Since the advances of digital technology made it possible to make relatively professional sounding recordings with the use of affordable consumer electronics, the studio became a conceptual place through the design and workings of audio hard-, and software: every place can be transformed into a studio - a tool for the eradication of that place and the construction of innumerable other ‘spaces.’ In a reaction to these developments, some artists stick with lo-fi production aesthetics while the means for making hi-fi recordings are at hand. On the one hand, through the use of inferior recording techniques and recording outside of a studio lo-fi presents a different, supposedly more sincere, authenticity related to place and physicality: the musical equivalent of site-specificity. On the other hand, it is just as well an explicit ‘represented performance,’ an attempt to consciously reflect on the representational nature of recording and its inherent inauthenticity.
In the paper I elaborate on lo-fi recording and its relation towards its hi-fi counterpart, using literature on (the history of) audio recording, the concept of noise - one of lo-fi’s most distinctive features in opposition to hi-fi - and the conceptualization of spatiality and physicality in and of music. Since, as Stan Link points out, there now exist ‘some very high-tech means to achieve "lo-fi" ends,’ I focus on whether lo-fi is or isn’t moving away from the hi-fi aesthetics of the music studio, what meanings are actually performed through lo-fi aesthetics as a strategy for authenticity, relying on site specificity and physicality, and what this might mean for the construction of the music studio as a conceptual framework in the study of popular music.
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