ACCURACY BEYOND MONO

A BLUEPRINT FOR THE FUTURE
OF SOUND REPRODUCTION


An assessment of existing mono, stereo and multi-channel
sound transmission, recording and reproduction concepts,
and a proposed outline of their future development

INTRODUCTION

This Paper was first written in March 2000 and incorporated a number of other papers and ideas of the writer before being passed through several later incarnations, some of which have been shown to a number of people in the Audio, Hi-Fi, Recording, Sound Reproduction & Music Industries on a confidential basis as part of a process of including a large number of minds on the subject and informing them and others of the work the writer has been doing intensely for well over 25 years.

The main part of this Paper, which is still being collated, deals with the problems of accurate sound reproduction, why so many people spend large sums of money on equipment (and changes of equipment), and are still not satisfied, and how many of these problems can be overcome by introducing certain new concepts in sound reproduction and changes in the way music media is prepared before people settle down to enjoy it. Many of the measures contained within the blueprint are subject to Patent but licences are available.

All these extracts will form part of this up-to-date version.

© Copyright September 2013
J D M Rogers, Q R Design & Ringmat Developments

 

PROLOGUE

A COMPLETELY FRESH LOOK AT
HIGH FIDELITY SOUND REPRODUCTION

Music and sound reproduction
Music is an expression of the soul of the composer, and the feelings and emotions of the musicians who have to interpret and express their reading of the composer’s conceptions.

Technical skills assist in conveying the music, capturing it in a reusable format and then reproducing it.

The goal in using technical skills is communication of the music in such a way that the listener can completely and wholeheartedly empathise and be at-one with the music. This can be at several levels, but for sound reproduction at the highest level of fidelity it should communicate as though it were being heard “live”, with the listener present on the occasion.

Energy, sound reproduction and electronic fields
Energy is everything. Nothing is really “solid”. “We” are energy, the sound we hear is energy and the “equipment” used to produce or reproduce it is energy. Energy manifests itself as vibration.

Therefore, by extension, everything is vibration in some form or another. Anything that vibrates has a waveform, which extends out into a wider world. Accordingly, all references to “energy” should also embrace the “vibrations” and “waveforms” that emanate from that energy.

The vibrations operate at different speeds and, in the case of material things, have different atomic (electrical) properties and densities. The foregoing combine to create electronic fields of various kinds. The very proximity of material things creates further vibrations, as the surrounding electronic fields “clash”.

Present-day instruments can measure some of the electronic fields that exist around our equipment, but many such fields are of a kind that cannot yet be measured. This may change in the future as mankind’s knowledge increases.

Instruments cannot measure the feelings and emotions contained in sound, but such aspects to the sound can be assimilated and interpreted by human beings. Much depends upon the clarity of the sound in the form of the vibrations that are received. However, this “clarity” is muddied by the numerous “clashes” of electronic fields and other vibrations that are all part of mankind’s attempt at sound capture and reproduction.

Relativity of sound reproduction
A little over a hundred years ago, everyone marvelled at the early attempts at sound reproduction. Today, sound quality is several leagues ahead of what was initially achieved. Each time technology genuinely advances, we are amazed and delighted with the improvements we can perceive. But at each stage the improvement is relative, because unless we have the opportunity to hear a further improvement in sound quality, we are naturally content, as were our forebears, with the best that appeared to be available at the time.

Availability is a varied thing. What is available to one person is not to another. On the one hand, it may be a question of the means to afford certain equipment, on the other, a simple matter of lack of opportunity to experience it, except, if we are lucky, through a good demonstration.

Clarity v musicality
Whilst we are delighted to be able to hear more of the aspects of each sound as technology improves, this does not necessarily mean we hear more of the music. Unless the feelings, emotions and conceptual ideas of the composer, as interpreted and expressed by the musicians, are completely communicated, as in the case of a ‘live’ performance being heard ‘in person’, clarity of reproduced sound is only part of the true experience.

Relativity of musicality
Musicality is also relative, and is not dependent on absolute clarity of sound. In the early days of sound reproduction, the musicality of the sound could, by the values of the day, be judged as very high.

It is mainly a question of timing and dynamics and of bringing out those aspects of the sound, such as intonation, inflections and timbre of the voice/instrument, etc., which distinguish the character of the sound of one artist from that of another. The ambience of the recording venue is also an important aspect in the recreation of the original performance.

All the foregoing provide a sense of the occasion, all the feelings and emotion, which have to be conveyed if the musicality of the reproduction is to be fully realised.

Achieving fidelity to the original performance
Energy is everything, in both the recording and reproduction processes. In order to achieve fidelity to the original performance, it is essential that these processes be carried out in a situation of harmony amongst all the energies involved. Too often, the design of products and the use of materials inhibit this harmony.

Nevertheless, the fundamental ideas behind the techniques used do enable a reasonable signal to be derived, sufficient to demonstrate that, with care, it should be possible in the future to make considerable strides in improving the quality of sound reproduction.

