Friday, March 14, 2008

Lou Reed likes it hi-fi

Ignoring that some of the very best songs ever were designed to come out of a tinny transistor and were none the worse for that, Lou Reed has been moaning about mp3s:

"If you find out you like good sound you have to go out and get a good unit to play over," he told Variety.

"If the guy making the record likes good sound, the price goes up. People have to have higher standards. Some might say 'that's elitist'."

Reed went on: "You can get any song you want in the world. If you don't care about good sound, none of this matters for a second.

"If no one cares, it will stay the same. Technology is talking us backwards, making it easier to make things worse."

Now, a nice quality sound is fine, but it's not everything, is it? Suggesting that it'd be better to not to be able to get access to a squillion songs because some of them you might notice are a bit flat if you play them through massive speakers seems to be missing the point quite spectacularly. It's like suggesting you'd be better off illiterate than to have to put up with books printed on cheap paper.


Anonymous said...

Only if the paper's so cheap that you can't make out some of the words...

M.C. Glammer said...

Lou is displying a complete and utter ignorance of how the ear and the heary part of the brain works.

When you listen to a scratchy record your ears and brain eventually filter out the scratches.

If you up the treble on your amp, it will soon sound normal, then if you take it back to how it was it will sound dull for a while until your ears readjust. So fundamentally, your ears don't care about hifi.

Lou probably sold his stereo for smack years ago, anyway.

Anonymous said...

Wow. m.c. glammer is displaying a complete and utter ignorance of how the brain and ear process sound.

When a person listens to scratchy records, the individual has one of several responses:

The listener finds the scratches annoying.

The listener takes the scratches into consideration, and considers them "part" of the recording "It's an old record, what do you expect," etc.

The listener "tunes" them out.

The brain compensates (via the mechanics of the ear) for NOT NORMAL SOUND.

That does not mean the listener will filter out all of the "bad" sound, and have a satisfactory listening experience.

People who have spent enough time in the business of sound production, whether teaching how to do it, being a professional muso, etc. develop a much more critical "ear."

The ears do care about HiFi, to the extent they can let you know. I would suggest you look up Temporary Threshold Shift (TTS). See also Tinnitus.

The brain does care about HiFi as well. The parts of the brain that are stimulated by sound can, when properly done, leave the listener with a feeling as good as sex.

Getting back on the beam, even though I have some spot frequency loss from too many Ted Nugent, Foghat, and Aerosmith shows during the Stone Age of Sound Re-enforcement, I have no problems teaching audio production, working in a music studio, mixing live sound, etc.

In Lou's case, his hearing has taken a pounding a couple of orders of magnitude beyond mine. Yet he can still hear the crap in audio. It doesn't matter if the crap is compression, limiting, dithering, bad EQ, and the list does indeed go on, Lou knows how to listen, and what to listen for. That is why he made those (absolutely correct) comments.

Mike Nomad

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