As I get more familiar with the new music system a couple of thoughts occur to me about what it is that gets me excited about what I am hearing and experiencing. I think the magnification and separation of elements within the recording have to stand out above many others.
I am fortunate enough to have a high resolution copy of Dylan’s Don’t Think Twice, taken directly off the master tape. This was never a great recording, but the music is so good and simple, just Dylan, his harmonica and guitar, that it’s quite a treat to listen. On the older system there is clearly tape hiss mixed in with the music and you can easily imagine Dylan just sitting in front of a microphone and singing.
On the new system with the IRS, the tape hiss is completely disembodied from the music. This is kind of eerie but it justs sounds right. Separate is good. You are now aware of the microphone’s contribution to the sound and for the first time I can tell there’s something going on in the recording chain – perhaps a touch of reverb or EQ – it’s hard for me to know – but clearly it isn’t just a straight microphone feed into the recording console. I don’t have any info on this recording other than it was done in Columbia’s Studio A in New York City. Older pictures show a Neumann U67 (I am guessing) microphone – which I am familiar with – and there seems more going on than I can account for.
The point of this story is simply this: the greater resolution of the loudspeaker system has enabled me for the first time to hear separated sounds, seemingly magnified through a looking glass, and now that I am familiar with this sound I am convinced it is not something specific to the IRS – it is a quality that I believe many systems can achieve once you know what to look for.