– By Misha Kucherenko, Etalon Sound’s Marketing Director
A few days ago, I saw Gonzalo Rubalcaba, a jazz piano supreme of Cuban descent, performing live at The St. Petersburg State Philharmonic Hall.
His playing was at his best (even if he performed some of his less accessible material).
I’ve had a perfect seat – in the middle of the first row.
During his performance, I caught myself thinking: “The concert’s “the sound quality” is far from being that superior”.
There was no sound reinforcement of any kind, but compared to his best recordings reproduced through a “decent” hi-fi rig – and I am pretty familiar with Gonzalo’s recorded repertoire – what I heard live was a lower resolution and more congested version of them.
Yes, the first octave and the half was magnificent: all the doom and gloom of bass notes was highly articulated with a lot of punch.
But notes above that range were anything but glorious rendition of highly meaningful music material.
So, beyond one more validation for our “hobby” I was struck by a revelation.
What’s the point of spending millions of rubles/dollars/whatever just to “house” and maintain such an imperfection (never mind spending a hundred bucks on my ticket) when the current technology is capable of providing much better communication channels to transfer all the intellectual and the emotional musical contents?!
Only because we can flock together to a classical music performance the way we would flock together to a “disco”?!
(And, by the way, from an audiophile’s perspective we’ve got the same sound quality problem with the most of the “discos” I’ve ever been).
It’s not a coincident, that, for me, a visit to a live concert by a favorite musician usually “puts a cross” on him or her, that is, usually, it marks a point after which my personal interest to this particular performer quickly fades away.
If a favorite music recording can sustain hundreds of repeats, then a live performance is usually like a movie: you saw it once and you “shelf” it.
Unfortunately, with music, as there is no real action on the stage, what goes down the drain are the musicians themselves.
Of course, from this rule there are some very rare exceptions, but you would, hopefully, know what I mean…
From its very inception, High End Audio was never just a pure technology; it has s always been an art form.
And as an every art form it’ll never be able to sustain itself forever, so, its current collapse is a testament to this sad fact.
Yes, if you peel off its artistic streak and treat High End Audio as a pure technology, it will mutate and, will, possibly, even survive in that new adapted form.
But the latter would be the same as to peel off “artistic streak” off Beethoven and leave it to the market forces to mutate his music in full accordance with the latest trends in pop music.
All the arts forms in the world can’t sustain themselves for an indefinite period of time, and stay alive only because they are supported by some external forces, either by the state funding, or by a sponsorship money (which, in this case, as a rule, is the same).
In my High End Audio career it’s always been a very similar story.
The gear I’ve seen a lot of passion and content built in has been barely registering on a sales radar, and, on the opposite, what supported me through all these years financially (and has been supporting the sales of all that “genuine” stuff) was something that I would never touch with a long stick.
And it’s the same with the music: if you’d left it to the general public vote, would you still have Brahms sonatas performed in all those magnificent concert halls?
No, I don’t think so.
Which finally brings me to a point: if High End Audio, as an art form, have had earned the same broad social respect as all the other respectable art forms, it’d never suffered its current fate.
Its attempts to seat on two chairs, namely, to produce some shallow personal status symbols wearing a deep and meaningful facial expression at the same time, would never bring the happy ending.
It’s not only because you can’t wear a loudspeaker on your wrist, it’s because, as the saying goes, “you can’t be a little pregnant, as you can’t be a little free”.
So the dream I’ve always had was that one day our industry would finally break away from a state of permanent “pregnancy” and will finally break free.
By “free”, I mean the freedom of expression, which is a necessary condition for anything to be qualified as a real work of art.
Breaking away from a purely technological consumer-based endeavor will make High End Audio a legitimate art form.
As a matter of fact, as an industry we should be aware of that High End Audio’ s arsenal is fully capable of replacing the (enormously expensive) venues as an art form creation link, where the arsenal is an art form in itself, the way the exceptional venues are.
And so, if we’d only knew how to organize ourselves, considering a possible economic return from concert hall replacement by a wide adoption of our equipment, we could’ve even asked for a government support money…
Including, as for every art form, government support for some appropriate educational programs…
But, alas, all these have been always just a dream…
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