Volume and Dynamics It's not a question

As important as it is, I've never heard the subject of dynamics or volume receive any serious consideration.

Music took place at a venue or recording studio and it was miked a certain way with a particular perspective in mind, a particular distance from the performers. There was a baseline volume and a peak volume.

I would propose that part of the digital encoding of a recording would include the volume level, decided upon by the engineer or the one that existed at the mike at the time of the original recording.

If you want to use another volume fine. But why not know that level which was intended. Maybe a new recording standard that includes a test tone and a preamp with built in mike and led that lights when the proper level has been reached. A diagram of the original miking arrangement would be nice too.

Reproducing correct volume levels is paramount to the realistic reproduction of sound.

Showing 1 response by ivan_nosnibor

I think I understand what you're getting at. In a way it's all about proper scale...being true to the original recording I mean. When all the spatial cues (volume, dynamic, harmonic, phase, tone, timing, etc) with the playback system can be made to align or 'match up' with each other, then our conscious mind no longer has to 'listen past' the fact the our brain may really be on a different page and is actually at odds with what we can intellectually deduce should be happening with the perspective of the recording. IOW, the brain is always working to interpret the overall perspetive of the performance - to 'orient' itself to a given acoustic space (even an illusory one) in accordance with its evolutionary heritage (again an overall impression gathered from many individual cues). In the natural world, the brain can usually do this readily. But, with hifi the conflict happens when one or more of these individual cues are themselves conflicting...the tonal response may be telling you that the performers are at a distance 'X' and the dynamics (or volume, coherence, presence, low-level detail or what have you) may be telling you they are essentially at distance 'Y'. The less pronounced any misalignment of such cues, the less confused by it the brain is and the more believable and recognizably realistic the presentation becomes to us. The good news is that once the cues are all basically aligned with each other (or at least close enough), ALL recordings, regardless of mic techniques, stand an excellent chance of sounding satisfyingly realistic, each on its own terms. Then the playback volume level is but the last cue that can be more easily and effectively addressed by ear...no pre-configured calibration method needed. But, what I'm saying is that I believe most experienced audiophiles would likely say that this is really a system-building issue and not a recording issue, even though when it's first stumbled upon and you start reaching the point with your system that it begins to become a factor, it can at least seem otherwise. But, you are right, this is a very important overall aspect to realistic sound reproduction. Sometimes not an easy one to get right, but very rewarding when you do. Regards. John