When you can afford good seats!
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A well recorded performance using more than one microphone will have spatial queues in the recording in the form of phase delay between the channels, which when played back through stereo speakers will replicate to some degree those same spatial queues allowing your mind to assign direction, distance, even altitude. Well made speakers, with very inert cabinets, will tend to better throw these sonic "images" akin to stereoscopic pictures.
Part of the ability to throw a stable image is close tolerance on the frequency responses of the left and right speaker, and smooth response with no peaks. The rest is how accurately the speakers can render those spatial queues in a way that bring realism to the experience.
Very good speakers, with the right recordings, can throw an image that extends well beyond the location of the speakers themselves, producing an enveloping sensation, a very 3D experience.
I've been at this hobby seriously for 45 years, and owned hundreds of components, and I had not heard a system that produced what I would call holographic imaging until a couple of years ago. By holographic I mean images that are completely divorced from the speakers, spread left-right and front-rear as live, in front of and behind the speakers. Frankly I had believed that reports of this phenomenon were marketing hype.
A few years ago I met a fellow 'phile through a local group that owned a system built around Shindo electronics and cables and Devore Gibbon Super 8 speakers. His listening/ living room seems unexceptional, with some treatment, but the sound was truly holographic, as I've described. Vocalists seemed to be 3-4 feet in front of the speakers, with instruments spread out, some seeming to be as much as 10 feet behind them, with a similar left-right spread, well outside of the speakers. I was shocked and stunned. I had never heard the like. I would have thought that it would take a high end multi-channel system to created this illusion, but I'd never actually heard anything like this. I've since heard this system a number of times. A couple of years ago he changed to Daedalus Athena speakers, which improved the sound greatly overall, and maintained or enhanced the illusion.
I've pondered this system for several years, trying to understand what is responsible for this and how I could reproduce it. The room has some peculiar properties, I think (although I don't understand what they are), and the owner has gone to great lengths to get his speaker positioning right, down to 1/4", using laser measuring and a positioning scheme he has embraced. I've not heard other electronics there, but the Shindo gear is at least partly responsible.
So- it is possible to achieve this, but I believe equipment alone won't do it. The room dimensions, treatments and positioning are major contributors; a major rabbit hole, should you choose to go down it.
Jmbatkh, nailed it. it happens. Years ago I met a local seller who was selling a granite slab. He lived in a fairly small apartment with an odd shaped room. His room was tweaked out, however. He played an Annie Lenox CD, the track "why?". It was like I was in the middle of the performance. Images were captured within proper space.
Years later, I purchased his speakers he was using. He is now a writer for Stereophile. Even with those speakers, I have not yet been able to reproduce that sound he had in my house. I have been what they say "chasing the dragon" since then.
The sound Jmbatkh is unnatural in the real world. I've been to hundreds of live shows and the degree of depth and separation he describes just doesn't occur in live music. The brain doesn't process live music in such a way, because the sound waves are hitting the ears at roughly the same time. Holographic sound such as Jmbatkh is largely the result of sound processing, speaker design and room effects.
The one and only time I heard a holographic presentation was at Elliot Midwood's place (the owner of Acoutic Image). It was at his house and he demo'd some entry level Audio Phyisics (?) speakers on an all tube set up. The speakers were rather far apart since looking straight ahead afforded me only a peripheral view of them. Also, the speakers were next to the walls, just inside, which opened onto another room behind them.
To say my jaw dropped was an understatement. Each and every musician had his and her own space, front to back, side to side, with specific boundaries, enough to qualify as ghostly. At first, I resisted the urge to get up and walk around the phantom images but then submitted and proceeded to walk around the players. As I neared them, they somewhat collapsed and reformed as I returned to my seat.
Quite the parlor trick and I've yet to experience it again.
The room holds all the cards should you want to recreate this effect and from what I've seen and read, no one uses this approach when designing a listening room. I'm sure there are other ways to do it but this is the only one I've witnessed.
All the best,
@ Luvs2listen, your 5.3.13 post hit the nail on the head. It is not a trick. It happens when things are setup correctly. Tara Labs Air 1 cable helped my system to achieve holographic presentation of the music with good recordings. I think that the room does play a big role in this also because now I don't want to leave it!!! LOL!.
