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Buddha
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How robust is speaker imaging?

Aloha,

I was reading about sound localization and perception, and it made me start to think about speaker imaging, which made me wonder about what people notice.

Does "imaging" seem fragile to you?

When I listen, I will often 'look' to where the apparent (illusory) 'source' of a given sound may be in the presentation of my Hi Fi. For instance, if a sax player seems to be stage left, I will often look to where I think that player would be.

When I do that, the sound almost always stays where I looked, even though I may have just moved my head 45 degrees away from 'straight ahead.'

That's a pretty robust phenomenon when you think about it.

Imaging can actually 'stay put' as you move your head through a startling number of degrees!

Of course, there are also many times when the imaging effect remains steady as I walk around the room, too.

For something that is such an efemeral phenomenon, it can really hang tough, when you think about it. Especially considering that it can withstand the impact of a giant absorber/diffusor (you) walking around in the listening area.

Amazing stuff.

Do you tend toward finding imaging a robust or fragile thing?

ethanwiner
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Re: How robust is speaker imaging?


Quote:
I will often look to where I think that player would be. When I do that, the sound almost always stays where I looked, even though I may have just moved my head 45 degrees away from 'straight ahead.'


Sure, no surprise, and that happens with live sources too. If I stand where your left speaker is and start talking, you'll hear me talk from that location even if you move your head.

--Ethan

Buddha
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Re: How robust is speaker imaging?


Quote:

Quote:
I will often look to where I think that player would be. When I do that, the sound almost always stays where I looked, even though I may have just moved my head 45 degrees away from 'straight ahead.'


Sure, no surprise, and that happens with live sources too. If I stand where your left speaker is and start talking, you'll hear me talk from that location even if you move your head.

--Ethan

You'd think the comb filtering associated with such radical changes in perspective wouldn't make for such stability in imaging.

With a live source, it figures the localization would stay, eh?

dcstep
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Re: How robust is speaker imaging?

Image with good recordings should actually be very stable. If not, the you most likely have some serious side reflections that need to be taken care of.

Combos and small groups should really lock in. Large groups, simply miked, should have depth and width and the various parts (basses right, brass right-middle, violins left, etc. should be apparent and stable.

Dave

Dave

Elk
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Re: How robust is speaker imaging?

I second Dave's observations.

The affect is recording dependent and requires good room treatment. But when it is there it can really lock.

I don't hear the degree of imaging when listening to live music as I hear when music is reproduced. But a certain amount of "extra" imaging seems to help create the illusion of live performers.

Frank Noonan
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Re: How robust is speaker imaging?

I think that for the most part, imaging is a robust and reliable part of the "stereo" experience.
But I'm not always happy about the stage image as presented by some (many) recordings. I find, for instance, that a particular instrument (guitar, piano, etc) will have a very diffuse presentation as opposed to having a "position" on the stage. I don't mean to imply that the piano, for instance, should be "hard right", only that its' position should be established as being firmly to the right of certain other instruments. This doesn't always happen. I agree with Buddah that a speakers ability to image can often be quite amazing, but also feel that recording engineers sometimes don't pay enough attention to proper imaging. As one example of well executed stereo imaging, I would cite the recording done by Pierre Sprey on Mapleshade Records. Every instrumental or vocal part seems to occupy a specific place on the stage, yet is diffuse enough so that it becomes part of the fabric as a whole. Please note that I'm using Mr. Sprey as just one example here - I have a bunch of other recordings that exhibit similar good "engineering" techniques.
I'm not a professional recording engineer, so I'm at a loss to say just what it is that makes certain recordings stand apart from the crowd vis a` vis stereo image.

ncdrawl
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Re: How robust is speaker imaging?

all of Opus 3 recordings have amazing imaging(and everything else ,too)

same with D+G, Waterlily....

this thing called acoustics is weird and wonderful

absolutepitch
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Re: How robust is speaker imaging?

Yes, the Opus3's!

I also have the For Duke LP. Third cut, second side really shows off imaging. My system has stable imaging without having to sit directly on a line between the speakers, over a lateral range of a foot or two. However, exactly on center is a bit better than off-centerline.

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Re: How robust is speaker imaging?

What I love is finding out great music with great imaging in not the usual suspects recordings. We all know how great The Dark Side of The Moon Is and how great Donald Fagen recordings are and so on. But I have found that some 80's recordings are actually very good for showing your systems and the imaging. Sting's "The Dream of the Blue Turtles" is a great overall album with great imaging and also most of the Talking Heads albums. Have you heard "Burning Down The House"? Excellent tune and also a great recording to test your system imaging. Most of the time I find the my records are well recorded, I mean, the voice is always in the center, the piano there, the guitar there, etc etc. and what I really hate is when I play a record and found out that the voice is slightly off center or even way off center.

absolutepitch
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Re: How robust is speaker imaging?


Quote:
... Most of the time I find the my records are well recorded, I mean, the voice is always in the center, the piano there, the guitar there, etc etc. and what I really hate is when I play a record and found out that the voice is slightly off center or even way off center.

Good imaging really gives you the sensation of reality as the sounds are where they should be if the group were live. Sometimes the singer is off-center because that's where they are. Other times it could be channel imbalance on warmup.

I had a problem once where there was a channel imbalance sometimes and at other times it was fine. It turned out to be a defective volume control. On the clockwise turn it goes up balanced and coming down it goes unbalanced. It took a while to figure that out.

obonillaf
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Re: How robust is speaker imaging?


Quote:

Quote:
... Most of the time I find the my records are well recorded, I mean, the voice is always in the center, the piano there, the guitar there, etc etc. and what I really hate is when I play a record and found out that the voice is slightly off center or even way off center.

Good imaging really gives you the sensation of reality as the sounds are where they should be if the group were live. Sometimes the singer is off-center because that's where they are. Other times it could be channel imbalance on warmup.

Yes but I tend not to give the record with the voice slightly off center the benefit of doubt and blame it because in the particular kind of music I am talking about there is no reasonable explanation as to why the voice should have been not precisely centered. I have heard recording in with you can "feel" that both the guitar and the voice are in the center just feets aways from each other but always in the CENTER but those other cases as I was saying you just don't find any justification for that off centered voice...

zane9
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Re: How robust is speaker imaging?


Quote:
all of Opus 3 recordings have amazing imaging(and everything else ,too)

same with D+G, Waterlily....

Add MA Recordings to the list.

The combination of their recordings with a pair of point-source omni-directional speakers (Morrison Audio Model 7) equals imaging nirvana!

obonillaf
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Re: How robust is speaker imaging?


Quote:

Quote:
all of Opus 3 recordings have amazing imaging(and everything else ,too)

same with D+G, Waterlily....

Add MA Recordings to the list.

The combination of their recordings with a pair of point-source omni-directional speakers (Morrison Audio Model 7) equals imaging nirvana!

