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Mono is better than Stereo Studio Monitors
Old 8th September 2014
  #181
Quote:
Indeed. There still seems confusion about 12 discrete (real) sound sources panned from left to right, and a two ch speaker system playing back those 12 panpotted sources.

The human ear hears 12 phantom images. Our brain convinces us that they are floating somewhere between the speakers.

That is something enterily different from 12 real sources. Also tonally, as diffraction around the head/nose will be completely different in both cases.
Only different in production and tonality. Our mind interprets the stereo field in the same way. There is no confusion here, just differences in our opinions of the use of a "multi-mono" moniker, which I think is not really useful. Even in classical production we use individual spot mics in collaboration with a stereo pair. What do we call that? Stereo is a playback medium, not necessarily a recording one in my view.
Old 8th September 2014
  #182
Quote:
Originally Posted by rumleymusic View Post
Only different in production and tonality. Our mind interprets the stereo field in the same way. There is no confusion here, just differences in our opinions of the use of a "multi-mono" moniker, which I think is not really useful. Even in classical production we use individual spot mics in collaboration with a stereo pair. What do we call that? Stereo is a playback medium, not necessarily a recording one in my view.
I might not fully understand what you mean, but - I completely support that 2-ch stereo needs to be understood as a playback environment, as this dictates the production/recording side instead of the other way around, just as 5-ch stereo (surround) dictates other recording techniques than those that work for 2-ch. In this context, in my opinion, the center channel has often been very misunderstood.

However, I think there is no doubt that real sound sources have a very different impact on our senses than the aural visualization of phantom sources we create. First of all, the brain is being stimulated differently and put under a different form of "stress". Secondly, real sound sources are real acoustic sources and create a different acoustic reaction of the environment they are in, which we all perceive. It goes quite a bit further than just "tonality".

Best,
Dirk
Old 9th September 2014
  #183
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About 20 years ago I was reading up on mostly British hi-fi magazines in a bookstore in downtown Riyadh KSA (By the way, high end audio magazines entered the country with very little censorship). In one the articles the reviewer mentioned his ultimate test of a good hi-fi system. If the system is really good, then music will sound almost as good in a room outside the main listening room. As in "if it sounds good in the kitchen then the system has depth and realism even if it is set up in the living room (and you're not listening to the stereo in the sweet spot)."

After my own experiments at listening to my living room stereo "in the kitchen" I have forever became disinterested in finding in the sweet spot. In fact, I'm quite happy to fall asleep with one ear on the pillow listening to a transistor radio. So herein is another reason I think mono is good stuff.
Old 9th September 2014
  #184
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Right.
It normally sounds "good" when you "turn it up enough".
The room's specific reflective qualities, damping and standing-waves etc. will affect things more than the system, as long as it's relatively flat and in it's clean range when loud enough...
As an "ultimate test", I would possibly suggest it wasn't particularly well thought through, but then, it was an enthusiast rag...

Quote:
Originally Posted by jacktadoussac View Post
AI'm quite happy to fall asleep with one ear on the pillow listening to a transistor radio. So herein is another reason I think mono is good stuff.
Sure, not caring is a good reason not to bother with spatial imaging...
Old 9th September 2014
  #185
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I think your point about "not caring" is well taken. Once the recorded sound source is reproduced and played into a new room it takes on a life of its own. Hopefully the signal hasn't been broken down or phase distorted enough that it will still sound good when I hear it from around the corner or down the hall, and of course there are ambient sounds such as running water, chewing gum and the patter of footsteps, and other sounds.
Old 9th September 2014
  #186
Quote:
Originally Posted by jacktadoussac View Post
After my own experiments at listening to my living room stereo "in the kitchen" I have forever became disinterested in finding in the sweet spot. In fact, I'm quite happy to fall asleep with one ear on the pillow listening to a transistor radio. So herein is another reason I think mono is good stuff.
I remember the late Onno Scholtze (who is well-known amongst many gearslutz) telling me that he liked listening most sitting on a stool in the kitchen, around the corner of his living room where his very high-end set was playing music.

For me, I am too excited about good sound and spacial representation not to sit in the sweet spot, however I do understand that it easily distracts from actually listening to the music itself, and I think that is why some enjoy sitting away from the actual playback system.

