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Hifi's obsession w/ imaging...


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On 8/11/2022 at 2:19 PM, OO1 said:

Gary ,  Great News  ,  there is an exact Replica of the Wall of Sound of the Grateful Dead in Lancaster Pa,  at the Zoetropolis Cinema Stillhouse ,  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s actually a scale replica, not a full-sized one.  You can see in the picture that it’s about 15-20 feet (~5-6 metres) wide, much smaller than the huge original.  That means that all the drivers are down-sized, maybe with an 18” driver in the full-size Wall of Sound replaced with a 10” or smaller one in the replica.  I’m guessing that a lot of EQing would have been necessary to make the replica sound as good as it looks.

 

However, if professional musicians are happy or even eager to play through it, the mini Wall of Sound must sound pretty good.

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19 hours ago, Islander said:

 

That’s actually a scale replica 

  they are now at 1/4 scale , but  their  plans are  to reach  1/2 scale soon enough  ,and the dream is  to have  the real thing  one  day  ,  

 

 

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On 8/12/2022 at 2:46 PM, Marvel said:

That's quite an insult for many who work in the music industry. Do you find all music other than symphonies and orchestras, chamber groups, etc., to be distasteful and cobbled together?

 

No, I do not “find all music other than symphonies and orchestras, chamber groups, etc., to be distasteful”.   I never said that.

I intended no offense to anyone in my post on Aug 11.

Please help me understand your perspective.
  
For “popular music” recordings, what percentage are a recording of a live performance?
  
What percentage of “pop music” exclusively involves instruments that have known timbre (whether it be a violin, or a specific electric guitar /specific guitar amp / specific vacuum tubes)?
   
OTOH, what percentage of “pop music” involves (some) sounds that were produced, modified, or deliberately distorted via software tools (e.g., DAW software)?
  
What percentage of pop music was created by software tools that combined sounds from different sources – some from musicians playing instruments (possibly performing together, possibly performing at different times) – and some sounds from a synthesizer or DAW plug-in?   (Perhaps my earlier use of the term “cobble together” was not the best choice of words.  I didn’t intend for this to be negative, or cause offense.  Perhaps in my earlier post I should have said “combine” rather than “cobble together”.)

For some pop music, if there never was a live performance - what is the consumer to use as a benchmark for how the music delivered via their hi-fi system “should” sound?
  
My intent is NOT to disparage pop music.  My intent is simply to bring to light an issue that IMO is relevant for hi-fi systems – i.e., how does the consumer know what is “faithful reproduction” in their home, if the music was partially produced, modified, or deliberately distorted by software tools?   What is the natural timbre of a DAW software plug-in?
  
Regarding the topic of this thread, what is the natural localization of instruments if some sounds were added via software tools?   What’s the benchmark for how the music should sound in terms of imaging?

OTOH/IMO, fans of genres of music that involve natural instruments (e.g., classical) have a clear benchmark for how the music “should” sound.   (I attend more than 2 dozen live classical performances every season in purpose-built concert halls.)  For my local symphony and opera, the music involves natural instruments that have known timbre, and those natural instruments perform live in a purpose-built venue that involves NO use of a sound reinforcement system.    (Of course, there is some deviation in natural instruments and venues.)
  
IMO, every audiophile needs to define their goals for their hi-fi system.   For example:  “Creates the illusion of a live performance in the symphony hall” … or … “Sounds good”.   Whatever floats your boat.

I’m not making value judgements about genres of music.  I’m just pointing out that IMO issues like “accurate reproduction” and “faithful reproduction” and “accurate imaging” have relatively more or less meaning based on genre of music.
  
My opinion:  To each their own regarding the music they like, and their goals for their hi-fi system.
 
I’ve re-read my Aug 11 post.   Again, I did not intend for “coble together” to have a negative connotation.  Other than that, I don’t understand why my earlier post would offend anyone.   Please tell me what you found offensive.
  
