For various reasons a discussion began on whether live acoustic music in a performance space is the ultimate goal for music reproduction, and by deduction also for assessing the capability of the reproduction system.
In fact one member wrote it is “an unarguable fact”.
So, I immediately argued. I suggested that there is no pure, session-independent reference point for music reproduction. And that the true reference point is the first generation master. I have quoted the following response, which I would like to use as a kick-off point for this thread, and which I think is very well stated.
I've encountered just your argument many times and I still think it's wrong. My aim in reproducing music in my home, which in my case is nearly always acoustic classical music, is to experience it as closely as possible to what I'd hear sitting in the performance space itself. I have no interest in reproducing any recording engineer's ideas of how they think an orchestra/soloist should sound.
To illustrate , loathe many of Deutsche Gramophon's early multi miked recordings of orchestras which have you hovering over the musicians mid-air and sometimes finding individual instruments or groups of instruments lurching into the foreground where they don't belong. I simply don't care of those unnatural effects are on the master tape. To me that master tape is already a distortion of reality.
I know exactly what you are saying, Dismord. In fact I have posted the exact same viewpoint many times (many years ago!). Passionately.
In fact, it seems a very pure and logical goal: make the reproduced sound seem as close as possible, as an experience, to the experience of live acoustical music performance. What could be more logical, pure, and easy to grasp as a goal? It has a seductive appeal.
However, I gradually came to realise my mistake.
Philosophers like Sterne point out that sound reproduction is a specific discrete class of communication. Each class of communication is a unique creation. No class of communication is a mirror or reflection of another class. It contains its own creativity. I will repeat that: sound reproduction contains its own creativity as a form of communication.
To reproduce sound is to create. To set the objective for sound reproduction of being identical to live sound is a barren path. It is futile because the listener is undertaking a different class of communication in the two situations (listening to live music in one’s presence; listening to reproduced music that was performed remotely in place or time or both). Communication has cultural context for humans, and these two classes of communication have different cultural context and are thus totally different experiences.
Totally different experiences.
Now we are getting somewhere. If we as audiophiles are having totally different experiences in the two situations, what is the logic in trying to deny the reality of one of them?
More to come. But this is a good point to get a feel for interest in the topic, and also other people's thoughts on the Right Reference Point.