When working within a complex system like that of a modern two-channel stereo, one of the most difficult tasks turns out to be accurate finger pointing. Identifying a specific culprit responsible for what we hear.
I’ll share with you a good example. One of my tasks at Octave Records is to be the judge and jury of what does and does not get published. If the track isn’t something I would play at a HiFi show (if we ever have HiFi shows again), or the music isn’t of a caliber worthy of our audience, it gets rejected.
While listening to a recent work of extraordinary qualities we ran into a problem I like to refer to as the Bark Syndrome. As might be gleaned from the title, the Bark Syndrome can occur when a voice or instrument exceeds a certain level or quality that makes one’s face scrunch.
Maybe I should have named it the Wince Syndrome.
I hear this mostly on voice and I believe that is because the voice is so easy to judge. We’ve spent most of our lives hearing voices in the wild.
The most difficult challenge with the Bark Syndrome is identifying where in the chain it occurs. This requires first a reference reproduction system devoid of the problem—something few of us either have or know for certain theirs is free of it.
Tomorrow I’ll share with you the first time I became aware of the problem and how we began to address it.