Does recorded Classical Guitar music miss the true beauty of the sound of the instrument?

Analyses of individual works for Classical Guitar and general discussions on analysis. Normal forum copyright rules apply.
Carcassiest
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Does recorded Classical Guitar music miss the true beauty of the sound of the instrument?

Postby Carcassiest » Thu Dec 01, 2016 2:23 am

For as many beloved CG albums as I have, I have come to the conclusion, that none have captured the real beauty of the live sound. Now, maybe if I had a $20,000 audiophile sound system I would feel differently. Is analog vs digital the problem?

2handband
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Re: Does recorded Classical Guitar music miss the true beauty of the sound of the instrument?

Postby 2handband » Thu Dec 01, 2016 2:30 am

Carcassiest wrote:For as many beloved CG albums as I have, I have come to the conclusion, that none have captured the real beauty of the live sound. Now, maybe if I had a $20,000 audiophile sound system I would feel differently. Is analog vs digital the problem?


16 bits at 44khz is the problem. Truth is a quality turntable and well-pressed vinyl will kick the crap out of CD sound, and the Mp3s or other compressed formats are even worse. On the other hand, have you ever heard studio quality digital... 24 bits and 96khz? That sounds like good vinyl but without the surface noise. Trouble is we're steadfastly going in the direction of lower quality instead of higher because convenience... people want 10,000 songs on a device that'll fit in their pocket, and rapid streaming.

Carcassiest
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Re: Does recorded Classical Guitar music miss the true beauty of the sound of the instrument?

Postby Carcassiest » Thu Dec 01, 2016 2:59 am

2handband wrote:
Carcassiest wrote:For as many beloved CG albums as I have, I have come to the conclusion, that none have captured the real beauty of the live sound. Now, maybe if I had a $20,000 audiophile sound system I would feel differently. Is analog vs digital the problem?


16 bits at 44khz is the problem. Truth is a quality turntable and well-pressed vinyl will kick the crap out of CD sound, and the Mp3s or other compressed formats are even worse. On the other hand, have you ever heard studio quality digital... 24 bits and 96khz? That sounds like good vinyl but without the surface noise. Trouble is we're steadfastly going in the direction of lower quality instead of higher because convenience... people want 10,000 songs on a device that'll fit in their pocket, and rapid streaming.[/quote

I think you're right, I need a good old fashioned turntable and quality vinyl, again. I'm sure hearing 24 bits and 96khz, would make a world of difference, too. At least, I know what to put on my list for Santa.

2handband
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Re: Does recorded Classical Guitar music miss the true beauty of the sound of the instrument?

Postby 2handband » Thu Dec 01, 2016 3:07 am

High bitrate audio is starting to become available for a lot of popular music, and there are various audio players for your computer/tablet/whatever that will play them. But it's kinda spendy, you need good speakers and amplification to hear the difference, and I have no idea how much if any classical music is included in that.

MarcusStrand
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Re: Does recorded Classical Guitar music miss the true beauty of the sound of the instrument?

Postby MarcusStrand » Fri Dec 09, 2016 8:01 pm

Carcassiest wrote:Trouble is we're steadfastly going in the direction of lower quality instead of higher because convenience... people want 10,000 songs on a device that'll fit in their pocket, and rapid streaming.


We're not going in that direction, we've been there for years. But quality is there if you want it. In the classical world where you can still buy most music on CD it's not an issue at all, a well made CD is equal to a vinyl in sound quality, it's just a matter of taste after that.
On the other hand a poorly made CD is just as bad as a poorly made vinyl..

Regarding whether a recording can capture a live performance correctly or not, of course it can't, not on any medium. Never has and never will, throwing money in the direction of audio tech salesmen may get you close but no it will always be an approximation, like drawing a house on a piece of paper, it looks like a house but it's hard to invite friends over to it for dinner.

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markodarko
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Re: Does recorded Classical Guitar music miss the true beauty of the sound of the instrument?

Postby markodarko » Sat Dec 10, 2016 12:46 am

2handband wrote:16 bits at 44khz is the problem.


Amen to that.

