- Apr 18, 2021
One way to advocate and educate for adopting the sound of live music as a reference for a stereo system is to take the approach Karen and others are taking by discussing characteristics of live and reproduced sound. In the opening post there is a synopsis of prior discussions about tonality and dynamics as a lead in to discussing the use and effect of space as an important aspect of what and how we hear.
While it is important to have counter-examples -- stuff that is sonically artificial -- most important, imo, is to positively encourage what is valued in the sound of live music and encourage these values as goals for reproduction.
On my system, I can often hear the ‘space’ of the venue even before the music starts. If I were to use an alternative word for that perception of ‘space’ I would pick ‘ambiance’ or atmosphere. Ambience is space filling and has dimension and texture. The musicians‘ music interacts with the ambience and is altered by it tonally. For me, presence is the degree to which I sense the presence of musicians within the venue. The reason I would differentiate the two is that they vary independently of one another, depending on how the sound engineer miked and captured the musical event. Studio recordings often include a lot of artificial space or ambience but are not recordings I would categorise as having a lot of presence.
For me the term space is a characteristic of the recording of the venue, while presence is a characteristic of the recording of the performers within that venue.
Perhaps systems that communicate temporal components more truthfully lead us to a better sense of the real. If tone, timbre and presence buy us a sense of instrumental naturalness then temporal truths feed across also into a sense of the real energy of a performance.
I do get the concept of pace… in music it is as Tima has described and the beat and meter of the music and then in terms of how our systems then relate that to us is as you have said our perception of that pace… but like so many words sitting there singular, raw, naked it only says so much and alone the word of itself is just for me an ok communicator. As a term it needs fleshing out and good full supporting context to communicate much.
As someone who tries to be (at least) partially careful about using words in audio descriptions, I am biased toward choosing words that describe what I hear rather than adopting or creating a specialized vocabulary, especially if that brings the need to unpack or explain it in order to inform the reader what it means.
Audio is and always has been system based. Audiophiles generally downplay the importance of room and set up and IMO this is why many are never happy. Its not about the beauty , or the color, or the symmetry of the room its about the nuts and bolts, inches and millimeters, the proper placement of the speakers and the equipment and where you sit. Our rooms will never be "symphony hall" because we can't afford to buy a symphony hall. We strive to create the illusion that you are in that space.
While I have not heard as many systems as you I agree that the vast majority of audiophiles are stuck on the merry-go-round. Why? I think there are a few reasons.
One is that dealers are trying to make money selling boxes. They do this by telling their unsuspecting clients that the next latest, greatest thing is going to move their sound in a positive direction and get them closer to audio nirvana.
Another is that the vast majority of audiophiles don't know how to take what they have and set it up to give convincing results in dynamics, tone & timing. This goes for most dealers whose idea of setup is (maybe) delivering the speakers, unboxing them and maybe getting a centered vocalist.
For some, it may be that they are just playing around like buying the newest golf club.
Hence the only conclusion I can draw is that the space one hears in the recording has microphone choice and placement as the key determinants rather than the sound you hear in the hall which is primarily seat dependent. That’s why I think the discussion of “space” we hear on a recording is largely contrived in many ways. That said, many recordings do capture the hall with some versimultude of the real thing. It’s why the recordings of Cozart/Fine, Lewis Layton, Ken Wilkerson and others are as treasured as they are. But even then, you have to realize that the mics are often 10+feet higher than the stage and often much further forward than the front row of the orchestra. And there are no real seats in those locations! I hope this puts our discussion of recorded “space” into a more realistic perspective. Our sense of space on recordings is mainly attributed to the recording engineer’s skill and preferences and is hardly the same thing as what we hear in the hall in an actual seat, although sometimes we get lucky and are rewarded with a fine listening experience of the recorded event in our home systems.
Pinpoint does not mean small dimension or etched. Pinpoint means you can locate the relative positions of the musicians and layers with accuracy in the soundstage in the sound reproduction, trying to approach the perception you have sighted in a concert hall. Pinpoint means that if the musician is moving in the soundstage you can feel him moving.
I think through gear selection and set up approach, people can choose to create a system presentation that is either more like what we hear from a live concert or more full of audiophile sonic attributes. It is a matter of listener preference, goals, and choices, but people starting out need some kind of guidance.
The industry is good at differentiating between products but perhaps not so good at making the connection between how gear selection and set up can bring one closer to the experience of listening to live music.
The reviews are all about how one box sounds different from another box. My local dealer hands me a glass tablet and leaves me alone in the room to push buttons and listen to different sounds. He then tries to sell me accessories.
No wonder people are confused.
Some of these posts are definitely worth revisiting, and I am sure that some of you have much to add.Unless people understand that the objective of sound reproduction is much more than just the enjoyment of people looking for resemblance with their own experience listening to live music they will always get a very limited view of this hobby.