A Question of Scale Letters

Letters in response appeared in December 1990 and January 1991

A question of scale
Editor: Congratulations are due Peter Mitchell and Stereophile for his essay in the September issue (p.5), "A Question of Scale." He drives an opening wedge of sanity into Stereophile's portal. He lets in a huge breath of fresh air, a broad ray of light, a hope for increased reliance on the scientific method in making judgments. He presents a refreshing perspective on basics and tweaks, and on high-end units and those lower down. The item is required reading and re-reading.—Herman Burstein, Wantagh, NY

A question of acoustics
Editor: Referring to some issues discussed in Peter W. Mitchell's "A Question of Scale" editorial ["As We See It," Vol.13 No.9], I am quite impressed at the minute differences picked up by expert listeners, specially if this is possible in a range of 7.7 to 8.5 on a scale of 1 to 10. Some explanation would, however, be useful on how the value 10 for live music is measured.

I believe that high fidelity has reached such an advanced point that acoustics must be considered in any evaluation. Being an orchestral music listener, let's suppose I wish to listen to the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Should it be in the Musikvereinsaal, Vienna, Lincoln Center, or Constitution Hall in Washington, DC? The sound in the many halls available can be rated from 1 to 10. Next, how will the orchestra be seated? All violins to the left? Cellos center or right? Then comes the location of my seat. In a 2000-seat concert hall the golden-ear listener must hear 2000 different combinations. But surely there will be a huge difference between a front-row seat at the right edge, a center seat in row 10, and the last balcony seat to the left. All the above influence treble, bass, detail, sweetness of sound, and dynamic range. Strangely, those are the factors we judge speakers by. In my view, speakers should be judged between each other, live sound must be left alone.

Maybe the whole hi-fi business is so booming because, for half the price of a ticket, you get the best seat in the house.—Ernest Winter, Bethesda, MD

Just one clear head?
Editor: Concerning Mr. Mitchell's "A Question of Scale" article ["As We See It," Vol.13 No.9], it's nice to discover that occasionally the thoughts of one clear head are allowed to appear in your journal.—David J. Meraner, Scotia, NY