Paul McGowan writes:
Can we ever hope to achieve a two-channel experience with music so real as to fool ourselves into believing there is an actual musician playing in front of us? I mean sure we can close our eyes and imagine a live event is happening, but in all the years I have never actually believed it was real. Close, but no cigar.
Over on the comments section of the post But does it sound like music? commenter Accuvox believes he has designed a loudspeaker system that can do exactly that, citing multiple examples of experiments he has personally conducted that fooled even the best musicians and listeners. What I find fascinating in his comment are his observations about microphones and assumptions we have been making:
“I maintain it is impossible. Part of the reason is we have been asking the wrong questions since 1932. That year there were two seminal experiments that shaped audio to this day: The Blumlein experiment and the Fletcher-Munson experiment.
Blumlein was a genius, but stereo as we know it was a preliminary experiment with two ribbon microphones at 90 degrees. Blumlein was drafted before he could complete his invention, developed radar and died in a plane crash while testing an airborne version. In fact, his first guess was subsequently devolved because velocity microphones express depth better than pressure and pressure gradient microphones, which are used universally for “audiophile” recordings.
Fletcher and Munson made five major experimental errors. Their data was not too badly distorted by the mistakes. Mainly they were asking the wrong question, which was frequency response.
We hear space through time domain variables of transient response and phase. The vicious cycle is that Fletcher and Munson’s methods were used to determine that humans are phase deaf. This is flat wrong.
Because loudspeakers and reproduction chains mangle phase and transients and the subjects of large scale audiological surveys have all been radio listeners since before 1932, the false conclusions that HUMANS are phase deaf was extrapolated from the measured reality that radio and phonograph listeners are phase deaf.”
I can attest to the fact that we humans are far more sensitive to phase and time domain issues than frequency and noise. Far more.
Asking the wrong question is a classic mistake many designers and inventors suffer from. Me included. I truly appreciate this new thought process brought forward by one of our readers.
Thanks for the insights and thought provoking dialog. It is why I keep writing these posts.