Steely Dan Aja as reference for testing speakers

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by SuperLead100, Jan 6, 2018.

  1. johnebravo

    johnebravo I should be practicing

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    Well, if you could tell what kind of guitar was being played, and through what kind of amp, and what, if any, effects pedals were being used, and roughly how high they were turned up, and where the tone controls were set on the guitar, etc., etc., then maybe. I would think you would agree that all these things significantly affect the tone produced. Maybe some experienced guitarists can do all that easily just by listening. But I'm guessing that the average listener isn't going to be in a position to do that, nor do they care. But then again, they really aren't in a position to know how the recording of the instrument is supposed to sound without knowing that sort of stuff, are they? ;)
     
  2. theophile

    theophile Pheasant Plucker. Subscriber

    Sine waves! How audiophile. I only listen to recordings of marine fog alarms.
     
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  3. noogies

    noogies My Favorite Woofers. Subscriber

    On one hand, accuracy. On the other, pleasing sound.

    Hmmm ...
     
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  4. toddalin

    toddalin Super Member

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    Do you have to be able to tell a Selmer from a Vito tenor sax on the recording to know if it sounds right? I was lucky that I played clarinet from 5th grade to 1st year of college, then keyboards with a rock band for years after that, so have a pretty good idea of what things sound like.

    Most people have no idea if the sax sounds any closer to the real thing then the Fender Strat. There could be more people here that have heard a Fender first hand than a French horn.
     
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  5. sqlsavior

    sqlsavior AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    If I can't hear new things on familiar recordings, it's not really an upgrade for me. I keep playing whatever is in rotation lately, plus some old favorites, but I don't rely on just a couple of test albums, at least when I am listening at home.
     
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  6. 55Redneck

    55Redneck Canadian Redneck

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    I think Aja and Nightfly are both very good sounding records (at least on my gear), but there are a couple that I own that I much prefer sonicly (sp?) over them. Rickie Lee Jones ST debut album and also her Magazine album. Another really good one is Lowell George, No Thanks, I'll Eat it Here.
     
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  7. johnebravo

    johnebravo I should be practicing

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    Without getting derailed into a side issue, I would just say that there's probably a lot more variability in mouthpieces, reeds, and embouchures than in horn models. (Parker played on some really crappy, often borrowed horns, but still sounded like himself. It's the player, not the horn. ;)) But with the many effects pedals for guitars, and the practically infinite possible combinations of them, and the differences in degrees to which they can be implemented, I think electric guitar tones have a lot more variability. But I've had guitarists tell me that they can easily hear the differences between Fenders and Gibsons, for example.

    I'll try to put the basic point a little differently. Most people are thinking of a "reference recording" in terms of one that's been engineered to sound impressive. But asking that the recording be as accurate as possible compared to the actual live performance is quite different. Comparing recordings, I can often tell pretty quickly and easily whether a piano, sax, trumpet or string instruments sounds more like the live instrument. With an electric guitar, since there are really many, many different possible ways it can sound, I don't really have any way of knowing what it did in fact sound like in the studio. But, again, most people are shooting for "impressive", not "accurate", so what it in fact sounded like is irrelevant. I really doubt that many rock recordings are live-in-the-studio, or have been for quite some time anyway, so "accuracy" per se is really besides the point: there never was any actual performance to be reproduced.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2018
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  8. mhardy6647

    mhardy6647 AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Umm, no -- the first "digitally recorded rock LP" was Ry Cooder's Bop 'til You Drop in 1979.
    It was widely (umm) trumpeted as such, and - of course - I bought a copy probably the week it was released.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bop_till_You_Drop

    The Nightfly I don't know about offhand (and I am too lazy to dig out the copy that's somewhere around here), but Aja came out two years before Bop.
     
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  9. mhardy6647

    mhardy6647 AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    McIntosh recorders.

    [​IMG]

    Ampex, maybe.
     
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  10. darkblue94

    darkblue94 It wasn't me. Subscriber

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    :bs:I'm sure there was a real person sitting there playing a real guitar while another real person was recording the actual performance. Sure the other real person playing the keyboards may be in a different studio in a different city at a later time with another real person recording that. What's your point?
     