I’m also open to hearing from others who believe that I’m mistaken.  And I’m interested in hearing from others who disagree with my opinions.  I’m always seeking to learn more, and understand diverse perspectives.   IMO, that’s the value of forums like this.   It’s never my intent to be offensive.

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On 8/11/2022 at 7:07 PM, robert_kc said:

I believe that an important issue is how music “should” sound when reproduced via a hi-fi system in the home.  (IMO, “should” is often a confusing/misleading word that doesn’t distinguish between fact (e.g., what is written in the stars) vs. personal preference.)   It seems to me that the answer is fundamentally different for classical music (and other music involving natural instruments that perform live) vs. music that is produced or altered via electronics.  
... My understanding is that for many pop recordings there never was a live performance.   Rather, the producers and the engineers use software tools (e.g., DAW software) to cobble together sounds (from different sources, created at different times) that they assign to left, center, or right.   In this case, the final master recording was the first time the music was heard.

 

On 8/26/2022 at 11:32 AM, robert_kc said:

Perhaps in my earlier post I should have said “combine” rather than “cobble together”.)
 
I’ve re-read my Aug 11 post.   Again, I did not intend for “cobble together” to have a negative connotation.  Other than that, I don’t understand why my earlier post would offend anyone.   Please tell me what you found offensive.
  
I’m also open to hearing from others ...

 

I understood what you were saying the first time I saw your earlier post, and did not perceive it to be negative or offensive.

 

In my mind, I read the word cobble as meaning composed and arranged. 😊

 

 

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Hmm, not quite sure how one would ascertain "What percentage of..." or how this is relevant.

 

One of my favored Japanese idol groups consists entirely of synthesized electronic music with the front idols vocals heavily processed via autotune.  The result is very artistic and impressive.  As a listener I do not discriminate between "known" timbre of the performance, I'm only interested in the end result and how it sounds.  And yes, this type of music can be very challenging to reproduce well and find a nice high fidelity system recreation greatly enhances one's enjoyment.

 

To me, this distinction of a live performance with known timbre is kind of odd, but to each his own.

 

Side note:  Several of this group's compositions are covered by an acoustic guitarist who arranges himself playing all parts, harmony, lead, melody, usually via 3 or 4 multi tracked live performances.  I find these arrangements a nice alternative, but not really equal to the original "performance".

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  • 2 weeks later...

My take...

 

In theory.....

Take a room, a listener, and a guitar player.

Put the blindfilded listener on a fixed seat near the center of the room.

Have the guitarist play from various positions from around the room - to the front, side and rear of the listener.

At each guitar location play a short selection and ask the listener to "point" to the location of the guitar.

I suspect the listener will be quite accurate in locating the guitar each time.

This is the ideal case where the variables are controlled. The room is fixed, the sound source is real and local. The listener's hearing is working normally. The reflections will obey the laws of physics and the listener's "location detection" will work as it always does to alert people of danger, which is what it was built for.

 

Now, let's compare that to listening to a record on a stereo.

The "pseudo-source" of the sound is a player located in a "pseudo-room" of unknown dimensions at the studio. 

The real source of the sound is a left and right loudspeaker in fixed locations in the room. The listener will easily locate the position of the speakers in the room. They don't move around. All sound is eminating from that source.

To the listener, all the instruments are playing from inside the speaker. Regardless of what room they were recorded in, they now reside in the speaker. The reflections from the two fixed speakers bounce around your specific room, or my specific room DIFFERENTLY. Any pseudo-location you hear for a guitar let's say, is derived from your speaker making sound reflect in your room. Same in my room, only my room and my speakers are different!

 

So, imaging is an abstract arbitrary plot unrelated to any "original space" where the instrument was recorded. Speakers ARE the performance.

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I did not follow the whole thread, but what are the "usual suspects" tho deal with when it comes to horn speakers in our quest for good imaging? I guess it depends on the speaker, i.e. a bookshelve with direct radiator and one small horn will not behave the same as LaScala. Then of course the room treatment. What else?

