I do hate the colloquialism “Home Theater” but I do not think that another definition exists to define what it is. Whatever it is, I very much hate it. Back in 90s I had a quite refined “Home Theater” installation with 5.1 channels, quite sophisticated audio BTW. Even though I was getting a very good result but I very much did not like the whole experience. The sound people record in films mostly is very bad quality and very inaptly done. With more or less high resolution playback and more or less advanced listening/watching demands the whole idea is falling apart. The most important is that that I feel that the entire Home Theater experience for movies watching is fundamentally faulty concept. You see, the main objective of Home Theater’s sound is to bring the sensual reality of events from the screen into your room. However the chief objective of cinematographic event is to make viewer awareness as a part of the screen actions. So, from visual perspective, expositing to better cinematographic art, my mind take off from my current state of been and associates itself with film’s events. However, from audio perspective, the audio events are not happening “inside the screen” but rather are extended into my room. I find this phenomenon is very annoying and I do not like to watch films in “Home Theater” mode.
Recently I visited a local audio guy who runs quite sophisticated Home Theater. He has a good room, large screen and some kind of very top of the line projector, since I do not monitor the HT things for over 10 years I do not know/knew what brand/model it was. He has many channels (5? 7? 9? I do not know), fine speakers/amplifiers and he runs all of it from blue-ray at full 192K/24 bit. So, it was fine HT setup and I was interested about the benefits of those efforts for listening experience.
He, played to me a few symphonic performances. Yes it was “impressive” but I did not like that “impressiveness”. The sound was not where I would like it to be and the video line (camera work) was not properly montaged in respect to musical flow. I can see how some people fide it attractive but not me. Then there was opera. That was completely different experience all together.
I did not expect that operatic presentation would be so phenomenally good with Home Theater. It is not that I am not familiar with this experience. I have seen a few DVD operas at more or less OK Home Theaters a few years back and I made a few trips to MET broadcasts to Movie Theater. The “quality” of experiences during all those events was not too high. This time however it was very different. I do not know if it was because the blue-ray, or because the sound/picture was way better then what I have seen before but it “worked” very well. There was some kind of unity of auditable and visual that very seldom happens with Home Theater. In my mind to experience opera with better Home Theater is a very right direction.
A few words of criticism.
I think that the guys who produce operas for Home Theaters still do not realized that it is slight difference between the of art film and camera work for sound track. In some cases in the Opera disk camera did not go right things and in some cases audio was mixed not properly. I did not see a lot, just a few fragment, but what I managed to see I think might be emblematic. Camera shall VERYconservatively explore up-closes. Opera is a show, a theatrical effect of suspension of disbelieve. The overlay zealous up-closing highlights the fact that Opera singing is a very demanding and difficult job for the singers –there is no need to do up-close while I am witnessing the event in my disbelieve suspension mode.
Then the sound. They do phenomenal job to pick the sound from the singers in the mid of the stage but they mixed it with a full “stereo” of orchestra. The stereo imaging of orchestra does not work properly with ambient imaging of singers. The singers are records properly, in my view, orchestra is not - the singers and orchestra are records in different stereo scale. A singer makes 15 steps on right and his/her location gets consumed by ambiance of the hall. That is right – that is how it shall be. The 15 steps on 100 feet stage does moves a singer for 1 degree of imaging of playback but the singers is still in the very middle of the stereo zone. Then the first violins kick in the Puccini whippy thyme, but the location of the concertmaster chair is 45 degree on left. This location is very not proportional to the ambiance location of singers. The operatic orchestra shall be more monophonic and much more ambianic. There is no need for 100s microphones in the orchestra pit, and if it is then the orchestra feed need to be reimaged before it will be mixed with the singers feed. It felt as the singers were moving at km/h but the musicians in m/h, as I said – the different scale.
Anyhow, continuing claiming that Home Theater suck I do feel that properly recorded opera of a good production might go alone phenomenally good with Home Theater. I wish it would be more good opera productions committed to visual recording media and I wish the people who prod ice it would learn how to do the transformation of live operatic events to media more appropriately.
Rgs, Romy the Cat
"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche