There’s something very wrong with the idea of a transparent image. If it’s transparent it means we can’t see or hear it.
And yet, the term has great meaning.
Our audiophile lexicon is a wonderful tool for communicating with each other. It does seem to fall a bit short when conveying a sense of what we hear to those outside the circle.
For me, I use the term added transparency to describe a multitude of auditory events.
Here one: when I can hear through an instrument. Imagine a trumpet playing in the room. It’s loud and, on many recordings, dominates the others in the group as if it were an impenetrable wall of sound. Played through some types of equipment the listener might hear the instrument on top of the other members in the band. On other more transparent equipment, the trumpet now sounds more integrated—closer to a see-through hologram rather than a 2-dimensional photo.
A great example of transparency can be found on Octave Record’s Gabriel Mervine tracks. Here, engineer Steve Vidaic spent hours finding just the right grouping of microphones and positioning of Mervine’s trumpet in order to capture a transparent image of the horn.
Though the term transparent image is a bit nonsensical, you know it when you hear it.