Saturday, December 21, 2013

Don't forget the center

Did some serious listening this week.  Listened to Infrared Roses by Grateful Dead.  This is one of my favorite albums.  All instrumental, mainly percussion.  Did Grateful Dead produce anything else like this?  I confess I'm not so attracted to the usual Grateful Dead hit albums.  My taste runs to instrumental recordings (I have Shadowfax in the background right now), and hummable melody is optional.

On living room stereo this was fantastic and real at the same time.  Very 3 dimensional.  Much of it sounds like real stereo miking, but other parts seem dubbed in, particularly the parts where one thread goes swinging back and forth between the speakers.  But at one part I wondered, is this a drum with pan-pot, or more than one different drum across the stage?  Anyway, it was very enjoyable.  There was a feeling like I was listening through giant electrostatic headphones, an incredible sense of transparency.  I can't remember if I'd listened to this seriously on living room stereo before.  I certainly never experienced it like this, the incredible spaciousness.  There was in a few parts a slightly, very slightly, grating quality to the highs.  Is this because my Acoustat panels are old and need to be replaced/refurbed?  I sometimes worry about that.  Or is it because electrostats including my Acoustats are very "revealing"?  It might be useful to fire up the electrostatic headphones one day and investigate further.  Last time this really bothered me and I had time, I replaced the old electrolytic caps in one of the Acoustats with a Solen, and that seemed to make it better.  That was in 2011 I believe.  I do need to do the other side soon.  How about 2014?

It was sounding a bit ping-pong on bedroom stereo.  I wasn't paying close attention at first, but then I noticed how the new adjustable bed was not centered vs the triple width record cabinet in the front center.  Hadn't I done that for the new bed yet, or had it moved by itself?  Anyway, I moved the bed, then the sound became wonderful again.  The center image was restored.  So many times I've heard other people's system with no center image, and my own systems have often fallen that way out of neglect and lack of serious listening.  A good center image is not just critical, it's crucial.

Compared to the living room system, bedroom system sounds smoother in some ways, but lacking in depth.  It was not the mind blowing experience it was in the living room.  But with center image fixed, it was still very satisfying.

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