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Is it possible with standard stereo to hear sounds behind you?

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 I was looking through a major audio review magazine a while back and to my surprise (and slight dismay) I noticed that the audio reviewer, (not one they use very often) had the same unusual name as someone who years ago stole some very collectible record albums from me via the mails. Literally cherry picking the best titles sent to him in good faith, keeping them without paying, and then returning the lesser titles without any packing inside. Its a small world; maybe too small. Anyway, he shall remain nameless. In his speaker review he described that the speakers threw an enormous image and that you could hear sounds from the LP both behind his listening position, above him and off to the side of his listening position which was about 10 feet in front of the speakers. This was no nearfield listening and only the 2 speakers in front, in a standard 2 channel audio setup like most of us listen to. I was wondering if this is actually possible, or just a figment of his "mind." Without getting into complex discussions about phase etc. and everything which might give some of us a headache, is this possible? Have you ever experienced this in a standard 2 channel setup playing standard stereo vinyl? If so please give the title, the artist and track. If you have experienced this on a CD, you can be more specific still, and give the title, the track and the exact time of the track that this occurs on your system.

 

 I have a very open sounding system myself, but have never experienced instruments in a standard setup like this where instrumentation seems to be coming from behind me or laterally off to the sides of my listening position. Has anyone experienced this, and also you might add what equipment was being used, especially the speakers.

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5 hours ago, Digi&Analog Fan said:

I was wondering if this is actually possible, or just a figment of his "mind." Without getting into complex discussions about phase etc. and everything which might give some of us a headache, is this possible? Have you ever experienced this in a standard 2 channel setup playing standard stereo vinyl? If so please give the title, the artist and track. If you have experienced this on a CD, you can be more specific still, and give the title, the track and the exact time of the track that this occurs on your system.

Well, phase is certainly an issue here but, in general, it is possible for it to occur under certain conditions that relate to all the matters you list but, in addition, it would also depend on the listening setup (speakers and MLP) and all the variables of room acoustics.  IMHO, it would represent an anomaly. 


Kal Rubinson

Music in the Round

Senior Contributing Editor, Stereophile

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2 hours ago, Digi&Analog Fan said:

What is Q sound?

I think it's on Google.9_9


Kal Rubinson

Music in the Round

Senior Contributing Editor, Stereophile

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Thanks @Kal Rubinson.

Here is where you can start:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amused_to_Death
 

It’s been a while since I read up on q sound, but there are a few more albums that used it.  I don’t think I have any of them so I cannot comment.

 

If your system is dialed in, putting Amused to Death will put you in a surround sound setting that you would swear is coming from a surround sound setup not a two channels.  I have the HD Tracks Hires release.  

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24 minutes ago, edn4x4 said:

Thanks @Kal Rubinson.

Here is where you can start:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amused_to_Death
 

It’s been a while since I read up on q sound, but there are a few more albums that used it.  I don’t think I have any of them so I cannot comment.

 

If your system is dialed in, putting Amused to Death will put you in a surround sound setting that you would swear is coming from a surround sound setup not a two channels.  I have the HD Tracks Hires release.  

Yes, it really works but the multichannel version (both DSF) is miles ahead on the surround "effects" as well as in overall transparency.


Kal Rubinson

Music in the Round

Senior Contributing Editor, Stereophile

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With binaural recordings and 2 channel, I get the full 360 (above sides behind) experience in my system.  I've found that depth (including behind the listener) is the most sensitive and fleeting attribute as I tweak my system, so it is something I key on when tweaking for transparency.  When things are dialed in and with the right recording, spatial resolution and sound stage behind me is about 80-90% of what I get in front of me.

 

I do have single driver high efficiency speakers (Voxativ 9.87's with 4D drivers) being driven directly from a Chord DAVE DAC, so I have the advantage of point source speakers and no amp/crossovers in the chain, so definitely an atypical setup!

 

All that being said, I've been accumulating a lot of awesome multi-channel content, anticipating rebuilding my surround setup at some point (thank you for the inspiration @Kal Rubinson!)

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15 minutes ago, ray-dude said:

With binaural recordings and 2 channel, I get the full 360 (above sides behind) experience in my system.  I've found that depth (including behind the listener) is the most sensitive and fleeting attribute as I tweak my system, so it is something I key on when tweaking for transparency.  When things are dialed in and with the right recording, spatial resolution and sound stage behind me is about 80-90% of what I get in front of me.

That's weird.  Is that soundstage behind you ambiance or instruments/performers?

17 minutes ago, ray-dude said:

All that being said, I've been accumulating a lot of awesome multi-channel content, anticipating rebuilding my surround setup at some point (thank you for the inspiration @Kal Rubinson!)

Welcome aboard.

 


Kal Rubinson

Music in the Round

Senior Contributing Editor, Stereophile

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1 minute ago, Kal Rubinson said:

That's weird.  Is that soundstage behind you ambiance or instruments/performers?

