Translating "hifi" words into music

The words that get bandied about in magazines, shows, demonstrations, but how do they translate into music? Some ideas, hopefully inviting comment and examples to expand my music collection.

Bass, midrange and treble can be reasonably easily described because instruments and voice have specified, measurable frequencies. In reading through the forum there are often references to hearing loss and I have seen and heard arguments that treble becomes superfluous because of this. I can recall a lecture where this was debunked with the argument that harmonics are what give instruments their characteristic sounds. So, I just looked this up and as a for instance, a double bass with a highest fundamental of 248Hz can have harmonics to 7kHz.  Typically, descriptions of bass vary, I am told that I cannot listen to reggae because my system does not have bass, I can then put on a test disc where (admittedly at lower output) 27Hz can be heard and felt in my room. OK, since I had double glazing installed the windows no longer rattle, but the person that told me this had replaced the seats in the back of his car with two 15-inch woofers and 1000-watt amplifiers. Of course, there was no specification to the 1000 watts and it just went thump, thump, thump. My guess is that all contributors here will want their bass to play tunes, not pin them against a wall. Bass underpins music giving timing and rhythm, but then falling into subcategories –

Simple bass – Rebecca Pidgeon; Spanish Harlem. Mary Coughlan; I Want To Be Seduced. Applewood Road; Applewood Road. Diana Krall; Temptation.

Driving bass – just too many options so, any track from Sly and Robbie; Mambo Taxi.

Fun bass – exaggerated? funky? Sharon Shannon; Mighty Sparrow.

Then we get to the hi-fi words-

Slam – I think the traditional track was Yello; The Race. My most up to date one, Rhiannon Giddens; Waterboy

Air – Dead Can Dance; The Wind That Shakes The Barley.

Dynamics – Cantate Domino; Weihnachtslied

PRAT – when everything comes together, I sometimes want to make it PRATE, adding ensemble. The whole playing together in time, in tune etc. My standout point in upgrading was when Weihnachten from Cantate Domino stopped being a jumble of notes and made sense. Just an organ solo!

 

At which point, I stop and ask for your words and your tracks…..

 

Original Post

Wow what a refreshing post. You've actually taken the time to go into detail on the subject. Seems to be too many posts recently with no substance. You could have said "Best Bass" and left it like that or " Greatest not obvious bass". I'm just waiting for "if the bass was a colour what would it be"................ 

I need to do some thinking about your categories but here are a few albums with great dynamics weighted towards bass:-

Joni Mitchell - Don Juan's Reckless Daughter

Lou Reed - Magic and Loss

Miles Davis - Tribute to Jack Johnson

John Hiatt - Bring the Family

Little Village - Little Village

Alice in Chains - Unplugged

Tim Buckley - Blue Afternoon

Nuance/Subtlety:

This is a difficult one. Could be that ability of fine shading textures and stable placement of the note by note envelope ?

  Melody Gardot - So we meet again my heartache

Melody when recording and playing out live uses an interesting single microphone array. One for the lung full, one for ambience and another for real close whispers. Must be a real challenge for the mixing desk !!

AndyP19 posted:

...I need to do some thinking about your categories but here are a few albums with great dynamics weighted towards bass:-



Alice in Chains - Unplugged...

Great album and a Nutshell was a favourite demo track of mine back in the day.  It's all about the bass here - there's a tension to it that is hard for many systems to adequately convey, and without it, the song loses much, and either comes across as too laid back and a bit "slack" or just a mess.

Fun Bass:

Saint Etienne - Carnt Sleep

Most Dub recordings don't actually go that low deep down in the Htz.  Usually around 70 Htz.     When you think that the genre originated from the shanty sound systems, they could move a lot of air but not the earth.

Great Fox Based Bass.

TOBYJUG posted:

Hah. Am I really the one and only ?

 

 

Tobyjug - looks like it, perhaps I overthought the question. 161 views and three people comment?

I didn't set out to be provocative, but I sort of anticipated some comeback for daring to suggest amending PRAT.

Anyway, i have enjoyed your choices, g hanks

I've been following this with interest, but not contributed because when I play music I don't think about it that way, and whilst occasionally something strikes me, standing out on hearing a piece for the first time, I then forget it because it is simply a part of that recording. Maybe others haven't responded for the same reason.

I've made a mental note to try to think about it when playing music over the coming weeks, but in the meantime here is one:

Dynamic range: Tchaikovsky 1812 overture, Telarc 2001 release, SACD version (DSD version might be even more so, but I haven't heard).   Play the orchestra at a realistic level, and you risk the cannons destroying your speakers...

Innocent Bystander posted:

I've been following this with interest, but not contributed because when I play music I don't think about it that way, and whilst occasionally something strikes me, standing out on hearing a piece for the first time, I then forget it because it is simply a part of that recording. Maybe others haven't responded for the same reason.

I've made a mental note to try to think about it when playing music over the coming weeks, but in the meantime here is one:

Dynamic range: Tchaikovsky 1812 overture, Telarc 2001 release, SACD version (DSD version might be even more so, but I haven't heard).   Play the orchestra at a realistic level, and you risk the cannons destroying your speakers...

I had the same thoughts. Although I think the premise of the thread is interesting it represents an analytical approach   that is quite different to how I listen to music. I really don't think I dissect different elements and I'm sure I don't listen to music based on how if stretches or reveals different elements of system performance. if you tell me the genres or albums you enjoy I might have some suggestions but I struggle to suggest stuff that may indicate a particular HiFi characteristic.

