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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Just thinking out loud...

If:

In stereo music, we're always talking about speaker "imaging" and "soundstage", which is the audial illusion of various instruments coming from distinct places in space from only two speakers,

And:

In home theater we're always talking about placing multiple speakers in specific places to create "surround sound", including a center speaker so we don't have to rely on L/R imaging,

And:

5.1 surround music does exist in limited quantity, but only gets us part way toward recreating a music performance,

Then:

Wouldn't the ideal arrangement be to have a speaker for each performer, placed according to their actual location on the stage in front of you? Surrounds can play audience/background noise if desired, via a toggle.

Of course, there will always be compromises. You can't feasibly place a speaker for each member of an orchestra in your living room. But for say a conventional rock band, you could recreate a 4 or 5 member band. Singer up front, guitar and bass to the sides, drummer in the rear. Maybe a keyboardist or other instrument, too.

It seems to me that the home theater industry recognized this and evolved, but the music industry never did. Sure, they toyed with things like surround DVD-A but it remains a niche idea.

Of course, the mixing would have to be done specifically for this. And how much would we gain for our efforts? One major stumbling block - you can't do this for mp3 players or iPod docks in the bed/bathroom. This is main system only stuff, and very niche stuff at that. But it's interesting for an audio nerd to think about.
 

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Wouldn't the ideal arrangement be to have a speaker for each performer, placed according to their actual location on the stage in front of you?
Doesn't really sound like the ideal arrangement. The ideal arrangement is for the listener to hear what the recording engineer intends for the listener to hear. Think about microphone positioning, recording techniques, the mixing and mastering process, etc. It isn't very common for a recording to be mixed to sound like the performance is happening in your living room. Anyway, what you are describing is sort of being approached by object oriented sound schemes like Dolby Atmos, at least on a mixing level.
 

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....Wouldn't the ideal arrangement be to have a speaker for each performer, placed according to their actual location on the stage in front of you? Surrounds can play audience/background noise if desired, via a toggle.....
So how many for Mahler's Symphony of a Thousand (#8)?:eek:
 

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The experiments done at Bell Labs in the 1930s concluded that the ultimate for reproducing an orchestra's sound on stage was a grid containing about 1000 speakers, each with its own recording/reproducing channel. The practical minimum speaker count was 3, Left, Center and Right.

5.1 music can, if mixed right, do an impressive job of localization in many more listening positions than just the one sweet spot that stereo requires.

Channel/speaker count always collides with practicality. Quite some time ago there was a proposal for 10.2, based on the fact that every time the channel count doubles anyone can clearly hear the improvement, but it never gained any traction, and even 5.1 botched it's marketing to the point where it never penetrated.

I personally feel that 5.1/7.1 is probably the practical limit for several reasons. But Dolby et al are welcome to try to get all those speakers to win the WAF and hit the budget. The problem I see with placements like Atmos (home) is they've ignored the fact that the minimum for acceptable virtual localization is 3, and Atmos speakers only show up in pairs, creating the same fragile virtual center problem that stereo has, only in height pairs.

Since modern music has moved quite a distance from presenting the perspective of an orchestra on stage and no longer follows any rules, a standardized mixing monitor plan is the only thing that makes sense. Stereo is pretty much there, but so fragile that it is impossible to replicate the position the mixing engineer heard. 5.1, on the other hand, as defined by the ITU and others, is well known, easily replicated at home, and has been done millions of times already. Too bad so much listening is done on earbuds. HD Radio might have pushed 5.1 music, but broadcasters (by that I mean the NAB) are mostly self-serving, short-sighted opportunists, so they blew it. A new, free 5.1 distribution channel, 5.1 in cars and homes, with automatic mix-down to stereo just might have made 5.1 music fly.
 

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So how many for Mahler's Symphony of a Thousand (#8)?:eek:
If you didn't mind limiting your home audience to 20 or so, about 10.2 would have worked quite well. Even Gustav would have loved it.
 

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Just thinking out loud...

Wouldn't the ideal arrangement be to have a speaker for each performer, placed according to their actual location on the stage in front of you? Surrounds can play audience/background noise if desired, via a toggle.

Of course, there will always be compromises. You can't feasibly place a speaker for each member of an orchestra in your living room. But for say a conventional rock band, you could recreate a 4 or 5 member band. Singer up front, guitar and bass to the sides, drummer in the rear. Maybe a keyboardist or other instrument, too.
After reading this an interesting thought popped in my head. For an orchestra, a speaker placed in each performers position "could" possibly recreate the sound of an orchestra, provided you had all the individual instruments recorded and balanced correctly. Seems like a lot of effort for very little gain.

