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A 'Teaser' For Neil Wilkes

Discussion in 'High resolution audio' started by A_Klingon, Nov 16, 2003.

  1. A_Klingon

    A_Klingon Moderator Staff Member

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    It's a bit uncanny and/or coincidental how I seem to be learning a little more about your chosen profession every day, Wilkes.

    A while back, I forwarded my suspicion that you were pretty much in new, almost unchartered territory with your work involving multi-surround. Seems my suspicions were correct. It [bold]is[/bold] a new field we don't ofter hear or read about, and not since the advent of High-Resolution Digital Audio, have we (really) been exposed to it, other than with Dolby DD-5.1 or DTS dvd-video movie soundtracks.

    I thought you might find this (short, edited) piece from 'The Absolute Sound' interesting. It [bold]does[/bold] confirm what I suspected earlier, -- that surround-sound music mastering is a very new field indeed. (See? I [bold]told[/bold] you, you were a 'Pioneer'!) :)

    The piece was written by a music reviewer as he was about to crack open a new bunch of hi-res music discs......

    After listening to the recordings evaluated here, and many that aren't, I've come to the conclusion that the art of engineering multi-channel sound remains yet in it's infancy. And I dont believe that many of the record companies are doing us any favor in failing to describe the surround techniques you're going to encounter on their discs.

    For one thing, with ...[a few notable exceptions]... , and some of the most recent multichannel recordings from the Big Boys, many so-called "surround" issues are simply remixes of eight (or more) track masters. That is, they were not specifically conceived to make the most of the surround experience. That some of them do ... is a tribute to the intelligence of the remix producers and engineers.
    [Take a bow, Neil !] :)

    Still, you never really will know, necessarily, how some of these discs are meant to be heard. Unless there is a good cause for it, I don't see the point in remixing just to put instruments or voices in the rear speakers (as Decca has done [with].....).

    We also have the tantalizing prospect of hearing some of the last century's Golden Age recordings in their three-channel originals... And I regret that certain three-channel originals....[he quotes some]... couldn't have been engineered for a straight transfer of the master tapes, despite the care and skill with which these, and [some other] old Quad recordings have been rejuvinated.

    Just because we have six channels to play with doesn't mean we always have to use them.

    There is also a lack of standardization when it comes to the deployment of the channels and with certain exceptions almost no recording notes [are provided] to let you know how to adjust the levels of the respective channels. [For example] Telarc lets you know it uses the so-called subwoofer channel to carry ambient information; Chesky, on the other hand, with its unique system of encoding, tells you *squat*.

    Ditto for Columbia and most of the others. "They think it's too expensive to insert a sheet of notes with the discs," according to one well-placed guy in the industry. It seems to me that this kind of corporate penny-pinching is antithetical to the promotion of a new recording process, and certainly not in the best interests of the music lover or audiophile.

    I [had] thought of giving our readers the settings I used for the most natural playback of the discs under discussion, but thought again when I came to the conclusion that no two [surround-sound] listeners were likely to have the same spatial distribution of their speakers or even similar room acoustic chacteristics.
    [End of quoted Review]

    All in all, quite an interesting piece, methinks. Multichannel music-audio still seems a relatively new consumer idea - and one fraught with more than a few 'black magic' misconceptions. (In both the mastering end and the home-user setup end).

    Quizz For Today: What musician was it who was rumoured to have said, "If God had meant for us to hear multichannel sound, he would have given us 5.1 ears."

    a) Brittany Spears
    b) 'Boy George' of The Culture Club
    c) Paul McCartney
    d) Ludwig Van Beethoven
    e) U2's Bono
    f) Johanne Sebastian Bach
    g) Black Sabbath's 'Ozzy' Osbourne

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    If you answered [bold]"d"[/bold], you are probably correct (hell, I have no idea, as this was just a trick question), but ol' Ludwig was reported to have said this in 1822 just after he bought his new Pioneer surround-sound DVD player, and discovering that his hearing was all shot to hell. :)

    [​IMG]

    Have a nice day! [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2003
  2. tigre

    tigre Moderator Staff Member

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    If God had meant for us to hear multichannel sound, he would have given us 5.1 ears.

    Off topic somehow but related:

    For perfect surround 2 channels are in fact enough! If you listen to binaural recordings with headphones you can exactly locate the postions of all sound sources. It's an amazing experience.

    Here's a thread at hydrogenaudio where you find many samples for download:
    http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/index.php?showtopic=5408&
     
  3. tigre

    tigre Moderator Staff Member

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  4. A_Klingon

    A_Klingon Moderator Staff Member

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    Tigre, thank you for the link to Jim Treats binaural .mpc page.

    I got the winamp .mpc plugin; downloaded a few samples; cozied-up to my Sony headphones; kept the volume low-ish (and had to kill almost all the bass); and listened to some really marvelous ... (um).... stereo effects.

    (Oh boy). It must be me. I really tried. I have no doubt that these [bold]are [/bold]binaural recordings, but, for me at least, I didn't receive enough spatial clues to envision leaves scattering and a dog barking, in a 3-d surround-like kind of way. (Oh, the effects *were* realistic).

    I know that a lot of binaural orchestral recordings have been made over the years. One audio magazine described a particular label's technique of using a life-sized, carefully proportioned head. The head had microphones placed into the ear canals, and the head was placed front-row center in the theater. I never heard one of those recordings, so this was my first real exposure to binaural.

    (But the files just sounded like <admittedly terrific> stereo recordings.

    [bold]"These files have warped my fragile little mind!"[/bold] [​IMG]


     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2003
  5. tigre

    tigre Moderator Staff Member

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    You're welcome ;)

    The effect mainly consists of what happens to the sound on its way from the source to the tympanic membrane:

    - Depending on the position of the sound source , sound (including reflections - floor, walls etc.) reachs the ear with a delay (=distance/sound speed).

    - Sound that can't reach the ear directly has to run arround the head and is therefore damped in a frequency dependant way (= equalized).

    - Reflections, mainly by the external ear, resulting in a frequency response that depends on the direction the sound comes from (= equalization, similar to 2nd point).

    So there are some possible reasons why the effect isn't that reallistic:

    - Frequency response of the headphones: If the frequency response curve is known, the playback system's frequency response can be adjusted back to flat using a good equalizer (Winamp's nativ isn't good, better use something like Shibatch Super EQ - avail. as plugin for Winamp, natively in foobar2000).

    - If the headphones are cans and not in-ear ones, it's possible that reflections cause some additional equalization. To measure this some equipment like in-ear microphones would be necessary

    - The shape of the listener's ears (and head) are considerably different from the ones of the (dummy) head used for recording resulting in a different frequency response (You hear with someone else's ears which you aren't used to, Spock!)

    - Neurological/Psychological: If you hear someone in front of you talking but you don't see him, your brain tries to interprete the input in a way it's used to and puts the voice in space somewhere where your eyes can't see it (e.g. behind you). Workarround: Close your eyes, relax, inhale ... exhale ... ... feel the warmth flowing though your arms and legs ... Oops - seems I'm a little bit distracted. ;)__X_X_X_X_X_[small]AFTERDAWN FORUM RULES: http://forums.afterdawn.com/thread_view.cfm/2487[/small]
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2003

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