The solution,?, quit worrying.
The solution is to get the system that brings the music to life.....put enjoyment at the heart of the decision process, and trust what you like.
I am mostly with you on this, the only caveat being that I think experience of what a variety of real music sounds like makes the decision process both easier and more likely to produce a system that will satisfy in the longer term.
We have spoken about this before, whether it is better to reproduce the music as closely as possible to what is actually on the disc (or whatever format) or to try and get as close as possible to the essence of the musical performance itself.
I have always favoured the latter appoach though I do sympathise with those who feel that reproducing the disc as 'accurately' as possible, through equipment that is as 'transparent' as possible results in the best system.
As someone who has an interest in the whole record, produce, playback process I can see the attraction of choosing such a system.
We do so many shows in a row,
And these towns all look the same,
We just pass the time in our hotel room
And wander 'round backstage,
Till the lights come up, and we hear that crowd,
And we remember why we came.
I suppose my problem is to understand how a system can achieve the latter without doing the former! What is it that a system can add or subtract from the recording that brings us closer to the performance?
I suppose we are talking about a system doing something that a particular listener wants to hear rather than anything else.
I did an experiment last night.
Going back to the album which started this train of thought for me ('Themes' by Vangelis). I recorded a few tracks from the CD version using my CD63 KI to a new-ish TDK SA tape and had a good listen afterwards. The result: it sounded like a really good recording of the CD, but somehow it still failed to be as emotively involving and captivating as the original cassette tape of the same album. Read into that what you will.
Main system: Mac Mini 2011 > HRT II+ DAC • Cyrus 2 & PSX • Cyrus tuner • MS 10i speakers [on loan]
Also cluttering-up the place: Thorens TD160 (no cart) • Marantz CD 63 mkII KI & PM66 KI • Technics SL-P777 • Nakamichi DR-1
Good question, and one that I struggle with myself much of the time.
Best I can do is this, I guess we have all heard systems that clearly favour one style of music over another, systems, for example that emphasise pace and drive some rock and jazz material to great effect, yet fall apart when required to reproduce the temporal and tonal complexities of, say, acoustic or classical material.
I used (as a dealer) to hear this sort of thing all the time, but the limitations of such a system are pretty clear to anyone, I would think.
However there are a few components and systems that seem to have something of a trick, they somehow manage to make all types of music sound more lifelike, irrespective of the style and without apparantly emphasising anything. I know that in rational terms that is probably nonsense but it does seem to happen, God knows how.
No..no, I'm sorry but you're just making this stuff up, maybe you hate the digital medium but sitting there saying the tape was more immersive than the cd version...stop it, just stop it.
Maybe you prefer low res music, low hiss, poor dynamics I don't know, but you're making this stuff up, don't know why these guys are entertaining you.
Cassette tape.......just stop it.
Could the CD and tape versions just be differently 'mastered' versions of the same album?
PC > AVI Neutron Five 2.1
Sony NWZ-A847 64GB Walkman > Westone UM3x
You did your experiment the wrong way around! You need to record the output of your cassette deck with a computer and burn that to a CD and compare the two, making sure not to clip during the recording process and then ensuring equal playback levels when comparing how "cassette" and then "cassette recorded onto CD" sound relative to each other.
As others have said "HiFi" literally stands for "high fidelity" and this is possible to measure with test equipment e.g. distortion, frequency response, dynamic range etc. As you said, in almost every conceivable way cassette is inferior to CD (in strict "fidelity" terms) so there is something about the character of cassette sound (the way the playback medium alters/distorts the signal) that you prefer over CD, in the case of this particular album.
That having been said, are you sure that the two recordings are mastered the same? Have you analysed both with dynamic range analysis software? Perhaps the CD version has suffered dynamic range compression during the mastering process (not an inherent problem with the CD medium) due to the loudness war.
Assuming MajorFubar is using the cassette deck listed in his signature, we're not talking about listening to any old budget cassette deck. We're talking about listening to a Nakamichi DR-1. One of the best cassette decks ever made.
Maybe you've just never heard a decent cassette player? Suspect with your very dismissive narrow-minded attitude that you haven't. And by decent it doesn't have to be a Nak, just not some cheap nasty piece of cr-p made by Matsui or similar, which Joe Public thinks is the beginning and end. I can show you recordings that you'd be hard-pushed to tell from the original source.
And no, I don't hate the digital medium. In fact compared to some, I was an early investor, some 25+ years ago when 'digital replay' meant 'CDs'.
No idea mate to be honest, unlikely this CD is a culprit of the loudness war as I bought it nearly 25 years ago. Just a simple fact that on this occasion the tape version was more enjoyable (and immersive, there I've said it again just to annoy thompsonuxb lol). It made me question what 'HiFi' really means because without doubt the CD version is surely technically superior.
Let's be honest most pre-recorded tapes were pants. It's the odd one or two which weren't. But when you find one, it's worth listening to.
That's the thing with analogue recording formats: vinyl and tape in varying widths and speeds. You can chuck a vast amount of electro mechanical engineering at it to produce a source that sounds far better than budget mainstream analague sources.
These days, when you can buy a Nakamichi Dragon for £800, it seems daft for anyone into hi-fi to listen to their cassettes on anything less than a world class deck.
I find it very easy to believe that there are albums like the Vangelis one that do sound better on a Nakamichi than they do on a decent CD player, such as a Marantz KI.
Indeed, it's wrong to condemn the ultimate capability of a particular format, particularly an analogue format, based on the (in)abilities of the poorest performers.
I have Jeff Becks album Emotion and commotion on vinyl and CD, dunno why but I will listen to the vinyl most the ttime, I stream the CD version mainly as background music as its not so involving as the vinyl..................
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Naim Stageline > Inspired Rega P7 Rega Exact.
Beyerdynamic DT 880 Pro
if it involves an amplifier, some speaker cable, speakers and sounds good to my ears then its hi fi.
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MarantzPM6004/MarantzCD6004/Monitor Audio Bronze BX2
By its price? Just kidding. How does one measure how "hifi'' something is? I guess by how much enjoyment it gives you. By "enjoyment'' I mean all aspects, including musical enjoyment, visual satisfaction and pride of ownership.
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