But for the rock band, you really are not hearing the music related to where the musicians are standing on stage. You are listening to where their speaker cabinets are located, or where the PA speakers are located at a larger venue where the band's equipment cannot provide enough volume.
 

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Just thinking out loud...

If:

In stereo music, we're always talking about speaker "imaging" and "soundstage", which is the audial illusion of various instruments coming from distinct places in space from only two speakers,

And:

In home theater we're always talking about placing multiple speakers in specific places to create "surround sound", including a center speaker so we don't have to rely on L/R imaging,

And:

5.1 surround music does exist in limited quantity, but only gets us part way toward recreating a music performance,

Then:

Wouldn't the ideal arrangement be to have a speaker for each performer, placed according to their actual location on the stage in front of you? Surrounds can play audience/background noise if desired, via a toggle.

Of course, there will always be compromises. You can't feasibly place a speaker for each member of an orchestra in your living room. But for say a conventional rock band, you could recreate a 4 or 5 member band. Singer up front, guitar and bass to the sides, drummer in the rear. Maybe a keyboardist or other instrument, too.

It seems to me that the home theater industry recognized this and evolved, but the music industry never did. Sure, they toyed with things like surround DVD-A but it remains a niche idea.

Of course, the mixing would have to be done specifically for this. And how much would we gain for our efforts? One major stumbling block - you can't do this for mp3 players or iPod docks in the bed/bathroom. This is main system only stuff, and very niche stuff at that. But it's interesting for an audio nerd to think about.
Sorry mate, fun idea, but impractical on every level of thinking.

1. The way music is currently recorded and produced would have to be utterly reinvented, but first, new technologies would have to be invented for studio's and home media rooms.

2. The size of the data files, would increase exponentially.

3. The size of the mixing booth in the studios would increase and would the minimum size requirments for home theaters, etc.

4. The wife objection factor would increase exponentially as well.

5. The cost of home theater would increase exponential:
a) More Speakers and related installation and calibration expense: Diffusion and absorption panels would be come mandatory.
b) More amplifiers and AC consumption.
c) larger space requirements

6. Ultimately, consumer would not buy in!

7. Manufacturer knowing this in advance, would not buy in either. Cart before the horse effect!

9. And all of the aforementioned is irrespective if the approach would even work in the first place, which due to many acoustical constraints, could not!
- Beaming would be rampant
- - Combing would be rampant
- - - constructive and destructive interference would be rampant
- massive frequency time alignment issues would be rampant
- etc., etc., etc.,

The future trend will be towards less drivers, as improvements in understanding the ear-brain combo are made, alongside of DSP and transducer technological advancements.

Fun to think about though - good post!
 

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You won't like my response but speakers don't have imaging or sound stage. Sound stage is nothing more than accuracy of the stereo separation. You increase it or collapse it by where you place the speakers.


Imaging is handled when the recording is mixed. It is the mixing engineer that places the sound sources by using the pan controls and level sliders on the mixer. So my advice is to ignore these things when selecting speakers. You can adjust the "soundstage" and you have no control over the "imaging.+ I can't even imagine when or how this stuff got started in home audio. Probably magazine reviewers. I view it as pure nonsense. Sorry.


Select your speakers based how you like the sound they produce.


I'll stay away from the concept of multichannel music recordings because I don't care for it personally. Some people love it. It is a matter of preference. There is no right or wrong.
 

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Sounds interesting but I can't see this flying.
Nobody wants to coat their room with woofer wallpaper, even if it does give accurate placement of sounds.
(With nanotechnology maybe it could actually be: invisible woofer wallpaper.)

You know, I once bought a Music DVD. All they did was place audience clapping on the surround speakers and muted them the rest of the time. It was 99% center channel.

I was totally dishearted and bummed out.

There needs to be a THX-Music standard that all studios must adhere to, otherwise it's just random wild-west gun slinging... pew pew.
Sometimes I feel like this is actually a Planet of Monkeys for realz.

At this rate we will never see even a proper, 7.1 Music standard made; let alone 32.4 or 32x32+32x32+32x32+32x32.4!
 

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You won't like my response but speakers don't have imaging or sound stage. Sound stage is nothing more than accuracy of the stereo separation. You increase it or collapse it by where you place the speakers.



I disagree. How accurately a speaker reproduces the higher frequencies helps with stereo imaging. A lot of the imaging clues comes from the higher frequencies. Even accuracy through the midrange is important for that as well.


