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How Do You Listen to Your Live Zep?


Feline Overlord

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Things have changed considerably since I first started collecting live shows in the mid-80s. Back then it was all vinyl, with shows cut up and incomplete, and there was little information available on quality or origin.

Later, I switched to CDs, but they were horribly expensive! There were several handy books, such as Rey's book, Hot Wacks, or the Live! Music Review magazine, so it was easier to avoid poor titles and to identify the ones to look for. The Internet was just taking off and information, while scattered, was available.

I tried tape trading for a while, but spent too much time worrying about generational loss or that I didn't have many "desirable" shows that weren't sourced from CD.

It's been a boom the last ten years, with every show available on the 'net, frequently from multiple sources or even directly from the master tapes. I've lot count of the number of valuable websites out there.

I finally finished my mini-project of importing all of my lossless files into iTunes, tagging everything correctly, fixing errors or mis-identified shows and/or dates, and adding the appropriate artwork. I re-purposed an old hard-drive based iPod and set iTunes to squeeze the lossless files down to a lower bitrate, where I can comfortably fit every available show into a device the size of a pack of cigarettes for use when I'm on the road. The lossless files stay at home for occasional use over the big system.

We've come quite a way!

So, what's your preferred method of listening to your live Led Zeppelin?

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Either on my computer or CD through big fucking speakers (6", 10" and 14" speakers in homemade cherrywood cabinets) attached to my trusty ol' Sony system! And generally the louder the better...

I'm not one of these "Lossless VS Lossy" puritans, either...admittedly I find the idea of taking an audiophile approach toward audience recordings -especially the mediocre to bad sounding ones- kind of ridiculous.

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The whole lossy vs. lossless debate can get pretty tiring when you are dealing with golden-eared audiophiles. I prefer to archive everything in lossless format since storage is cheap, but does it really matter when roughly 50% of what is out there sounds like s**t, no matter what bitrate you play it back in?

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but does it really matter when roughly 50% of what is out there sounds like s**t, no matter what bitrate you play it back in?

Exactly my point! A horrible sounding show like, say, Atlanta '77 is going to sound bad whether it's FLAC, WAV or 48kb mp3. My multiband EQ can't even fix that recording...

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I listen to them either via my computer or my iPhone.

The whole lossy vs. lossless debate can get pretty tiring when you are dealing with golden-eared audiophiles. I prefer to archive everything in lossless format since storage is cheap, but does it really matter when roughly 50% of what is out there sounds like s**t, no matter what bitrate you play it back in?

First off, that's a terrible generalization -- "50% of what is out there" does not sound like shit. And yes, archiving audio in lossless does matter -- that's the whole point: You only degrade the audio more by converting it to lossy, whereas lossless formats retain (or should, if they're properly executed) a consistent quality. There is no convincing argument for lossy audio at this point.

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Lossy audio is more accessible than lossless. mp3 files play on everything, where as you have to download some sketchy computer program to listen to flac.

The programs you mention aren't sketchy at all, and more and more audio players (digital and physical) are able to read/play flac. Besides, there are other lossless formats, like wav (which you mentioned above) and alac (which I use on my iPhone).

My argument is more for the archival portion of the discussion: All audio should be recorded and preserved in a lossless format; the consumer can choose to buy lossy, or convert to such, but lossy should never be traded as source material.

I was very pissed off recently when I found out that my girlfriend's university recital was recorded in mp3.

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Anyway I can get it! Earlier tonight I was listening to a tape of Berkley '71 that I bought back in '89 on a old rusty Sony tape player I keep on the pool deck, while grilling some chicken. Dazed and Confused was kickin' ass with a glass of red in hand! :yesnod:

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Started out with cd on car stereo or home stereo with a good sub for the bottom.

Luckily, my vinyl collection has ballooned in recent years but I have an entire cabinet full of live stuff on disc that can't be matched.

As for personal choice, I prefer the turntable. You can't beat that crisp sound and I know Jimmy would agree with me.

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On vintage '70s stereo gear of course! A pair of 1975 ESS Heil "Rock Monitor" 3's (4 ohm, 93dB w/ twin 10" woofers) powered by an 82 pound, 200 watt 1978 McIntosh MC2200 amp. I use vinyl, cassette, CD, DVD, and a 3 gigabyte computer hard drive. The speakers have homemade psychedelic tie-dyed grill cloth!

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I listen to them either via my computer or my iPhone.

