Live Music: Do you find it “re-calibrates” your ears?

Many audiophiles strive to create an audio system that mimics the sound and experience of a live performance at home, but after spending so much time and energy trying to recreate that sound, some find that when they go to another concert, they forgot what they were going for in the first place.  Do you find that live music “re-calibrates” your ears or changes your outlook on the way your system sounds?

User Mitch4t posted in our forum, “I went to see a jazz quartet last night in an intimate setting. It had been way too long since I’ve been out to experience live music. Sitting at home listening to music and critiquing the accuracy of the recording is really worthless if you don’t periodically experience a true reference…… a live event.  The experience provided me with some sorely needed perspective. I am now of the belief that twice a year is the minimum those in this hobby should experience a live musical event of the type of music you listen to on recordings. I now know I have been far too dependent on recorded music for too long. Live is still where it’s at.”

Rcprince: You’re absolutely correct that live is where it’s at, but twice a year? Way too little. If we don’t get out and support the arts, there will be less of them to sample live in the future.

Snofun3: Do it daily. Buy an instrument and pay 1/10th of what you’d spend on audio gear on lessons, and 1/10th the time obsessing about gear on practice, and you can recalibrate at will. It works for me. For sure it’s nice to hear, see and support an artist, but I find a new appreciation in the music when trying to emulate it. It’s obvious that many spend far too much time and effort on the equipment and not the music.

Nrchy: While I generally enjoy live music, I don’t believe that what a person hears at a PAC or small club usually sounds very good. Concerts are fun because a person gets to sit in the room while a favorite musician interprets favorite tunes. It is the experience that people enjoy more often than the quality of the music. Some people think the only way to determine the accuracy of their system is to use live music as their standard, but in reality this is simply impossible. The listener does not have enough information to determine the accuracy of what they heard at the show, and what they hear at home. Everyone should attend concerts regularly, which I will be doing Saturday night, but I don’t have any illusions about the ability to determine anything from it.

Oldpet: Live performance and recorded music are two completely different things, from an auditory standpoint. From my observation, live is certainly not the same as what comes from my system every night. Recorded music is so much more controlled than live music. Even recordings made from live performances have more controls put on them than one tends to realize.

So is recreating the live sound really something to strive for?  Should you compare your system to a concert? Maybe not.  That’s the most interesting part of concerts – that moment is live, you are present and in the moment, and it can never happen exactly the same way again.  You’re not just listening.  You are watching, feeling, and participating.  There’s a big difference.

What do you think – are you a live music lover?

1 Comment

  1. Live music is its own reward! But to ‘calibrate’ your ears, you need the sound of unamplified acoustic instruments (and/or voices) in a real space. A sax piped through the sound system in some small club won’t do it. Nor will an amplified guitar (especially in a stadium). This has nothing to do with musical tastes; It is all about reference points for evaluating the fidelity of reproduced sound to the real article.

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