Low Fi Memories vs HiFi Realities.

prime minister

Site Owner
Staff member
Have you ever dug Out a beloved childhood, or teenagehood, fav single or album, played it for the first time in years on your super duper system, and it just doesn’t sound….right? Yes, it images better then ever. The soundstage is fantastic. You can hear all of the vocals and instruments like never before. But, something is just missing. Wrong. Is it the emotional connect with the music? The impact of cranking it through a single AM speaker? It’s just a different piece of music then what your low Fi memory wants it to be.

I had that experience in tonight. For the first time in ages, I dug out my old vinyl copy of George Harrison’s Cloud Nine. It was a soundtrack of my life album in 1987, and I likely played it way too much that year. It kind of disappeared into my musical memory. Always a reassuring presence on my various music shelves, but never played. So today I decided to give it a spin. And it just wasn’t the same. It sounded fine. Great even. But not right. Not the way I remembered it sounding. And yes, my system is working fine. The conflict is just between the way I remember it sounding, and the impact it had on a much younger me, vs how it sounds today.

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fiddlefye

Senior Member
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I've had a few of those recently as I've been digging into the less-visited recesses of the shelves the past while. Most often I've been shocked at how much better the recordings sound than my recollection of them and they actually have a lot more impact as a result. YMMV and probably will...
 

adaug

Awaiting Updated Member Status.
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yes! totally concur regarding the experience described in the OP. if we came to love a piece of music coming thru low-fi equipment, THAT can be the way that we want to love it. having the music expanded and clarified on a great system changes it, and, while still being experienced as very good, it may not convey the same feeling and emotional reaction that we remember and seek.

its sort of a reminder that we ultimately experience music with our bodies and minds, and not just our ears.
 
A big issue for me is playing an old album that I played on decent systems that did dynamics, scale, impact, tone, detail- but these systems at the same time were never set up for imaging and soundstage- often on the long wall of a house, or speakers placed less for performance and more as furniture, in corners, out of the way, often a potted plant sitting on top.

So occasionally I break out an album from my youth and either get my socks blown off from a system that can actually reproduce the air, ambience and soundstage correctly from a well recorded album- or, occasionally I get a record that is mastered one dimensional, forward, compressed, no depth- just a flat wall of sound.

A reissue/remaster of Kiss Destroyer from maybe a release of a decade back is probably the worst offender, very hot, compressed and flat. This is followed with a second one that had me taken aback a bit- lackluster older repress of the debut Van Halen record that actually sounds great in most aspects but disappointingly flat and forward and slightly compressed.

Lots of the Velvet Underground records are still personal favorites, but a good system makes it very clear they weren’t recorded with care and an ear for audiophile reproduction.

Newer artists and bands aren’t exempt- I love the Neko Case records here but some of them are lacking in dynamics- mastered hot and compressed. Moldy Peaches, Mates of State, Quintron and Miss Pussycat and others are unquestionably lo-fi from the get-go.
 
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Olson_jr

Active Member
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I heard many memorable tunes as a child, standing in front of a loud thumping jukebox, a quarter in hand, trying to pick the next 5-6 songs.

Probably why CCR, Tommy James & The Shondells, early Beatles and Stones, Motown, Sly, and a host of others never sound the same, or as good as my memories of them sound.
 
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MrEd

Senior Nobody
Site Supporter
Very real scenario Mr Prime Minister.
AM car radio, a single play mono record player, and jukeboxes.
Like @Olson_jr that's where I got my Stones, Motown and early Beatles.
My wife has a bunch of old pop and rock stuff from 60s and I have a hard time with it unless I listen from another room... 🤐
 

Deke609

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I've had similar experiences. But at least in my case I think the major factor is the exuberance of youth. Everything (music, girls, food, drink, etc.) was so full of amazingness when it was new and I was young. Everything good wasn't experienced as just good, it was mind blowing.
 

kirk57

Junior Member
Kinda sorta related:

My aural memory tells me that there is a skip at 1:05 into Harry Nilsson's 'Moonbeam' because the copy I had for years had that skip. Needless to say I replaced my copy of Schmilsson years ago, but every time it gets to that point on the record I mentally prepare to get up and move the needle past the skip.

I suppose it will always be thus.
 
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I love this topic!

I do admit some songs lost some impact when I heard them on Hi Fi the first time.

I think compression had a lot to do with it. What I was used to on the family console or the radio seemed punchier than the more expanded soundstages of Hi Fi provided. Plus, for a tween, the thing was louder more that "better channel separation."

Louder vs. wider dynamic range.

Louder vs. fine detail.

Louder vs. better articulation.

It all changed, for me, when I had time to sit and get my ear and brain integrated with what Hi Fi was and could do. My 7th grade girlfriend's dad did this for me with his early 70's B&W, Mac, and Linn turntable. It's a cosmic shift, really.

Trying to think of past loved albums that fell out of sonic favor due to recording quality....

Perhaps "We're An American Band" is still best played on Cerwin Vegas (which I like) vs. Quad electrostatics.

Marshall Crenshaw's first album, in any pressing, has never risen to the level of being better on my Hi Fi than it is in my car.

Same with Neil Young's "Stars and bars." 'Like a Hurricane' is more of a car recording than a Hi Fi room recording, to me.

I'll put "Bryter Lyter" in there, as well.

Hmmmm, other songs that still sound better in the car than on most Hi Fi rigs: Locomotive Breath, Radar Love,

Interestingly, to me, anyway, is that Black Sabbath's Paranoid thrills me more on the Hi Fi than any place else. I really enjoy that recording.

