A U D I O... P A P E R

FEB 2002
by Steve Deckert

The only way I can think to "accurately" capture and reproduce a live acoustic event would be as follows:

Take a sphere made of perforated steel (almost like a cage) and cover it with non-reflective, diffraction free microphones spaced about the diameter of the microphone apart. That's about 24 tiny microphones per square foot.  Hall it too the live event and have the listener stand or sit inside the thing.

Then take the sphere out of the live event, hall it down to an anechoic room and suspend it in the center of that room.  Replace the microphones one-for-one with electrostatic panels of the same size as the microphones.  Have the same listener crawl into the sphere - as only he or she can "accurately" judge the comparison between the live and reproduced events.

Have each mic recorded on it's own analog master tape and played back using the same number of zen triode amplifiers. (assuming we can sync 1000's of master tapes together)

Since the concept is to capture the wave fronts in a sphere around the listener - freeze them in time (the recording) and then launch them again on their original path to the listener it should have results good enough to fool the human listener.

Even if this worked it could never be "proven" to be accurate because the human in the sphere would have to remember the live event with a resolution that is not probable.  In fact he or she would have better "accuracy" if they simply concentrated on the emotions they felt during the performance and the ability of the playback to re-spawn those emotions.

Of course, since it would be hard to come up with 1000's of 2" mastering decks and so on, some ignorant to what it's all about engineer would simply go digital and code it all into a carrier and then create a decoder to separate everything out again.  Then he would run it all into "low distortion" output IC chips all powered by a single power supply etc. etc.  The result would be so inferior to the live event that people who can hear would report that the concept is a failure.  

Of course these people "who can hear" would not have attended the live event, much less stood in the sphere because they are "experts" and shouldn't need to.  And the engineers who created the overly complex low cost pipe dream that records and plays it back would not have to attend the live event either, because mathematically it is perfect, and they could not measure any distortion.

This would lead to a futile debate between the ones who can hear but never attended the event and the engineers who created it but never attended the event, as to the "accuracy" of it all, and the poor s.o.b. that stood inside the sphere would be discounted or perhaps just overlooked completely.



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