Of course where you place them in the room is important. In my room I use 2-way stand mounts and occasionally swap the speakers out with another set in exactly the same location where the stands are located. Some speakers I own do a better job of producing the 3D sound stage.


After all, if I was to put a really cheap pair of speakers that sounded very muddy with very little high resolution detail and midrange accuracy, then obviously the sound stage would collapse to some degree as well.


In fact I even listen for that when choosing the crossover point to go to subs with my 2-ways. More bass offloaded from the 2-ways improve their midrange accuracy and stereo imaging improves.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
But for the rock band, you really are not hearing the music related to where the musicians are standing on stage. You are listening to where their speaker cabinets are located, or where the PA speakers are located at a larger venue where the band's equipment cannot provide enough volume.
I did think about this, but didn't want to make the post too long. It would work for acoustic performances though.

Sorry mate, fun idea, but impractical on every level of thinking.
I already acknowledged that this isn't practical. It's just "thinking out loud".
9. And all of the aforementioned is irrespective if the approach would even work in the first place, which due to many acoustical constraints, could not!
- Beaming would be rampant
- - Combing would be rampant
- - - constructive and destructive interference would be rampant
- massive frequency time alignment issues would be rampant
- etc., etc., etc.,
No more than already exists in a lot of live venues.
 

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I did think about this, but didn't want to make the post too long. It would work for acoustic performances though.


I already acknowledged that this isn't practical. It's just "thinking out loud".

No more than already exists in a lot of live venues.

1. You never said it wasn't practical, you inferred the opposite. You just said you were thinking out loud.

2. The destruction to sonic goodness would be so incredibility high, it couldn't be compared to anything, especially pro-audio PA setups.

Like I said, fun to think about, but it will never happen, for at least the reason that I stated.
 

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I disagree. How accurately a speaker reproduces the higher frequencies helps with stereo imaging. A lot of the imaging clues comes from the higher frequencies. Even accuracy through the midrange is important for that as well.


Of course where you place them in the room is important. In my room I use 2-way stand mounts and occasionally swap the speakers out with another set in exactly the same location where the stands are located. Some speakers I own do a better job of producing the 3D sound stage.


After all, if I was to put a really cheap pair of speakers that sounded very muddy with very little high resolution detail and midrange accuracy, then obviously the sound stage would collapse to some degree as well.
Imaging depends on several things, but the accuracy of HF isn't one of them unless it's really terrible. What's important to imaging and soundstage is that the direct sound reach the listener without significant early reflections, but even more important is that both L and R speaker's direct field be as nearly identical as possible. That means the response of both speakers must match well, and that also means room location and listening position is critical. If one speaker is near a side wall and the other isn't, the imaging is not going to be nearly as palpable as if they were both identical, preferably without the sidewall. Getting away from very different reflections within the first few milliseconds is critical. Speakers that are more directional tend to image better in many situations because of this, they keep energy off reflecting surfaces, but the trade-off is a tiny sweet spot.

This is really what's wrong with two channel stereo, the tiny sweet spot and very fragile imaging. Adding more speakers in front, even just adding a center, widens the sweet spot tremendously because the most fragile of all virtual image locations is dead center. Put a speaker there, and the rest is far less critical. This is one huge advantage of multi-channel music as it already exists. Imaging doesn't depend nearly so heavily on phantom images when you have speakers where you want sound. Yes, the infinite speaker array comes to mind, but a practical trade-off would be 10, and frankly that's impossible and impractical because there's no material apart from a few demo bits.

That's why I keep harping on 5.1 music. We have a HUGE installed base of listening environments right now, and could easily multiply that many times over if the format got standardized in cars, where, again, the center and sub really work well. It's a marketing failure, but it did work technically. 7.1 is a logical extension, but 10.2 had height and width channels in front, and a single rear which made much more sense. Shame it's never going to happen.

Another point on this is, we have a finite bit rate available, even 192/24 is finite. What can we do with that to make it create the biggest difference? Not two high-rate channels, but many average rate channels. Very few can reliably hear any difference directly attributable to high bit depth and rates, and those that can are typically working with samples without identical masters. Yet everyone can easily hear the difference in more than two channels. It's that obvious. So what should we do with our bit rate?

Again, the horse has left the barn, but it would have made more sense to develop multichannel music, in any of the common channel plans, than tilt at the high definition two channel audio windmill.

