tuga

Siegfried Linkwitz' thoughts on loudspeakers and domestic reproduction

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As for the other point developed above, I'm afraid that soundstage (or instrument placement) is important to me. I want to close my eyes and 'see' the musicians/instruments in their locations. I want the double bass centre right and back a bit, and the singer in front of the speakers. Instrument tone is important of course, but I find these aspects complimentary.

Metatron's comments are interesting in this regard. My DAC is NOS and I can instantly switch between it and a direct output from the player. Ignoring elements of tonality and 'quality', the one immediately apparent change is that direct from the player, the soundstage shrinks to the point of just a muddle of everything between the speakers. It is also far more obvious that the source is two separate loudspeakers. Through the NOS DAC (and valve buffer stage), it is substantially more coherent. It stops being a unified source of noise and becomes individual instruments.

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41 minutes ago, Metatron said:

Why?

Just recently I heard excellent soundstaging. Very real and palpable with the cliche "singer in the room" illusion. 

The fact that you remember it and were listening for it says everything.

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Posted (edited)
28 minutes ago, rabski said:

To return to the first post in the thread, some of what is written makes sense, some does not, and a lot is little more than opinion.

I am sure I am not the only one who has actually heard one of his products (the Pluto). If they are the embodiment of his theories and approach, I can only suggest 'misguided' is an appropriate word.

Floyd Toole's work at JBL follows the Linkwitz lines and indeed appears alongside it on their historical sites. His work is defined by seeking timbral accuracy from which springs forth much more.

Just to clarify my original point, you don't need to go to a jazz bar in Tokyo and think "F*ck me that sounds good in here". You listen to the music. You need to do that at home IME instead of inviting friends over to go " whow! Did you hear where that came from?",

Edited by Tune
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Ok - a producer does his best to create an aural image of what he believes the concert should sound like.  So he places the instruments in different positions by panning and by volume - so panned to the left on a lower volume makes the sound appear to be placed further back than the vocals and to the left - and so on.  Live orchestra can be by various methods (multiple placement of mics and perhaps even close mics on certain instruments and then mixes to try and recreate the aural illusion of someone sitting in the auditorium.  

It is the craft of the engineers and producers to try and create an audio illusion using two loudspeakers in your living room.  We all know that that illusion is lost with headphones where the speakers are on the ear (or in them) and so the music is in your head with a definition of width but not of depth.

As Rabski said above the audio image (the illusion) is something we all love and the magic comes from when we have a speaker that is lovely and clear (if the material presented is lovely and clear) with all the metaphors we use to describe the wonder and when they image as well (I will give the example of my old Gale GS401s they sounded fabulously clear but the audio illusion of space and depth was lacking (probably due to the driver placement in the baffle, I say this as the Pro9TL I had after did a fabulous job of clarity and width and depth using the same mid range unit and so to did some of the Celestion Speakers using the same HF2000 tweeter as used in the Gales).

It is that magic of clarity and balance with a realistic illusion of depth and width that makes us forget about the kit and focus on the music   At the end of the day the thing I hate about articles like the one this post is about is - it has some science and a lot of personal views and it does nothing to help us in our audio experience.  Will it help you better identify your next pair of loudspeakers?  

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Forget the flowery language - it's about physics.

Get linear distortion sorted out and your speaker can deliver what your ear needs to hear and was recorded - with regards to spatial clues as well if they are important to you (they were not at the concert).

Seriously, you use the word "clear", What do you mean? undistorted? Faithful? Solid? If you mean "airy" then that's the last part of the audio equation I personally would be worrying about - especially when one reaches the dark side of forty.

People say the upper treble is important for imaging but, when you are the wrong side of 40 that doesn't matter anyway - the rest does. I can still hear soundstage, it's just I don't listen for it. I listen to music and the conviction that there's an instrument in the room.

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I think the fundamental issue people have with 'soundstage' is that not everybody may have heard it. It does depend on a lot of variables. I have a lot of music that will never produce it, no matter speaker placement or quality of the setup. Other music however...

