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Can Recorded Music Ever Be Indistinguishable From Live?

Remember the old commercial—"Is it live, or is it Memorex?" The question of whether or not recorded music can be indistinguishable from a live performance has been bandied about since the first days of Thomas Edison's "talking machine," when many listeners claimed the recorded sound was identical to the original.

Of course, our modern ears are more refined than that, but so are modern recording and playback systems, so the question remains, and much has been written about it. Stereophile editor John Atkinson documented an interesting experiment in which he recorded a live piano recital and immediately played the recording for the same audience, and Michael Lavorgna addressed the issue in Stereophile here. Steve Guttenberg provides more food for thought in an article for Stereophile and his Audiophiliac blog on

So I ask you: Do you think it's at least theoretically possible for recorded music to be indistinguishable from a live performance, perhaps with a massively multichannel recording and playback system? Or is the question moot, since they are two different things altogether?

Vote to see the results and leave a comment about your choice; I look forward to reading your thoughts on this one.

Can Recorded Music Ever Be Indistinguishable From Live?