Could you PLEASE mention one album of each record company you just mentioned? I would really like to buy it for my listening pleasure. Thank you!

zane9
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Re: How robust is speaker imaging?

obonillaf, from MA Recording here are 3 of many recordings I like:

Ilama (Ravi Goldschmidt)
Further Attempts (Todd Garfinkle)
Journey (Grzegorz Krawiec)

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I hear a lot of imaging

I hear a lot of imaging differences in recordings; some quite well defined and others vague by comparison, so it seems clear that the primary vairable is likely the mic setup/placement used in the recording process.   That aside, I also find a major difference between speakers with respect to imaging, having to do with the speakers' dispersion pattern.  

I now use ultra-narrow dispersion, flat-panel electrostat speakers in a 2-channel stereo setup.  As compared to my previous, wider-dispersion magnetic-driver tower speakers, which were placed in the same locations in the same room, the flat panel stats produce absolutely magical imaging; whereas, the imaging from my older speakers seemed vague.  It's now clear to me that the difference was due to the narrow dispersion and resulting lack of reflected sounds that confuse imaging. 

So now I conclude that narrow-dispersion speakers have superior imaging precisely because they beam sound like a laser-- and I prefer narrow dispersion speakers now, even though it means I have to accept a much smaller sweet spot.   

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Image height and density

Image height and image density are functions of the room size and acoustics in which the recording was made and ability of the playback system to reproduce the physical and acoustic characteristics of that space. If everything in the home system, including room acoustics, is firing on all cylinders it should be able to reproduce the recording space precisely - even if that space is a large hall or auditorium. Unfortunately, the playback system, including room acoustics, is usually only firing on a couple of cylinders so the soundstage is only a ghost of what it could be. Maintaining absolute polarity of the signal, while difficult or impossible w/o a polarity switch, is critical to achieving image height and image density.

G Kait
Machina Dynamica

pentode
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The two way speakers I've had

The two way speakers I've had seemed to image better than the better quality and much newer, 3-way Paradigms, I have now.  Perhaps I haven't found the proper placement yet.  Good imaging seems more elusive with my present system.  

Doctor Fine
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Time alignment plus bandwidth equals imaging

The reason an earlier commentator loves his narrow dispersion flat panel speakers is because the sound arrives at his listening position as a cohearent, in-time, in-phase event.  Rather like headphones.

I personally dislike flat panels as they sound less than stellar as soon as you leave their tiny "sweet spot" which in some instances can be measured in millimeters.  Besides if you ever want a real challenge (and isn't a challenge part of the game?) you simply must attempt hooking up a set of two way monitors and then fleshing out the front plane with two 12 inch subs and then adding two more 15 inch subs at the rear extreme left and right of your listening position.  That is the kind of work which separates the men from the boys.

First there is the work of getting the monitors into exactly the right left and right position.  Movement of even a quarter inch will lose some of the bloom and projection of vocals.  Then add the front subs and get their aiming angles correct (usually splayed out to left and right) and adjust their crossover point and notch out their bloat.  Not to mention play around with their phase controls.

Lastly bring up the rear by putting the icing on the cake with a subterranean bass which adds not one tiny bit of bloat (now THAT is a difficult thing to accomplish).

The payoff is that with ultra wide bandwidth and time and phase all locked in, you now hear imaging even when in the next room, much less when sitting in "the sweet spot."  Your ability to analyse which microphone placement was effective in the hands of what engineer will amaze and astound your friends.

Or not.  Of course one can simply spend several hundred thousand dollars on rare high end equipment and then pray.

Obviously, being the hobbiest that I am, I prefer to spend the effort that it takes in set up to accomplish the miraculous, even though it may take in some cases a few years to squeeze out the last drop of fidelity from a system.  Which is why I crack up when guys expect a ten minute in-store "demo" to prove a whole lot about a product.  Haw, haw...

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I find imaging

Both fascinating in modern Hi-Fi, and for the most part completely artificial.  I just don't hear it in live environments.  In live environments I hear macro dynamics, dynamic shading in the playing of instruments, foundation, clarity.  I never hear super specific staging.  I think it's extremely emblematic of whats gone "wrong" with Hi-Fi and why we've scared off more people than we've attracted.  We search and search for an attribute of recorded music that is at the same time difficult (and sometimes expensive) to achieve, and doesn't neccesarily enhance the perception of real instruments being played in a real space.  It sounds artificial because as often as not it IS artificial.  

I'm not getting all back to mono on you, I'm just wondering if it's really as important as we as audiophiles make it out to be.  It certainly shouldn't be more important than the musical foundations.

tom collins
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imaging

I enjoyed your post Dr.  You have clearly described 2 completely different audiophiles.  The spend $ on it until it is right and the tinkerer.  Both legitimate in my opinion.  I am more in the tinkerer camp because I can't afford to be in the spend $ camp.  But it is very satisfying to get a good sound in the end after much work.  After all, the room is the 800 lb. gorrila that must be dealt with and as you point out, that can not usually be done in 10 minutes even if you spend a lot of $.

 

Tom

Doctor Fine
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Three way versus two way designs

Firstly I have a suggestion for the guy before my post who was disappointed that his three way Paradigms imaged quite poorly when compared to his previous two way monitors.  Common wisdom would reply that two ways almost all ways have more specific imaging due to the fact they are simpler and more of a "point source" and also as a rule have less mud in the bottom ranges due to their lack of bass.

Balderdash.

While it is generally true three way drivers are a bit less of a "point source" it is appropriate to assume they will be placed in larger rooms at a greater listening perspective as they are typically much larger designs.  Thus the propigation should appear proportionally just as "tight" a point source as a smaller two way in a smaller room.

What I find is that the area where a three way is problematic is in its in-time and in-phase delivery of mids and tweets in relationship to the woofer.  Most three way box speakers take the cheap route and slap all the drivers on a flat mounting board located at the front of the box.  Unless we are talking Vandersteen, where the designer took the trouble to mount each driver in a separate enclosure and line up their voice coils to make all the sound come to your ear at the same time---well, all hell will occur in the time domain and the tweeter in particular will be waaaay out in front of the woofer.  When the tweet gets top your ear first and the woofer is lagging behind it sound wise you get a raspy out of phase smearing all across the frequency range and particularly at the crossover point.

Small two ways exhibit less of this smearing PLUS the designer can spend some money on tweaking the crossover to delay slightly the treble to allow it to "lock in" with the woofer, time-wise.  Which is why two ways are supposedly "better at imaging."

A simple trick to greatly level the playing field is to tilt the entire three-way speaker back at a raked-back angle.  And pay attention to getting the three way on stands that help make their drivers arrive at your ear at the same time. 

Good luck with the Paradigms.  This simple set up trick may put a huge grin back on your face.  Set up is "king."

Doctor Fine
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Why you don't think imaging is important

Now as to the comment AFTER my first post wherein the writer said he can't hear imaging at a live concert and thinks we are all too fussy when we attempt to get our systems to "image"---   I am an ex-professional musician.  When I started playing Jazz and then rock way back in the 50s we had no PA system (which is typically very loud and IN MONO).  The imaging at shows was fabulous.  If we DID use an amplifier it was typically only ONE amplifier per instrument and you could pick out the source with tremendous precision.

