May 31, 2007

“Perfect” Copies [9:11 am]

A reminder that “perfection” is in the ear of the listener: Where’s the Other Half of Your Music File?

Last fall, Dr. Naresh Patel, a physician in Fort Wayne, Ind., moved into a home he designed with his wife, Valerie. It has a home theater, complete with projector, surround-sound speakers and a high-end amplification system. The sonic centerpiece is two Bowers & Wilkins loudspeakers that cost Dr. Patel $12,000 “with a discount.”

It was all working beautifully until Dr. Patel connected his iPod to the system. Sitting down in the theater’s sweet spot to enjoy his music, he was instead appalled.

“I couldn’t believe what I heard,” he said. “You don’t need a trained ear to hear the complete lack of so many things: imaging, the width and the depth of the sound stage. It almost sounded monaural, like listening to music in mono. The clarity, silkiness, the musicality of the music, if you will, was not there.”

Later: reversing the effect — That Warm Sound of Old in a Cold, Compressed World - pdf

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