 

 

Mainly ambiance (room, cathedral, club, etc.) although occasionally a church organ is behind the microphone.  For artificial stuff (like having 2 people in front and 2 people behind the recording head), the effect is very very clear, but obviously not musical.

 

For me, it is the ambiance and sense of being in the physical space of the performance that I really appreciate the most.

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No matter how something was originally recorded, with an omnidirectional mic or what, if the only source of sound you are listening to is 2 speakers in front of you, how could someone hear sound from behind them no matter what the mic picked up originally? To my thinking, you would need speakers behind you ( something that produces sound) to hear any "direct"sound from behind you. An echo from bad acoustics behind you really doesn't count. What I think it is, is that a very few peoples systems are so open, and floor to ceiling expansive, that their usually 8 foot ceiling cannot contain it once it hits it and the sound creeps back along the ceiling back toward the listener with nowhere else to go. I have experienced this myself, but never to the extent that the music  sounded like it was actually behind me or directly off to either side of me. 

 

 Thanks for all who are posting, but the question of this thread is not what some trick technology like Q can do or whatever, but whether regular stereo sound with only 2 speakers being used in customary placement can sound like there are sounds behind you or actually off to your side. Like I say, the audio reviewer who claimed this stole records I sent him in good faith, perhaps claiming sound effects like this in his review was some kind of deception also, for some purpose.

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2 hours ago, Digi&Analog Fan said:

What I think it is, is that a very few peoples systems are so open, and floor to ceiling expansive, that their usually 8 foot ceiling cannot contain it once it hits it and the sound creeps back along the ceiling back toward the listener with nowhere else to go.

This is eerie to visualize.

2 hours ago, Digi&Analog Fan said:

Thanks for all who are posting, but the question of this thread is not what some trick technology like Q can do or whatever, but whether regular stereo sound with only 2 speakers being used in customary placement can sound like there are sounds behind you or actually off to your side.

Not without chemical assistance. 


Kal Rubinson

Music in the Round

Senior Contributing Editor, Stereophile

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8 hours ago, Digi&Analog Fan said:

regular stereo sound with only 2 speakers being used in customary placement can sound like there are sounds behind you or actually off to your side.

 

Real stereo (2 channel) is stuck between the two speakers:

 

fcLAyq4.png

 


"Science draws the wave, poetry fills it with water" Teixeira de Pascoaes

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There's a free binaural recording of the Cowboy Junkies out there (can't remember where—sorry) that has the door at the back of the hall opening/closing at one point.

 

The sound is definitely behind me, and if I haven't listened to the recording for a while I find myself thinking that the door behind me has opened. And sometimes turning around to check.

 

I'd be interested to experience a full, quality, surround sound system, but I already get carried away by the music from my two channel system.

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4 hours ago, semente said:

 

Real stereo (2 channel) is stuck between the two speakers:

 

 

 

High quality, real stereo is definitely not "stuck between the two speakers" - part of what happens is created by the ear/brain reacting to auditory cues in the recording, and a good description of the subjective experience in a high performing setup is that the world you perceive is as if everything past the vertical plane that the front of the two speakers would lie on was sliced off, extinguished; and replaced by that captured by the recording - the "you are transported to the concert hall" thing, literally.


Frank

 

http://artofaudioconjuring.blogspot.com/

 

 

Over and out.

.

 

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Interesting topic. It's definitely possible but uncommon in normal recordings as few have instruments/voices intended to be behind the listener.

 

One good demo is from one of the Chesky audiophile sampler discs (forgot which one) where David beat a tom-tom while running around the mic. It also has another track with the tom-tom positioned electronically. Interestingly, I found the electronic version even more convincing than the real acoustic version.

 

In yet another disc I think is from one of Stereophile's demo discs where there is a track where a bunch of musicians making sounds while running around the mic. The effect is also very real when played in just stereo.

 

So subjectively it is possible to reproduce sounds that appear to be coming from behind using just a pair of speakers. How that can happen is another matter altogether as human auditory perception is far from fully decoded.

 

What is even more difficult to reproduce in stereo, IME, is height. Outside of very specific demo tracks, I have not encountered any tracks that can exhibit acoustically recorded height.

 

 

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Correction: The second demo track where a bunch of "musicians" run around is not from Stereophile. It's from Chesky Records' "Best of Chesky Jazz and More Audiophile Tests Vol.2", in a track called "General Image and Resolution Test".

