How would you know?
In yesterday's post The thing about skepticsI asked you to play along with my thought game. If you are in a perfectly quiet space in your home or work, close your eyes and try and visualize the size of the room. Can you do it? Can you get a sense of the room's size that is reasonably accurate? Most of us can come pretty close. Now close your eyes again and try and imagine you're in a much larger room. What would it sound like? How would you know? I am glad you're thinking about these issues, and if you can arrive at some answers on your own, it'll help you fully grasp where I am going with my play invention. Let's move on to the sound room once again. Keeping in mind my constant thought game I always play is running in the background of my head, I started questioning the goal most Audiophiles have in their minds: creating a perfectly believable presentation of live music in their homes. - of being transported to the actual venue where a live event was recorded. During this time period the Eagles live CD was out and at every show I attended, you'd hear the strains of Hotel California. There wasn't a manufacturer around that didn't blast this out - to the extent that today I still can't listen to it - but that's another story. Sitting in a rather large demonstation room at CES, listening to Hotel California on a really good system, I closed my eyes again and tried to imagine what was missing from the system. Why, when I closed my eyes, did I not believe I was in the actual concert itself? Why, on even the very best of systems, does it seem like I am but a distant observer of a live event - sitting somewhere other than the event itself and listening through an apparent window? What could I, as a designer, do to the system I was listening to that would enhance the performance to the extent needed to even come close to believing I was immersed in the performance? Did it need more depth? Was it amplitude restricted on the loudest passages? For many years I have been painfully aware that most every system out there gets compressed when it gets loud - only the mighty IRS loudspeakers ever impressed me of their ability to reproduce without compression. Perhaps that was telling me "it's fake!" Perhaps. But I could not shake off the feeling I was but looking through a window at the sound. I was not in the room. When I closed my eyes I was in a hotel room with defined boundaries and, worst of all, clearly in Las Vegas! What's missing? It's important to answer the question because many of my audio inventions come from this process. Fill in the missing bits - discover a way of increasing the dynamic range and solving the amplitude compression problem - and bingo - a great new product that brings music into people's homes is born. I wanted to do that again.
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