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SMARTPLAY

Role of high fidelity for “Lo-fi” music

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I listen to two types of low fidelity music - the stuff from very early recordings eg 1920s blues and modern music deliberately recorded as “Lo-fi”. Does a hi fi system make these sound better or more flawed? Should I muck around with equalisers to “fix” the sound?

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I listen to a fair bit of lofi modern recordings.    Interestingly, the better my system has become - the better they have sounded.  Not strictly in audiophile terms, but being able to enjoy the sound more.

 

  But, if you have EQ and you are not happy with the sound on some albjms - sure - why not change the sound a bit to your liking.

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Better equipment definitely allows more enjoyment of 1920's recordings.  You get more detail, transients, and musicality from what is in the recording.  Just like the differences you get listening to modern recordings on good equipment.  Sure, the limitations of the original recording will always be there.  But you will hear more of the music.  Unless you are listening to modern digital remasters of the recordings which have excessive noise-reduction and scratch removal, resulting in not only noise removal but musical life removal as well.  When that's done, even amazing audiophile equipment can't make the destroyed music sound good again. 

 

And hasn't there been some amazing music recorded in the 1920's?  Focus on the music (reproduced well) and the noise and other recording limitations will vanish. 

Edited by audiofeline

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True enough, Feline.  20s and 30s produced some amazing things in all sorts of genres.  Though I disbelieved (and continue to disbelieve) some audio nut in the US who claimed that 78s were higher in fidelity than any other medium.  Maybe by the late 40s, early 50s recording techniques - especially microphones - had advanced sufficiently to capture even my limited range of hearing, but not earlier.

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13 hours ago, k-k-k-kenny said:

...Though I disbelieved (and continue to disbelieve) some audio nut in the US who claimed that 78s were higher in fidelity than any other medium...

There are quite a few audiophiles who support this view.  Sure, the early recordings don't have the frequency response of latter recordings.  However, the acoustic recordings are considered to be good because they don't have any electronics in the recording path, and playing the disks at 78rpm means the dynamics and attack are reproduced accurately.  Therefore, there is a musicality in the reproduction which is why they say it's superior.  There are many who claim that any other production (digital or LP copies) never achieve the same quality. 

 

Most people who have heard 78's reproduced have heard them played badly.  A normal LP stylus is smaller than the 78 stylus, and so picks up more noise in the bottom of the record groove.  And 78's don't use the standard RIAA eq curves in modern phono stages, which also degrades the reproduction.  78's sound much better played with the correct stylus and equalisation.  

 

Please keep you mind open!

 

 

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And further to my previous post, most CDs repackaging 78's have been over-mastered using noise/scratch reducing software, that has not only removed the noise but also the life out of the music making it unlistenable.  Plus the addition of inappropriate EQ.  Resulting in a sound nothing like the original disks.  Look for the CD masterings of John RT Davies for it done correctly. 

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On 02/04/2018 at 1:26 PM, SMARTPLAY said:

Does a hi fi system make these sound better or more flawed?

I think modern low-fi will sound fine through a high fidelity system, but old 1920's recordings IMO, are probably best played on a low fidelity system like a gramophone or a valve radiogram.

 

I find old stuff that has been remastered sounds quite awful through a high fidelity system, and I think you need valves and old speakers to make them sound pretty.

 

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5 minutes ago, eltech said:

I think modern low-fi will sound fine through a high fidelity system, but old 1920's recordings IMO, are probably best played on a low fidelity system like a gramophone or a valve radiogram.

 

I find old stuff that has been remastered sounds quite awful through a high fidelity system, and I think you need valves and old speakers to make them sound pretty.

 

Again, I think it is the quality of the remastering which is important.  I've been listening to John RT Davies remasterings of Louis Armstrong's Hot 5/7 recordings from the 1920's, and they sound fantastic.  I've also listened to CDs remastered using CEDAR, NoNoise, and other digital processing which are unlistenable.  Search for the good remasters, they are worth it, but they are hard to find. 

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13 minutes ago, eltech said:

I think modern low-fi will sound fine through a high fidelity system

And it generally does. I have a plenty of lo fi garage band bluesy swamp psychobilly type music. 

A system geared towards the ultra revealing end of the spectrum may cause furrowed brows but a pair of non stick- up- the- ass speakers and a warmish to warm valve amp can make lo fi an immersive experience.

For reference purposes, check out Black Diamond Heavies (or anything involving James Leg), The Oblivians, 68 Comeback, Johnny Dowd, Nashville *****, Left Lane Cruiser, American Death Ray, Mad Daddys to name a few.

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Guest Eggcup The Daft

I have a couple of Naxos transcriptions of 78 collections, and have spent time with some classical guitar transcriptions from other sources. Just want to add to what's been said here, that it is also sometimes important to get the speed right for 78s - a lot of them aren't actually recorded at 78rpm. The older the recording, the harder it is to get the match, especially when the pitch of instruments isn't known. It can throw some recordings right out, but on others it seems to matter less.

Edited by Eggcup The Daft

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On 02/04/2018 at 1:26 PM, SMARTPLAY said:

Does a hi fi system make these sound better

1000% yes.

 

Some 'lofi' recordings have a strange spectral balance (eg. too much or too little bass/treble) ... having tone controls or EQ handy in your system (for when they're really needed) is a good thing.

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Ward Marston of Marston Records has done good work with acoustic era classical recordings, among other things.

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All my bad modern recordings have pretty much sounded worse, the better my system got, haha, though I do think the subs made an  improvement. Mid fi components seem to be better for my stuff, party speakers & tone controls etc.

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When applied to modern recordings I treat the term "lo-fi" as just another marketing angle.

 

Fidelity, by definition, is a measure of how true to the original performance, the recording is.

So in my mind, lo-fi would mean a recording that is a poor rendition of the performance, but a lot of the so-called lo-fi recordings I have heard are quite the opposite and are as true to the original performance as you will ever get.

 

I suspect this is because the current usage of the term lo-fi implies minimalist, rather than poor, recordings.

I think it's another case of marketing folk picking up a term and misapplying it to suit their ends.

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a modern classic- I will be testing this one a/b listening 

 

 

 

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