Al M.

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OK Al. Let us just take your definition of space and how it relates to Karen’s definition in the context of this very thread. If we can start there, would you mind sharing your opinion of her comment about how to achieve that “space“ from an audio system in a listening room?

Peter,

In her opening post Karen talks about the ambience and scale of the original recorded space.

As I said above:
"The space of a performance should expand dramatically if going from intimately recorded chamber music to large orchestra in a large hall.

"Yet the ambience of that concert hall will differ dramatically from that of an equally sized stone church."


While the space of a performance should expand dramatically from small to large on a system, in most home situations this will be a a relative expansion. Few systems will be able to portray something like a real scale of an orchestra, and the success of that illusion will also depend on where you would sit in a hall (if you were to sit close to an orchestra, in one of the first rows from the front, the scale might seem so large in width that it would be rather impossible to reproduce that in a home setting).

In my estimate a room of around 20 feet wide can at least hint at a real orchestral scale in reproduction. In my 12 feet wide room this is obviously far from achievable (bigger speakers would not make much difference there). Yet as you noted the last time you listened to my system, it portrays very different scales of recorded space and performer images (also depending on close-up or more distanced projection) from recording to recording. I like this too, but this is relative scaling; to me space has an absolute size component as well. As you have also said on several occasions, my system can sound quite big, but that is still not big enough in absolute terms for some music.

My system can reproduce recorded acoustic ambience of a concert hall, and it can reproduce the stone church acoustics in some choral music, for example. Yet this ambience is scaled to a smaller size, it misses the absolute scale of the real thing. But the ambience is no less real than if it were portrayed to a larger spatial scale in the absolute sense. So there is a difference between ambience portrayal, which can be scaled down in space to some extent without necessarily losing credibility, and the portrayal of absolute scale of space.

Therefore, I simply do not think that the terms of ambience and space describe the same thing. There is a scaling factor that does not apply equally to both. Also, you can get space (scale) without sufficient ambience.

As Brian (Bazelio) put it above in stark terms:
"Right, and I've heard space without ambience and ambience without space."

(I would say you can get some limited ambience on a table radio too, for example some portrayal of a church acoustic, without space.)

And as I have argued above, presence is yet again different.

***

As for how to achieve space -- certainly spatial depth -- and ambience, that is made possible by two factors, the minimization of acoustic noise and of electronic noise.

If a room has too much self-noise in the form of lots of uncontrolled reflections, it will suppress space and ambience from the recording -- it may flatten spatial depth and deaden recorded ambience or, conversely, create fake spatial depth or "ambience" on almost everything, rather independent of individual recordings and overruling information on them.

Similar holds for electronic noise in the system (starting with power delivery and power supplies within components), since that noise will suppress low level information about spatial depth, ambience and decay.
 

tima

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Surely nothing is completely independent in the creation of the illusion, but in order to implement such properties in a system we need a proper analytical discussion, not a confusing synthesis.

Dear micro, you like to tell us what should be the case but never seem to get there yourself.

I propose you start a thread: "An Analytical Discussion on the Creation of Illusion in Stereo Systems." I will enjoy reading your authoratative thoughts along with loquacious commentary from Al M., and Mike Lavigne on Dartzeel.

A proper discussion that is proactive will be an interesting contrast to all the confusing synthesis. I'm not being sarcastic - I strongly encourage you to do this.
 

bonzo75

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Dear micro, you like to tell us what should be the case but never seem to get there yourself.

I propose you start a thread: "An Analytical Discussion on the Creation of Illusion in Stereo Systems." I will enjoy reading your authoratative thoughts along with loquacious commentary from Al M., and Mike Lavigne on Dartzeel.

A proper discussion that is proactive will be an interesting contrast to all the confusing synthesis. I'm not being sarcastic - I strongly encourage you to do this.

I have no idea why you are clubbing Mike with Al and micro. Never seen anything in common in their posts
 

Karen Sumner

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Hello and good evening to you, Karen.

Would you be willing to describe a non-calibration as if Hi-Fi never existed and reproduction of music just started?