The higher the Fi, the better for jazz and classical. This loss of sonic joy for some recordings is almost universally rock related.
 
Kinda sorta related:

My aural memory tells me that there is a skip at 1:05 into Harry Nilsson's 'Moonbeam' because the copy I had for years had that skip.
Needless to say I've replaced my copy of Schmilsson years ago, but every time it gets to that point on the record I mentally prepare to get up and move the needle past the skip.

I suppose it will always be thus.
It will!

I can still tell you we are about to hear "The Smoker You Drink The Player You Get" merely by hearing the lead in groves crackle pattern!

I always hear records crackles whenever I listen to massive Attack's "Teardrop." I honestly can't keep them out of my mind for this song.
 

fiddlefye

Senior Member
Site Supporter
Kinda sorta related:

My aural memory tells me that there is a skip at 1:05 into Harry Nilsson's 'Moonbeam' because the copy I had for years had that skip. Needless to say I replaced my copy of Schmilsson years ago, but every time it gets to that point on the record I mentally prepare to get up and move the needle past the skip.

I suppose it will always be thus.
When I was in uni I bought a recording of the Beethoven Triple Concerto which had a skip at a certain point on the first side. I have since performed the work a few times and have two or three other recordings of the work, but even when when performing the piece I still hear the damned skip. BTW - last year I got the LP out, looked at the spot where the skip was with a loupe and discovered there was a tiny bit of flash from the pressing stuck to it. Gently removed with my thumb nail and it plays right through with no indication there was ever a problem. Now the skip only exists in memory...
 
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JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
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Most of my favorite times that I've heard anything classic rock was when driving around in high school with my friends. Which would have been an ok Clarion tape deck mounted on its side in my '81 Citation or the stock stereo in my '84 Chrysler Laser. Some of that stuff just wasn't meant to be studied in an 'audiophile' manner. Music is often a soundtrack to 'firsts' in life and I don't know about ya'll, but my stereo back them was pretty terrible compared to now. But it sounded great.
 

fiddlefye

Senior Member
Site Supporter
One thing I've increasingly noticed over the years is that records I thought sounded really good on my earlier systems have often sound increasingly less wonderful as things have improved and LPs that sounded a bit dull have turned out to be quite stellar. Anyone else experience this?
 

MrEd

Senior Nobody
Site Supporter
One thing I've increasingly noticed over the years is that records I thought sounded really good on my earlier systems have often sound increasingly less wonderful as things have improved and LPs that sounded a bit dull have turned out to be quite stellar. Anyone else experience this?
Definitely here...
 

adaug

Awaiting Updated Member Status.
Site Supporter
Most of my favorite times that I've heard anything classic rock was when driving around in high school with my friends. Which would have been an ok Clarion tape deck mounted on its side in my '81 Citation or the stock stereo in my '84 Chrysler Laser. Some of that stuff just wasn't meant to be studied in an 'audiophile' manner. Music is often a soundtrack to 'firsts' in life and I don't know about ya'll, but my stereo back them was pretty terrible compared to now. But it sounded great.
for sure. first time i heard robin trower he was blastin on bridge of sighs from the 6x9 back deck speakers in my buddy's 70's car - sounded mind blowing - fiery, intense, transcendent. so much so, that, decades later, i can still transport back to that moment.
 

FloriduhBoy

Site Supporter
Site Supporter
I heard many memorable tunes as a child, standing in front of a loud thumping jukebox, a quarter in hand, trying to pick the next 5-6 songs.

Probably why CCR, Tommy James & The Shondells, early Beatles and Stones, Motown, Sly, and a host of others never sound the same, or as good as my memories of them sound.
I was at a roller skating rink in Chicago in the mid 60's , I was 13 or so, there was a couple dancing at the jukebox to the Beatles Twist and Shout. It never sounded better and the chick was red hot. Adolescent hormones. 🤩 I still like the old-school midrange-centric jukebox sound.
 
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MikeT.

My Name is Flounder
Site Supporter
My young aural memory from the late ‘60’s and all of the 70’s tells me the music was GREAT! For the most part the music, people and good times go together. Bad times too I guess. When I play certain records I’ve owned from way back, the music and feelings it evokes are still wonderful (or sad or wistful). Either way the feelings are very strong.

I can’t say as much for the records, a fair amount of compression on many, which I don’t recall being there in my “yute” but there’s a fair number that I’ve just played out and need to spring for a new copy. I went to a LOT of live concerts back then and LOUD with a LOT of bass was the rule. I don’t have the loudspeakers now to do LOUD (read Altec, JBL and Electrovoice) but that’s probably a good thing.
 

MikeT.

My Name is Flounder
Site Supporter
Most of my favorite times that I've heard anything classic rock was when driving around in high school with my friends. Which would have been an ok Clarion tape deck mounted on its side in my '81 Citation or the stock stereo in my '84 Chrysler Laser. Some of that stuff just wasn't meant to be studied in an 'audiophile' manner. Music is often a soundtrack to 'firsts' in life and I don't know about ya'll, but my stereo back them was pretty terrible compared to now. But it sounded great.
Firsts in life, yep that tracks. Riding around with my best friend Scott in his 1965 blue and white convertible Mustang, listening to whatever, with beverages in an ice chest in the back seat. Friends and girls congregating on Lakeshore Drive on Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans summers. What a time! What music!
 
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