About realism in sound reproduction

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Hi to Everyone !
at least for me one of the objectives of a recording is to be able once played back on a very good system to provide a realistic sensation of the original musical event
I'm obviously talking about pure minimalist recordings with no eq effects and so on
And consequently a system must be able to give back that sensation of listening to something live, perhaps when listened in the dark or blindfolded
I wonder if the movie sound effects which nowadays are recorded with incredible quality are not extremely useful to evaluate this ability
I asked myself this some time ago while watching a DVD whose title I unfortunately don't remember
The scene was inside a laboratory in a control room separated from the actual lab by a safety glass
At a certain point an actor from inside the laboratory rapped the glass with his knuckles
I jumped. It wasn't a reproduced sound. It was a real sound
It felt like a person was inside the television and tapping on the screen. My friend and I heard it several times and we agreed that the sensation was incredibly real.
For the record the chain was $80 Samsung DVD player > Revox b150 > quad esl 63
Since I didn't have much money at the time, I only bought the Samsung DVD which I later found to be quite good even with normal music. Very good indeed actually.
So can high quality sound recordings of real sounds be a good tool for evaluating easily the capabilities of a system instead of music?
I think so. In fact, I'm convinced of it
 
So can high quality sound recordings of real sounds be a good tool for evaluating easily the capabilities of a system instead of music?

To assist in such evaluations, here's a handy map of everyday sounds:

1718030514707.png


Three fundamental sources (vibrating solids, liquids and gases) are shown in the three overlapping sections.

https://www.researchgate.net/figure...s-vibrating-solids-liquids-and_fig3_306182877
 
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To assist in such evaluations, here's a handy map of everyday sounds:

View attachment 1320415

Three fundamental sources (vibrating solids, liquids and gases) are shown in the three overlapping sections.

https://www.researchgate.net/figure...s-vibrating-solids-liquids-and_fig3_306182877
Hi thank you very much for your kind and very valuable support
Most of all i am looking for confirmation about the validity of the method i.e. the use of high quality recordings of natural sounds and a sound check with the playback system
I think that the ultimate goal at least for some people like me is to get a such level of realism enough be fooled to hear the real thing
I usually listen in the dark or blindfolded not to be distracted by the vision
On this subject of realism of recordings there is an old video on Youtube that i found extremely interesting This one.

I suggest to jump at the end of it and listen to the comments from people attending the session
Some people enjoyed the reproduced sound even more than the real event (a reason could have been a better seat where the recordings were played back )
At a real concert is very difficult to get the best listening spot and also there are noises coming from all over the place
and the playback system used was very good but not ultimate
I am sure there are better systems that can provide a even more realistic impression

I understand that there are collections of pre-recorded tracks of natural sounds for pros ... at pro prices of course
At some point i tried to make some environmental recordings myself with bad results Good mics are very expensive
The test in the video imho was not perfect Because the listening to recorded tracks should have taken place in the same hall where the recordings were carried out The comparison would have been more telling i guess
 
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Voice is a "natural" sound that is very useful for evaluating audio systems.
It's easy to hear artifacts in the reproduction of voice, even if you haven't heard the person's voice live.
Hi thank you very much and exactly !
In theaters intended for conference the installation engineers use specific recordings to run an intellegibility check A very powerful tool i understand
Sometimes i read words that trigger my imagination deeply
Speaking of voice reproduction the following is one case taken from a review of high quality speakers and supporting equipment
https://www.stereophile.com/content/rockport-technologies-antares-loudspeaker-page-3
After two months of listening, I felt that it was more adept at revealing tonal and spatial differences among recordings than any speaker I've auditioned. When I listened to my own voice, as recorded on The Ultimate Test CD (out of print), I was taken by surprise at how the Antares put me—not just my voice—in my own room, nasal twang and all, without added colorations. It was an out-of-body experience
just think about the feeling of hearing the realistic recorded voice of a dear departed

Another great explanations of what kind of experience an extreme realism can provide
https://www.stereophile.com/content/stax-lambda-nova-signature-electrostatic-ear-speaker-page-3
...sounds considerably more real than anything I've ever heard committed to any medium. I found it disorienting to slip the headsets on and be immediately transported into the acoustic of the chapel—which makes me wonder how the characters on Star Trek can handle transporter beams with such aplomb. Ah, the wonders of bad acting....
 
