Not throwing in the towel, but

So, I got to hear the Vienna Philharmonic live, in person a couple of nights ago. The day after, I listened to my system to compare. Total buzzkill! My modest $7,000 system and a transistor radio are 100 times more closely related in terms of aural effect than the Vienna Phil in an okay concert hall.

How close does your system get to tricking you in to believing that you have a real orchestra there with you, not just some historical artifact? How much have you spent to not have violins sound strident? What have you done to get your system to express microdynamics such as a pianissimo crescendoing into a piano? How big of a room? How much treatment?

In my case, there’s one main problem: small room. The room is treated, however.

I do realize that “suspension of disbelief” is necessary with orchestral music on an audio system unless you actually live in a concert hall. Just wondering how close some of you get to the real thing. I’m nowhere near!


I have yet to hear a system accurately reproduce the sound of an acoustic instrument. Sound reproduction simply is not there yet.


Agreed. I think with our current state of reproduction, it’s impossible. That said, I still love listening to music at home.



no way a speaker cone or horn or planar can sound like a real instrument or voice emanating from entirely different ‘hardware’

cheaper and less traffic than renting the orchestra

but, our foolery can be so inspiring


Honestly, I have never understood the idea of “reproducing live sound” in your system. Live to whom? The musician? (no thanks) The guy on the front row? Third row? The back? A balcony? Its all different.

More to the point, I like the music in different ways. At home I love to hear the choices made in the studio almost as much as what the musician did. Live I want the emotion and energy that the musician achieves with the help of the audience and the roll of the dice that is that particular night.


I have never expected perfect reproduction of an actual concert hall experience in a space a tiny fraction of the size and not acoustically equivalent. That isn’t reasonable. I have invested in and listen to my system strictly for the enjoyment it brings to my life. In fact, if I achieve that goal, regardless of how imperfect the technology is and always will be, I don’t care that it is imperfect. The investment is worth every penny. This complaint is equivalent in my mind to saying if a painting isn’t a perfect reproduction of the subject, it isn’t enjoyable. IMHO, that is misguided. But, again, that’s only MHO.


tubes help.
Fantastic sounding live recordings help.


Different locations in a hall don’t mean that there aren’t some basic timbral consistencies throughout the space. Here, I’m speaking about acoustic instruments.

If it’s an amplified concert, then I’ll pass. Usually, those are awful. My system usually sounds better to my ears.


I think the complaint has more to do with the degree of imperfection to the point where the painting is but a shadow of the original. Imperfection is a given, of course.

HiFi sound reproduction is just that. Sound reproduction of a recorded event to be played in the home.

Last week I had the opportunity to hear, at a recital series being held in our church, an operatic soprano, flute, and piano unamplified in a good acoustic space that I know well.

It is at such events that you realize how much home reproduction lacks when compared to the real thing. Simply the volume of the soprano voice, much less the timbre, is something that I couldn’t/wouldn’t reproduce at home.

We also regularly visit a jazz club where we listen to either solo piano or a piano, bass, and drum trio. Again, live unamplified music always trumps home reproduction. It is noticeably superior even in the noisy space of a jazz club.

I’ve been an audiophile for more years than I care to remember and have continued to seek improvement in home reproduction of sound. It has been a great journey and I spend many happy hours in front of my HiFi. It is, however, no substitute for live performance.

Many of us were musicians before we became audiophiles so we know how much better real instruments in real spaces sound when compared to recorded sound playback. That is why I’ve always been able to understand how musicians can own crappy stereos. Nothing compares to live.

That doesn’t mean that striving for better sound from the HiFi isn’t a noble goal. Just this morning I sat in front of my main HiFi and thought, “Damn that sounds good!”


I’d just stop buying gear and use money saved for tickets.

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That’s where I might be headed!

Such a great response Bob.

Yup, I’m a classically trained musician and public school music teacher. For years, I was happy with what I had and was sure that any home system was but a pale imitation of the real thing which I had been in and around for decades. Then the pandemic struck and I started to watch Guttenberg, McGowan, Darko etc. They had me convinced that I could have my cake and eat it too. What can I say. It’s a learning curve.

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To most everyone here I am again going to sound like a broken record, but if you’re looking for a very real sounding recording, has a wonderful recording of Ben Webster Live in Copenhagen. This could change your mind about throwing in the towel, at least for another week, lol

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HaHa! Yeah thanks for the rec.

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I cant even imagine limiting my live experiences to unamplified. I’d miss so much great music.


My communication wasn’t clear and maybe a bit overstated. I go to amplified concerts, but I don’t make that live sound into an ideal for my system. “Awful” was too strong a word to use.


For acoustic instruments, especially larger groups of musicians, you are probably right.

Lucky for me I find the vast majority of music I want to listen to sounds far worse in live performance than at home on my hifi, because it was written, crafted, recorded, and mixed in an electronics-focussed environment to be played on hifi equipment.

In this case the actual final performance happens in my living room and the better quality* my equipment and room then the closer that performance will be to the original intentions of those who wrote, recorded, and crafted that recording, but if I want to change e.g. the tonal balance to suit my gear, room, or ears I easily can (with eq and the like, though I suppose some do it with mega-cables).

* a separate debate is what is meant by quality, but we’ve answered that in other threads ad nauseum and hopefully will continue to do so :slight_smile:


An additional thought - the specifics of venue can make a big difference to enjoyment of an un-amplified performance, which is a wonderful bonus of such performances, but this also applies to using different recording studios, and even different equipment, many examples of which have distinctive and unique sounds.

Heck even digital reverbs can “sing” in different ways sometimes and studio musicians (and that includes the engineers if you are lucky to get a good one or wealthy enough to bring your own) add these additional “voices” creatively. The recording studio really is the best musical instrument there is!


In full agreement. My system is preferable to live sound out of a P.A., though I’ve heard a couple of exceptions. Rock, funk, soul, fusion sound great on my system.

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