Tom
Hi, treitz3 -

I will certainly be picking up on this thread next week when I have a little more time. I think that the paragraph from my post that Peter A quoted in comment #214 is a good starting point.
 
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rbbert

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It’s too bad the term “hi-fi sound” was introduced in the OP, especially when the post goes on to ask about and describe a particular quality of high fidelity (“space”). Has the misnomer “hi-fi sound” been well defined here?

I also think there needs to be some kind of consensus on which recordings even allow all the aspects of “space” (ambience, presence, imaging, “air”) to pass through to our systems, because IME they represent a small percentage of official releases (near zero with pop/rock and country, and a disturbingly low amount of classical and jazz)
 

PeterA

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Peter,

In her opening post Karen talks about the ambience and scale of the original recorded space.

As I said above:
"The space of a performance should expand dramatically if going from intimately recorded chamber music to large orchestra in a large hall.

"Yet the ambience of that concert hall will differ dramatically from that of an equally sized stone church."


While the space of a performance should expand dramatically from small to large on a system, in most home situations this will be a a relative expansion. Few systems will be able to portray something like a real scale of an orchestra, and the success of that illusion will also depend on where you would sit in a hall (if you were to sit close to an orchestra, in one of the first rows from the front, the scale might seem so large in width that it would be rather impossible to reproduce that in a home setting).

In my estimate a room of around 20 feet wide can at least hint at a real orchestral scale in reproduction. In my 12 feet wide room this is obviously far from achievable (bigger speakers would not make much difference there). Yet as you noted the last time you listened to my system, it portrays very different scales of recorded space and performer images (also depending on close-up or more distanced projection) from recording to recording. I like this too, but this is relative scaling; to me space has an absolute size component as well. As you have also said on several occasions, my system can sound quite big, but that is still not big enough in absolute terms for some music.

My system can reproduce recorded acoustic ambience of a concert hall, and it can reproduce the stone church acoustics in some choral music, for example. Yet this ambience is scaled to a smaller size, it misses the absolute scale of the real thing. But the ambience is no less real than if it were portrayed to a larger spatial scale in the absolute sense. So there is a difference between ambience portrayal, which can be scaled down in space to some extent without necessarily losing credibility, and the portrayal of absolute scale of space.

Therefore, I simply do not think that the terms of ambience and space describe the same thing. There is a scaling factor that does not apply equally to both. Also, you can get space (scale) without sufficient ambience.

As Brian (Bazelio) put it above in stark terms:
"Right, and I've heard space without ambience and ambience without space."

(I would say you can get some limited ambience on a table radio too, for example some portrayal of a church acoustic, without space.)

And as I have argued above, presence is yet again different.

***

As for how to achieve space -- certainly spatial depth -- and ambience, that is made possible by two factors, the minimization of acoustic noise and of electronic noise.

If a room has too much self-noise in the form of lots of uncontrolled reflections, it will suppress space and ambience from the recording -- it may flatten spatial depth and deaden recorded ambience or, conversely, create fake spatial depth or "ambience" on almost everything, rather independent of individual recordings and overruling information on them.

Similar holds for electronic noise in the system (starting with power delivery and power supplies within components), since that noise will suppress low level information about spatial depth, ambience and decay.

Thank you Al. Whether we try to distinguish space and ambiance or not, I think we are both basically trying to describe the character of the environment in which we perceive the musicians playing their instruments and our distance from them.

Whether we are listening to a string trio in a stone building, an orchestra in a hall, or a jazz band in a studio, the character or nature of the space, and the musicians within it, should be apparent. We can not recreate the scale of these spaces in our homes, but we do what we can. I agree that lowering noise, both from the gear and from the room, is important. One challenge is to not over do it and lose the very information on the recording that allows us to perceive the character of the venue in the first place. The other challenge is not to select gear or wires or add treatments that enhance or embellish the information on the recording making everything sound the same.

We have all experienced different levels of success from various systems and rooms. If we can tell that the musicians are in a studio or a church or a concert hall, but the size and scale of the different spaces remains more or less the same, you might argue that space and ambience are different characteristics presented with varying levels of success. I would simply conclude that the system fails to convey the full character of the environment captured on the recording.