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As the original OP of this thread, one of the reasons I posed this question was to look into the future and maybe find out what my system was going to be capable of some years down the road as it gets even more open sounding. There isn't a year that goes by that my newly discovered tweaks and upgrades don't net me at least another 30% in sound quality. What is happening is that "most" of my recordings have such image height that it sounds like the singer and some instrumentation is plastered on my ceiling and starting to creep toward me along the ceiling, most often noticed on dynamic peaks. The closer "toward me" part on dynamic peaks; the on the ceiling effect quite often, maybe even usually, (meaning most recordings, most of the time), once my equipment warms up for over an hour and reaches its maximum spatiality capabilities. The sound is not what I would call anywhere near "directly above me", but heading in that direction, and showing signs of that possible caability, if my systems openness continues to improve, which it probably will over time. What I do not notice, is sound directly off to my sides like a reviewer described playing ordinary material in a review of an expensive panel speaker years ago.

 

 What I think is happening is that the spaciousness of the sound has to go somewhere. With amazing image height, it hits the ceiling and then has to go somewhere. Remember those Super Balls you had when you were a kid? I think sound pretty much behaves like if you threw a Super Ball. If you threw a Super Ball with real force at a table at the height of your speakers (near them), the ball would bounce off the wall behind the speakers with great force, around the juncture of wall and ceiling, and with plenty of momentum and energy left, it would come back toward the listener in the listening position.  If the Super Ball was thrown by (former ?) MLB pitcher Joel Zamaya, who was capable of a near105 mile per hour fastball, the Super Ball would come back toward the listener from high up on  the ceiling with plenty of height and momentum left to make it to "behind" the listener. If the ceiling was a high enough ceiling, say 12 feet maybe this phenomenon wouldn't happen. Ditto if there were sound diffusors or sound absorbent material lining the entire ceiling. Actually you should have something absorbent on the ceiling in front of your speakers to tame early reflections, (which I do), but the majority of my ceiling is not covered with any such material. This is not an unpleasant effect that I am looking to get rid of. I am just saying what happens. Actually it gives one the feeling that the sound is limitless; spatiality wise. Like I say, it doesn't take any kind of special effect recordings (which is not what this thread is about really), this happens with ordinary everyday recordings. Thanks, and nice to know about the Olivia and Chesky recordings though. I think I'll seek those out. Those sound very interesting!

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3 hours ago, Digi&Analog Fan said:

 Like I say, it doesn't take any kind of special effect recordings (which is not what this thread is about really), this happens with ordinary everyday recordings. Thanks, and nice to know about the Olivia and Chesky recordings though. I think I'll seek those out. Those sound very interesting!

 

There is nothing special about the ONJ CD, other than they have manipulated this particular track to make it sound like an artificial moth.

 


How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

 

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Interesting. I will look for that one. When stereo lps first came out toward the latter 1950s, (there were lots of factory pre-recorded stereo tapes available in stores  long before then), there were lots of records with motion and movement, "Stereo Action," Sounds In Space" Stereo I Motion" "Moving Stereo" in addition to Living Stereo which was usually stationary. One exception to the rule I can think of with regular Living Stereo was at the end of one side of Music For Bang Baroom And Harp, where a tap dancer dances off stage behind her in an awesome display of not only depth but depth in motion. That lp was always on the TAS Super Disc list.

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On 5/24/2020 at 7:27 PM, GregWormald said:

There's a free binaural recording of the Cowboy Junkies out there (can't remember where—sorry) that has the door at the back of the hall opening/closing at one point.

 

The sound is definitely behind me, and if I haven't listened to the recording for a while I find myself thinking that the door behind me has opened. And sometimes turning around to check.

 

I'd be interested to experience a full, quality, surround sound system, but I already get carried away by the music from my two channel system.

Here is an interesting writeup about BInaural and Blumheim recording techniques and the Cowboy Junkies.

https://www.soundonsound.com/people/cowboy-junkies-sweet-jane

 

I'm not sure which album has the door opening/closing sound.


nuckleheadaudio.com

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I think the big question is: since sound always comes from what makes the sound and the location of what made the sound in the first place; can direct sound (not echoes) be manipulated so that it sounds like its coming from the opposite direction? When we hear a singer who sounds like they are in the middle of your frontal stereo image,  it is because his voice is in  the right and left channei with equal volume, so it sounds like its coming from the middle. But if a sound was only coming out of the left channel, could it be manipulated somehow to make it sound like its coming out of the right channel, without of course adding its sound to the right channel? Making sounds from the front, sound like they are coming from behind you would be the equivalent of this seemingly impossible feat. I haven't gotten a hold of some of the discs claimed to be able to do this yet, but if they do, I will be a believer and say "WOW". "Except for echoes or weird acoustics, I thought sound had to sound like its coming from where its actually coming from and have a source in that location." 

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10 hours ago, lmitche said:

Here is an interesting writeup about BInaural and Blumheim recording techniques and the Cowboy Junkies.

https://www.soundonsound.com/people/cowboy-junkies-sweet-jane

 

I'm not sure which album has the door opening/closing sound.

Thanks for the link, it's interesting, even if some of the stuff is beyond me.

 

I found the free recording—here you all go.

Cowboy Junkies—Live at the Ark

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