Audio Bootlegs (mp3 & flac files)
How do bootleg records sound?
It depends. There are several ways that a recording is obtained for use by a bootlegger. The sound quality of a bootleg is directly tied to the sound quality of the source tape.
One way of creating a tape for a bootleg is to smuggle a portable tape recorder into a concert venue. Audience recordings have a tendency to sound muffled, boomy, and badly balanced. Audience recordings also have a tendency to pick up noises made by individual concert-goers, including them screaming, swearing, clapping or singing along. It is considered undesirable to have these noises on a bootleg.
Some radio stations broadcast a concert like "The King Biscuit Flower Hour", "Super Groups in Concert" "Captured Live" etc. These concerts were professionally recorded, much like a legitimate live album, and were broadcast over the airwaves to the general public. Some people tape these concerts, and use them as a source for a bootleg record. These sound superior to most audience recordings.
Often lumped in the same category as FM Broadcasts. Soundboard recordings are also professionally recorded, but the microphones were not turned towards the audience, which reduces the amount of audience noises to almost nil. Soundboard recordings are usually used by the concert technicians and the performers for reference. Sometimes a few of these slip onto bootlegs.
When the artists enter a recording studio, it is normal to have several songs that did not "make the cut" and were recorded for, but did not appear on the resulting album. These songs are usually labeled as "unreleased". During the process of recording an album, several takes are done of the same song, and the best one is used for the album. The discarded takes become "outtakes". Also, various tune-ups, flubs and early, developing versions of songs are captured on tape, labeled as "rehearsals" and "demos". Aside from having more hiss than normal, the quality of studio outtakes/demos and rehearsals is excellent.
Live TV Appearances
TV shows like "The Smothers Brothers Show" or "The Ed Sullivan Show" are also used as a source for bootlegs. Back in the 60's and early 70's, it was common for popular artists to sing a few songs on variety shows. Some of these shows featured lip-synced performances, so all you'd get is the artist miming to the record. Lip-synced performances are useless for bootlegging purposes, because they sound exactly like the regular record. Some artists did perform live in the TV studio, and several of their performances that would have been otherwise lost to history were captured on a bootleg. Bootlegs that were recorded from the TV have decent sound, like an AM radio, but they are all in mono, and are not in true high fidelity sound.