Last week I went to a theatre in Milan to attend the first Distant Worlds concert in Italy. Distant Worlds is a series of concerts taking place all over the world where local orchestras perform pieces from the various Final Fantasy soundtracks. It’s an incredible experience and a show a Final Fantasy fan can’t miss. As an audiophile, though, I have some negative remarks about it.
Distant Worlds made a name for themselves and they’re celebrating both their tenth anniversary and Final Fantasy’s 30th birthday this year. My expectations were quite high. I do not know whether it was specific to the Milan concert or not, but the theatre had terrible acoustics and therefore they used loudspeakers to amplify the orchestra. Now I have to admit I haven’t attended a large number of concerts so far, but what I expect from a live performing orchestra is to hear them play and to enjoy the natural sound of the instruments without any filters or loudspeakers between me and the musicians. This was sadly not the case.
I knew most of the tracks by heart, thanks to 15+ years of playing various Final Fantasy games and listening to their soundtracks. What I expected was therefore to hear the tracks played and to finally enjoy them in all their glory and to their full potential. When you make music go through loudspeakers and headphones you inevitably introduce limits that are inherent to the way the music is played. Be it dynamic range, detail, balance or any other parameter, it is inferior to the original and, depending on the gear used, it can be significantly worse than the original.
Case in point, the loudspeakers they used were outright terrible – they had far too much bass, recessed mids and little detail throughout the whole spectrum. They may play well rock or metal, but classical? No way. I felt like I was writing another headphones review.
Being an audiophile ultimately spoiled the fun and pleasure for me of attending such a concert – I went from over-excitement to annoyance in almost no time after the orchestra started playing. It was by no means a bad show and I actually enjoyed that part very much – I’d be glad to attend it again. But when it comes to just the music, in retrospective I do not think I would pay the (quite expensive) ticket. Being in this hobby has pros and cons, but does it actually make any more sense when it takes the fun away?
Alas I do not have an answer. In the end, though, it’s part of who I am and I would not give it up. At least it makes me think and keeps my critical thinking alive, I guess?
I’m sorry for the terrible quality of the picture: I only had my phone with me and it seems like its camera doesn’t perform that well in darker settings. You can learn more about Distant Worlds on their site.