Fun with Moose and Squirrel
Stereophile|June 2021
’Cause, it’s hard to say what’s real / When you know the way you feel —Flaming Lips, “One More Robot/Sympathy 3000-21,” from Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
JONATHAN SCULL

In a recent Zoom meeting, some friends got into a dust-up about how “real”-sounding high-performance audio systems can be. The consensus was that there was no chance at all of real, live sound. A label owner waved it off as impossible: “Fuhgeddaboudit,” he said. He’s from New York, like me. I began to feel the burn, but I contained my outrage. For a while. Eventually—you know me—I had my say. “What the hell are you all talking about?” I erupted. A confused silence followed, and I dove right in. “Someday, you may be able to attend a live rock concert again,” I said, “and feel the bass pounding your chest and that jagged, piercing treble giving you vertigo. Don’t forget your earplugs.

“Or you might attend a classical recital again someday—where of course there’s no well-defined soundstage or palpable imaging.” But at a live event, your thoughts don’t turn to tight bass, soothing midrange textures, or sweet highs—nope, you’re there for the music, awash in sound that’s amplified or nulled by the acoustics of the venue—not to mention the coughing, the sneezing, the eye-watering perfume. Jazz is about the same in large spaces; in clubs, it’s more intimate, and it smells different. At any live event, an exciting gestalt of visual cues, music, and hall acoustics merges to form The Experience of Live Music.

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