Agreeing on little

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Seems my post of yesterday, Depth, has sparked a bit of controversy. Good. In that post I made the argument that with proper set up the entire soundstage should be behind the loudspeaker, or, if closely mic'd, at the loudspeaker, but never in front. Cries of foul from those with different views were plentiful. My friend George suggests his system images from his very nose to the back of his room and side to side, while friend Larry asks an intriguing question "why do you think it is that audiophiles find it so desirable for the sound to appear to come from behind the plane of the speakers, rather than from the plane itself or in front of it?" Larry further suggests something that is true to support his argument that sound should not come from behind. "It is also well known that an important determinant of the plane of the sound is the frequency response; if one uses Eq to slightly boost the presence region, the sound will seem to move forward. Engineers can use this phenomenon to change how forward the sound appears, but it is equally true that imperfections in the playback chain can have a (sometimes profound) influence." I would add to Larry's correct statement that volume is yet another determinant in the quality of depth. I think part of the disparity in my statement and theirs concerns the physical objects in the room making sound; the speakers themselves.They are visual distractions that do not help us with imaging, and fool us into conclusions that go away when we close our eyes. Let us therefore start to examine these ideas with one basic truth we should all agree upon before getting started. Loudspeakers should disappear - not literally, but figuratively. Sound should be divorced from the speaker themselves. The only deviation from this basic truth would be when a performer gets too close to the microphone. When that happens, the reverb and room cues go away and sound comes directly from the speaker. Can we all agree on this one premise? I know, as Audiophiles, music lovers, and hobbyists we agree on little, but it would further our understanding if this one idea can get at least tacit approval from all readers.
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Paul McGowan

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