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The test in the video imho was not perfect Because the listening to recorded tracks should have taken place in the same hall where the recordings were carried out
No, that would have double impressed the sound of the environment on the recording playback.

One time at uni I attended a recital hall demo in the music building. It was just a guy, two R2R decks, a mic and some speaker system. He spoke to us live and recorded the sound of his voice on one deck. Played that back while recording again on the second deck. Played that one back while recording...you get where this is going. After a few back and forths, all that was left was the sound of the hall. Just different reverberate resonances, each excited occasionally by his voice. I assume the point was, you dont hear them with the program you're listening to being prominent, but they're there.
 
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Another great explanations of what kind of experience an extreme realism can provide
Back in the days when I worked at Digital, we had an audio forum on ASCII terminals. People then were into putting microphones outside and piping that through their stereo systems. One audiophile had his mics in a tree, which held a bird feeder. Claimed he could eventually tell which type of seed the bird was eating, just by listening to the sound-scape.

So where's the real recording? Right there, just outside your front or back door. They have "live stream" cameras all over the world; one would think HQ audio alone could as well be streamed from various places. It's always early morning somewhere...
 
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Thank you all for the very valuable advice on a topic that for me is very fascinating
Imho with all their limits headphones can more easily provide a sensation of realistic sounds
The biggest limitation is of course the complete absence of frontal emission The sounds are coming from L and R but not from the center
The in the head sound
A very unnatural experience that in some cases makes the listening through headphones almost a claustrophobic experience
But the realism in sound can be astonishing
Again i was watching a movie At some point an acoustic alarm rang I put immediately off the headphones to check for the alarm
After some seconds i thought .... but i have no alarm It was in the movie I swear that the feeling was surprising

Then the final question What provides this realism ? i my opinion the complete lack of added noise to the natural one and very low THD
I have come to the conclusion that the recording fixes what we can get as a maximum
But the playback system must have extremely low noise and THD to extract what is embedded in the recording
I have also a feeling that a very good playback system can show even very tiny details present in the recording that contribute to the feeling of realism
A lower quality system can mask all these very important details and provide a not completely satisfactory experience
I thinh that this is what drives people to search always for something best
 
It’s all so processed that to have even the slightest chance of knowing or discerning what it’s supposed to sound like, one would have to make the recording live themselves and be at the mic positions, then immediately play it back.

The obvious limitations are still auditory memory, which is very poor and skews with time, and, the limitations of the recording equipment, primarily the properties of the mic capsules and analog to digital conversion.
 
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I use voice, piano, timpani, and xylophone to see if the system can faithfully reproduce the natural sounds. Piano notes and timpani will flash out any (mechanical) vibration/resonance issues as well...

In a nutshell, the simplistic approach to amplification, with no capacitors and transformers in a whole signal path, can get you there. The source and speakers will also play a big role; and so will the room acoustics, interconnects, power cables, internal hook-up wiring... grounding schema.

If I had to single out that one, most important element... I'd have to say it's the quality of the power supply (supplies) used to power up individual components, in (a given) audio setup. This also translates to the quality of the mains (110/120/230/240) supply... so easily overlooked...
 
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Can you recognize the voices of people who you know, or those of actors/politics/public figures?
Of course, so why do you think auditory memory is poor?
It’s been established through many studies that our recall of specific details or characteristics of auditory events is a matter of seconds, and that the precision rapidly degrades as soon as the event has ended. One may recognize a person, instrument or environment, but the memory thereof is not like a perfect recording. Auditory memory is also largely mono.

This is why the switching in any auditory comparison, for example a DBT, ABX or simplified AB test has to be as close to instant as possible.
 
