Law and Order and Depth and Stuff
In his Audio Glossary, J. Gordon Holt defines "depth" as:
The illusion of acoustical distance receding behind the loudspeaker plane, giving the impression of listening through the loudspeakers into the original performing space, rather than to them. See "layering," "transparency." Compare "flat."
Yes, that's exactly what I'm talking about. Thanks J. Gordon. If there was one thing that bothered me about the musical presentation offered by my system with the Arcam in place, it was a lack of depth. Pretend that the space between my speakers and from the back wall to somewhere just in front of my orange couch is the stage where a band is performing. With the Arcam spinning the discs, that space was pretty small; Dave and Jim Teacher would have been standing almost on top of one another. It would have totally pissed them off. Dave would try to do a roll or a fill and, instead of hitting his snare, he'd knock JT upside the head. With the Musical Fidelity pieces, however, the stage expanded, and the performers suddenly had some room to get down. Dave could really drop a hammer on his snare, and Jim Teacher could bust out some serious dance moves.
Now, let's continue on to "layering":
The reproduction of depth and receding distance, which audibly places the rows of performers one behind the other.
This, again, is just what I'm talking about. It was evident in that little conversation I mentioned yesterday between JT and Dave in between tracks. And, during performances, the stage was given a greater realism. When you go to a show, the guitars are usually separated left and right, with the drummer in the back, and the singer at front. With the Musical Fidelity pieces in place, this situation is better presented, more clearly drawn out, given a deeper life, I'm trying not to use the word "palpable" here, etc.
1) A quality of sound reproduction that gives the impression of listening through the system to the original sounds, rather than to a pair of loudspeakers.
Yeah, yeah, we got that...
2) Freedom from veiling, texturing, or any other quality which tends to obscure the signal. A quality of crystalline clarity.
Oh shit. What's this about "veiling," "texturing," and [sigh] "crystalline clarity"? I'm realizing that I've opened up "a can of worms," as they say. I'm not going to get any deeper (heh) into it. Not today. I mean, anyway, you can probably figure it out for yourself. Maybe. But, before I quit, let's compare what we've already discussed with "flat":
1) Having a subjectively uniform frequency response, free from humps and dips. 2) Deficient in or lacking in soundstage depth, resulting in the impression that all reproduced sound sources are the same distance from the listener.
Okay, don't even pay attention to number 1 right now. It pertains to supposedly objective test measurements, and nobody likes those. Ask JA. I'm not concerned with how a component ranks on the test bench. Not right now, at least. Right now, I'm talking about how these things sound. I'm talking about what they do in my listening room. I'm talking about number 2.
I had a hunch that my system, with the Arcam Solo involved, was a bit lacking in soundstage depth. The Musical Fidelity pieces verified this for me. All reproduced sound sources, as J. Gordon's definition says, seemed to be pretty much about the same distance from me. And that's kinda boring. Plus, it's weird to have the drummer sitting right next to the singer. It's just not right. Get back where you belong, drummer.
The Musical Fidelity pieces bring law and order into my listening room in a way that the Arcam Solo cannot.