Floyd, again, thanks for your responses. From the mid 1940s I've been told that I hear just fine, but I just don't listen. My hearing, according to the audiologist is fine, but my eyesight is a different matter so I guess I'm turning into the typical geezer in a Buick. Cataract surgery coming up or I'll be Harman's blind' tester.
Anyway, my standard or maybe I should say my focus is a bit different when it come to sound reproduction. I'm into real music on real musical instruments by real musicians in a real space. I started out as a snot faced little punk in 1947 (age 3) off to a local big band, jazz or blues concerts with my grandfather at Country Dinner Playhouse usually or the Männerchor Club. My grandmother thought that where my grandfather like to sit was too loud so often it was me who went with him. We sat 10 -15 rows back. No amplification, which was typical in those days so the 'hall sound' and perspective of the sound stage was an aspect that was ingrained in me since age 3. My dad, who was a MSEE, but was still a hillbilly, took me to blue grass starting at age 10 or so, always in small smoky venues or occasionally outdoor festivals that were all over Southern Ohio. Didn't like the outdoor nearly as well as indoors for the obvious reason and that the richness that all of the room reflections add. Then progressed on so that when I got my license in 1960, I'd be at the drag strip one day and up to Cleveland for the Cleveland Orchestra at Severance or Blossom (in the summer) for Classical the next night. I also played Alto and tenor sax in band and the school's bari sax. So I've been in the middle of the band or orchestra as a player and probably hundreds of times in the audience in several halls and none of this amplified. So that's my early background. Also gave me chance to get these
To me the sound of the hall and the relationship of the music to the hall is just as important as the music itself. I had my Quad ESL57s in 1959 (actually my dad's but 'ended up' in my room) and if I realized that these were very nice midrange 75db one listener speakers and if I sat in just the right spot (nearfield with the speakers out from that front wall) I found that I could get a taste of the complete package ….. the orchestra, the space and the relationship of the orchestra to the space with a pair of stereo speakers. So at that moment I became an irrational, subjectivist, non-scientific, audiophile chasing that holy grail and it's never gone away.
I got very active in the hobby, but knew better not to make it my business, although I worked for a dealer and became a dealer, but for most of my decades, kept it a hobby only. I was going to all of the big shows starting with the last couple of years of the summer CES in NYC before they moved to McCormick Place in Chicago. I've listened to countless speakers of all types and associated equipment over the decades and owned my fair share of it. One factor that I've noticed since the beginning is that there's a big difference from how otherwise pretty good sounding speakers reproduce that three dimensional information. Still is a big factor, but not to the extent as back then best I can recall as many manufactures have upped their game.
I had a good friend who, in the early 70s turned me on to the Tympani IUs and then later the Dayton Wrights. Seemed he always bought first and then I followed along so I can't claim credit for the discovery. He had a local recording studio so I sort of became a 'grunt' and helped with the setup and teardown of live recording sessions, which just fascinated me to no end. Perspective was certainly different from siting row 10-15 for the duration, but was actually more interesting because of the venue. After we'd get the one mic and A77 loaded in the car and off to his house. True, he was going to do editing work the next day, but we couldn't resist listening to the raw unedited tape played back on his Magneplanars right after we got back to his house. What continued to surprise me is how real it all sounded including of course the sound of the venue and relationship of the band to the venue with just two carefully placed speakers in stereo with no DSP or alterations of any kind. This my not be everyone's propriety, but it is my BFD. Frequency response and all is nice, and as I've said many times, side to side tracking or constancy is very important, but all of the other stuff pales in comparison to the hand waving, no metric, hocus pocus stuff I've babbled on about since the 60s and certainly since I've been here. Just because "But, in terms of imaging and soundstage there are no references
" doesn't mean it doesn't exist and it's not extremely important to some of us. For me it's my top priority in a system. And sure, of course, it has to be 'captured' in the recording, and I'm not talking about studio recording that are 'assembled', but unamplified, live, full orchestras, blues, bluegrass, etc., performance that are recorded. I now you've been in LA for years and I was there from 1980 - 2010. We have some great venues such as the new Disney and some real stinkers such as the old Hollywood Bowl, Dorothy Chandler and probably the worst I've ever been in, Royce at UCLA, unfair because that venue was designed for speech intelligibility.
There are several of us in this thread who are saying the same. Plus, there are designers/engineers who put every effort into make this experience as real to life as possible, although everyone tells me that's it's more of a 'seat of the pants' thing.