I think the most holographic sound stage I've ever heard was on the Infinity IRS. If you'd heard it you'd know exactly why people refer to it as holographic -- it's as if you could walk between the instruments, so precisely are the delineated in three dimensional space.
Is it realistic? That's another question entirely. Most of the live acoustical music I've heard didn't image that way. The locations of the instruments are more diffuse, more a cloud than a point, and there was no sense of space between them. And sometimes instruments don't even come from where they should, e.g., if you close your eyes at Carnegie Hall it can sound as if some instruments are coming from the proscenium arch (depending on seating angles).
To Dawgbyte, what type of shows have you attended that don't allow you to put the sound with the artist? I'll give you that most "electric" live shows don't have such queues since everything is amped up and pumped out via some massive speaker system.
But when the recording is of a small quartet, for example a bass, drum, piano and vocalist, positioned on a stage, and a couple of microphones are set up fairly nearby, the arrangement of artists will come through the recording due to the slightly different arrival times of sound at the mic diaphragms. If you were standing near the center of the performance with the mics, you'd be able to close your eyes and place the drummer, bass player, piano and singer.
The studio created effects use the two channels and phase delay to make our brains think a sound is coming from specific locations. If you can close your eyes an easily assign locations to certain sounds, then your system has produced the illusion very well, especially if the sounds you're pointing to have no relation to the speakers.
Over the last 2 years Ive added an Audience aR 6TS conditioner, upgraded my Theta Casablanca II to a III, and added Clear Day speaker cables and for the first time my 50 year chase I now have a holographic system. Nothing was auditioned or compared side by side with competing brands so whatever I did was along the way was dumb luck.
I read the OP's question more narrowly. Luna asks whether the imaging and staging that a quality hi-fi can produce are ever encountered at live performances. My answer is somewhere between "never" and "almost never". Nonetheless, I find that excellent staging and imaging is critical to creating the illusion of live performance in a home setting. You lose a lot at home vs a live performance, but this is one area where the reproduction feels more real than the real thing. If you're a purist and a rationalist, you may reject the idea on principle. If you want to maximize your enjoyment of recorded music at home, I say "embrace it".
I agree that if one can occupy the same space as the mikes, one can appreciate what and how the mikes hear it. But no one sits that close. I had the pleasure of sitting just three rows back and center in a church setting to a three piece period baroque ensemble and the sound was practically homogenized when it got to me. I was hearing the sum of its parts when considering location despite clearly hearing the individual instruments.
There are advantages to hearing some things live and advantages to hearing some things at home. Live music allows one to emphasize with the musician(s) and the contact high that comes with listening with others. Home listening allows one to enjoy and appreciate all the more the mechanics of a recording.
I don't mean in the "mechanical" sense a rigid, soulless interpretation, but rather in the structure, timing, and highlighting of performers that would otherwise be smeared or homogenized.
All the best,
A good system will just replicate what is on the recording. The greater the resolution, the better the effect, if it is there to begin, depending on mic placement and mixing. Case in point concerning the Mercury studio recording of 10cc's "I'm Not In Love". The soundstage expands with the echo delay effect in the mix. I have had this recording for many years and I often use it, along with others to see how a new component is interacting in the system. I cease to be amazed at how this "halo" effect of the mix just keeps expanding completely to the walls of my room front and back the greater the resolution of the system is increased, the speakers completely disappear, just one case in point. What is more remarkable is how the lead vocal becomes more natural, coherent and focused amid this effect, just amazing.
In live music this is never heard or experienced so the reality is that a microphone can seldom capture what you hear in a live setting but some of the old RCA and Mercury recording engineers did a very credible job in replicating what you might expect to hear from a live orchestra at a venue if not ALWAYS missing the natural tonality of real instruments as credible as a great system may get.
I have pairs of speakers in 5 rooms off two different source systems and get a holographic sound stage to varying degrees with each. It mostly has to do with how well set up the speakers are in the room for holographic sound. Setups in only two of these rooms are highly optimized for holographic soundstage. The other three are more general purpose so I have to compromise somewhat in those.
The best holographic soundstage comes from my large OHM F5 series 3 speakers, which are in my larger L shaped listening room.
NExt is a pair of Dynaudio Contour 1.3 mkII monitors in my smaller 12X12 listening room.
