The Death of High Fidelity"With all the technical innovation, music sounds worse," says Steely Dan's Donald Fagen, who has made what are considered some of the best-sounding records of all time. "God is in the details. But there are no details anymore."
I came across this article on rollingstone.com this morning. It totally explains the frustration I have with a lot of what I hear out there these days. gwyrah
, I imagine you've come across this phenomena quite a bit.
I know there are those out there that really don't get the fascination Brian and I have for really good music played with high end equipment, and I actually feel a little sorry for what you're missing out on. Well mixed music played so that you can hear and experience all the instruments is pure art. It's audio artwork, and we like to display it as you would a fine piece of visual artwork. It's a palette of color for the ears. It's a smörgåsbord of culinary delight to be heard. It has all the texture of fine fibers. It's the aroma of memories in your ears.
And so much of the digital crap out there lacks any depth. It's refrigerator art. Amusing, sentimental, but not ever gonna see the the inside of an art gallery. "it's like going to the Louvre and instead of the Mona Lisa there's a 10-megapixel image of it," he says. "I always want to listen to music the way the artists wanted me to hear it. I wouldn't look at a Kandinsky painting with sunglasses on."
"The excitement in music comes from variation in rhythm, timbre, pitch and loudness," Levitin says. "If you hold one of those constant, it can seem monotonous." After a few minutes, research shows, constant loudness grows fatiguing to the brain. Though few listeners realize this consciously, many feel an urge to skip to another song."
"If you limit range, it's just an assault on the body," says Tom Coyne, a mastering engineer who has worked with Mary J. Blige and Nas. "When you're fifteen, it's the greatest thing — you're being hammered. But do you want that on a whole album?"
To an average listener, a wide dynamic range creates a sense of spaciousness and makes it easier to pick out individual instruments — as you can hear on recent albums such as Dylan's Modern Times and Norah Jones' Not Too Late. "When people have the courage and the vision to do a record that way, it sets them apart," says Joe Boyd, who produced albums by Richard Thompson and R.E.M.'s Fables of the Reconstruction. "It sounds warm, it sounds three-dimensional, it sounds different. Analog sound to me is more emotionally affecting." "In the Seventies and Eighties, you were expected to pay attention," says Matt Serletic, the former chief executive of Virgin Records USA"
Brian has said this many times recently. When he was a young thing, he loved to listen to music and friends would come together, specifically to "listen" to albums. It wasn't just background noise. And albums in the 70's and into the early 80's were put together in a particular order on purpose, not formulaic. Songs flowed into the next with intent. This is something most often found only in Indie or Jazz albums today.
I'm not saying that the music or the artists today aren't as good 'as back in the day', I'm saying that how they are recorded and distributed pale in comparison. I applaud those artists of today that still get the fine art part of this artform. I also don't believe, as the author of the article says, that this is the death of the audiophile. I think it's an opportunity for the independent minded to really shine.