First off, that's a terrible generalization -- "50% of what is out there" does not sound like shit. And yes, archiving audio in lossless does matter -- that's the whole point: You only degrade the audio more by converting it to lossy, whereas lossless formats retain (or should, if they're properly executed) a consistent quality. There is no convincing argument for lossy audio at this point.

I thought I'd made it pretty clear that I maintain a lossless archive, but convert to lossy for portable use. Maybe "50% of what's out there sounds like shit" was a poor generalization, but many audience recordings, especially ones from the 60's and 70's, are going to sound like crap no matter what format they are played back in, and the loss of a few bits won't make any difference when they are played back using a portable device.

The fact that I can compress my entire lossless archive down to a totally acceptable 256kpbs AAC format and fit every single Led Zeppelin live show on one device is a pretty compelling argument for lossy audio, in my opinion. Maybe when an affordable 500GB flash audio device is available I'll change my opinion.

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I am afraid I dont have any zep bootlegs, though I do have a few studio albums on vinyl...I get my live fix from the fine folks who upload to youtube!

I do prefer to use some sound isolating head phones to really hear each intricate detail and surround my brain with sound, the crappy computer speakers can recreate that big stadium sound that I tend to imagine in my head is what the band sounded like in person

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My argument is more for the archival portion of the discussion: All audio should be recorded and preserved in a lossless format; the consumer can choose to buy lossy, or convert to such, but lossy should never be traded as source material.

This is the point of lossless files. Regarless of if the source has bad sound to begin with, it should all be archived in the best possible way. Forget for a minute that people claim it sounds better. When transferred in a lossless format it is an "exact" copy. Lossy files throw away bits of information and that is completely unacceptable for archival purposes. I have my entire cd collection (about 300 cd's) ripped as lossless. I can burn a cd that is basically a carbon copy of the original and I can easily convert them so I can put them on my phone. I have no problem with mp3's if they are encoded properly, but they should never be the source.

Now, to the point of this thread :P

I don't really listen to live shows as much as I used to. When I do listen, it's at my computer through headphones. I have sometimes put a show or two on my phone, burnt a cd for the car, and occasionally I've played a soundboard through my stereo. Certain shows I've dubbed the digital files (lossless) to a reel of tape @ 7 1/2ips so that I can play them on my reel to reel just for fun. Now that I have a cassette player I might put a few on cassette.

Edit:

I also have a couple of shows on vinyl. Those can be pretty fun.

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I thought I'd made it pretty clear that I maintain a lossless archive, but convert to lossy for portable use. Maybe "50% of what's out there sounds like shit" was a poor generalization, but many audience recordings, especially ones from the 60's and 70's, are going to sound like crap no matter what format they are played back in, and the loss of a few bits won't make any difference when they are played back using a portable device.

The fact that I can compress my entire lossless archive down to a totally acceptable 256kpbs AAC format and fit every single Led Zeppelin live show on one device is a pretty compelling argument for lossy audio, in my opinion. Maybe when an affordable 500GB flash audio device is available I'll change my opinion.

You might keep a lossless archive, but I fear for coming generations. And while I'd agree that AUD recordings from the 1960s are most often less than stellar, if not downright awful, those from the 1970s have great potential -- really, they almost always impart more of a "live" atmosphere or sound than most modern recordings do. Zeppelin fans are actually spoiled when it comes to the vintage AUD sources, which (more often than not) sound much better than those of their contemporaries.

I don't get it. I just rotate shows on/off my music player, or listen to them all on my computer...lossy is the devil, and what's killing the music industry more than anything else.

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You might keep a lossless archive, but I fear for coming generations. And while I'd agree that AUD recordings from the 1960s are most often less than stellar, if not downright awful, those from the 1970s have great potential -- really, they almost always impart more of a "live" atmosphere or sound than most modern recordings do. Zeppelin fans are actually spoiled when it comes to the vintage AUD sources, which (more often than not) sound much better than those of their contemporaries.

I don't get it. I just rotate shows on/off my music player, or listen to them all on my computer...lossy is the devil, and what's killing the music industry more than anything else.

I agree with your overall point, and would love it if lossless versions of all available shows were available online from a single source, properly annotated and tagged, with multiple versions if necessary. We're almost there and it's a huge change from from 20 years ago, where there were plenty of shows I thought I'd never hear.

I toyed with replicating the "Year of Led Zeppelin" effort, but decided that I'd risk tiring of a particular tour or setlist quickly. I'm currently listening to 2-3 shows a week at random while at work. The only rule is that is the one I randomly pick has poor sound quality, I have to keep going and finish it - no jumping over to one of the known gems.

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