@Tune doesn't seem to approve that I listen to classical music, but when I'm listening to Ravels Bolero, it is so easy to locate the different instruments, even the ones further in the back. Oh wait...

And if you haven't tried Lou Reeds, 'Walk on the wild side' for a while, the 'colored girls' singing their chorus can really walk into your room, especially in the 2nd chorus. If they don't, look at your measurements to confirm they're not there either.

To return to soundfield, these statements do not exclude eachother:

Quote

Physics does not allow the accurate reproduction of the original sound field with only two speakers.

Quote

Second,  he believed that a pulsating sphere was the ideal speaker due to point source philosophy.

Obviously we don't have pulsating spheres yet, but I have never found any evidence that these can't be build at all. Besides, some speakers are already quite good in emulating point sources. We might not even need pulsating spheres.

And I think this line by Metatron is important too:

Quote

Firstly , this is production not reproduction. He misses that recording takes place in one room and replay in an ot her an d as such there are affects of 2 rooms that we need to consider.

Linkwitz did most if not all of his research before there it was possible to efficiently subtract room modes and the text doesn't suggest that he had at the time, any clue that room modes may have been an issue with the 'accurate reproduction of sound fields', let alone that he had access to DSP techniques to solve those.

Bracing for impact, release the hounds of hell who deny me my opinion and musical taste...

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Posted (edited)
11 hours ago, Tune said:

Realism is what I discovered was most important - certainly for the vast majority of recordings. By realism I mean timbral realism, so when someone plays a trumpet it sounds like a trumpet in the room, when someone plays a hammond organ the same.

That's what matters. You cannot recreate the original recording space and you were never meant to. You can however put close facsimiles of real musicians playing real instruments in your living room.

Reading back to the start of the thread (sorry I'm a self opinionated sod), this is basically what Toole is saying and it doesn't surprise me. Imaging for imaging's sake is, by definition, detrimental to musical enjoyment.

Stereophile's glossary distinguishes imaging from soundstage:

imaging The measure of a system's ability to float stable and specific phantom images, reproducing the original sizes and locations of the instruments across the soundstage.
stereo imaging The production of stable, specific phantom images of correct localization and width.
soundstaging, soundstage presentation The accuracy with which a reproducing system conveys audible information about the size, shape, and acoustical characteristics of the original recording space and the placement of the performers within it.
Read more at https://www.stereophile.com/reference/50/index.html

Of course imaging is important. Stereo is important. The fact that no one records or listens to mono by choice (who wouldn't want to listen to great performers of old in stereo?) is enough to prove it. Or the reason why people sit at the apex of the triangle formed by speakers and listening spot.

It's perhaps not as musically relevant as tonal accuracy or transient response or dynamics or low-level detail retrieval.

Soundstage is an aid, a bit like having a drink on a night out to get more relaxed. Some need it, some don't. It is only possible with stereo mixes, close-mic'ed studio productions where each instrument or vocalist is pan-potted to place, EQ'ed, compressed, and reverbed... It is the fabricated sense of a aureal scene. It's visual, but throught sound.

At this point I usually quote Wagner who once said to his friend Nietzsche at the Festival Theatre in Bayreuth "remove your spectacles, music is only to be listened to".

.

"High fidelity" as many of us see it was aptly described by EMI in a paper called "The Pursuit of High Fidelity" (courtesy of HUG) as "the creation, in the listener's normal surroundings, of the ILLUSION of the actual performance as it would have been heard under the most favourable conditions." Hardly any studio production resulted from an actual musical performance.

Realism depends first and foremost on how the recording was made, how much of the recording the system can accurately reproduce and the amount of interference created by the listening room.

Broadly speaking I see two kinds of recordings: the multi-track studio production "musicians playing in your room" kind and the documental capture of musicians playing in a room from the perspective of an audience listener "you are there" sort.

