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
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Harry Pearson once wrote that correct imaging is more important on recordings than in person, as with recordings you have no visual clues.

That being said, IMO there is no reason not to have pretty perfect left to right imaging of instruments. I think the only thing that can get in the way of that are loudspeaker resonances which may be present more than some think. Front to back is a different matter as that is where the recording art is (or is not) at its finest. Much multi-miking, for example, erases front to back imaging. The 3 mike techniques used in the early days by Everest, Mercury, RCA and Decca probably did it best. Credit Everest’s Bert Whyte for its early development.

A small exception is that in the earliest stereo days, notably at RCA, they recorded a full orchestra with only two microphones (before the stereo disk and initially headed for open reel tape) and a resolving system may reveal the so-called hole in the middle. And so they added the third microphone.

Orchestras, of course may have different seating arrangements even for different pieces. Split L-R violins, sometimes cellos in front on right, sometimes violas. Basses sometimes at extreme left, etc. Percussion can be anywhere.

PS: The Mercury Records engineer was C. Robert "Bob" Fine, not Donald.
In recent years, I have loved to hear the Oregon Symphony. A truly world class organization. I
have preferred to sit in the first 3-4 rows on the far left. There is the best way to watch the conductor, Carlos Kamar. And the soloists. And feel the violins.
My memory of sitting many rows back I still seemed to be aware of section placement. Especially watching the conductor as they notify cues all around. Interesting to see the link of the different orchestra arrangements. I believe I remember “standard arrangements” in several different symphonies. I will try to listen to symphonic works as a blend but it clearly, for example, I always hear trumpets on the back right.
+1 @melm 

My memory of sitting many rows back I still seemed to be aware of section placement. Especially watching the conductor as they notify cues all around.
This is why I like mid hall seating. I hear the proper placement of instruments, yet the orchestra presents a cohesive sound.

@mglik 
Can you describe the image that you hear on recordings?
Are these older or modern recording techniques?



I listen to orchestral music very often. On most all my recordings, the musicians are where they should be. It is very important to me that they are. But, the quality and method of the recording is also very important in making one recording being better than another.

If this is happening on all your orchestral recordings, I would have to assume something else is amiss. Perhaps start with checking speaker placement, room treatments, etc.