Yes, there's still some 5.1 music being produced today, just not much, and nothing in the popular genre. And we now can deliver high rate multichannel audio too. We've never been better equipped to handle multichannel music than we are now. Music, however, remains mostly a two-channel world. That's two channel stereo, the plan proven least effective of all stereophony back in 1933.
 

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It seems to me that the home theater industry recognized this and evolved, but the music industry never did. Sure, they toyed with things like surround DVD-A but it remains a niche idea.
the home theater industry evolved? Um... Music has done more for two channel playback than multichannel could ever really hope to do. There are a gajillion people working with stereo/music & that segment has really taken stereo to its full potential. There are only a handfull of movies that barely scratch the surface of what all those speakers can actually do.


Anyway, in response to everything else you said... well... speakers for individual performers would only move the medium in the wrong direction. might as well go back to nickelodeons... which isn't such a bad starting point... conceptually... I'm interested in this topic, but am feeling rather meh at the moment...

you should check out

Ambisonics
Binaural Recording
 

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OP is on to something. Oppo has some sample DSD 5.1 high rez audio files that I tried out for the first time and it was an amazing experience in my home theater. every speaker had a different musician and at one point the guitar walks back to the surrounds and no stereo audio has ever excited me as much as this did. I'm hooked on it!

I think the reason the audio industry is not evolving is because they are run by old men that don't see the future. They all missed the itunes boat. They had their chance. They fought technology and lost back then and continue to do so today.
 

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OP is on to something. Oppo has some sample DSD 5.1 high rez audio files that I tried out for the first time and it was an amazing experience in my home theater. every speaker had a different musician and at one point the guitar walks back to the surrounds and no stereo audio has ever excited me as much as this did. I'm hooked on it!

I think the reason the audio industry is not evolving is because they are run by old men that don't see the future. They all missed the itunes boat. They had their chance. They fought technology and lost back then and continue to do so today.

iTunes and Mp3 in general has kill audio fidelity! We need improvements in transducer technology, not more bad transducers. Come on guy's, age has nothing to do with it! Understanding of science and technology does, and the desires of the market place.

Two speaker can properly place dozens of instrumentation. Now that's efficient, placing dozens of speaker into a space is not! It's arcane!

Audio science tells up that using a multiple of driver is less than ideal, but that we're forced to until we develop new transducer technologies. Placing 3-speakers within one enclosure present large enough challenges as it is, placing dozens of such in a bigger enclosure, our rooms, well that's just backwards thinking, IMO!
 

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OP is on to something. Oppo has some sample DSD 5.1 high rez audio files that I tried out for the first time and it was an amazing experience in my home theater. every speaker had a different musician and at one point the guitar walks back to the surrounds and no stereo audio has ever excited me as much as this did. I'm hooked on it!

I think the reason the audio industry is not evolving is because they are run by old men that don't see the future. They all missed the itunes boat. They had their chance. They fought technology and lost back then and continue to do so today.

Unless I'm a performing musician, I don't expect to hear instruments behind me. I expect them to be in front of me. Yes, I'm a geezer but I'm certainly not against technological innovations.


I remember when stereo first arrived. We had records with recordings of passing trains and ping pong matches to illustrate the technology. The technology was excellent but the recordings were silly. Who wants to listen to recordings of passing trains? I view the disc you described as being the same thing. Interesting technology misapplied to the business of recording and playing recorded music.


I think surround sound is a positive addition to movie sound tracks but I don't care for them in music that I should be hearing in front of me. I want the technology to enhance reality, not to distort it I tunes, incidentally isn't a technology designed to make music recording better. It is a technology to make recorded music distribution cheaper.
 

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iTunes and Mp3 in general has kill audio fidelity! We need improvements in transducer technology, not more bad transducers.
Missing the fact that todays ton of bad transducers spawned the now burgeoning after-market headphone business, from which we now actually quite a few really good transducers that we never had before. As bad as some .mp3 have been, today's offerings from iTunes can hardly be blamed for killing audio fidelity. The increase of common high speed Internet access has permitted the growth to higher rate AAC files, and downloadable CD quality files. It just took some time, but now "High Resolution" audio is all the buzz, hitting the likes of the Wall Street Journal just in the past week. That wouldn't have happened if we'd started by distributing CD quality and never went down to low-rate .mp3. With .mp3 out there, the need for HD audio is simply much greater. Network distribution of music has radically modified the distribution channel for music, and the business model for that industry, and has spread lower quality audio around the globe, but it's also got more people listening, and more desiring better quality too. If you think .mp3 was bad, what do you think about cassettes, distributed encoded with Dolby B, but played without decoding on cheap portable players with high flutter and bad headphones? Before we blame the .mp3, we should blame human nature, and the desire for quantity and convenience over quality.
Come on guy's, age has nothing to do with it! Understanding of science and technology does, and the desires of the market place.
Actually, you can drop understanding of science and tech, and just focus on desires of the market. It's what drives science and tech.
Two speaker can properly place dozens of instrumentation.
...only at a listening position along a line perpendicular to a line between the speakers, precisely centered between the speakers, in a highly symmetrical room. Otherwise, not so much. Or in headphones where there is no proper localization without some form of binaural recording. No, two-channels is simply not enough, and fails most of the time to present the listener with proper placement.

