I think it depends more on the kind of music. What I listen to cannot fit in my room so I opt for the illusion of being where they are.
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Your system is there to provide suspension of belief and fool the senses.
I agree with Al and Kal, I want my system to be able to portray both depending upon the material I am enjoying at any given time. Yes, one system can do both, if properly set-up and your room is capable of allowing that suspension of belief to occur. How to do that is the subject of many other threads, search them out.
No matter what your preference is, oftentimes the recording will dictate the presentation, but of course, the overall power response of your speakers and the way they interact with your room will always have a strong influence. I personally prefer the "you are there" experience most of the time, as I feel I can get a better perspective of the total picture.
I prefer a "you are there" presentation. I like a deep, 3-dimensional soundstage presentation. I like to think of it as a 'mid-hall' perspective. I do not care for the forward, 'front row seat' type of sound.
That said, I don't know how much the speakers themselves have to do with this sound. Speakers pretty much output what they are fed. Feed them 'you are here' sound and you will hear 'you are here' sound. The same can be said for 'they are here' sound. FWIW, my current speakers are Soliloquy 6.3i's.
From my experience, speakers will impact the "your are there" vs "they are here", which I usually refer to as speakers being forward vs. laid back. In my last speaker comparison with a friend, I found the Von Schweikert VR-4s to be fairly laid back, while my SP Tech Minis and the much-praised KEF LS50s were more forward. I love my VR-4s, but would like to get a bit more of a forward sound from them. Not sure what, if anything, would enable me to do that. Just want a slight touch more forward a presentation.
Of course, as mentioned above, a recording will affect this as well.
I prefer they are here, in front of me, space permitting. I say this as I can never get over the fact that large scale performances can never fit into my room and I can never get that fact out of my head unless, after a while, I'm able to suspend belief and lull myself to audio nirvana. Then they are here.
All the best,
Samuel Coleridge coined the phrase "suspension of disbelief" as it related to literature. Human elements or truths were injected into fantastical tales so as to make them believable. The same goes for movies like "The Matrix".
I don't see that as the same thing in audio since we are starting with the premise that what we are hearing is close the real thing, or as close as we're going to get, and we then use our minds to cement it into reality. We believe that what we are looking at and listening to is a well intentioned artifice and it is that belief we reject (suspend) in order to believe the illusion of actually being there or that they are here.
I think. :-)
All the best,
"They are here" only applies if the recording was done in a room very similar to yours. I prefer a room/system interface that is neutral enough to let the actual recorded soundspace come through. Should be able to accurately portray opera house,stadium,small club,etc,etc. Even multi-tracked pop or rock mixes should present accurately. So in short, I prefer "you are there"
If you have an accurate system working properly everything you hear sounds a little, or a lot, dissimilar relative to soundstaging. Acoustic pianos ALL sound different, engineers can make drummers sound properly in a nice area or 67 feet wide (did he have his girlfriend play that tom fill on que from a restroom stall?), orchestras might as well be on different planets, etc. I try not to care too much and enjoy the fidelity and the musical ideas with some people right in front of me, surrounding me, stuck to the walls, or in a mono mix piled on top of each other...it can all be good, but it's all different.
Yeah, a lot of the mixing makes me scratch my head, what were they thinking. Some of the drummers would need eight arms 30' long. They are playing rhythms and runs that would be impossible for even the most gifted. Many times I can hear the edits as well. Are my ears better than the producer? Do they not have any pride in their work?
In my experience (mostly as a musician) recording drums has always been interesting. It often takes forever to get them set up, but soundstage placment is merely a matter of stereo panning. By carefully panning each drum mic you can put 'em anywhere, but for some reason engineers seem to have to do the "across the entire stage" view sometimes...my fave jazz stuff is often OK...Mehldau comes to mind as all his studio albums seem to have a similar tone and soundstage...drums are in the right spot. You can place some stereo reverb carefully to widen and warm the things without getting weird.