Best,
Dirk
Old 9th September 2014
  #187
I thought about this thread and chuckled today as I was setting up a spaced pair of vocal mics for a piano and soprano audition tape session. The piano, not "coincidentally", also had a spaced pair of mics set up on it. The resulting sound was terrific.
Old 9th September 2014
  #188
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I am also familiar with the "if it sounds good in the other room" theory. I thought it was supposed to sound good as in "live" but anyway good as in real. I believe it a fair test. And Onno going with it means something for sure. I also enjoy sitting in the sweet spot. Maybe it is just that I like music, a lot. I do enjoy it better on good gear.
Old 9th September 2014
  #189
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Originally Posted by boojum View Post
I believe it a fair test. And Onno going with it means something for sure.
I really think we should not take it all too seriously...
Old 10th September 2014
  #190
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dtf View Post
however I do understand that it easily distracts from actually listening to the music itself
This whole idea really surprises me. I just don't follow how spacial information can confuse some people about a performance, if we have two ears to start with.
Old 10th September 2014
  #191
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My audio engineering guru in Montreal is a fan of mono recording. His secret sauce is a circa 1950 or 1960 tube summing amp that mixes two inputs into one output channel. Related to this idea, or perspective, one of my "best ever" listening experiences was a Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee recording made on the Fantasy Label in the late 1950s using a Ampex Mono Tape Deck and surely no more than two or three mics. I heard it on my friend's student grade Pioneer record player and stereo set that had been in storage for thirty years, and even with the limitations to the playback there was a clarity to the recording that has influenced my own quest or audio recording journey.

My principles, are I don't use a mix bus, I sometimes use two mics separated mostly on the vertical axis, but mostly I use a Josephson C700A, as is, with two channels of mic pre, and two channels of conversion. For my own taste I think investing in a half-decent mic is a much better deal than investing in mixing desks, but I must admit this is a hobby, not a business. And I mostly record myself, I don't have to satisfy a client's need for a stereoscopic soundscape.

Also here's some more bias. At one point I was thinking about using more than two channels, but I think this would be overkill, since I would need some sort of summing amp, and an additional mix-down phase.

It's mostly a theoretical worry, since I haven't invested in all those channels, I suspect I would be bothered by all the phase distortion, or the effect of multiple microphones covering the same instrument. I think it less intimidating to record with minimal equipment, and have a standard rig ready to go so there is minimal set up time.
Old 11th September 2014
  #192
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dtf View Post
...however I do understand that it easily distracts from actually listening to the music itself...
Really? I don't understand that at all. For me, sitting in the sweet spot, listening to a well recorded stereo image that has some phase information in it, is what allows me to suspend my disbelief. It's what allows me to sit back, close my eyes, and actually listen. It's the opening of a window onto the performance. It is the opposite of distracting. That's what I'm after.

What bothers me, what prevents me from suspending my disbelief, is a recording that feels somehow false. When I can trace back from a "false feeling" recording and find out how it was recorded (which I can rarely do) I've found that it's usually recordings made using coincident pairs (XY, MS), or recordings using various multi-micing techniques that bug me. And what these have in common is a lack of, or a distortion of, phase information.

What does this mean to anyone else? I have no idea. All I know is what it seems to mean to me. What it means to me is that I strongly favor ORTF or NOS pairs, some AB, and almost never XY or MS. Maybe I'm crazy, but that's what my ears/brain wants, so that's what I do.
Old 11th September 2014
  #193
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There's no right or wrong answer to this topic, but if you listen to the audio on this famous DA Pennebaker film, and listen to Mr Pennebaker rave (in the commentary track) about the person who did the sound recording, especially the ones where Dylan, or Donovan, or Joan Baez play the guitar and sing in the hotel room while Pennebaker's two person crew film and record the music -- to me, it is one reason to consider mono as a reliable technique.(Note the version on YouTube has the audio deleted.)

Bob Dylan - Dont Look Back - parte 1/3 - Video Dailymotion
Old 11th September 2014
  #194
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Originally Posted by Lotus 7 View Post
Methinks the author and his affiliation with the tax exempt Anstendig Institute is very telling. One look at the long list of papers criticizing everything from stereo audio reproduction and Compact Discs, the financial crisis, patents, deep breathing, and bad posture to the "flawed state of photography" and their preoccupation with all things vibrational tells a lot about their general consideration of modern society.