Fast forward to the post modern "in your face MONO" sound at the typical concert in 2011.  Hell I just paid two hundred dollars a ticket to see Cole Porter's "Anything Goes" at the Sondheim Theater in Manhattan.  The PA system was a monster and it was in MONO mounted above my head.  The entire show gave me a headache and was like watching TV with the speaker mounted in one place and the dancers and singers waaay over somewhere else.  Total disconnect.  NO imaging.  Unnatural.

I will not play live on stages because the sound sucks.  All the intricate call-and-response I used to get with the drummer or the horn section...FORGET IT.  Sound was MUCH better in the old days.  The stereo recording Rudy Van Gelder made of Miles Davis and Jimmy Smith and John Coltrane etc.  Now THERE was some proper imaging.  Rudy's big secret was that he would place the microphones at a distance from each instrument guarranteed to capture a fully fleshed out, individual, location and correct timbre.  Thus his recordings are in many cases like being a "fly on the wall" at the session. 

I have my system set up to image so hard you can even hear when a performer puts his foot in front of his amp or which angles the engineer used in mic placement.  Or how large is the hall wherein a  symphony was performed.  And were the second violins placed hard left along with the first violins or did the conductor arrange Beethoven's Fifth with "classic violin set-up" with the second section farrrr right.  For effect.  So you could hear them call-and-respond.

All these things bring the illusion of seperate events occuring within time.  And within their individual spaces.  So that the playback performance sounds like a huge clockwork music box with individual notes occuring in separate spaces in a deliberate sense of movement.  Take Tchaicovsky's Nutcracker, for instance.  The swirling sound of the violin sections starts at one side of the stage and then was written to swirl around to the other side and practically give you vertigo.  The movement in space is a BIG part of the wonder of the sound.

So Please.  Don't blame me if your set doesn't have instruments located in precision.  Mine does.  And it is a HUGE deal.

jgossman
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I don't think it's that important

Because everytime I hear imaging like that, and I do hear it in my modest system, it's contrived and fake.  I'm not saying it's not important at all.  I'm saying it's not important if it detracts from the rightness of the performance.  If a performance unfolds in front of you that is thrilling, what difference does it make?  What does the position of a guitarist's foot have to do with whether or not he can play the damn instrument?  Nothing.  Nothing at all.

Not the least of which is even at a well produced live show, you don't buy the live off tape release to see how you system places the players.  You listen to see how close you can get to the musical event that happened.  Right then, right there.  If you can get all or most of the musical fundementals and still image well, great.  I haven't heard that in a recording.  I've heard either, not both.  Just imaging is boring.  And doesn't advance the performance in any way.

Doctor Fine
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it is not one OR the other

I have a system that could fool an expert into thinking an actual Steinway is in my living room.  Because I get fabulous tone and I also get 3D from stereo playback.  And if you were at Carnegie Hall in the best seat in the house you might still find the seat at my listening chair is even more real than being at the show.  Believe me, I keep going to Carnegie Hall and the sound there is quite good but not as good as at my house as far as making the instruments sound real---haha.  A good engineer on a great recording can put me into an even better "seat" than anything a civilian can get at a show.

Hobbiests like jgrossman that can't seem to put it all together and then they tell the rest of us to give up---well that is just not my problem.  I have been building systems for right around 50 years and never gave up.  I can now build them so good they make grown men pee in their pants when they hear them.  I build them so that they are frighteningly "alive" and "real."  And I am standing on the shoulders of giants like the founder of Stereophile---J. Gordon Holt.  God I miss him.

If the best you can do jgossman is just get the fundamentals right then you are not THERE yet. I am happy for you because you at least have the fundamentals and that is no mean achievement.  However, a truly musical true STEREO system will do far more than simply indicate left and right.  It will make a STEREO IMAGE.  Like 3D.  Like looking through a Stereo-opticon at two photos that were off a stereo camera and when the image fuses together as you gaze through the device---suddenly it snaps into 3D and you SEE STEREO.  OHMYGOD.

And who says because you can achieve 3D it must then be the case that you can't also achieve tremendous fidelity to the sounds of the performance?---well again, that's YOUR problem.  There is simply NO reason you can not have it all.  There is no fracturing of the event.  It is a TOTAL event.  And it ought to be in 3D IF IT IS STEREO.  And yes, it should also do what YOUR system apparently does, and sound fundamentally wonderfull, tone-wise.

In any event, if you can't get a truly startling STEREO image, then that is YOUR problem... Sorry.  A ton of well done live stuff would take you there if your mind was only open to going for the ride.

And once you hear a truly musical system throwing up a shockingly accurate 3D STEREO IMAGE, well, you will be ruined for life and simply unable to go back to mere "great sound."   It is a form of intoxication that can take you through time and space---woooooo.  What a ride.  Sorry YOU haven't heard it.  I used to sell to world series baseball players, Wall Street billionairs and Joey Ramone, Ice T, LL Cool J and lots of movie stars were my clients.  Maybe it's a money thing?  I don't know but I know I don't come cheap.  And now I am retired, so you will just have to figure this stuff out for yourself.

tom collins
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to the fine Dr.

what an amazing post.  would you share with the group the equipment you are using?  inquiring minds want to know or at least i would.  i do get a surprising depth and width of soundstage with my setup, but am always looking for better.  thanks in advance.

 

tom

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You've missed the point

I didn't tell anyone to give up.  And I didn't say I never ever got that palpable sense of imaging.  In fact my little monitors image like crazy.  The point I'm making is that it is largely artificial and put on too high a pedestal musically.

You largely validated my statement by saying that your experience of recordings of Carnegie are better than sitting in Carnegie.  Which I think is just plain silly.  Imaging is largely a "trick" and often a-musical.  If it's, as it often is, distracting or doesn't enhance the experience of listening, than it's largely an artifact and not necessarily important.

Putting words in other people's mouth or denigrating perceived weakness in a system you've never heard isn't a way to make friends either.  It's a way to sound like a douche bag.

Doctor Fine
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Stereo Image get it or not

I have to wonder how much of a trick it is to actually understand what our hobby of STEREO IMAGING is supposed to accomplish.  People like gossman that join a stereo interest group and then tell the rest of us that STEREO is not all that important---well I have to wonder what the hell you are doing on a STEREO forum. 

What I said about Carnegie is that our hobby can actually transport a hobbiest into better seats than available for hire at the finest halls in the land.  That of course is only when an intelligent engineer using stereo imaging recording standards places the listener at a location to die for.

You say I am plain silly and I say you just don't have a very good overall system if you do not understand what I am trying to express.  Our hobby allows a monied intelligent person to construct a playback system that can transport you to the best seats in the house.  You say that is silly...

