Mike's new Editorials are up on HTT!

Discussion in 'Home Theater Lounge' started by Michael, Jun 11, 2007.

  1. Michael

    Michael Junior Geek

  2. LarryB

    LarryB Active Member

    Sure it can: It can be so large as to be unrealistic, just as too small can sound unrealistic. The fact that speakers can be manipulated so as to produce a very large soundstage while still retaining center fill in no way implies that this is "correct." It merely demonstrates one of many possible results that can occur when sound is played back by two speakers. And it is incorrect to assume that because a particular speaker's dispersion produces a larger soundstage than another speaker, that the one producing the larger soundstage is correct. Arguably, the only "correct" soundstage is the one the engineer heard in his room, with his equipment.

    It is all too often overlooked that a sound stage per se is not on the recording; all that exists there are differences in amplitude and phase which our brain interpret as a soundstage. The soundstage we hear depends on many factors, and it is virtually imposible to say which soundstage is correct.

    Bigger is better if and only if the listener prefers bigger; it is not an absolute. No way, no how. Preferences are not absolutes; they are simply preferences.

  3. Tom R S 4

    Tom R S 4 New Member War Zone Member

    I have yet to read the editorials, but I do have this quick thought about soundstage: It seems to me that a system could present a soundstage with recording 'A' of one size, while it could present a soundsage with recording 'B' of a different size. The soundstage presented with recording 'A' could be bigger than what was intended, and the soundstage presented with recording 'B' cold be smaller than what was intended. One system with two very different results.

    Does this seem logical, or am I just wacko in my thought experiment?
  4. TimB

    TimB New Member

    What a novel idea for a debate :wink:

    Not exactly an epiphany, and perhaps just a smidge off-topic, but my experience last Saturday night would tend to support Larry's position, sort of.

    We had a group DAC-off at a friends house. Since I am basically lazy, I'll excerpt some of my posting elsewhere:

    The companion shall remain nameless, but some of you have probably posted next to him here :)

    Anyway, my point is that while certain elements of the presentation - like imaging and soundstage - might be quite enjoyable on their own merits, FOR ME (and perhaps others) they are a conscious construct (if not an audiophile artifact). They require me to think about the presentation to recognize and enjoy them for themselves. And since they are a construct, how can they be 'correct' beyond being a faithful recreation of what the recording engineer wanted (and how can anyone but the recording engineer know if that is the case)?

    Conversely, the tone and timbre of the presentation seems to have a subconscious effect that connects me more easily to the music, and at least last Saturday did not require me to think about it to enjoy it. In fact it was the contrary, it enabled me to NOT think to enjoy it.

    Do you analyze for truth/correctness, or just recognize it when it slaps you?

    OK, not exactly the narrow soundstage (ouch) argument offered, so we will return to your regularly scheduled pogramming.
  5. LarryB

    LarryB Active Member


    You may be whacko, but what you said is certainly possible. But I think the real issue is, as I mentioned above, that the only soundstage that could arguably be construed as being "correct" is the one that the engineer heard.

    And lest I be misunderstood, audio is all about preferences. I just think it is important to distinguish them from absolutes.

    But I must add that Mike's article was very informative, drawing on his experience both as an audiophile, and that spent in the studio.


  6. LarryB

    LarryB Active Member

    Mike's article raises a more fundamental question, one on which he seems to fence-straddle: Should we try to reproduce what the engineer heard, or simply make the system sound pleasant to our ear? I don't own studio monitors, so my position is apparent. ;)
  7. LarryB

    LarryB Active Member

    And as we discussed here, and as David discussed, the format may not be good in the short term, but it is certainly will be in the long term.
  8. Michael

    Michael Junior Geek

  9. Tom R S 4

    Tom R S 4 New Member War Zone Member

    I just had a pleasantly surprising and interesting phone conversation about soundstage, and it prompted me to re-state what I said before in the hopes of getting it settled in my mind:

    Is it possible for a stereo system (without any crazy DSP monkey business) to create a soundstage greater than what is on the recording (assuming the center fill remains cohesive)? I don't know enough about the recording process to convince myself that it is not. This is the only part of Mike's editorial that I'm not so sure about.
  10. DYohn

    DYohn Well-Known Member Donor

    Just remember: without soundstage, there would be no stereo only 2-speaker mono. ;)
  11. DYohn

    DYohn Well-Known Member Donor

    Tom: Yes, I believe so, since the illusion of soundstage is created largely by the physical separation between speakers, you can cause what's recorded to become exaggerated and seem "larger than life." Some people really like this effect.
  12. LarryB

    LarryB Active Member

    I can't think of a single individual who doesn't like a soundstage.


    That is a very complex question because, as I think I mentioned above, there really isn't a "soundstage" on the recording. What there are, are amplitude and phase differences between the two channels. It sounded a certain way in the engineers system, and it will sound different in every other system/room/seating position.

    It is certainly true that as one moves the speakers farther and farther apart, the soundstage (and often, the instruments) will keep getting wider and wider, until some point at which center fill collapses. The issue as I see it is whether that maximum distance at which a particualr pair of speakers, in a particular room, with particular electronics, is optimal. I personally do not think it is, as I find such soundstages as odd as those will no width. That said, each person should set up his (or her) system they way he prefers it. But I do not believe there is some absolute rule.

