In yesterday’s post we started a discussion about thefallacyof the Absolute Sound. Absolute compared to what? Without knowing what it is you are listening to or how it was recorded – even a hint as to what to expect – it’s a nearly impossible task to know if you’ve reached the Absolute Sound of exactly what the recordist wanted you to hear.
And that really sums it up. We can’t expect our systems to playback the sound of live un-amplified instruments on recordings that never had that goal in mind. But what we can expect is to duplicate what the recordist was trying to achieve.
Audiophile record producer Kent Poon has made some strides in that area – as have other pioneers in this field (including some of the original Mercury recordings). What Kent’s done in several of his recordings is provide a layout of the musicians and the recording microphones.
I have found such a map ever so invaluable on the few recordings I have that provided it. In fact, I remember one of my favorites was the Weavers in Carnegie Hall. I remember finding a sort of map detailing where the performers were standing and how they miked them – wow – that was incredible.
We all strive to visualize the performers in the acoustic space when we listen. Having a map makes it ever so much more vivid.