The paper is chocked full of misunderstanding of theory, reality, and is packed with plain "wrong" information. It's obvious that the author has no scientific training or credibility in this area.

I absolutely love his concluding statement: "Because the musical experience is predominately physical, mono with at least four speakers surrounding the listener is the most effective way to experience recorded music."

We should all obviously trade our stereo, 5.1, and 7.1 systems for "Four-speaker mono". I guess it would be called a "1.4 system"

Anyone can publish anything in a non-peer reviewed outlet, and anyone can fill pages with pseudoscience. There are always Luddites around who probably would be happier if they were born 2-millennia ago. Happy to critique anything they don't like, but seldom able to produce any kind of solution to their perceived "problem".

I'm sure that if you agree with their philosophy, the Anstendig Institute will happily accept your donations. As for me, I'd rather spend the limited time I have left on this planet with the works published by Georg Neumann, Benjamin Bauer, Alan Blumlein and Harry Olson.
I was going to say the same thing. It is replete with nonsense, with enough fact to make you squint and look twice. I wouldn't try to take much from this article... it's very misleading.
Old 11th September 2014
  #195
Quote:
Originally Posted by jacktadoussac View Post
In one the articles the reviewer mentioned his ultimate test of a good hi-fi system. If the system is really good, then music will sound almost as good in a room outside the main listening room. As in "if it sounds good in the kitchen then the system has depth and realism even if it is set up in the living room (and you're not listening to the stereo in the sweet spot)."
a friend of my has an audio research amp with Dynaudio speakers.
I was working in the cellar, and heard a piano.
I almost believed it was a real one.
Old 11th September 2014
  #196
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Stereo: A Misunderstanding

I think there's a lot of "the angry young man" in his writing, but it his case he's in his 70s or 80s, and he is mostly writing letters to himself, without necessarily concerning himself whether they will be read by anyone. Didn't Proust do that too? He should join Gearslutz and take on the Remote Possibilities gang. From my glances at his other writing I don't think he would be satisfied with anything, even the best Leica camera, too much of a mass-marketed consumer good, irrelevant.

I can sympathize with him. If he was happy with 78s and the best monaural records available in the 1930s, 40s and 50s, he was probably disappointed (a travesty no doubt) when stereophonic recording was introduced. He might well have thought this is a step backwards. In my own case, at the beginning of the 80s, I acquired a half-decent mostly British hi-fi kit with QUAD amps and Harbeth speakers, and mated it with the original Oracle turntable, and figured I was set for life -- and then soon after the CD is introduced, and for me, it took another ten years, with the discontinuation of LP sales, before I really embraced the new digital technology (despite the fact loads of my records were recorded digitally). But it was really the internet age, and expanded connectivity, that was the game changer. For a better listening experience, I need to connect my laptop to a hi-fi but I rarely do, and it seems I'm more apt to listen to music that is packaged with video, as in a DVD or a YouTube, than a better quality sound file posted to SoundCloud. These days, plugging in a pair of headphones into my laptop is about as hi-fi as I get.

So, in a way, I'm a grumpy old man too. But I'm experienced enough that I can still enjoy a stereo recording without the fuss of finding the sweet spot. I really should unpack, and reconnect, my hefty hi-fi system, in case I'm missing something.

By the way, for a general philosophy on audio, written by a musician, I believe that the late Walter Sear, of Sear Sound, has better ideas than the grumpy old Anstendig.

http://searsound.com/philosophy.html
Old 14th September 2014
  #197
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very stereo:

Old 15th September 2014
  #198
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Journey_(band)

I believe that the height of Journey's commercial success overlapped with the rise of Bruce Springsteen, and in my own case, my discovery of Bob Dylan and The Band, and also, if only to verify a point of fact, according to Wikipedia, apparently Journey is a somewhat despised act, perhaps it's that bombastic rhythm section and the over the top vocals, but actually part of me likes Journey, their songs are kind of like historical markers, like Annie Lennox and Sweet Dreams are Made of Thee. So let's admit I personally discovered Journey in the mid-nineties, long after their commercial success.