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It’s all so processed that to have even the slightest chance of knowing or discerning what it’s supposed to sound like, one would have to make the recording live themselves and be at the mic positions, then immediately play it back.
Hi clearly when the goal is to capture a real sound processing of any type, level adjustment aside, is completely banned.
There are labels whose goal is to provide natural recordings of voices and not amplified instruments like Ma Recordings
https://www.marecordings.com/main/about_us.php
Technically speaking, the recordings are produced with only two omni-directional microphones, the signals of which are "fed" through exotic audio cabling into handmade and customized recording equipment, designed specifically for MA .
No processing at all. From mics to preamps to recorder
The same applies to sound effects that are taken from the reality with high quality mics and digital recorders
Maybe i am not explained myself well. In some cases i have had the illusion of hearing the real thing not a reproduction of the real thing
Leaving aside headphones that cannot provide a natural soundstage as i said at the beginning i have this sensation with a good audio chain
80$ Samsung dvd player > Revox b150 amp > Quad esl63
I heard real sounds in an exiting way Even shocking
At the time i bought immediately the 80$ Samsung dvd player The Quad were at out my reach and the Revox too expensive either
All three units were characterized by a great lets say TRANSPARENCY ?
Again when a natural sound is the goal processing is banned Actually i think that a lot of complaints for the cd playback in the past could have been related to bad level control (i.e. distortion) or excessive processing Some audio engineers like to play with controls too much
The obvious limitations are still auditory memory, which is very poor and skews with time, and, the limitations of the recording equipment, primarily the properties of the mic capsules and analog to digital conversion.
It could be. But at least in my humble experience the mics and recorders used for instance from sound effects engineers to capture envirnmental sounds have an astonishing quality
I had a little ambition to try some recordings of amateurs singing and playing with not amplified instruments but the cost of the good mics stopped me
Digital recorders of very high quality have much lower price
I am sure that mic preamps of good quality can be built also with DIY. Opamps and batteries help a lot to get very high gain with low THD+noise
 
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I use voice, piano, timpani, and xylophone to see if the system can faithfully reproduce the natural sounds. Piano notes and timpani will flash out any (mechanical) vibration/resonance issues as well...
Hi thank you very much indeed for your valuable advice Some labels in particular ? i would like to set up a library of high quality tracks or effects to test some audio equipment I am sure lab instruments could tell a lot but fwiu a good audio analyzer the qa403 is around 850 $ in Europe
Some good cds ripped on a usb pen and read with a small audio player should be very useful
I see that my idea of special effects has little success I think that the sound of a glass that breaks or a bell ringing or any other everyday sound could be a good tool for a sound check of the all system
And the very nice thing is when a chain is overall very good this to me means that all its elements must be very good
It could be possible to find a very cheap element is an exceptional sounding chain ... usually at the digital source level
amps and speakers cannot be that cheap But if the needed power is low the cost can be kept down I hope
In a nutshell, the simplistic approach to amplification, with no capacitors and transformers in a whole signal path, can get you there. The source and speakers will also play a big role; and so will the room acoustics, interconnects, power cables, internal hook-up wiring... grounding schema.
Absolutely But a sound check using the right recording will reveal any flaws in the playback system
If the resulting sound is not satisfactory then there is the task to identify which is the critical element in the chain
The same with soundstage I had a track from Sheffield Labs intended as a tool for testing soundstage reproduction
I listened to it in my room with my system and the soundstage was quite flat
Then i listened to the same track in a recording studio and the excitement left the spot to tears thinking to what i was missing at home
This hobby is not for poor people at all The very first point to start is a dedicated room acoustically treated
Not everyone can afford that Actually the dramatic result is that people keep on changing equipment when they should change the room
But it is much easier to exchange the equipment and does not work
Because the real problem is not addressed
If I had to single out that one, most important element... I'd have to say it's the quality of the power supply (supplies) used to power up individual components, in (a given) audio setup. This also translates to the quality of the mains (110/120/230/240) supply... so easily overlooked...
Very interesting thank you for the advice. A good power management usually translates in less noise from the system.
I had all my components plugged in different outlets Then i bought a very simple power strip from Adam Hall Like this one No filters no anything
1718094275311.png


immediately the noise went down and the sound popped out from speakers
My guess is that all the grounds were tied together ?
This is just a entry level 80$ power strip Still it worked very good indeed
I would like to try something more elaborated but the prices have skyrocketed
 
Simple sounds like tapping on glass
or birds singing in a park or busy city scape.

Long as recording is stereo.
And within distance of real listening.
And high quality resolution.

The stereo effect works its magic.
Actually quality can be lacking and our brains
will notice very common sounds.
If stereo the effect is more noticed.
Actually adding a delay spreader effect will make
it seem more " real" even though your adding delay
and extra panning.

Its ironic a sales hype is the " artist sounds right there in the room"

like it is live or something.
Live sound has its ups and downs.
Going through the recording process many times.