Third is a pair of Triangle Titus XS monitors in my somewhat large family room (lower volume listening mostly there due to high volume limitations with those small monitors)
Fourth is my smaller pair of OHM 100 series 3 speakers in my wife's sunroom, where setup options are limited and acoustics are most challenging.
Fifth is an old pair of custom modded OHM L speakers that I run in my unfinished area on occasion. Casual litening only in there so large holographic soundstage is not of concern.
I also run a pair of small Realistic Minimus 7 speakers outdoors on my deck in warm weather. HOlographic soundstages do not generally happen much outdoors with no room acoustics, so these do not do much of anything in that regard but still sound quite good.
I attend classical concerts about five or six times a season. A holographic sound stage is not what I first notice or enjoy about the sound of a live orchestra.
A few years ago I read a book which attempts to describe sound in the home and how to make it more like a real musical event. The adjectives used to describe the sound in successful systems were: Tone, Dynamics, and Presence.
This fairly closely describes what it is that I hear at the symphony and what I now value and try to recreate in my home system. Soundstaging is nice and it does exist to some extent, but it is not what I focus on when listening to live music or to my system.
The book is Jim Smith's "Get Better Sound."
The setup I heard years ago in Jim Smith's old Audition store in Birmingham Alabama with Magnepans was one of the best ever, including holographic soundstage. Speakers were well out into the middle of the room, well away from walls.
Maybe the thing is that often best placement for holography and soundstage (generally away from walls) negatively affects bass levels/tonal balance and dynamics. Reconciling the two is often constrained by speaker design/type used and may require tweaks to room acoustics as well. Speakers that are designed to work full range well away from walls might have an advantage, though certainly very good results can still be achieved with speakers closer to walls, as long as sound smearing early reflections can be avoided.
I probably should restate my position. I'm all for a great soundstage, in fact, I always end up with one when voicing a system.
However, I feel that it can serve as more of a distraction if the main event - the music's impact - is not portrayed as convincingly as possible. Tone, presence, & dynamics - the things that allow the music to tug at our heartstrings, live or reproduced.
At least for me, a soundstage helps to suspend disbelief when I cannot actually see the performers or the venue. And we've all experienced the lack of that same experience at live concerts.
When we find ourselves regularly listening for these sounds, rather than finding ourselves falling into the music, that's a concern - again, at least to me.
But as I said, I want both (but in my version of established priorities). :)
I saw a holographic soundstage at a guys house about 20 years ago and have not seen it since.Whats amazing to me is the guys who sell hi- end equipment in my area don't believe it exist.My own son doesn't.I wish I had not seen it.I'd still be listening to Bose speakers instead of spending thousands trying to duplicate that illusion.Its really a sight to see.
I believe equipment alone won't do it. The room dimensions, treatments and positioning are major contributors; a major rabbit hole, should you choose to go down it. Jimbatkh
That's because the speaker interacts with room. If the speaker is less dependent with room acoustics, equipments alone will produce more holographic soundstage.
My sound system displays spectacular "holographic soundstage and images." If anyone wants to experience it, I welcome anyone. Just PM to me.
I have to agree with most of what has been already stated in this thread. I also agree with Tubegroover "The greater the resolution, the better the effect". If you speakers are up against the wall, probably not going to do it that well. To get a black background and added resolution, that will most likely come from your preamp. In building preamps, I start with filtering the AC with a filter choke. That is the start of having what most call a black background. It removes the C nosie that most don't know is there until you filter the ac. That helps music come out of your speakers from nowhere and everywhere. Most preamps use capacitors. Everyone of them has a sound. I use output transformers which to my ears makes a big difference to using a capacitor. I have not heard a capacitor that can separate vocals and instruments in their own space or at least to the degree I am hearing from output transformers. There will be many audiophiles who may disagree but I experimented with so many design options and that is my overall conclusion. The output transformers just let the music flow and I gained much more resolution (soundstage height, left to right separation and front to back). Then I swapped out the volume control for TVCs, which do not use resistors so that added more resolution. Last was chassis design materials. So as you can see, so much goes into resolution to provide the "holographic" soundstage. I can tell you that my preamp will make any system more holographic. Having the black barckground and the separation in all dimensions is what did it for me.
