Well, there is certainly a distinct difference between stereo listening and headphone listening. With binaural headphone listening the right ear hears only the Right channel and the left ear hears only the Left channel. There is no time-delayed, inter-ear crosstalk to allow one to more accurately localize sounds.
With stereo listening, the left ear hears the left speaker plus more time-delayed sound from the right speaker (and vice-versa). The other effects you've described have much to do with your speakers and room. Since your speakers radiate 360 degrees, you have a higher proportion of reflected sound to direct sound in your room unless you have taken judicious steps to attenuate the room reflections.
You can learn more about sound reproduction and the way the ear-brain interface perceives and localizes sounds by visiting Ralph Glasgal's Ambiophonics Institute at http://www.ambiophonics.org/
Happy reading, and Happy Holidays!
Very cool stuff! Thanks for the link. I notice that they too use MBL 101Es, though in a highly unconventional way, in their reference setup.
Exlibris, You're welcome. As you can see from the pictures on the Ambiophonics website, Ralph Glasgal's system is very elaborate, complicated and expensive.
His basic ambiophonic concept, however, can be tried out very inexpensively. All you need to do to try it is to put the two front speakers very close together (maybe 2.5 to 3 feet apart) and then position an acoustic barrier (like a mattress or large cushion turned on its side) extending from between the front speakers back to the listener, with the listener's head maybe 6-inches to a foot behind the end edge of the barrier. The purpose of this is to eliminate the inter-channel crosstalk between the speakers. Then just put on some regular stereo recordings an have a listen. You will be amazed at how expansive the soundstage appears with the front speakers so close together.
I am toying with the idea of converting my small-room stereo setup to an ambiophonic setup by using an acoustic barrier. Perhaps I can also add rear ambience speakers by using the old passive Hafler/Dynaco L-R circuit. And if I could implement an adjustable time delay to the ambience channels that could be very interesting. I think it would be very effective and a lot of fun to try.
I had read about or seen pictures of the acoustic barrier that you are talking about. I didn't know, however, that the speakers should be very close together.
The problem is that I know I wouldn't be comfortable sitting with the end of a mattress, or anything else, 6" to a foot from my face. The only way I can see living with this ambiophonic setup is if the barrier was very thin and non-obtrusive.
Yes, that's the problem most folks have with the acoustic absorptive barrier, but it is very effective and demonstrates the principle. It is kind of mind blowing that even with the speakers a few feet apart the stereo image appears wider than a two-speaker system with the normal stereo configuration.
Glasgal's system started out using the barrier, but now he implements it via computer-controlled electronics, which is also very effective but more expensive. I was merely suggesting you try the acoustic barrier configuration to understand the capabilities and sonic performance that can be achieved. It need not be a permanent thing...
That's a good suggestion. When I move to my new listening room I'll give it a try.
Is Glasgal's system the one in the photo with the MBLs at the front and the Soundlabs at the back?
I should have noted in my original post that my system rarely reaches level 6 and quite often doesn't even reach level 5.
I should also have noted that this post could just as easily have gone into the "preamplifier" forum because I believe that getting to level 5 and 6 is as much a function of the preamp as it is the speakers or room. The first, and only, time that I experienced level 6 in my room was when using an Aesthetix Callisto Signature linestage. I now have one on order.
while spatiality, dimensionality and dispersion are important. it is the naturalness or accuracy of timbre that is most important. i recently attended 2 concerts, one a string quartet, the other a trio of lutenists.
i attended the concerts with a friend. at no time did we peerceive music coming from or seeming to be playing insider our heads. we were sitting far away from the stage and were not conscious of locality.
nor is it that relevant to the enjoyment of the music. i was pleased to be able to appreciate the true sound of an instrument and unconcerned where it was coming from.
from what i read on this forum, timbre is under appreciated and staging is over valued.
Very well. My post only covers location, not all the other things that a system has to do properly.
