Are you troubled by the imaging of a symphony orchestra?


I don’t listen to orchestra LPs much because there are very few that correctly image the placement of the instruments. I have changed ICs. The SQ is good but it is troublesome the not hear the violin section on the left, the violas and celli on the right, etc. Pre Covid, I frequently enjoyed going to the Symphony and sitting close.
It is hard to get that picture out of my mind.
mglik
Mike,  Part of the issue here is that when attending live performances there is a great deal of diversity in what one hears as a function of where one sits.  If one sits fairly close to the stage on the main floor, what you hear is really very different than what you hear if you are seated in the dress circle.   Sitting close you usually have a pretty good idea of instrument location, but from the dress circle in most halls you will hear a very blended symphony.  Symphony, after all, means sound together.

Recording engineers have to make a decision about what kind of orchestral presentation they are trying to emulate.  Very often, one will hear this bizarre blend of close vs distant mic position in the same recording.  But if you are used to a main floor center row 6 listening perspective, you will look long and hard to find recordings that are single mic near center recordings.  If you have been in attendance at performances that are being recorded, you will see microphones all over the hall and above the stage.

All that said, if you are hearing major orchestral sections out of place, something is not quite right.  Assuming normal orchestral seating where 1st and 2nd violins are both on the left, you ought to be able to at least have that sense at home, given the quality of your gear.  Now, if the orchestra is set up in a 1st violin left 2nd violin right configuration, then you are going to hear violins all the way across the stage.   Celli and violas occupy center positions in that arrangement. 
mglik, something for you to consider that hasn’t been mentioned.

Have you attended concerts by different orchestras and not mostly just one? I ask because not all orchestras arrange the strings with all violins hard left and violas, cello and basses to the right.

Some orchestras situate violas spread across the center, left to right; others to the right. Still others place the celli on the left and to the right of the first violins with the second violins hard right. Sometimes the basses are situated left and rear. There are still other preferred seating arrangements and they are at the discretion of the hometown conductor; seldom the guest conductor.

If you are used to hearing what you describe, recordings by orchestras which use a different seating arrangement may account for your reaction.
Good post by Brownsfan 😊

mglik, you may find this interesting (scroll down a bit):

https://andrewhugill.com/OrchestraManual/seating.html
@frogman back at you sir!
Large Jazz Band

I saw the Hot Sardines live, wide stage, trumpet far left (behind the christmas tree actually), horns moving in, bass, drums, to piano far right. Up front, tap dancer left of center, singer right of center. 

bought this album, awesome recording

https://www.amazon.com/Welcome-Home-Bon-Voyage-Sardines/dp/B07NBD1QDF

"This live album was recorded in two originative bursts at their regular haunt, Joe's Pub, in New York and Koerner Hall in Toronto."

but, the imaging was opposite of what I saw/heard live???

turns out, Donna was at that show at Joe's Pub, smaller stage, and the piano was on the left.

Still, my mind was expecting the opposite. Oh yeah, the McIntosh mode switch has 'stereo reverse'. Bingo, nirvana.