Fidelity to what? Or what are we tying to achieve with all our expensive gear?

Two questions posed and discussed on the Art of Sound forum.

In my view, we can only realistically aspire to reproduction of the recording that is musically satisfying.

This is well illustrated by this comment from Kiwi musician Luke Buda:

As much as I love hearing just
a person singing with an acoustic
guitar, I also love music that sounds
like it’s from another world. I love
the fact that you can do all kinds of
wild things in a recording studio. You
don’t have to just produce an audio
snapshot of reality; you can paint all
kinds of musical pictures.

When this is the recording artist’s intent, what constitutes fidelity?

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