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In the Forum: Audio For Dummies ™
In the Thread: A new 'chic' foolishness about mono systems
Post Subject: Illusions in the service of survivalPosted by jessie.dazzle on: 6/17/2010
The Anstendig Institute wrote:
"...The attempt to reproduce the way sound is heard by means of stereophonic sound reproduction is a misunderstanding that is the result of a fault in logic..."
Yes, it would be better to record each source of sound with individual microphones placed right there near each source, then to reproduce those sounds at home with individual speakers placed so as to duplicate the original arrangement of sources. And yes, this would mean moving your speakers according to a map supplied with each recording.
Consciousness is simply the identification of the information supplied by our senses.
Perception is nothing more than the integration and interpretation of that information.
Perception of what we call reality depends first on consciousness, then on interpretation.
This is the foundation of what we call sanity; it also happens to be the cornerstone of audio.
The world we perceive via our ears is defined solely in terms of pressure acting on our ear's tympanic membrane. Our ears are nothing more than pressure receptors1. As concerns sound, there is only pressure; there is no space, no depth, only pressure. The notion of space depends entirely on the differences in pressure over time as relayed by each membrane, and on the calculation of that difference by our brain... Another word for this calculation is interpretation; our brain interprets the information so as to create an image of the physical reality that really is out there, and can be easily verified by venturing physically forward and invoking the sense of touch.
Nevertheless, depth and space in sound remain a total illusion, evolved out of a necessity to survive.
The world we see is perceived via our eyes only as light acting on our retinas; to the retina this light is not three dimensional, its simply light (and absence of light); it is up to our brain to interpret the light and assign to it the properties of space. Once again, it does this by comparing minute differences as relayed over time via two physically separate receptors. But as far as each eye is concerned, it is still only light, and light has no physical dimension. Once again, it is our brain that creates the illusion of depth and space.
In both cases we are dealing with total illusions, or tricks of the brain, which have proven so reliable that we have come to take them as truths.
A musical event captured in stereo by a pair of microphones placed roughly where our ears might be, or a camera equipped with dual lenses simulating the distance between our eyes is an attempt to capture the event as we might capture it if there in person, and is in theory, up to this point, completely without fault.
Playing that event back via only two speakers or viewing the scene via two slightly different images as in the case of a Viewmaster, rusults in an illusion; both are convincing for the following reason:
Our vision is most accurate and clear at the center of our field of view and rapidly deteriorates towards the periphery; if this were not the case, in order to successfully pull off the illusion, we would require that the Viewmaster provide 360° panoramic views for each eye. Our hearing is also directional and most clear when we face the source of sound; as a function of survival we have learned to discriminate and disregard peripheral sounds; if this were not the case, two simple speakers may not suffice in delivering the information necessary to create a convincing illusion.
Audio is an abstract representation of the original event. In the case of the original event, the information getting through to the listener's brain is also abstract and incomplete, as he is by nature discriminating all the time; in both cases the brain creates a complete illusion.
True, there would be differences relative to the illusion created while listening at home, but the point is that they are both illusions.
The reason stereo "works" is entirely due to this natural (acquired over the course of evolution) auditory selectivity, and to our brain's resulting capacity to create from raw, often incomplete information supplied by two sources... A complete illusion.
So yes, the notion of space as produced by our brain when listening to stereo sound is totally faked, but so too is the "reality" our brain churns out from ANY input delivered by both our ears and our eyes; in one case the raw information is pressure, in the other it is light, neither of these have properties of space.
1For the purposes of this discussion the ear's function facilitating balance is left aside.
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