This post is a continuation of the previous installment dealing with a very interesting subject. Authored by a reader, who wishes to remain anonymous. It relates to the phenomenon of sound and our perception of sound and music. Enjoy!
OK, so now that we know a bit of the absolute basics of sound from the first part, I want to focus on some audio tech here, which I simply love. I love the capability of being able to record a musical performance, speech or sounds of nature and save it for some later time. It just has been fascinating me since I was nine years old. We also need to have a look at the receiving side, our human perception.
Can we all agree for now, that the best possible recording is one that captures the recorded event in its utmost entirety? That when recording’s playback reveals no audible difference to the original and is equally agreed upon by all ears present? That would be the perfect recording, right?
Enter Mr. Udo Petscher. Udo is a very wise man from Germany, who built outstanding audio systems in the 80’s and taught customers to listen with their ears and not their eyes. He had made it his mission throughout his entire life to built a perfect audio reproduction system and therefore studied electronics, psychoacoustics and even psychology to fully understand the principles of recording/playback and the human perception to achieve his goal.
What he found out through the years is that in order for audio systems to correctly record/playback, they have to have the ability to swing up in the electronic circuits of its amping as well as the speakers and any other component involved in the recording/playback chain. In other words the system must not be restricted in its ability to record, transmit and play back higher frequencies than our ears are capable of hearing since other centers of perception in our brains and minds are involved. Petscher termed these higher frequencies as the anima or soul of a recording that has to be allowed to be captured while recording and likewise has to be allowed to pass through all the audio gear involved today without loosing content, to finally be able to play back properly and to transmit itself to the human recipient.
Try to think of it this way. Say you strike a single string on your guitar. By doing that you create a sound event that has a base tone, let’s say you create an A that has a frequency of 432 Hertz. Along with that base tone you will produce a number of harmonics meaning simply doublings and triplings like 864 Hz, 1080 Hz, 1728 Hz etc. (It is like that saying: A rose is a rose is a rose…). The number of harmonics is theoretically infinite, limited by the initial volume of the sound and by air resistance. On the listener’s side the capability to perceive a number of given harmonics is limited by the person’s perception and sense of hearing. And then there is always a performer, nature, maybe in form of a bird, or a human being playing an instrument, it really doesn’t make any difference. A sound event always brings with it higher frequencies we are incapable of hearing. According to Udo Petscher these higher frequencies do play the important part of making you feel the event. He termed his finding Holofeeling. As esoteric as this may sound to you, isn’t that what really makes a musical performance wholesome and worthwhile? To be able to hear the guitar player live on stage, giving his very best. To stand there and to feel with him in every feeling he himself emits? This wholesome live experience would not be complete without this sense of feeling, right? I think everyone, who ever attended a live show knows what I’m talking about. There is simply more involved than what we are actually hearing, the ears also pick up feeling.
Wouldn’t it be absolutely fascinating to be able to capture this experience in its entirety not only in its 3 sonic dimensions but in another 4th dimension, containing the anima, the heart and soul, the very essence of that exact moment and preserve it over time? And to be able to play that back and be able to relive that exact feeling as if you were there?
Well, here is the news. It has been done already. The recording and playback of sound events in 4D has in fact been done since the beginning of modern recording history. It just went largely unnoticed, since there was no other recording means at the time to compare it to. So people were stuck with what they had at the time and considered that natural. Viewed from a standpoint of today they had something very valuable. Because all later inventions would eliminate the possibility almost entirely. Despite all the technical “advancement”, like noise cancellation, much more dynamics, three or more channel stereo speakers, subwoofers and the whole circus of effects for mixing and mastering a recording, things have become much worse over time regarding true natural audio reproduction. Let me explain:
On his mission for the ultimate sound reproduction in four dimensions Udo Petscher came across the fact that there already was a machine capable of doing the job in a way.
What he would tell you is this: “Go to an audio museum and listen to a phonograph”
Ironically, these historic devices from the very beginning of modern recording history (about 1877) are the most capable devices when it comes to sufficiently recording and playing back 4 dimensional content, to this day. (Except Petscher’s old gear, which you’ll never see on ebay.) See a phonograph, here.