2handband wrote:Trouble is we're steadfastly going in the direction of lower quality instead of higher because convenience... people want 10,000 songs on a device that'll fit in their pocket, and rapid streaming.


There are some avenues out there, such as eclassical.com. Lots of 24bit lossless FLAC titles on there although I've not personally used them. I know Neil Young founded Pono Music a while back too but it's had some issues but a great concept all the same. I believe it's offline at time of writing.
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Re: Does recorded Classical Guitar music miss the true beauty of the sound of the instrument?

Postby Philosopherguy » Sat Dec 10, 2016 1:55 am

Here is a thread that was posted in the recording section that has some interesting material to read regarding higher bitrates and listening.

viewtopic.php?f=16&t=103916

Personally, I don't think 16 bit 44.1khz has anything to do with problems you are hearing in audio and not capturing guitar. There is much more of a problem in recordings in how people record, what processing, and how the material is mastered that gives you the "lifeless" sound that you get on some recordings.

Theoretically, 16 bit 44.1khz was chosen because you can recreate a perfect sound wave up to 20khz with that sampling rate. So, technically it should not interfere with reproduction of our audible spectrum.

Anyone into higher end hi-fi systems will know that the DAC and preamp the DAC uses makes a world of difference in the quality of sound you get out from any cd player. So instead of just searching for higher bit rates, you might want to search for better quality equipment! hahaha..

This is one of those hotly debated topics among some. The guys trying to sell the gear just want to sell you higher rates so you upgrade.
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2handband
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Re: Does recorded Classical Guitar music miss the true beauty of the sound of the instrument?

Postby 2handband » Sat Dec 10, 2016 2:46 am

Philosopherguy wrote:Here is a thread that was posted in the recording section that has some interesting material to read regarding higher bitrates and listening.

viewtopic.php?f=16&t=103916

Personally, I don't think 16 bit 44.1khz has anything to do with problems you are hearing in audio and not capturing guitar. There is much more of a problem in recordings in how people record, what processing, and how the material is mastered that gives you the "lifeless" sound that you get on some recordings.

Theoretically, 16 bit 44.1khz was chosen because you can recreate a perfect sound wave up to 20khz with that sampling rate. So, technically it should not interfere with reproduction of our audible spectrum.

Anyone into higher end hi-fi systems will know that the DAC and preamp the DAC uses makes a world of difference in the quality of sound you get out from any cd player. So instead of just searching for higher bit rates, you might want to search for better quality equipment! hahaha..

This is one of those hotly debated topics among some. The guys trying to sell the gear just want to sell you higher rates so you upgrade.


All I'm going to say is there is a reason professional recording runs at higher rates. Do you know anybody that runs a studio or works in one? If so go down and take a listen. See if you can get a comparision between a full-bandwidth master and one truncated down to 16 bits for CD transfer. It's an eye-opener.

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Moje
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Re: Does recorded Classical Guitar music miss the true beauty of the sound of the instrument?

Postby Moje » Sat Dec 10, 2016 3:10 am

Seriously the problem isn't the technology, and hasn't been since the 50s. A well-mastered and duplicated MP3 will test the limits of many an audiophile's ears, trust me. Audio engineers are very realistic about the issue, they know that modern digital formats provide much wider dynamic range and that the sound of vinyl, while pleasing to those who like it, doesn't reflect higher fidelity.

I'm certain that a big part of the Segovia sound is actually massive amounts of harmonic distortion caused by the tube preamps used in the early days, and Julian Bream says something similar; he attributed the sound to early ribbon-mics but ultimately that sound was an artefact of some sort.

Ultimately what I'm saying is that recording CG is somewhat difficult, but far from impossible. Just try producing a sound that can compete with Julian Bream's 20th Century Guitar. Good luck, with that.
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markodarko
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Re: Does recorded Classical Guitar music miss the true beauty of the sound of the instrument?

Postby markodarko » Sat Dec 10, 2016 8:44 am

Philosopherguy wrote:Theoretically, 16 bit 44.1khz was chosen because you can recreate a perfect sound wave up to 20khz with that sampling rate.


