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Subject: Rock-Era Music vs. Low-Fi music reproduction

Written By: AmericanGirl on 05/20/07 at 9:57 am

Today in the '00s, it's not unusual for us to obtain and enjoy music from years past.  We listen to a hit song from, for instance, 1969 and are amazed at how good it sounds.  That's because it's on our Ipod or CD or DVD or computer or HD/satellite radio, and these do a superior job reproducing music very faithfully.

The reality of a listener in 1969 listening to that same song?  A typical listener might hear it on AM radio, perhaps a car radio or a transistor radio, or if the listener really liked it they may have purchased a 45.  In all probability, that 45 was placed on a cheap monophonic "close 'n play" for pre-teen or teenager, or if an adult, on a not-very-faithful stereo (a middle class adult who liked music may have had one of those boxy wooden console stereos that looked nice in the late 60's living room, most of which were not very faithful).  A real audio geek may have invested megabucks in a 'good' (for that time) stereo (the relative cost of a really good stereo then was high) and listened more to albums - a few really out there geeks had reel-to-reel tape recorders.  But we're talking a very small percentage of listeners.  And the best reproducing technology of that time was pretty lame in comparison to, say, even that of the mid 80's.

Recording studios, thankfully, had sufficient technology and expertise by the late 60's to do a fairly reasonable job capturing the sound on the original master tapes.  For that reason, the sonic quality of an older song is able to come through when played on more faithful equipment.  However the makers of music knew of the technology gap in their listenership.  I had read, for instance, an executive of Motown records had said in the 60's that Motown intentionally produced and engineered their recordings so as to sound superior on AM radio.  Very astute at that time IMO!

Given all this, the experience of the person in the '90s or '00s listening to this 1969 song is considerably different, even though the song is exactly the same.  We have the benefit of enjoying the fruits of the labors of those past masters.


Subject: Re: Rock-Era Music vs. Low-Fi music reproduction

Written By: Tia on 05/20/07 at 12:51 pm

it's interesting to burn a mix cd of older music (70s, 80s, even 90s) combined with newer songs, because the newer songs are just louder, even on the CDs.

i i think recording reached its heyday in the late 60s and early 70s, although music still sounds great nowadays. because you had to experiment and a song could be low-fidelity (based on resource limitations) and still get attention. like hardcore and punk music, or surf music, for instance. nowadays if it doesn't sound like it was played in the KISS cave no one will pay any attention to it.

on the other hand, i think it's great that recording has gotten so much more affordable and people can record stuff at home that sounds almost professional quality.

did you know back in the day they used to do mono and stereo studio mixes? (because, of course, in the late 60s an on until FM and hi-fi stereo systems got affordable a lot of people listened monaural. like you say.) i read this really long interesting article about sgt pepper and they say the mono mix actually takes a lot longer, because you can pan tracks to one side or another to make them distinguishable but in mono you can only use volume and EQ to separate parts, so it's a lot harder.

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