The perceived dimensions of the recording venue and its sonic character are inseparable. Lively and more damped spaces, even if the same size, will sound different. If these differences are captured on the recording, we should hear them from our systems. If the system is truly successful, we should leave thinking about the music and not about some aspect of the system sound.
 

rbbert

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...If we can tell that the musicians are in a studio or a church or a concert hall, but the size and scale of the different spaces remains more or less the same, you might argue that space and ambience are different characteristics presented with varying levels of success. I would simply conclude that the system fails to convey the full character of the environment captured on the recording...
This applies to any aspect of the recorded sound. It's all very well to apply the holistic approach to evaluating an audio system (or a recording) and I assume that is generally what we all do when listening to music - not evaluating per se but either becoming involved in the music and ignoring the system sound, or not. However, that isn't very useful in trying to describe (or find) what is good or bad about a particular component or audio system; this is why reviewers (and maybe manufacturers; who knows?) attempt to develop a common vocabulary to describe and dissect the sound.
 

Al M.

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We have all experienced different levels of success from various systems and rooms. If we can tell that the musicians are in a studio or a church or a concert hall, but the size and scale of the different spaces remains more or less the same, you might argue that space and ambience are different characteristics presented with varying levels of success. I would simply conclude that the system fails to convey the full character of the environment captured on the recording.

This is not what I argued when it comes to the distinction between space and ambience. Due to sheer constraints of physics and acoustics, a system will rarely be able to reproduce the full scale of an event, in particular a large-scale one. This in itself is only to be considered failure if you apply impossible standards.

Yet I also said that a system must be able to scale from small to large, even though this may be just relative scaling. If it cannot do that kind of scaling but, as you say, all size and space remains the same across diverse recorded spaces, then yes, it has failed.

If the system is truly successful, we should leave thinking about the music and not about some aspect of the system sound.

This is a noble thought, but that is not what happens in real life, at least not with me and some others that I know of. Also in concerts we think a lot about the sound, there precisely because the experience is so overwhelming. We don't just think about the music, even though this should and hopefully is the main focal point. If this happens even with the real thing, then it will happen with reproduction too, to one degree or another.
 

Ron Resnick

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This is a noble thought, but that is not what happens in real life, at least not with me and some others that I know of. Also in concerts we think a lot about the sound, there precisely because the experience is so overwhelming. We don't just think about the music, even though this should and hopefully is the main focal point. If this happens even with the real thing, then it will happen with reproduction too, to one degree or another.

+ 1

"It's all about the music" is a nice slogan for audiophiles to deploy to address cognitive dissonance arising from all of the time we spend talking about equipment and about sound.

I think it is a false dichotomy to establish as a test that if one leaves a listening session on a stereo system thinking even in part about the sound, then the system is a failure.
 
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PeterA

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+ 1

"It's all about the music" is a nice slogan for audiophiles to deploy to address cognitive dissonance arising from all of the time we spend talking about equipment and about sound.

I think it is a false dichotomy to establish as a test that if one leaves a listening session on a stereo system thinking even in part about the sound, then the system is a failure.

Ron, I do not think it is all about the music, but rather about the experience of hearing the music played over a system, and how it relates to one's experience with live music. I wrote “If the system is truly successful, we should leave thinking about the music and not about some aspect of the system sound.” I could add that my goal is achieving a similar experience to hearing the music live.

You can manipulate that comment and turn it into an absolute unqualified statement, but that was not my intention. The experience on which my comment is based is the reference system I heard in Utah. Now back at home reflecting on the experience, what I think about is how powerful Bach’s organ music sounded and filled the space like I hear the organ sound at my church. I think how Peter Schreier sounded singing Winterreise and how much it sounded like the experience in the music hall an hour north of me when I heard a similar performance with Al M. and my father. I think about Arthur Grumiaux and the concertgebouw orchestra led by Colin Davis, how he played his violin and how similar the overall experience was to what I have sitting in the tenth row at the BSO.

What I do not think about is the sound of David’s big system. In fact I struggle to even describe its character when asked by people about its sound.