OK well then.  Apparently we are at a juggernaut and will never resolve this issue.  Gosh, I wonder which one of us is closer to the hobby of STEREO?  You, that believes that STEREO imaging is just not that important.  Or ME, that believes it is fundamental.  Frankly I am old, tired and sick of having to argue myself blue in the face about definitions which are, to me, self evident.  If you want STEREO, then separation and the display of a proper STEREO image when it is available is paramount.  Obviously YOU think I am an ass.

I say you have never built a proper STEREO IMAGING system and therefore do not know what the hell you are talking about.

I know tons of guys like you.  You build loud clear, clean antiseptic systems and then as it begins to approach a musical standard you become self important "experts" and tell the rest of us to not count stereo clarity as a fundamental.  Because you are not capable of getting your own set to provide a cear picture of a stereo image when an engineer gives it to you.

I am not trying to "win friends and influence people" by being a kiss-ass agreeable idiot like the politically correct bunch demand nowadays.  I have devoted 50 plus years to the effort of developing superior playback systems and still have lots to learn.

From you, not so much.

Doctor Fine
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Hi Tom to you I raise my glass haha

So somebody out there wants to call my "bluff" haha.  Which is exactly as I would have it.  Tom, you asked an extremely intelligent cogent question---to wit---Oh great Doctor, what the hell do YOU own?

Here's the thing.  Tom I own about $20,000 worth of crap that all works well.  At least in my main room.  In my upstairs monitoring "tracking" room where I lay down tracks (that's right---I am in the "recording business" even at my advanced age of decrepitude) I have a $10,000 baby system using BBC monitors to check how things are going.

I have built systems for others up to a million dollars!  And my experience is that it takes approximately $20,000 to cover each and every basic need that a fully fleshed out set needs to accomplish.  You can have FUN with less but you will not be hitting on eight cylinders...

Go get Jim Smith's book "How to get Better Sound."  Art Dudley reviewed it some issues ago.  Art is an ass when it comes to grasping how important the fundamentals truly are---however he is frighteningly interested in the ingredients which make up the total picture.  And I learn incredible amounts of stuff from Art even though he refuses to grasp that our hobby requires a total plan to take you to the top.

What I know after 50 years Tom, is that you have to draft a road map of what you insist your project accomplish.  For proper playback of stereo recordings you must have (all are important-none are dispensible) a)  perfectly flat frequency response from 20-20,000hz 2) no first or second reflections at the listening chair 3) time alignment with all drivers in-phase and correct in the time domain (think flat panels or Vandersteen type layout). 4) Clean unlimited amplification capable of extreme dynamic range and accurate damping control and also individual volume control of each driver so that you can get them balanced in the furniture encrusted room wherein they reside...

These requirements do not require this or that brand of equipment.  I will admit I have gravitated towards Harbeth and Spendor speakers and AVS subs and Velodyne subs as of late.  And my amplification went through an A-Class phase and then I moved to a much more powerfull cheap0-er Class AB setup using Public Address Amplification from the Discotecque world--haha...

What makes the largest difference, Tom, is the dedication to principles.  Clarity.  Musicality.  Timbre.  Time accuracy.  Separation.  Spend a couple of years (!) moving your speakers around until there is no doubt whatsoever that they are in perfect room-phase!!!

I manufacture my own interconnects both single ended and balanced from hunks of "George L" bare wire with Neutrik ends that I hand solder on.  I provide clean power from virgin wall outlets.  I try not to be stupid about the basics.  Everything matters.

And I go out to lots of live concerts and check my results to see if I am getting anywhere...

It also helps that I played live on stages with Jimi Hendrix and Steppenwolf (like-wow man) and my mom was a concert pianist and I heard her practice every day for five or six hours and know what a Steinway piano is supposed to sound like in a good room.

So there you have it.  There is no magic bullet.  It is mostly just passion.  And that passion if you will refuse to listen to misinformed folks like gossman will take you right to the top.  Especially as your wallet opens up once you hit the lottery.  Great DAC?  Do look on Ebay for used studio DACS from Lucid.  They kick the crap out of the garbage the home stereo market uses.  And are much more "alive" and wider bandwidth etc etc.  Just leave a few Lucid DACS around for me to pick up cheap...  I hate throwing money around for no results.  The boys at Stereophile sometimes agree on a particular brand and that probably deseves your attention.  But don't believe all the accolades as gospel.  Double check until you are pretty sure the consensus is that something is a true "classic." 

Products like McIntosh and so forth become classics for a reason.  They wear well and will privide solid building blocks.  Those are the products worth your considerable time and energy.  At the end of the day you spend tons of time getting crap to work perfectly.  It might as well be good crap.

have fun Tom.

The Doctor

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enjoyed the response

i consider a live performance and listening to my system to be 2 completely different forms of entertainment, so i don't have the problems that some listeners have.  with that said, i think one should always try and optimize anything they do, especially in this hobby.  it does take time and experience to be able to do this.  as you have said, you have half a century into it.  i don't have that much, but a fair amount.  i also listen to a lot of different systems of audio friends from a vintage acoustat/adcom/vpi system up to a dartzeel/evolutionacoustics/monaco setup in a custom room.  guess what, they both have their strengths and i like both.  i have had kids in college so my system is budget oriented with good buys picked up on audiogon.  i think it is pretty good sounding.

i have believed for a while now that if you get the room right, even a boom box will sound good.  so, i have concentrated my efforts in that direction as well as with the gear.  my biggest hurdle is that the room is 17 x 18 x10.  not ideal dimensions.  i have worked with speaker placement first, then various treatments.  argent room lens ( a helmholz style pipe) made the largest improvement in soundstage and depth. then bass absorbant panals.

another very big gain came from running a dedicated line to the breaker box.  that was cheap at $100 and probably returned more improvement than anything else i have spent $100 on in this hobby.  added a "no-name" hospital grade plug as well.  instead of an expensive power conditioner (never heard one that actually improved the sound), i use a naim "wire-mould" a simple star ground strip.

it seems that there are many improvements to be had for not much money if you know where to look.

good talking to you.

tom

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Wow

I thought this hobby was supposed to be about fun.  However, you guys firmly represent about 25% of what is right about the high-end, from mid-fi to super-fi, and 100% of why it is destined to die an old white angry death.  You've consistantly just barated me for being either a: not wealthy enough to understand what you are talking about, or b: not having a firm enough grasp on what music sounds like.  While true I'm not a wealthy person, I also am not one to denigrate people for being wealthy.  I tend to admire them.  I am likely, however to point out what an asshole you guys sound like.  And trust me, you guys really sound like assholes.  Really, you do.  So what's your big beef, so big that you would publically berate and mis-construe the words of someone else you've never met on a silly message board?  Is it that I can't afford a 20k dollar stereo, and therefore I MUST have never enjoyed such a beast.  Or is it that I dare tarnish your golden calf with my own opinion of what's important and why?

My guess is a little of all of the above.

The world could use a few more Buddhist.

