Post By: Alan
Why is this? Well, there are a few things at work here. First of all, live music has real, live people playing music. These performers are part of the experience. Because they are usually energetic when they perform, that energy is passed on to the audience. The energy of the experience affects us on a deeper, emotional level, making us feel better, and the music sound better. While I won't deny that this is theorhetical and not really based in science, everyone who has seen live music be performed knows what I am talking about.
Another thing with live music, is that the volume is turned to 11. Like Spinal Tap. The sheer volume of everything is enough to heighten the experience...even if it is bad for your ears.
Also, since live music is not recorded, the sound is more pure. You are actually hearing a guitar played through an amplifier or a trumpet, not the sound of a guitar played through an amplifier into a microphone that has gone through a mixing board before being recorded onto an analog tape, which is then mixed, mastered, and copied to a CD, which is then read by a laser, amplified, and played out of a speaker. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.
In addition, musicians in the studio often have to do take after take, until they are bored with the music. This comes through on recordings all the time. They sound good, but the energy is sometimes missing. Live musicians are playing in the moment.
So, we all know that live music sounds better for many reasons. But, hey we can't always enjoy live music, so how do we get the great sound of a live performance at home or in the car?
Here is the first secret: Power. You need to listen to your music a little louder to appreciate it. In addition, when you play your music through a powerful amplifier, you will enjoy cleaner sound. When the volume is turned up a little higher, you'll also notice more of the subtle nuances in the music, and chances are that you'll hear a little more bass too. Bass is important. You don't see people getting hyphy to cymbals.
If you don't have a decently powered amplifier or receiver that you play your music through, I would recommend checking out a new one. If you listen to your music on some sort of "all in one" stereo, you're missing out. Also, look at investing in some sort of subwoofer. This will fill out your bottom end very nicely. You'll find a new appreciation for all of your music. Subwoofers aren't just for dance music and hip hop; every kind of music has sound on the lower registers, and a subwoofer will release that sound from your CDs, and bring it to your ears.
Don't pay any attention to audiophiles who say you need to have 1/1000th of a percent less total harmonic distortion, and a really expensive Krell amp to enjoy your music. You can't hear 1/1000th of a percent THD, and the real power behind the music when played through a Krell amp is the power in the amp. That's it.
Here's another secret: Passion and love. If you really love what a musician is doing on an album, you are going to enjoy the sound better. This is not about being picky and saying "I like this, but I don't like that". This is much more difficult. This is about gaining an appreciation for the work of all musicians. It requires being more open mentally and emotionally. It requires getting into the head of the musician, and feeling what they're playing. Not easy, but once you get it, you'll be amazed at how much more you love music, and how much more enjoyable it is to your ears.
The last secret: Seek out live recordings. A live recording is not necessarily a recording of a concert, but can also include recordings where the song was captured in one take, and was never cut or edited. The emotions of the musicians seem to come through more clearly on these types of recordings, and you'll be amazed at how much feeling is there.
To wrap it up: Get loud, get into it, get a live recording. The secrets to awesome sound.
Enjoy the music!
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