I make this distinction because I hear systems and only think about particular sonic attributes like the dynamics and big sound. Characteristics which stay with the system for years and overwhelm the rest. I leave those listening sessions thinking about the sound of the system and not the music. Most systems have a defining character. Better systems have less of a character. The best systems have almost no character.

I am sharing my experience and describing what is possible. For me it is a test, and indication, of the success of the system. Almost all systems fall short of this ideal, but that is the point of a reference. It serves as a goal and a guide to help us make decisions. Isn’t that what What’s Best Forum is all about?

Karen Sumner‘s thread is about Space: the final frontier and how to achieve it. Since leaving Utah, I have a better appreciation for this aspect of reproduced music. The information is on the recording. If the system is sufficiently resolving, and the room and set up do not corrupt the information, the system should deliver a listening experience that should be about the music and not about the sound of the system.
 
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Al M.

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Ron, I wrote “If the system is truly successful, we should leave thinking about the music and not about some aspect of the system sound.”

You can manipulate that comment and turn it into an absolute unqualified statement, but that was not my intention. The experience on which my comment is based is the reference system I heard in Utah. Now back at home reflecting on the experience, what I think about is how powerful Bach’s organ music sounded and filled the space like I hear the organ sound at my church. I think how Peter Schreier sounded singing Winterreise and how much it sounded like the experience in the music hall an hour north of me when I heard a similar performance with Al M. and my father. I think about Arthur Grumiaux and the concertgebouw orchestra led by Colin Davis, how he played his violin and how similar the overall experience was to what I have sitting in the tenth row at the BSO.

What I do not think about is the sound of David’s big system. In fact I struggle to even describe it’s character when asked by people about its sound.

I make this distinction because I hear systems and only think about particular sonic attributes like the dynamics and big sound. Characteristics which stay with the system for years and overwhelm the rest. I leave those listening sessions thinking about the sound of the system and not the music. Most systems have a defining character. Better systems have less of a character. The best systems have almost no character.

I am sharing my experience and describing what is possible. For me it is a test, and indication, of the success of the system. Almost all systems fall short of this ideal, but that is the point of a reference. It serves as a goal and a guide to help us make decisions. Isn’t that what What’s Best Forum is all about?

Karen Sumner‘s thread is about Space: the final frontier and how to achieve it. Since leaving Utah, I have a better appreciation for this aspect of reproduced music. The information is on the recording. If the system is sufficiently resolving, and the room and set up do not corrupt the information, the system should deliver a listening experience that should be about the music and not about the sound of the system.

But Peter, you are already comparing the sound of David's main system to live music. So you were thinking about the sound of David's system while listening to it.

And you can only compare the system to live music if you took mental notes of that live sound. You were not just listening to the content of the music at those events.

So the whole mantra of "it's all just about the music", and when you think about the sound instead it is a distraction from what it really should be about and a fault in the presentation of the system, is just not believable.

Just like it would not be believable if you would claim that David's system was so convincing that you did not notice differences with real live music, and therefore was not distracted from the musical presentation at all by such differences. The perfect system exists only in fantasy land.
 

Ron Resnick

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Ron, I do not think it is all about the music, but rather about the experience of hearing the music played over a system, and how it relates to one's experience with live music.

This makes perfect sense to me. Thank you for explaining.
 
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Ron Resnick

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I wrote “If the system is truly successful, we should leave thinking about the music and not about some aspect of the system sound.” I could add that my goal is achieving a similar experience to hearing the music live.

You can manipulate that comment and turn it into an absolute unqualified statement, but that was not my intention.

I wasn't trying to manipulate your comment.

I thought a fair implication of "If the system is truly successful, we should leave thinking about the music and not about some aspect of the system sound" was that if we "leave thinking about some aspect of the system sound" then the system is not "truly successful."
 

PeterA

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But Peter, you are already comparing the sound of David's main system to live music. So you were thinking about the sound of David's system while listening to it.

And you can only compare the system to live music if you took mental notes of that live sound. You were not just listening to the content of the music at those events.

So the whole mantra of "it's all just about the music", and when you think about the sound instead it is a distraction from what it really should be about and a fault in the presentation of the system, is just not believable.

