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RE: Paul's Posts

You are right about loudspeakers being a very very weak link but also the stereo recording process does not capture a live event well.
Studio recordings are normally contrived stereo and not a capture of the real event.

So far as the weakness of loudspeakers, our hearing process automatically seeks to “hear through” and largely ignores problems and flaws, this is how we can listen in abysmal conditions and still enjoy the sound. On the other hand, with one measurement mic, one can make recordings at home which can make the hair stand up on the back of your neck especially using headphones. The problems capturing real stereo vanish when one records in mono.

One need only measure typical home hifi loudspeakers at the listening position to see how much our brain can overlook too. It is not uncommon to see what was a flat measuring loudspeaker measure + - 10 or even 20dB at the listening position. We hear through all that transmogrification but on the other hand, those are also the flaws which stop us from suspension of disbelief and reach the point where it really does sound like “somewhere else” like the original event.

The recording half has a solution which is too involved to go into here but the huge problems loudspeakers generally have are very audible if one does a generation loss recording using a measurement microphone and a loudspeaker. Doing this eliminates the “hearing through” process we experience when listening normally with both ears. The “generation loss” recordings were very popular in the days of analogue tape but is largely forgotten now.

The idea is one records the loudspeaker playing music, this can be done in a room to include room effects or on a tower (like we do at work) so that only the loudspeaker is captured.
After recording the loudspeaker, that is played back through the loudspeaker and re-recorded. Each generation is an exaggerated caricature of “what is wrong” with the loudspeaker, revealing to your ears all the things which prevented it from being faithful to the input signal.
While any part of the modern electronic chain can tolerate many generations before it’s flaws make it unlistenable, with loudspeakers it is very rare to go three generations, most loudspeakers sound bad at generation one or two and some sound bad just hearing it through a precision microphone without the hearing processor (two ears and brain constructing one image).

With modern sound cards being quite good and measurement microphones being ubiquitous I would urge anyone interested in how we hear to make their own recordings. Nothing beats listening to sounds that you also heard first hand as a reference.

Tom Danley
Danley sound labs

Here, these recordings of loudspeakers might be fun at least as examples of speakers that were refined in part with gen loss recording I mentioned. While much larger than home speakers, you will get the idea especially if you have also heard conventional loudspeakers captured by microphone. Use headphones fwiw.




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