Originally Posted by Garrett Low
We all run in different circle. Yes, it is not the norm to walk into someone's house and find that they have completely arranged their living space around their audio equipment, but there are more than you would think. I used to be one of those people, until the boss (translation wife) refused to live with it. It was a tough decision but ultimately I think living with my wife was the right decision over my room filling speakers.
But, I still do know people who have their $100K+ systems and are willing to spend $30K on a turntable. Many of the ultra-high end audio-files I know are classical musicians. It is always interesting talking to them about what, in their mind makes a superb recording. They often talk about the interaction of the instruments with the environment and each other. I was talking to one violinist and I thought that she would like to have a mic close in on her so that we could hear the subtle details of her fingers and vibrations of the bow on the strings (I've always been a sucker for recordings with a lot of detail). After listening to it she said that it was all wrong. She said what we really needed was "to be able to hear the instrument sing". After some discussion and discovery it was the nuances of things like the texture the wood gave to the sound and the way the waves transformed slightly with interactions in the hall that she wanted. That is what she heard when sitting in the audience listening to a violin and that is what she wanted to capture. So it turns out that the best sound for her was about 1/4 way up in the concert hall with a stereo pair. Granted, this was a world class concert hall that was designed to make music sound great. But, in the end I have to admit it was a superior recording to close mic'ing. That would have been apparent on any device. So, again, there is no one best or even one better way of recording. All situations need to be evaluated on an individual basis.
As for direct to disc recording I've never done one but after speaking to some who have it is a maddening exercise in achieving the right balance. It takes a long time to get everything set up correctly and then its a nerve racking experience until you get to hear the results. Imagine you had one take to shoot a 25 minute scene. Then you had to wait a week or so to be able to watch it. Probably wouldn't get too much sleep for a week if you were the DP or Director. It also takes a lot of trust between the artist and the engineer. Fun, maybe.
Garrett, sorry I've not returned to this thread until today. Yes, I think most musicians don't want to hear all the extraneous mechanical sounds they are trying very hard to avoid in their technique. However, at the same time if you move too far away you end up sounding very distant and the personal signature style becomes swallowed up by the room.... and it becomes just another generic recording.
Here is a video I made a couple weeks ago..... it's not perfect, nothing is in this business, but it emphasizes a more intimate experience.