How important is a stereo image? - diyAudio
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Old 7th October 2014, 03:06 PM   #1
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Default How important is a stereo image?

I ask this, because if it is not considered crucial for the enjoyment of listening, there are many benefits, if it is dropped down the importance table:

You can listen anywhere in the room,
you can use Alison style speakers (I saw in an interview he admitted that pin point imagery was not a feature of his designs),
or omnidirectional designs, which many consider give a more natural sound,
or even (heaven forfend) go mono.
Headphone listening?

One thought. With studio recorded pop music, you are not listening to a reproduction of a band in front of you with the drummer there, and the bass guitar somewhere else. It has all been individually recorded in mono and arbitrarily pan-potted. The band member's positioning is just an artificial construct.
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Old 7th October 2014, 03:10 PM   #2
rayma is online now rayma  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by midrange View Post
One thought. With studio recorded pop music, you are not listening to a reproduction of a band in front of you with the drummer there, and the bass guitar somewhere else. It has all been individually recorded in mono and arbitrarily pan-potted. The band member's positioning is just an artificial construct.
Exactly. With the vast majority of recordings, there is no true stereo image, just a synthetic creation of the recording engineer.
This synthetic image should not be of much importance to the listener seeking accurate reproduction of music.
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Old 7th October 2014, 05:19 PM   #3
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Yes, discrediting studio work as arbitrary and unimportant makes for very good logic to follow when designing speakers.

- With the vast majority of recordings, microphones with non-flat response were used and engineers arbitrarily applied EQ to both individual tracks and to the final stereo mix, thus it doesn't matter what the frequency response of the speakers is.

- With the vast majority of recordings, the relative sound levels of instruments are arbitrarily created with various level knobs, thus it doesn't matter how loud the speakers can be used because everything to do with volume is an arbitrary construct anyway.

- With the vast majority of recordings, the music was actually all just created by people using instruments to arbitrarily make tones and such in an arbitrary order, so there is no need to be concerned about whether the speaker produces output that has any causal relationship to the recording.

Therefore, I conclude that the ideal loudspeaker is, in fact, my dog. 2nd place, a ukulele in a washing machine.

In all seriousness, yes I think it is fine to put the stereo illusion low on the priority list in any circumstances where you think it is a good compromise. The risk is that in doing so, you accidentally end up with very strong and distracting localization illusions that have nothing to do with the recording whatsoever, not even with a knob in a studio.

Last edited by dumptruck; 7th October 2014 at 05:21 PM.
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Old 7th October 2014, 05:29 PM   #4
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stereo image matters.

Even for a simple "two-channels sum-to-mono" center image, a quality pair of speakers will give the illusion this sound is coming from behind their plane. Less decent speakers will reveal their individual locations and completely throw off the immersion. JMO.
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Old 7th October 2014, 05:42 PM   #5
spekr is offline spekr  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rayma View Post
Exactly. With the vast majority of recordings, there is no true stereo image, just a synthetic creation of the recording engineer.
This is the "true stereo image". Some artists and engineers spend hours or even days creating it.
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Old 7th October 2014, 05:43 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dumptruck View Post
Yes, discrediting studio work as arbitrary and unimportant makes for very good logic to follow when designing speakers.

- With the vast majority of recordings, microphones with non-flat response were used and engineers arbitrarily applied EQ to both individual tracks and to the final stereo mix, thus it doesn't matter what the frequency response of the speakers is.

- With the vast majority of recordings, the relative sound levels of instruments are arbitrarily created with various level knobs, thus it doesn't matter how loud the speakers can be used because everything to do with volume is an arbitrary construct anyway.

- With the vast majority of recordings, the music was actually all just created by people using instruments to arbitrarily make tones and such in an arbitrary order, so there is no need to be concerned about whether the speaker produces output that has any causal relationship to the recording.

Therefore, I conclude that the ideal loudspeaker is, in fact, my dog. 2nd place, a ukulele in a washing machine.

In all seriousness, yes I think it is fine to put the stereo illusion low on the priority list in any circumstances where you think it is a good compromise. The risk is that in doing so, you accidentally end up with very strong and distracting localization illusions that have nothing to do with the recording whatsoever, not even with a knob in a studio.
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Old 7th October 2014, 05:44 PM   #7
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I had a strange friend years ago. He was really into listening to stereo orchestral music, as in two microphones flown over the orchestra. His set-up was a set of studio monitors set (touching) back to back right in front of the listening position firing into the walls.

There are no rules about what is important just opinions.
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Old 7th October 2014, 06:10 PM   #8
rayma is online now rayma  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by revboden View Post
I had a strange friend years ago. He was really into listening to stereo orchestral music,
as in two microphones flown over the orchestra. His set-up was a set of studio monitors set (touching) back to back right in front
of the listening position firing into the walls.
He probably should have tried binaural headphone listening. With recordings made for this purpose, the results can be wonderfully natural.
This is actually the only recording technique with true stereo imaging.

Last edited by rayma; 7th October 2014 at 06:20 PM.
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Old 7th October 2014, 06:18 PM   #9
gedlee is offline gedlee  United States
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Stereo image is critical and one of the most difficult things to create. This is why poor loudspeaker designs often decry it as irrelevant.

But there is certainly no accounting for individual taste. People can prefer anything, but that doesn't make it right. The right thing is to recreate what the engineer intended - good, bad or indifferent.
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Old 7th October 2014, 06:30 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rayma View Post
He probably should have tried binaural headphone listening. With recordings made for this purpose, the results can be wonderfully natural.
This is actually the only recording technique with true stereo imaging.
No doubt if he was still alive he would have loved binaural technology. This was in the early 80's.
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