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  11. hjames

    hjames Nabbed ... Staff Member Moderator Subscriber

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    If no one has responded ... in the bad old hipster days ...
    William Burroughs was a writer and used the term "Steely Dan" for a chrome strap-on sex toy in his novel Naked Lunch.
    Fagens and Becker grabbed the term gleefully for their band name.

     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2018
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  12. hjames

    hjames Nabbed ... Staff Member Moderator Subscriber

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    That song is called "FM" ...

    As we see in the near weekly "Demo playlist" threads here, there are lots of other cool albums to show off your music. When the Harman Motorhome came through a few years back, among other tracks, they played Janis Ian's "This House" from her album "Breaking Silence" - the whole album is mostly unknown and quite nice!
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2018
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  13. DrumminDaddy

    DrumminDaddy Hit it, Baby !! Subscriber

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    I took him as meaning recording an ensemble where you can here the room and bleed through from various mics, vs individual isolated tracks.
     
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  14. Ds2000

    Ds2000 All About every cool stereo component. Subscriber

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    I think Nightfly was recorded on the 3M console.
     
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  15. 911s55

    911s55 AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Most people? How would you know this?

    Accuracy and authenticity is the whole point whether it is a true live performance or overdubbed, tonality and presentation of the instrument, acoustic or electronic. Many listeners will not know how altered the end result actually is but knowing what the original sound of an instrument is has huge value for reproduction at home.
     
  16. johnebravo

    johnebravo I should be practicing

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    In one situation, there's a particular live performance that you're simply trying to capture as accurately as possible. But the more typical situation with modern recordings is that they're made on multi-track equipment in a studio, things are laid down track by track, and there are countless ways that the whole thing can be mixed down to a final result. How loud should any one track be compared to the rest of it? How should the tone of each track be adjusted? Etc., etc. The possibilities are practically infinite. Any choices made are aesthetic ones, based on what sort of result you're shooting for; there are no incorrect choices because there's no independent standard for how it "should sound".

    This is not just an issue with popular music recordings, by the way. There are classical orchestra recordings where individual instruments have clearly been closely mic-ed and are made very prominent by being momentarily boosted in the mix when they have solo passages. It may make for what seems like a livelier, more impressive recording, but it's really not accurate to have individual instruments boosted momentarily at particular times.

    But just about any modern rock or any other kind of popular music recording is multi-tracked and the individual tracks are very carefully adjusted and blended to get a particular result. There's nothing wrong with this: it's just that it has nothing to do with creating a recording that is as accurate as possible -- it's about getting a recording that's impressive and has a certain kind of sound. Since there's really no live recording to capture, there's no possible test as to accuracy in any case. Asking what the original performance "really sounded like in the studio" doesn't even make sense.

    By contrast, there's the approach of using minimal mic-ing and capturing a live performance without overdubs or multi-track recording. While less common now, this approach was once widespread and there are lots of older recordings that were made this way. They're just two completely different approaches, with completely different objectives and standards, that's all.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2018
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  17. noogies

    noogies My Favorite Woofers. Subscriber

    If you like the SQ of Rickie Lee Jones (ST), check out Pirates. Russ Titelman and Lenny Waronker were geniuses.
     
  18. kvining

    kvining Member

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    I've used it for years, like 40, years to test any piece I've ever bought. Especially the title track, it seems to cover every possible note in the universe. "Peg" has Michael McDonald as a back up singer, and I can always tell a great set of speakers when I can hear his voice in the background clearly and easy to identify as him. But I myself think The Royal Scam is a slightly better, absolutely dynamite album for me to personally test, enjoy and compare audiophile grade equipment, with the song Sign in Stranger probably the best piano work ever done, probably the best tune I have to bring out everything about my HPM-100s that make them one of the greatest speakers ever made.

    I also love Lover's Rock by Sade, when her backup band was at it's absolute peak of tightness. The bass work on that album immediately exposes any flaw in any woofer or subwoofer out there and her vocal range is an absolute test of any equipment's clarity. It's usually the first one I put on for testing. "Slave Song" is an excellent track for audio examination of speakers. Every instrument gets it's moment to enter the soundstage featured, and as each one does, it's pretty easy to ascertain the strength and weaknesses of a set.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2018
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  19. m6erfan

    m6erfan BT Subscriber

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    I agree, very well produced album
     
  20. Mamrak1

    Mamrak1 AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I believe you mean Michael McDonald rather than Michael Murphy that sang backround vocals on 'Peg.'
     

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