Canadian music lovers fondly remember Bob Kerr's afternoon radio show Off The Record on CBC. He provided us with a vast array of titles and running commentary including an almost weekly tirade on the liner notes of CD's. "How the hell can anyone possibly read such tiny print with blue type on a black background!"

Nothing much has changed in that department. Bob Kerr also commented on the recordings. The better ones he would describe as "the sound of real musicians playing great music and sweating while sitting on squeaky chairs". These great recordings remain a rarity.

The illusion of real musicians making real music in your living room is a worthy and satisfying goal.

Modern recordings however, have been stripped of their "life" and texture. This has nothing to do with the LP/CD argument. The problem starts with the number of microphones. Assuming 2 channel stereo, there can only be 2 microphones. Period.

There are no exceptions to this inexorable law of acoustics.

Secondly, there can be no compression of the signal ie: the louder bits squished down in amplitude to achieve a more or less uniform level of sound. This destroys any dynamic contrasts which allow the music to come alive.

Finally we have what I like to call the processed cheese syndrome. Those cute and tidy perfect little slices each in its plastic wrap are perfect. Each slice like the next. None of them has anything to do with a great nippy old cheddar. Likewise the "studio multi mic mix" recordings. Tunes are recorded, mixed, processed and then if there are any tiny flaws they are edited and scrubbed clean with a patch taken from another take. All in the name of perfection. The result? Perfect elevator music. Nothing remotely resembling a live event. If the event is not correctly captured at this point, it can never be rescued by all the associated equipment nor can it be saved by throwing money at it.