Just like it would not be believable if you would claim that David's system was so convincing that you did not notice differences with real live music, and therefore was not distracted from the musical presentation at all by such differences. The perfect system exists only in fantasy land.

I don't really know what to say Al. We hear the sounds made by musicians playing their instruments. We also hear the character of the space in which they are played, whether it is live or recorded. When listening to recordings on our systems, we hear the contributions of the recording and the system and the room. The good systems in good rooms playing good recordings contribute less. The best systems in the best rooms playing the best recordings, the ones used as personal references, contribute the least, at least for me. When listening to such a reference system, the experience for me is about listening to the music and experiencing the atmosphere on the recording, not the system or room sound. It is the experience of listening to the music that matters to me, and I want it to remind me of the live experience.

It is not "all about the music", and I am not talking about any mantra. It is about creating a system that disappears so that one is left with the experience of listening to live music while listening to the recording. There is no dichotomy. The system, the room, the set up, the recording - they are all part of it. I am not talking about anything being perfect or some fantasy land. I am talking about what is possible if we set out to achieve it.
 
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PeterA

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I wasn't trying to manipulate your comment.

I thought a fair implication of "If the system is truly successful, we should leave thinking about the music and not about some aspect of the system sound" was that if we "leave thinking about some aspect of the system sound" then the system is not "truly successful."

Ron, you or Al took what I wrote and turned it into "It's all about the music" mantra. I did not claim that.

I agree with your fair implication here, and it is a more accurate understanding of what I wrote. The system, IMO, is not truly successful, if you leave thinking about the sound or an aspect of it. I am describing a goal rarely if ever achieved, but often worth the effort. Personal satisfaction with what one has at home is something different. Most of us are satisfied, or claim to be. I am talking about what is possible and what can be aspired to, here on What is Best. I humbly submit that my system falls short too. I am still working on it. It helps to have the reference of live music and an example of what is possible in reproduced music.
 
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microstrip

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Dear micro, you like to tell us what should be the case but never seem to get there yourself.

I propose you start a thread: "An Analytical Discussion on the Creation of Illusion in Stereo Systems." I will enjoy reading your authoratative thoughts along with loquacious commentary from Al M., and Mike Lavigne on Dartzeel.

A proper discussion that is proactive will be an interesting contrast to all the confusing synthesis. I'm not being sarcastic - I strongly encourage you to do this.

IMHO you can't understand the operating mode of an audio forum where people are free to present their opinions and debate them freely, like we do in WBF.

As far as I see it, you are not a moderator in this forum. So please go on posting your opinions on the different subjects and discussing my points - I am always happy to read from you, but please refrain from telling us what I and other posters should do.
 

Al M.

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IMHO you can't understand the operating mode of an audio forum where people are free to present their opinions and debate them freely, like we do in WBF.

As far as I see it, you are not a moderator in this forum. So please go on posting your opinions on the different subjects and discussing my points - I am always happy to read from you, but please refrain from telling us what I and other posters should do.

Thank you, Francisco.
 

bazelio

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Brian, you are commenting on the words chosen. I am responding to Karen Sumner's comment. These are different topics. Let's move on.
Remember, it was a good question. You said so yourself. When starting from a false premise, you may find it difficult to manhandle ensuing discussion beyond that point.
 
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PeterA

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IMHO you can't understand the operating mode of an audio forum where people are free to present their opinions and debate them freely, like we do in WBF.

As far as I see it, you are not a moderator in this forum. So please go on posting your opinions on the different subjects and discussing my points - I am always happy to read from you, but please refrain from telling us what I and other posters should do.

Francisco, it seems everyone is guilty of telling other people what to do. Your post above tells Tima what he should be doing.

Everyone can share his or her or their opinion, and everyone is free not to not do so. But when people constantly criticize specific approaches or points of view, and don’t offer up their own alternative, the discussion doesn’t go very far. When an opinion is criticized and an alternative is not proposed, we are left to wonder. We know what the critics don’t like, but we can only guess about what they do like. This appears to be your intention, which is fine and understandable.
 

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