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my fellow kentuckian

i hope you are not talking about me.  if you will reread, you will notice that i never addressed you and i said my system was budget.  it is fun for me, at least i think it is.  i hope you don't think because i look at the hobby as not trying to recreate a live performance, i was making a comment about you, it was a comment applied only to myself.  i like my friend's $2,000 system and i like my other friend's $200,000 system.  i just mentioned a $100 improvement, certainly not rich-guy territory.  

if you want to come up to northern ky for a listen, you would be welcomed.

in the end, i was just responding to the good doctor's post.

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No sir

I was not responding to you.  I took your statement as such.  I'll always give a Kentuckian the benifit of the doubt.  We have a tendency to you know, be nice.  Even when people don't deserve it.

Needless to say, I notice the good doctor is from NJ.  He'd never make it down here.  I can see him now, running down Bardstown Rd or Frankfort Ave or even Dixie Highway, hair on fire...  "All these people keep saying hi to me and ask me how I'm doing!!!  I don't even know these people!  Why is everyone crazy down here...  AAAAARRRGGGHHHHHH"

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i have relatives from nj

i still feel he makes some valid points if you put aside the personal shots.  having nj relatives steeled me earlyon to the rhetoric, you just learn to sift out the good an fogetabout the rest.  see, fogetaboutit.

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Stereo Imaging is important to Stereo

If it makes me an angry non-Buddhist to endorse tuning the room and using transparent electronics to generate an intoxicating playback system---well so be it.  While I have just been accused of being accused on being an audio snob actually I have had a blast with playback sound at every price point that ever existed. 

I once wore Jesus sandals and long hair and had only a $100 stereo receiver and some Koss headphones sometime in the aftermath of Woodstock.  But I built a homemade Yagi antennae and lowered the noise floor enough to point out to the local Radio Station that  "Turntable Two in your rack needs a new stylus---it is mistracking"  The DJs couldn't believe I knew that and checked and voila! it was as I said, haha.  They got hysterical laughing that somebody off site could hear what they were doing across town.  They LOVED that I was right.  So much for money being necessary for good listening.

However what it takes to assemble a set that a mastering engineer could trust to evaluate pressings---I stick by the idea that 20 large will be needed to purchase a class A preamp with a life like DAC, a great turntable setup , clean accurate amplification, terrific speakers and a couple years of playing around moving the speakers to get it "locked in."

I would never say you can't have a total blast with stuff for less dough.  Please read my little story above again if you still don't get it.  But this stuff takes work and dedication and sorry---it takes good gear to do it "as well as possible."

As for imaging, if you have assembled a set and find that it is all "artificial" and a bit too much "far left-far right" then the problem is you have the set tuned wrong.  Perhaps the monitors are too far apart.  Or there is something out of phase.  Or the drivers are not time aligned.  Because many well recorded symphonies and Jazz bands and Rock bands were taped in rooms that sounded fabulous and very real.  Not a bit ping-pong.  Just totally like you were "there."

In other words if you have extreme separation and a perfectly tuned room and set---you will experience the ability to place each section of a symphony orchestra into exact alignment in your playback room.  Not on every recording but on the ones that were tracked by an engineer interested in STEREO.  Double basses will be far right , horns behind them, then cellos to their left, then violas, then picolos and wind instruments in the center of the image, then first violins slightly to the left of center, and second violins to their left.  Percussion will be behind all this either on the right left or center. And perhaps a lovely harp will be stage left at the side of the image.  And it all should be in 3D.  Like a 3D movie.

And that is why separation is like being rich---you can't be TOO rich or have TOO much separation.  It is impossible.

Of course I am only an angry old guy who has a set that is so clear and so 3D I never want to leave the house...What do I know?  Ha.

Hey by the way a great way to check your set is with MONO.  Mono should be so solid and centered it HURTS.  It may even be estonishingly dynamic because it is all in phase and coming from only one point in space.  Extremely coherent.  Checking your mono is one of the many tests to see if you are getting somewhere.  If the bass is bloated and not dead center and tight then you have work to do, etc. etc.

Good day from Newark, NJ.  and Bah Fongool, haha.

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Really?

I can perfectly place a symphony recorded on a 60 by 150 foot stage in a 10000 square foot, 30 foot tall hall, in my 16 by 18 foot room?  That really IS quite the artificial trick.  And to your point about mono, much of the best pop and rock and jazz was all recorded in and for mono.  And your point about phase is spot on.  If you listen to a cd or lp that was originally recorded 1975 or earlier and it sounds better in mono, it's no accident.  It's STILL fairly difficult BECAUSE of phase issues to make a great stereo recording.

I think you are having a hard time with me having not ever said the words you are putting into my mouth.  I never said it's not important, but on the whole it's not nearly as important as some audiophiles make it out to be.  And most of the time said audiophiles need to take a chill pill.

Need I say more?

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Really?

I can perfectly place a symphony recorded on a 60 by 150 foot stage in a 10000 square foot, 30 foot tall hall, in my 16 by 18 foot room?  That really IS quite the artificial trick.  And to your point about mono, much of the best pop and rock and jazz was all recorded in and for mono.  And your point about phase is spot on.  If you listen to a cd or lp that was originally recorded 1975 or earlier and it sounds better in mono, it's no accident.  It's STILL fairly difficult BECAUSE of phase issues to make a great stereo recording.

I think you are having a hard time with me having not ever said the words you are putting into my mouth.  I never said it's not important, but on the whole it's not nearly as important as some audiophiles make it out to be.  And most of the time said audiophiles need to take a chill pill.

Need I say more?

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Yes the trick is do able etc

The trick is not only do able but I can do it to different scale.  If I reset the main room for my BBC monitors which are LS3 types, and turn off all four subwoofers the recording is still reproduced absolutely perfectly---but to Lilliputian size.  Complete with teeny tiny string sections and horns playing inside my fireplace.  I did this for a buddy who is an opera nut and he freakin flipped out.  "How did you DO that?"

It was right after he came over, sat down, and announced that it is impossible to hear a recording capture the sheer three dimensional impact of hearing opera in person.  Then he crapped in his pants.

I told him it took me five years to work out the precise location to achieve total room lock and he stared in disbelief.  "I just don't believe it matters THAT much where the speakers are, he objected."  So I moved one about a half inch and the image completely collapsed.  "Oh God, tell me I didn't just HEAR that---come on, what did you do because it sounds all messed up now..."   Yeah,  I KNOW.  Five years worth.

With the main set installed (four subs, notched, phased, curved and blended, no bloat, 2,500 RMS clean per side into full size monitors with ribbon tweet tops added)and the little dudes removed the scale becomes about 1:1/8 with a display area approximately ten feet wide---no matter where you sit or stand!  There is NO sweet spot---the whole friggin room is in the sweet spot.

I have a very jaded buddy who is a full time professional installer and who builds out home theater and elaborate Crestron systems etc.  He came over quite dejected and announced that he had long ago lost all love of HiFi and stereo.  "I loved it a lot more when I was just a kid, before installing a couple hundred systems in homes..."