In my opinion studio productions can sound either fantastic/surreal/trashy/etc. or hyper-realistic (all the Krells and Pigeons and Barbies). Only documental recordings can sound realistic, with realistic here meaning akin to what one would hear in real life, depending on mic positioning. The reason being that studio productions are a collage of monaural close-mic'ed snippets with no acoustic cues; some instruments are plugged straight into the mixing desk and don't even get a chance to produce sound in the room they're being played because the musician is monitoring on headphones.

Real stereo (one mic per channel for two channel stereo this means a pair of mics) is the only way to capture a live event with a realistic (non-fabricated) soundscape. Anything else is a composite, a mix of several individually captured sources. Pop, rock, most jazz are studio productions and the soundscape is made up. Some classical music recordings use a pair of mics, but this it is difficult to record large ensembles with a pair of mics so for orchestral music a pair of ambience mics is also added and in this case we are no longer speaking of real stereo but of a mix. Some producers like to add a spot to a soloist. This in my view if done judiciously can still sound realistic. A multi-mic'ed orchestra (i.e. Reference Recordings) sounds spectacular but not realistic, it's not what one would hear from the audience. The reason for this is that spot-mic'ing changes the timbre, adds mechanical noises that don't reach the audience and leaves out ambience cues or room interaction, and because it is a mix the sense of having an orchestra in front of you collapses: you now have a soundstage.

I have found that people who don't generally listen to live classical prefer the fabicated soundstage to the realist imaging and natural ambience of real stereo and they also prefere the exaggerated top end and the extra detail of close mic'ing. Chacun son goût.

 
Edited by tuga

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, tuga said:

Stereophile's glossary distinguishes imaging from soundstage:

imaging The measure of a system's ability to float stable and specific phantom images, reproducing the original sizes and locations of the instruments across the soundstage.
stereo imaging The production of stable, specific phantom images of correct localization and width.
soundstaging, soundstage presentation The accuracy with which a reproducing system conveys audible information about the size, shape, and acoustical characteristics of the original recording space and the placement of the performers within it.
Read more at https://www.stereophile.com/reference/50/index.html

To be fair, none of which refers to the accurate recreation of the original acoustic setting - just "information" as to it. It's the pursuit of that down a dark tunnel that my personal experience suggests is a blind alley when it comes to musical enjoyment.

People, only certain audiophiles I should add, do get concerned about it though - particularly when pushed.

Quote

Of course imaging is important. Stereo is important. "High fidelity" as many of us see it was aptly described by EMI in a paper called "The Pursuit of High Fidelity" (courtesy of HUG) as "the creation, in the listener's normal surroundings, of the ILLUSION of the actual performance as it would have been heard under the most favourable conditions." Hardly any studio production resulted from an actual musical performance.

Again, as above, no one is saying that accurate reproduction of the recorded information in the linear fashion is not important. I can recreate the live performance of Miles Davis and ensemble in my living room with a hint of them being in a club - but they are solid, dynamic and in the room which is the most "favourable conditions". That's why people pay the most for front seats (at un amplified gigs).

Quote

Realism depends first and foremost on how the recording was made, how much of the recording the system can accurately reproduce and the amount of interference created by the listening room.

Realism depends on the lack of intrusive linear distortions primarily - the rest will follow as a result. These days, the speakers, and their interaction with the listening room, are the only real variables unless utilising vintage tech (which I have on numerous occasions) so we agree here.

It does sound as if you are a classical music fan Tuga - which is great. I have some but I'm uncouth to a degree and prefer more modern fare. I'm more of a 20th century guy but the main thing is that audio equipment does not and should not know what form of music it is playing - and if it presupposes then it fails to be high fidelity.

My point about linear distortions stands. Get that right and it all falls into place. With regards to my original post, again my point was that the audiophile obsession with imaging on occasion is , IME, detrimental to the actual appreciation of the musical performance. Listen to the notes and see if you are convinced it's an actual cello left of centre - not precisely where it actually is left of centre. If you buy an audio test disc and it has a track where I guy walks in blakeys (remember those?) from back right to front left, it will happen regardless if you have the lack of distortion.