Having said all that I would argue that Journey's music is not really stereo. Journey definitely has multitrack recording, multiple takes, epic guitar solos, overdubs, and isolation chambers, whatever it takes, definitely a two stage process of tracking and mixing. While the drum kit is probably recorded stereo I'm sure that for the rest of it, pan pots are used to create an "stereo" image by positioning individual instruments and voices across the listening room.

To quote Anstendig's Stereo: a Misunderstanding saying, "there are no stereo sound sources. From any given position in space, all sound sources are monophonic." I think in the case of Journey music virtually everything that was tracked with close mics, very little interaction with room or acoustical environment, and then reassembled during the mix. Obviously an entirely different approach is taken when recording classical music in a hall with the microphones arranged in a proper ORTF pattern. At least the classical music recordist is trying to capture a performance, "in stereo", since a complex set of sounds was available in the concert hall, but the Journey recordist probably never had the band together in the same room, playing at the same time.
Old 15th September 2014
  #199
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Jack,

I understand this point, which has been discussed previously in this thread. I will just have to continue to disagree. The end result of the process, however it was arrived at, is presented in stereo. It is neither real, or fake, but rather a combination of both. If two parts are recorded and one placed left and the other right, how is this not stereo?

This is still true of an orchestra recording, regardless of the fact that there may have been no manipulation, overdubs, etc. It is still simply a sound recording with a left and right channel. True stereo listening of such an event, if I am to understand your definition, could only be achieved by being there at the event, not listening to a recording of the event after the fact.
Old 15th September 2014
  #200
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It's all "fake" IMO, but that depends on what one wishes to achieve with the word.
You sample a sound, play it back and are no longer in the room by any stretch whatsoever. "Ceci n'est pas une pipe". The idea that some recordings are (striving to be) close to indistinguishable from the live performance to me is largely meaningless, because it depends utterly on the playback mechanism and someone's personal idea of how to represent "reality" in the medium itself (no matter how many authority figures pinch their chins in agreement).

But I think the "absolute" point about "all sources are mono" is naive. There nothing much mono about a piano when you are playing it. Or a kit, or even an acoustic guitar once you get in close enough (should you so desire). The individual string, or skin... arguably mono in that it is a single source, but meaningless in actual context.
There are [sympathetic] resonances coming from the bodies of instruments which are simply different depending upon where you capture/sample them.
That's all forgetting the environmental ambience. And modern recordings are most often overtly playing with "space" for effect.
Old 15th September 2014
  #201
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Rob, I think you're right. In order to get the effect of listening to music in a concert hall, in fact, you have to sit in the concert hall and get it any way you can, in rehearsal, or on stage with the musicians, or even as a conductor, which Anstendig has experience doing, for many years, until he became captivated with photography, and if you've read his writings, even with photography he is unsatisfied with most cameras and lenses. He's fussy enough to no like-a the Leica, so who knows, maybe Astendig and I are both grumpy old men.

I base most of my arguments on the fact that for a great percent of the time I can enjoy stereo recordings through the pair of tinny speakers -- on my Mac -- or when listening to a proper stereo in an adjacent room. Even I find there is an additional depth to stereo recordings, and "at the Jack Tadoussac Institute", I have found that music sounds great when you record in mono, with a mic with a figure 8 pattern.

This past summer we had our house re-roofed, and I was amazed at the sound of the roofer's DeWalt combo battery charger/AM-FM radio. Amid the air guns and hammers, I thought to myself, I've never heard such a good transistor radio. Perhaps it sounds good to me because the stereo speakers are so close together, so close they can't possibly reproduce stereo. While picking up some building supplies I ended up getting the same radio. Further to this monomania, perhaps the best guitar amp ever made had a single channel, no reverb, and only one loudspeaker -- the venerable Fender Deluxe.
Old 15th September 2014
  #202
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jacktadoussac View Post
Further to this monomania, perhaps the best guitar amp ever made had a single channel, no reverb, and only one loudspeaker -- the venerable Fender Deluxe.
Well yes, but if you have two guys playing on opposite sides of the stage, and each has a Fender Deluxe..

heh
Old 15th September 2014
  #203
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But you can also plug in two guitar cables into a single amp, to hear what guitars would have sounded like, back in the day (before we had dentists collecting half the guitars on the planet), and get a mono version of the same thing. Plus the artifact of any acoustic guitar sounds that might happen independently of the pickup -- if they're playing on L5 Gibsons.