Final mix sounds way way better than live.
So the sales hype " right there in the room"
is BS
other than yes the speakers are in the room and it is playing.
yep " in the room" indeed.
As in not the porch or backyard.
But in the room with the speakers.
such a concept.

Having done countless recordings in room.
Or direct no mic.
Yes just basic 24 bit recording at 92k even lower res.
like 16 bit 44k
The sound on the monitors when recording is the same as playback.
pretty basic almost no loss recordings.
Measurable im sure....but to our brains on playback....the same
 
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It could be. But at least in my humble experience the mics and recorders used for instance from sound effects engineers to capture envirnmental sounds have an astonishing quality
I had a little ambition to try some recordings of amateurs singing and playing with not amplified instruments but the cost of the good mics stopped me
Digital recorders of very high quality have much lower price
I am sure that mic preamps of good quality can be built also with DIY. Opamps and batteries help a lot to get very high gain with low THD+noise

I think there are some good microphones and recorders put to use in the field as well. Mics seem a little more tricky, as their pattern can have a paramount impact on the captured sound. They can have widely varying response curves and distortion. I believe the mic would have to be the omni type to be free of the proximity effect, which causes low frequencies to vary greatly by distance.

I do like the idea of environmental recording as a reference at least for finding what sound is likeable. It can skip the mastering process and compression is optional.
 
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Hi thank you very much for your kind and valuable advice I would like to comment some passages
Actually adding a delay spreader effect will make it seem more " real" even though your adding delay and extra panning.
when something is more real than real is hypereal ... not realistic
I am quite sure that any kind of processing can ruin the naturalness of a sound and be felt at listening

This is the basic principle of minimalistic recordings ... just the anavoidable tools are used ... mics cables preamps and recorders (and power of course also very important. So important that i would use batteries for anything to disconnect the equipment from the grid. This could provide very consistent results in different environment with some more work to do for charging batteries)
Its ironic a sales hype is the " artist sounds right there in the room"
i think it is possible I think that when the recording is well made and the listening room is fine and the playback system is very good if one is blindfolded he/she could be fooled to listen a real person in front of her/him This is taken from a review
https://www.stereophile.com/content/rockport-technologies-antares-loudspeaker-page-3
After two months of listening, I felt that it was more adept at revealing tonal and spatial differences among recordings than any speaker I've auditioned. When I listened to my own voice, as recorded on The Ultimate Test CD (out of print), I was taken by surprise at how the Antares put me—not just my voice—in my own room, nasal twang and all, without added colorations. It was an out-of-body experience
you may say it is hype I think it is possible to fool the brain to hear the real thing
Live sound has its ups and downs. Going through the recording process many times.
clearly these are not the recordings right to get a real effect There are labels that do not perform any particular processing The so called audiophile labels
It is fundamental to listen without seeing the system and the room In the complete darkness Or blindfolded
And above all without noisy people I hate them when they chat during music Morons
It could work Not easy at all but still ...

1718096920496.png
 
Say about 1998 / 99

On windows 98
I had a M Audio Delta 1010
Cubase VST 32

So 24 bit at 92 K
I could easily do at home in the garage
unbelievable recordings.

Really just needed good mics.
Basic powered condensers

"Quality" or resolution was non issue.
Processor power was.
Try to do 8 tracks at 24 bit 92k
guarantee poor old 98 windows
would = crash instantly.

But I can tell you exactly what came in
is exactly what came out.
Digital was a big deal

So quality was up to the producer.
Or basically how good the musicians were.

Voice over for movies.
Speakers dont need to " disappear"
sounds come from where they are suppose to in a stereo field.
Actor is on the right side of the screen.
Holy smokes pan to the right. woo hoo

For machines guns or car crashes etc etc.
to make it sound real.
Probably gonna do multiple layered effects.
Some in stereo some mono panned.
all depends on what the screen is doing
and where its coming from.
Speakers dont disappear.
It is quite the opposite to make stereo " image"
work.

We had FFT plugins 20 years ago.
Take a impulse response of a basketball court.
And I can put dry vocals into a FFT plugin
and the impulse and delays at every frequency.
Will mimic that basketball court. Exactly.

So much garbage runs in the background on even
windows 98. I had to hire guys to remove most of it.
So when I ran audio software. Nothing would kill processor power

Going up to 64 bit now...yeah
exactly the same going in and out.
Back in the day 32 bit floating was a big deal.
And even 24 bit is more than good.
 
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