Thursday, April 20, 2017
Sound is god - but only in the concert hall
Vedanta teaches that sound is god - Nāda Brahma - and in the past Western classical music has had a long and distinguished connection with the hi-fi industry. In the 1970s Herbert von Karajan and also Miles Davis promoted the Acoustic Research loudspeaker brand - see advertisement below - and the great EMI and HMV record labels had their roots in the Gramophone Company which manufactured both record players and records. The high-end audio industry continues today, championed by magazines such as Stereophile and The Absolute Sound. But there is now a massive disconnect between classical music and recorded sound quality. When did you last see an audio brand mentioned in a music blog post or tweet? Coming to that when did you last see recorded sound quality, as opposed to performance quality, mentioned in an album review?
In the frantic search for that elusive mass market the classical music industry has actively encouraged recorded sound to be dumbed down to the lowest common denominator of easily streamed low-resolution file formats. In fact there is now an inverted snobbery about recorded sound quality; as an example any reference to the different and arguably superior sound quality of vinyl is glibly dismissed as bad science. Yet the same musicians and journalists who worship at the altar of low-resolution recorded sound advocate spending hundreds of millions of pounds on new concert halls which deliver - yes you guessed it - high-end sound. If you fed someone on a continuous diet of fast food, would you expect them to appreciate haute cuisine when you finally persuaded them to visit a Michelin-starred restaurant? It is not surprising that classical music is having problems attracting low-res conditioned new audiences to the latest sonically ravishing concert halls.
No review samples used. But I do listen on Bowers & Wilkins Nautilus speakers and read Stereophile, and one of my early systems used Acoustic Research AR-7 speakers. Any copyrighted material is included as "fair use" for critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Also on Facebook and Twitter.