The first time I heard a holographic soundstage was when I
was young and looking for a surround receiver in 1995. I
went into this store that had a sign that simply said
I went in and I looked around puzzled. It was a very classy
looking place. Well decorated. Lot of style and comfort. But
I looked around thinking 'where the heck are all the shelves
of stereos?? What are these brands I've never heard of these
before!!". OMG THE PRICE YOU PEOPLE ARE INSANE TO PAY
Then the nice owners came over and the listening began. They
sat me down in one of the comfy chairs. In a dimly lit room
with two big speakers in the middle. Why are they so far out
in the room?? This is a little weird.
Then the music starts....'wait where are the other speakers
hidden?? After explaining there weren't any I was just blown
away. It was mind boggling. The voices and instruments just
float in mid air, I can hear into the recording room. It's
like everyone playing or singing was standing there in the
Once she hauled in the Laser Disc player and played return
of the Jedi I for me (just sound no video or screen, and I
remember her barely being able to carry that player and
telling me it was 50 lbs!). The entire forest wrapped around
me. The soundfield was immense. Lasers shot from upper right
behind me to the front left ground. It was insane.
From that day forward as a young lad I was hooked. I would
never again touch mid fi mass market junk again..
By the way that was an Avalon Eclipse speakers and spectral
gear in a large treated room. I chased that sound and affect
I got out of Stereos for a bit. But now came back again. And
boy I came back with a vengeance. I've been trying to crack
it and trying to figure it all out. The formulas for it. And
I've got it. I have a holographic sound from a reasonably
inexpensive system. I didn't even think I'd hit it with this
set up. I thought I was just getting going.
Anyway here is what I've found. Speakers must be revealing,
non that gloss over the sound. A lot of people like to warm
of a sound to cover over bad recordings or bright gear.
Those won't work for a holographic sound stage. They need to
tell you exactly what is there or before it.
Point the speakers right at you toed in. You want to hear
right into that tweeter. That will give you a direct sound.
If it's not pointed right at you you'll get more of a
diffused sound and lose the tiniest of details and spatial
cues you need.
Speakers pointed slightly up helped a lot. They say it's to
time align but what I figured out is that is keeps the
speakers from shooting the sound to the direct wall behind
you and bouncing back and forth in the listening spot
between the front and back wall a million times and messing
up the sound. When tilted this way once it hits the back
wall it's hitting it at an angle and breaking up the sound
quicker and it's bouncing up toward the higher spots of the
room. If you have more room conditioning it might alleviate
needing to do that though. But I've found it very effective.
The most important thing is keeping that delicate signal
intact the best you can. That means when it leaves the
source (or being created in there) it needs to keep as pure
as possible. It's very delicate. It's just a small voltage.
This means the fastest most direct route with the least
stops or turns (figurative turns). The less in the way the
better. The first thing was getting rid of the preamp. The
preamp only adds more color and more connections and more
noise. When I got rid of the preamp I heard the purest most
blackest quietest background I've ever heard. My jaw dropped
at how much more real it sounded. (although a super very
good and expensive preamp can not degrade the sound as much,
but to get rid of it all together is the best, less wires
Voltage moves the best through pure copper or silver. It's
just a fact. I got rid of (well still working on some,
orders are on the way) the brass in my system. No gold
plating either. Pure copper ends. Gold plating is 30% less
conductive, why in the world you'd want to add a layer of
something that is less conductive is beyond me. There is a
reason why silver caps and things sound better too. The
delicate signal flows effortlessly through it.
Get the thickest copper wires and interconnects you can (or
silver but the silver needs to be very thick too, they
usually skimp out since it's so expensive and use a thin
gauge of silver). The thicker the gauge the less resistance
for that delicate signal. I made all my own wires with 8
gauge of wiring and with pure copper ends. Only one set of
interconnects (source to amp). Have the shortest distance
you can. The longer they are the more voltage they lose,
that means less of the true signal.
The room: This can kill you from the get go. You could
already have this amazing secret holographic stereo but your
room is hiding it. Bouncing that signal all around. Get the
furniture in the right place, have even some minor room
treatments, but keep those echos down and the sound modes
broken up. Anything to break up and diffuse or absorb the
sound after it's left the speakers and after it hit your
ears. Wood or solid floors are horrible for echo and sound
bouncing. Throw as many rugs over it as you can.
