Yosemite’s Wawona tunnel is 1.3 miles long and cut from solid granite. It is the longest highway tunnel in California. At its east end, travelers are treated to one of the most iconic views of Yosemite National Park. From here you can see El Capitan and Bridalveil Fall majestically rising from Yosemite Valley, with Half Dome in the background. It’s where Ansel Adams captured his masterpiece Thunderstorm, Yosemite Valley.
What interests me about the subject is the medium on which it is presented. Black and white. The exclusion of color focuses the eye on the scene’s drama, enhancing an already breathtaking vista into an image of surreal proportions. It is the lack of color that enhances the drama.
Compare that photo with another terrific version, this time from Aniket Deole. This time in color. This image is indeed gorgeous in its own right but lacks impact because the eye is encouraged to scan all the colors and detail. It’s an entirely different experience. The first is hit-you-in-the-face drama that takes your breath away. The second, while beautiful, loses focus and purpose in the same way some audio systems do.
System A is detailed, spacious, tonally correct, with reasonable frequency extremes. However, as I listen I do not feel engaged. There’s no PRaT. It reminds me of a polite sports car. It’s emotionally like the color photograph of Yosemite.
System B is also detailed, spacious, tonally correct, with reasonable frequency extremes. Only, this time I feel engaged. My foot taps and I melt into the chair, transfixed by the power of the music and the majesty of the experience. Like the Ansel Adams photo.
Properly voiced and engineered systems set up with care and skill have the drama and engagements we see only on those rare occasions of genius.
It’s not easy, but worth whatever time and expense is needed.