High end vs live music statement

High end vs live music.

I think the speakers are a bit to small to play that loud.

In the beginning when the high end system start to play the difference is big, but at the end the system is warm and I think it play’s almost at the same level as the live music. How would Pauks new speakers act here?


Which brings up the question: do you turn up your system up as loud as to mimic live music? I do often. Normally I prefer to listen at a moderate level.

I rarely listen at over 80dB. This is plenty loud to hear everything on a recording.

Which brings up the question: do you turn up your system up as loud as to mimic live music? I do often. Normally I prefer to listen at a moderate level.
wow, you must have a big system!

I rarely listen above 80dB too, but it feels good to fire up the system!

Thinking about this further, I wonder how many actually listen at “live” levels. Even a solo flute played five feet away is surprisingly loud. A solo piano played forte can easily be 100dB for the musician, a concert hall orchestral climax 120dB+.

There is absolutely no way I could listen at ‘live’ levels. It would be domestically impossible with neighbors, but long before they’d complain, the room would give out. So another way of thinking about this is - who out there other than Paul has a room in which it would even be reasonable to contemplate heading in the 100-120 dB range? When I had my house in Canada I got my system up to a measured 110 db one day with some raunchy bits of Pat Metheny and that was quite enough.

When listening to recordings of live music; I can indeed play loud. To get the same feeling as like being there. I must say that a lot of concerts are not that loud anymore, because of regulations. Last live concert I visited was the band from Guthrie Govan. Typically fusion/rock concert but with a moderate level. Playing the music at home I can (almost) recreate the live sound. And that without all the talking people around me, which is quite a nuisance, I do not get; if you like to talk-go to a bar…

vsopking said: And that without all the talking people around me, which is quite a nuisance, I do not get; if you like to talk-go to a bar...


I wanted to add that Guthries band played not Typically fusion/rock. This band is awesome and very open and communicative. And I hate it when the music is very dynamic both loud and soft - to hear people babbling away, without listening.

Boy, volume is a big subject (not to make a pun) and I sometimes listen at quite loud levels if the music demands it - part of the fun in either listening room.

Several things:

Like Elk and a few others here, I tend to listen at fairly moderate levels. My reference is acoustic guitar at about 10 feet in a normal living room. Maybe 80-85dB.

On the other hand, the other day I was in a strange mood and HAD to put some rock on (Nena 99 / Luftbaloons and Kansas / Point of Know Return) and cranked it up as far as I dared to. See System Three in the systems section… Normally the GCC-500 level is 30-35, the other day it was at 90 for a couple of tracks! :open_mouth: This was the first time I have felt that amp get noticeably warmer than idle. That, and the wires on the MMGs were warm too. Not hot, but warm.

Back to normal levels. My regular Friday Night haunt is Uncle Calvin’s Coffee House http://unclecalvins.org/ where I usually volunteer. Their target room level is 80-85 dB, although we occasionally get a performer who insists on being louder. Quite often when the performer insists on being loud I go outside the hall to listen. Uncle Calvin’s has a reputation as being a ‘listening’ room and the occasional chatty patrons are typically requested to take their talk outside. Performers often comment on how quiet and attentive the audience there is. If anyone out there finds themselves in Dallas Texas on a Friday night, I highly recommend Uncle Calvin’s as a place to go.


wingsounds13 said: Their target room level is 80-85 dB . . .

This is a great level for amplified music. Wonderful idea.

It entirely depends on where the live music was played and what was being played. Last night, we heard Mark Knopfler live in a huge Paris arena. The acoustics were absolutely awful. There was absolutely no comparison between listening to the live show and listening to Knopfler through my amazing home speakers. On the other hand, I’ve heard Beethoven pianist, Paul Lewis playing in a small church. It would be hard if not impossible to reproduce the mind and body experience of sitting 12 feet away from a grand piano and listening to Beethoven’s Last three piano sonatas played by Lewis. Doesn’t matter how loud you turn up your home speakers, you’re never going to match the live performance.

Reproduced music is always obviously a reproduction. It is a mere shadow of the original.

But it is still nice.

1 Like

For an intensive session, when I can, I hear quite loud. I never measured, but I guess I hear everything up to a string quartet at live level and everything above as close to it as the room and speakers allow. Certainly easier to hear Debussy orchestral works at live level than Holst‘s planets :wink:

In my perception the limiting factor is more often the individual tonality of the recording than anything else.

Same here. I have a pretty extensive collection of bootlegs, most of which are awesome soundboard feeds. Not all bootlegs are great, like 1 in 10 but I am only interested in the good ones. I listen to those very loud as well trying to recreate the feeling of listening to live music. My system, with DMP and DSD front end can get close at times, despite the fact I have a crappy listening room. Unfortunately I can only listen at these levels when wife and son are out of the house. :smirk: I should measure peak SPL sometime but I know it’s above 90db.

80db is party level for me. At anything over 70db both the wife and the cat leave the room ostentatiously. I am currently listening at my normal level and have just measured it at an average of 58db. It would be less in the early morning or late evening.

For me, there are ideal loudness levels which sound the best. This can be different for each recording.

I have attended and hosted a number of house concerts (a soloist or small ensemble comes to your house and plays for you and your guests - great fun). It is wonderful to hear chamber music in intimate spaces for which such music was written. And it is surprising loud.

Unfortunately playing music as loud on a system does not make a reproduced music sound like real instruments. Instruments and singers project sound differently than speakers and the sound reacts with the room differently. Systems are additionally wholly unable to reproduce the transparent immediacy of real instruments.

It continues to surprise me that this applies to instruments we only hear mic’d or amplified (electric guitars, keyboards, pop vocals, drum kits, etc.). Even a live band sounds vastly different playing live than a recording of this same band played back on a good club or similar.

I doubt we are ever going to capture the magic which is music.


Gear gets closer ever year though. I’ve had live 4 piece jazz bands come to my house to play and what my system doesn’t capture is what I’d call the body, the fullness of the instruments. Especially piano. There’s something about the dynamic range of real instruments that isn’t reproduced 100% either. Good systems get close but I find some of the ‘startle’ is missing from recorded music when an instrument goes from softer to loud very quickly.

Still, and all, if it’s a good recording at an appropriate volume level I’m closer now to live music than I’ve ever been before which is pretty cool to me.

Could not agree more…