Letter of the Week – “Where should everything be on the ‘stage?'”

Pink Floyd Hot Stamper Pressings Available Now

Letters and Commentaries for Wish You Were Here

One of our good customers had some questions about the Hot Stamper pressing he had purchased:

Hey Tom, 

Hope you are fine! Please let me ask for a bit of help/advice. It may seem to be a stupid question, but it is essential to me to get clarity about my room and treatments.

It is about Wish you were here, the song on side two of the album. Got the white hot and it is sounding phenomenal.

Now my questions: It is about 1) the „huuhh“ followed by the 2) harrumph and the following 3) two tunings of the guitar.

1) Until yesterday the „huuhh“ was coming out between the loudspeaker, with small changes in the room treatment it is now coming from right, which sounds good. The accoustik guitar intro came before and comes after the changes from between the speakers. So my question: Should the „huuhh“ come from the middle or from the right. When coming from right the sound in general sounds more dynamic to me.

Hans,

Let me tell you what I can say without going back into the studio to play the record. These are some things that are generally true.

You are probably correct I am guessing. The reason for that is that the guitar is miked but not the vocal, meaning the vocal may be displaced in the soundstage due to phase issues. It is off-axis to the mic, and therefore “out somewhere,” not where the guitar is, because only the guitar is directionally miked.

2) The harrumph comes from the right side, right?

3) The two guitar tunings: first comes from the upper middle of the stage, the second comes from the right upper side, correct? Especially those two guitar tunings are in my opinion extremely fragile to changes, really minor changes in room acoustic and speaker placement, I would say half of a cm or so are enough for changes where they come from.

Would be great, if you can give me some input here. All in all, if half a year ago somebody would have told me my stereo sounds like it does now, I would have told him, that’s impossible. Now, I want even more, and the more I do, the more I am convinced that the room with the treatments together with speaker placement are the critical point.

All of this gets at the same questions – where should everything be on the “stage?”

The danger is making these judgments with one record is that you never want to optimize one record, only to find out afterwards that it sounds good but others you own don’t. Here is an old commentary about that:

In 2005, I Fell Into a Common Audiophile Trap

BS&T is a tough test too:

The Blood, Sweat and Tears Turn Up Your Volume Test

So the best thing to do is get all your hardest test records out and start playing them and making notes as you make changes to your system.

You are correct that speaker placement is very important. Room treatments too. I would add electricity to that list.

I said so in my review of the 45 RPM Tillerman:

Recently I was able to borrow a copy of the new 45 cutting from a customer who had rather liked it. I would have never spent my own money to hear a record put out on the Analogue Productions label, a label that has an unmitigated string of failures to its name. But for free? Count me in!

The offer of the new 45 could not have been more fortuitous. I had just spent a number of weeks playing a White Hot Stamper Pink Label original UK pressing in an attempt to get our new Playback Studio sounding right.

We had a lot of problems. We needed to work on electrical issues. We needed to work on our room treatments. We needed to work on speaker placement.

We initially thought the room was doing everything right, because our Go To setup disc, Bob and Ray, sounded super spacious and clear, bigger and more lively than we’d ever heard it. That’s what a 12 foot high ceiling can do for a large group of musicians playing live in a huge studio, in 1959, on an All Tube Chain Living Stereo recording. The sound just soared.

But Cat Stevens wasn’t sounding right, and if Cat Stevens isn’t sounding right, we knew we had a Very Big Problem. Some stereos play some kinds of records well and others not so well. Our stereo has to play every kind of record well because we sell every kind of record there is. You name the kind of music, we probably sell it. And if we offer it for sale, we had to have played it and liked the sound, because no record makes it to our site without being auditioned and found to have excellent sound.

And as for your stereo being so much better than you thought it could ever be, I wrote about that twenty years ago!

The Myth of Diminishing Returns in Audio

Hope all this helps. Feel free to email me anytime.

Best, TP


FURTHER READING

New to the Blog? Start Here

More Letters

Basic Concepts and Realities Explained 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) 

Important Lessons We Learned from Record Experiments 

Key Tracks for Critical Listening 

Making Audio Progress 

My Stereo (and Thoughts on Equipment) 

Leave a Reply