Home Speaker Asylum

General speaker questions for audio and home theater.

Stereophony

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These tricks are still encoded into recordings, but it takes a really exceptional stereo set-up to decode them. Hifi designers seem to be steering their gear away from the type of stereo holography that used to be so common.

One recording that I have at hand in which the stereo effects are really neat is the RCA recording of Carmen conducted by Herbert Von Karajan of 1964. Leontyne Price is Carmen and it is fascinating and thrilling the way her character moves about the room while listening to the opera. Not just her character mind you, but the entire cast seem eerily animated. They move around the sound stage (which seems to encompass the entire room). Sometimes effects appear right beside you (way away from the plane of the speakers) or in corners or other odd places. These effects are startling.

It takes an exceptional playback system to decode them though. The majority of hifi today seems much more concerned with flat frequency response and thumping bass than stereo effects. Ironically, systems from the 60's and 70's were better at this. Also, CD seems less "stereo-phonic" if you will than LPs, and the CD era has witnessed stereophony decline in importance.

The best current systems for stereophony are often the same ones that worked so well in the past. I am talking retro amps, especially tube designs and good old analog records. Certain tube designs are really, really good with stereophony and the resulting stereo "holography" can be really enjoyable. The best tube set-ups can give a startlingly out of the box sensation, as performers flesh out and begin to inhabit the listening room (the opposite of the flat, cardboard cut out effects of today's hifi).

I think you would be well served by checking out shops with retro-gear from Conrad Johnson or Audio Research. Furthermore, mini-monitors have certain advantages over big speakers with regard to stereophony, the primary one being lack of diffraction causing surface area. I have heard many a mini-monitor/tube amp set-up do the holography thing really well, even from CDs. Good Luck.


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  • Stereophony - layman 19:07:57 03/10/02 (0)


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