For me the only words that count are 'engagement' and 'enjoyment'.

Despite owning Naim for many, many years and having a great system, PRaT, air, and all the rest will mean nothing to me when I sit down tonight and play some great music.

Bruce

Thanks both for your comments. I clearly did overthiink the question. I have lurked for a long time, joined recently and in general find all the topics enjoyable. It is the music that is the most important for me and i don't analyse like I did above in the normal course of events.

Having diversity and inclusivity preached regularly at work, I guess I felt the need to join in and as my purpose is music and I do not own Naim, that was the line I chose to go down. I was trying to avoid cliches such as best demo track and biggest bass track. I have a system that has evolved away from "hifi" to strictly musical. I can have music on for 8, 9, 10 hours without any fatigue. Sometimes it is to mask next doors telly,  yesterday I just set the Melco on random because I had to do ironing so I could sit in the sweet spot!

When dearly beloved has the telly on I read, fora, magazines, then listen to tracks from you tube on my tablet and a pair of Lidl headphones and order CDs.

I widen my horizons from what I find here, by going to concerts and most consistently over the past couple of years by watching Andrew  Marr on Sunday mornings. 

Living close to Bristol I manage to go to the show each year and find some of the conversations highly entertaining and do hear the terms from magazines repeated, possibly by punters trying to appear knowledgeable?

What I like? Start at Gregorian chant, through baroque, folk, Sly and Robbie, blues, to Lau, Lady Maisery, Carolina Chocolate Drops.....

Bruce Woodhouse posted:

I think the premise of the thread is interesting it represents an analytical approach   that is quite different to how I listen to music.

For me the only words that count are 'engagement' and 'enjoyment'.

I tend to agree with your sentiments here Bruce. I'd use the terms 'musicality' and 'involvement' synonymously with your 'engagement' and 'enjoyment'. A third term I would add is 'cohesion'; that is when the hi-fi, music, and room all interact in a manner that the replay is delivered free-flowing, clear and uncluttered without distraction as to how it might sound better.

Notnaim

You surely don't need to own Naim to contribute here, and if all your posts are as thoughtful you can definitely stay! Writing about music is harder than writing about HiFi but I think far more worthwhile.

In the spirit that, and of the sharing that characterises this Forum at its best I'll pass on two excellent and pretty different albums I bought this week, after bit of a hiatus in new purchases.

Iron + Wine 'Beast Epic'. Folky Americana, a return to the more acoustic style of the (sublime) Endless Numbered Days. Very good, rich and subtle.

The War On Drugs 'A Deeper Understanding' Rock Americana. No great surprises after 'Lost In A Dream' but intense, beautifully produced and with some fine guitar sounds. Thunderous at high volume in places!

if you enjoy Lau, have you tried Hundred Waters? American again but somehow I think similarities.

Cheers Bruce

Bruce Woodhouse posted:

 

Iron + Wine 'Beast Epic'. Folky Americana, a return to the more acoustic style of the (sublime) Endless Numbered Days. Very good, rich and subtle.

The War On Drugs 'A Deeper Understanding' Rock Americana. No great surprises after 'Lost In A Dream' but intense, beautifully produced and with some fine guitar sounds. Thunderous at high volume in places!

if you enjoy Lau, have you tried Hundred Waters? American again but somehow I think similarities.

Cheers Bruce

Ordered!

Plus Dead South - Good Company

Not trying to ressurect this post, but politely replying to Bruce once the various postal services delivered-

In the traditional reverse order, The War On Drugs is going to get occasional plays, some parts remind me of Counting Crows, so may also be a grower.

Hundred Waters, yes, a bit more "polite" than Lau,  who possibly are better live than recorded. Perhaps it is the vocals but I put London Grammar on next as close.

Iron + Wine got repeated and repeated.

Since these I have also got and no connection with the topic,  but offer melancholy with an upbeat tempo,  Teddy Thompson & Kelly Jones "Little Windows" with no prizes for the influence.

The, it's taken nearly a year to track down and get, The Witches of Elswick "Out of Bed"...stunning!

NOTNAIM MAN,

I have just come across this thread. As a fellow hi-fi owner who also happens not to have any Naim components (apart from a Muso Qb), and a fellow lover of Gregorian Chants, baroque music, folk and blues (as well as more mainstream rock) your posts have struck a chord with me. This is a Naim forum, and it would be inappropriate for me as a non Naim owner to be too vocal in respect of some of my views on hi-fi, so I tend to keep them mostly to myself. However, I do admit to being a little frustrated from time to time when reading posts where the impression is given by some that 'PRAT' is something that is exclusive to Naim Audio equipment.  

I'll hopefully have a chance to respond in more detail later, but in the meantime I have just spent some time listening to the Witches of Elswick album you recommended. The advantage of having a subscription to Tidal is that one can have instant access to more or less any recommendations. It's certainly not the style of folk music I would normally listen to, but as you described, the album is absolutely stunning, and is now firmly ensconced as a 'Favourite' album of mine in Tidal. I could have sworn that one of the harmony vocals belonged to Maddy Prior, but it appears not.

I'll certainly be giving a listen to some of your recommendations over the next week or so. In the meantime, as I write this post, I am having another listen to the Witches of Elswick.  So simple and beautiful.      

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