Room, speaker, recording, amp?

August 6, 2020
 by Paul McGowan

One of the great mysteries to me has been compression of peaks on big orchestral pieces. The louder the orchestra plays the more the character of the music changes to where it seems to stop expanding before bunching up. When I attend a live orchestral performance that never happens. The scale of loudness seems linear—the louder they play the bigger the image before me. It’s just right.

Is it the recording? The room? The speakers? The electronics? All of them?

For the longest time, I thought it to be a combination of all four—and that likely is still the case to some extent. What’s been changing my mind a bit has been living with the IRSV. For the most part, this bunched up compression happens far less on these speakers than at any time in the past (before their introduction). In my last reference setup, I had the Magneplanar system. The Maggies absolutely had the bunching compression.

When I first replaced the Maggies with the IRSV it was in the same room, the same equipment and the same recordings. The compression artifact was, for the most part, gone. Thus, at the time, I concluded the obvious: it must have been the speakers.

In the ensuing years, I begin to notice that same compression in electronics, especially in amplifiers. Some amps seem to compress while others soar.

The issue is still unclear. Though it’s worth discussing how others experience it as well.

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