Electricity: If you can, get dedicated lines. Plug right
into hospital grade outlets from home depot. The fact is the
outlet you are plugged into now might be going through 5
other outlets and dirty connections first with thin 14 gauge
wire. Get a dedicated 10 gauge line to the room. Huge
difference. I promise you that you won't need a line
conditioner and it will sound better without one.
I'm telling you every single time I upped the gauge or
replaced some brass with pure copper it upped the level of
the system to knew heights. Every time I listen I can't
believe I got this sound from my system and with how little
I spent (relatively). I'm almost laugh in disbelief. Massive
lifelike soundstage, speakers totally disappeared 100%,
lifelike 3D placement of instruments layered when
appropriate. I can hear people behind the studio glass, hear
into the recording room or venue, a plane flying overhead in
the recording is overhead in my room. Sounds come from
behind me very clear or beside me even. It's just SO much
more involving and real. I feel like I'm there and stop
listening to my system and just listen to the music. The
naturalness is what blows me away the most. What I used to
think was a bad recording is not anymore. It sounds so much
more natural and real. It's just before I was missing parts
of the signal that were getting lost in a maze of roads and
stops to get to my speakers.
With that being said I know I can get even more out of it
and look forward to a bigger room, bigger speakers for more
weight, and even more resolving speakers. I'm working on
making my own room treatments, got some mineral wool on
order. I'm almost done making my new larger room also. A few
more weeks on that.
There really is a formula to it. In the end yes it's all
physics and science. To many people try to muck it all up
with theory and conjecture though.
Would have to agree...speakers need to come out in the room to really achieve this with any DEPTH(another thread topic)...and larger, full range models probably have an advantage in terms of still producing bass...that's why ive never been a horn guy...they need to be in corners for any semblance of bass...so long depth of image...
"Electricity: If you can, get dedicated lines. Plug right
into hospital grade outlets from home depot. The fact is the outlet you are plugged into now might be going through 5 other outlets and dirty connections first with thin 14 gauge wire. Get a dedicated 10 gauge line to the room. Huge
difference. I promise you that you won't need a line
conditioner and it will sound better without one."
I wholeheartly agree with this Kacz and it is exactly what I did many years back when I moved the system into it's current location after the previous room did not work regardless of what I tried. It does make a difference. Interestingly enough several months back when I was auditioning new cables to go with a new speaker system I came upon cabling that just brought things to a different level in among other things most notably a more coherent and natural presentation of the music. I was intrigued enough to call the manufacturer and speak with him about the design. When I told him I had installed 10 ga romex into a dedicated 4-gang outlet I was told that I should use no more than what is required by the current demand of the components and that 10 ga is overkill and will affect the sound, keep the electrons as close as possible? Oh, the world of physics, will we ever fully understand only other than what our ears tell us? In any case, for electricity supplying power, his answer seemed counterintuitive to me, still does but it SURE works well for transfering a music signal.
Holographic imaging is impressive when you hear it, but over the years I've come to appreciate that live music doesn't sound like that. I listen mostly to classical and have been to a number of concerts at Boston Symphony Hall. From roughly the middle of the orchestra seating section, I never hear anything that sounds like the holographic soundstage that I get from some audio systems. In fact many "audiophiles" who never go to live concerts in a real concert hall would probably be shocked.
Yes, pinpoint imaging and a deep three-dimensional soundstage are nice, but I don't consider these things top priorities for my enjoyment of music.
"Holographic imaging is impressive when you hear it, but over the years I've come to appreciate that live music doesn't sound like that. I listen mostly to classical and have been to a number of concerts at Boston Symphony Hall. From roughly the middle of the orchestra seating section, I never hear anything that sounds like the holographic soundstage that I get from some audio systems. In fact many "audiophiles" who never go to live concerts in a real concert hall would probably be shocked."
I hate to judge before all the facts are but it appears we have one solid reason why home audio is superior to live unamplified music.
My first holographic experience was while working at Hi-Fi Buys in (Buckhead) Atlanta. We had just received the new Celestion SL700SE speakers and had them connected to a Krell system. The speakers just disappeared! I could walk right up to the speakers and still couldn't tell where the sound was coming from. One of the technologies that contributed to this was the thin, but very stiff, aerolam cabinets (honeycombed aluminum sandwiched between 2 sheets of aluminum). To this day I remember fondly my first time!