I hit him between the eyes with 2,500 watt RMS of Tommy with all subs firing, ribbon tweets singing and an image so three dimensional it made the hair stand up on the back of my own neck.

"Holy ********  blah blah blah,  I gotta call my son who does PA systems, I can't believe THIS"  etc etc."  He started bashing on his knee caps with an imaginary drumset as Keith Moon made the rounds on his floor toms.  OHMYGOD-WOW  he said or something similar.

Now.

I have a problem with non believers.  I worked the industry and had managers and senior executives of my own company deny me the floor space and equipment (a few diffuser for chrissake) and after hundreds of shows, symposiums, visits to jobs etc etc... I can say I have NEVER heard a proper demo of a system in ANY shop.  I had been working with Gayle Sanders who invented Martin Logan and he had his own personal system using ML Statements and Pass amps in a thirty foot high display room over at his house in Kansas and probably over a million bucks in his system.  And IT didn't image...  Not that well that is.  OK it imaged a LITTLE but not OH WOW.

So since i have given my LIFE to this work and NOBODY is very excited about the possibilities of HiFi anymore except ME, yeah I do get a little pissy at times.

Please forgive an old man who is having more fun than ever before.  With his "failed" dream of better HiFi for everyman... 

It is not YOU Jgossman.  It is damn near EVERYBODY.  I mean even my old company owner looked at me once and said "heh heh, you really drank the cool-aid, didn't you?"

Yup.  And SURPRISE...Stereo works better than ANY of them ever realized.  What a freakin shame it is dying because like Tinkerbell---"nobody believes in Stereo..."

The Doctor

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On Hendrix and The Chambers Brothers

I knew Jimi when we were both teenagers and he was SLIGHTLY better as a guitarist tham me.  And I opened for The Chambers Brothers and was responsible for improving Thee Image sound system as I complained that the hall needed better amplification and thus I have as they say "paid my dues."  And then some.  Plus I told Mike Lang about Woodstock because I was plugged into the folk scene and he hired Jimi  to do a test run at "The Miami International Rock Festival" before doing the real run at Wooodstock.

The reason I mention all this is because if you will play The Chambers Brothers "Time has come today" and Jimi "Voodoo Child" at concert volume and it makes you weak in the knees then you are basically listening to what I spent my youth doing.  A white audio nut guitar playing hippy having fun loving the "life" and having friends that seemed to get "it."

And that, my friends is why I believe that I have a teensy edge on most of the competition for what we call "HiFi" and all the rest.  Heck.  I LIVED it. And worked in studios making sounds.

So if you want to talk about Stereo Imaging and "whether or not it matters" etc.  well then, who better than The Doctor? 

I was THERE.

And I will admit that at this point I am having a ball going back in time to explore large orchestras and symphonies and chamber music and all the lovely musicians that pre-date the Rock Era by a few hundred years.  And so should YOU.

The Doctor

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Phase issue of true stereo

I just read my previous comment and cringed.  It probably sounded looney.  I promise, I will get off this thread if all I am doing is talking about myself...  Let's get back to the issue of stereo imaging and what jgossman just said.  What he just said is parroted by tons of guys.  And it is wrong because it misunderstands what is going on with the recording, the room and his speakers.  He said, if I may state what I just heard---is that early stereo had phasing issues as it was recorded.  And that mono recordings were BETTER.  From how they generate correct in-phase sound in your room and in how they were recorded in the first place.  In other words Stereo is usually "to this day" not recorded well and Mono was recorded BETTER.

Nope.  Not true.

My comment about testing your stereo system in mono was not to show that an old mono recording has no phase problems when played back on the typical listener's stereo.  It was to show that mono has TERRIBLE problems when played back on the typical hobbiest's stereo.  Because most folks set up their stereo pair of speakers out of phase with their room.  Thus mono sounds weak on their stereo.  It is a good test.  DOES YOUR MONO SOUND WEAK?  Or does it sound, on your stereo, crisp---loud---punchy---bass centered so sharp in the center that it HURTS it is so tight and all together.  Hmmmm.  If it doesn't sound that way on your stereo it is a good sign you have work to do.

Early stereo recordings did NOT have phase issues jgossman.  Early stereo recordings were done primarily using the simple "in-phase" technique of a co-incident pair of microphones.  Just two.

Thus there was NO PHASE PROBLEM with how the sound got into the mics.  It arrived clearly, just like it did if you used your two ears to hear it at the recording session "live."  Which is why a lot of those early "true stereo" jazz recording etc, etc, sound FABULOUS today.  On a proper set.  They sound stunning.

Where stereo recordings get ka-flukey sounding is when an engineer uses microphones all over the place, willy-nilly and critical timing information is recorded, some close to the instrument and some a quarter mile away from the instrument and the two signals are mixed together which then takes all the balls out of the recording as a lot of stuff is automatically "out-of-phase."  As in the two signals got into the recording at different times and a lot of cancellation occured.  No balls.

Of course if an engineer uses only one mic per instrument and has each instrument in an isolation booth then he is free to assemble all the "music" into a correctly phased pile of sound.  This is called Multi-Mono recording even if it is played back some sounds on the left and some sounds on the right.  It is NOT stereo. 

The mix will never sound remotely like "you are there" because all the mics were in mono.  Yeah sure, there is different sounds coming out of your speakers, some on the left and some on the right---but that is Multi-MONO, not stereo 3D.

So the deal is...two mics, perfectly placed in the room---chance of STEREO.

15,000 mics, scattered all over the room---no chance in hell of stereo.

Your stereo speakers, not perfectly placed in the room---no chance of stereo.

One speaker ONLY playing MONO---pretty good MONO ---as no chance of anything YOU did on playback screwing up the phase.  With MONO recordings played back through ONE speaker---all you have to find is the perfect spot in the room where it will load the room correctly.  You do not have phase issues per se, unless your speaker design has more than one speaker. 

Really, now that I think of it,  some guys ought to own just ONE big speaker with no tweeter or crossover or anything.  Haha.  Their music delivery systems would sound pretty good if they just put that big speaker in the right spot.

But TWO speakers, with multiple tweeters, mids, woofers...placed out of phase in the box?  My experience is that it WON'T play back stereo worth a damn.  Not to mention, most hobby people don't understand that their speakers are not set up to deliver the timing information because the tweet is mounted too far forward in the box they own.  They don't hear it in stereo and what is worse---they don't KNOW they aren't hearing it in stereo.  Get it?

Do you understand what I just said?

You don't have to AGREE with it.  Just understand it. 

Some day you might hear the odd, unusual stereo system that is totally in phase, playing a well recorded stereo recording.  And you be FLOORED at how much stereo separation and clarity is on the recording of a lot of well done TRUE STEREO recordings.

It will sound like you are at the session listening with your own two ears.  Wow.  Magical.  Like going back in time and "being there" when the musicians put the song on the recording.

