Recording Audiophiles

Last night, while I was recording a live concert at the Salina Schoolhouse of the Matt Flinner Trio and Taarka, I got to wondering what percentage of audiophiles record music as a hobby. Do you think it is as high as 5%? More likely its somewhere around 1 or 2%, tops.

AR-recording5.jpgBack "in the day" when I was a young buck, most audiophiles that I knew did do or had done some live music recording. J. Gordon Holt's principal hobby was recording live classical music - during the ten plus years that we recorded together we made over a hundred concert recordings. Our earliest recordings were done with Gordon's Revox A-77, we soon moved over to PCM digital, and worked our way up from 44.1 to 88.2 to 176.4 to 192.24 to, finally to DSD. Stereophile's John Atkinson also used to make recordings. Some of his work can be heard on the Stereophile test and concert CDs.

Nowadays, you would think with the advent of better, smaller, and easier to use recording devices that more audiophiles would be making their own recordings, but that hasn't happened. It seems that instead of audiophiles making more recordings, the percentage of audiophiles who do make recordings has diminished instead of expanded. Sure, there are probably more recordings made now than ever before in history, but most sound as if recording quality was either an afterthought, or because of how "good" most current professional recording gear is, a "given."

AR-recording1.jpgThe role that used to be occupied by recording audiophiles has been largely taken over by "professionals." It could be argued that professional recording engineers are not of the same caliber as back in the middle of the 20th century, when most started as apprentices or assistants. At EMI almost all the recording engineers started as "tea boys" whose principal role was to make and serve tea as they kept their eyes and ears open while they kept their mouths shut. That would difficult for many young people today...

Currently I don't see anything on the social horizon that will cause a ground swell of audiophiles to suddenly take up recording. But I can't help but wonder how much the average audiophile would learn about sound and recording merely by making a recording. I know it taught me a lot about sound. Even something as simple as recording a friend playing the guitar will teach you an amazing amount about how the physical location of a microphone effects a recording - and how inches can make a difference. Also recording almost any group with dynamics (or playing to a live audience) will quickly teach you about why sometimes limiters and compressors are useful and necessary recording tools. A true digital "clip" is not something you want to hear more than once...

AR-recording3.jpgI realize that a solitary blog won't suddenly awaken legions of audiophiles' lust for recording, but I do hope that sometime, someday, you will try making a recording. You can learn more about sound during that couple of hours than you can learn by doing anything else...

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