Today I was at a rehearsal of a big band playing jazz and swing standards. The venue is a state of the art 1400 seat theater. I was able to just wander around for a while, when I realized there was no soundstage as we “audiophiles” like to describe it.
The sound was beautiful, the music was beautiful, the acoustics in this place are wonderful, the amplification levels were rehearsal low and the soundstage was flat as a board, there was no “air” around the instruments. It was interesting. I didn’t miss it and I only noticed it because I was looking for it.

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Funny, isn’t it. This is the truth of live music and we constantly fret over bits and pieces of information that have little or no correlate in the real world. But, we’re audiophiles and we want our gear to do what we want it to and there is no real harm in that. Elk has been pointing this out for years, matter-of-factly, but remains a fan of recording and recorded music.

I have seen and heard a lot of live musical events in my life and what you say is absolutely true. I too have listened for that home playback ‘air and soundscape’ that good stereo systems can bring to the table…but in a live venue…it just ain’t there…Stereo playback is an illusion that is very pleasing to our sense of auditory perception,but is,and will not ever be…a live flesh and blood experience that only human beings can accomplish through their musical talent and physical interactions with their instrument of choice.

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But it is still cool what happens when we record music and play it back.

I had the same experience this summer in Europe. The famous Musikverein or Goldener Saal (Golden Hall) in Vienna, for example, sounded fantastic, however, it was rather 2D sounding. The instrument separation was really special but the depth was quite shallow. From my seats (center towards the back) the timpani in the back of the orchestra seemed to come from the same location as the first chairs of the strings section. It didn’t bother me at all. My home stereo has more depth but it certainly doesn’t sound better than the great halls of Europe.

Remember that Julian Vereker/Naim Audio quote? – paraphrasing since I can’t find the source; “why do Americans care so much about that soundstaging nonsense…” :wink:

I adore the Musikverein! Gorgeous, history, an incredible orchestra with a burnished sound playing Viennese horns and rotary trumpets. Delicious!

I’m not saying I don’t enjoy the phenomenon of the phantom center channel. I’d be embarrassed to admit how much time I’ve spent playing with the width, etc via speaker placement and component substitutions. Most hobbies can seem a sickness for sure.

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As a professional musician for more years than I will admit, this is the truth. Recorded music has virtually nothing to do with the live sound. It’s never real. It’s always Memorex.

Unless you put microphones where your ears are, there are no comparisons… they are different.

So what? I love listening to my Coltrane, Miles, and Brubeck recordings where the players are clearly defined in space. This is really cool and enjoyable.

I agree that trying to compare a recording to a live event is really rather silly.

Bruce in Philly

Even if you place microphones where you ears are and use a Jecklin disk to acoustically shadow the microphones from each other or incorporate a model of a human head, the soundstage is still artificial - just different.

Binaural recordings played back on headphones are merely different, albeit amusing.

It is all great fun even if unreal.

Sorry to be so boring as to state the obvious, but the soundstage also depends largely on how the recording was mixed, i.e., strict stereo separation, reverb, etc.

We are comfortable with the obvious. :slight_smile:

It is great fun mixing a multi-track rock or other pop recording. You can place each instrument whereever you would like, move it front to back (by manipulating the amount of reverb and EQ - more reverb and a little off the top moves an instrument or voice back), play with the width of an instrument. Do ridiculous things with the drum set (typically recorded with 10+ mics on the drums alone), etc.

All a complete artifice but a hoot.

As a related aside, I continue to find fascinating that others can judge a playback system using rock or other pop recordings as a reference. Most of the sounds do not have a real world acoustic counterpart (e.g., an unamplified electric guitar makes little noise on its own, and who knows what the original sound was as played and recorded). I understand one learns the recording well after hearing it on many systems, but you really never know what “real” is. Yet, others can make excellent decisions as to the quality of components using such recordings. Very cool.

There’s too much to describe, but if you haven’t heard the Anthony Wilson live recording “Seasons”, four master guitarists playing four acoustic, carved masterpieces created by John Monteleone, recorded at The Met, you should.

In the context of this discussion, why?

A gorgeous recording. The most delicious “live” sound I’ve heard.

From the YouTube postings it sounds crisp and clean. Is there anything interesting about the soundstage of the recording?

You can use pop rock to evaluate to a degree… after 40 years of listening… you can pretty much tell if you know the recording. Subtleties … no of course… but I can tell pretty quickly if the system or component is intended to be a high-quality sounding unit. It is distinct and apparent when a unit is revealing without being bright or harsh.

Bruce in Philly

Most economical reply I can up with is that it sounds nice.

I also having been a professional musician for many years I can say with out a doubt that what the musician hears on stage, and what the audience hears are two different things. Placement is every thing when it comes to hearing music the way it was intended.

So nothing regarding the soundstage, the topic of the thread, is of interest?

Acoustic guitar is easy to record. A quality small diaphragm condenser mic, pointed at the sound hole at ~18" - 24", is all one needs.