44.1kHz was chosen for that reason, you're correct, but 16 bits was chosen so that the maximum amount of data that could be stored on the disc was approximately 70 minutes.

The problem isn't the 44.1kHz part, it's the bit depth. I.e., how many gradations each cycle of a waveform can have. At 16 bit a waveform can have "points" between +/- 32,768 (65,563 / 2). That is to say that a waveform can only change by 65,563 digital steps in amplitude across its entire cycle.

24 bits on the other hand can change the amplitude across its cycle by 16,777,216 steps. That's 256 times more gradations.

Honestly, if you've ever recorded something at 24 bit (even if it was at 44.1kHz) and then down-sampled to 16 bit, the sound loses "something". It's not even something you can quantify in words, but it becomes less immersive. Less real.

This is also the problem with psychoacoustic compression formats such as MP3. It's not that they're compressed per se (in a very clever way, I may add), it's that they're compressed from a 16 bit source and they themselves are 16 bit so it becomes a compounded problem.

The ONLY reason 16 bits was chosen was a mathematical one in order to fit a certain amount of data at 44.1kHz on a CD. It was not chosen for the music.

To see how it's the bit depth that makes the difference, try the following... Open an uncompressed 44.1/16 file in an audio editor and export it as 44.1kHz @ 8bit (a difference of 256 x again)...
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Denian Arcoleo
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Re: Does recorded Classical Guitar music miss the true beauty of the sound of the instrument?

Postby Denian Arcoleo » Sat Dec 10, 2016 9:08 am

I actually think the opposite. Recordings sound deep and rich (good ones) and the live sound is very often disappointing.

Luis_Br
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Re: Does recorded Classical Guitar music miss the true beauty of the sound of the instrument?

Postby Luis_Br » Mon Dec 12, 2016 1:46 am

Denian Arcoleo wrote:I actually think the opposite. Recordings sound deep and rich (good ones) and the live sound is very often disappointing.

This normally happens with the players I don't like very much or in the bad sounding concert places (which is quite common).
When the place has good acoustics and the player is really great with the sound production (those who doesn't use Smallmans :twisted: ), I don't think the recorded thing is better.

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Re: Does recorded Classical Guitar music miss the true beauty of the sound of the instrument?

Postby Dirck Nagy » Mon Dec 12, 2016 3:01 am

Denian Arcoleo wrote:I actually think the opposite. Recordings sound deep and rich (good ones) and the live sound is very often disappointing.

Luis_Br wrote:This normally happens with the players I don't like very much or in the bad sounding concert places (which is quite common).
When the place has good acoustics and the player is really great with the sound production (those who doesn't use Smallmans :twisted: ), I don't think the recorded thing is better.


I have to admit i incline this direction too, but its not necessarily because of the sound. There ARE performances I enjoy very much, but they are usually either:
  • Informal (like a guitarist at an art gallery opening), or
  • rehearsals (especially when an artist is trying out the hall, and doesn't know i'm there)
  • Student recitals, or faculty recitals, wherein people i know are performing.

As far as the "Big Name" performers I have seen, I can think of only a few who I thought were excellent: Ricardo Iznaola, Lorenzo Micheli, Evangelos and Lisa, Marco Socias, and Jonathan Leathwood are among them. (and I have seen a LOT of concerts!) Some distraction always gets in the way: the seats, the temperature, the architecture, the sound system or lack thereof, the audience noise, my own expectations, worrying if my car will get broken into, etc. These "excellent" folks were able to transcend the peripherals, even with their very very quiet instruments, and reach us somehow.

It is hard to communicate with whispers; it is only effective in certain situations, and requires a lot of concentration from the listener...but that is what classical guitarists do routinely.

N.B. I'm referring to guitar concerts only. I have fewer troubles with ensembles, possibly because i'm less intimately connected? Also because of the volume...?

cheers!
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Carcassiest
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Re: Does recorded Classical Guitar music miss the true beauty of the sound of the instrument?

Postby Carcassiest » Tue Dec 13, 2016 3:16 am

I appreciate all the great, informative, entertaining and thought provoking posts to this topic.


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