Ok, it gets technical now. How is this achieved? For once it has to do with the level of integration of this machine. The performer would be standing right in front of the machine singing or playing through a small diaphragm, which at recording would act like a microphone membrane, thereby exciting a cutting stylus which would sit right underneath and simply scratch a recording groove into a turning roll, either coated with wax or thick aluminum foil. For playback the exact same setup could be used. The stylus would manually be reset to the beginning of the groove that had just been cut. Upon turning the roll the groove in it would excite the stylus, this time acting like a record player’s needle. This in turn would excite the same diaphragm used during recording, which at playback would act as the speaker membrane. A horn would be slid on top to amplify the signal.
A couple of years back I had the chance to listen to a couple of phonographs in a museum. What most impressed me, was recorded singing. It literally brought me to tears to be able to feel the person singing and be able to exactly make out the room dimensions in which the recording had taken place, in a way I never perceived in my thirty years of listening to music. All within an envelope of tin cannyness because of the metal horn speaker, that is. Almost no bass, audible fuzz, but perfect 3D room perception (with a mono speaker) and there it clearly was, the anima! 🙂 Encapsulated on a wax role a hundred years old. It was like looking through a time window perceiving the artist as being here right now. Please, listen to a phonograph.
So of course Petscher took this invention very seriously, trying to emulate the working principles into contemporary audio gear. “By removing all the obstacles in the way” he would say in one of his books. And he succeeded to a point, that he stated was about 85% of the possible maximum of true natural sound reproduction in four dimensions. Don’t get me wrong, present day stereo systems are not fully devoid of the capability, but according to Petscher were and are performing somewhere in the 25% – 30% range. He had people from Japanese tech companies in his store stating that: “What we’ve been hearing today should by our current scientific knowledge be impossible.” He would have many many listening sessions with groups of people. First teaching them how to listen without their eyes in about two hours. Then all of them agreeing that this was the best sound they ever heard and felt, often bursting into tears right in his shop. People just couldn’t believe it. Although I never had the fortune to listen to one of his systems, I did read people’s posts on hi-fi forums who have.
He eventually ended his audio mission to become a spiritual teacher, writing many books that never got published in the mainstream but are available as free pdfs. I think he had just given up at some point. He had written an open letter to all the big audio magazines, which he never sent off but published it in his groundbreaking book “Earvelations in Hi-Fi” years later. By that time he knew already that no one in the industry did give a rats ass about his findings. Apparently, they didn’t see any market? Maybe he was compromised, we just cannot know. (Read Udo’s Earvelations here. Sorry, if it is only in German language. I will translate the whole thing if enough people ask for it 🙂 ).
So with the phonograph we have this completely integrated machine, with a cutting/playback stylus that obviously was able to vibrate at a very high rate to be able to record those above hearing frequencies and play them back accordingly. Notice the extremely short distance that that audio signal had to travel, from the recording stage to the listeners ears.
Please compare that to the way it is done today. You have an absolute plethora of steps between recording and playback, a never ending array of machines all adding and subtracting stuff and thereby changing the original signal. If it is done in a wrong way (which it mostly is) this leads to all kinds of massive problems that have the same result. The high vibrational content gets lost somewhere along the way. Today’s cutting styli for cutting metal master records are electronically attenuated to prevent different things from happening during the cutting process. For example the stylus is kept from accidentally cutting a groove too deep or wide. This attenuation of course leads to distortion of high frequency content. It,s like someone deliberately touching a swinging pendulum forcing it in a certain direction. So there you have a massive barrier. Another no go is that today one of the first steps after recording sound material is to cut off the noise floor, meaning there is a filter applied that deletes any information below say 30 Hz to eliminate rumble and noise. It is certainly a good thing to get the noise down. The more microphones are used during recording the different tracks and mixing those tracks together, the louder is the recorded noise floor, since the noise signal adds up. The major problem is, that in this noise floor there is encoded very important information, namely the 3D information. So we have to leave it in the recording or we are loosing much if not all 3D information. This is especially true for recordings in closed rooms, which is where most recordings are made. Every room has its very own noise signature that has to be preserved after recording or you loose very important stuff. If you only reduce it, ideally to its natural volume, you are fine. If you chop it off mercilessly you are basically even done with true 3D, let alone 4D, before that stuff even enters your compromised stereo.
Most of today’s recordings have not only no noise in them but artificially programmed room information, keeping your mind in some kind of virtual reality anyway. So there is a tendency towards older releases when you want to find a real recorded jewel. (More on the music itself in Part III.)
