your playback system.

Douglas
1971 Yamaha GC-10

DaveLeeNC
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Re: Evaluating Guitar Tone Quality via Online Recordings

Post by DaveLeeNC » Fri Aug 11, 2017 8:03 pm

Douglas, that is am impressive setup. Although my instincts tell me that data lost in a crappy recording is data lost, your playback path generating much different results than does mine is not a surprise. And I have to believe that it would be possible to capture and replay the differences that I heard live on some level of equipment.

It just seems to me that the equipment that I own combined with the recording equipment that DG uses doesn't do that. And I also believe that what DG uses is probably better than the norm of what most folks will be listening to and that my audio playback equipment is better than what most people have as well.

So for most people the difference will be real and non-trivial (IMHO).

Thanks for the information.

dave
Last edited by DaveLeeNC on Fri Aug 11, 2017 8:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
1984 Jesus Marzal cedar CG
1971 Sherry-Brener (Cedar) Garcia No. 1 CG
1975 Gibson ES-175D Achtop Electric
2016 Eastman AR905CE-BD Carved Archtop Electric

Jack Douglas
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Re: Evaluating Guitar Tone Quality via Online Recordings

Post by Jack Douglas » Fri Aug 11, 2017 9:43 pm

Hi Dave,
I've developed my ear to listen and make judgements about a guitar by listening to live play over the telephone. I have a pretty good ear and trust what I hear even with minimal proficiency of playing on the other end.
So far, I've owned some stellar guitars by using this method.
I can always adjust the playability by changing or adjusting the saddle and intonation.
Jack
Jack
Hauser III 2014!

DaveLeeNC
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Re: Evaluating Guitar Tone Quality via Online Recordings

Post by DaveLeeNC » Fri Aug 11, 2017 11:33 pm

Jack, I recall you stating that earlier. I think it was in a post here on Delcamp, but maybe it was a personal interaction (not sure). Regardless, at the time my reaction was kind of "hmmm....".

Now that I have heard two guitars compared live and also online I have a somewhat more specific reaction. When I did the playback through my system and mentally compared that to what I recalled hearing live, I realized that 'the tonal difference that stood out live" was there in the recording. But that difference was smaller, more subdued, compressed, whatever. However it was there.

So with experience I can imagine that you can actually do a useful comparison through some pretty low end audio paths if you have the skill/experience to make the proper judgment. That honestly was not my thinking earlier.

dave

ps. I (and probably others) would be interested in your own reaction to the difference in what you heard between guitars in our trip to DG vs. their recordings.
1984 Jesus Marzal cedar CG
1971 Sherry-Brener (Cedar) Garcia No. 1 CG
1975 Gibson ES-175D Achtop Electric
2016 Eastman AR905CE-BD Carved Archtop Electric

hesson11
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Re: Evaluating Guitar Tone Quality via Online Recordings

Post by hesson11 » Sat Aug 12, 2017 12:06 am

Just a not of interest: Years ago, Stereophile Magazine issued a test CD with a recording of one of its editors reading an article he had written for the magazine. Every few sentences, the microphone used to record his voice was changed (i.e., Shure to Neumann to B&K to Telefunken, etc.). The differences in tone quality were absolutely huge. It almost sounded like a different person speaking when the microphones were changed. (The Stereophile Test CD 1 is available for purchase on the Stereophile site, if you're interested; the recording is not available online.)

Unless guitars you are comparing were recorded under EXACTLY the same conditions with EXACTLY the same microphones and played back with EXACTLY the same equipment, you really have no idea of the comparative sound of various guitars.
-Bob

Jack Douglas
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Re: Evaluating Guitar Tone Quality via Online Recordings

Post by Jack Douglas » Sat Aug 12, 2017 12:19 am

Dave,
For me trebles, especially above the seventh fret and basses are good indicators and in general have similarities of tone live or recorded. Also, As you may have noticed I use 'Romance' as my comparison piece. It's simple, single line notes and I know from listening to that same piece over a period of years what the notes sound like or should sound like if I'm going to like the guitar. If I don't like the tone it's a quick decision. So, whether live, on the phone or in a recording I'm listening for how the notes in Romance sound to me.
So, in evaluating your Marzal and the Jacobson I was listening to those individual notes and how they stacked up to my mental library of hearing those same notes many times. Whether live or in a recording, good or bad player, I listen for how the guitar reproduces those notes.
That's my method.
Hauser III 2014!

DaveLeeNC
Posts: 175
Joined: Thu Aug 04, 2016 3:31 pm
Location: Pinehurst, NC, USA

Re: Evaluating Guitar Tone Quality via Online Recordings

Post by DaveLeeNC » Sat Aug 12, 2017 1:34 am

hesson11 wrote:
Sat Aug 12, 2017 12:06 am
Just a not of interest: Years ago, Stereophile Magazine issued a test CD with a recording of one of its editors reading an article he had written for the magazine. Every few sentences, the microphone used to record his voice was changed (i.e., Shure to Neumann to B&K to Telefunken, etc.). The differences in tone quality were absolutely huge. It almost sounded like a different person speaking when the microphones were changed. (The Stereophile Test CD 1 is available for purchase on the Stereophile site, if you're interested; the recording is not available online.)

Unless guitars you are comparing were recorded under EXACTLY the same conditions with EXACTLY the same microphones and played back with EXACTLY the same equipment, you really have no idea of the comparative sound of various guitars.
-Bob
I agree with this. And that is what makes the DG stuff so interesting. I believe that, at least for the current offerings, the recording conditions were the same.

dave
1984 Jesus Marzal cedar CG
1971 Sherry-Brener (Cedar) Garcia No. 1 CG
1975 Gibson ES-175D Achtop Electric
2016 Eastman AR905CE-BD Carved Archtop Electric

DaveLeeNC
Posts: 175
Joined: Thu Aug 04, 2016 3:31 pm
Location: Pinehurst, NC, USA

Re: Evaluating Guitar Tone Quality via Online Recordings

Post by DaveLeeNC » Sat Aug 12, 2017 2:35 am

Jack Douglas wrote:
Sat Aug 12, 2017 12:19 am
Dave,
For me trebles, especially above the seventh fret and basses are good indicators and in general have similarities of tone live or recorded. Also, As you may have noticed I use 'Romance' as my comparison piece. It's simple, single line notes and I know from listening to that same piece over a period of years what the notes sound like or should sound like if I'm going to like the guitar. If I don't like the tone it's a quick decision. So, whether live, on the phone or in a recording I'm listening for how the notes in Romance sound to me.
So, in evaluating your Marzal and the Jacobson I was listening to those individual notes and how they stacked up to my mental library of hearing those same notes many times. Whether live or in a recording, good or bad player, I listen for how the guitar reproduces those notes.
That's my method.
Jack - the more that I think about this the more that I agree that "a set and pre-determined process with which you have significant experience" is the right answer. I am a novice here, so I am not sure that I would have done anything much different than what I did (other than to make the decision that Adelita would be a good basis piece more than 10 days before the trip).

Thanks again for your help and input.

dave
1984 Jesus Marzal cedar CG
1971 Sherry-Brener (Cedar) Garcia No. 1 CG
1975 Gibson ES-175D Achtop Electric
2016 Eastman AR905CE-BD Carved Archtop Electric

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