They Are Here Or You Are There – part 2

They Are Here or You Are There? – Part Two

Sooo we are stuck with having to be sonically transported to the place where the recording was made / “You Are There”. This presents a whole different list of psychoacoustic problems. First off there is a vast difference between recording a symphony in a concert hall, and, say, a jazz trio in a club. The concert hall is huge compare to the club. Reflections from the concert hall will be slow compared to the jazz club because of the time it takes for the sound to reflect (we call this “Ambience”) from the large hall. We have to rely on the skill of the recording engineer to select the best microphones and place them in such a way that they will pick up a convincing balance of direct sound and ambience. He really is the most important component!

OK. For now let’s pretend we have the amplifier power and speakers to handle the dynamics of both. How do we handle the problem of our reflected sound in our listening room? Won’t this additional “return” confuse our ears and make the sound seem unnatural? Or do we have to haul our system outside where there are no walls or ceilings?

Hold on. There is good news kids. If we listen in a reasonably small area, several things happen. We find ourselves relatively close to the speakers. In this “near field” environment, the ratio between the direct sound from the speakers to the reflected sound from the room is quite low. Your ears will not be aware of the small amounts of “room” acoustics choosing instead to “believe” the much louder near field energy. And with it comes the ambience which has been recorded from the concert hall along with the direct sound from the instruments. “You Are There”. More good news: There are things you can do to your listening room to improve things further.

Next time: “The Second Most Important Component”

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