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On 8/6/2022 at 8:01 AM, ODS123 said:

Saw two concerts quite recently here in Phila: Norah Jones a week ago at the Mann Music Center and last night I saw Lyle Lovett and His Large Band at The City Winery.  Both were fabulous shows, particuly LL and HLB.

 

The audio at both shows was terrific.  ..Acoustics weren't overly reverberant and the volume was low enough that my ears weren't buzzing by the end.  But in both cases there wasn't a bit of discernible stereo imaging even though my location would lend itself to hearing it.  When I'd close my eyes I couldn't for the life of me place the vocals or instruments - they all seemed to be coming from the same place.  Yet, I thought the sound was fabulous and the performances incredibly compelling.

 

Which leads me to wonder why we so obsess on this particular aspect of audio playback at home??  Seems to me that imaging is mostly a mixing board trick for in-studio recordings that has little relevance to actual music, unless one is listening to a tiny, unamplified ensemble in the tiniest of settings.  Even if both of these artists used un-amplified acoustic instruments, I very much doubt I would be able to locate their instruments/voices w/ my eyes closed at these venues or any other even a fraction of their size.

 

..Just wonderin'



A lot of it, I think, depends on the venue, the sound engineer and the band. I've seen shows at the Mann center that blew me away in terms of sound and imaging- the Fleet Foxes, before the pandemic, for instance, and other shows that were as you described. in smaller venues, because of my height, I'm 6'8", I tend to stand either in front of or behind the mixing console. This way, I'm not spoiling anyone else's show, but I also get to hear the best possible version of the performance. these days, many venue have better sound systems. When I was a touring musician in the 90's, I had a lot of house sound guys either scoff or grumble about my stereo guitar rig. I'm certain that abut 98% of the venues I played back then were mono.

These days, most mid to large sized venues are stereo and depending on the band's stage volume and the skill of the sound engineer, you might actually hear some depth in the sound field. However, those factors coming together are rare. Most rock bands have summers who play much louder than necessary and the other musicians raise the volume of their amps to compensate, by habit. this makes the sound engineers job difficult, if not impossible to deliver any presence and depth in the sound field to the listeners. Heavy music is out right. However, for musicians whose sound is dynamic and utilize low stage volume, you can occasionally witness magical performances.

we obsess on this aspect in home performances, because it better approximates the illusion of live performance. We can't be there, but if we're sitting in our living rooms, listening to a well engineered and produced recording on a good hi-fi system, we can have a different, but equally good experience that enhances the songs and performances to create a transcendent experience that rivals that of live performance. I'd argue that in many ways, listening to music in my living room is actually a better experience, but I go see live shows to have a different experience than what I can have at home. Sound is part of that live experience, whereas at home, it's the entirety of it, however, in live performances, it's not so much how true the artists are to their recordings, but how they interpret their songs into the space, how they interact with the audience, the space and whether they take their material in different directions. Truly transcendent live performances are actually quite rare- I can sound on one hand shows that I've seen that truly took me beyond the music, but the reason we keep going to shows, is for the chance to see that happen again.

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On 8/6/2022 at 9:07 AM, Racer X said:

Hmm, should be grateful you had good sound at the concert, a little much to expect stereo in large hall, PA system.

 

In the room, imaging is all illusion, elusive. Interesting when it improves, but I struggle to see anything beyond the strong center image, Left, Right, and center left, center right.  Depth is elusive, but sometimes one can hear the hall when audience applauds at end.  Yeah, most imaging is studio trickery, but can be entertaining.

 

Even at the orchestra hall, live I don't see any image.

 

Of course we all see differently....

I see/hear like you and don't care about imaging at all.

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On 8/11/2022 at 3:31 AM, Racer X said:

Kind of an odd story:  Shortly after I had received LaScala during the family Christmas gathering at my house, I was demoing them in my room for my cousins.  Of course this required "medium loud" volume, but every time I would crank the volume past a certain point, one of my younger cousins about 8 or 9 years old would start screaming like he was possessed and refused to leave the room, thwarting my demo.  Tragically about 10 years later, it turned out he was possessed by demons....

Great post!

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