The following isn't by way of argumentation it is just more ramblings about locality or, better still NON-LOCALITY...
You mentioned that you were not conscious of locality at the concerts. That's exaclty what I'm striving to achieve with my system (as far as the recording will allow).
At the concert the music was 'just there', it 'just was.' There was no need to think about where it was coming from because it was completely natural sounding as are all sounds in the real world. I agree that knowing where it was coming from wouldn’t add anything to the appreciation of the music.
I submit that it is only when we try to artificially reproduce the sound of the real world that the location of sound calls attention to itself. It calls attention to itself because it doesn't sound natural; it sounds wrong. If a recording of the concert you attended was played back on most systems, each of three lutenists would scream "look, we're over here.” Even if the timbre of the instruments was perfectly replicated, in a ‘spatially poor’ system I would be jarred out of my full appreciation of the music. This is the key: I would have to MAKE THE EFFORT to GO TO the music that is coming from the sonic images that are OVER THERE. With a level 6 system the music comes to you and simply exists; no effort required. As I said in my original post, if you WANTED TO make the effort you could focus your mind and point to where the instrument. You could have done this at the concert buy why bother; as you say, who cares where it’s coming from. I couldn’t agree more.
It's funny, an old friend came but yesterday. He had never heard a high-end system before. When I played him a song he did the usual 'jaw drop' thing and then went on about how he could see the singer there, the fingers of the guitarist moving along the guitar neck over there, the hammer hitting a piano string over there, and the brass section back there.
I just smiled and thought to myself, 'my system needs a lot of work.'
"The following isn't by way of argumentation it is just more ramblings about locality or, better still NON-LOCALITY..."
I think you hit the nail on the head here.
A few years back I had a system that localized instruments. You could sit and point out all the players. This I found quite distracting and un-natural. One of the mods I made was a step back- to tubes. This immediately brought a more natural presentation.
I surmised at the time that the series of SS amps I had been flipping through were somehow losing musical artifacts. 'Stripping the harmonics bare' or something.
Another step forward was a different type of speaker than what I had been using. I think small drivers and boxes are fast and superior for many things, but when I moved to a large driver combined with (oh no!) a horn the music was suddenly less hifi and more 'just there'. The ultimate step in my system was several more amp changes, (300b) and an improvement in the vinyl rig along with quality vinyl pressings. The route has been fun. I use a sub to augment in the lower bass region.
A payoff was last week when we had a party- the drinks were flowing and the tunes were playing. Low level, Louder, then a little louder... Many favorable comments- but the finest from 'Saxman' A good buddy that is a longtime player in a blues-rock band. He knows live music. He has also witnessed my system evolution. He shouted out 'You finally NAILED IT!' he then picked up his sax and played along with the album- It all meshed into a live presentation and dropped more than a few jaws.
I know there are many ways to 'nail it' enjoy the journey
Congratulations! It sounds like you have a great system.
Before I bought my MBLs I was actually actively looking for horns. May I ask which ones you have?
"Before I bought my MBLs I was actually actively looking for horns. May I ask which ones you have?"
They are an old, well known driver, Altec 604D. The boxes are vintage solid teak ply built in Hong Kong in 1958. (I have the original receipt) They are gorgeous and unique. The hand carving on the front is amazing.
Comparing to a typical speaker of today, thay lack precision especially in the higher hz, and they won't go low. They don't image quite as well. What they excel at is making the system disappear and leaving music. This gets back to the lack of placement of instruments. The stage is broad and deep. Combined with the proper amp and a sub for 80hz and below, it is a match made in heaven.
I don't advocate going back fifty years for sound, but in this instance, it works pretty well. I also have a second more modern system that is a bit more precise, but not near as fun ;-)
Just for the fun I tried a 20wpc, 300b SET amp on my MBLs. The spatial presentation and overall coherence in the soundstage is incredible. The time and phase correctness when running this tube single ended is astonishing.
I'm going to try a higher powered 845 SET and see what kind of results I get.