Fender '57 Deluxe Amplifier - www.12fret.com
Old 16th September 2014
  #204
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It seems to me that a salient point is missing in this stereo-mono debate - the acoustic of the listening environment. That one Fender Deluxe on stage is certainly a mono point source. But when you plug in and hit a string, the sound comes at your two ears, spreading as it goes, bounces of the walls and ceilings multiple times, get absorbed in to you and other soft stuff and generally ends up as a soundfield that does not remotely resemble the open G you just played. YOUR EARS DO NOT HEAR MONO POINT SOURCES. If we put a venerable SM57 on the cab (or your pick of any mic at any price point) and record the note, take it home, and play it back on one channel of the home (or studio) audio system, it will not sound the same as the when it was played in auditorium, because there is not much phase or time difference information for our ears to hear. If we record it in the auditorium with some flavor of stereo mic(s) at the ideal listening point and take it home, play it stereo...well chances are it will sound more like the original, though not perfect. If we add a whole lot more instruments - drums, bass, keyboards, voices - and try the stereo mic(s) technique, it may or may not sound OK, depending on the room, the quality of playing, etc. If we mic each source and record them separately, then play around with pan pots and levels, well we can make it sound pretty good at home, but the engineer has now contributed almost as much as the musicians, so it is no longer just a recording of sounds, but more of a musical-technical performance in the home. Pleasant trickery. Bottom line - there are no perfect techniques, but for my ears, simple stereo recording of a good space, played back on good stereo equipment, is about as close as I can get to the original. For me, binaural recordings sound the most 'real' but the limitations of listening on cans is off-putting.
Old 16th September 2014
  #205
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I touched on it in post 200 - and indeed the acoustics of the playback environment (excluding cans but then incidentally - including their and the amp "quality").
But, some people seem to be saying that mechanically summed-to-mono (ambient/positional multi source information at the mic) or electronically-summed-to-mono sound is preferable...
Old 17th September 2014
  #206
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Hi JimJazzDad, I much prefer to capture the sound of a room along with the source, and assuming I had one or two half-decent condenser microphones, perhaps a pair of KSM 137, I would probably do a stereo recording, of the pair of guitar amps in the room. And then someone would say, ah ha, that I actually prefer recording in stereo. Out of bad habit I'd probably arrange my mics in an XY pattern -- since it is so close to mono, or AB, with a small separating distance of say 5 or 6 cm.

For the last two years I've had the pleasure of owning one, only one, Josephson C700A, which has two mic elements, an omni diaphragm and a figure 8 aimed in the same direction, and two XLR input cables, and I've gotten used to mono. It's not the holy grail, by any means, but for me it was a game changer since I stopped worrying about stereo. But the key advantage is confidence. I know it will pick up everything in the room, and everything will be mixed without fiddling with knobs. Only by attempting to balance the voice and guitar during the performance.

Hey Grant, I don't mind stereo pickup. But I think there is less setup work with a mono rig, and possibly it makes for better performances. I also prefer when recording is played back with loudspeakers, so there's some blending with ambient sounds like chopping vegetables and conversation...
Old 17th September 2014
  #207
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Jack, it seems you like to post in stereo. heh
Old 17th September 2014
  #208
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My view is a high quality/performance mono recording is always better then a average stereo recording. For listening environments, a low quality listening environmental - mono sounds better. But I love the new barco and Dolby systems over mono. So i think object oriented sound is where there is a clear distinction over mono.
Old 22nd September 2014
  #209
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sounds Great View Post
Jack, it seems you like to post in stereo. heh
heh
One on top of the other... Looks like he used his josephson! Plug that into your matrix!
heh
Old 23rd September 2014
  #210
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Originally Posted by recordinghopkins View Post
heh
One on top of the other... Looks like he used his josephson! Plug that into your matrix!
heh
Thanks. I only noticed the duplicate post a minute ago. It was the server's fault. Sorry.
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