As for live jazz - there are, to be fair, reasons that many of the most sought after pressings remain mono - not all of which have to do with their authenticity due to their vintage. I spent decades chasing the dream others here are extolling as part of "high fidelity replay". It was only travelling and talking with designers overseas, listening to their theory and the results, that made me gradually appreciate just what my setups had been lacking.

To hear something less than convincing, accurately suspended in air at the exact point where the real instrument was being played, is not IME musically beneficial. The more audiophiles chase "air" and "Space" the more linear distortions they often add and the less authentic the result becomes. Remember that linear distortions cover amplitude across the audible frequency range as replayed by your setup. They also cover effects in the time domain of course.

Anyway, just my own personal experience over a few decades or more.

Edited by Tune
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42 minutes ago, Tune said:

To be fair, none of which refers to the accurate recreation of the original acoustic setting - just "information" as to it. It's the pursuit of that down a dark tunnel that my personal experience suggests is a blind alley when it comes to musical enjoyment.

People, only certain audiophiles I should add, do get concerned about it though - particularly when pushed.

I agree about the dark tunnel bit.

"Soundstage" has become an audiophile obssession. So much so that equipment is now reported and judged by how it produces the "soundstage effect" and speaker design has embraced this as a fundamental goal. And I think that Toole is partly responsible for this in his quest for the most liked speaker sound. Wide-dispersion is not good. Others exaggerate the extreme top to add "air" or take the BBC-dip to absurd proportions (BnW). "Brightness" is another unfortunate trend...

Electronics can also participate in the production of the "soundstage effect" by spicing the signal with a pinch of harmonic and intermodulation distortion or messing up with phase.

I can understand why people enjoy this but like you I feel that lowest noise and lowest distorion is the recipe for the highest sonic realism.

52 minutes ago, Tune said:

Again, as above, no one is saying that accurate reproduction of the recorded information in the linear fashion is not important. I can recreate the live performance of Miles Davis and ensemble in my living room with a hint of them being in a club - but they are solid, dynamic and in the room which is the most "favourable conditions". That's why people pay the most for front seats (at un amplified gigs).

A recording is what it is, there's nothing we can do about it. And personally I wouldn't trade a lower quality recording of a good performance for an audiophile direct-to-disc capture of a mediocre one.

1 hour ago, Tune said:

The more audiophiles chase "air" and "Space" the more linear distortions they often add and the less authentic the result becomes. Remember that linear distortions cover amplitude across the audible frequency range as replayed by your setup. They also cover effects in the time domain of course.

Indeed. Music is about sound, the "visual" aspect is complementary but not essencial.

But I accept that for some people "visual" may be more meaningful or it may help make the illusion more credible.

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On 17 June 2019 at 20:28, Metatron said:

...I know we cannot hear absolute phase...

Apparently we can (see post of 22/6/2019):

https://archimago.blogspot.com/

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Posted (edited)
12 hours ago, Salopian said:

Apparently we can (see post of 22/6/2019):

https://archimago.blogspot.com/

That was just pre-empting responses fro those who would say that. If you do a search of the forum for "absolute phase" you'll see it's been discussed many times, with evidence from both sides.

It depends which absolutist objectivist you wish to listen to. For instance, I could argue it the other way from here, which includes a quote back to Floyd Toole:

http://sound.whsites.net/ptd.htm#s4

It all depends who you listen to. FWIW, I think phase matters hugely since sound localisation by our brain is based off timing difference of sound between each ear. In the case where a system may not preserve timing information accurately with respect to frequency (as no speaker without DSP is phase accurate AFAIK), then different frequencies components of the same sound may appear to come from differing locations and create a vague sense of 'thereness' or just not sound 'natural', whereas a phase accurate system wouldn't suffer this problem.

Edited by Metatron

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