THAT is the magic of stereo.  The PROMISE of stereo,  Why I GO NUTS about stereo and how good it sounds.

If you want to do it right you have to be a little nutty as everything will fight you.  And folks that don't understand what is going on will advise you that you are WRONG.  Or your boss will tell you that "you drank the cool-aid if you believe stereo sounds good."  Nevermind that you work in the most expensive stores in the world, supposedly selling this stuff.  My boss did not understand how to sell stereo by showing how great it sounds.  Our rooms at the stores all sucked.  The setups all sucked.  The customers left and did not buy.  The business went broke.

Ah, welcome to the plight of stereo stores everywhere.  It would be laughably funny if it wasn't so sad to see stereo die.

The Doctor.

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I'm not sure but......

I think I hear a horn tooting....

The forum Reader.

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Meaning?

I was simply continuing with the topic of the thread.  Stereo imaging and what it means.  I stated that stereo was originally envisioned to be 3D.  A left and a right image that fuse together to become 3D.

 

Then somewhere it became cheapened to mean "multi-mono" with items scattered all around the sound field in mono with a flat ness and boring lack of 3D.

 

You don't have to agree.  But if you wish to comment please stick to the topic.

 

Stereo is important to me.  I have spent my entire life on it.  If you think I am not talking to the topic but simply tooting my horn you simply don't share my passion for STEREO and I wish you would go to some other forum.  Thank you.

 

The Doctor.

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live inaging

Dr. Fine has said in many ways and times that achieving imaging in a stereo system requires a lot of time and work.

Last evning, I attended a concert, of which one of the pieces was a violin concerto. Throughout much of the piece, I listened with my eyes closed, evaluating the live image, sitting in the 'orchestra' seats about two-thirds the way back from stage, near mid-line. The solo violin was clearly identifiable as an image and was stable. For many passages, I had difficulty picking-out individual instruments of the violin section, for example, but could sometimes point to a specific area where a particular instrument stood out from the rest. Perhaps that person played just a little louder than the others at the moment; that was my impression. However, several instruments alternately did the same during the same part of the music. Note that the instrument that stood out was heard for a brief time, on the order of seconds only, and switched among the others in that group. Now assuming that I was really hearing each instrument standing out, this tells me that I can locate in that venue a particular instrument at a given time.

Since I can hear that from a stereo, I think the imaging goal has been achieved. But Dr. Fine has me wondering if I could have better using what I already own, i.e. more work to do.

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Dispersion YES!!

I agree, imaging is such a joy when you have proper acoustics and speaker setup/aim which nets the ear that sweet spot. I have four 2-way bookshelf speakers in a large room and I soundstage them by staggering them across the room. The back speakers hanging off the back wall at listening level and the closer pair about halfway across the room against the side walls, slightly aimed in, at listening level on stands. This setup, I found creates the best imaging for the entire room. Took a lot of experimentation but it was always experiments with the kind of music I listen too. The best part is that by staggering sound in a room, I can attest that the music will not emanate throughout your residence as much, allowing you to listen, LOUDER! Also, you can walk throughout the room and unless you stick your ear in a speaker, there is little change in volume.

I think others in this thread made good points about the imaging being so much more pronounced with certain recordings. I find the newer folk recordings (Civil Wars, The Decemberists, Alison Krauss, Lumineers, etc) to have great imaging and listenibility. The sound kind of bounces around in similar wave form providing harmony. And like someone else said, some of the 80's music has good imaging. (for ex. Flock of Seagulls, Duran Duran, Thompson Twins, and many bands that utilized the synthesizer). They must have set the mics up well away from the snythesizer amp in order to let the music disperse so that the music recorded actually has the inate characteristic of imaging. Interesting stuff!

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An interesting observation

An interesting observation Buddha, but it is just the miracle of having two ears placed on our head at work. Audio recordings made with just 2 mics makes the mentioned effect even clearer IMO.

When I purchase new speakers, I always spend considerable amounts of time listening for the highest possible fidelity, with slight changes of the placement of the speakers, as with toe-in, slight up/down angling etc.

A few of my recordings have an extra "layer" of imaging built into them, as I am actually able to "see" that the bass drum is slightly lower than the snap drum, tom-tom's which are lower than the cymbals, and the hi-hat. Now that is what I'd like to be able to detect on every recording, but with the use of multi-mics, no such luck, sadly.

Thinking of it, my latest speaker tweak (another thread) actually stabilized the imaging quite a lot. On some classical records, especially piano close-up tended to wander a bit, but that might actually be due the size of the instrument. I really don't know.

Regards

Freako/Rubber Duck

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This thread has been really

This thread has been really intriguing and informative. I have less than a year's experience in the hifi game and I am very keen to learn what you know Doctor Fine about improving stereo imaging. 

Could you point me in the right direction?

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Are you listening Shawndaiki?

OK here goes.

Get your setup discs.  Mine are:

"Ballad of the Runaway Horse," from FAMOUS BLUE RAINCOAT (album) by Jennifer Warnes.  This is used to figue out where in the heck you should even HAVE your speakers placed in the first place. 

It is applied using the "Sumiko" method to move the "anchor" speaker until it achieves total  "room lock" and her vocal "POPS" out of the mix and has real flesh and bones on it and the BASS is loud, clean and clear.  Google SUMIKO method and spend a few weeks learning where you should place your speakers FIRST.  This record will be indispensible.

This record is chosen because it features very precisely placed almost acapella female vocal, a nice clean clear upright bass that should sound "woody."  And some background female choir vocals which should pop out of the left and right like ghosts coming to the party. Plus some strummed violas which rustle like bamboo reeds in a strong Japanese wind.

Next.

See if you can find a copy of something OUTSTANDING in MONO.  I swear by "I'll never love again," which was the very first hit by Frank Sinatra.  It has a wonderful TIGHTLY focused and CRYSTAL CLEAR---but OLD and almost DULL sound of the best of the 78 singles from the big band era.  It is practically CLINICAL in its detail and once your ears adjust to what ancient TUBE equipment in MONO sounded like in the 40s---then you will be able to identify if you are getting ALL it can offer.

It can be  found on the collection "Chart Toppers Of The Forties" CD AJA 5294.  As a matter of fact ALL the chart toppers on this record are fascinating because they are GREAT music period.  Once you hear great MONO you will learn a whole new respect for this genre.

If, for example, the backing instruments appear outside of the narrow confines of the extreme center of the mix---your system is WRONG.  All of the sound---100% of it---should appear in a strikingly "Centered" and "Tight" presentation and yet sound like it is in 3D.  Even if you move "out of the sweet spot!"  It should still be "there" in dead center.  Unless you have planar or electrostatic "line source" speakers (a completely different animal from this being discussed.)

I don't quite know how to explain it but really good MONO sounds just as dimensional as "Stereo" does.  It has a "front" and a "Back."  And the clarity and coherence of the instruments---all coming from one spot in space---is STRIKING.