Let me try to explain, why no technical measurement is possible when tuning a stereo system to the specific needs required for 4D playback. The answer to that is, because the quantum doesn’t like to be measured without changing during the process. Petscher once proved to himself that electronic measurements are not reliable when it comes to human perception and adjusting technical gear. He bought two different pairs of stereo speakers, which had the exact same technical values when measured with electronic measuring equipment. He then went on to tune those speakers to emit the most natural playback possible. For instance he would record and playback a flute played by someone, then tune the speakers and ask the people present at those sessions if they all agree with the outcome. Only when every single person present in the room agreed upon the flute recording being played back as natural as possible, did he stop tuning, which could take a very long time. What he did by this is to create an inter-subjectivity regarding a realm that doesn’t offer the easy luxury of assigning a technical value to it. When comparing the technical measurement values of both speaker sets after the listening session, Udo was quite surprised that the values didn’t match at all, which they really, really should according to our current “knowledge” about these things. So he proved that there must be a perceptive quality involved, one that couldn’t possibly be picked up by any technical instrument but rather only the listener himself.
What many people, especially logically oriented, scientific people need to come to grips with is that you cannot possibly sit there and try to calculate a certain amount of feeling and assign a number to something which simply does not have one. As far as I can imagine there is and never will be a means to measure quantum phenomena directly. (Only the effects of it)
The conscious human interaction with the quantum is a way more intuitive process than most of these people like to admit. We are part of an energetic everflow. It listens and is influenced by our thoughts and feelings and imaginations. Why? Because it is alive. All life originates from it, so how can it not be alive on its own? We are part of it all the time, so we cannot conceal our logical minds “from” it and start calculating and measuring sitting opposite of it without losing something immensely important. The connection to our own origin, which has been largely cut over many many centuries. We’re better off consciously reconnecting us and all of our tech to quantum in a harmonious way. If you approach it with a logical mindset only, instead of an open mind and feeling as well as intuition, you are voiding yourself of a realer now. An overblown mind imprisoned by logic, leaving out anything else you are made of will starve the soul. As long as you want to cling to particulate matter, that is exactly how long it’s gonna present itself to you in that way. Simple. There is and has been for a very long time a great interest in keeping your mind tied to the material plane. If you are a material girl/boy and love it, and don’t even consider the question of there being more to life than that, Madonna really has won you over. Spirituality and materialism have never been on the same page. The more you are willing to leave matter behind, the less it literally matters to you, freeing yourself up to recognize that there is more important things to do. Such as finding a fair balance between all the centers of your perception. We westerners have thoroughly been tricked into our heads alone, so there is conscious work to do to regain that balance. What do you feel this article is for? 🙂
So, please cross your mind’s borders, learn to properly feel again, listen not only with your ears but definitely with your heart. Feel the swing, do not try to calculate it, that iss really all I can say. 🙂 Don’t get me wrong. We are living in a duality and I have no problem whatsoever to accept particle physics and matter as being real. (In 3D that is) There are people out there that do a fantastic job, telling you about the whats and wheres inside our 3D material plane, which in itself can be totally coherent and correct. I’d just like you to know that this is but one side of a coin. It takes a conscious effort to connect yourself spiritually to the next higher dimension. (There are many, but we talk about the 4th here, which is at the quantum level). Your imaginative mind and feelings are your built-in remote control for accessing and playing with that plane of existence, enabling you to spiritually manifest a beautiful life. Let me tell you, that you are always connected to quantum, no matter if you are aware of it or not. When you stand under the shower singing you are connected. When you watch a good live show, everyone in the room gets connected and you can feel it. An orgasm is the ultimate expression of the quantum, the most intense feeling, even potentially able to conduct life. When you have a strong intuition coming from deep within, guess where it comes from, for sure not from the lower 3 dimensions which only make up our material life. If you really think that the entirety of your human complexion of body, mind and soul is explainable by 3 material dimensions alone, you are really already dead to me. You are like a precious flower without a stem. Beautiful and impossible, you are floating in mid air.
Did you know that in your deepest core you are hollow? The deepest inside, the hollow core of your atoms is where the connection to quantum is made. This knowledge is very old. Look to India for example and take vedic literature. Science has yet to catch up with the many facts presented there. They knew…and we forgot. That is all. And if you think these things are reserved for spiritual masters alone, only accessible after 40 years of sitting on a wooden pole, I may happily disappoint you. Things may have been that way for quite some time throughout human history, but times have changed. Access to these things has always been there, as this is deeply implemented within creation, hence you and me exist. And it has become a lot easier, say in the last two decades, to get reconnected as certain vibrations are rising, resonating within you, literally activating parts of your brain and mind that had long laid dormant. It’ is all there, friends.
