When you go to a live concert where do you prefer to sit? If it's orchestra, I prefer center right, several rows back from the stage, where the lower frequency instruments like cello and double bass are emphasized. Others prefer center stage, while the left side seating affords a crisper sound, closer to the smaller stringed instruments.
If the venue is jazz or bluegrass, I want to be a little further into the audience to enjoy the crowd as well as the music which, almost always, has to be amplified.
But when you set up your speaker system, what seating position do you focus on for imaging? The question isn't about where the sweet spot is–dead center between the left and right speakers and just slightly lower than the tweeter axis. No, the question is one of speaker placement and equipment choices and how they affect the imaging in the room.
I set up for a deep, wide soundstage behind the loudspeaker pair, emphasizing separation of instruments and a clear picture of the space musicians play in. Others I know like the image to come forward of the loudspeakers; a practice that drives me up the wall. But then, they're likely to scratch their heads when they hear mine.
Fascinating to me is the variability built into stereo systems. We can tweak the image and stereo presentation with placement, cables, room conditioning, and electronics. Like an artist's pallette, our range of colors and textures available to us are as many as we can dream up.
And it begs the question posed by the title of a magazine. Is there an Absolute Sound?
There certainly is a sound, but absolute?