Current stats place 80% of all music listening on headphones. None of the material is mixed on or for headphones, so it's 80% wrong out of the gate, as the headphone perspective is mostly a line between the ears, right through the center of the head. A good bit of the remaining 20% is casual listening with the head not centered in a casually placed system, so nothing places right there at all either. The well built stereo system with the listener's head clamped in the sweet spot is under 1%, my guess. Even if it's 5%, that's pretty much a failure to deliver properly placed and localized instruments.

Now that's efficient, placing dozens of speaker into a space is not! It's arcane!
It's efficient if the goal is music in the room, not efficient if the goal is proper soundstage for more than one person. Arcane as multi-channel may seem, two channel stereo simply doesn't work well for placing dozens of "instrumentation", or just instruments. (Instrumentalities, if you're on the Forbidden Planet).
Audio science tells up that using a multiple of driver is less than ideal, but that we're forced to until we develop new transducer technologies. Placing 3-speakers within one enclosure present large enough challenges as it is, placing dozens of such in a bigger enclosure, our rooms, well that's just backwards thinking, IMO!
Large 3-way speakers have their issues, but the issues of presenting properly localized sound in a room are far different. They are not related very well at all. Today's surround channel plans make provision for smaller speakers along with subs and bass management that takes care of the need for placing large 3-way speakers around the room. If you compare that with what was being advanced for "Quad"/4-channel stereo in the 1970s, you'll see it's actually forward thinking, not backward. It's much easier to achieve a degree of aesthetics with a bunch of small speakers than it is with four large ones.
 

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Unless I'm a performing musician, I don't expect to hear instruments behind me. I expect them to be in front of me. Yes, I'm a geezer but I'm certainly not against technological innovations.


I remember when stereo first arrived. We had records with recordings of passing trains and ping pong matches to illustrate the technology. The technology was excellent but the recordings were silly. Who wants to listen to recordings of passing trains? I view the disc you described as being the same thing. Interesting technology misapplied to the business of recording and playing recorded music.


I think surround sound is a positive addition to movie sound tracks but I don't care for them in music that I should be hearing in front of me. I want the technology to enhance reality, not to distort it.
It's a philosophical discussion point that those creating multichannel music have batted around quite a bit. The "in the band" mix is a bit odd for some, but opening up the entire room for the creation of a soundscape is not a bad idea either. The trick is to provide the proper perspective for the music. Nobody really ever mixed the "in the band" perspective for multichannel orchestral recordings, it doesn't work for anyone. However, the room ambience and center channel of a stage perspective is quite convincing. The "in the band" perspective doesn't work well for smaller groups in performance either. But many recordings done from the late 1960s until now are mixed to create a soundscape other than that we'd normally find ourselves in. Something unique, and other-worldly. I guess my go-to on that would would be "Dark Side of the Moon", which works amazingly well in 5.1, but isn't ever really just a band on stage, never was intended to be.

However, the band on stage, multichannel mix perspective is still more robust in image placement than two channel stereo, with room ambience bringing a sense of space that doesn't happen otherwise.

Mark Waldrep at AIX Records has a lot of his stuff mixed three ways, 2-channel (true high-res!) stereo, and both 5.1 perspectives. His approach is to mix 'em all up, provide them and let the listener decide. Only a small label would do that, but it's a way to compare. I think some even have a video track, on BD releases, if you want to see what went on in the studio at the time.

I tunes, incidentally isn't a technology designed to make music recording better. It is a technology to make recorded music distribution cheaper.
Actually it was to make music acquisition easier, and slightly cheaper. It did the easy part, cheaper sometimes too, not always. Music from iTunes is hardly ever better than the CD, but their "Mastered for iTunes" initiative has the potential for making it at least equal to if not slightly better, if anyone actually did that.
 
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