Paul McGowan writes:
You are walking down the street perfectly happy after a good lunch or so, when suddenly from nowhere you hear music. It could be a sound two blocks away, poor acoustics, noisy background etc. Maybe it’s a street musician, but the thing is that your brain can detect this as live music as opposed to reproduced within fractions of a second, despite the conditions around you.
We are trying hard to achieve the very same illusion of real music in front of our beloved music system, but never seems to reach the same fidelity even in “perfect” acoustic conditions. So, sitting in sweet spot, not having any background noise, speakers optimized to the room etc. still learns us we have a bit to go I think.”
That’s a great question and one our long time readers will recognize as a consistent theme in Paul’s Posts – because it also amazes me as well. Just the other day my family and I were in a pub enjoying a cold brew and dinner when, from a completely different room, someone started playing a flute. All 5 of us at the table immediately turned in the direction of the music but were unable to see anyone playing as they were in the next room. So convinced were we that it was live, one of my sons volunteered to go investigate just to make sure. Of course, it was live, two rooms away from where we were in a very crowded and noisy environment.
Perhaps you’ve had the same experience.
I would suggest to those out there that believe they do not possess golden ears or are convinced they cannot hear differences in audio equipment to reflect for a moment on the fact that all of us have the ability to recognize live sound vs. recorded and reproduced sound. The only real trick is to try and differentiate within a reproduced environment whether one presentation is more live than another because the ear/brain understands none of what you’re listening to is live.
I believe the basic problem is the loudspeaker itself and less so the electronic chain and microphones used to pickup the music.
This doesn’t answer the equally tantalizing question of why we can also identify a live electric guitar playing through a loudspeaker either, but hey, we have to start somewhere.