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Subject: RE: Koss Porta pros
From: Green, Tom (TGreen_at_CWF.org)
Date: 2004-06-22


Fred,

This is getting very interesting.

> Agreed. But you better not plan on making a living by doing portrait
> and wedding photography using an APS point-and-shoot with a plastic
> lens. It's usually hard to do good art with poor tools, whether your
> art relies on brushes, amplifiers, cameras, guitars, or table saws.

Well I can agree with you here only in the most general of terms, and
your key phrase would be "making a living". However, having said that,
there are folks out there doing that kind of work with "plastic cameras"
precisely for that "look". There's a whole fine-art trend in that area.
I have several "cheap plastic cameras" myself, each valued for the
particular type of distortion it produces. I don't agree that it's hard
to do good art with poor tools. I believe that art is independent of
the tools used, that the result is what matters, not how you got there.
One of the biggest trends in advertising photography over the last
several years has been blurred, out of focus images. I certainly don't
need good tools to do that. How about Leonardo DaVinci - one of the
greatest artists that ever lived. He was known to use some very poor
materials - one reason why "The Last Supper" is crumbling off the wall,
while others of the time period still survive. That didn't stop him
from creating masterpieces. There are musicians who use "cheap" toy
instruments in their work because they like the effect. The famous
photographer Edward Weston made his prints with a simple light bulb.
Man Ray did a whole series of "Rayographs" without ANY camera at all -
just cheap everyday objects contact printed on a piece of photographic
paper. No, I'm sorry, I don't believe the quality of the tools has that
big an influence on the quality of the art. It's more the artist's
skill in using whatever tools he or she chooses.

 
> Don't mistake producing and reproducing. Jimi got a sound that he
liked
> and the one that he intended for the audience to hear. I don't think
> that he would have been too keen on some record producer further
> distorting his distorted guitar sound.

Well that's an interesting distinction - is there a difference? I'm not
so sure. That's a great topic for a whole other discussion. Is the
amplifier "producing" the sound of the guitar or "reproducing" it?

 
> If you and I listen to stereo speakers, we may disagree on which one
> sounds the most accurate, but identifying accuracy should be the goal.
> I get worried about people going for a sound that they "like" rather
> than one which is accurate.

Yes, accuracy is important and specs in general are important, but I
think only to serve as a reference point in comparing equipment. I have
always looked for, and tried to buy, audio equipment with as "flat" a
response curve as I could find/afford. I figure that way, I have a "0"
starting point to make my adjustments from. I'm constantly tweaking
tone controls, and I have a graphic equalizer which I love adjusting to
get the sound to suite my taste. I don't much care if Janet Jackson
wanted her song recorded with a super-heavy bass - maybe I want to tone
it down a little because at the moment it's hurting my ears. There's
such a variation in the way music is recorded, I think one inevitably
reaches for the "adjustments" from time to time. Is this "polluting"
what the artist intended? Maybe. So what? Do we really know what the
artist intended? Maybe they don't like the quality of the reproduction
either. Maybe Janet Jackson buys one of her CDs at the store, goes home
and plays it and says, "Wow, that bass came out a little too loud -
that's doesn't sound right." Who knows.

 
> Even at the time that vinyl was the only choice, I used to
> subconsciously cringe just prior to each tick that I knew was about to
> occur. Mind you, I was meticulous in the care of my albums,
> substituting high-end plastic sleeves for the cheap paper sleeves used
> by the record companies, dusting the albums with Discwasher record
> cleaners, and cleaning them with a StaticMaster polonium brush. They
> still got ticks and pops. I don't miss that.

Yup, I did the same thing. Never touched the surface, only the edges.
Even have the album covers in plastic sleeves to protect the cardboard
from scuffs. None of it worked too well on the "party" albums though...
:-)

Tom

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