This is a post which is years in the making. Over many years I have noticed how the Stereo Image or Balance of a recording could seem ‘off’ - as in offset or off centre. OK its possible the recording is actually like that (Deep Purple fans - Made in Japan IS actually reversed, Left to Right, on the original vinyl…!). Or maybe some recording just ‘image’ much better than others do…?
Generally, Vinyl seems to do 'better - maybe because it has less L to R separation, naturally - and so gives a better Stereo image…?
Contrary to that, I find some modern recording on CD to image absolutely spot on - without fail.
These comments are for a slightly off centre seating position, but ‘within’ the speakers, if that makes sense…
Thoughts… Examples of good or bad imaging recordings… anything allowed… lols.
There are some very odd Stereo mixes from the 60’s and 70’s - which to a degree was intentional. Again, Deep Purple were guilty with the title track of Fireball.
You can also get what I call ‘Narrow Stereo’ where the whole image is well inside the speakers. And in contrast some recordings deliberately ‘potted’ instruments ‘hard’ left or right - which can make them appear outside the speakers. Early ish Genesis. Queen, and others.
I have even found the imagery/balance can change from track to track. Some tracks being rock soid, others being very off…
Recently I played some Joni Mitchell and James Taylor cd’s and fancied that in both cases the voices were off to the left a little. I adjusted the balance a notch to the right and bingo, the voices centred. Adjusting the balance may be a little neglected, certainly on my part. It can do its bit in improving difficult room conditions. I have a bookcase near the right speaker, and the room opens out into a hall near the left speaker, so not ideal.
A favourite of mine. Country joe and the fish Electric… I have a well worn original mono pressing. Also a vamped up remastered anniversary cd reissue featuring both mono and stereo versions.
The remastered mono is a revelation yet the stereo just seems wrong with the placing of its parts. Too much separation of things hard left and right and a sterile distant middle much missing boogie.
I think this is down to the album being originally mixed down for a mono release and doing such s great job with it.
I believe The Beatles Sgt Pepper was one of the first LP’s which was originally mixed for Stereo. Anything before that, Stereo was an afterthought. And probably for a lot around that time (and a while after), the Stereo mix wasn’t great. You do certainly get a lot of ‘gimmicky’ Stereo mixes from then. With unrealistic, more sound effects style of imaging.
Things have improved though… But - I find that getting the vocals actually in the middle and to stay there, is still a challenge, even now…!
Here is a very modern example, which - IMO - images very well - and the music is great too…
When Pepper was rereleased a couple of years ago with a new stereo mix by Giles Martin the publicity made a big point of telling us that all the care had gone into making the mono mix as good as possible for the original release, and that the stereo mix was in comparison a bit of a rush job with in hindsight too many gimmicks.
Stereo then was out of a radiogram, which was effectively a 3 foot wide wooden cabinet with a speaker at each end, and the way to show stereo effects for most households was to use that quaint extreme left & right panning of vocals & instruments.