Harmony of the energies is an essential starting point, and this is where the importance of all the products of Ringmat Developments comes into play. They all embody aspects of harmony of the energies, with particular emphasis on the geometry of resonance (vibration) in materials and the unique way in which the products of Ringmat Developments dissipate or harmonise unwanted energy.

Another feature is the use of particular types of materials and their orientation that help the harmony of the energies. This means that fancy, expensive looking materials cannot be used, because of the electronic fields associated with such materials, and often their colours.

Yet another feature of the products of Ringmat Developments, and perhaps their most important, is the way their harmonies overlay others, thus dissipating, to some extent, the lack of harmony in the energies of those other products. In this way, damage to a signal from a lack of harmony in the energies of certain products is minimised when used with those designed by QR Design for Ringmat Developments.

Because of their influence on the sound, the products of Ringmat Developments are absolutely central to sound reproduction (and also to the recording processes), and are neither peripheral nor “accessories” to the principal equipment used.

Breaking down barriers
Many people believe that, having bought their hi-fi equipment, nothing further is needed in order to achieve sound from the equipment. Sadly, the absence, at most audio retailers around the world, of comparative reproduction processes that encompass the ideas expounded in this article and elsewhere in our literature, and on our Website (www.ringmat.com), severely limits the horizons of the buyer with regard to his or her expectations. All too often, comparative reproduction processes are no better than “more of the same”.

Buying the principal equipment is only part of the process of establishing a sound reproduction system. This is not to denigrate the value of the equipment already in use, or to be purchased, only to explain that their use is limited without harmonising the energies involved in their use. At present, only the products of Ringmat Developments and a few others effectively achieve this.

The above conceptions need to be spread and shared, and through editorial coverage and reviews in hi-fi magazines, Internet forums and other forms of media. Also by word of mouth from user to user, but this is a long, slow process, which is why this article has been prepared; to help, not only members of the public, but also those in the relevant industries that have to initiate a number of changes and to set new standards.

© Copyright September 2000
Updated, September 2013
J D M Rogers, Q R Design & Ringmat Developments


Appendix A

History of Stereo Recording and Reproduction

Even from the earliest times of electronic sound reproduction, there has been a dream of achieving greater realism in the sound reproduced, such as one hears when being present at a “live” performance. Even before my teens, I spent hours with our two mono radiograms, first an Ultra, with a heavy 1930’s 78 rpm tonearm, then a Ferguson, with a lightweight 33⅓/45/78 rpm auto changer, trying various ideas in order to create realistic spatial effects using extension speakers. This was well before stereo was introduced but a long time after M. Clément Ader gave a directional sound demonstration at the Paris Exposition of 1881.

M. Ader set up some early carbon-rod microphones to the left and to the right of the stage at the Paris Opéra and connected them by separate telephone wires to banks of earpieces at the Exhibition Pavilion. By holding a left and right earpiece to the appropriate ear, visitors were amazed with the spatial sound reproduction they received and found that they could follow the movements of the sound sources, principally the singers, as they moved about the stage. Further experiments followed, but it was not until 1931 that, in British Patent Number 394,325, Alan Dower Blumlein (1903-42) described his all-embracing theories and practical designs for recording and reproducing two-channel sound via a disc medium.

Mr. Blumlein suggested a number of microphone arrangements, the most famous being a pair of bi-directional microphones at right angles to each other and placed as nearly together as possible to eliminate time-of arrival differences at the two microphone diaphragms (the ‘Blumlein method’). From these two microphones, wires would carry the sound to a disc medium where they would be inscribed as two mutually independent channels of information in a single record groove, one groove wall for the left channel and the other for the right channel. The grooves would be inscribed at right angles to each other and at +/- 45° to the record surface. In 1957, worldwide agreement was reached on the method by which a stylus would trace the “stereo” groove wall modulations and convey the separate left and right channel signals to the amplification system. From the amplification system, the respective left and right signals would be conveyed to two loudspeakers in front of the listener, suitably spaced out to the left and right. By reason of the differences of intensity that sound sources reached each of the two microphones, it was possible, as the two microphones respectively received these sounds, to correspondingly place each sound source within the soundstage created through the loudspeakers. Stereo records using the above method were launched in 1958, but it was possible to obtain two-track open-reel tapes similarly inscribed from 1955.

“Musicassetes” in the Philips Compact Cassette format followed, then digital recording techniques, Compact Discs and other forms of digital reproduction. But they all followed Mr. Blumlein’s original concept for capturing and inscribing independent left and right channels where the modulations so inscribed are traced to the left and to the right by a single stylus, or other tracing mechanisms in the case of the later developments.

Sources include:
“The Gramophone Guide to Hi-Fi” by John Borwick, published in 1982

Also available for background information:
‘The Life & Works of A D Blumlein –
The Inventor of Stereo’ by Robert Alexander

© Copyright September 2004

J D M Rogers
QR Design & Ringmat Developments

 

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