This is where a BALANCE control comes in handy.  And some major re-assesment of how much "toe in" is optimal in your room.  MONO to save the day!  MONO will not LIE.

You will get better at this set up stuff IN TIME.  My first MAJOR room setup where I went for broke TOOK FIVE YEARS!  Five years of experimenting with placement, adding some subs, trying different brands of speakers, etc etc.

Now that I am done I just MOVED the entire system to a new home and set it up.  It took me only a couple of days to get the whole thing back to where it used to be (where it is absolutely THRILLING in imaging).  Why?  Because I knew this stuff by HEART and quickly realized that this room---being quite different---had some even better natural acoustics.  Oh BOY.  Oh JOY.

I can easily hear the tiny center channel vocal doubling the Beatles used on their later albums.  Sounds like a little ghost echo of John whispering from the center "phantom" channel.

"Good Lovin" by the Young Rascals has so much channel trickery it makes you dizzy listening to it.

And EVERYBODY is in 3D.  You should HEAR how loud and powerful Pavorotti's chest voice is on Nessum Dorma.  It will make you cry with his power.

Oh I forgot to add that another side benefit of having PERFECT speaker LOCK with the naturally occuring acoustics of your room is TREMENDOUS DYNAMICS.  You will have to turn it all DOWN because recordings will LEAP out at you like a fierce tiger trying to rip your head off. 

Look out for OPERA!  Those big singers can really HURT you if you get too close to the stage.  Oh and I love listening to a really clear big orchestra after it is all dialed in.

On TCHAIKOVSKY- The Nutcracker---Eugene Ormandy SK 93014, you can clearly define in space each individual SECTION of a full sized concert orchestra.  Hearing the first and second violins, the violas and the basses all playing around "calling and answering" like so many birds in the wild---is REMARKABLE.  Just as it is at Carnegie Hall.  Except at my house it sounds exactly like Carnegie except BETTER.

Have fun.

Doctor Fine
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Improper Setup

Planars and Stats since they are "line source" radiators are easier for quick down and dirty imaging.  A "box" speaker takes more work to image as well.

My Harbeths will out image any Maggie or Martin Logan I have ever heard.  As I was a dealer my references include Timpany IV Maggies and Martin Logan Statements.

It DID however take me five long years of hard work to totally "get" how to set up a box speaker and make it image like a rock.  Lots of room knowlege and tuning and lots of set up adjustments. 

Five years but now I have my cake and eat it too.  Stat like imaging ACROSS THE ENTIRE ROOM.  It even images like crazy when you sit BEYOND the left and right speaker boundaries.

Try THAT on for size panel people!!!

By the way if you have perfect imaging on an old 1940s MONO 78 the MONO image will be rock solid and totally coherent.  MONO does not lie.

If you do not get a rock solid MONO image that would explain why some times the center instrument is "drifting" on your set.

Bingo.

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Follow Up

Here is where picking different seats at a venue will really change your perception of live "Imaging."

At a recent performance of the Philadelphia Orchestra I picked my seats in advance to be dead center and in a low tier where the overhang would reinforce the image clarity.  I stayed away from sitting at the wall because i didn't want bass bloat.

My fellow concert goer was a civilian female I never met before and as the concert was ending she turned to me to talk about what she heard.

I explained why I had chosen THESE exact seats.  She in turn explained that in her entire life she had never heard ANYTHING like that before.

"I could pick out where every single instrument was to within a few feet---and here we are sitting at least 150 feet from the stage---AMAZING," she said.

So if you don't hear IMAGING at live concerts perhaps you pick lousy seats or just don't get out much?

John Atkinson
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Live Imaging

Doctor Fine wrote:

I explained why I had chosen THESE exact seats.  She in turn explained that in her entire life she had never heard ANYTHING like that before.

"I could pick out where every single instrument was to within a few feet---and here we are sitting at least 150 feet from the stage---AMAZING," she said.

So if you don't hear IMAGING at live concerts perhaps you pick lousy seats or just don't get out much?

I think the "live music doesn't image" meme stems from a) people don't make the association you described regarding choice of seat in the concert hall; b) there is often a "cloud" above the stage that gives rise to early mono reflections that confuse the cues; c)  people tend to sit way into the reverberant field, where the contribution from the direct sound (which contains the imaging cues) is small and the imaging confusion from reflected sound is large;  d) they don't differentiate between the situation at home, where the soundstage subtends an angle of perhaps 45 degrees and that in the concert hall, where the subtended angle might be as little as 10 degrees; and e) they only attend rock concerts, where the PA sound can have very little stereo content.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

Doctor Fine
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John you are a God to me---haha

I mentioned previously in a Stereophile forum that I recently attended a production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "South Pacific" on BROADWAY  only to be assaulted by an extremely irritating MONO public address system perched above my head.

The total disconnect between the performers and the loud obnoxious MONO public address blast was accepted by all in attendance.  I wanted to barf.

I seriously think that Stereophile guys should start taking this stuff seriously.  We are all under attack from the unwashed.

People's opinions which have no merit should be questioned.  It is simply NOT the case that we live in  a Kum-ba-ya world of "everything is equal." 

Stereo reproduction opens an entirely life like world to the listener.  And live music is beginning to fail as a comparison along with a lot of other things which are failing lately.

I hope you, John, are not failing.  I have counted on you for years as the successor to J. Gordon Holt, my idol.

In fact I shall now take another deep dram of aged Scotch Whiskey and try to connect with the spirit of our founder and mentor---and get a little bit pissed off as JGH would want.  After all---they really are such imbeciles and try one's soul---haha.

Doctor Fine
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J Gordon Holt

J Gordon Holt, the founder of Stereophile is with me every waking day.

I wrote a piece several years back questioning why folks no longer worked hard enough at our hobby to get clear clean stereo imaging and J Gordon Holt wrote me back----I shall never forget it to the day I die.

"You actually DO get it"  J Gordon said to me.  He had been pissed off (as usual) by folks that were "ruining our hobby" a subject I am all too sensitive to myself.

For JGH to actually write little old ME was probably the highest point in my entire life.  Other than chatting with a teenage Jimi Hendrix as he played with Wilson Pickett at The Armory in Fort Lauderdale.

"You will be a HUGE star if you stop backing up Wilson and go play for the white kids"---I told Jimi.

For years my associates said I was nuts and that Jimi never played that show and never played anything but a Strat.  I said Jimi played a white Fender Jazzmaster strung left handed.  And he announced to me that his name was Jimmy James  but actually his mom called him James Hendrix.

Later photographs prove I was not hallucinating.  It is all on line if you Google it.

J Gordon Holt and Jimi Hendrix.  What a choice of heroes.

I hope a few of you understand how important our hobby is.  Jimi did.  J Gordon Holt did.  Jimi based a lot of his songs on his first impressions of hearing Bob Dylan on records.   J Gordon Holt fought his whole life to get you to have better music in your home. JGH thought your first impression of real stereo playback should be:  "It is REAL."

Stereo matters.

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