  13. Mike B

    Mike B Well-Known Member Donor War Zone Member Top Poster

    I have a book Hi Fi Projects for the Hobbiest Leonard Feldman, that I bought back in the 60's. Has all kinds of good stuff in it, couple of speaker designs, XO's (and coil winding formula) and a "Three Channel Stereo" article.

    This was a signal level mixer to mix left and right for a mono center. In the early days, the boys got a little carried away by the 2 channel thing and mixed some stuff a little extreme. This could be used to mitigate the "ping pong" effect.

    The Beatles used a lot of "extreme separation" in their albums.
  14. Alfer

    Alfer New Member

    Loved your take on the whole "war" MIke...well said and so so true.

    As for soundstage...UGH is all I can say...just add's more fuel to the fire for endless online bickering about what's right and wrong with it.
  15. LarryB

    LarryB Active Member

    Mike posts his editorials to engender discussion. Of this, I have no doubt.
  16. Tom R S 4

    Tom R S 4 New Member War Zone Member

    So far I have:

    Yes, they can: 1

    No, they can't: 2 (each by phone, although one did go on to add that room interactions may make the soundstage larger than what's on the recording)

    There is no spoon: 1

    The answer that seems the most complete to me is the 'no, they can't, but the room interactions may make the soundstage larger than what's on the recording' answer. The 'there is no spoon' answer dodges the question. The reply to that could be that there is no plate, or even any food for that matter.
  17. Tom R S 4

    Tom R S 4 New Member War Zone Member

    I forgot the "you're supposed to use chopsticks" answer. :wink:
  18. LarryB

    LarryB Active Member


    Here's something else to chew on: Let's say one uses speakers A, and finds that the maximum soundstage width (before collapse of center fill) is 10 feet. One then switches to speakers B and find that the maximum distance is 15 feet. Which is the correct soundstage width?

    To me, the issue boils down to a more fundamental question: What does one hope to achieve? If one TRULY want to hear what the engineer heard, then one should use a similar room, identical speakers and identical electronics. If any of these differ, then you can be certain that you are not hearing what the engineer heard.

    I have heard systems with something approaching the maximal soundstage width; to my ear, it sounds phony as could be. I really don't care if this is what is "on the disc" (assuming that this is even a meaningful statement) - -I will use a system of my own choosing, and speaker placement of my choosing, to yield what I think sounds "best." That others may not agree with my choices is a given.

    Last but not least, moving speakers usually also affects tonal balance (especially in average sized rooms), as well as the position at which the drivers converge (unless one is using a single driver or coaxial speakers) and thus the seating position, which is also room dependent. So putting aside for the moment the theoretical questions, in the practical sense a balance usually must be reached between soundstage size (width as well as depth), tonal balance, and seating position.

    Give and take, take and give.

  19. Shane

    Shane Active Member

    You'd think this was an enthusiasts site or something :wink: Go visit a Corvette forum and see them argue about the benefits of different shocks and such. Imagine that :roll:

    This is what I admire most about Mike. I don't care if he's right or wrong but he is stimulating discussion on subjects that we enthusiasts like to bicker online about err I mean discuss :)

    Regarding Mike's point about the format war I think he's dead wrong and way off more than I've ever seen.
    The consumer is not taking the biggest hit. What we are getting are the fruits of competition. IF only 1 format was out, we would be seeing them lazidazically release their product and do so at a very low level of quality. Without competition, there is no growth and innovation. No advanced video codecs maturing at the rate they are. Manufacturers get fat and lazy. Just look at how Blu Ray started their opening volley of releases. Competition has forced a change. The same can be said of the pricing schemes. No one would have really thought we would be seeing $200 players now.
    A false statement. If so we would have 10 different formats. We have 2. There are surely more than 2 studios or manufacturers in this game ;)
    That's because they are getting cheaper and better. Duh. That's what enthusiasts do. Mike should know this.
    Does Mike remember how Divx divided studios? Remember how late Criterion jumped into the game.

    Who benefits from the format war? Late adopters that's who. They get a mature product that we the enthusiast has worked the bugs(mostly) out of.

    I also don't really care for the whole "Toshiba vs Sony". Because it's not. It's the BR Group vs Toshiba. Sony might be a major player but they aren't Blu Ray.
  20. Tom R S 4

    Tom R S 4 New Member War Zone Member

    I see this as a re-stating of my original question. Some would say B is a better representation of what's on the recording, since the system can't add any width to the soundstage. If this statement is true, then B's soundstage width is better than A's, without a doubt. If B has exaggerated the soundstage, then perhaps A is better. I have no way of telling.

    As to the rest, there are many parts to the puzzle. What I want is what's pleasing to me. While what provides the widest and deepest soundstage may not be ideal for other aspects, right now, in this thread, I'm inquiring about soundstage.

    Last week, while my car was in for an oil change and some minor warranty work, I had a 2007 335i as a loaner. While it was more 'fun' to drive than my car, if for some reason I had to get a new car tomorrow I wouldn't hesitate: I'd get another 530i.

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