Stereo Imagery - vs Balance

Some of those early 60s recordings by Wilmer Cozart Fine for Mercury living presence are magnificent stereo recordings.
I think using three mics onto 3 track 35mm film tape .

@AJK - I not think there is any doubt that Classical recording were ‘done’ much better, than any Pop, back then, even in the 50’s. They were often done using very simple mike set ups - sometimes even crossed pairs - I believe…? Just 2 mikes - and 2 tracks on tape - you have Stereo.

Meanwhile, The Beatles were trying to multitrack on 4 track machines, even up to Sgt Pepper… There was no choice about bouncing down to less tracks - had to be done. Its amazing the Abbey Road engineers managed to get anything decent…

@Christov - Yes, I believe 3 track recording was a thing - left, centre & right.

We have ‘better’ tech - but do we get better results…? Potentially yes - but in reality, maybe not…

I wonder if its just chance, that the example I gave above - Cellar Darling - have in their a lead singer, Anna Murphy, someone who also works as a recording engineer…? Yeah… pure chance… right…

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RCA used three tracks on many of their Living Stereo recordings. And I have Kind of Blue on SACD in three channel “surround sound.”

BTW, I used to hear an imbalance on a lot of recordings. That is until I got my ears checked, and discovered that might right ear hears high pitches better than my left.

Thanks for confirming, re 3 track Stereo. Ultimate solution to the ‘well defined central image’…

(prize for where thats from… lols.)

In the same months the Beatles recorded Sgt Pepper, Adrian Boult and the New Philharmonia were recording Lark Ascending (with Hugh Bean as soloists in a fabulously natural stereo recording) and Pink Floyd recorded Piper at the Gates of Dawn, all at EMI’s Abbey Road studios.

It’s a shame now, but I seem to remember reading the Beatles actually preferred their sound in mono but luckily George Martin worked on some stereo mixes when the Beattles had left.

Sure someone else will have a better idea.

Wow… so Classical wins hands down on the Stereo - HiFi front there…! Simple recording techniques = better results.

I think we need to shuffle forward to around '68/69 before pop/Rock properly got its head around Stereo. Think Led Zepp’s first was one of the earliest Stereo Only recordings…? For the Beatles think its the White Album…?

Need to check some of the Piper tracks now… hang on…

I don’t think the Pink Floyd Album is too bad either. The only stereo that doesn’t work at all for me is the total left / right split used on some early Beatles with vocals left and instruments right.

I suppose it a bit like watching a film in colour or black and white. You get what you need in black and white but it’s always more natural in colour.

But getting back to the 21st century, why do you think classical digital recordings still can’t improve on the 1960’s?

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Some of the Beatles LP’s got messed up, I believe, when being sent from the UK to US. The US got Mono masters - but produced ‘bad Stereo’ versions of them…

Cannot say… not my thing, really… But… I do have some very good recordings of Clarinet music, on Hyperion…!! Small label, taking care…?

Just checked out Astronomy Domine and See Emily Play from the Echoes CD set…

Both are in ‘classic’ extreme Pop/Rock 60’s Stereo, with ‘hard potting’ of some instruments into the left & right channels. But - both work well, with decent central vocals…

The ‘Recording’ section on the Wiki page is potentially illuminating… (subject to surviving on here…)

Arguably, better results, than from The Beatles down the corridor…?

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Getting back to your original post. Whenever I move the speakers or sofa I use a test CD to reset the balance control on my 252 for the best centre/mono position and then try and ignore the imagery of individual discs. Most discs are good but some don’t sound ideal, particullary string quartets for some reason where the cellist can get easily ignored.

In good Naim tradition my balance control fully rotates left to 6.00 and right to 4.00 so is way off centre, but at least you can turn the lights off.

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Really…? Mine doesn’t… Seems odd, IMO… YMMV,etc…

I leave mine centred, unless a particular disc is waaay off…

That’s just the way the dial is positioned on the pot. It is possible to pull it off and put it back on centered, but beware of the LED cable! There are some older threads on this.

Hi @Suedkiez . I remember the threads and decided that as I am very likely to rip out the LED cable I would just live with the it. When the display lights are off off you can’t tell anyway.

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So… I posted as above, saying I was impressed by Thea Gilmore (via YouTube…) and was looking for this CD - or others…

Being ‘cost - focused’ (or cheap, if you prefer…), the selections I have made were based on what was at a low price on Discogs…

The first to arrive (of the 4 I have ordered… so far…) was this:


I played it through, sort of casually - its a used CD, so… Sounded rather good.
Today, I played it properly… O-M-G.
Great songs - and a great recording… Recommended…!!

Now … come along Royal Mail… deliver the other 3 CD’s that I am waiting for…!!

Yes, my Balance control is always well off centre. Mostly to accommodate L and R room discrepancies, but also to alter the sound for where I am sitting or how many people are in the room.
But even when I listening alone, there is usually a fair amount of different in Imagery from one NAS disc to the next.
And I have already centred the Balance knob/pot.

For similar reasons I am pretty sure mine would be off centre but I’ll never know without correctly centring the balance dial somehow. Bearing in mind room effects I have no idea how to do this at home if you want to find true and neutral centre point for the dial.

I can really recommend finding a good test CD with a choice of mono tacks (music, tone, claps) to help set the balance control for the room. In/Out of phase tracks also help with speaker positioning and resulted in a good uplift in soundstage and detail, even with Isobariks. As always, YMMV but with the winter weather closing in who doesn’t want to spend a weekend shifting their speakers round the room?

That’s a good idea to acquire a good test CD, especially for the mono bits. I agree that mono sound is the most accurate way to balance speakers. That’s what they say in the manual that came with my ol’ Kef R107s.
My kit is in my main living area to maximize listening time, so I can’t move them very much.

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I try and set up the speakers so the image is stable, at least across the width of a three seat sofa and generally I succeed. With free space speakers “Sumiko Masterset” helped. I’ve set up the same speakers (Thiel cs1.6) in two rooms now and in both cases they were later replaced by my pair of NBLs. If I put the centre line of each speaker the same distance from the side walls as worked with the Thiels but move the NBLs back against the wall until the bass sounds right, that wide sweet spot seems to be maintained, though maybe not quite as well from outside the line of the speakers.
Later putting allaes in the first room the same principal held, lateral to suit the room and distance to rear wall to suit the speakers and again the same wide sweet spot. Have I just got lucky with the speakers I’ve tried or is this a general thing? I don’t change speakers much, or rooms for that matter.
No balance knobs were adjusted away from centre for any of this.

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My speakers were designed to have a wide sweet spot, so it is quite wide even tho the room setup is not ideal. But still, when I had my kit in a separate listening room the sound stage and imagery were excellent. I have given up the ‘excellent’, for a ‘pretty good’ sound in my main living area.
When we have company, the Balance control can be almost centred, but if I’m listening alone, I sit to one side and adjust the balance accordingly.
The L to R sound balance does not seem to be at all dependent on volume, as was the issue for others in a different thread here.