Since I cannot possibly sum up any better than Udo the perceptional envelope we can and have to push forward as we further awake and remember those old thruths, I translated an excerpt out of his Earvelations for you. I think he wouldn’t mind.
So, what does the body consist of? It consists of void and rhythm. In the utmost inside of the body, in the heart of the world, there is no solid matter, there is only dance. On our voyage from the smallest to the biggest, from the microcosm into the macrocosm we encounter but one single law. This law is music. And the creator of this beautiful music is god. So, without any doubt god is very musical. What we are dealing with here is one single whole, which we are a part of. Where we are, regarding size, is relative. Compared to a grain of sand we are large,compared to a mountain we are small. Up until now we have only talked about our perceivable three dimensions, the end of which we cannot seem to estimate. But in our universe we are dealing with dimensions than that. Physics calculate with 11 dimensions that are provable mathematically but withdraw themselves from the perception of our senses.*[Note: This was 1991. Today we know that there are more dimensions than that. And our perception potential of them has been extended as well since then. D]. Time in general is regarded as the fourth dimension. Please try to stomach this following explanation very thoroughly. Should you have never been dealing with physics before, the following will stretch your imagination to the fullest. Also people with some kind of basic understanding of physics should try to think about this. To plot very large distances we use the the distance “one light year”. What’s happening there is a connection of a measure of time and a measure of space. Time is space. I postulate that the next higher dimension, that withdraws itself from being’s perception, appears as time. This time process describes a fixed whole. Let me give you an example: Let’s assume we live in a one dimensional world. Our senses are only able to register a back and forth. Our world consists of a superfine thread, in which there is only a back and forth. Let’s call ourselves thread beings then. If now there happens to fly a table tennis ball through our one dimensional world, this is going to affect our perception as follows: We will perceive a dot that will split, diverge, contract and vanish. We are solely looking at one dimension of the ball, plus the time that it spends in our world. Future – present, a dot that appears, splits, goes back together – past – and vanishes. Let’s make a jump now. Now we are two-dimensional beings. We are not only registering one dimension, a back and forth, but a second one: a sideways. We are living in a flat plane world. Let’s call us plane beings then. With our senses we are capable to perceive one more dimension of the universe surrounding us. What would happen now if this mysterious table tennis ball would glide through our world? We would encounter that the perceived time event of the thread being, two separating and reuniting dots – are in reality not two dots, but compose a fixed whole: a circle. These two dots perceived by the thread being are in reality a whole. If this table tennis ball now glides through our two-dimensional plane world, a dot will appear that opens up to a circle, gets bigger, gets smaller and vanishes. So, here we are also dealing with a two-dimensional appearance, plus the time. Future – present, an enlarging, then a shrinking circle – and past – disappearance. Now we make the jump to our three-dimensional world. Here we can be less imaginative, since we are living with three-dimensional perception. If we watch our table tennis ball, we find, that the perceived time event of our flat plane being again is a fixed space: a ball. It is no time flow – a movement on the timeline, an opening and closing circle, that comes and goes – but it is a ball that, while always remaining fixed, encompasses a ceratin space. But this example does not stop here yet. Even we perceive the next higher dimension as time. If this table tennis ball would fall from the 11-dimensional “whole” through our three-dimensional world, we would perceive a future, a present (we see it) and a past (it vansihes out of our field of view)
This time process would be a fixed space for a four-dimensional being. “Nice”, you’re gonna say, “seems logical.” If we connect this finding analogically, there lies in it a tremendous truth, namely the fact that there is no such thing as coincidence, no past and no future. That furthermore everything that surrounds us and that we perceive is timeless space.”
So, where are we heading? As if this is not enough, to be told that an entire dimension of feeling is mostly missing in our current playback systems, I will tell you that you have even been mostly robbed of even another one. This is about 3D perception of audio. Look what has been done in addition to messing up your records.
