Are speakers analogs of microphones?

July 16, 2019
 by Paul McGowan

6 comments on “Are speakers analogs of microphones?”

  1. I have many great speakers that put the soundstage where the recording puts it and sometimes the recording puts the soundstage in front of the speakers. If the soundstage is in back when the recording calls for some of the instruments to be in front then it's not accurate.

  2. Paul, I share your enthusiasm for soundstage depth, but speakers I've heard which emphasis depth seem to sacrifice tonality. They get the instruments and voices in the right place, but the sound is somehow not right. Is it possible to achieve both good depth and accurate tonality, and are you aiming for both?

    1. While this may be true it's not been my experience. Take our IRSV in Music Room II. That system gets both the soundstage correctly behind the speakers and the tonal balance is about as good as I have heard it. I wonder if what you've heard has more to do with setup or the speakers themselves?

      1. Having heard the IRSV, I completely agree, but that speaker is a no compromise design and an unlikely candidate for most living rooms. Speakers with very narrow baffles typically image well, but, in my experience, sacrifice tonality. The problem, I think, is the coloration imposed by the choice of driver material. When the cabinets become wider, and the designer integrates the driver with the cabinet, something magical happens to tonality, but at the sacrifice of pinpoint imaging. I'm not saying it's impossible to have both great sound-staging and accurate tonality, just that the examples I've heard are very large and very expensive. If you can achieve both in a reasonably sized and priced package, I would buy it in a heartbeat.

  3. Yay, speakers close to the wall.
    IMO, two companies have done pretty well, without sacrificing SQ -- (1) current Klipsch Heritage Series, and (2) the (defunct) Allison line, especially the One (wall) and Three (corner).

  4. The audio recording and reproduction process creates an illusion. One might think that the simplest recording set up would give the most convincing illusion but that's rarely the case. You'll see what I mean if you record a concert from the audience on a portable recorder or a smart phone. When you listen at home, it does not recreate the experience you had in the concert. Recording engineers use all manner of technology and signal processing to create a convincing experience for the listener at home, even when the program material is human voice or acoustic instruments. Those techniques might well involve recording an instrument with a close microphone and recording the ambient sound in the room separately, or by using artificial reverberation. Ethan Johns is an interesting producer; he has an unusual ability to capture room sound using a small number of microphones. To some extent this a more "natural" approach, but it is not naive and should be regarded as a more cleverly contrived illusion from a master of the art.

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