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#138296 - 05/13/06 08:04 PM Is the 'sound stage' manufactured? (Long)
LHawes Offline
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Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 71
Pretty new to stereo and my version of mid-fi consists of an Onkyo HT receiver, forget the model number, and a pair of M22 with the Onkyo subwoofer. Sounds decent enough for now but I'm bit by the bug for sure.

Hope I can make sense of this question but I read a lot about the 'sound stage' and totally understand the idea and have 'seen' and heard it before how instruments and performers are placed on the stage and how it is a good thing if that image stays focused.

What I don't get is the idea that the separation should or could represent a live performance. I have been to many a live show and just because a performer is standing on the right hand side of the stage doesn't mean the sound coming from them or their instrument is coming from the right hand side of the stage.

It is most likely coming from a huge bank of speaker/amps placed wherever the sound guy thinks it will sound best in a particular venue. May be on the right, may be across the back, but not necessarily where the guy is standing in relationship to the stage.

In the studio most everything is miked separately so if there are 3 acoustic guitars there are 3 or more mikes each getting its own track. If you are there for the live performance then you might be able to position the players on the stage but doesn't most of the 'stage' get created in the engineers mind and skills in mixing?

The engineer will take the sax track and pan it left, center the drums and set them in back, maybe bring the snare forward for the intro then send it back for the remainder, bring the vocals forward centered left or right, make sure the orchestra stays in the rear through panning and mixing tricks.

Voila - a sound stage - but perhaps not one that represents a live stage at all - just the engineers idea of getting the tracks placed in the mix in a pleasing manner which of course looks like separation of the instruments but isn't it true that the stage is a creation in the mixing studio and not necessarily a representation of a the actual performance stage?

Hope this question isn't to elementary. What do you think?



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#138297 - 05/13/06 09:41 PM Re: Is the 'sound stage' manufactured? (Long)
Ken.C Offline
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Registered: 05/03/03
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Loc: NoVA
As far as I'm concerned, you've got it right. Often, the band isn't even playing together--they record each bit separately, then edit it all into one.

I've been to a concert where clearly the band was still trying to work out how to play the stuff they ended up with on the album... kinda strange.
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#138298 - 05/13/06 11:02 PM Re: Is the 'sound stage' manufactured? (Long)
pmbuko Offline
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Registered: 04/02/03
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Loc: Ben Lomond, California
The solution, of course, is to listen to classical music, which is typically performed unamplified. It's important that the recording reflect both the arrangement of the musicians and the ambiance of the setting they played in.

I don't listen to enough classical music.
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#138299 - 05/13/06 11:03 PM Re: Is the 'sound stage' manufactured? (Long)
MarkSJohnson Offline
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Registered: 09/27/04
Posts: 11437
Loc: Central NH
Larry:

Yes, you've got it right.

As far as I'm concerned, the only "real" soundstage that can be perceived from a recording is a two-mic, direct to stereo recording. Everything else is manufactured.

Sometimes I'm a little unsure of peoples' reviews when they talk about a soundstage that easily enables you to envision the band members on stage...even down to who is in front or to the rear of the stage. That instrument is wherever the recording engineer panned it to.... there is no "realness" to it at all.

That being said, some speakers do still "image" better than others, and I'm not sure why that is. I believe it would have much to do with the amount of detail that a system and speaker allows, and the manufacturers tolerances for quality control...i.e., the better "matched" a pair of speakers are to each other that would allow a pair to image wonderfully from a particular listening position. But of course, this is largely dependant upon every aspect of the recording and the listening room as well. I'm not really sure and am curious as well about it.

I don't think your question is elementary at all. Any question that raises issues as to how the recording process influences the music we listen to is a good one!
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#138300 - 05/14/06 12:15 AM Re: Is the 'sound stage' manufactured? (Long)
LHawes Offline
old hand

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 71
"Sometimes I'm a little unsure of peoples' reviews when they talk about a soundstage that easily enables you to envision the band members on stage...even down to who is in front or to the rear of the stage. That instrument is wherever the recording engineer panned it to.... there is no "realness" to it at all."

Yeah that's what I was thinking. Thanks so much for your generous responses. The quote below is what got my attention.

"On the title track, Ed Robertson’s voice was easily discernible slightly to the left of center, with Cole’s voice on the right, the strings and woodwinds filling in behind. On "’Zat You Santa Claus" Cole’s voice was dead center, the orchestra again filling in the back of the soundstage. The distinctive "blat" of the trombone was firmly in the right speaker and beautifully rendered."

I thought to myself that trombone wasn't being 'played' on the right of the stage, the engineer simply put it there to leave room for other instruments in the mix. And I suppose a good amplifier/speaker would tend to leave that trombone, and all the other instruments, exactly where the engineer placed it in the mix.

I wonder why so many speaker reviews repeat the cliches as if there was a real sound stage?

Again thanks so much for the comments and insights.

Larry

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#138301 - 05/14/06 12:25 AM Re: Is the 'sound stage' manufactured? (Long)
JohnK Offline
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Registered: 05/11/02
Posts: 10621
Larry, although about 99% of my music listening is classical, where few tricks are employed, my understanding of much of pop mixing is along the lines of the previous replies, i.e. the final mix may have little resemblance to the positioning at the recording session(or separate sessions). I suppose if the imaging does reflect what the producers were trying to accomplish, then it's good, but it shouldn't be imagined as reflecting the original performance in any precise way.
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#138302 - 05/14/06 01:59 AM Re: Is the 'sound stage' manufactured? (Long)
BrenR Offline
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Registered: 12/10/03
Posts: 3602
Loc: Winnipeg MB Canada
I think the last major album to be recorded with all the members present and playing together is "Bat Out Of Hell"... where the bed track was laid down with all the members playing together. Only reason I know that was the VH1 show on the album, I remember Marvin/Meat soloing instruments, and you could hear the drums in the piano.

'Course, there was a ton of sweetening and overlaid tracks put on afterward (by Todd "enough is never enough" Rundgren)...

Bren R.

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#138303 - 05/14/06 09:54 PM Re: Is the 'sound stage' manufactured? (Long)
danmagicman7 Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 12/16/05
Posts: 1467
In response to bands actually playing the sound on the album live, I've heard lots of bands actually play along with a beginning track, and trying to do some electronic effects on the spot. Sometimes that is the exciting thing in concerts, wondering "oh, how are they going to do this sound"
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#138304 - 05/15/06 02:29 AM Re: Is the 'sound stage' manufactured? (Long)
BrenR Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 12/10/03
Posts: 3602
Loc: Winnipeg MB Canada
Got some band names? I'd be interested to know.

Bren R.

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#138305 - 05/15/06 05:00 PM Re: Is the 'sound stage' manufactured? (Long)
bridgman Online   content
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Registered: 08/25/04
Posts: 6027
Loc: Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada
>>i.e. the final mix may have little resemblance to the positioning at the recording session

I don't think even my M60s could do justice to an soundstage where the keyboards were recorded in NYC, the vocals in LA and the guitars in Toronto
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