Do you place your stereo speakers the way you are told by the mainstream outlets of sound knowledge? (There is no such thing). Namely in the “traditional” stereo triangle position? Speakers turned inwards to meet your ears? Welcome, you have just lost another possible dimension of perceiving your records. That of true 3D room perception, which would normally enable you to literally dive deep into the material played back (if it still has any natural noise left). Instead, by placing the speakers in the aforementioned way you simply erase that possibility almost entirely. (Combine that with the crooked records and you are really not good to go).
There are two reasons for that: One is that by introducing that inward turning angle the signals of the speakers cross themselves at some point in the room, resulting in phase outs in some spots of the field of hearing and in other spots you have amplification which of course distorts the original signal. We really do not need that in terms of natural audio reproduction.
The other, way more important thing, is that your mind gets constantly and fundamentally confused about the mere fact that it cannot resolve the conflict of finding that one source of sound. Your mind is tricked into an auditorium with two stages instead of one, making it constantly turn its head like at a tennis game, trying to locate the origin of sound. Your ears locate the sound in the middle, which in reality is not much more than a flat, vertical plane 2D resemblance of something once beautiful and your mind perceives a mirror cabinet of disorientation and constantly searches for something that is supposed to be there according to a natural law, but you have no access to it anymore. Please remember from Part I, that this is of extreme importance. Why is that so? If you recall the example with the auditorium, we will find a very simple and very overlooked answer to that. Say you sit in a very big auditorium and you sit right at the top. Let’s say it’s built bigger than natural sound pressure levels would permit. An audio system gets involved, amplifying the action on stage so that everyone receives roughly the same sound pressure. I have a question for you: in what manner would you set up the speakers? Think about that for a minute. You have a round stage and around that stage are the rising ranks. Watch the picture again.
I myself would be placing these speakers so that they direct the sound coming off the stage in a straight fashion, meaning each speaker’s back facing the round stage at a right angle. And here is the thing. Imagine still sitting on the upper rim of the venue. You happen to sit right between two speakers that are a couple of meters in front of you left and right, a couple of meters apart. Please tell me in what direction the speakers are pointing relatively to where you sit? Would they be turned inwards towards your head, or would they be turned outwards according to natures law of sound propagation? When the speaker’s backs are directed towards the round stage in a right angle you will have to be sitting between speakers that point away from you, not towards you. This is natural audio reproduction, not that x’ed up shit they have been trying to sell you as real. Nothing could be further from the truth and I have just proven it.
Please rest assured that to this very day this is taught wrongly in audio schools, colleges and universities around the world. What does that say about our culture? I would go so far as to say there is almost no such thing left anymore. It is a mistake of such fundamental implication that one would not think it to be possible that some audio panel board executives could have gotten that wrong when it came to defining a worldwide industry standard, unless they wanted to do just that on purpose. And that apparently no one noticed, except when Petscher found out in the 80s and none but the most immersed enthusiasts gave a damn, makes me kinda sad. I remember sitting in audio school back in the 90’s, asking the teacher what law would apply for the correct placement of loudspeakers. To my surprise the answer was, that it had been decided by a commission in order to standardize it. And I remember being kinda puzzled by that, as I expected a somewhat more scientific approach, but I eventually forgot about it, since it is equally done wrong everywhere you turn without any exceptions. Years later I would encounter Petscher having solved this puzzle.
So, it is simply looked upon in a 180 degree wrong way. The same sound is not supposed to come from two different directions, collapsing onto our self centered heads, keeping our minds on constant alert. By turning your speakers slightly outward you begin to restore two systems to a more natural state, your stereo and your mind. Your mind’s audio perception has been designed by creation to trace back to one single origin. Just like your mind tries to complete the shape of an incomplete circle on a piece of paper, it is part of its job. So it is a good idea to place your audio gear according to nature, by pointing the speakers’ backs to one origin. Play with the angle to adjust the distance between you and the sound stage.
So there you have it, this is the audio reality we live in, people. What could be perceived as a real natural experience is chopped down to something extremely artificial and flat, no matter how bolstered up, clear or crisp things sound otherwise. It is massively distorted on a perceptional level, and no glossy sound effect tossed into the brew can solve the problem. It is only resolved if the hardware is built, placed and used properly. And almost nobody knows or wants to know. This is one reason among others that I eventually left my beloved profession behind.
In Part III, I will focus on the actual music in its various forms of distribution and the “little extras” they throw in to ensure you have a hell of a time and come back for more.
Plus some more tips to get some more life in and out of your stereo. Please try the speaker tweak and comment… 🙂